April 18, 2019
If you’ve tuned in to the Perspectives of an Expat guest posts before, then you already know I created this series so to learn more about the views and experiences of expats all over the world. I met Kristina of Living Wonderfilled through Instagram and immediately connected with her posts. Kristina is copywriter and content creater who just happens to be an American expat living in SPAIN! It’s been really fun following her adventures and I was super excited to learn more about her experiences!
Where are you originally from?
I was born in Miami, Florida but grew up between South Florida and East Tennessee. My mom is from Colombia and my dad is from Cuba, so culturally I’m actually much more Latin American than American.
Where do you currently live and what led you to move there?
Right now I’m living in Madrid! It’s going to sound crazy but I had been living in Nashville for about 1.5 years when I started to get restless. I started to crave Europe. Then I somehow got into a couple Spanish TV shows in September 2017 and decided I was going to try to move to Spain!
Was this a temporary or permanent move for you?
I’m treating this as kind of a trial run. I’ve never lived in Spain, so I’m not sure if I want it to be permanent. I may want to try living in other cities within Spain or other cities in Europe. I’ve always been charmed by Ireland, so who knows!
What are some of the differences you see between where you live now and where you’re originally from?
Oh gosh, there are so many! I’d say the main difference from the US and Spain is the mentality. We’re very capitalistic in the states, people here are far more socialist. It’s almost a given that at some point people in the states will be entrepreneurs or have some kind of side ‘hustle.’ In my experience, people here aren’t like that. They don’t think outside the box as much in that sense, I think because society really doesn’t encourage freelancing and entrepreneurship as much as in the states.
I have a pretty broad worldview, so I have always been very curious about other cultures and my friends and family in the states are the same. Many Spaniards I’ve met aren’t that way. They like vacations and touristing, but for the most part they aren’t as curious or educated about other cultures.
Another one – which has been a huge culture shock and I occasionally struggle with – is the superiority complex Spaniards (in general) have about Latin Americans. I’m constantly told I don’t speak Spanish correctly, because I speak Colombian Spanish (fluently, it’s my native language). I’ve been told tons of times how South Americans are just innately less intelligent than Spaniards. It’s kind of a weird complex they have because ‘they discovered’ and ‘conquered’ most of Central and South America.
What have been some of the biggest obstacles that you have had to overcome after relocating?
Random (mild) racism because I’m Latin American. (Which they can only tell once I start speaking in my accent.) I don’t necessarily look American or Latin American.
Paperwork frustrations with my Visa, my Spanish ID, and other documentation required to live here on a Visa. The Spanish government is also notoriously confusing when it comes to all that.
What do you love about where you currently live?
So much! That I can walk everywhere, the food, siestas (yes, I take them!), the history. Spain has several different subcultures which I’m loving learning about! People here are also generally less materialistic and more focused on enjoying life rather than the hustle and bustle we’re focused on in the states.
What’s the most valuable thing you learned from living abroad?
The importance of speaking more than one language and cross-cultural communication in general. Even when I say something in Spanish, it may be a different word than a Spaniard might use, so it’s important to be aware of that when communicating. I’ve never been more thankful to my parents than I am now. Growing up they forced me to speak Spanish at home and had they not, I wouldn’t be fluent.
What would be the number one thing to see or do that you would recommend to someone visiting that they would not be able to read about in a guide book?
To go out on a Sunday afternoon, have a coffee and go for a walk. My favorite is to see how the families get together near where I live. There’s a park where families come to after their Sunday meal, and you can see multiple generations, cousins and extended family together. It’s a really great tradition they uphold.
Where is your favorite “instagrammable” spot(s) where you live?
Outside of where you live now, what’s been your most memorable travel destination? Why?
Greece, Mykonos specifically. I went after the busy season and had the island almost all to myself. I was able to ATV (quad) all over the island, which has got to be my favorite way to explore. The people were incredibly welcoming and friendly and it was a really peaceful place.
How often do you travel outside of where you live?
I try to travel to another city at least once a month. Sometimes that means another city in Spain, other times it means another country in Europe. I have some trips back to the states this year that were fairly expensive, so my springtime travel is a bit limited.
What do you love most about travel?
Learning about other cultures and their food! Also street art. I love seeing amazing street art and learning what it’s about. It’s usually a really great representation of a place’s history or current political situation.
Tell me more about your website/blog (if you have one).
My blog is called Living Wonderfilled. It started as kind of an everything blog because I love writing, but has morphed into a travel and lifestyle blog. I’m going to start to delve into more expat-specific stuff now too, now that I’ve been living abroad for over six months and am staying for a while.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Well, obviously my opinions about Spaniards are generalizations. I am actually of Spanish descent, my great-grandparents on my dad’s side are from Galicia, and I have family there. I love it there!
*All images contained in this post are her own.