Thursday, May 3, 2012

Preview Trip: Part 4

We began Wednesday fairly confident we'd be taking the apartment we saw on Monday in Belair.  Yet one unknown still loomed large: schools.  Our relocation agency knows very little about the local schools (even which ages go where, school boundaries for neighborhoods, etc) because 99.9% of the expats they work with put their kids in private school here (see previous posts on why that's not a long-term option for us).  Neither of the agents we'd been working with had dealt with a situation like ours before.  Thus, local schools in Luxembourg remained a great mystery to us.

Against all apparent odds, they managed to get us appointments at the primary school and preschool/kindergarden in Belair on Wednesday morning.

And the schools were amazing!  We were so relieved!

We spoke at length with the "President" of the two schools.  She was extremely kind, helpful, and spoke great English.  We even got to look around a bit and peek into a couple classes.  Everyone was friendly, the children looked happy, and the school buildings were pleasant and well-cared for, with tons of student art decorating the walls and hanging from ceilings.   Our kids are going to love this!  It's going to be difficult at first, but it will be a great experience.

But by the way, confirming our suspicions from the beginning, the President could only think of a handful of English speaking kids in the schools, and not a single child with two American parents!


Simple decision, yes?  Belair apartment is a go!  The kids will attend school from June 4th-July 15th this year and get some great language practice for the fall.

Ah, but it's never that simple.

At this point we had one more apartment to visit.  We had only seen a picture of the front of the building but had walked by it on Sunday.  We ruled out all the others on our list of potentials because they were either too expensive or not available until mid-July, which would be much more complicated from both moving and schooling standpoints (the kids probably won't be able to attend school until we actually take possession of an apartment, and we really want them to get that language practice before the summer)

The question was, would this new apartment feed into the same schools we had just visited?  Not even the schools know exactly where their boundary ends - it's up to the Education Ministry of the city.  Our agent was trying to have her office get ahold of the Educaiton Ministry to shed some light on our situation.

And, of course, we liked this other apartment better.  Waaaayyyy better.   Virtually every doubt we had about the first apartment, this one overcame.  Better interior, better features, closer to work, and we liked the neighborhood much better.  For a little more money, we could still meet our budget in a much more livable apartment.

near Parc Merl
green space in back!
And then our agent got a call from her office.  This apartment is less than a block from the school boundary - and outside of Belair, in Hollerich.

Of course it is.  Sigh.

If we want to sign a rental contract by the end of the week, we needed to make this decision today.

It was too late to make an appointment to see the Hollerich school that afternoon, but we decided to at least find it and look around.   Our agent made a valiant effort to get inside, and we found the lunchtime daycare in session (kids either stay at daycare over the 1.5 hour lunch or go home for lunch).  Our agent talked to the daycare supervisor, who informed us that the rest of the school was actually closed today due to a school-wide field trip.  We can try to make an appointment for Thursday or Friday.

Well, shoot.

So we stood outside the school with our agent to hash it out.  Here's what we figured:  The daycare supervisor and workers we briefly met seemed kind and helpful.  We suspect that the school's attitude will be similar, and that the quality of the school will not likely be vastly different from the Belair school.  If some of the areas this school pools from are slightly "lower middle class," than in Belair, it's only likely we (and our kids) will feel more comfortable and at home rather than less.

primary school (1st-6th grade)

One huge advantage of the Hollerich schools is that both the preschool/kindergarten and primary schools are right next to each other, so dropping off/picking up will be a lot simpler and more doable with no car.

So we decided.  Apartment 2 in Hollerich, and hope for the best for school!!

And thus concludes our own personal episode of House Hunters International.   Thrilling, eh?

Roll credits!

Our apartment! (directly above us)

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