Expat Life

A Year Abroad!

Well, we’ve made it! It’s officially been 1 year since we packed 4 overly priced suitcases and took a one-way flight to Spain. I know I’ve done some serious posts about moving abroad, and I could probably do a million more. Moving abroad is like learning choreography – just when you figured out the first 10 steps, the next 10 get piled on. But, I thought I’d make my one-year post (and the first post after a REALLY long hiatus) a bit lighthearted.

I’ve recently started using Twitter again. It’s a love/hate relationship, we’ve broken up like 3 times but things are going really well right now. The main reason I decided to start using it was because I wanted a place to document funny or anecdotal experiences I’ve had while living abroad. And thus #expatproblems was born… only that hashtag has been used by just about ALL expats from all over the world since the dawn of time (or Twitter, either one). So while my idea wasn’t a new one, it was definitely a great one. There’s something really comforting in reading about other people who are struggling with the same cultural barriers I am. So, I thought I’d share my favorite tweets so far:

So, there’s this bodega in town I visit at least once a week in between grocery shipments (sidebar: WHY did I never get onboard with grocery shipments in Miami?! It’s a god-send). In the summer, Mundaka goes from being a quiet little town of 1,800 to THE summer vacation destination for over 10,000 people (I guessed that last number, but it feels like a million). So naturally, some stores and bars hire additional help. As I was walking into the store, a German couple decided the front door would be a GREAT place to have a conversation. I nicely said “excuse me” and walked in. I guess the cashier heard me and then just tried communicating in broken English the whole time. GIRL, I live here! Props to her for practicing her English, though.

Yes, the bulk of my stories have to do with English. So I go to Bilbao maybe once everyone 1 or 2 months. Every time I go, I MUST get Starbucks. Starbucks is a RARITY in the Basque Country. There’s only 2 in the entire province of Bizkaia. So if I’m going to Bilbao, you better believe I’m getting a damn Frappuccino.

The thing is, the menu is in English. The names of all the drinks are in English. So this can go 1 of 2 ways – I can either say the name of the drink in English, or say it in English with a heavy Spanish accent. But if I do that, will the barista think I’m making fun of the way people speak English here? YES I HAVE SOCIAL ANXIETY, STOP JUDGING ME.

So I order in Spanish, but say the name of the drink in English. The first time I did, the barista responded in English. Cool. The second time, the barista was very short with me. The third time, I got a weird look. Then I realized… they must think I’m trying to show off that I speak English.
Obviously, these reactions are all going to be different based on the barista of the day. I’ve gotten really tired ones, really nice ones, and really “bitch-please” ones. My favorite one to date?

I don’t only get FOMO when it comes to Starbucks, though.

Yes, it’s true. I’m single-handedly keeping Amazon Spain’s and all its courier services’ profits up. In fact, I’m currently sitting in my living room slightly pissed off because I’m an hour into a delivery window and I already know they’re gonna be late.

I wouldn’t necessarily say I’ve ordered a lot of American comforts from Amazon. Amazon itself is the comfort. Possibly the most American thing I’ve ordered to date is my slow cooker. I was distraught when I had to leave my old slow cooker behind so now that summer is officially over and our lives are going back to a normal routine, it was time to welcome the newest member to the family:

Of course I’m showing you the AMAZON picture.

Surprisingly, the only other “American” product has been Biotin (yes, the hair supplement). The pharmacist in town was absolutely stumped as to why I would want to take 10,000mcg of vitamin B7 & was almost certain I was making this product up until I showed him the Amazon page.

So there you have it, year one is in the books! Feel free to follow me on Twitter. I post randomly and about everything (yes, politics included… you’ve been warned).

P.S. I know I promised a review of the Auxiliares de Conversacion program (the work program Julen and I came over to Spain with) and I will definitely get that up in early October since applications for next school year open in January!


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