Random person from back home: “Heeeey! Long time no see!”
Me: “What’s up! Good to see you!”
Random person: “Dude, hows Spain?”
Whenever people I know ask me “How is Spain?” I literally do not know how to answer. Most of the time I just facetiously say, “It’s good, how is America?” It is a HUGE question that I cannot answer in just one word or one sentence. Life in general is a roller coaster, so life abroad is a giant foreign roller coaster!
There are good things and bad things about living in Spain, just like in every country. But today, in this blog post, I will finally answer the question of “How is Spain?” for all of those who really want to know.
Don’t worry, this won’t be a long one. I will list the pros and cons and then leave a little commentary blurb underneath each one.
Okay, here we go. I am going to start with the cons, because I prefer ending on a positive note.
7) Language barriers: This is the least “conny” of my list of cons because I do speak Spanish fluently and do not actually experience a language barrier, HOWEVER, every once in a while, I simply don’t feel like speaking in Spanish. When I am tired or really frustrated, I would prefer to express myself in English, but depending on who I am with, I can’t do that. Like I said, it isn’t an actual con because I actually can speak Spanish, I just have to make a bit of a mental push when it gets hard.
6) Cultural barriers: This is also low on my con list because I was aware of the cultural differences of Spain before I got here, and I was prepared to assimilate as much as possible. But, just like in the previous point, sometimes I don’t feel like doing things the Spanish way. I am going to write a more detailed blog post about Spanish culture, but some things that I don’t always love having to deal with are sitting at the table for hours after eating lunch, graciously excusing people for running late, and everything happening at a much slower pace. I can’t actually complain, because I knew what I was getting into before I got into it, but, again, sometimes I just don’t feel like it.
5) Lack of beauty product options: This would bother me more if Amazon Prime didn’t exist. I spent an entire year looking for hair products that were suitable for my natural curly hair. My remedy was having my mom send me my Shea Moisture and ECO Styler gel via UPS, but it was ridiculously expensive and it would take months to actually get here. I finally found out that I can buy my favorite products on Amazon and they get shipped to my house in just one day. As far as makeup goes, I am not much of a makeup wearer. I didn’t own any type of foundation or concealer until a few months ago when I got a giant pimple on my cheek that I wanted to cover up. I went to a BUNCH of makeup stores and I could not find my color…. Or anything close to it. I wasn’t trying to spend $65 on a Clinique foundation either, I just wanted something cheap to cover up my blemish. Needless to say, I proudly sported my cheek pimple for a week. The color range in the USA is much more wide and inclusive.
4) Making new friends: I don’t think I can limit this to Spain. I think that making new friends is a struggle of adulthood in general. However, making new friends in Spain has been hard for me because many people I meet want to be my friend when they find out I am American. They see it as the perfect opportunity to practice their English and talk about “American Celebrity/ Political Drama”. I am not interested in being anyone’s language exchange. That has been a huge barrier for me. The friends that I have now are very special people who were able to look past my “Americanness” and get to know me for who I am. That is rare.
3) Low income rate: This can be quite frustrating because I know that I could make much more money, doing the same thing, if I were working in the USA. Since the cost of living in Spain is low, the average income is low as well. I don’t want to comment or complain too much, because I am (thankfully) financially stable, but this is definitely a downside of moving to Spain from the USA.
2) Being far from family: This is high on my con list because I love my family. My parents and siblings are my favorite people in the world and it kills me to be so far away from them. But when I think about it, even if I were living in the US, I would probably be far from them anyway. This problem is not limited to Spain, and I am very proud to say that my family and I are able to keep in touch on a daily basis thanks to Facetime and Whatsapp.
1) General lack of soul: This is HANDS DOWN the conniest con of living in Spain as a Black American Woman: there is no soul. Do you know what I mean? Some of you will, but many of you won’t. In Barcelona, there is a diverse mix of people, but relating to a Black-Spanish person is not the same (obviously) as with a fellow Black American. You know the black people head nod? Yeah… that doesn’t happen here. For the most part it is okay, but sometimes I miss relating with other people that I might not even know based off of intrinsic cultural cues… aka Soul.
8) Quality of life: The overall quality of life in Spain is much higher than in the US in my opinion. Life is to be enjoyed, work is to be enjoyed, and people are to be enjoyed. Time is taken much less strictly and interaction with people is much more highly valued than in The States. Universal Healthcare and 5-6 weeks of vacation time per year are some other aspects that truly enhance one’s quality of life in Spain.
7) Low Cost of Living: As I mentioned above, Spain is MUCH less expensive than the US when it comes to housing and general living costs. This means, if you are living off of the US Dollar, you will get more bang for your buck. For example, an upscale, beachside, 2 bedroom apartment in the south of Spain could cost upward $750/month including utilities. Another example is a simple breakfast in Spain with juice, coffee, and the actual meal could cost $5. Just let that sink in.
6) Temperate Climate: Sunny Ole Spain. Okay, I must admit that Spanish weather is quite similar to California weather. However, living in a warm and sunny climate is always a pro to me, no matter where it is.
5) Access to beaches, mountains, etc.: Another thing that is similar to California. There is quick access to sandy beaches, hills, vineyards, mountains, lakes, etc. I love the diversity of Spain. The north is greener and rainy while the south is sunnier and more tropical. Got to love diversity!
4) Public transportation: God bless the public transportation in Spain. It is the easiest, most efficient public transportation system I have ever used. Depending on where you live, you can comfortably live without a car because of the bus, train, metro, and tram networks that run through the cities. They tend to be timely, frequent, and very clean.
3) Food!: If you haven’t tried Spanish food, you’re sleeping on some of the most delicious cuisine ever. Spanish food is extremely diverse just like its climate and you get completely new, delicious culinary experiences depending on where you are located. My favorite Spanish foods include: croquetas, arroz negro (don’t ask), patatas bravas, tortilla de patata, the list is endless really.
2) Accessibility to other countries in Europe: Spain is not far from many major European cities like: Lisbon, Paris, Rome, Milan, London, Brussels, Munich, Berlin…. You get my point. With multiple direct flights daily, it is cheap and easy to travel around Europe once in Spain. Often, when friends and family come to visit, they start in Spain and travel around to several other European countries before heading back to The States.
1) Cultural richness: This point deserves an entire blog post of its own, but Spanish culture is beautiful and rich. The values and traditions that many Spanish people share are so different, yet intriguing and inviting. The Spanish culture is warm and very people-centered. Obviously, there are flaws and things that I do not like about the Spanish culture, but I consider the opportunity that I have to integrate into a culture that is so rich and so different to my own as a privilege.
Soooo, in fewer words, Spain is cool. There are good things and there are some bad things, and I am learning and being stretched every single day. But man oh man, do I love me some Spain.
I hope you enjoyed reading my list of pros and cons of living in Spain, where I was really able to answer the question “How is Spain?”
I would love to hear your feedback, so feel free to DM me on instagram @SpainInColor