Elizabeth: Peachy Sangria
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Madrid, etc.
My name is Elizabeth and I’m from small-town in Texas. After receiving a BA in English Literature from UT Austin, I worked in Dallas for five years doing technical writing, marketing and public relations before deciding to sell my car and donate my furniture to move to Spain! I came to Madrid in September 2013 to teach English in a primary school and I have really loved the experience.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I started blogging when I was working for Southwest Airlines and flying for free. It seemed like a fun way to record all my travels and it made sense to continue once I moved to Madrid and started traveling around Europe.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
I love this post because it shows how cute my students are! It is also is a post where I am really honest and a little bit vulnerable, which is hard for me to do honestly.
Our weekend in Sevilla for Feria de Abril was one of the MOST Spanish weekends of my time here. It was so amazing and so weird.
I also wrote a post about our apartment hunting experience when we first moved. Makes me laugh and cringe. It was so awkward and stressful, but funny.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Madrid differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
Culture shock hit the first week in our apartment. It was so hot in Madrid that September and we had to sleep with our windows open because we didn’t have air conditioning and I just remember being so annoyed that I could hear and smell every single thing my neighbors were doing from screaming at the tv watching futbol to cooking bacon.
Most of my other big adjustments were chores, such as learning how to mop, hand washing my dishes and hanging my clothes out our apartment window to dry. I was thrown for a loop when a storm hit and knocked all my clothes off the line down to no-man’s land and Victor (our doorman who is also a bullfighter) had to climb through the shoe store to get my stuff back and it was all muddy and ruined. You really don’t understand how much Americans love and value convenience until you live somewhere else.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Madrid? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
No, I had no idea what to expect! I am really happy with how everything has turned out. I wouldn’t change much, if anything, really.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Most of my funniest moments have been on dates with Spanish guys and things being misinterpreted between us. One of my favorites was a guy telling me at the end of our dinner that there was certainly a chemist between us (instead of chemistry). It was really cute!
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Madrid?
- Always say yes! To the 60 euro RyanAir flight to the beach. To the date. To the birthday party. You never know who you’ll meet or what could happen! One of my favorite weekend trips was planned over wine at 4 pm on a Friday. We left an hour later.
- Get Google Talk through your gmail account. This is amazing. For .01 cents per minute you can talk internationally through the microphone on your computer. I used it to for an interview the other day with no problem. The glitch with FaceTime or Viber is that the other party has to have wifi, whereas with Google Talk you can call them whenever and it can also be used to call corporations (ie: ATT, British Airways, Citibank, etc).
- Don't take things too seriously. Life abroad is weird and can be really frustrating at times, so try to smile and have a positive attitude. If it is annoying, it will probably make you laugh later. The best advice I could give is to just be open to what happens and go with the flow. Everything here is extremely inefficient compared to the US and you have to have a sense of humor about life or you’ll go loco. This is not a country suited for Type-A personalities…
How is the expat community in Madrid? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
I’ve been extremely lucky in finding amazing friends from all over (USA, South America, Spain, the UK, etc.) It’s important to put yourself out there and be willing to meet new people even if you are shy or uncomfortable at first. Expats are always organizing events to practice Spanish, go hiking, running, volunteer and there are countless ways to get involved and meet other people who are new and looking for friends. My Spanish friends have also been so welcoming and amazing and I can’t wait for them to come visit me in the US next year.
How would you summarize your expat life in Madrid in a single, catchy sentence?
Hm, this is difficult, but I like, “Dale la vuelta a la tortilla!” It means to make a big change or turn your life around, which sums up moving abroad.