Sometimes I get the impression that people think we are crazy for leaving all that we are familiar with for a life abroad but we aren't the only ones who have chosen this lifestyle. In fact, there are a lot of us and many of us blog about it. Expatriated is a series to introduce you to other expat bloggers.
I'm honoured to feature Nicole from La Mia Vita on Expatriated today. She's one of those ladies doing this whole expat thing on her own - something I'm not sure I'd be able to do! She exudes positivity, takes lovely photos and has been taking some pretty cool weekend trips around Europe.
· Where are you from and where did you move to?
I’m from San Francisco (which I love love love and plan on moving back to) but my parents/family live in Southern California so I call both home.
I spent a few months in Barcelona and now I am in Madrid for the year!
· How did you end up there and what inspired you to make the move?
I studied abroad in Florence during college and after that incredible experience I always knew I would live abroad again. For 6 years there was always the excuse of finishing college, then continuing school to get my teaching credential, relationships, jobs, etc but then all those things ended and I had no more excuses to hide behind my fear of taking the leap.
I randomly found a master’s program for Bilingual and Multicultural Education (perfect for my career!) here in Madrid. I got accepted and even though I was very nervous to move abroad by myself, I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
· What is the best part of living overseas?
I’m sure everyone has the same answer… the ability to travel!
I have a very long Europe bucket list and plan on taking advantage of taking advantage of every free weekend, cheap flight, airbnb and peoples couches to cross it off! :)
· What do you miss the most from home (besides friends & family?)
You know, there isn’t much about home that I miss besides my friends, family and just the comforts of home. I don’t even miss the food all that much. I’d say the things I’m missing from home are just the experiences I’m missing out on there.
Living abroad is an incredible experience but at the same time you are trading these experiences for experiences back home. I’m giving up memories of my little brothers growing up, San Francisco fun and friends and family adventures. But of course I don’t think anyone every regrets the trade.
· What is the most difficult thing to adjust to in Madrid?
And the Spanish system. So frustrating sometimes because everything just seems so illogical and inefficient, but you just have to take a deep breathe and accept it.
And the extreme temperatures! 110 in the summer and snowing in the winter… This California girl is going to have serious problems come winter.
· Any funny ‘whoopsies’ while adjusting to your new life?
OHHH a ton! Most have to do with not speaking Spanish very well.
My first month I was washing my clothes, I kept telling my friends that the water must be really harsh here because my clothes were not getting clean, they smelled and felt really funny… well a month later when I learned a little more Spanish, I was doing laundry, took a look at my ‘detergent’ and realized I had been watching my clothes with only SOFTNER for a month!
· Saving graces (ie. things that made life abroad easier?)
Hands down, Blog World. I can’t imagine doing this and being happy without the support of blog world. Not only do I get to share my adventures with others but I have also met friends here in Spain and Europe through blogging! It’s crazy to think I never would have met those friends had it not been for blogging.
· What is the biggest lesson you learned from your time in Spain?
Stepping out of my comfort zone.
I like my comfort zone and my little bubble, like most people. But when you come with no friends, no family, no significant other, you are forced to step out of your comfort zone and go to intercambio meet up, meet up with people you’ve met online (even though at first it seems really weird) ask for things in a language you don’t know that well and learn to be comfortable all on your own.
· If you had the chance to move elsewhere in the world, where would you go and why?
Oh, that’s a hard one and a conversation I’ve had with a lot of people. There is a huge difference between wanting to visit somewhere and wanting to actually live somewhere. There are a lot of places I would love to live like Amsterdam, Paris and Prague, but only during the Summer, Spring and Fall. I don’t think I could handle the winters. I would also love to live in Andalusia, Spain and San Sebastian.
· Do you have any advice for the newly expatriated?
Learn the language before you move! I wish I had done this. It makes it so much easier to adjust to the culture, make friends and get settled if you can communicate with people!
Patience and flexibility… every single day
Don’t expect anything to be like home. Just go ahead and assume everything will be more difficult, customer service will be nonexistent, everything’s more expensive than you think, and nothing tastes the way you expect. You won’t be disappointed and then you will be pleasantly surprised when things are as you’d hope.
Thank you Nicole!
I completely agree with your advice! I always prefer to be pleasantly surprised than disappointed!
You can check out more of Nicole's life in Spain and her travels all over Europe here.