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Today I bring you Holly, who lives and works in northwest Spain. She was one of the many to contact after I posted a plea in some Facebook groups. Welcome, Holly!
Holly, again, pleased to have you. Could you please introduce yourself for blog readers?
Hi! My name is Holly Mckendry, I’m twenty-four years old, and I live in Oviedo, Spain. I arrived here two years ago with a job as a language assistant. I first came to Spain to study abroad for a summer in Valladolid; after about a week there, I decided that there was just something about Spain. I wanted to learn Spanish and to really experience the culture, but there just wasn’t enough time to do it all in one summer, so two years later I came back!
Agreed, a summer is way too short! How did you meet your Spanish partner?
Gera and I have been together a year and a half now. We first met during the Carnival parties in Oviedo—the streets and the bars were all really crowded, so when some guy bumped into me, I told him it was no problem and turned back to talk to my friends, but half a second later he did it again. However, the second time he asked for my name, which he couldn’t really pronounce at first. Granted, I couldn’t say his name very well in the beginning either, but—surprisingly—when we got to talking, I learned that he knows a wide range of random facts about the American culture, including my Universities’ mascot, a fact many people from Texas wouldn’t even know. So he got my attention! One week later we had our first date, and since then we have been inseparable!
Wow! I would be impressed by that too. Do you feel that your significant other is a “typical” Spaniard? If not, why?
Yes, and no. He still has a Cola Cao and Nutella sandwich every day, but one of the first things I really appreciated about him was that he is always punctual. Punctuality is one cultural habit I cannot break. But, I think some people, including friends of mine, have the idea that Spanish men can be “machistas”, but I’ve never had any issues with Gera: He is really sweet, and in our relationship everything is 50/50.
Cola Cao and Nutella, eh? I have to admit: I’ve never heard of that before! So, which language do you speak when you’re together?
We met in Spanish, and since then we’ve always spoken Spanish together, we speak in English about once a week for maybe an hour or so, but even after working two summers together at an English camp, it’s hard to completely break the habit. His English level is really high. I don’t know why, but we don’t have many communication problems. He told me just the other day that I could speak Chinese to him and he would understand, even in my Spanish isn’t perfect—or his English—we have our own way of communicating. My only complaint is that when I am saying something wrong in Spanish, he doesn’t correct me; he thinks that my errors are “cute.”
Sometimes I wish Mario would think my errors were cute; he always corrects me! (Harrumph.) Moving on … how do you deal with the “in-law” issue?
I met the family-in-law three months after we started dating. They treat me really well, always trying to make food that I like or even hemming my clothes. I get along the best with his sister. She is getting married in October. It has been a really great experience getting to be involved while she plans her big day. She tries really hard to make sure I’m always comfortable with the family, and she even tries to speak a bit slower so I can follow the sobremesa conversations.
My in-laws totally iron and hem my clothes! (Eeek.) What is the best part about dating a foreigner (and especially a Spaniard)?
The best part is honestly how he treats me—he is such a sweetheart! I couldn’t have asked for a better guy! I love that, on weekends, we go to different beaches or villages just to relax. There is always something new for us to do or experience together.
What is the most difficult part?
The food. He is so stubborn. He won’t eat any vegetables, nor will he try new things. But, because of this, he usually does the cooking. He doesn’t trust me to prepare a meal without vegetables hidden in the sauce …
Oooh man, no vegetables! That must be tough! What advice would you give someone who is considering starting a relationship with a Spaniard?
I think anytime you date someone from another country, you have to keep in mind that things can get complicated very easily. You have to know what you want from the beginning and be careful with your feelings. I was really nervous dating Gera in the beginning. I really wasn’t looking to date, or to have a boyfriend in Spain, but when we met I was completely swept off my feet. What helped us the most was always being open about expectations and our feelings.
Solid advice! Do you plan on living in the US or in Spain long term?
It’s hard to say! I want to try living in both. Of course, that depends on the opportunities presented, but we are also playing with the idea of living in a “neutral” country. I’d love to go somewhere like Germany!
It’s nice to be so open! Do you plan on having children? If so, do you plan on raising them bilingual?
Yes! We hope to one day, many years from now, but we both love kids! We would like our children to be bilingual so we plan on speaking to them in our native tongues.
If you could import something from the US to Spain (and vice versa), what would it be?
First of all, my family and friends. If I could have them here life would be 10x better, but luckily when they visit they always bring me some of my favorite things from home: salsa, ranch dressing, jeans from Express …
If I could bring something to the US from Spain, I’d like to someone bring the relaxed attitude. I feel like a lot of people in Spain take time to enjoy the little things in life. Maybe a few outdoor bars and tinto de verano would do the trick!
Finally, how do you think being in a relationship with a Spaniard changed you?
Since Gera and I started dating, I’ve become more flexible. I’ve learned to enjoy the moment more, and to adapt to doing things a different way.