Lauren: Spanish Sabores
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Spain, etc.
My name is Lauren Aloise and I am originally from the small town of Sutton, Massachusetts, USA. I moved to Seville, Spain in 2009 to teach English for a year and enjoy the beautiful Andalusian sun, but after meeting a Spaniard who would later become my husband, I ended up staying here and making Spain my home. In September 2012 we made the move from the south to Madrid, in search of opportunities. I’m currently enjoying life in the capital and just started my own food tour company.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I’ve been blogging on and off ever since I first moved to Spain, but I started to take my blog seriously when I moved to Madrid in September. I moved it to a self-hosting, bought a domain name, etc. I love blogging because it allows me to express myself creatively while learning a lot about things like photography, social media, and technology—I’ve even started learning some HTML! I also think it serves as a fantastic portfolio of my work, which is really important to me as a freelance writer. Lastly, through connections I’ve made blogging, I have met some really fantastic people who share many of my interests.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
This is a difficult question—there are so many posts that have enjoyed writing for many different reasons! But here are a few a especially like:
El Puerto de Santa María is a small city I used to live in, and a place I consider a hidden gem in Andalusia.
In this post, I talk about American cuisine, something difficult to define, but often badly represented in popular culture. I clear up any doubts non-Americans who read my blog might have.
One popular post I wrote is about vegetarian options in Spain. Many people don’t realize that these options exist, but Spain can actually be quite vegetarian friendly.
I also loved telling my Spain story—making the decision to move to Spain, how I met my husband, and planning a Spanish wedding!
Tell us about the ways your new life in Spain differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
Everything about my life has changed since I left the US, but most of it is simply because I am no longer a student. I left the states directly after graduating from university, so I became completely independent for the first time here in Spain. I remember that it was confusing at first to adjust my eating schedule, but now I have it down—coffee at 8:00, breakfast at 10:30, lunch at 2:30, a snack at 6:00 and dinner at 10:30—true Spanish style! I didn’t experience much culture shock, although sometimes I did find the customer service irritating, and anything to do with bureaucracy is still very frustrating!
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Spain? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I was fairly well prepared—I spoke Spanish, came with some savings, and came with plenty of time to find an apartment before starting my first job. I would recommend doing the same! If I could go back in time, I definitely would have learned all of the public transportation options immediately; I waited almost a year before finally taking the bus! I also would have brought warmer clothing when I first moved here, as winters are quite cold!
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
In Seville many people get around using their fantastic public bicycles. After so many years without riding a bike, I was afraid to try them, but I finally mustered up the courage. Of course I crashed right into a Spanish man the first time I had to stop at a crosswalk! I was mortified, and blurted out “Sorry!” in English!
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Spain?
- Learn as much Spanish as possible before you move.
- Go with enough savings just in case…
- Build up your social networks before moving, and when you get there you will already have some contacts!
How is the expat community in Spain? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
The expat community here is pretty great! In Seville, I knew a lot of fellow American English teachers, most of which I had met through facebook. Here in Madrid, I’ve met a lot of people through facebook as well, and also through my blog and meetup groups in the city. A fantastic group for me has been the Guiripreneurs—a group dedicated to helping expat entrepreneurs.
How would you summarize your expat life in Spain in a single, catchy sentence?
My life in Spain is a non-stop adventure filled with great people, fantastic food and plenty of sunshine!