InterNations Featured Blog
Recommended Expat Blogs: Spain
Everybody who has spent time in a different country knows that expat life is not quite like anything else in the world. The confusion of the first few days and weeks, the slow, but steady process of acclimation, the little peculiarities and quirks that might strike you about your new surroundings: almost any situation you encounter can make for a great story. If you are so inclined and want to blog about it, of course!
Our InterNations recommended blog section features talented expat bloggers from around the world. Their offerings to the blogosphere have been selected for their great entries and high quality, whether they may be funny, informative, interesting, deeply personal or a combination of all of the above.
Let’s hear from our featured bloggers in Spain:
No one is ever fully prepared when they move countries. There are always unexpected things that occur. As I was young when I moved and had low expectations it worked out well but it would be preferable to secure a job if at all possible.
In America, I feel like I’m much more of a homebody. Maybe it’s just the warm temps here, but a night where I don’t meet a friend for a beer or tapa seems like an unfulfilled day. I’m extremely Spanish in my routines and would observe the siestamore often if I could
I can barely remember life back home. Having lived in two other foreign countries first, I was much more open to adapting to new ways of living, plus I had been visiting my wife’s family in Spain for several years before we moved, so my feet were already wet, so to speak.
Go outside your comfort zone as often as possible. I know that's a common piece of advice, and by going abroad you're already doing that, but make the most of your time in Spain by trying things you wouldn't otherwise try. If you're a shy person, start talking to a stranger on the street. If you're a picky eater, try that weird-looking dish. If you're nonathletic, join a local soccer team. Many of life's greatest moments come from doing something you wouldn't have otherwise done.
If you really want to integrate yourself, avoid the touristy places like Irish pubs and the bars in the middle of the city. There are a lot of great and fun places right in the middle of Madrid, but they are usually full of foreigners. If you feel homesick, sure, grab a pint down at one of the pubs because you’re sure to find other Americans, but take a step out there and find the places that the Spanish people go to. Plus, if you’re going to learn Castilian Spanish, you’ve got to find where the real Spanish people go.
I thought of Europe as a vacation destination—and it is—but living in Europe is an altogether different animal, so to speak. I wish I would have prepared myself for culture shock, for missing home, by reading how other expats had gotten over it. I wasn’t aware of the blogosphere at the time, much to my detriment.
In retrospect, I am glad I did not realize all the challenges as I may not have moved. I am a visionary and often see the glorious end goal but don’t realize the steps in between. For example, I did not speak Spanish. That made it a bit difficult to find an apartment. Luckily, I met a woman who spoke English and was also a realtor. I didn’t know I had to have three months rent plus commission to rent an apartment. I didn’t know that most old apartments don’t have heat or air conditioning. Ok. I am an American. I want heat when it is 35 degrees.
I keep wondering if I should have rented rather than bought, but in the end I think I did that right as I really love my little village house and it’s only half an hour from the beach or the city. The only thing I’d have changed is that I would have done it sooner!
When people meet (or say goodbye) they give two kisses, if you pass someone you know in the street remember to say “hasta luego” rather than “hola” and say hello and goodbye in elevators/shops, etc. The small things will make you feel more comfortable and show the locals that you’re willing to adapt to life in Spain.
Being in Spain doing what I’m doing is a lifestyle choice for me; I don’t earn much, but quality of life here is excellent. Unlike most expats I didn’t have a full-time working life before jumping ship, so I can’t really draw a meaningful comparison. Pretty sure I’m where I want to be though.
Spanish life differs foremost because of language. Although my Spanish has much improved since I arrived, it’s hard to converse as easily as I would like. Practice, practice, practice. There’s always a bit of culture shock, but the Internet helps to keep abreast of one’s native culture, and from being totally swamped by new customs.
I did, in fact, experience culture shock, but I have not let that hold me down much. I have run into several interesting road blocks along the way, but the benefits of living here are so much greater than the effects of culture shock.
Our move to Spain has far outweighed our expectations and our dreams. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but if I’m honest, I wouldn’t change a thing. How does one adequately prepare for the unknown?
You soon realize that Spain is not one country, but rather half a dozen, each with their own language or strong dialect, customs and even diet. I think if you know where you are heading before you come out here, it’s a good idea to learn something of the regional differences and not simply learn about Spain as a homogenous country. Because it isn’t.
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