Spain

So You’re Dating a Spaniard—Ashley

So today we have something a little bit different … A Canadian dating a Spaniard! A bit of a change from all of us Americans who just love our Spaniards, but I think we’ll accept her into the group.

I’m Ashley, a 23 year-old Canadian currently living in Castro-Urdiales (Cantabria). I arrived in Spain about a month ago to begin my first year as an English language assistant at a high school. I applied for this program because my boyfriend and I had begun running out of options to stay together as an international couple. And, of course, if we have to choose I think I would pick a mild Spanish winter over a Canadian one anyway!

Canadian Dating Spaniard

How did you meet your significant other?

Borja and I celebrated three years together this past July. We met in June 2011 at the sushi restaurant in central London where we both worked (I was spending the summer there working while on a youth mobility visa and Borja had left Spain some months before to learn English). Somehow, because I didn’t speak any Spanish and Borja spoke only basic English, we clicked and quickly became friends. We found out not long after meeting that we lived about a 15-minute walk from one another- which is nearly unheard of in London- so we began to spend more time together. By the time I was preparing to leave a few months later we had started to make plans for him to visit me in Canada.

Do you feel that your significant other is a “typical” Spaniard?

I think when we first met three years ago Borja was much more of a “typical” Spaniard than he is now. In the time that we have been together I have found that he has changed; he has travelled, improved his second language, lived abroad and grown from it. But I still find him very Spanish despite these changes, especially now that we’re back in Spain! Borja loves good Spanish food, especially the cured meats and old cheeses that are so popular here, and is so happy to have bread with every meal (something he really missed when we lived in Canada). Like any Spaniard he loves to go out and party, and it’s difficult to tear him away from the television when the football match is on! I’m also reminded of the “typical Spanish expressions” that Borja loves to tell me, so if in nothing else he is certainly Spanish in his use of Spanish idioms and sayings.

Canadian Dating Spaniard

Which language do you speak when you’re together?

When we’re together we mainly speak Spanish. I would say 80-percent Spanish and 20-percent English. This is a decision we made quite some time ago to help me improve my Spanish. Borja had already begun to study English when we met and his language skills have improved threefold. I, on the other hand, didn’t speak any Spanish and had to start from the beginning. Three years on and we speak Spanish at home. I’m very glad we made that decision because now I’m comfortable speaking Spanish in just about any situation.

Good for you! How do you deal with the “in-law” issue?

This is a fun question! I first meet Yolanda and José Luis just a few months after meeting Borja. He left Canada to go home for Christmas and I decided to follow for a two-week vacation. I arrived there speaking no more than 3 or 4 sentences in Spanish (and understanding nothing) and they spoke no English. In those three weeks I learned just how warm they truly are. Since that first visit I have spent a summer living with them and have had many visits. I love them both so much and am relieved that Borja has such great parents!

That is so great! I too have great in-laws. What is the best part about dating a foreigner (and especially a Spaniard)?

I think the best part about dating a foreigner is that every day is an adventure. Even after three years together that hasn’t ceased to be true and we have a lot of fun together. Dating a Spaniard is really fantastic. Spanish people are kind and open and, sometimes, quite fiery. Borja also has these characteristics and it makes for a change. He’s definitely different from many of the Canadian guys that I have dated and it’s refreshing to experience. Another great thing about dating a Spaniard is that Spanish people are so relaxed, they are never in a huge rush to do anything; Borja and I pair well because I have endless energy and I always want to be on the move, his relaxed nature means he rolls with my many wild ideas without much complaint.

What is the most difficult part?

In the beginning the most difficult part was expressing our feelings to one another. Having a limited vocabulary in your partner’s first language some times made it difficult to understand what the other wanted to say/how they felt.

Now, I think the most difficult part is the uncertainty of the future. This usually doesn’t factor into our daily thoughts, but every now and again someone will ask us about our future plans and we’re reminded that we don’t really have any. We haven’t made any concrete plans, other than to be together. After three years we have considered all of our possibilities and try to do our best to plan well for our future, especially since the immigration process can be so trying.

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

I would say go for it! Jump in head first, because only through being open and eager will you find a happy relationship. Remind yourself that there may be difficulties, but difficulties exist in any relationship. And prepare for an adventure because dating a Spaniard is just that!

I love the idea of it being an adventure. Do you plan on living in the Canada or in Spain long term?

I love Canada deeply and a part of me will always be there, but Spain is the long-term plan for us. It is easier for me to get residence in Spain, than it is for Borja in Canada. Just through officially registering ourselves as a common law couple I am able to get 5 years residence in Spain, meaning I can work here legally (outside of the language assistants program if I choose to), and would have access to the same health care as Borja has. Things are much more complicated in Canada and the process is much longer. As well, we’ve chosen Spain for the long term for the life style here. People in Spain work to live, not live to work and we really prefer that sort of lifestyle to the one we felt we had been living back in Canada.

Canadian Dating Spaniard

If you could import something from the Canada to Spain (and vice versa), what would it be?

Can I have two things? My little sister and my doggy without a doubt! Sometimes I start to think about how much I miss them both and I begin to doubt my reasons for leaving Canada. I know I’ve made the right decision for the place I am at right now and for my relationship with Borja, but it’s still difficult to be so far away from them. And since flights to Canada are so expensive, I couldn’t ever take a short week visit just because I feel like I need a visit.

Something from Spain that I would send to Canada would be the hot Spanish sun. My friends and family sure could use some rays in the middle of February!

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

It’s made me happier, without a doubt! Dating a Spaniard has also given me a better appreciation for other cultures and ways of life. Seeing how Borja lives in Spain and letting me be a part of that has shown me that what I may have accepted as different before isn’t so different after all.

Canadian Dating Spaniard

Thank you so much for your interview, Ashley! You two make a great couple. If you want to check out her blog, she blogs at Cómo Perderse en España.

Interested in being a part of my Dating a Spaniard series? Email me; I’d love to have you!

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The Shame In Spain

“Es una vergüenza…”, “Así nos va”, “Normal, este país”

Last week, a nurse in Spain became the first person to catch ebola outside of Africa. Scary? Maybe. A cause for extra precaution, for more education? Definitely. Shameful? I don’t know if we should go that far. But during this past week, I’ve heard a lot of reactions from Spaniards—friends, Twitter personalities, politicians, newscasters, etc. Some offered support to a person who was risking her life to save someone else. But a lot of people talked about shame. Shame? Yes, shame.

La vergüenza ajena

I love Spain. I think it’s a pretty cool country—beautiful, with great food, open-minded people (mainly). It has its problems, but it’s overall a nice place to live. I am sometimes shocked by Spaniards’ views on their own country, the way they insult it, as if their problems made it a terrible country. As Spanish National Television put it in a blog post, “We Spaniards feel shame constantly.” As the blog mentions, everyone feels a twinge of shame when your drunk uncle does ridiculous things at a wedding. Of course! But Spaniards seem to feel shame where most of us wouldn’t, to feel shame when they personally haven’t done anything wrong. La vergüenza ajena, feeling shame on the behalf of another person.

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Visiting Gran Canaria: Beaches, Mountains, and Villages

We just returned from spending five whole days on Gran Canaria, the Canary Islands’ second most populous island. I had been under the impression that las Islas Canarias were named after, you know, canaries. After all, canario means canary, so the feminine form was canaria, right? Wrong. Gran Canaria originally meant the Great [Island] of Dogs! Just look at this beer called Tropical, the beer of the Canary Islands:

Cerveza Tropical Beer Gran Canaria

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Erin titled all her photos "Me with ____". This is "Me with Hat".

Your Spain Experience—Interview with Erin

I don’t remember when, but a few years I got a notification that someone new was following me on Twitter. I used to check everyone’s profiles to see why the person was following me of all people. The new follower’s name was Erin, apparently she lived in California, and she loved … Real Madrid? Odd, I thought, but I decided to follow her back. And what a good decision it was! Erin has definitely increased my love for Real Madrid, and she has shared her experiences in Spain via her blog but also via Twitter.

Erin has a much more unique perspective on her time in Spain than most blogs. Why? Simply put, she’s not white. A lot of the “Expat in Spain” blogs are written by people just like me, and that can get a boring and monotonous, don’t you think? After reading one of Erin’s most poignant blog entries on racism in the classroom, I thought about interviewing her, because you people must get tired of so many white-chick-dating-a-Spanish-dude stories. So here you are; I hope you will find it as interesting and thought-provoking as I do.

Erin titled all her photos "Me with ____". This is "Me with Hat".

Erin titled all her photos “Me with ____”. This is “Me with Hat”.


Describe how you first got interested in Spain.

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