So You’re Dating a Spaniard—Lauren

As you well know, I’m kind of busy right now, what with wedding planning, getting further into shape, and trying to take advantage of the Spanish summertime. Thus, I’d like to continue my series of Americans dating Spaniards with Lauren, from Spanish Sabores.

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Please introduce yourself.

My name is Lauren Aloise and I am a 25 year old expat living in Madrid. Like many Americans I came to Spain to teach English as a Language Assistant. After teaching for two years in southern Spain (Seville) my husband and I decided to move to Madrid to try our luck. Since moving here I’ve been teaching English while working on my blog and websites, and I am currently launching a foodtour company here in Madrid combing my passions of food, wine and cultural history!

How did you meet your significant other and how long have you been together?

I met my husband Alejandro the first week I moved to Spain in September of 2009. We had met for a language exchange—we spoke a half an hour in Spanish and a half an hour in English over tapas and wine. We were pretty much inseparable since that first “date” and nearly two years later we were married—twice!

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Haha, I too wish to get married twice to the same guy. Do you feel that your significant other is a “typical” Spaniard? If not, why?

Despite the stereotypes of “typical” Spaniards, Spaniards actually vary a lot—especially depending on their region. Ale is from Cadiz, a place that is unfortunately known for an overly laid back, almost lazy type of culture. If this is the stereotype we are looking at, Ale does not fit it at all. He has lived on his own since he was nineteen years old, started working in Seville right out of college, and is now an entrepreneur here in Madrid starting his own technology company. He doesn’t watch football or know everything about Spanish ham … but he is still quite Spanish when all is said and done!

Which language do you speak when you’re together? Why?

We started our relationship in Spanish and have continued using Spanish for the majority of communication since then. My Spanish was always much stronger than his English (Spanish Language was one of my college degrees) but at this point his English has improved greatly and he would like to speak a lot more in English. I try—but habits are difficult to break!

How do you deal with the “in-law” issue? Have you met them? Do you get along?

My in-laws are fantastic. I feel so lucky to have loving and generous in-laws who have accepted me as a daughter in their family. At the same time, they are very Andaluz– from their accents to their social customs and views on society. We get along very well, although sometimes the culture is quite different!

What is the best part about dating/being married to a foreigner (and especially a Spaniard)?

I like that I will always have a connection to Spain and Europe, and the opportunity to use another language on a daily basis is cool too. But other than that, I consider a relationship to be a relationship—Spanish, American or other.

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What is the most difficult part?

The most difficult part is definitely miscommunication due to language, intonation, or cultural concepts. When communicating in a language that is not your native one miscommunication is sure to happen. Sometimes Ale’s tone in English sounds aggressive, although he doesn’t mean it that way. Sometimes I don’t understand a cultural reference in Spanish and therefore miss half a conversation! It’s complicated, but well worth it.

What advice would you give someone who is considering starting a relationship with a Spaniard?

Start a relationship with a Spaniard only if you really want a relationship! Don’t use someone for a language partner or a foreign fling—it just isn’t fair. If you do want to be in a relationship make sure you have thought about what you would do if things got serious; would you be willing to stay in Spain? It is good to think about these things early on, as once things get complicated people get hurt!

Yes! I agree. I hate it when I read about Americans who want to “date a Spaniard.” Just date the person! Do you plan on living in the US or in Spain long term? Why?

We have nothing set in stone but right now are investing our efforts and energy here in Madrid. We love Spain, although we love the US too! If things go well here that would be perfect, as long as I can visit the US a few times a year. If things don’t go so well we would definitely consider trying to make a life in the US.

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Do you plan on having children? If so, do you plan on raising them bilingual?

We don’t have any plans for children at the moment, but on the off chance we ever had one we would absolutely raise them bilingually—hopefully trilingually if possible! I think language skills are one of the greatest gifts parents can give their children.

Trilingual would be amazing. I do agree; languages are a precious gift. If you could import something from the US to Spain (and vice versa), what would it be?

I’d import my family from the US to Spain—of course! And from Spain, it’s difficult, but maybe a gorgeous Spanish beach with their little “chiringuitos” (beach bars). You can’t find much of that where I lived in the US!

How has being in a relationship with a Spaniard changed you?

I have matured a lot over the past three years but the ways I have changed are not only dependent on my relationship with Ale. I’ve learned how to compromise more and think of someone other than myself when making important decisions. It’s been a great three years, and I’m looking forward to many more.

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Lauren Aloise is the founder of MadridFoodTour, a company offering unique culinary experiences in Madrid, Spain. She also blogs about travel and food at SpanishSabores and writes about American food in Spanish at RecetasAmericanas.

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13 comments

  1. What a great idea for a series of posts! I recently sort-of started seeing a Spaniard and I’m looking for advice on the subject from any source I can find…so very helpful for me!

  2. Very cool, good interview, Kaley.

    Lauren, can I ask if you’re a Spanish citizen yet? If not do you plan on doing it? And what’s the immigration process been like?

    Cheers,
    Andrew

  3. Thanks for the great interview Kaley! Andrew, the process was fairly straightforward but it helped a lot getting legally married in the US instead of Spain– sped things up quite a bit. All I had to do was apply for the Spanish “libro de familia” and then with that, I had to renew my residency (instead of a student temporary residency I now have EU family member temporary residency). My new residency card is good for 5 years and allows me to work, travel in the EU, etc. In 5 years I can apply to permanent residency (or perhaps earlier since I was here for 3 as a “student”). Anyway, at the moment I don’t plan on becoming a citizen, as technically that implies I would have to give up my American citizenship!

  4. Good answer, Lauren. Although I would think it would be faster getting married in Spain, since the authorities would find it easier to recognize a Spanish wedding certificate and issue the Libro de Familia faster. It seems to me that it would be most efficient to get married in the country you wanted to live in so that the foreigner would have non-foreign documents in the target nation. I could be wrong, though….just thinking aloud.

  5. It would make perfect sense Erik– except like many things involving bureaucracy, it doesn’t work:

    In the US all we needed to get married was to go to my town hall, fill out a short form, show our IDs, and wait three days for the license. We paid $15 and had 3 months to use the license and get hitched. Easy, right?

    In Spain, the paperwork you must present to get married seemed to be much more and included strange documents like the fé de soltera– which since we don’t have that in the US would have to be a notarized legal document from my parents swearing I was single. This and other paperwork, not to mention translation fees, etc. made the decision easy.

    The thing about the libro de familia (LDF) is the mot ridiculous of all– we really lucked out actually. As Ale was only in the US as a tourist, he technically wasn’t really eligible for all the Spanish embassy’s assistance with the LDF, we should have done it in Spain. But on a friend’s strong insistence we try, we made our way to the embassy to do the paperwork there. The woman told us clearly that she was granting us a favor, but she did it because she told us the wait for the LDF in Madrid was currently more the ONE YEAR!!! And the LDF is only the first document needed to apply for residency– without it you can’t do anything. Basically, that nice woman saved me a year of sitting around, frustrated, without residency and work permission. Whew!

    Even though she told us the LDF would take 3 months minimum to come in, it came within 2 weeks and my mom shipped it to us. We then went through a very complicated process of applying to renew residency– a whole other story, because again, the wait in Madrid for a renewal appointment (just the 1st appointment!!!) was more than 1 year! So with some moving around of our empadronamiento, and a long bus ride from Madrid to Cadiz, I got the appointment. I then waited about 6 months for approval, another month for fingerprints, and 45 days for the physical card.

    Sadly, I think that was the quickest way possible. Let me know if you know anything different– people always ask for advice!

  6. Happy to see you both looking so happy together! I love your vestido flamenco, Andalusian culture is my favorite. I’ve always been curious how life would have been if I had been able to stay in Spain. I studied in University of Granada 25 years ago and had a serious relationship with a Spanish student but at the end of the course I had to come home, it nearly killed me to leave. No Internet or ways to keep in touch except very expensive phone calls overseas and handwritten letters and our families were not supportive. I’ve heard many American students today come back to Spain as teaching assistants in English classes. You don’t know how lucky you are! I would have given my right arm in 1987 to come back to Spain to work.

  7. Wonderful post and a what a great idea for a series!!

    Lauren, will you be posting about your experience renewing your residency? Mine expires the end of the year and I’m not sure where to start…

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