I don’t understand how it has happened so fast, but yes, I have been living in España for one whole year now (besides the four months in San Sebastián in 2013). It has gone by all so quickly and I have done quite a lot, so I think it’s time for a little recap.
Where have I been?
- Of course I have spent the most of the time in Catalonia, Malgrat de Mar to be more precise.
- However, I have also had the pleasure to live in Benidorm, Alicante, for a month, because of the job of my boyfriend. It was quite fun to explore that touristic heaven, but to be honest, there wasn’t that much to explore, besides a lovely beach, and spending there five weeks was more than enough.
- Then, my boyfriend’s job also took us to Jerez de la Frontera, Andalusia. This city was the complete opposite of Benidorm and I loved it there. This Andalusian city is not that full of tourists, at least in November, but it is completely worth a visit. The old center is really pretty and cosy, with a castle and cathedral around the corner. While you are there you have the feeling of being in, what most people consider, the “real Spain” (read: Flamenco, Tio Pepe, horses and the Andalusian heat).
- In Andalusia we made some day trips to Sevilla and Córdoba. Both beautiful cities with a lot of history, but I have a little preference for the cosiness of Córdoba.
What have I learnt?
- The Spanish language. Or maybe not. Let’s say that this is still in progress, but I have improved quite a lot in the past months. I did learn however, that for speaking a different language, surrounded by people who all speak that language fluently, you need a thick skin. And I definitely need a thicker skin. I just hate making mistakes, so in many occasions I prefer saying nothing at all over saying something that might be wrong. You will probably think that this is ridiculous and that I should take advantage of being in Spain, but unfortunately that’s me and it is hard for me to change. But trust me, I will get there!!
- How to live with another person. The relationship of my boyfriend an I changed quite a lot when I moved here. We went from seeing each other once per one or two months, to living with each other 24/7. We both had to get used to this of course, because I went from daughter to being a partner and he suddenly had to share his place with me. But I think that we did a really good job!!
- I have learnt that you have to take care of quite some things when you move abroad. In Spain you have to get a residence card (NIE) if you want to work, but before you can work, you need a social security number, but without a NIE you cannot get that number. Do you feel the struggle? But here I am, 12 months later, working, the owner of a NIE and a social security number and I can make use of the health care. I am proud.
- How to miss your friends and family. This is like the first point, still in progress. I am not very good at it, but I can handle. I had the pleasure to be home for Christmas and my birthday, but I did miss the birthday of my dad, brother and quite some friends. I guess those days will always be hard and there is nothing wrong with feeling sad about these things once in a while. As long as it doesn’t affect me on a daily basis, I am pretty sure I will survive. Besides that, I have the plan to go home in five weeks, so definitely something to look forward to!
How has Spain changed me?
- I drink red wine and I love it. Till last year I only wanted to drink the sweetest white wine or other fruity stuff. But now I drink vino tinto on a weekly basis and I drink it cold. Dutchies, at least the Dutchies I know, use to think that it has to be on room temperature, but no, trust me and put it in the fridge. The Spaniards know.
- Olives and ham are on my daily menu (just kidding). But yes, I have fallen in love with olives, not all the types, and jamón ibérico. Before I came I refused to think I would ever like these things, but I had to surrender.
- Meal times. I never have lunch before 2pm and I act surprised when my mum asks me if we already had dinner at 6pm. Dinner between 9 and 11pm is the most normal thing and merienda is my favourite meal.
- I say “Hola” and “Hasta luego” to every stranger I meet in the elevator, because that is how it is supposed to be.
- This could sound a little weird, but I feel more Dutch than ever. First of all, because in many situations I am always the different one. Besides that, I compare everything to the Dutch way and I defend everything that is Dutch, even the rain. I never was very proud of my country, but now, you better not offend The Netherlands in my presence.
- First of all, in a couple of weeks I am going to leave this job. Unfortunately, it was not what I was looking for and I think that, in life, it is important to let go of the things that no longer make you happy.
- Some friends are coming to visit me for holidays in Spain and I REALLY CANNOT WAIT!!!!
- In a month, my boyfriend and I will make a trip to The Netherlands. As I mentioned before, I am still not very good at missing my family and I need a little trip back home.
- I am going to be enjoying the Spanish summer as much as I can. Hopefully there will be some trips included in this and if not you will find me sipping sangría on the beach.
- After the summer I will either be going to university or looking for another job in a field that really fits me. This is going to be another challenge, but I am very looking forward to it!!
This was pretty much what I experienced here in my first year as a “guiri“/expat. There have been some hard moments, but also many, many great ones and I am definitely not leaving my second home soon. TE QUIERO, ESPAÑA.