Starting a new life in Portugal can be difficult for anyone but when it comes to the same experience for teenagers there are a number of issues that parents need to consider to enable them to be able to integrate as easily as possible.
I have known many people who have moved to Portugal as teenagers and they all agree that at the time they really weren’t all that happy about the move – however they also agree that they really weren’t all that happy about anything at that age!
Going to a new school as a teenager can be very difficult but you need to assess the best ways to deal with this change according to if they will be attending Portuguese or an international school.
At a Portuguese school your teenager will not have to wear a uniform so be sure to have all the clothes that they feel comfortable in ready for their first day.
A word of warning – do not be shocked if your teenager wants to go to school in thick denim in the height of summer, this is quite normal here and you will find that most of the students wear a very similar type of clothes for all of the seasons!
If your teenager doesn’t speak any Portuguese then they will find they pick it up within about three months but it is a good idea to make sure they know some of the basics to begin with to make it easier for them – the more Portuguese they know the better it will be for them and the easier it will be to integrate.
If your child does not speak Portuguese then they will probably be put into a lower grade class with younger children until their Portuguese language skills come up to scratch.
For this reason many parents choose to move with older children at the latest age of 11 when they can start the new secondary school at the same stage as everyone else until they get to grips with the language.
If your child is attending an international school then there will usually be a uniform and the experience will be very different as the main language spoken will be English while they will usually follow a British curriculum so they can slot in easily here.
The main benefit of international schools for teenagers has to be the language and being able to continue with school pretty normally but the main advantage of Portuguese school is that you will learn the language quickly and meet with all the other local teenagers while international students are likely to come from all over the region.
It can be a difficult time for families with teenagers when moving to another country but if you prepare yourself and your teenager for the realities then at least the shock will be far less and eventually they will come to love going to school and then finishing and going down to the beach to do their homework!