Hello! Today I’m back again with more my beloved series: So You’re Dating a Spaniard. This time we’ll be talking to Nicole, who met her boyfriend while studying abroad. She blogs at Lost in Wanderland.
Hi! Thanks for being a part of the series. Why don’t you let us know a bit about you?
Hi! I’m Nicole, a 22-year-old Florida native. I have been placed at a primary school in central Madrid to teach English, and I’ll be starting up this upcoming September! I fell in love with Spain and Europe when I studied abroad in Sevilla as an undergrad, so I couldn’t wait to get back after graduating.
How did you meet your significant other and how long have you been together?
My wonderful novio, Boris, and I met while I was on vacation in Mallorca prior to the start of my semester abroad. My parents’ friends have a flat in Palma, which they were letting me stay in so I could enjoy a bit of the Mediterranean before heading off to Sevilla. Boris lived upstairs and knew that I knew no one in Palma, so he invited me to go out for a beer with him in downtown Palma one afternoon. We spent the rest of my time in Palma together, and after two months of daily three-hour Skype conversations while I was in Sevilla, we spent a weekend in Barcelona together where we made it official. We’ve been together for nearly eleven months now!
Do you feel that your significant other is a “typical” Spaniard? If not, why?
It’s hard to describe the “typical Spaniard” since none of them conform to all the stereotypes. Boris does not follow football, which is definitely a stark contrast to the majority of Spaniards. He also is not a big fan of flamenco or bullfights. However, he loves his café in the mornings, going out for churros con chocolate, and he lives the laid-back lifestyle prevalent in las Islas Baleares.
Which language do you speak when you’re together? Why?
Boris’s mother is an English teacher, so for the first few months of our relationship I spoke to him in English and he responded back in Spanish (we sure got plenty of weird looks on the streets!). Nowadays, we use a mix of both since we’ve discovered that some words only exist in one language or the other.
How do you deal with the “in-law” issue? Have you met them? Do you get along?
I really lucked out with my in-laws. They’re both incredibly welcoming and have always made me feel at home. Boris’s mom even gave me loads of cheese to take back as a gift to my parents at the end of my term abroad. I’ve actually had a slightly colder reaction from Boris’s grandparents, who were slightly disappointed that he wasn’t with a good ol’ Catholic Galician girl (their family is from Lugo, Galicia).
What is the best part about dating/being married to a foreigner (and especially a Spaniard)?
I absolutely love all the cultural exchange that goes on between us daily! There are small details of our upbringings that are different because of where we’re from (taking a gap year after high school, traveling far from home for college, the foods we love most). I also love all the language help we’ve gotten from each other. My Spanish has improved, Boris’s English has improved, and we both practice our toddler French with each other … and then there’s the promise of Catalán lessons from Boris in the future!
What is the most difficult part?
Even though the cultural exchange is great, our differing cultures can make for some misunderstandings or disagreements. For instance, we have differing views on the necessity of siesta in the middle of the day and everything shutting down in Spain on Sundays.
Making pop culture references can also be a bit of a hit-or-miss thing. Boris recently has been watching a dating show that many Spaniards watch (Un Principe Para Corina), and his references to it are lost on me. I can’t really make jokes about the American South (where I went to college) since he’s never been and probably doesn’t even know a thing about grits and fried chicken.
What advice would you give someone who is considering starting a relationship with a Spaniard?
The first thing one of my sorority sisters said to me when I got back to the States was, “You’re dating a European! How exciting!” I don’t see it that way: I’m dating a man who happens to be European. Translation: date the person for who they are, not because they’re Spanish and live in Europe.
I agree 100%! Do you plan on living in the US or in Spain long term? Why?
For the foreseeable future, we are staying in Madrid. However, both Boris and I would like to settle permanently in the US … he’s partial towards New York or San Francisco.
Like any good Spaniard, he loves New York! So, do you plan on having children? If so, do you plan on raising them bilingual?
I grew up in a Spanish-speaking household in America since my parents are Chilean immigrants. I feel like I benefitted tremendously from growing up in two cultures and speaking two languages, so I would love to have the same for my children. Boris speaks five languages, so it would be shame if our children didn’t at least speak each of our native tongues.
If you could import something from the US to Spain (and vice versa), what would it be?
I wish I could bring either Boris’s family to the States, or my family to Spain … we need more cheap transatlantic airlines! Other than people, I’d love to bring a bit of Spain’s more relaxed attitude to the States and more tapas bars.
Tapas bars and the tapas atmosphere! How has being in a relationship with a Spaniard changed you?
I’ve definitely learned to compromise more; it’s a must when you have two people from differing backgrounds. I feel like I’ve also learned to open myself up to new and crazy experiences, but that may also be just a result of traveling in general.