I never get tired of these! Please met Bryn, my next interviewee in my So You’re Dating a Spaniard series. I’m no longer dating a Spaniard. I’m married to one! I hope to still be able to identify with the young folk.
Please introduce yourself (name, age, why you’re in Spain, etc.).
Hello! I’m Bryn Edmonston, and for all you Spaniards out there, I’m Breeeen! (Crazy how tough the “i” sound is for Spanish-speakers, including my own boyfriend.) I am 24 years old, from St. Louis, Missouri, and have been living in Spain for a little over 2 years. After studying abroad in Alicante, which I highly recommend, I fell in love with Spain and my fascination took me back a year later. I knew I couldn’t be away from Spain too long and I would work at anything to get back. Luckily, I found my way in the Auxiliares de Conversación program and have been teaching English for 2 years in a wonderful little city called Ciudad Real in Castilla La Mancha. Next year I’ll be in Burgos, in northern Castilla y León, where Fernando studies Ingenieria de Caminos, Canales y Puertos. Or, Civil Engineering for Spaniards.
I love Castilla La Mancha! And Castilla y León! Annnnnnnd my brother-in-law is that type of engineer! Obviously, we’re meant to be bff. How did you meet your significant other and how long have you been together?
Drumroll, please. We met in a … kebab! As romantic as you may think it is to meet in a kebab restaurant over the fake meat and sauce dripping down your face, it was not love and romance at first sight. It was September 26, 2010 and I had just gotten to Spain and moved in with my new roommates who I did not know. They just happened to be 2-week old friends with Fernando. He was wearing a bright yellow hoodie and cargo pants, and unimpressed, my gaze just passed him up. (Sorry, nene!) I was forced to wear the only thing I had unpacked which was a romper (shirt and shorts together) and winter boots with heels. Talk about a strange outfit. He tells me later that upon seeing me he thought I was not pretty, but “strange-looking” and that I had a genuine “cara de guiri.” He was also taken aback by the fact that I was not wearing tights. Typical Spaniard. I guess by the pictures you guys can see that for yourselves. Anyway, I remember forgetting his name at the end of the night. Oops. Lots of later meetings out and a first date on Halloween where he got his face painted showed me that he was a good sport and a lot of fun. I was smitten after I told him I would never kiss him again if he didn’t quit smoking, and he quit he following day. We’ve been having a blast (and lots of tobacco-free kisses) in the 2 years since.
Hilarious, because my husband assures me I have an “American face.” Must be in the water. Do you feel that your significant other is a “typical” Spaniard? If not, why?
To this, I would answer a resounding …not really.
Fernando is not into bulls, or Cruzcampo, or Feria, and although he is Andaluz, he hates to be called so. He enjoys some traditions that Spain is known for but also is quick to point out the flaws that Spain has. In other ways, he is typical—quick to raise his voice, quick to calm down, brutally honest, questions everything, and is down to earth.
Which language do you speak when you’re together? Why?
Because my Spanish was infinitely better than his English when we met, Spanish has always been the language of choice. I am trying to speak English with him more. I just love speaking Spanish. It would be strange to say, “Get me the spoon, chiqui.” We have nicknames for each other in Spanish too, which I would then have to translate. Does “nene” translate to “baby?” Gross!
Translations aren’t always the most satisfying! How do you deal with the “in-law” issue? Have you met them? Do you get along?
I love Fernando’s parents! They have always welcomed me into their home and tried to make it the most comfortable possible for me to come stay with them. Upon meeting the whole family, it took me a few days to get used to their accent (Almería) and their speedy talking, especially his 2 sisters, one who is close to my age and another who is 12. We have a lot of fun together and especially his little sister always wants to be around us. And I love it! Did I also mention his mother is the most amazing cook? We have even skyped for her to share her recipes with me. I still only understand his oldest sister 60% of the time…
What is the best part about dating/being married to a foreigner (and especially a Spaniard)?
The best part is that the relationship is so enriching. Nano and I will never run out of things to say to each other, or debates to have, or things to learn. Every day I learn something new about him or about Spain and it just fascinates me. Another thing I love is his honesty. It can be hard at first to hear, but then I am grateful someone just told me the whole truth. Yeah, like the time he told me I was a “chica grande.” And Fer’s such an adventurous soul, and not afraid of change, much like myself.
What is the most difficult part?
I would say the most difficult parts are the miscommunications, the summer long distance relationships, and me worrying about his friends liking and accepting me as a foreigner. I try my best to fit in, but yet I still trip up sometimes, with language, customs, etc. Sometimes Fernando just says, “No controlas,” meaning “You’ve just said something so stupid that makes you sound like a foreigner trying to fit in with my friends.” They get a good laugh out of me sometimes.
What advice would you give someone who is considering starting a relationship with a Spaniard?
I would suggest defining what you both want early-on. Fernando and I had a tough time deciding if it was worth it to start a full-fledged relationship that may or may not last due to distance. Once we defined the relationship and decided we were in it for the long haul, our relationship improved dramatically and our fears of commitment subsided.
Do you plan on living in the US or in Spain long term? Why?
I am completely, head-over-heels in love with Spain, even if I’m not in love with some things about it. If I could stay here and have a solid job, provided that I would have the means to make frequent trips back to the States, I would stay here. I think it is a great place to raise a family and I think kids grow up with less pressure and competition than they do in the States.
Do you plan on having children? If so, do you plan on raising them bilingual?
I plan on having children someday, and so does Fernando. If that happens together, Wooooo!
Bilingual children, of course. That includes reading and writing and speaking. I think the gift of language is one of the greatest gifts you can bestow upon your children, and it is such a disservice to waste. Fernando also speaks Italian, and I would love to learn that.
If you could import something from the US to Spain (and vice versa), what would it be?
I would import my family and friends first. They would love Spain! Many of them just haven’t experienced the real Spain, but if they did, I think they would really like it. (Not to mention I would love seeing one of my friends fall for a Spanish boy!) Also, natural peanut butter and the young age of becoming independent from your parents. As for Spain to America, the way of life and the attitude towards working to live, not living to work. And free tapas.
How has being in a relationship with a Spaniard changed you?
I can’t even begin to say all the ways it has changed me, but undoubtedly it has been for the better. I am more open, more accepting, more laid-back, and better at Spanish. I love the relationship I am in, and wouldn’t change it for the world.
Thank you, Bryn! Please email me at kalhendr[at]gmail[dot]com if you want to be a part of this series! You can be man, woman, or anything in between!