Hi all! So ironically—if I’m using the word correctly, and I’m never quite sure I am—when I stopped blogging regularly, my stats started booming! I blame Pinterest, but I can’t be sure … Nonetheless, I’d love to start blogging more regularly, at least so you all can listen to my husband’s complaints about drivers in the U.S.! (They are hilarious.) To tide you over, please read this interview with Jamie, who blogs at Belleville to Barcelona.
Hi! My name is Jamie and I am from a small town in southern Illinois called Belleville. It is right across the river from St.Louis, Missouri. I turned 26 in October, right before I left to come back here to Barcelona for the second time. I landed here for my first time in October 2012, took a TEFL course, and started working right away. Obviously, I fell in love, with both teaching and my Spainard. :) After working and living the typical Barcelona lifestyle for a full year, I decided I had to return home to see my family. I stayed home for a full year and then packed my bags up again and here I am! This time around I’ve been here for 5 months so all together in Spain- 1 year and 5 months!
How did you meet your significant other and how long have you been together?
Carles and I met in the cheapest and smelliest hostel in London you could possibly imagine. The crazy part is we were both living and working in Barcelona at the time and I was on my first ever Eurotrip with one of my best friends from college and he (last minute) booked a trip there to go for 5 days by himself and practice his English. When we returned to Barcelona in January we did language exchanges together and hung out frequently- just as friends. This went on for a few months and in March he moved into a 4 bedroom apartment with me and 2 other girls and again we were still just friends. It wasn’t until May of 2013 we decided to make it official.. With that being said, we have been together for 2 years.
Do you feel that your significant other is a “typical” Spaniard?
In some ways—yes, he is a Spaniard through and through … In other ways he couldn’t be farther from a “typical” Spaniard. For example, I swear he has to take a siesta every day he is not working even if he isn’t tired.. It’s just in his blood. He loves paella, jamón, and bocadillos and could eat them every day if he could. He grew up playing soccer and was the captain of his team the last few years. On the other hand, he is never too bothered when the Barca games are on and is open to moving and not staying around his small village where he is from. He travels all over the world with me and is constantly wanting to see and do more. He LOVES everything related to the states and would much rather wear a St.Louis Cardinals baseball jersey than a Barca one any day. I think he really has developed the “best of both worlds” when it comes down to it.
Which language do you speak when you’re together?
When we met, we started talking in English because my level of Spanish was pretty terrible. As we spent more time together and lived with two other girls who only spoke English—we were primarily speaking English. Now, as this is my second time around here, we are trying to speak more Spanish to improve my level but like everyone says, it’s hard to switch completely from the language you started speaking in. Step by step!
How do you deal with the “in-law” issue?
Joan and Olga are amazing! I have met them multiple times and can honestly say they treat me as one of their own, even though we are so different and don’t speak the same languages. As they are from here; their first language is Catalan but of course switch to Spanish when I am around. We have lunch with them usually every other Sunday and this past Christmas I was fortunate enough to get to spend it with them. It was wonderful getting to experience a true Catalan Christmas!
What is the best part about dating/being married to a foreigner (and especially a Spaniard)?
You are constantly (and I mean constantly) learning something new. Whether it is simply a new word in Spanish (or Catalan in my case) or a whole new tradition and way of life.. There are always things to be shared with one another. Also you are welcomed into a whole new culture which is amazing in itself… Your eyes are opened to so many new things and it makes you appreciate it even more having your Spaniard (or foreigner) there to help guide you.
What is the most difficult part?
With cultural differences … comes some type of miscommunication at times. There have been moments where one of us isn’t able to fully express what we want to say in the other language and this can be frustrating but with time and lots of patience.. Everything always works itself out! Especially now after being together for 2 years, we hardly ever experience this anymore.
What advice would you give someone who is considering starting a relationship with a Spaniard?
Be patient! Also be very flexible because maintaining a relationship from opposite sides of the world can be tough at times… If you have to do long distance at any point like we did. But get ready for an amazing experience, unlike any you have had before!
Do you plan on living in the US or in Spain long term?
Bear with me because this question brings up a lot of different scenarios for us. Now it’s much easier for us to live and work in Spain; however, we love the U.S., and of course my family is there, so we plan to go back before too long and start our lives in the states together. But after we have children and they are old enough to remember, we would like to come back here to allow them to go to Spanish/Catalán schools and experience what is it like to live and grow up in Spain. So I guess both?
If you could import something from the US to Spain (and vice versa), what would it be?
Obviously I want my family here first and foremost.. After that, I would really love if it dryers were much more available here because I dislike everything about having to hang my clothes out. Also I would import smoothie places on every corner like they are in the states (I miss my smoothie king, Jamba Juice, Planet Smoothie, etc.), oh, and TARGET!
If I could import something to the States, it would definitely be the mentality from here to ‘work to live’ not ‘live to work’ which is so very common in the states. As for food, jamón, tortilla de patatas, and pan con tomate at each meal. And one thing specific from Barcelona would be La Boqueria! It’s the best and I’m sad all my friends and family in the states don’t get to experience it unless they come here of course!
How has being in a relationship with a Spaniard changed you?
It has made me a better person overall- it has made me realize there is way more to life than just “living the American dream” and in my opinion, not living that “life” and having the pressures that come along with is is way better. I have learned so much about the Spanish and Catalán cultures and been able to experience their traditions firsthand. It has made me more open to all languages and cultures and also made me realize that anything is possible.