Natasha Brough is a 14 year old Australian who moved to Spain with her parents when she was 8. They first lived in Valencia but moved to Barcelona a year ago. Here Natasha tells us about her life in Spain, why she chose to be home schooled, what she is passionate about and her plans for the future.
Which school did you go to in Valencia? Did you enjoy it?
I went to Caxton College in Valencia. It is an international school but when I moved there lots of the foreigners had left because the America’s Cup had just finished so they had moved on to their next destination. Although it is an international school, majority of the students are Spanish, I would say 70/30. When I moved there I was really lucky to find a great group of Spanish girls that took me under their wing and showed me the ways of the school. I definitely was lucky for that because they made the move so much easier because I had a group of friends. I also think that really helped me learn Spanish a lot quicker. They spoke Spanish in the playground, therefore I felt like I had to learn it to be closer to them and gain a better relationship. Of course over the years our friendships did slowly fade but I would still call all of them good friends. I did enjoy the school, especially now I have seen other schools here in Barcelona you kind of realize how good your school actually was. Of course when you are in the school you are like “I hate this school, I want to get out!” but the school had great facilities and so many very talented students; singers, artists, dancers, sport people, which is a great aspect of the school.
What languages do you speak?
I speak, fluently, Spanish and English. I probably speak 50% of Catalan. I can understand it most of the time and I can speak a bit of it. I am actually still learning, I did a beginners course this year with my mum and we graduated from that so we will be starting the next stage in September. I also learned French for two years in my old school, in Caxton, but I have been a little lazy with it these past months so I have lost quite a bit of it but I do want to start doing it again. And I also starting learning Portuguese this year on my own, which is really fun, but I am definitely at the beginning stages of it.
What made you decide to start homeschooling? Did your parents influence your decision?
My parents were looking for schools up here, in Barcelona, and all the international/English schools were really expensive for what they were and also, the ones that did have nice facilities, had long waiting lists for the year I was going into. I remember one day my parents were discussing it and I just brought up the idea of me being homeschooled. They were kind of surprised and they hadn’t even thought of it as a possibility but when I mentioned it they started to realize that it could be a really great type of schooling for me. Since I have grown up with things like the internet, I have heard of youtubers and celebrities, even characters on tv shows being homeschooled so I just thought it was another way of schooling, some people go to school and others are homeschooled. Also, although I had always gone to a normal school, the idea of being homeschooled wasn’t anything scary to me; it just felt like changing schools. Then my parents started to research it and the more information they found about it the better homeschooling seemed.
There are many different styles and approaches to homeschooling. Can you explain the approach you have chosen (ie. online courses, tutors at home, studying alone or in a group)?
The approach we chose was Oxford homeschooling. They send you binders, a binder for each subject that is filled with basically the whole year, all the lessons, exams, everything you need. You also have to buy about four books. You go through the lessons and in between are questions and activities, for science there are experiments you should do. There are also websites you should check out or videos or online activities you have to do. So there is a mix of both online and on paper. Then at the end of each subject, which is about eight lessons, you do a TMA (assessment). All the assessments and selected activities we scan on to the computer and then send to the teacher. For each subject I have a different teacher that lives in the UK. So what they do is they call me every two weeks to check up and then if I have any problems I can call them or email them whenever I need to, which is really helpful. This year I probably did 60% of my studies on paper and the other 40% online but next year I do want to try and do more online. That is a good thing about homeschooling; you can really customize it to what fits you best.
What other benefits are there?
A great benefit of homeschooling is that you get a better quality of study, if you don’t understand something you can put more time into that and less into something that is easy for you. In a school they have to cater to the average learner so it is not specific to how you learn, which you can do with homeschooling. One of the main benefits of homeschooling is the extra time you have, and how quickly you get everything done. The time you take to do your work compared to a normal school is just ridiculous! I knew homeschooling took less time but it really blew my mind how much quicker it truly was. Of course this was my first year of homeschooling so I am sure in years to come we will be more organized, but I did three hours of schoolwork each morning five days a week. It actually ended up being only three days a week because I had Catalan classes on Monday and Wednesday. Despite this I still finished a month in advance of normal schools, so the time is definitely a big benefit of homeschooling. Also because you save lots of time with your school work you have opportunities to do other things, for example, I play football so in the middle of the day I do extra training with my dad. Another project I am doing at the moment is designing/creating my own fashion company and if I was not homeschooled I wouldn’t even dream of doing this. The experience of creating this company has taught me, and is still teaching me, so much things that I wouldn’t learn at school. It truly has been eye opening seeing how businesses are created, how many steps there are, learning all about licensing and website design, contacting other companies, writing emails; getting all these people sorted to make this one idea a reality. Like I said before, that has been something that I am so happy I am being able to do that I wouldn’t have attending a school nor would I have learned so many life skills since you don’t really learn things like this.
Have you found any drawbacks with homeschooling?
Of course I have, I think there are pros and cons with everything thing in life, nothing is perfect and that includes homeschooling. Sometimes it is a little frustrating because at a school the teachers have everything planned, all their PowerPoints and notes, so you don’t have to worry about anything. It is a little annoying not to have that. But with homeschooling sometimes you have to research things that a teacher normally does. Another slight drawback of homeschooling is you can’t ask your classmates for advice or share ideas with each other, of course not copying, but conversing about the projects therefore being able to work with each other’s idea making the whole project better. Although, having said that, it does make you a more independent learner and teaches you to think harder since the ideas aren’t handed to you on a plate. But if you are feeling lazy the internet is a great solution to finding ideas and also discussing with other students from all around the world!
Do you miss the social element of going to school each day and interacting with other people?
I am not going to lie, I do miss it sometimes. In my old school I had great friends and it was fun playing with them at lunch and sometimes in class, so, now that I think about it, it’s better for my learning that I don’t have them as a distraction! Everybody that does homeschooling probably misses it at one stage in their school life but, don’t get it twisted, I still have made lots of friends here and this year was my first year so I wasn’t really focusing on the social aspect as much as I would have liked to. I do sometimes miss the social aspect but the positive completely outweighs that. Being able to create a clothing company, being able to train like a professional with my dad and still having half the day left is just something I wouldn't trade for being able to talk with people in a school.
What interests do you have outside of school?
I play football and I have done since I was four years old. I also have a massive interest in fashion and fashion designing. I have a big interest in acting and film making; I actually have started to write my own movie scripts. Recently I went to the Afilm movie making course, which I found on MumAbroad, where we got to film our own short movie in a group of three and it was so much fun! I love dancing as well. I also enjoy arts and crafts, I love drawing, painting, making little crafts or things for my dolls, DIY’s etc. Sims 4 is also an interest/love of mine so, as you can see, I have lots of interests which this year I would like to explore more.
Can you tell us more about your passion for football?
My passion for football probably started from birth because my brother played football so I was always going to football with him and when he got into a representative side we had to travel all across Australia and it would just be football, football, football for like a week. I actually started playing when I was four years old for my school team and I started one year early, so I was playing against five year olds, because I wanted to play so badly! I definitely think my passion for football came from my brother, although siblings fight all the time (and it was no exception for my brother and I) I think every younger sibling wants to be just like their older brother/sister, but of course they will never admit it. So that was true for me as a young child, I just wanted to be like him (well better then him!) therefore the reason I started playing was because of him and because I was around it so much.
When we moved over to Spain, one reason why we moved here was because my brother wanted to become a professional football player, so I was just dragged along. The first year I played for a local team and it was a hard year/a year I learned a lot from mentally because in Spain, at the time, no girls played football so I was the only one that played in the whole league. Due to that there were two boys in the team that definitely did not welcome me as well because I was a girl. Of course the other ten boys in the team couldn’t care less. After that year one of my friends invited me to play in their all girls football team and I accepted. The negativity of those 2 boys has motivated me to go on and play for Valencia A for two years, train with Barcelona, play for Espanyol, beat Atletico Madrid 2-0 and, right before I left Caxton, the Spanish boys at my school said I was a better player than them which was pretty cool. I want to play football professionally when I grow up. Well I don’t just want to play professionally I want to be the best in the world and revolutionize the women’s game which may be a big thing to say but I know I can achieve it.
What do you imagine you will be doing when you are 18?
When I am 18, uff, this is a hard question because if you would of said “what would you be doing when you are 25?” I could write an essay for you on it. So thinking of what I want my life to end up like, I would say when I am 18 I hope to be in the world cup with Australia. Of course it would be my first world cup and I would be really young, but I definitely know I can do it if I train hard, and then I can steal the world cup from the Americans! I would want my fashion company to be up and running for a few years, hopefully it would be quite stable and growing well by then. I also want to, probably, act in my first professional role around that time. So I would just be establishing myself in the world and for the years to come.
What are three things you miss most about Australia?
I definitely go through stages, some stages I don’t miss it and then others I am like “I MISS AUSTRALIA!” Having said this I don’t want to go back and live in Australia but the three things I miss about it is number one, my family. I do miss them because, I would say, we were quite close. Another thing I miss is my friends, although I have made great friends and even stronger friendships here, I would still love to go back and see my old friends. But it is the same thing with family, you think everything and everyone has stayed the same, for friends I see them in the same light I saw them five years ago when we left Australia but times change and people grow up so I may not even like any of them if we were to meet again! Of course I don’t think this would be the case since my friends in Australia were great and I would love to see how everybody is going. The third thing I miss most would just be the little things you become fond of, the kangaroos that were always on our drive way or eating a meat pie after school. Things like that, which are quite silly but are the little things that make life the amazing thing it is.
What three things do you like best about living in Spain?
I love living in Europe, being able to travel is amazing, being able to go to places like Paris in three hours for fifty euros is so cool! The second thing would be culture; I think by moving here I have become a more open minded person and being able to see so many amazing treasures, different types of living and seeing that not everybody lives like you do. The third thing I love most is being able to learn/speak Spanish, and other languages, fluently. Sometimes I do take this for granted but then it hits me how amazing it is to be able to communicate with different people all over the world because I can speak their language. I know this may be a little cheesy but I do feel like being able to speak a new language is like being given a new view on life.