Five Years in Spain: Then & Now


Last month, my 5-year ‘Spainaversary‘ went by, almost without me noticing. Thankfully I have a little holiday by the name of Columbus Day to remind me. However, instead of Spain invading the Americas, this American invaded Spain. :) 5 years already. ¡Cómo pasa el tiempo! 

I thought it’d be fun to take a walk down memory-lane, and compare that bumbling, awkward and challenging first year to now.

Then and Now

Spanish Comunidades Traveled To

Year 1: Andalucía and Basque Country.

Year 5: Waiting to check off Navarra, Galicia, Islas Canarias and Islas Baleares. 

Spanish Words Said Like a Guiri

Year 1: Just about everything, which led to some awkward misunderstandings from time to time.

Year 5: To this day, saying padrastro makes me sound especially guiri. You can take the girl out of America…

Spanish Foods I Didn’t Like

Year 1: I tried huevas my first year while living with a host family. Awful.

Year 5: Still have strong opinions about huevas (they’re DISGUSTING, stay away!), and won’t go near orejas, patas, tripas… but basically everything else I adore.

Spanish Level

Year 1: Very much a beginner pathetically armed with some basic Latin American Spanish (greetings, numbers, colors, etc.), because as all high school Spanish teachers in America liked to say: “You’ll probably never go to Spain.” HA!

Year 5: Advanced with a healthy dose of Basque-isms and a pitiful amount of words and phrases in Euskera! Did you know it’s considered one of the hardest languages for English-speakers to learn?

Favorite Spanish City Traveled To

Year 1: I went to my two favorite cities in Spain my first year: Granada and San Sebastián.

Year 5: My favorites haven’t changed, I’ve just added more to the list. I was surprised by how much I loved Asturias!

How I Celebrated Thanksgiving Abroad

Year 1: Cooking a turkey and making stuffing with my host family, but mostly by feeling depressed as I Skyped family back home.

Year 5: Last year, hosting my own Thanksgiving for 20+ Basques in a txoko (gastronomical society). They LOVED it and are already requesting another!

Things I Missed From Home (besides the obvious of family + friends)

Year 1: American milk (trust me, it’s not the same), peanut butter (duh), central-heating (lived in Andalucía where it’s not common), clothes dryers, American customer service, good Mexican food, a variety of cuisines, a real autumn, being home for the holidays…in short, almost everything.

Year 5: I have learned to live without clothes dryers, make my own Mexican food, get my fix of various cuisines whenever I travel or go to a big city, and buy peanut butter here. I’ve put on my big girl panties and adapted, yay!

Biggest Challenges

Year 1: Learning Spanish, interpreting the accent in Andalucía, and overcoming my shyness to speak in Spanish. Oh, and learning to walk in high-heels on cobblestone streets. 

Year 5: Feeding my wanderlust and planning out where the future will take me.

Apartments Lived In

Year 1: By the end of year one, I had lived in two different apartments.

Year 5: I’m now in my 7th apartment in Spain. It has a garden and it’s definitely my favorite place yet.

Most Embarrassing Moment

Year 1: This year was full of embarrassing moments! Probably that one time I was in Jerez de la Frontera, tried to go to a winery and somehow ended up on a private tour at a clock museum. That’s what struggling in the local language will do to you!

Year 5: The other day I asked a Guardia Civil for directions to somewhere that ended up being RIGHT in front of me and tripped on the curb mid-sentence. Smooth.

Here’s to more happy years in Spain! 


  1. says

    Amazing how fast the years go! Like you, I was confused and even more confused as the days went on, between andalú and a new job and new friends. Sticking through it and becoming fluent is one of my greatest journeys and triumphs! And I’ve found I can live without a lot of the American things – namely, the clothes dryer, toaster and microwave! Here’s to many more!
    Cat of Sunshine and Siestas recently posted…The Colors of IndiaMy Profile

  2. says

    Congrats on your 5 years in Spain, Christine! I’m about 2 months in here in Spain and have been making plenty of funny, and slightly embarrassing, Spanish mistakes! At some point this year I’ll be heading up to the Basque Country since Logroño isn’t too far away at all. I enjoyed reading about how much you have grown and changed during your 5 years in Spain. I’m looking forward to reading about all your future adventures!
    Mike of Mapless Mike recently posted…Fiesta del Pisado de la Uva in San Asensio, La RiojaMy Profile

  3. says

    Hi Christine, really enjoyed reading your honest post…it’s amazing how quickly the years go by in Spain hey? I’m coming up to my 8th year here in Malaga and still battling to master the language but as they say ‘poco a poco’.

    Good luck for your next 5 years!

  4. says

    Congratulations for your 5 years in Spain, Christine!
    It´s a pity that my city (Toledo) isn´t one of your favourites. Have you tried “carcamusas”, “venao” or “perdiz a la toledana”?. They are typical dishes from Toledo. They are delicious. And the wonderful “delicias de mazapán”
    Kind regards from Toledo

  5. Raquel says

    Hi Christine .. I’m thinking of travelling to Spain in April for a month and was wondering if you have any pointers. I want to see the city and enjoy the sights and Mediterranean sea. I don’t know any Spanish but am thinking of buying a rosetta stone and learning as fast as I can! Do you know if you can surf in Spain? Do you know how expensive it is to live their for a month rent wise? Do you know if its quite easy to go to the islands around Spain? Like the Canary Islands?

    I love your blog and thanks for making it!!

    • says

      Hi Raquel!

      Surfing is huge in Spain, so you definitely won’t have a problem finding great spots. Rent depends on where you’re going, and it can vary quite a bit. I’ve actually never been to any of the Spanish isles, so I’m not sure, but I’d imagine there are plenty of ferries! Feel free to contact my via my contact page if you have any more questions.

  6. says

    You don’t know me yet, but I am Linda and recently moved to Spain too. So I am kinda in the Year 1 experience and it is really comforting to read that I am not the only one being shy about speaking Spanish haha :).
    I studied 4 months in San Sebastián and I still miss that city every day, I am living in the province of Barcelona now and I started my own blog too :) If you ever have a second, just check it out!

    Love your blog already!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge