I’m beginning to think the American men dating Spanish women are a rare breed, because I’m back today with another interview of an American woman dating a Spanish man. These don’t get old for me, because every one of my interviewees has had something new and different to add to the conversation. Let’s let our newest subject introduce herself.
I’m Chelsea, I am 26 years old and I’m in Spain for the wine. Just kidding (sort of). I first came to Spain for a summer program in college in 2009. I fell in love with the country and was determined to come back, so I applied for a Fulbright grant and surprisingly won! Without the push of the grant as well as the prestige and free airfare that came with it, I’m not sure I really would have gone through with it! I made the official move in September 2010.
How did you meet your fiancé?
This is kind of a long story. Esteban and I first met when I was here studying. I was at a bar with my girl friends when the owner of the bar introduced us to his “sobrinos” (we found out a year later that they were in fact, not related). We didn’t hit it off that night, but we stayed in touch. When I won my grant, I went to him for help and advice about things like cell phones and banks and all of that annoying stuff. He helped me immensely. My grant sent me to Valencia, and he is from Madrid but anytime I was in Madrid we always got together to tomar algo or he was my airport taxi! While in Valencia we ended up chatting online just about every night for hours on end. Then I found out he had a girlfriend! Well, when I moved to Madrid I made sure to take care of that little problem, and we began dating in October 2011. And this just in: he proposed August 16th while we were on Long Island!
How very exciting! Congratulations! Do you feel that your significant other is a “typical” Spaniard?
I feel Esteban is the perfect Spanish-American mix. He loves typical Spanish things like tapas, jamon, Mahou, indoor shoes, eating fries with a fork, and Real Madrid (season ticket holder—score!), but he also dresses more American-esque and likes American foods normal Spaniards hate like PB&J and spicy food. He is very Spanish but fits in well in America (except when he eats his fries with a fork!).
Ahh, spicy food! Which language do you speak when you’re together?
When we are in Spain, we speak mainly Spanish together. Sometimes I will tell a story about my day in English, but then immediately switch to Spanish when I change the subject. When I am upset or angry, I speak English. Sometimes it’s completely bilingual, and I will say something in English, and he answers me in Spanish. When we are in America, he can completely change his chip and only speak to me in English—even if I speak to him in Spanish! So I’d say we have a 100% bilingual relationship.
What about your in-laws? How is that relationship?
The in-laws and I get along great! We met after only dating for two months and do many Sunday comidas. They are so good to me, and they always give me more leftovers in Tuppers than they give to him! I think they like me so much, because I got him to move out of their house! As for Esteban, my parents couldn’t love him more. He and my dad are basically best friends and sometimes they even dress alike (I’m not sure if that is more cute or terrifying!) To our parents, each of us is like another one of their children.
What is the best part about dating a Spaniard?
Every reason is a great reason! I love our bilingual conversations and unique culture we have invented for ourselves. We get to share so many more experiences than other couples who share a culture and it seems like every day we learn something new about each other’s culture or language.
What is the most difficult part?
Hands down, being so far away from my family. I would love to just move my parents and grandmother over here to live in a little Anglo-Saxon community in Benidorm or something so that they could be closer, but they don’t like that idea too much. Thank goodness for air travel that gives me the opportunity to see them two or three times a year.
What advice would you give someone who is considering starting a relationship with a Spaniard?
Be open minded and willing to compromise. Cultures clash and you have to be willing to give a little in order to get a little, while also willing to accept and incorporate this other culture into your life.
Do you plan on living in the US or in Spain long term?
If I had a euro for every time I’ve been asked this question, I’d be pretty rica! We don’t really know. Right now our life is in Madrid. Our jobs, our friends, our apartment, and half of our family (maybe more than half; he has a big family)! We would one day like to give the US a shot, but not tomorrow. We are not willing to quit our jobs and drop everything to start over new just yet.
I’d import my parents, no questions asked. Other things that would make Spanish life better would be Target, 7-Eleven, Marshalls, craft stores, and the variety in grocery stores (jalapeño pretzels and wacky flavored junk food, I miss you!). I also miss backyards and not hearing my neighbors’ conversations!
To take to the US from Spain, jamón (obviously) and some good tinto de verano. Not having to tip large amounts at restaurants, and the delicious produce all year round!
How has being in a relationship with a Spaniard changed you?
It hasn’t much changed me but I think it has made me much more independent and a stronger person. Living so far from my family and my culture really puts a person to the test, and Esteban is like a little cheat sheet! He really helps me get through some tough moments and helps me to remember the life I have here with him is worth it. I feel more confident in myself daily because of my ability to speak a second language and live and function in a different country.
Thank you, Chelsea! Chelsea also has a blog at My Spanglish Wedding