Extended stay feedback: Norwich, UK; Barcelona; Lyon, FR; Anchorage, AK

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Extended stay feedback: Norwich, UK; Barcelona; Lyon, FR; Anchorage, AK

Post by tanstaafl » Sat Aug 12, 2017 6:39 pm

Hello Bogleheads!

My wife and I and our two children may have an opportunity to visit one of these locations for about five months in Fall 2018, and we would love some informed feedback. Specifically, we want to hear from those who have visited or (better) lived in one of these places. We live in FL, and my wife and I have rudimentary Spanish (hers is better), and are willing to learn more or learn rudimentary French.

The locations:
-Anchorage, Alaska
-Barcelona, Spain
-Norwich, England
-Lyon, France

Our primary concerns:
1. Culture: All of these places will be a large departure from our current day-to-day, but it is hard to gauge the full difference browsing expat and travel forums. We understand that in both Barcelona and Lyon, we cannot expect to get by with English (except in the very touristy areas of Barcelona). We know there are expat schools in both cities, and think we can possibly use these parent networks to establish social connections. Any experience with this? The three european locations would all be larger cities than our current residence, and all seem very inviting in terms of amenities (especially the food in Barcelona and Lyon). Are there other aspects of daily living that we need to prioritize?

2. Weather: Alaska is the big question mark here. I grew up in the northern midwest and loved cold winters, but my wife and children are true southerners. Is there any hope of comprehending exactly how different (both in temp. and hours of sunlight) it will be? Also, any insight into Norwich and Lyon in the Fall? From internet browsing, we have a basic numeral idea of temp and clouds/rain.

3. Elementary schools: All seem to have options, but we are eager to hear if anyone has experience with any location.

4. Omissions? For those who have spent time in one of these, can you think of helpful information that we should take into account?

Thanks for your help!

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Peter Foley
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Re: Extended stay feedback: Norwich, UK; Barcelona; Lyon, FR; Anchorage, AK

Post by Peter Foley » Sat Aug 12, 2017 11:23 pm

I'm familiar with all the locations except Norwich.

I would explore the language used in the schools if you consider Barcelona. Catalan is the language most often heard in Barcelona. I do not know what languages are taught in the schools or if there are schools that specialize in particular language curricula .

Lost Laker
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Re: Extended stay feedback: Norwich, UK; Barcelona; Lyon, FR; Anchorage, AK

Post by Lost Laker » Sun Aug 13, 2017 12:24 am

As far as culture goes, don't think you will have too much trouble with Anchorage. You won't need a passport to fly to Alaska :wink: The city is about 300K population-wise and you will find most things in Anchorage that you would find in other similar-sized cities in the U.S. Plus there is a plethora of outdoor recreation opportunities. Additionally, a good portion of the population came to Alaska from somewhere else. And there is a large military population. In other words, I don't think culture will be too much of an issue. There will be new opportunities, however, such as learning about native Alaskan cultures. Coming from Florida, the weather will be a significant item for your family to consider. If your family is willing to get outside and be active, i.e., trying new activities like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing, sledding, etc., they will probably adjust and be fine. The key during winter is to get out of the house and do things. Where people have a hard time is when they spend most of the dark winter months cooped up indoors. After a full year in Alaska, most people either love it or dislike it. I don't know too many people with a middle-of-the-road attitude about Alaska. As far as elementary schools, just like any other state in the U.S., some are considered better than others.

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Re: Extended stay feedback: Norwich, UK; Barcelona; Lyon, FR; Anchorage, AK

Post by Valuethinker » Sun Aug 13, 2017 7:28 am


University town. Has a slightly green leftish tinge (a la Berkeley California). Rest assured there will also be social housing slums and bad areas.

It's also a Cathedral city and beautiful medieval heritage (that part of England was the richest in the middle ages. There are hundreds of beautiful churches from that date, thereabouts.

The coast above Norwich (Cromer and that) is very beautiful especially in winter when it is not overcrowded. It's also quite posh (the Queen's castle at Sandringham is not so far away).

That said the road access to there is surprisingly bad.

Train to London is easy can do a day trip. However also very popular and expensive in commuting hours.

It's a lovely city. Cannot speak to schools but the English school system is very different. 5 months would be difficult and many schools don't have enough spaces (baby boom).

More later.

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Re: Extended stay feedback: Norwich, UK; Barcelona; Lyon, FR; Anchorage, AK

Post by Numa » Sun Aug 13, 2017 10:07 am

I think this is a very personal decision, and depends a lot on your particular interests. I would jump at the chance to spend 5 months in Lyon, but then I adore art, food, and wine. I would love the opportunity to spend 5 months learning the language well--you'd be amazed how much you can pick up in 5 months of total immersion, even as a beginner. Barcelona would be a close second. I'm not sure there's much going on in Norwich, but I've never been there. I personally would not put school choice very high on the list for just five months--the experience of living in another country would be worth more to your kids and will stay with them for their whole lives. Nor would I consider climate particularly important if choosing between the three cities in Europe (specially in fall). Alaska's another story. I know Alaska well and wouldn't bother with Anchorage unless you love winter sports; otherwise it's just another mid-sized American city. It will be COLD in the fall and very dark as you approach December. I would never choose Anchorage over Lyon or Barcelona; I would consider it a huge waste of magical opportunity to live in a great European city.

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