Why Are You in Spain?

Ah, the question. The question. I ask it a lot of others; they in turn ask it of me. I love and hate this question, because I love knowing other people’s stories, but I have no idea how to answer it without starting off on some ten-minute-long storytelling session, leaving my questioner with his/her mouth agape and mind reeling by it all.

So, let me just ask you, readers:

Why are you here?

Now that I’ve asked that, I can tell you why I’m here. As it says on my about page, I came to learn Spanish. I stayed for a boy. Mainly.

Would it shock you to know I kinda sorta hated study abroad? I was old enough not to get homesick, but I still did. I did not like living in a teeny-tiny room in an old nunnery with walls so thin you could hear your roommate typing late at night. I didn’t like having to wash my clothes in the shower because the laundry room charged upwards of $10 a load. (This was back when the one euro equaled something like $1.50.) I didn’t like feeling as if it were impossible to make friends except for drinking buddies and intercambios who weren’t really interested in hanging out with me after hours. I didn’t like seeing my bank account drain slowly down to almost nothing.

But I did like learning Spanish. I did like that, and so I dove in headfirst, as much as I could. I got another intercambio because one just wasn’t enough. I spoke to all the waiters in Spanish, even if they insisted on speaking to me in English (the bastards). I studied vigorously, even when all of my classmates were basically taking a semester off. I traveled as much as my budget would allow. I learned to love red wine, olives, and tortilla de patata.

But there was so much I didn’t know at the end of my stay! I didn’t know how to tapear, I hadn’t mastered the subjunctive, I had never had a real Spanish friend that I could text and ask to hang out with. This bothered me. I went back for my senior year unsure of the future and what would happen after May 2009.

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As senior year wore on, I had a decision to make—find a job or go back to Spain? I chose Spain, specifically Salamanca. I was excited to experience a new side of Spain, to live in my own apartment, and meet Spaniards. Oh yeah, and improve my Spanish.

I got back to Spain in September 2009, a year and three months after I’d left Toledo. A few days later, I met Mario. He came to the door of the place I was interning, and I was unintentionally rude to his friend and him, but he still went out to dinner with us. The next day, I pretty much asked him out, and the rest was history. My mother waited patiently by the computer to hear updates about this guy I talked about all the time, even though she’d warned me not to fall in love with any Spaniard (only because that could keep me far away from her). Oops! I was head over heels after a few weeks. After a month, I met the family. After three, I was ready to stay indefinitely, if it meant we could be together.

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Staying in Spain is not an easy task for many reasons. There’s bureaucracy. There’s homesickness. There’s cultural differences that drive me crazy at times. There’s times when I get so sick of Spanish, of struggling to find the word that I just want to scream, pack my suitcase, and get on the next plane to Chicago. Get me outta here! Mario knows this more than anyone. Luckily, although he wouldn’t feel the same way, he sympathizes as best he can.

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There are some expats that love Spain much more than I do (although, don’t get me wrong, I do love it), and they’d stay forever if it were up to them, boyfriend / girlfriend / husband / wife / lover or not. I wouldn’t, though. If not for this husband of mine, I’d be in the States, where my family is, where my friends are, where my history is. Living in another country wears on me, and I’d love to be able to just hop in my car and drive to my parents’, but right now it’s just not possible.

Right now we’re here; right now this is our home. It may not be for forever. That’s okay. When I married a Spaniard, I gave up that right to certainty about where home is. Home is here. Home is there. Home is Zamora, it’s Crawfordsville, it’s Bloomington, it’s Salamanca. It’s Spain and it’s the US. That’s why I’m here.

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What about you?

So Sorry, So Boring

Do you still read this blog? It’s okay if you don’t. Except you’d be lying. You’re reading this right now.

I realize my life lately hasn’t been all that exciting, but I wanted to tell you all—exciting things are right around the corner. I know, I know; I wish I could post about them now, too, but it wouldn’t be prudent, and, you see, I’m all about being prudent. Bo-ring.

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My cousin, Bailey, and me

So, here’s a few little life updates for you:

  • My super-smart, fantastic boyfriend received some amazing news that he totally deserves because he worked his you-know-what off for four years to get a very difficult degree. He would go to class from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and then study afterwards. Dedication—it pays off. Good job, amor!
  • My favorite basketball team, the Indiana Hoosiers, are doing super well—and, well, that makes me happy. Go Hoosiers!

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  • I am studying for the DELE exam, which, for those of you who don’t know, stands for the “Diplomas of Spanish as a Foreign Language.” It’s a diploma issued by the Cervantes Institute in Spain saying you talk real good in Spanish. Okay, it’s not just speaking, it’s also comprehension (reading and listening), and general knowledge of Spanish. I’m going for a tough one and can’t devote a ton of time to it (hello, full-time job!), but I’m going. Slowly. It helps to have Mario quiz me and give me helpful hints. I have my own personal practice examiner!
  • People are getting married: I just attended my cousin’s wedding (congratulations to Bret and  Kelsey) and my brother’s wedding is in September. My “baby” brother. See also: smart, successful, and has a beautiful fiancé! Plus, there are others (who shall not be named)! Also, doesn’t it seem like everyone on Facebook is either heading for holy matrimony or having a kid? When did we get so old?!

I know, lame post, Kaley. But there has been a lot of exciting news lately, not the least of which is that Mario has picked up a new hobby: paddle tennis. This is totally a thing in Spain. Also: he’ll be running a half marathon later this month, most likely (100%) way faster than I could.

¡Vamos Mario!

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Welcome to the Midwest!

No, it’s not Mario’s first visit to the Midwest. He’s been here twice before. Nonetheless, he was introduced to some very American/Midwestern tradition: tailgating, football, and IU basketball.With our food: veggies/dip, cheese ball and crackers, cookies (peanut butter and chocolate chip), pork sandwiches, etc.

Crazy hair. I know.

No, we didn’t win. But who cares about football (or, as Mario calls it, American rugby)?

We later went to the annual Cream vs. Crimson scrimmage, which was way more fun to watch. After all, we are a basketball state – always have been, always will be.