Life swap

Nidderdale, Yorkshire.

Once upon a time  – 1989 actually – two babies were born: a girl in England, a boy in Spain.  They each had siblings more than ten years older than they were.  They each went to school and did well, and in due course they went to University.

When they graduated, they wanted to train or work as teachers.  The reality was that one of them could only find a job in a call centre, the other by working in a bar or restaurant  It wasn’t what they wanted.

By chance, opportunity knocked.  The English girl got the chance to work as a teaching assistant in Spain.  The Spanish boy became an au pair in England.  They worked and learnt hard, and within a year, both had found regular teaching posts.

Since then, five or six years have passed.  The English girl speaks Spanish with ease.  The Spanish boy is very comfortable speaking English.  Their careers have developed nicely.  Each considers the country that they ended up in, almost by chance, as home.

Have you guessed yet that the English child is my daughter Emily?  The Spanish child is my new Spanish teacher Javi.  If they wanted, it’s not impossible that they could swap the lives they’ve chosen by exchanging their jobs, their homes and their social lives with each other, and go back to their countries of birth.  But they don’t want to.  They’re settled, and feel enriched by the choices they’ve made.  It’s called ‘Freedom of Movement’.

La Rioja, Spain


Author: margaret21

I'm retired and living in North Yorkshire, where I walk as often as I can, write, volunteer, and travel as often as I can.

23 thoughts on “Life swap”

  1. Seem to recall Emily Bronte went to Brussels too but didn’t stay as long.
    Great tale. New Spanish teacher? We are overdue a catch up! X

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oooh – I was rushing ahead and already saw the wedding bells for your Emily and the au-pair Spanish Javi…. what a great story and what an even greater misère that your beautiful country is going backwards …. but I won’t go any further, I know that you are despairing too! I remember how difficult it was for me as a Swiss to visit my husband when he got a work permit for his job in England…. On every trip I had to fill in papers and had to take the ‘long route’ through customs, telling every time the same story, which was checked and checked again…. I even had to renew my Swiss passport this year because we fear that ‘only’ with our ID cards we won’t be let in anymore on any of our next visits of our English friends. The world could be such a splendid place if everybody was a bit more accommodating. We often say that (particularly in Switzerland but I guess everywhere) all those people who are so narrow-minded and self-obsessed, should go abroad here and there for a few months/years, learn about other cultures, other mind-sets and learn to open up their hearts and brains, things would be much, much easier for everybody.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Sadly, I know too many people from my own country who would love to build a Mexican Wall around their ‘private garden’…. And this although hardly anyone in Switzerland has the means to buy their own house or even an appartment!!!! But they have huge MIND GARDENS full of privacy and sceptisim, xenophobie and blinkered opinions.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. They have both done very well and have (I am sure) worked very hard to get where they are. As the others have said before me, the current political situation cannot make either of them feel as settled as they would like.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We could come up with far too many scary stories about how freedom of movement is under threat right now. Emily and Javi have worked within the system, it seems, and are probably safer than people who are fleeing a dangerous country/situation, etc., and not working through the system? Or is this one more thing I’m clueless abut?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Of course they’re not either refugees or asylum seekers with all the misery and danger that can entail. However, England has been busily removing the right to remain from some European citizens who have lived here for years with their English spouse with whom they have children. There’s a story like this in the papers several times a week.


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