Hello! By nature, I’m quite a nosy curious person, so whenever I read about/hear about a fellow American dating a Spaniard, my ears perk up. This time, though, I decided to take the initiative myself and ask to interview some of my fellow Americans who have ventured into a relationship with Spaniards (or those who have found cross-cultural love in Spain). I’d like to start the series with Kate, an American in León who is dating Jorge, her Spaniard.
Please introduce yourself.
My name is Kate Brooks, I am twenty-three years old, and I am a language and conversation assistant in León, Spain. I studied in Valladolid for five months in 2009, returned to the US to graduate from college, and am now in my second year teaching in León.
How did you meet your significant other and how long have you been together?
Jorge and I have been together 7 months. We met each other last year through a mutual friend and would run into each other once in awhile while out with friends in León. However, we spent more time together at the beginning of the school year. Our mutual friend organized a barbeque outside of León and that day I talked to Jorge more and got to know him better. Then, in November we met while I was out celebrating my birthday and began to date shortly after. We now live together and things couldn’t be better!
Do you feel that your significant other is a “typical” Spaniard? If not, why?
I think Jorge in some aspects is the “typical” Spaniard but in others no. Or, at least with me he is not as “typical.” It is difficult to pin point exactly why he is in some ways typical and some ways not. I am sure in the same way I am a typical American and in other ways not.
I feel the same … who’s to really say what’s “typical” anyway? Which language do you speak when you’re together? Why?
Majority of the time (about 90%) we speak in Spanish. Jorge studied English in high school but hasn’t studied any since. So, when we first started dating we could not speak English because we were both more comfortable using Spanish. However, sometimes I speak to him in English and he answers in Spanish. It is amazing how much his English has improved in the time we have been together. We say that even if we moved and lived in the US, we would probably still speak Spanish with one another because it is what we know, are used to, and are comfortable with.
How do you deal with the “in-law” issue? Have you met them? Do you get along?
I get along great with my “in-laws.” Jorge’s parents and sister are wonderful and have already welcomed me and adopted me into their family. They have not been overbearing or overwhelming, and respect our space and lives.
What is the best part about dating/being married to a foreigner (and especially a Spaniard)?
Even though we are from different cultures and speak natively different languages, I have never felt uncomfortable or unable to express myself with Jorge. I think that in reality there are not as many differences as people may think between our two distinct cultures and lifestyles. It is also great dating a Spaniard here in Spain when I don’t understand something, need help, or am feeling overwhelmed with living here etc., he is there to help me through it in any way he can.
I totally agree! My Spaniard is always able to help me out in a pinch! What is the most difficult part?
The most difficult part of dating someone and living in another country is that you are not near your family and friends. Sometimes it is difficult being so far away from what you know and what is comfortable. You sacrifice a lot and compromise on many things, including missing out on holidays, special occasions, and daily life back home.
What advice would you give someone who is considering starting a relationship with a Spaniard?
I would tell them to take their time and enjoy it. If the relationship seems to be serious, be sure to talk and have open communication about what both of you want out of life and what you are both willing to sacrifice and compromise with in the future when it comes to more “real life” situations.
Do you plan on living in the US or in Spain long term? Why?
As of now we plan on living in Spain long term. Jorge has a good job as a music teacher and he would like to at least spend more time in Spain with his family and friends. We both talk that maybe one day we will move to the US for awhile but for now, it is easier for the both of us based on work and language levels to stay in Spain.
Do you plan on having children? If so, do you plan on raising them bilingual?
When the time comes, yes we want to have children and we will definitely raise them bilingual. I think it is crucial to do so because it gives so many more opportunities in the future and in order to communicate with both of our families they will have to speak English and Spanish.
If you could import something from the US to Spain (and vice versa), what would it be?
If I could import something from the US to Spain with would be my family and friends. Even if they didn’t live in Spain, I wish that Spain and the US were closer.
How has being in a relationship with a Spaniard changed you?
It has made me relax and be more patient. It has made me more self-confident and comfortable with myself. As well, it has made me appreciate different parts of my life that before I took advantage of.