Changes, living life, taking risks
For those who read this blog frequently you will have noticed the extreme lack of blogging this year, that would be because my life has been ridiculously busy dealing with decisions we have made. Decisions that are going to massively change my life and our family’s life.
When I decided to go to university to study French, many many years ago, “grown-ups” would ask me what I wanted to do with my French degree, and I would joke “go and live on a French-speaking tropical island”. Whilst it was always a joke, a part of me would think “ooh how amazing would that be?!?”.
When Hubs and I moved to London from Nice 5 years ago, people asked if it was forever, and we always said “who knows?”. Well it’s now time to move on….
So where is Franglaise Family heading to? I hear you ask….
A beautiful island, in the Indian Ocean.
For those of you who don’t know, Mauritius can be found to the east of Madagascar, it is a smallish island (just over 2000 km2) with a population of around 1.3 million.
So why Mauritius?
Well, there are so many reasons….because Hubs’s work is internet-based it means we aren’t tied to any one location, and as much as we both love London we do really miss the sunshine, warmth and beaches that we’d got used to in the south of France. So it ticks that box.
For a long time we’d been looking for that ideal combination – a country that speaks both English and French for our Franglaise family, and Mauritius is such a fantastic mix of both languages.
Mauritius was under French rule from 1710 until 1810 when it was captured by the British, who then ruled it until 1968 when it became an independent state with Queen Elizabeth as Queen of Mauritius. Finally in 1991 Mauritius became a republic within the Commonwealth.
This mixed history means that you can really see the French and British influences in the island, both in language and in the way things are done – French is spoken throughout the island but English is the language of administration and bureaucracy, whilst schooling is based on the UK system and they drive on the left (like in the UK).
This massively appeals to Hubs and me. When we lived in France we strived to find a way to balance out the Frenchness of L’s life with some Englishness, then back in Blighty we struggled to add the French language and culture into both our daughter’s lives. In Mauritius it feels a bit like we’ve finally found a compromise.
Obviously the fact that it is a beautiful island with an incredible climate doesn’t go against it! On the coast the temperature goes from 20°C during the dry winter (our UK summer) to highs of about 35°C in their wet summer.
The country is also a fabulous melting-pot of nationalities, cultures and religions: nearly half the country are hindus, nearly a third are christians, with Islam making up 17%. Despite the mix it is a really peaceful country where religions worship side by side and public holidays celebrate all the different religions and cultures such as :
- Eid-Ul-Fitr (Muslims)
- Diwali (Hindus)
- Chinese spring festival
Hubs and I are both atheist and we teach our children about all religions, so that they understand others’ beliefs, which means that we love this set-up! One of my biggest regrets about French national schooling was that it is secular, so if we’d stayed there L wouldn’t have learnt about different religions.
Language-wise, schooling is bilingual (English-French) which has been my dream since becoming a mum so I’m in heaven about that. In addition the common language across the island is Mauritian Creole (which most people speak at home as their first language). Based on the French language this form of Creole is relatively easy for the French to understand (especially those who have an ear for languages) as it is a kind of phonetic French! We’re all very excited about learning this new language, especially L 🙂
As if all the above wasn’t enough Mauritius is a fantastic country for outdoor sports and despite only being 8 years old, L has set her sights on learning how to kite surf!
For us Mauritius just ticks so many boxes – including quite a few important ones for us as parents:
- The education system is good (based on the UK system)
- The healthcare system is good (based on the UK system)
- The political system is stable (based on the UK system)
- The climate is not too extreme (see above)
- The languages are ones we speak
- There is a great melting-pot with people living happily side by side
- There is general stability in the country (it is not prone to riots or terrorism)
- In general it is a safe place to live (especially considering that it is in Africa), with no malaria, no rabies, very few health risks – other than some cases of dengue and chikungunya, and the occasional cyclone
- There is so much outdoor sport for us all to join in with – I know I can’t wait to get hiking again 🙂
So that’s it. The decision is made and now we are preparing to move there as we sort our way through paperwork, visas, jabs etc.
I will keep blogging, as I will always be Franglaise Mummy, but I’m sure my take on things will be very different when we trade London for a paradise island!
A big thank you to Priscille from Discover Mauritius for letting me share her gorgeous photos here (all photos courtesy of her fabulous blog). If you want to see more beautiful photos or learn more about this incredible country I urge you to go to her blog and Facebook page.