Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Costly Catalan Education

So J started school this week at the tender age of 3. Not 3 ¾ or 3 ½, no 3 and 1 month, well 1 month and 2 days to be exact, a tad early for my liking but when in Rome and all that. Now I was fully expecting him starting school to tug at the old heartstrings but what I hadn’t expected or indeed banked upon was the ginormous strain on the purse strings it would evoke.

We’d already forked out €78 for random things which included a couple of books, paper and photocopying, the cost of the photocopying alone was €55 I kid you not! Next was a €20 charge to join some social thing, god knows what it is, I translated the letter using Google translate and am still none the wiser other than it seems to be obligatory.

We show up on day one somewhat lacking stuff, apparently I would have been given a list when I was supposed to collect his books but we were in England on the day they had assigned. Hmm OK, I take the list and promise to get all the stuff on it as soon as possible.

Back to Google translate and a rather bizarre list is emerging. Amongst the sensible stuff like a summer and a winter change of clothes, a cup, wipes, and a small hand towel are some more random items, bucket & spade set, 2 boxes of tissues (do they not provide bog roll?) and a cushion with his name on in ‘lletras de PAL’ which google didn’t particularly translate well so I have no idea what it is, I’m guessing capitals but who knows? OK, all that bought add in another €20.

But there is more, a dodgy polyester tracksuit with the school badge, an apron type thing and bag, these are school specific but no-one wants to share with me how you actually get your hands on them or indeed how much they cost, I’m reckoning another €30, plus everyone has embroidered their kids names on them (actually maybe that what the ‘lletras de pal’ are, bugger, should have married a bloke with a shorter surname if I have to chain stitch 15 letters on 3 items). Better add in some embroidery thread and needles to the cost, another €3.

That must be it surely, ah wait there is something on the other side. A list of stationery products by the look of it. Very specific too, with a note at the bottom both in bold and capitals that if it’s not exactly what is listed it will be returned to you!!! Still, how much can a bit of plasticine, some wax crayons, paper, pencils and cardboard stiff you for? A few cents short of €50 apparently.

So far then just over €200, did I mention he was only 3? Apparently it gets much worse as they get older, I was speaking to a fellow expat whose 2 kids are both at the High School, she’s had to pay out over €700 for books alone. Thank God they don’t have to wear uniforms.


  1. That's a ridiculous amount of money to be spending. And books? At that age?

    When my son first went to school (at 2 1/2 - we're even earlier here), I think we spent about 60 euros for the YEAR. And that included lunchtime drinks and school trips.

  2. Not only does that sound very expensive but also very confusing! I don't envy you one bit, hope you get things sorted soon.

  3. It'll get worse if its anything like our school which is in the UK but last year when Bel was still in reception class we were asked to ensure that the following items were labelled and kept in school:
    PE Kit including trainers to be kept at school ( so that means buying 2 pairs of trainers!!)
    Spare pare of Wellies to be kept in school
    ( just in case they go out on a nature walk)
    Spare raincoat to be kept in school
    (just in case they go out on a nature walk)

    I know it doesn't sound like much but when living on one salary AAGGH

  4. WOW - that's a lot of euros. Do they sit on gold-plated chairs and dine off silver-platters? I am a year away from the expense and emotional turmoil of school so don't envy you. Hopefully things will get easier - and less confusing for you all.

  5. oh dear. googling the list sounds like risky business, hope he turns up with the right things.

    Check out your meme award

  6. It is truly painful, isn't it? luckily you are inEurope and will probably be able to us a local school for a reasonable education right? We have lived all over, and when my daughter was 4 her school fees were nearly US$24,000 a year - unbelievable amount to pay for cutting and sticking! We now live in Kazakhstan with our 3 daughters. The youngest one is nearly 2 and people keep saying, Oh, is she going to nursery soon? And I just keep saying, absolutely not! And she is not doing Kindermusic, or junior ballet, or baby art or anything apart from staying at home and playing with her lego for as long as I can possibly spin it out ha ha!

  7. Big Beluga Baby, I am humbled and silenced. I am also your first official follower. xx