On Living in Spain
Today we have a special interview with Danielle who has recently returned from living abroad in Spain! I’m always so curious about other cultures and think the world is a stronger and kinder place when we know more about our neighbors near and far.
Danielle first studied abroad in Spain her junior year of college and then decided she wasn’t quite finished with it yet. She searched high and low for an opportunity to get back over there, and despite challenges and people in her life who may have thought it was a little much to live abroad right after graduating, she did it and regrets nothing. So let’s get started!
Hey girl! So, where in the world have you been living?
This past year I lived in a small island off the east coast of Spain called Mallorca! It’s a part of the Balearic Islands.
Amazing! Why did you choose Spain? I know you had already studied abroad there so why go again?
I studied abroad my sophomore year of college in Bilbao (it’s in northern Spain). I fell in LOVE with the city and I told myself that when I graduated I would move back to that country. I felt like my time wasn’t done there. The culture is rich, the people are spectacular and the nature is breathtaking (oh and the wine is great).
I need to become better cultured in Spanish wines!! So how good is your Spanish now?
A LOT better from where I started. When I moved there last September I knew close to no Spanish, just the tiny bit I remembered from study abroad. Now I would say that I am at an advanced level. I am comfortable making friends and having a full dialogue in Spanish.
What is one of your favorite memories from living in Spain?
Gosh, there are WAY too many memories so this is a hard one. But I’ll tell you the first thing that popped into my head. So little back story, I moved to Spain with the hopes of working with people with special needs because that is where my passion lies. I got involved with two separate organizations for assisting and working for people with disabilities. With one of the organizations I got to take people with special needs out to do water or sport activities. One of my favorite memories was going kayaking with a young boy named Alberto. Alberto is on the Autism spectrum and is non-verbal. But there was a moment where we were sitting in the kayak in the middle of the beautiful Mediterranean with the most crystal clear blue waters, and we were just laughing. And in that moment I realized how truly anything is possible (I know that sounds cheesy). But this had been a dream of mine for 3 years and I was there doing it. We were communicating with my broken Spanish and his disability. We were able to connect and share this indescribable joy in the most BEAUTIFUL place in the world. It just humbled me and made me feel so lucky to have opportunities like those.
That’s amazing. What would you say is the greatest lesson you’ve learned?
To be patient. It’s not that profound, but it’s something that I truly had to let sink in. I was (and still am) a busy body. I go a million miles a minute. But I couldn’t do that in Spain. First off, I learned to adjust to the culture. Spain is a way more relaxed culture and has a much slower pace than we do here in the United States. Not only that, but I literally had to be patient because I didn’t know the language and it’s not something you can rush and it takes time. And because of not knowing the language I had to be patient in other aspects such as making Spanish friends, volunteering at different organizations, trying to joke with the baristas at my favorite coffee shop. I was starting a completely new life, in a new country with a new language, and that taught me that you need to give yourself grace in knowing that things take time. I learned that I was not a failure because I didn’t make Spanish friends quick enough or that I didn’t starting volunteering earlier enough. It takes time, that’s all.
I love that. That’s such a good reminder for all of us even when we aren’t living abroad. How often do we feel we need to rush every single moment of our lives? Now tell me, what’s one thing you didn’t expect about living in Spain?
The showers! The majority of the showers that I have used/seen are hand held, so there isn’t a place to put up the nozzle you just hold it.
That would definitely take some getting used to. So would you move back?
Yes, 100%. If the world was perfect and I could take all of loved ones in a suitcase and bring them with me I for sure would.
What’s one fun fact about Spain/Spanish culture etc. that we might not know?
There are technically five official languages in Spain. They are all different dialects of Spanish, so that makes it a little difficult trying to learn Spanish hahah. Also, they have parties/fiestas for everything!
Any last words?
I’m going to be cheesy and say follow your dreams. I’m a huge dreamer, whether it’s small dreams or big dreams, just do it no matter the cost. I’m not saying it was easy because it for sure wasn’t but it’s worth it. And whether it turned out how you expected it to or not, it doesn’t matter, the fact that you tried does.
Also shout out to anyone who is interested in living in Spain please please feel free to email me with any questions! I’m not an expert but I can talk about my love for Spain and convince you to go!
P.S. Last thing, look up Cala de Moro (it was my favorite beach in Mallorca), you’ll see how beautiful it is!