5 Things No One Tells You about Moving to Spain
Moving abroad is an adventure. Unfortunately, that adventure is often idealized in the media. When one announces they’re relocating to another country no one ever says anything realistic like, “it’s going to be a nightmare getting your visa in order.” Instead, their eyes glaze over to the point where you can just make out Julia Roberts’ reflection in them and they say something in the vein of, “oh, maybe you’ll fall in love while you’re there.” I can’t say for certain, but I am almost positive that’s not why your employer is sending you there. Or maybe it is; your bosses have probably seen movies like Eat Pray Love too.
Back to the point: though it would be nice to gloss over all the unpleasant and unexpected parts of moving abroad, it’s going to happen anyway. That’s why I’m here, to hold your hand and tell you the truth.
- The movies get it wrong. Yes, traveling is amazing, but what happens between the amazing parts can be a real pain in the rear. Everyone you’re leaving behind will treat your relocation like an extended vacation. It won’t be. Movies tend to gloss over the tedious parts of the journey like arguing with people at embassies and sorting out your residency paperwork. Even if your company has dealt with all this for you, there’s always a rude postal worker or neighbor to deal with. Take it in stride, all your missteps will be a great story later.
- You need to get your electronics ready for travel. Most people will ask you if you remembered to pack enough underwear, but I’m going to remind you that if any of your important electronics (lap top, mp3 player, etc.) are on their last leg, you may want to get them checked out or replaced before you leave. Electronics can be very expensive in Spain. Sure, you could wait for your iPod to play its last song and have a new one mailed internationally, but that will result in A LOT of fees. Also, if you plan on using services like Hulu, Netflix, or Pandora, they won’t work in Spain unless you know how to block your computer’s IP address.
- You won’t be able to get anything done in August. I don’t mean anything, but August is prime vacation time in Spain, and there will be instances where anyone you need to complete a task will be at the beach. So if you’re dealing with any red tape you might want to think about learning a few breathing exercises, because you’re going to need all the patience you can get.
- 4. Time is relative. Nothing screams guiri (Spanish for foreigner) like eating lunch at noon. Spain runs on a later schedule than other countries; professional offices usually open from 10 to 2, then from 4 to 7. That mean lunch is had between 2 and 4, and dinner doesn’t start until around 10. Hang in there! Your body will get used to Spain time.
- Learning language is hard. Everyone else will all tell you how easy it will be to learn since you’ll be in Spain. A few might mention how just about everyone speaks English these days and you can get by without having too much trouble. Not true. I’m your friend, so I’m going to tell you the truth. If you want to make an impression with your colleagues you’ll need to start learning and speaking their language, and, even when you’re surrounded with native speakers, it takes considerable effort. Try—I mean, really commit—and it’ll happen.
The most important thing on any trip is to have fun. You may not meet Mr./Mrs. Right, but you’ll find yourself falling in love with Spain in no time.