Mid-September is a funny time of year for most expats here in Spain. It’s when most of us celebrate our “Spaniversaries”—the anniversary of when we first arrived, bleary-eyed and jetlagged after a long flight, in the land of tapas and tinto de verano.
In honor of my own arrival anniversary, which came and went over the weekend, here are some realizations that have come to mind recently.
1. I feel as American as ever
Just a few weeks ago, I got stitches for the first time in my life at the ripe old age of 24. I was slicing an avocado, holding half of it in my left hand, when the knife went straight through the soft fruit and into the base of my left middle finger.
“What a lame injury,” was my immediate thought. Not wanting to waste anyone’s time at the ER for such a stupid reason (who stabs themselves while cutting produce?), I decided initially to treat it myself at home once the bleeding stopped.
I closed my left fist around wad after wad of paper towels only for them to keep getting soaked through within seconds. As my kitchen started looking more and more like a scene from American Crime Story, the ER was beginning to seem like a viable option after all. An hour or so later, I left the hospital with three neat stitches and a strong bandage over the injury.
“Just out of curiosity, how will they charge me for this?” I asked my boyfriend as we got in the car. It was nonchalant—I really wasn’t worried about the cost, knowing it would be a fraction of what I’d pay in the US. I was fully expecting a bill to be mailed to my apartment or handed to me at the hospital after I got the stitches out.
And he just started to laugh.
“You’re covered under Andalusia’s public health system,” he reminded me. “It’s free.”
It was a major duh moment if I’ve ever had one. In the back of my mind, I’d known that, but it didn’t seem real—like when you can’t remember if you dreamed about an event or if it actually happened. Plus, it was my first time having to use my healthcare coverage for something other than “I lost my voice and need a quick justificante for work.” I still have a major American mindset about these types of things, which is why I was shocked to learn that the stitches and follow-up treatments wouldn’t cost me a single euro cent.
(Also, America, get on board with the universal health care thing. Spain has excellent, world-class medical care that is on par with what I’ve experienced back home, and it’s free for all citizens and legal residents because they take care of their people. I can’t believe we’re still debating this.)
2. And I think I’m doing okay with fitting in.
Expat life is all about the little victories. From the good (enjoying an hours-long meal out on a sunny terrace with good food, good wine and good friends) to the bad (dealing with, uh, the emergency room, as mentioned above) to the ugly (having to defend myself in Spanish to my ruthless ex-roommate who hated me for no known reason), every situation I successfully navigate en español makes me feel more and more like I belong here.
It doesn’t just end with dealing with Spanish people, either. Every time I can recommend things to do or places to eat here in Cordoba—or even in any other city I’ve visited here in Spain—to a tourist, it’s hard not to feel proud.
3. My blog name sucks.
I’m the first to admit it. I came up with “Viatic Couture” during my second year of college before I had any idea where my life would take me. “Couture” came from my then-desire to maybe make this a fashion blog (lol). I wanted something related to travel, too, and found “viatic” on thesaurus.com. The first word is hard to pronounce and spell; the second doesn’t really reflect my life or goals anymore. I’ve never been crazy about the name, and hoped it would just be temporary until I thought of something I liked better. That’s the sole reason I haven’t bought a domain yet—”Viatic Couture” has never convinced me.
It’s something I think about every time I write here, but I’m also terrible at thinking up these things. (If anyone has suggestions, by the way, I’d love to hear them.) I never thought I’d be in Spain for more than a year, but I definitely hoped to have thought up a better blog name by now. 😂
Happy Spaniversary to all my fellow September arrivals, and welcome to all the Spain newbies who are just now arriving! What’s something you wish you would have known before moving here?