Now that we’ve been living abroad for about a year and a half, we wanted to share some of the things we love (and some things we dislike) about living here in Spain.
We’ll start with the bad…
No Central Heating
This might be the worst thing for us, especially since it’s winter now! I know what you might be thinking…Sevilla has beautiful weather, why would we need central heating?! Believe it or not, the winters here do get relatively cold, especially at night and in the early mornings (as low as 30 F or -1 C). Now that you know that, imagine living in a place with no central heating (this includes some shops, restaurants and even the school where we work!). Luckily for us, we have two space heaters that we use in our apartment–one in our bedroom and the other in the living room. Unfortunately, our kitchen and bathroom are always chilly, but we’ve gotten used to always wearing sweatpants/sweatshirts and slippers around the house. In a few weeks, this will no longer be a problem for us though!
Far from home
This one isn’t Spain’s fault, it’s our own for choosing this life…but no matter what, it’s never easy living far from the ones you love! We certainly miss our family and friends everyday while we’re here. But since we know this decision is short term- we’re ok. Thank God for Facetime and Skype.
By no means do I want to sound rude when I say this, but it seems there are a lot of things that could be done in a faster, more organized manner. Mark and I notice this mostly when it comes to our job, but even in other places too (like the bank, or post office). People here never seem to be in a rush to do anything (walking somewhere, waiting in lines, etc). I’m definitely not saying that another way is better, because I think sometimes people rush too much and could use a good slow-down….however, it can be a lot to handle when you’re trying to get stuff done and no one seems to be on the same page as you are!
Again, we can’t really complain about this because we CHOSE to live in a country who’s first language isn’t English…but nonetheless, it gets tiring sometimes. Although our Spanish has improved by A LOT and we are grateful for the opportunity, sometimes we can’t help but get frustrated when we can’t say exactly what we are trying to (whether to our coworker, a new friend or the person checking us out at a store).
Now, on to the better stuff, the good things about living here!
Spanish food is amazing. They have the best jamón (ham) EVER. Mark and I aren’t particular fans of ham in the US but here, it’s definitely different. (In fact, there’s an entire art-form dedicated to slicing jamón off the leg of a pig). There are so many dishes we have grown to love and we are constantly discovering new ones as well. (Click here for more information about Spanish Tapas).
Did you know Spain is one of the sunniest countries in Europe? The South of the country only receives around 65 days of rain per year. Sometimes I can’t even remember the last time it rained here and I am always surprised if there are gray skies! Although there are a few months where the weather can be chilly, the Spring and Autumn here are incredibly beautiful.
Closeness of community
Relationships with family and friends are such an important part of life here. People go out of their way to meet with their entire family for holidays, birthdays or even just an ordinary weekend. It doesn’t seem to matter the distance for families here in Spain, they always find a way to get together. This is an aspect of Spanish life that Mark and I hope to bring back to our lives in the US.
Architecture & History
Spain is a country with a lot of history. In Sevilla, you can see different aspects from the Romans, the Moors and the Catholics, all within a few steps of each other. It’s magnificent to be surrounded by so much history and beauty, every corner you turn. Even our smaller city has a castle made in the 13th century! Coming from the US (who has a more modern history), these things always impress me.
Spanish wine is damn good. And cheap!! I can go into the supermarket and pick any random bottle of wine (ranging from 1 euro-6 euros) and will not be disappointed. Also, I always seem to get bad headaches after drinking wine in the US, but not so much here. Some people have told me that wine in the US has more added sulfites but I’m not exactly sure if this is true. Either way, the wine is VERY good and VERY cheap. Even at restaurants, a glass of wine will run you anywhere from 1-3 euros.
Continuing off of what I said about wine, it seems that a lot of things (in the South of Spain at least) are cheaper. The biggest example I have for you is going out to eat in a restaurant. To put in perspective, Mark and I will go to dinner, each have two drinks and share a variety of tapas (5-6 dishes) and pay around 20-30 euros total. (You also don’t have to tip, so that’s an added bonus). I’ve also noticed that shopping for clothes is relatively inexpensive here too. I am able to find good quality shoes for as cheap as 10 euros. (Please note that I am speaking from mostly my experience in the South of Spain).
Easy to Travel
This is one of the best things about living in Spain / Europe. It is easy (and cheap) for us to travel to other cities and countries! There is an airport, train station and bus station all in Sevilla that can take us almost anywhere. We’ve been all over Spain, to many other countries in Europe and even Africa! It’s definitely easier than traveling from the US (where you always have expensive, long flights to get across the pond).
In the end, you can see that the good things far outweighs the bad. We truly love our life here in Spain, and although we’ve had to adjust to a few things, there’s really nothing to complain about.
Next week we are headed for Prague & Budapest! Stay tuned for posts about our travels there.
Hasta luego, Amanda