Hello! I’m back again with my favorite blog series, So You’re Dating a Spaniard. This time I’m interviewing Christine, a New Yorker dating a Spaniard.
So, let’s start off with you introducing yourself to the blog readers!
My name’s Christine Antoine. I’m 25 years old, from the Bronx, NY. I did a summer study abroad here after my junior year and fell in love with Spain and I knew I wanted to come back. So I found out about the Auxiliares de Conversacion program and I’m now entering my 3rd year working as a language assistant in Spanish schools.
Wow, you’ve been here a long time! How did you meet your significant other?
My boyfriend, Jaime, and I have been together for just shy of a year and 9 months. We met through mutual friends on a night that neither of us wanted to go out! It was midnight and raining and I was home, PJs on, ready to watch a movie when a friend asked me to go out with her—and didn’t let up for an hour—’til I gave in. On the flip side, Jaime had just flown back into Madrid that night and wasn’t feeling up to going out, but his roommate convinced him to come meet her at her friend’s house, which is where my friend and I also ended up. We ended up club hopping til about 7 a.m., but he didn’t get the nerve to talk to me til about 6. The rest is history!
Do you feel that your significant other is a “typical” Spaniard? If not, why?
Jaime at the same time definitely is and is not the “typical” Spaniard. He’s very Spanish in stereotypical ways like his love of siestas, jamón, and his beloved Real Madrid. However, he’s lived a lot of his life outside of Spain as well. When he was young (like four–five years old), he lived in New York City for about five years, which is awesome because he gets American culture and different things I say without me having to explain myself. He’s also lived in different parts of Europe, so I think he’s got a more open mind than your “typical” Spaniard.
Interesting, because I also think my husband’s experiences living in another countries help our relationship! Which language do you speak when you’re together? Why?
We speak English together more than anything, which has not helped my Spanish! We started off speaking English on the day we met and have just continued on that path, largely in part because he’s fluent, therefore making English the fastest and most efficient way for us to communicate often times. But we’ve been making more of an effort as of late to try to speak more Spanish with each other, trying to have “Spanish Only” days.
How do you deal with the “in-law” issue? Have you met them? Do you get along?
Jaime’s parents have been really welcoming to me, as has his whole family. I’m just as expected to come to weekend lunches at their home as he is! He got to meet my family last Christmas when we went to the US and they loved him and vice versa, which was wonderful. This year we’ll be spending the holidays with his entire family, aunts, uncles, cousins … the works. We’re really lucky that our families have been so welcoming and supportive.
[Regarding being a woman of color]: They’ve definitely been super welcoming to me from the beginning, which was a relief because I was a bit nervous about the whole race aspect. The one time it apparently came up was when Jaime told them he was gonna ask me to move in with him, his mom mentioned some statistic about the number of interracial marriages that end in divorce and he was like whoa, you’re jumping a bit ahead there. But then she went on to say she thinks I’m good for him and that she likes me a lot, etc. He said she’s just more traditional in some senses, which I totally understand, because I can say the same for my mom. We’re maybe not what either parent would have chosen for us, but other than initial reservations it’s been a non issue.
Dressed up for Halloween as Mitt Romney and Obama
What is the best part about dating/being married to a foreigner (and especially a Spaniard)?
Dating a Spaniard has really allowed me to get to know Spain in a way I don’t think I would have otherwise. From travel and food suggestions to actually getting me to watch football matches (on occasion), a lot of my favorite Spain experiences are due to him.
[Regarding being a woman of color dating a white Spaniard]: For other experiences, I’ve definitely notices we get looks in our neighborhood at times; it’s very old and Spanish. And one time going to dinner in the neighborhood we overheard a couple of older women kinda talking about us being there together. Fortunately that’s the worst of it.
What is the most difficult part?
One thing that was a bit difficult at first was the weekend lunches with his parents and speaking in Spanish the whole time. My Spanish isn’t shabby, but having to speak it the entire time while trying to make a good impression was intimidating! That’s gotten to be a non-issue over time though. Another point of contention has been meal times. I’ve gotten used to the 9 o’clock dinner times here, but Jaime tends to eat even later, like 11 which is a constant battle for us.
What advice would you give someone who is considering starting a relationship with a Spaniard?
My advice would be to come with an open mind, without preconceived notions about what a Spanish person is or isn’t, you’ve gotta let the person speak for themselves. And brush up on your Spanish, because with a Spanish significant other comes a Spanish family.
I love that last quote! Do you plan on living in the US or in Spain long term? Why?
Our plan is to move to the US, ideally to New York, where I’m from and where Jaime lived before. The rocky economy here has Jaime about ready to “jump ship” and we can’t think of a better place to do so. But we may end up staying here as well, which I’m definitely open to.
In New York City last Christmas
Do you plan on having children? If so, do you plan on raising them bilingual?
We’d like to have kids and definitely will raise them as bilingual, if not trilingual (Jaime speaks French as well). I wish my parents had been able to teach me a different language growing up so I’d love to be able to pass that onto our kids.
If you could import something from the US to Spain (and vice versa), what would it be?
I miss dryers and being able to do all of my laundry in one day! I also miss being able to go to a lounge with nice music and having a real cocktail, not just clubs and bars that only have vodka, rum and gin. But at the same time, I do love the nightlife culture here, going out with friends, having a bite and a drink. If those things could merge, that’d be perfect.
How has being in a relationship with a Spaniard changed you?
Being in a relationship with a Spaniard has made me more patient, a better compromiser, and has opened my eyes to many new sides of Spain. And it’s also made me consider potentially living permanently in a foreign country, something I wouldn’t have seen for myself two years ago. But instead of that being a scary thought it’s exciting, and that’s thanks to our relationship.
At a winery in Rueda
Thanks to Christine for the opportunity to interview her!