Thanks for putting up with the blog absence while I spent time with my in-laws during our stateside wedding reception. Photos will be coming shortly!
Let’s meet my newest guiri who is a new arrival in Madrid this September: Lauren blogs at Life After College.
Hello, Lauren! Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed. Please let our readers know a bit more about you.
My name is Lauren, I’m twenty-three years old, from Rhode Island (yes it really is a state!), and will be moving to Spain this September to teach in Madrid with the Spanish government’s program Auxiliares de Conversación. I decided to make the move to Spain partly because of the experience teaching abroad. I have a teaching degree here in the USA, but it’s very difficult to find a full-time job in my state—and partly because I want to be closer to my Spanish boyfriend.
How did you meet your boyfriend?
I first met my boyfriend, Adrián, when he came to study abroad at my university back in 2010. In fact, I was the first American girl he met here when I helped his roommate move in the first week of school. It was a rather funny encounter, as I went to shake his hand and he pulled me in for the double cheek kiss instead; needless to say, we were both so embarrassed! Even though I had a crush on him from the beginning, I tried so hard to not like him, as he had been in a relationship. Even when it ended I was hesitant because I knew started starting a relationship with someone from another country would end up in either a break up or long distance. In the end he won me over and as of this November we will have been dating for three years, two of which have been long-distance, and now we laugh about our first dose of our differing cultures.
Do you feel that Adrián is a “typical” Spaniard?
In many ways I do think he is quite a “typical” Spaniard. Adrián is very proud to be Spanish and loves his city of Santander, fútbol, going out, and Spanish food. He’s brutally honest and very relaxed about life; it still drives me crazy when he says “soon,” and it means an hour later. On the other hand, he knows Spain’s flaws and isn’t big on some of the “typical” traditions like the bulls. World travel and languages are also very important to him; this past semester, he studied abroad in China and is studying German and Chinese on top of already being fluent in English. Not to mention: He loves American food like buffalo wings and burgers.
Mario loves burgers. Actually, a lot of young Spaniards do too! So, which language do you speak when you’re together?
Generally we have always spoken in English. When we first met I hadn’t studied Spanish in a very long time, so my level wasn’t great, and he wanted to practice his English, as he was going to be spending a year in the USA. Now that his English is so good, we’ve transitioned more into Spanish to help my language skills improve, but often he’ll revert back to English on me without realizing it!
I can relate! I sometimes don’t even realize I’m back into speaking English! How do you deal with the “in-law” issue? Have you met them? Do you get along?
I really love his family! The past two summers I’ve lived with them, so I’ve spent a lot of consistent time with them. Living with them for such a long period means I’ve met most of his extended family too, which was quite intimidating the very first time! Adrián’s parents and sister are really wonderful and always make me feel welcome. I love visiting them because I’m not treated as a guest, but truly as a family member: I help with chores, have an opinion on what we do or eat, and have a support system when I’m so far away from my own family.
That is really great. I feel the same with my in-laws. What do you think is the best part about dating a Spaniard?
I think the best part is that he’s opened my world up to so much more. I’ve been able to travel, learn another language, experience another culture as a native, and realize that there are so many possibilities outside of what and where I’m used to. Not to mention, I have a great group of new friends that I’ve gotten really close to over the years and I have constant support dealing with any issues that might arise in Spain. And after nearly three years of dating a Spaniard I’ve definitely become way more relaxed, though he finds it hilarious when I proudly say I slept in until 9 a.m. on the weekend because that’s when he woke up too … except with the six-hour time difference it’s 3 p.m. for him!
What is the most difficult part?
The most difficult part is definitely the distance and the visa issues. It hasn’t been easy keeping our relationship as strong as it is now; it’s been a lot of work, a lot of “I don’t know if I can do this”, and a lot of tears. And now that I’ll have a visa he doesn’t know if he’ll be able to stay in Madrid, where he was studying his Master’s, unless he can find a job or internship. We knew it would be difficult when we decided we would try and make it work, and though we’ve both had to sacrifice a lot, we regret nothing about our decision. Adrián and I have made it work because we know that we both seriously want our futures to be together. Now it’s just a matter of how and when.
Do you have any advice would for someone who is considering starting a relationship with a Spaniard?
My advice would be to really think if you want to start a relationship because most Spaniards I know take actual relationships seriously. Be upfront about what you want and whether you think you can make it work because the distance and obtaining visas can be extremely difficult. It’s not easy to think about something so serious early on in a relationship, but if neither of you can see yourselves moving to the other’s country, then it’s not worth starting one. A huge part in deciding whether our relationship was worth trying long distance was when we both said we’d be willing to move.
Great point! So, do you plan on living in the US or in Spain long term?
It’s not something we’ve talked about in depth considering neither of us have full-time jobs yet. Right now, we’re both willing to move anywhere where we could find steady work, though we do prefer Spain. My family is spread throughout the USA while his all live near each other and they see each other every week. I really like the idea of a close, concentrated family for our own future family.
Very good thinking there. I totally agree with liking having family close by. Do you plan on having children? If so, do you plan on raising them bilingual?
We do plan on having children one day and we both feel very strongly about raising them bilingual. As children, our families both promoted learning other languages, and coming from a family of Spanish teachers, early language learning is something I’m very passionate about. Adrián and I share a lot of the same values for raising children and believe that languages, travel, family, and education are the things we want most for our future family.
If you could import something from the US to Spain (and vice versa), what would it be?
Among importing my friends and family (including my cat), I would love to bring more organization, spicy food/buffalo sauce, Reese’s peanut butter cups, and dark beer that isn’t just Guinness. From the Spain to the US, I would definitely want to bring to the US a more relaxed lifestyle, free beaches, public transportation, tapas, and an abundance of jamón.
Do you think being in a relationship with a Spaniard changed you?
It may sound cheesy, but dating Adrián has really changed me quite a lot. I’ve always been a chronic worrier, but he’s helped me see the value of relaxing and enjoying my life in the moment. He’s also made me a much braver and stronger person. Being long-distance I know that he can’t always be there to help me through a rough day and I have to be strong enough to rely on myself. Also, I know that if he can study abroad in two different countries where he doesn’t know anybody, then I can definitely do the little things that intimidate me.