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.
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!
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!