Benefits, and challenges of growing up abroad

Episode Description

With a father whose job required moving a lot to different countries, Tanya’s childhood got filled with memories of traveling around foreign places.

From living in Canada to Washington to Guatemala, and even to Japan, Tanya was able to live in those countries and learn their languages and cultures.

After studying at the University of British Columbia, getting married, and having kids, Tanya’s family still held onto a life of constant traveling.

Because of her husband’s job, they got to live in Barcelona, Spain, where her kids had the first experience of moving to a different country and going through a huge adjustment.

Moving around as a family was not easy for them. From the exhausting process of renewing their visa in Spain that took over a year to help her children cope with their studies and personal adjustments, Tanya stood tall amidst all that.

It was not a smooth-sailing process, but thankfully, their children were able to create wonderful memories of their life in Spain.

Currently, Tanya’s family lives in Michigan. They have been adjusting to the new everyday life brought about by the pandemic.

As a teacher, Tanya has seen the vast impact of education, not just on her kids but also on her students. With the future still unknown, Tanya and her family still have plans to settle in another country. Hopefully, when everything goes back to normal, they will be able to pursue those plans.

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Tips and key takeaways


Episode Transcript

Tanya 0:01

I remember many times when we first got to a new country, that I would just feel sick every day, because it was so difficult to get used to the new climate, the new food, you know, the new living arrangements. And it would take a while before we would, you know, feel comfortable in our new in our new home. So I remember those feelings, and I'm sure that my kids have had the same the same feelings and at times I feel bad that we've put them through that. But that I have to remember that as an adult, I really, really appreciate that I had those experiences.

Daniel 0:45

Hi, everyone, and welcome to episode number 25 of the Emigrant's Life Podcast, where we share stories of people who left their country to chase a better life. I'm Daniel De Biasi. And in this episode, I had the pleasure of chatting with Tanya. Because of her father's job, she's been living abroad since a very young age. After graduating from university, she settled down for a while in Toronto, where Tanya and her husband Robert started a family. 12 years later, her husband got the opportunity to work in Spain. So they decided to move to Barcelona with their four kids. Moving with the family to Spain wasn't easy, though. And immigration process took over a year. In this episode, we discuss their story of moving to multiple countries, the challenges of moving abroad as a kid, and the changes as COVID has made to the education system and what that means for kids. Before moving to my conversation with Tanya, make sure to subscribe wherever you listen to your podcast. And it will be great if you'll give us a review on Apple podcast or pod chaser. And now please enjoy my conversation with Tanya.

Hi Tanya, thanks for being here.

Tanya 1:47

Thanks for having me.

Daniel 1:50

No worries. How's it going?

Tanya 1:52

Good. Good. It's getting cold.

Daniel 1:55

It's getting cold. Where are you? Where are you now?

Tanya 1:57

We are in Grosse Ile, Michigan. It's a very small township, about 30 minutes from Detroit.

Daniel 2:07

Okay. And you have a quite interesting story. You moved a lot since you were a kid. Do you want to start by telling the listeners where are you joining from and ow did you get to Michigan?

Tanya 2:18

Yeah, it's weird. It's a weird story. So I was born in a very small town in southern Alberta in Canada. But I was only born there, never lived there. My father had joined the Canadian government. So he became a civil servant. And so we moved to Ottawa, Canada, the capital. And from there he was transferred all over the world. We lived in Maryland, near Washington, DC, we were moved to Guatemala for a while. Then back to Ottawa. Then we moved to France. We lived in Paris for three years when I was nine, then back to Ottawa. And then finally, we moved to Tokyo. And I lived there for two years, did my last year of high school, my first year university there, then decided to move to Vancouver to do University at University of British Columbia.

Daniel 3:18

You live like in many different places where they were speaking many different languages. How many languages do you do you speak?

Tanya 3:26

So growing up in Ottawa, we did French immersion. So I learned French as a second language. When we moved to France. That was great. And then, when we moved to Japan, I learned Japanese, even though I'm originally of Japanese ancestry. So my ancestors are from Japan, but we never spoke it growing up. So I had to learn it from scratch when we moved to Japan, and then came back to Canada, study Japanese for a while, and then fast forward after moving to Toronto, and then my husband was transferred to Spain for his job. And so I had to learn Spanish there.

Daniel 4:05

Do you speak fluently Japanese, Spanish, and French?

Tanya 4:10

I think the problem became, once we added Spanish, I had forgotten my Japanese. So that was, that was a sad thing. Because Spanish is so much closer to French, it was a lot easier for me to learn Spanish quickly. But in the meantime, because I hadn't used my Japanese and so long, I think I I lost most of it. So I have to go back to Japan and try to pick that back up again.

Daniel 4:39

Yeah, that's the thing with languages and anything if you don't use it, you lose it. Right?

Tanya 4:43


Daniel 4:45

So you lived in many places when you were a kid, because your dad and then you got married. And now you're moving around again with your husband?

Tanya 4:53

Mm hmm.

Daniel 4:54

It's an interesting life especially. I mean, you live that as a first person when you were a kid moving through different countries, and now your kids is like the same they're doing they're moving different countries. What do you think it was the best for you? Or did, because you move quite a bit when you were young, did that affect your life in any way? And do you see the same thing through your kids?

Tanya 5:15

Yeah, definitely. Because I think I never appreciated, you know, all the experiences that I had, all the opportunities I had, like to learn new languages, to meet new people to see things, I didn't appreciate that until I was an adult. Because as a child going through it, I always thought it was very difficult. I'm sure we resented my parents sometimes, because they were making us move to another country, we had to make new friends, we had to start a new school. I remember many times when we first got to a new country, that I would just feel sick every day, because it was so difficult to get used to the new climate, the new food, you know, the new living arrangements, and it would take a while before we would, you know, feel comfortable in our new in our new home. So I remember those feelings. And I'm sure that my kids have had the same the same feelings. And at times, I feel bad that we'll put them through that. But then I have to remember that as an adult, I really really appreciate that I had those experiences.

Daniel 6:29

By sick, you mean like sick? Like physically sick? Like a flu or sick day you're not feeling well in the country?

Tanya 6:36

No, I would like feel physically sick, like to my stomach.

Daniel 6:42

Oh wow1

Tanya 6:42

yeah. And I think you if you've talked to other kids that have moved to new, new cities, new schools, have to leave their friends make new friends. I mean, in the beginning. It is, it is a very overwhelming experience.

Daniel 6:59

Oh, it is I mean, I, I never lived in first person. But I remember when I move, when I was kid, we move to a different town that was probably like a 10 minute drive. But because you move to a different school, you have to, you have to make new friends, even that was kind of traumatic for my brother and I, and it was the same language, was the same part of Italy was not a big deal but ecause you have to leave your friends behind and make new friends that looks a little traumatic. I can't even imagine what it means to move to another country where you have to speak the new language, you go to school, and it's completely different culture where you could kind of fit in with the culture can be really tough for a kid to do it. But the same time, as you say, when you get when you become an adult, then you can really value those experiences because you will live different culture. And that's open more like your mind and you, you know more languages. That's another thing that you can you can use in life, and you never know.

Tanya 7:56

Oh, yeah. I mean, it's, it changes you. I mean, it changes your outlook on the world. I mean, that's one of the things I appreciate the most from moving around is that you don't get this very closed minded view of current events of what's going on in your own country and what's going on in the world in general, because you've experienced other cultures, you've experienced living in different places you can more easily relate to the people that you meet with, and especially people of different cultures. So that's been very helpful.

Daniel 8:33

For me, even as a career, because you work in different countries, you see how in different country they work, you can bring those kind of way of working into a new environment, a new and a new worksite. And that's usually a pro because you can, you can combine these things and make something more efficient and something in a different way that they used to do in the country you moved in.

Tanya 8:57

Mm hmm. And that skill, just being able to be flexible, and adapt to a new situation. That's a really important skill for, you know, for when they when my kids will start, you know, university when they have job interviews, those kind of things will will really be beneficial to them.

Daniel 9:16

Totally. And so your kids, so far they've been living in what country?

Tanya 9:22

So all my kids were born in the Toronto area, when we were living there. And then when my oldest was 11, that's when we moved to Spain. So we had, but they had, fortunately had opportunities to travel quite a bit, even when they were young. My parents, of course, were living in Japan, when we were still living in Toronto. And so we had the opportunity to bring the kids to Japan to visit their grandparents. And that was a really cool experience for them. And then of course, when we lived in Europe, we try had to travel as much as we could to let them see all the countries around Spain. And then now, now that we're in Michigan, we've we've tried to travel quite a bit around the United States and see other states.

Daniel 10:13

Yeah, that's another another beauty when you move to a country like Europe, or America that you can travel quite easily. So you met your husband in university, right? And you got married, and he got an opportunity to move to Spain. You lived there for about three years, right?

Tanya 10:29


Daniel 10:30

So how was the experience of movie with kids, because that was the first time you actually moved your life with kids in another country?

Tanya 10:37

Well, I think that I was excited, because I had done it many times before. So to me, it wasn't, it didn't seem so scary. But I'm sure to my kids, it was very, very scary. And the thing that we we understood two is that transitions, like these are different for every child, like all our kids had a different experience in the countries that we've been in. Some moves are easier for one child than they are for another. My daughter had a terrible time when we first moved. She's more introverted. And so she really did not want to leave her friends, she did not want to leave Canada, she didn't want to leave our neighborhood. She struggled a lot during our first year there. Whereas the other three were pretty good. They sort of settled in and made friends. And you know, and were able to enjoy the experience right away. But my daughter took her good, a good year before she was able to really feel comfortable in Spain. So it was it was tough for our family.

Daniel 11:48

What was the tipping point that she decided to to be able to start a new life in Spain?

Tanya 11:52

Yeah we had the kids in an international school. So they did not have to switch completely to Spanish or Catalan when we first moved there, they were able to learn it gradually, because their friends could mostly speak English. But I think the tipping point was when I decided that I needed to pull her out of school. I felt that just the whole experience of being in school being around so many different people all the time, as well as being in a new country, new neighborhood, new sort of new everything that maybe I should remove one of those things from her life that was giving her a lot of stress. And so we I decided to homeschool her during our second year. But then I realized shortly after that, that it's illegal to homeschool in Spain. So yeah. So the we were there on visas, of course through my husband's job, and they would not renew our visas if the kids were not enrolled full time in school. So after homeschooling for only a couple months, we had to reregister her back into school. But I think just those three months of being able to homeschool or being able to create a curriculum that met her needs, she improved drastically. It was a really, really good experience. She was able to, I don't know, have more control, I think over her own situation. And I think that helped her gave her a lot more confidence. And she was able to go back to school. And of course, by the time we left Spain, she didn't want to leave Spain. So that was another experience.

And I guess they were fluent in Spanish after three years of school.

Well, you would think, right?

Daniel 13:48


Tanya 13:49

My daughter was very, very good at Spanish. She probably picked it up the best. Out of all the kids, my oldest son was also pretty, he's pretty fluent in Spanish, and then the third oldest okay, but the youngest, the youngest, who is our most outgoing and talkative of all of our children, we figured he would pick up Spanish so quickly, and he also plays football. So he was outside constantly playing soccer with all the kids in the neighborhood. And so we thought for sure, he will learn Spanish quickly but something in him I guess, his desire to speak quickly made it so that he only want to speak English. So he would listen to everybody speaking Spanish to him and then he would just respond in English. So that's unfortunate because to this day, he he doesn't speak French because we left Canada before he got into French immersion. And then he doesn't speak Spanish that well either. So,

Daniel 14:52

How old was your was your kid at that time?

Tanya 14:54

He was four.

Daniel 14:56

He was a really young.

Tanya 14:57

Yeah, so he was four when we first moved to Spain, but he He has great memories of Spain. He, he really loved it. And especially soccer. That's where he became obsessed with soccer. So he's retained, he still retains that to this day. And I think I mean, you know, from being from Italy that I mean, that passion for soccer is something unique, I think in Europe.

Daniel 15:24

Oh, yeah. I think it's almost an obsession in Europe.

Tanya 15:27

Yeah, yeah. And but even the style of play, like we noticed that even though he played in Spain when he was quite young, like when he was five, six years old, but the skills that he learned there, he still uses now and has made him just a much better player than the players that have you know, grown up in the United States. So,

Daniel 15:48

Oh, yeah, no, I bet. I mean, this might upset somebody that listening, but I went to watching some soccer soccer games here in Vancouver from the Whitecaps, which is the big team here in Vancouver. And I don't know, for me that seemed like, I was watching my friends back in the day watching soccer, it was their level. Nothing compared to what you can see in the professional team in in Italy or in Europe, it is such a it's such a different way of playing

Tanya 16:17

It is it's a totally different level of skill that they have. But I think it's it's because they just do it constantly. Like he would be playing. He would be playing outside all year round, like, every day that he could, he was outside playing soccer. And here, you know, it's cold rains, you know, its nose. And so, I mean, they don't get the level of practice, I guess, also that they do in Europe.

Daniel 16:48

Yeah, even immerse with that culture. Because probably Spain might be really similar to Italy. But everything is in Italy is about soccer. Everything you watching the news, everything is about soccer in Italy. Every kid is aspiring to become a professional soccer player.

Tanya 17:04

Yeah. Exactly.

Daniel 17:06

Not here.

Tanya 17:07

No, no, I think we've we've killed the dream now for him. Not sure he can become a professional soccer player anymore.

Daniel 17:18

And so why did you leave Europe? Why did you leave Spain?

Tanya 17:22

While he was on a three year delegation. So we were only able to stay there for three years, I would have stayed longer I think if we could have. And then this is, this is the interesting thing, because we thought okay, after the three years in Spain, we'll just go back to Toronto, you know, where, where we have lived most of the time and but then he received notice that he would be transferred to somewhere else. At first we thought it was going to be Mexico. So we thought okay, well, that would be alright, because the kids can speak Spanish and we can speak Spanish now. But then it ended up being Detroit. So it was that was a big, that was a big change going from Barcelona, you know, the most one of the most beautiful cities in the world to going to Detroit, which was, in my mind, you know, the horrible city, you know, that. I mean, lots of crime. Lots of you know, it had been bankrupt, it was one of the most crumbling infrastructure. So, I did not have a good image of Detroit before we moved here. But I think, you know, now that we're here, you know, my opinion has changed. And we've we definitely made the best out of it. I think.

Daniel 18:44

And do you think you got to stay in Detroit? Or are you gonna move somewhere else?

Tanya 18:48

We will definitely move somewhere else. I don't know when, but we're still here on, uh, on visas. So eventually the visa will run out. Or will be you know, as you know, in the US, the politics are keep changing. And depending on who's the president at the time, the situation for foreigners may change as well. So we sort of always wait and see what kinds of policies will come out. And, and then with his job situation to now that we have COVID-19. And it's really, it's really terrible here in the US, especially here in the Midwest, where we are, and so we never know, again, with job security. And if things will change, if they will send the the delegates back to their home countries, or if they'll keep them on. So we just wait and see.

Daniel 19:47

Yeah, no, absolutely. It's such an interesting time that a couple of things here, I'd like to ask you, because COVID has changed the way we worked. And for so many people, that's a good thing because for many people can work from home, right. And that means that what I heard is a lot of people are trying to move abroad, in the country where the life is cheaper. So you make the same money you're making home, but you save way more, because you don't have the same expenses. So I think that could be one of the good things about COVID that changed the way we work. And speaking of work, what do you do, do you because you move for, for your husband, were you able to work in the meantime, while you were overseas, or even now, or now?

Tanya 20:29

Yeah, in Spain, I wasn't able to get a work visa, according to his contract. So I was able to do some, you know, some small tutoring, I did teach a little bit at the International School, just on a contract basis. But once we moved here to the US, according to his visa here, I was able to apply for work permit. So I do have my work permit. And I've been teaching pretty much for the last four years. So it's that that actually has been a really good, good experience. And it's something I believe that I probably would not have done if we had gone back to Canada. Because here in the US, especially in this state of Michigan, there's a very large shortage of teachers. And so I had never taught before in Canada or, you know, in any of the other countries that I had lived in. And this was a new career, actually, for me coming here to Michigan. And I think it was only possible because we were here in Michigan, and there was such a shortage of teachers. And so they were willing to accept somebody that didn't have a lot of experience.

Daniel 21:40

But oh, what kind of teacher are you?

Tanya 21:42

Well, I started as an English as a second language teacher. And I would go to different schools all over the Metro Detroit area. And I would work with the immigrant children. So ones that were, so we're not meeting the, the English level that they were supposed to by their age. So and then I started working as a Montessori school teacher. And now that that school is closed, due to COVID 19. And they've gone all virtual, I'm working at a preschool. But working with school aged children that are virtual. So it's, it's it's really interesting, it's almost like the job that I have now is something that has been created, just for this time. It's really, it's really interesting, it gives me a lot of flexibility too with what I'm able to do. So it's kind of nice.

Daniel 22:37

But you're still working, or you see like a teaching immigrant kids?

Tanya 22:41

Now it's any kids. It's, yeah, it's whoever it's almost like mostly kids that are in high risk situations that need that, that extra, I guess that extra help that they're not going to get when, especially at this time that a lot of kids will most kids are 100%, virtual learning at this time, they're going to see many kids that are sort of slipping. So they're not getting the support they need. They're not getting the the resources that they would normally get if they were in school in person. And so we're trying to have to meet some of those needs.

Daniel 23:22

Yeah, I think this is one of the worst part of the COVID is for for young kids. Yeah, that they don't, they're going through this time where they don't have contact with other kids. They don't interact with other kids, the way they interact it's different from how we grew up. And I'm worried about the kids out there growing up now and and see what the repercussions they will have in the future because of because of this time, hopefully it won't last much longer. Yeah, even though we don't know that yet. But hopefully, hopefully, we'll be able to go back to a normal life or, a new normal life. I don't know exactly what's going to be after the call it but hopefully we'll be able to go back and interact with kids, which is the most like a human kind of thing to to interact with other people.

Tanya 24:10

Yeah. I mean, it's it's especially difficult for kids that were at risk in the first place. And so here in the Detroit, greater region, there's so many kids that are low income, that were struggling in school, even before the pandemic, and now to take them out of school to put everybody online. A lot of kids don't have parental support at home either. So you've probably probably seen how many kids like how many parents are struggling now as they have to be at home, helping their kids with school and it's so much more difficult than than most people imagined.

Daniel 24:52

So I have a question. It's not related with the with the topic, but I'm curious because you say like kids They are in, in, in a hard financial situation, how did those kids get the opportunity to have a beautiful lesson because you need a computer, you need a laptop, you need something. So if you can't afford to buy those devices out, how do kids get education?

Tanya 25:17

Well, fortunately, most, I would say, all schools, even the the schools that are in very low income neighborhoods are issued a laptop for each student. So if you're going to go, if your school is 100% virtual than every student is issued a laptop, and so it's up to them to learn how to use it, to log into their lessons every day to complete their assignments. But again, this, this pandemic is really going to, I think, accentuate like income inequality, because the kids that will do well, are the kids that have you know, stable homes that have parents that are able to help them that can invest in giving them that extra help, like through tutoring or whatnot, that have better internet access. Because, as you know, if you have even spotty internet access, your whole education can, can be compromised. So yeah, this is, even though these children will be given a device in order for them to do their schooling online. It is going to be a big difference between those students that live in poor neighborhoods and the students that live in well off neighborhoods,

Daniel 26:36

Totally even see in what kind of family situation they're growing up and they're living in. That's a big deal.

Tanya 26:43


Daniel 26:43

Because for kids that maybe have like a rough situation at home, they could escape from that reality and go to school with with teachers and maybe those teacher can be their parents figures to to help them in the in the growing process. Now they have to spend time with the with the parents, that could be really traumatic for the kids. And, and it could be not beneficial for those kids. That's that's why I'm so worried about the situation for kids most of more than anything. Maybe kids are not, they don't they don't get affected by COVID as the adult do, but but they're affected and in different way on an emotional level through these situations.

Tanya 27:21

Yeah, definitely. So it is one of the big casualties of the pandemic for sure how these kids are missing out on not only that education, but like you said that emotional and physical support that the schools offered them free lunches, free breakfast, and most of these areas that are low income, as well as yeah, like you said, a place to escape sort of the difficult situations that they face at home.

Daniel 27:52

Yeah, absolutely. But the good thing, going back to be an immigrant and how the COVID's helping people that are trying to me even on the education level on the education system is changing so quickly, because the COVID because the classes are going virtual, people are getting used to to having like virtual classes and learning over the internet. Which for for us for adults, is kind of the norm, if you want to learn something, you know he was going to YouTube or you're going to Udemy you go to LinkedIn learning those kind of platforms. So that's for us is a normal way to learn and stuff now. But for kids, and how we see kids going to school that's for us is still old school, like going to a proper school or going to classes with other kids. Because of COVID I see this more in a much more accelerating? For what for me what's going to be in the future. Because if you are the opportunity, so I'm not talking about the kids with low income families. But for people that can actually afford it. Why would they send their kids to the school in the neighborhood just because it's close to their area or that's because that's we're supposed to do when you can take it to the best teacher in the world? They can teach they can learn the things from the best of the best. So that's good for families so the kids have the best education, but at the same time for teachers, that teachers always been a class where they're always underpaid, right? They're not they're not getting the money that doctors get, even though they have the future our future in their hands. They're teaching the new generations the new skills and everything so this should be paid more but never been and now with the internet. I think the meritocracy is gonna play a good part of it because if you're a good teacher, people will get you good money and it will be easier and better for care for for teachers to actually have a good income and this could be a virtually so you can be in your home in the US or wherever you live or can be on a sandy beach in in a in a cheaper part of the world where you can be Thailand, can be Central America or some other parts so you can have your income could be even immigrated When you move abroad, and if you move on to move abroad, now it's easier than ever to do so. Because you can work remotely. You can be a teacher or you can be work from home, and you'll be able to emigrate much more easily because it maybe you don't have to find a job when you go overseas because you already have a job, you just bring it with you.

Tanya 30:17

Yeah. True.

Daniel 30:18

Do you see that change in education system? Or do you think like, everything's gonna go back to normal? Because people are kids, they're not supposed to study over over a computer?

Tanya 30:28

Yeah, that's a good question. I think you're right, it's going to change to a certain extent, especially for those people that have the means to move abroad and to be mobile. I mean, there's, there's definitely a lot more options available. So we've seen just during this pandemic, a lot of families that we knew, were able to move back to their hometowns, or they were able to move closer to family in different states, because they could work remotely. And before that, they were, they were sort of forced to live here, where the job was, but now Yeah, now they can move all the way across the country still have the same job. Their kids could even be still in school here while they're living in another part of the country. So yeah, that definitely opened a lot of possibilities for for many people.

Daniel 31:24

On the next step, when you decide to move to a new country, do you have a plan? Or do you have a place where you want to go?

Tanya 31:31

Yeah, well, it's a good question. I think we don't have a plan yet. But we would probably like to move back to Canada, we haven't been there in like, seven years now. Our youngest doesn't even remember at all, where he was from or living there. So and our oldest son, who's now graduated from high school is living in Vancouver. So he is already there. And now that he's 18, so he's not able to be here in the US with us on my husband's visa. So eventually, probably somewhere back in Canada, not sure where, unless he gets my husband gets transferred to another country. I'd love to go back to Europe at some point, but we'll see

Daniel 32:23

How about your kids? Do they have any reference place that you want to go?

Tanya 32:26

Yeah, it's, um, I think it's changed over time, like my youngest, you know, for the longest time wanted to go back to Spain, was always saying that his goal was to go back to Spain to play soccer. But now I'm not sure I think he's quite happy here in Michigan, because this is probably this is a place where he's lived the longest now for his entire life. And then my, my oldest son, he was pretty happy here, too. He had a very good experience here in Michigan, then he went to Simon Fraser University in Burnaby. And then my daughter, I think she could she would probably be okay, moving. And now that, you know, it's the lockdown. I think in the whole pandemic, that is changed. Again, they're sort of opinion of being here, because we're not able to really do much here anymore. Like the things that we were used to participating in. They're not open, or they're not available to us. We can't do as much traveling, we can't see friends as as much as we used to either. And so the appeal of being here is is kind of goe. So I think I think all of us would be would be open to moving somewhere else, you know, just to, hopefully, maybe New Zealand.

Daniel 33:53

Yeah, they're not affected by COVID anymore. What was the biggest challenge you have to face when you move with with your family?

Tanya 34:02

Yeah, well, one of the biggest challenges is visas. The visa process for us to move to Spain was crazy. It took us took my husband over a year to get his visa. Oh, wow. And then it took the kids and I an extra six months after that, before we got our visa. So my husband moved there by himself first to start working. And then I stayed behind in Toronto with the kids. And we, so we had to get everything moved. We had to I had to rent the house and had to sort of keep calling lawyers to see what the status was on our visas. But it was so slow. It was I mean, there are no hurry. Like you go to the consulate and they this they're just like whatever, you know, they don't care. That you know our family is separated and then once and then I had to fly by myself with all four kids all the way to Spain. And we got established there. And then very soon after that the visa finally came. So I had to fly back to Toronto, by myself with all my kids to pick up the visas at the Spanish consulate in Toronto, and then fly all the way back to Spain. So and then we had to do that again, the following year. And I think we did that. I want to say three times.

Daniel 35:30

Oh, wow.

Tanya 35:31

When we were in Spain, so it was, it was a constant worry in the back of our minds, like, Oh, it's time to renew our visas. You know, what do we have to do this time. Tt was it was kind of a pain. But here in the US. It's, it's, um, it hasn't been as difficult, of course, because we can do it in English. So it makes it a little bit easier. But there's a lot of bureaucracy here as well. And we've had, I've had to renew my work permit. Now, going on my third time. Every time we renew our visas, it takes longer. So we have to, for example, our visa now will expire in July. And we've already begun the process of renewing our visa. It's a lot of paperwork, just a lot of, you know, photocopying, calling old employers, and you know, they want to know everything, like everything that even we did in Spain, you know, so it's, the process is getting, I think, more and more complicated for us to be in a country on a visa, maybe maybe due to the administration, or maybe due to this pandemic, and I'm not quite sure, but the process has definitely become more time consuming more complicated means

Daniel 36:49

Definitely a pandemic played a big role into the delay of this process. Yeah. But I'm curious, why did you have to fly back from Spain to Toronto, just to get your visa? Can you just get it delivered to Spain?

Tanya 37:02

Yeah, you have to go there in person to pick it up. And if I couldn't just go by myself, I had to bring all the kids with me because they had to be there in person to pick up their visas. That's the rule.

Daniel 37:15

That's, that sounds crazy. It's crazy.

Tanya 37:17

Yeah. So

Daniel 37:19

So sounds that you, as soon as you get to your new visa, you start the process to get

Tanya 37:23

The next one. Yeah. Pretty much. Yeah. It was it was like an ongoing process.

Daniel 37:29

So it was like a full time job. Just it? Yeah.

Tanya 37:32

Yeah. I mean, it's a lot of going back and forth with the lawyers and the, and the consultants and going lining up at this, this place and lining up at that place and bringing all your paperwork dragging the kids.

Daniel 37:44

Yeah. So and then even with your husband company supporting you. So if you have to do your own your own, yeah, will be more so much harder?

Tanya 37:54

I know, I think about that all the time, actually, like when we were lining up to get our visa work processed, that there were all of these families there. Some of them were refugees, some that are, you know, just newly immigrating to Spain, or to the US even and they didn't have any help doing this. And it's extremely complicated process. I mean, we have several lawyers that are working on it all the time. And if you didn't have that support, I mean, it would be Yeah, a very, very frustrating and expensive process too.

Daniel 38:29

Oh, totally. That's why so many people giving up.

Tanya 38:32


Daniel 38:32

Because there's like, they get to the point where I'm over it.

Tanya 38:36


Daniel 38:36

Even because all this process of trying to get your visa makes you feel unwanted, unwelcome. And that's the most frustrating part of the process. Because why do I have to fight so hard to stay in the country where it seems like they don't want me? I just move somewhere else. Right?

Tanya 38:54

Yeah. I don't know. It's, yeah, that has been one of the yeah, one of the most, I guess, irritating, aspects of moving. And then I guess the other hard part is just getting getting the kids adjusted to, to their new life and in dealing with their anxiety, and even, you know, depression over a loss of friends, loss of familiarity. You know, and as our kids are becoming all teenagers now, I mean, it's, it's again, it's a totally different experience and from moving with younger kids to moving with teenagers. Because there's even, I guess, more emotion that we have to that we have to deal with. Yeah.

Daniel 39:43

Oh, yeah, totally. I've even it's gonna get even harder and harder because the kids when they're, when a kid, they are willing to move, they're okay to move with family. But teenagers, when they go they'll be older, especially now. One of yours is 18 years old, so it's even harder to travel to move abroad with that. And also probably they don't even want to move anymore because they have the friends, maybe they have relationships, and they don't want to move anymore.

Tanya 40:07


Daniel 40:08

So Is that why you kind of try to find a place where you will settle down, or you think you're gonna keep going, even without your kids?

Tanya 40:15

Ah, I don't know, I think like, I'm always because of my upbringing, I'm pretty open to doing whatever, like whatever comes, you know, I will make do with, you know, with whatever situation, I think it would be nice to move, we'll probably move one more time with all the kids as a, as a family, since my son's already in Canada, it would be nice to move everybody sort of to Canada so that they can have that support, being together with their siblings. As for my husband, I mean, we could we could maybe move later when the kids are graduated from high school, and they're all on their own. So that would be a new chapter in our life. So kind of looking forward to it. And but it's nice to also establish some kind of home base so that the kids know where they can go. And we know where we can go once if we are abroad, that we have someplace to come back to. So I think we will try to establish that within our next move.

Daniel 41:21

Do you feel like you missing that a place that you can call home? Or you you're not because you're just used to it?

Tanya 41:27

I think I think I miss it. I think that when I see like my other siblings, because all of them are in British Columbia. And I see it, my parents are there now. And my husband's family is all there. I feel like we miss out on on all that family, extended family relationships, like the kids don't know their cousins very well. They don't know their aunts and uncles that well, or even their grandparents. So as always being somewhere else where nobody else is has been difficult in that way that they'd missed out on those close family relationships. I think it brings us closer together as a nuclear family. Because we have to just depend on each other. But it would be nice if they had, you know, a stronger bond with the rest of their family.

Daniel 42:20

Yeah. And where was the longest place you've been so far?

Tanya 42:25

Probably, Toronto.

Daniel 42:27

How long was that? Like, how many years you were there?

Tanya 42:30

We were there. No, we were there. We were there. 12 years. 12 years.

Daniel 42:35

Okay. S

Tanya 42:37

o because my husband moved there for the MBA. So that was two years of his MBA, then we started having kids. So and we didn't move from Toronto until our our oldest was already 11 years old, when we moved to Spain. So we were there for quite a while. But I don't consider it really our our home base because we don't have any other family there. It's sort of was the place that we were for a long time, but maybe not the place where we want to end up eventually,

Daniel 43:11

With the life that you live that you live, there's so many different counties, and you were immersed with so many different culture and languages. Do you feel lucky to have lived kind of life or you kind of have regretted that you didn't grew up in the same place of living? I don't know, living at airport your whole life?

Tanya 43:28

Yeah. Now I I really like it. I mean, I'm very, very glad that I was able to have that kind of upbringing, and that we were able to move as a family as well. I think that you cannot have I don't know, you can't replicate that kind of experience as actually living in a foreign country. You could travel, you can take your kids on vacation, you can visit places, but it won't be like living in another country. That is an experience. You can't, can't get except by actually, you know, going through it. So I think it's difficult for the kids, but they will, they will appreciate it when they get older. Sometimes I feel like I feel bad that, you know, we didn't have the easiest life, and that I'm sure they were dragged many places where they didn't actually want to be but hopefully, you know, in a few years, they will. They will thank us. Maybe.

Daniel 44:35

Absolutely. I mean, as you say, like when you move to a new country, or actually when you go to a country, as a tourist, you don't leave the same experience. Or you don't build the same skills that you build when you actually move to a new country. We discussed this in the previous episode with Jamie that we discussed about resilience, one of the main skills as an immigrant that you you need, and one of the things that you you gain by Be an immigrant, there's a resilience going through different challenges and get used to a new life. And to get like all going through all these changes. And that's the might be the main thing for for your kids. They're growing up, there was so much resilience or there will be so much resilient to go through other stage in life where it could be much harder. Because, yes, they went through a lot of stages, a lot of the change in their life with their kids, but the same time they were kids, correct me if I'm wrong, but usually when you get older, the challenges are getting bigger, because you get more responsibility. When you are a kid, yes, you're going through a really tough situation, but you still have the safety net of your parents. When you get older, the safety net somehow or in some circumstances disappear from underneath you. And then you have to be on your own and have they're resilient in their situation that's really help you to achieve maybe greater things in life.

Tanya 45:54

Yeah, yeah, hopefully. Well, that's the that's the hope for sure. The experiences that are the most challenging, often bring the greatest rewards that we don't always see the rewards right away.

Daniel 46:06

So it takes a while sometimes to see too good to be able to connect the dots. Right? Yeah. Thank you. Thank you so much for your time to take this interview and to share your story. If somebody related to your story wants to get in touch with you, what's the best way to get in contact with you?

Tanya 46:21

Well, I you can contact me I have a Facebook page or sorry, my facebook profile is just Tanya Iwaasa Armstrong or I have a blog. From the time that we lived in Spain, that's great for any families that are moving to that part of the world has great tips and tricks for moving to Spain, with a family with children, great ways to save money and to travel around that country. So it's Una Mesa Para Seis. I think you can link to it on your page.

Daniel 47:00

Yeah, absolutely. I don't even know how to spell that. But yeah, everything will be in the show notes for everything we discussed. and everything we talked about. It will be in the show notes on And also your profile so if somebody wants to get in touch with you, they can connect with you directly over the show notes. They can find your link there. Awesome. Thank you. Thank you so much Tanya for your time. Thank

Tanya 47:21

Thank you. All right. Take care.

Daniel 47:23

Than you! You too. Bye.

Tanya 47:24


Daniel 47:26

Thank you so much for tuning in this week. You can subscribe wherever you listen to your podcast. You can find the show notes with everything we discussed at, two five. If you enjoyed this episode, you can share with your friends consider leaving a review on Apple podcasts or book chaser. You can't believe how important that is to other people finding the show. Our goal is to help others in the journey as an immigrant. If you have any feedback or just want to get in touch with me, you can find me on social just search Emigrant's Life or email me directly at If you want to be on the show, you can send me an email or visit emigrants. Thanks again for listening. Talk to you in the next one. Ciao.