Expat Life

A Life Lived in Airports

I recently mentioned to my mom that I hate airports. Her reply? “You picked the wrong guy if you really despise them!”


Departures Madrid Barajas AirportMy most-frequented airport, Madrid Barajas

What is it about airports that brings out all the feels? The airport environment is heightened somehow, as though they put something in the water or air. The arrivals area is decidedly more cheerful than departures. At the arrivals gate you see signs: “Welcome home, Katie” held by the cutest set of parents and dimpled younger brother; “Mr. John Smith” held by a blankfaced businesswoman; “Happy anniversary” accompanied by a 20-something young man holding a boquet of tulips. These people are awaiting the arrival of a loved one, a business associate, a girlfriend or wife. The hugs are numerous. The tears flow. No one seems too impatient or upset.


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The Spanish-American Ambassador

I’m talking with my coworkers in Madrid, and they casually mention how Americans are. You know, all of us, all the time—how we act (boorish), how we think (hint: we don’t), what we look like (obese), what we eat (hamburgers, fast food, and generally junk). My pulse quickens, and I feel the urge to say something, anything, because they are oh-so wrong. But what do I say? How can I not act like a know-it-all? Most importantly, how can I convince them that not all of us would choose a greasy hamburger as our last meal?



Why I Hope 2014 Will Be Better Than 2013

If I’m being honest, 2013 wasn’t the greatest, especially if I compared it with 2012. There were good moments, for sure, like traveling to Amsterdam and Paris, celebrating our wedding in the U.S., and holding our third annual Thanksgiving in Spain. I made friends, met new people, and had a lot of fun.

Kaley Amsterdam Canals

New Friends

But 2013 was, for the most part, a difficult year. Mario’s job kept him constantly away from home. I felt lost in a big city like Madrid and found myself missing my Spanish home.


Health Insurance For Expats

Ah, insurance. It’s been a hot topic of conversation lately. When I listen to NPR, it seems to always be on their “Most Emailed Stories” list. People are curious about the United States’ new healthcare exchanges.

Likewise, I have become interested in finding a healthcare policy while in Spain. I have been uninsured a few times while here, and I never felt good about it. What types of insurance did I have available to me? Here’s a quick guide to different types of healthcare insurance for expats, with an eye on Spain.

1. The Public Healthcare System—Seguridad Social

Spain has a great private healthcare system, and if you’re an EU resident, you have the right to receive free medical care when visiting another country. You can get an E111 form, usually available at post offices. This covers you until you get a tarjeta de seguridad social from the social security office.

If you are not from an EU country, however, you will need to be contributing to the social security system. At the time, I was unemployed, but as a family member to my husband, I was eligible. No matter if you have the card or not, remember that you will never be denied treatment if you need it.

2. Private Insurance Policy

Private healthcare in Spain is fairly straightforward. You buy a policy that best fits your needs. Some will have a lot of copays and cover little; some will have no copays and cover almost everything. It all depends on the company and the premium. Some of the most popular companies in Spain are Mapfre, Cigna, and Sanitas. I just bought a policy, and I’m rather too excited about making some appointments for checkups.

3. Expatriate Insurance Policy

You can always choose an insurance policy meant specifically for expats. What’s the difference between this option and the previous? Expat health insurance will cover you worldwide, whereas a country-based policy will usually not. Expatriate insurance policies often cover a wider range of conditions and likely include travel insurance.

If you’re an expat, how do you address the health-care question? Does your adopted country have a good public health-care system like in Spain?