Spain or the US? The Ever-Present Question.

I prefer here. I don’t want to admit it, especially on the Internet (what with its permanence and omnipresence), but it’s true. For most of the year, I live in Spain, in Europe. And I prefer it here.

Kaley Shades State Park

But I want to say something, and I want it to be crystal clear: I think that my preference is okay.

I think that what I want doesn’t insult Spain or people who love it or even Spaniards themselves. My cousin(-in-law?) told me she understood me, that she would find it hard to live so far from everyone she has ever known, especially as she grew older.

I think that sometimes we get our priorities confused, we start believing that certain desires are truer than others, that no one could possibly prefer this to that, here to there, and if they do—they’re “wrong.” But I believe that no person is right in their desires, because desires are just that—desires. There’s no wrong or right when it comes to one’s preferences. But sometimes we start thinking that preferring a life in the States is just too simple—and perhaps therefore “wrong”—and that we shouldn’t. Maybe others would judge us for hoping to live out our years in Indiana or Chicago or South Carolina rather than Madrid or Paris or Rome. I’m sure some do, but it’s time to step forward and tell the world my true feelings: I want to live in the US. And so does Mario.

I grew up in Indiana. Indiana is, quite often, boring. There are a lot of cornfields; there aren’t a lot of art houses. Kids who grow up in my town can’t wait to get out, and a lot of them only find out in college what they always took for granted. This happened to me.

Going to college changed me. I left my hometown and found myself at Indiana University in Bloomington, a liberal oasis in a decidedly conservative state. There I found art and culture, delicious ethnic food, international friends, and myself. It was there I realized I wanted to step outside of the box and live in another country. I knew then that following the “typical life plan” wasn’t for me—at least not so soon. And so I went to Spain. It was there, ironically, that I realized I wouldn’t mind being a Hoosier forever, that I was patriotic, and that what I wanted didn’t always line up with my fellow Americans in Spain.

Of course, meeting and subsequently marrying Mario, a Spaniard, complicated things. We don’t choose who we love. That certainly was the case for me. I was sent off to Spain with strict warnings not to meet anyone, and I had no plans to do so. But Mario and I found each other anyway, and we stayed together because we were meant to be together. He was the one for me, and I the one for him—that much has always been clear.

Kaley Florence Ponte Vecchio

Where we would end up, will end up, has not.

Right now, Mario is lucky enough not to be one of the 25% of Spaniards who are unemployed. He found a job during a devastating economic crisis—in Madrid. And thus the decision was almost made for us: Spain for now, but who knows about later? We have our hopes and plans, but reality is often bigger and better and messier than our dreams.

Kaley Mario Cordoba

26 thoughts on “Spain or the US? The Ever-Present Question.

  1. There are things I love about the U.S. and Spain, but at the end of the day my family is in the states and that’s a major factor for me! I’ve met so many people who are unhappy whether they’re here or there, complaining about Spain then complaining about the U.S. I like how you put it, if Chicago is your Paris, that’s fine. Everyone has a preference, and nothing makes one lifestyle better than the other.

    1. You hit the nail on the head, because my family is also in the states and that’s my #1 factor. Although my brother and sister-in-law also live far away, being in the same country makes a big difference for many reasons.

  2. It truly is great that you know where your heart lies and where you prefer. I’ve been battling whether I prefer Europe to the USA for years, certainly many factors play a role. All the best to you in your endeavors to makr it back and maybe raising a family in the US? :0] Cheers.

  3. I also think it’s okay to have preferences :) And sometimes having to deal with not-what-I-would-have-chosen circumstances helps you appreciate the next phase :)

    I know way would have thought that Alvaro and I would be where we’re at now. But the growth process has been worth it! You’re together and love each other, and that’s what matters.

    1. At first I thought you had a blog, but I see it’s private. Darn it! :)

      Thanks for your perspective, especially as another American-Spanish couple, but with you guys living in the US.

  4. *no way. Sorry my spelling and grammar has been crazy lately. Too many things on my brain, plus autocorrect on my phone doesn’t help. On Jul 18, 2013 4:04 PM, “Melanie Glover” wrote:

    > I also think it’s okay to have preferences :) And sometimes having to > deal with not-what-I-would-have-chosen circumstances helps you appreciate > the next phase :) > > I know way would have thought that Alvaro and I would be where we’re at > now. But the growth process has been worth it! You’re together and love > each other, and that’s what matters. > > > On Thu, Jul 18, 2013 at 3:27 PM, “Kaley…& Ms” <

  5. Always appreciate your honesty on your blog, Kaley, and that you use your expat platform to show that it’s okay to want to stay home and to love your home, despite all of its faults—because it is just that, home. :)

  6. It’s not an insult to admit you prefer living in the US over Spain. Your rationale is pretty clear: you miss your family and your friends. And that was the case with me too. I liked living in Spain but I didn’t LOVE it. Being so far away from my family (especially my mom) was hard. And for some reason I think it’s just easier for guys to adapt to other countries than girls. I am totally generalizing here but that’s the impression I’ve always gotten.

  7. No need to apologize or feel guilty! I am finding myself in the same position (just as I embark on another adventure abroad…whoops!). As great as it is to travel and experience other cultures, there is something to be said for the ease and comfort of home.

  8. Ah, the age old ‘Why can’t I have it all?’ For me, the most important factor about my relationship was knowing that we’re opening to moving to the US later in life. Kike has made it clear that an American education is important to his children, as is knowing my country’s culture. He wants to learn baseball and play catch with our kids, and he wants them to have a Thanksgiving experience with my family. Having the ‘America in the future?’ question in my head makes it OK for me to be here and considering the future with him.

  9. I understand because having a foreign boyfriend makes me think a lot about this kind of things. Luckily our countries are close neighbors so traveling from one place to another, from one family to another, would be much easier. I don’t know if I could do it with such a big distance. Even 1500km make me sad sometimes when I think I’ll be leaving my family next summer. It’s ok to choose one over the other, it’s not an insult to any of the options.

    1. That’s exactly what I think! I mean, for now we are here, because Mario, being the super-smart lawyer/business man/translator that he is, has a job. We are blessed for that. And we are close to his parents, but not thaaaat close. It’s hard to decide what we want, but hopefully we will eventually get to a place where we are both content, with jobs we like (if not love), and one of our families close by!

  10. I appreciate the honesty and openness behind this post so much… and even just your deeper discussion of preferences. I’ve definitely been in that boat of making things “wrong” or “right” when they just are. It’s okay. :)

    Like for me, I love being an American and I’m pretty patriotic (unlike some of my friends who I met while studying abroad, but that’s another story) BUT I still have a preference for travel outside of the U.S. I don’t know why domestic travel doesn’t excite me the same way or whatever, but instead of making it “wrong,” I’m just going with it.

    Well, at least you both know you want to be in the U.S. someday. That really helps for when the opportunity comes up! :)

    1. Yeah girl! I do love international travel as well, and the idea of traveling domestically doesn’t excite me as much as I hope. But my brother and sister-in-law currently live in northern Nevada and their domestic travels have got me all excited about it! So perhaps it’s all a matter of a perspective? The only downside is that international travel is so expensive when based in the US, whereas in Europe (if you go within Europe), it’s rather cheap!

  11. My bf is English and he’s in England atm with his family, while I just got back home in Chicago. This has been our ever-present question lately as well (England or the US?). At least you guys know you want to be here, and that’s important.

    1. Thanks! I feel like Mario and I both thought about what we wanted, and we decided the US, but then life intervened … and Spain was chosen! And I’m okay with that, because he has a good job and I do like Spain and we are together, but it was sort of chosen for us. It’s interesting because most couples never have this issue, but we do.

  12. As others have said, there’s nothing wrong with having a preference, it’s not an insult to one country over another. I imagine several Spaniards think that many of us are crazy for wanting to live in Spain during the crisis instead of the U.S ;-) But yeah, for most individuals, “home” is about the people, so if you’re close to your family, chances are where they live is where you’re happiest.

    1. Yes, you’re right. And I think Mario would be happy if we could live near his parents too. It kinda sucks that we can’t live near both. That’s where our very distinct nationalities come in. Nonetheless, he is much more equipped to live apart from his than I am mine …

      And yes, I do think Spaniards question how we want to continue going to Spain with such a severe economic crisis. Although I always tell them that the demand for native English teachers has NOT gone down. It has only gone up, or so it seems to me.

  13. I think it’s great you have a preference! I can’t decide. Before I moved back home, I thought for sure I liked California better. But once here I found there was a lot I missed about France. Seems like I’m one of those people who can’t choose… although I’m liking France more and more to be honest.

    1. Could it have anything to do with the new beau? Hahah.

      I totally get you! When I was living here, without Mario, I missed soooo many aspects of Spain. Now that I live most of the year in Madrid, I miss so much about the US. And I wish I could combine them both, “sacar lo bueno” from both of them. Unfortunately, I can’t create hybrid countries …

  14. You guys both want the same thing, so that’s the most important thing! Madrid’s so lively that now seems like the best time to be there, then eventually move to the US! I’ve even had this problem lately (home or Spain next year?) and I’m not even IN a relationship with a Spaniard! Haha.

    1. Haha! I totally admit that, without Mario, it wouldn’t even be a question. I’m not the type to put up with so much paperwork and headaches in order to stay in Spain …

  15. Spain or the USA? well it depends on how much you’ve fallen in love with the other country.

    i knew an american girl/woman who spent three years in Spain (not working or studying) she fell in love with Spain and the language so much, that her biggest dream was to move to Spain to work and live….and you know what? she’s got eveything in the USA, a good job, a car, a condo, her parents near….

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