Tag Archives: culture

A Kid’s Life: Colombia

15 Jan

I’m really excited to have a new A Kid’s Life interview on the blog today.  As I’ve mentioned before, this is a great way to see how families from around the world live their daily life.  We get a peek into a different culture by seeing what an average family’s daily grind is like.  So far we’ve had interviews with families from Italy, Japan, America, The Philippines, Canada, Belgium, Germany, Holland, New Zealand and Australia (Tasmania).  I’ve loved all the families I’ve interviewed and I hope to meet some in person in the future. Today we have a visit from a wonderful Colombian family.  I was put into contact with Andrea through Giova who did our Holland interview.  Andrea lives with her family in Bogota, Colombia.  She’s an architect who is currently at home with her daughter and an avid and passionate crafter (check out her hair accessory line here on Facebook).  Andrea is a hands-on mother who spends every afternoon with her daughter and beloved dog Niebla going to parks, playdates or doing something artistic. After reading the interview I am in shock at what time school starts at Andrea’s daughter’s school.  I won’t be complaining about our 6:45 am wake-ups anymore.  And I can relate to the birthday parties that she talks about attending so often. We also seem to have one every other week.  Oh the joys of having popular and well liked kids! So read on and find out what life is like for this Colombian family.


What country do you live in? We live in Colombia, in Bogotá, the capital city. Bogotá is huge, and it´s hectic and beautiful at the same time. Are you and your husband the same nationality?  Yes, we are both Colombian, and we are also Spanish.  Do you both work? Or does someone stay at home?  I stay at home and sometimes work from home. How many languages are spoken in your house? What one(s)?  We speak Spanish. My husband and I also know English. And my husband knows German because he attended a German school as a kid. Now our daughter is attending that same school and is starting to learn German too. I wish I spoke German, but I’ve tried and it’s not easy at all!


How many kids do you have? What are their ages?  We have one girl, Gabriela. She is 5 “and a half”, as she would say. Click to continue reading interview! Continue reading


A Kid’s Life: New Zealand

8 Oct

Time for another post in my A Kid’s Life series.  This series is a great way to learn about other countries and cultures by looking at families and their daily routines and traditions.  I love hearing about what people from a different country eat, how they spend their free time, what sort of activities the kids do and about the local school systems.

Today we are visiting with Hana from New Zealand.  Hana is a self proclaimed eternal optimist and dreamer.  She has the blog A Happy Adventure  where she writes about parenting and making her daughters lives as magical as possible.  I absolutely adore her Little World series!  I’ve never met Hana but I just know she’s one of those cheerful, positive,creative and witty people that we could all benefit from spending time with.

I’ve always been interested in New Zealand and I loved reading about Hana and her family’s daily life there.  She talks about Christmas in such a different way than I’m used to (camping and beach!) and now I’m curious about what pikelets and kumara are!

So let’s meet Hana and her family…

What country do you live in?

New Zealand

Are you and your husband the same nationality?

Yep – we are both kiwis – in fact we both grew up in the same part of NZ, meeting at High School.

Do you both work?  Or does someone stay at home?  

My husband, Barry, works outside the home, and I stay at home with our girls.

How many languages are spoken in your house?  What one(s)?

One – English.

How many kids do you have?  What are their ages?

We have three girls – Ava will be five next week, Lola is three and Belle is 21 months.

At what age do kids start school in your country?

Children in New Zealand generally start school on their 5th birthday.  Although, oddly, it isn’t a legal requirement to be at school until they are 6.

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A Kid’s Life: Canada

6 Sep

Another installment of A Kid’s Life is ready!  As I’ve said in previous posts, I absolutely love doing this series and reading about all the differences from families from around the globe.  You learn a lot about a culture by what they do on a daily routine basis.  I now know that they eat miso soup for breakfast in Japan, the school bus arrives at 6:45am in the Philippines, in Italy they have 3 1/2 months of summer holidays from school, some kids are “red shirted” in America and in Tasmania your kids can choose to study Japanese, Chinese or Italian (among other languages) at school.  I adore learning all these little tidbits about the daily grind from other countries and cultures!

And this time it’s…….Canada!  I’m obviously really excited for this interview due to the fact  I spent the first 25 years of my life in Canada.  Just reading this interview brought back lots of lovely memories of my childhood.  I loved reading that they eat dinner at 5pm.  They don’t believe me here in Italy that I used to eat that early. 5pm is snack-time over here.

Sandra is part of this amazing network of bloggers that I’ve come into contact with and I really admire her outlook and enthusiasm on life.  Her blog Raincoast Cottage is one of those sites that I blame my messy house on.  I end up on that site for ages almost every time I pop over.  Her recipes are amazingly diverse, her links are always so interesting and her love for photography is a shared passion that I can really relate to.  Her posts are honest, frank and down-to-earth.  I really appreciate that in a blog (and in a person actually).

So let’s take a little peek into the life of this Canadian family…

 What country do you live in?

I live in Canada – specifically, on the west coast of Canada in a medium-sized city called Vancouver. It’s a large country and defined very much by geography. Where I live is very rain forest-like. Lots of rain most of the year and lush and very little snow in the winter. Not what you usually think of when you think of Canada!

And although we are next to the US, we are very much strongly influenced by our founding countries, France and England. Also, being part of the Commonwealth provides strong ties to the United Kingdom as well as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, etc.

Are you and your husband the same nationality?

We are both Canadian. Canada is a nation of immigrants and we tend to think of ourselves as hyphenated – Our original nationality PLUS Canadian. It’s a mosaic rather than a melting pot. You don’t leave your origins behind when you become Canadian.

My husband is a second generation Canadian while I am a first generation Canadian whose parents immigrated from Eastern Europe.

Do you both work?  Or does someone stay at home?

We both work but the paid work is primarily done by my husband. He has a corporate-y job. By training I am a marriage & family therapist but have the luxury to choose to stay home with our six year old daughter.

How many languages are spoken in your house?  What one(s)?

English primarily. We’re a bilingual country so we all know French too.

How many kids do you have?  What are their ages?

We have one daughter who is six and ¾ (as she would say) and just started grade 2.

At what age do kids start school in your country?

Grade 1 is the first year of formal school and kids tend to start in the calendar year that they turn six. Most children also go to kindergarten when they are five. Many also do a few hours a day of nursery school when they are 3-4 years of age.

To be honest, I think we start too early! The Finns begin formal schooling at age 7 and have spectacular outcomes.

 During the school year what time do your kid(s)usually wake up?

My daughter is a morning person and luckily so are we as she tends to wake up between 6am and 7am no matter when she goes to bed. We all hit the ground running, so to speak.

What do your kid(s) typically eat for breakfast?

She usually starts with some fresh fruit – whatever is in season. Then lately it’s a toasted bagel with some butter. This past weekend we made crepes together.

 What time does school start?  What time does it finish?  What is the weekly school schedule? 

Her school starts at 8:30am. It’s a 20 minute walk each way through our neighbourhood and I love it! We have the most delightful conversations on the way to and from school.

She finishes at 3:30pm.

In addition to the academic subjects she has gym three times a week, three recesses daily, art, drama, and music.

Do your kids learn a second/third language at school?  From what age?

Being a bilingual country, everyone learns French and English. Here in the English speaking part of Canada you can also choose to go to a public French immersion school from grade 1 onward.

So when it starts depends upon the type of school – public or private, French immersion or not. And on top of that you can take an additional language in high school.

Do your kids eat lunch at school or home? What is a typical lunch for your kids?

She eats lunch at school and I can either make one for her to take along or order a hot lunch. I go through the menu with her and order two months ahead. Pasta, salads, hamburger, etc. The usual.

This fall she’ll do the hot lunch three days a week and I’ll make her a lunch two days a week.

For the packed lunch I make pasta or a vegetable soup. Some fresh vegetables like bell peppers, cucumber, snow peas, carrots, or tomatoes. Fresh fruit like apples or berries. Snacks for one of three recesses like crackers or a cookie or pretzels.

Do your kids do any after-school activities?

It depends upon the season. I don’t want to overload her with after-school activities but she’s a pretty active girl. There’s a dojang in the neighbourhood that we walk to where she takes karate. And we live two blocks from a park where she is on a soccer team. Finally, there’s usually an art class or a drama/improv class. Some of this is on the weekend of course! I try and leave enough time to hang out and have some play dates with friends.

What time do you eat dinner?  What’s a typical dinner you would eat?

We eat around 5pm. She’s starving after school and snacks on fruit and vegetables til supper.

A typical dinner would be pasta or some grilled chicken with steamed vegetables. Dessert perhaps once a week. Meat probably three times a week. I’ll make stew in the winter. And we often go out for sushi.

How much television/computer time do your kid(s) have on a daily basis? 

We limit it to an hour of screen time a day. She can choose whether it’s a favourite tv show that we tape ahead of time or playing Plants vs. Zombies. In addition to minimizing it, I like her having to make a choice. Sometimes you make a lesser choice but you learn!

What time do your kid(s) go to bed?

She is “full on” once she is up and needs still about 11 hours a night. In the summer she’s up til 8 but during the school year she’s in bed ready to sleep by 7:30pm.

 What are some typical family week-end activities?

This is an outdoors and sporty city. Hiking, biking, skiing, snowboarding, sailing, running, yoga  – all are a priority for those who live here. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!

In the summer we’ll go walk/bike along the beach. Go to a farmer’s market. Play in the playground. Jump on the trampoline.

Winter – swim, ski and snowboard (we live 45 minutes away from a number of local ski hills and 1½ hours away from Whistler). Play board games. Watch a movie together. Read books. Do crafts and art projects. Skating – we’re a big hockey nation so every kids learns to ice skate.

We might have some friends around for brunch or dinner. We try and see live music and go to museums as well.

When do your kids have vacation from school?

Summer vacation starts the last week of June and goes til the first week in September. Each month has a three day weekend (that’s for everyone, not just school kids). Two weeks at Christmas and a couple of weeks in the spring as well.

We love to travel – the winter break usually finds us in Hawaii and spring break this past year we went to Disneyland. My parents live 1½ hours away by plane so we fly there a few times a year. And an annual NYC fix for theatre and galleries and museums.

My husband has an extended leave coming up in the next few years and we are considering spending it overseas – most likely Europe.

What do your kid(s) do during the summer vacation?

Most kids go to day camp and then eventually an overnight camp. This past summer she’s gone to a bike camp (biking is very big here), soccer camp, karate camp, and an art camp.

July tends to be camps and August we rent a cottage on a lake and spend the time water skiing and wakeboarding and swimming.

 What are the typical “first foods” for a baby to eat in your country?

Solids usually aren’t introduced til 6 months and it’s usually rice cereal. We get a year of paid maternity leave so it’s much easier to breastfeed for longer too.

A Big thank you to Sandra for doing this interview.  I really loved reading it.  Previous posts in this series…Italy, Japan, America, The Philippines and Tasmania.

A Kid’s Life: Japan

23 Jul

A while back I published my first post in my A Kid’s Life series.  I give a short interview with families from around the world about their daily traditions and routines.  I thought it would be a great way to see how other people pass a regular day in their life and see how it differs from ours.

For this A Kid’s Life post I decided to contact my friend Kumi who lives in Japan.  Kumi and I studied French together many years ago and she is one of those gentle, generous souls.  We’ve kept in touch on and off over the years via snail mail and we recently got to see each other again in person on our recent trip to Japan.  We met as young single women and are now both happily married mamas.  How times have changed.

After spending time with Kumi and her family we realized that although we live in different countries with different cultures and daily rhythms, some things about life with kids are universal.  Such as ice cream and skip rope!

Here’s Kumi’s interview accompanied by a few photos that I took while staying with them.  Enjoy!

Where do you live?

We live in Japan.

Are both you and your husband the same nationality?

Yes, we are both Japanese.

How many children do you have?  What are their ages?

We have one daughter who is 7 years old.

Do you both work or does someone stay at home?

My husband works full time and I work only 2 days per week.

How many languages do you speak at home?

We speak Japanese together.  Sometimes we speak some English as a sort of game.

At what age do kids start school in your country?

In Japan kids start school at 6 or 7 years old.

During the school year, what time do you wake up?

We wake up at 6:30am.

What is a typical breakfast for your family?

We eat rice balls and miso soup.

What time does school start and finish?  What is the weekly school schedule?

My daughter is in the second grade and starts school at 8:40 and finishes at 2:20pm.  In the higher grades the kids finish at 3:15pm.  In second grade the kids learn Japanese, arithmetic, drawing, manual arts, physical training, calligraphy, music and life studies.

Do your kids learn a second or third language at school?  From what age?

In Japan they learn English from the second grade.  They learn English games and songs…not too hard!

Do kids eat lunch at home or at school?  What is a typical lunch?

Usually kids eat lunch at school.  They mainly eat rice or bread and milk but sometimes also Chinese, Italian, Korean and Mexican food.

Do your kids do any after-school activities?

My daughter doesn’t do any after-school activities but this is VERY rare in Japan.  Usually almost all kids do dance, swimming, calligraphy, English, abacus etc etc.

What time do you eat dinner?  What is a typical dinner you would eat?

We usually eat around 7pm.  A favorite dinner of my husband is okonomiyake (Japanese pizza).

How much television/computer time do your kids have on a daily basis?

Usually 2 hours.

What’s bed time in your house?

My daughter goes to bed around 9:30pm.

What are some typical family week-end activities?

In the mornings my daughter watches cartoons and then we do some shopping and go anywhere my daughter wants!

When is the school vacation?

In the summer there is the 44 days of summer vacation from late July to late August.  Then there are a few weeks in December and in March/April.

What are the typical “first foods” for a baby to eat in your country?

A vegetable soup made with white radish or cabbage and boiled fish or meat paste.

Do you notice any big differences between Kumi and her family’s life and yours?  I personally love the breakfasts they eat and the fact that school ends so early in the afternoon.  Any other questions that you think might be interesting to ask?  Check out the last A Kid’s Life:Italia here.

A Kid’s Life: Italia

26 Jun

One of the things I’m most interested in is a country’s daily traditions, routines and culture.  I love learning about what an average person does on an average day and finding out all the big and more discreet differences compared to my and my family’s daily routine and happenings.

When I meet a new family from a different country I can usually be found grilling them with questions regarding what they eat, their school system, their free time activities, their daily schedules and vacation rituals.  It’s so interesting to learn about a new culture through what they do on a daily routine basis.

We personally are a bit of a mixed family in regards to our daily routines and traditions thanks to the fact we are a Canadian and a Belgian living in Italy.  We have sort of adopted different aspects of all three cultures and mixed it all up into our daily grind.  It works for us but I’m sure some people would find it absolutely confusing.

So I’ve decided to contact some families from various countries and ask them some pretty basic and simple questions regarding their family and kid’s daily life.  The last question is my favorite, it’s really something I find so interesting to hear from different cultures.  Hope you enjoy it!

I thought I would interview an Italian family as the kick-off to this series.  Gaia has been a good friend of mine for years and is also a fellow blogger (check out her site patasgnaffi).  Let’s see what she has to say about her daily life.

Where do you live?
I live in Northern Italy on Lago Maggiore

Are both you and your husband the same nationality?
Yes, both Italian.

How many children do you have? What are their ages?
We have 3 kids: a 10 year old boy, a little 6 year old girl who is convinced she’s a princess and wee little gnome of a girl who just turned one.

What language(s) do you speak at home?
We speak Italian at home.

In Italy what age do kids start school?
In Italy kids start elementary/Primary school at 6 years old, which means La Principessa will start this coming September.  {Jillian: Italian Scuola Materna (kindergarten)  starts at 3 years old}

During the school year, what time do your kids get up in the morning?
We all get up at 7:15

What do your kids eat for breakfast?
I always try to have a cake or some muffins made for breakfast, but often my kids prefer to eat bread with butter and jam or cereal with fruit.  There is always freshly squeezed orange juice on the table and La Principessa has discovered that a good omelet in the morning is fantastic!

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