November 4

One Year

Gentle readers, if you have made it this far with me in my journey, I can only offer my thanks that you are interested enough to read my story. When I first decided to move to Spain, it was at a time in my life when my opportunities were limited by choice and circumstance. Over time, however, moving toward living in another country changed my perspective on so many things that it is easy to lose count. I have to say, though, that making the decision to move has brought healthy doses of positive (mostly) and negative (a significant few).

If you’re new to the party or are interested in some of the experiences I have chronicled in the past, the links in the text below will take you to more posts!

Positives:

  • Scenery. The experiences of Spanish life, from the setting to the culture, have been very meaningful. I have learned to appreciate so many new things. The nearby mountains and ocean provide a backdrop to an area with a great deal of ecological diversity and history. Let’s face it: Las Fallas is an incredible spectacle any way you look at it.
  • Language. Ugh. There are so many things about Spanish that I just don’t get yet, although I have made great strides toward conversational fluency. I have high hopes that the upcoming year will see a significant increase in my ability to speak and write Spanish.
  • Work. I am really lucky to have a job where I am able to work here in Spain for an American company. Since my visa is for residence and not work, I would have a hard time even applying for a job here in Spain. However, my work in the States has been keeping my busy, and when you combine that with my PhD work, I definitely spend a lot of time reading and writing!
  • People. My expectations of people here in Spain was very close to my actual experiences. The Spanish people are warm, gregarious, feisty, funny, engaging, and interesting. I enjoy speaking with taxi drivers and waiters in restaurants. This is a social environment, and to be part of the experience, I often have to take one small step outside my comfort zone.
  • Travel. In one year, I have been able to travel significantly, usually on a very small budget. For example, I have been to Germany and Strasbourg, AfricaParis, Madrid, Barcelona, Teruel, and several cities and towns along the way.
  • Fitting In. Lately, I feel as though I am better suited to this environment after a long period of adjustment. I have a better sense of what to expect, which allows me to make better use of my resources and act more like a local. I have found stores where I prefer to shop and routes I prefer to walk and ride. I have made friends in restaurants and have run into friends on the streets. In short, I am transitioning from a visitor to a local.

Negatives:

  • People. Leaving family and friends has been hard… really hard. While I have had a few visitors from the States, and visited my daughter in Africa, there are still so many people that I wish I could see. I know that feeling separated is a normal state of affairs, and I have worked hard to stay in touch with many people. Oddly, I think it is a good thing to miss people sometimes, because it reminds you that there are people who love you from a distance.
  • Comforts. Let’s face it, I am very American, and I am quite accustomed to a few creature comforts. Unfortunately for me, a few things that I can find in the States simply are not available here. Most of those items are small but significant: American-style extra crunchy peanut butter, the spices and herbs section of Wal-Mart or Kroger, and knowing where to buy exactly what you want. What I am getting in exchange is ridiculously inexpensive fresh fruits and vegetables, an opportunity to get off my rump and walk or ride my bike to the right store for the right thing, and a city that is safe to walk in alone in the wee hours of the morning. I still miss good peanut butter, though.

So, beginning today, I have been in Valencia for a year. I am still waiting for the acceptance of my residency application, but I have done what I can to make sure it will be approved. I feel so very blessed to be here, and I am still enjoying the adventure. I hope you have enjoyed the “virtual ride” that I provide on my blog, and if there is anything you want me to cover or include, just let me know in the comments.

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Tags

adventure, one year


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2018: Green Spaces

2018: Green Spaces
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  1. WOW!! It’s hard to believe that its been a year!! I’m glad that things are going so well for you. I’ve enjoyed reading the great adventure. Do you ever plan to come back to the states?

    1. Hi, Renee! Yes, it’s kind of hard for me to believe, too. So many things seem like yesterday and ten years ago… simultaneously. I have no idea what the future holds, but I do have to say that I am really enjoying my time here. Living here is a the fulfillment of a long-term dream, and I am thankful for the adventure!

  2. LOVE LOVE LOVE reading about your life! You write so descriptively and I read it in your voice and it makes me smile! I don’t remember you specifically loving crunchy peanut butter though-I remember you introducing me to that powdered stuff! But now I’ve developed a minor peanut allergy so I can’t even enjoy your peanut sauce anymore-BUMMER! But, thanks for posting, love you and miss you and I look forward to your next update!

    1. Hi, Kris, and thanks for the comment! What I would give for powdered OR crunchy peanut butter from the States! To be fair, there IS peanut butter here, but it not the same quality or smoothness of American brands. I have loads of new fresh-veggie dishes under my proverbial cooking belt, and I don’t think you would even miss the peanut sauce! I love you, too, and hopefully we can speak on the phone sometime soon! xxoo

  3. It doesn’t seem possible that it’s been a year already!! I’ve loved following your journey, & I’m so proud of you…but miss our chats. I passed Newk’s the other day & got teary!! I need to get myself on the visited Spain list – thanks for giving me the opportunity to do that.

    1. Dianne, thank you so much… that means a lot. I would love to connect sometime soon over the phone, but we need to plan it so we are both available. Maybe we could even be rebels and figure out a way to video chat! And plan your trip out here!!! xxoo

  4. Congrats on the one year mark! I can’t believe you have been gone that long. Even though I didn’t get to see you often when you lived here, I do love reading about your adventures and seeing your pictures. I know this has been a dream of yours. Take care and enjoy the adventure!

    1. Wendy, thanks for the encouragement! I am always open to reconnecting sometime via Skype or a Google Hangout! I’m glad you are enjoying what I post… and I hope we can chat soon!

  5. Christopher,

    Congratulations! And many thanks for sharing your wonderful experience though this blog. It’s a great read.

    Here’s to more years of happiness

    Maurice

    1. Maurice, thank you so much for being such a steadfast supporter of this dream. Your feedback means a lot, and here’s to more years of both of us being happy and living a full life!

  6. Hi Christopher,

    Love hearing about your adventures and about how you are following your dream! Lots of adjustments for us during the past year, too — both health wise and career wise. Take good care of yourself!

    1. Yes, Carolyn, I think we can both say that this past year has been one heck of a ride! I miss y’all and hope you are both doing well, and I think of you often. We should try to connect on the phone sometime… I miss our breakfast meetings at Panera! Much love to both of you! xxoo

  7. Hi Christopher:

    Great job on topping the one year mark!

    My wife and I are considering a move to Spain or Portugal, however the main stumbling block from Spain is this double taxation issue I keep reading about. I really can’t afford to pay another set of taxes on my U.S. pension. Have you heard how any other ex-pats are handling this problem?

    Keep up the good work!

    1. Well, technically, if you are not making money in Spain as an employee and have a non-lucrative visa, then you can’t be taxed in Spain for any of your income. I pay regular US taxes, but since I don’t work here and my residency is specifically nonlucrativo, then there is nothing for the Spanish government to tax. I occasionally transfer money into my bank here to pay my bills, but other than that, my only taxes are in the US. Good luck, and let me know if you have more questions! -Christopher

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