Life Abroad

The good, the bad, and the ugly of living overseas.

Getting a Driver’s License in Spain, Part 1: The Written Test

Most of us probably wouldn’t willingly choose to sit through driver’s ed again, and yet almost nine years later, I did. In late 2018, I finally decided to sign up for driving classes and work towards getting a driver’s license in Spain, launching myself into a world of unfamiliar traffic rules, confusing road layouts, and stick shifts. [Read more]

10 Things to Know Before Attending Your First Wedding in Spain

If you’ve lived in a place long enough, it’s inevitable: you’ll meet friends who will want you to come to their weddings! However, going to a wedding or other major celebration in Spain—or any new country—can be overwhelming. While Spanish weddings are, on the surface, not super different from those I’ve attended back in the US, there are definitely some things to keep in mind in order to respect their tradition and culture. Here’s how not to look (or act) like a guiri at your first Spanish wedding. [Read more]

3 Realizations I’ve Had After 3 Years in Spain

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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. [Read more]

The One Book You Need to Read Before Moving to Spain

moving to spain book

I can’t believe it’s been nearly three years since I moved here. Around this time of year, I always find myself reflecting on my transition to living abroad: both the pleasant surprises as well as things I would have done differently. As for the latter, there are quite a few. More specifically, there’s one book that I definitely wish I would have read before packing my life into a 50-pound suitcase and heading off to live in a country I’d never set foot in: Moving to Spain: A Comprehensive Guide to Your First Weeks Teaching English in Iberia. [Read more]

Small town vs. city life in Spain: Auxiliares de Conversación 2-year review

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Throughout all of its ups and downs, this program has been very good to me. I’ve worked at two high schools in two very different environments and tutored quite a few kids in private classes for my side hustle. My students have inspired the heck out of me on multiple occasions, and at the risk of sounding cliché, I’ve learned a lot about myself as well. To reflect on my experiences over the past two years, I decided to put together a compare-contrast review detailing different aspects of the two places in Spain I’ve called home. [Read more]

Living in Spain (Legally!) Roundup for Non-EU Citizens


The auxiliares de conversación program is one of the best ways for non-European citizens to legally live and work in Spain for a year, and a great stepping stone to starting a long-term life abroad. However, while some assistants are on their sixth or seventh year in the program, it’s not something most people can make a career out of. The average max amount of time is two or three years – the latter of which was my plan, but an unexpected change in the rules eliminated that possibility. [Read more]

How a more expensive apartment saved my mental health


I met Gretchen* on a sticky summer day just as June was about to melt into July. Temperatures throughout the city were reading 44 degrees (or about 111 Fahrenheit for the other Americans in the room), so one of the most appealing factors of the apartment listing was its promise of air conditioning. [Read more]

The truth about living in small-town Spain

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It never fails to amuse my Spanish friends and colleagues when I mention that, with a population of just about 1 million people, my hometown of Columbus, Ohio is considered a “small” city by U.S. standards. Among Spanish cities, only Madrid’s 3.1 million inhabitants have C-bus beat considerably, and Barcelona edges us out with 1.6 million. Although we’re a far cry from New York or Los Angeles, and most Spaniards will just kind of nod and pretend to have heard of it when I tell them where I’m from, I still love Columbus and feel more at home in a city as opposed to a small town. [Read more]

Little epiphanies on spring break

Perfect pastel buildings in Bratislava’s city center.

After hugging my friends goodbye, I walked into the Alicante airport at 5:45 p.m. with plenty of time to spare before my 7:50 flight to Berlin.

I had no idea. [Read more]

The Single Girl’s Guide to Meeting Spanish Men

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It was the stuff dreams were made of: tables piled high with books as far as the eye could see, all for no more than $2 each. The Cleveland Public Library was having a book sale, so naturally I’d rounded up a group of my fellow interns and convinced them to make the five-minute walk over to Superior with me on our lunch break (although I was so stoked about it that I would have gone by myself even if nobody else had wanted to come). [Read more]

The adulthood conundrum

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This past Wednesday, I had to cancel all my plans for the afternoon – including a private English lesson and a coffee date with a friend – so I could sit at home and wait for a maintenance person to come over and repair my washing machine. Much like in the US, here in Spain they’ll give you a vague time (in my case, “sometime after 2”) and that’s about it, leaving you with nothing to do but sit in your apartment and try to be as productive as possible. [Read more]

9 things I’ve learned from being “the foreigner”

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Oh beautiful for spacious skies… 🇺🇸 | Ready for takeoff Charlotte > Madrid, September 15, 2015.

Monday, December 14, 2015. The date has been looming in my passport for several months now. As of today, my visa is officially expired and I’m on track to legally becoming a foreign resident here in Spain. [Read more]

So You Want to Live in Spain: Auxiliares de Conversación FAQ

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Probably not where you’ll be working if you choose Madrid.

It’s Thursday, my busiest day of the week. This morning, I’ve got an English class sandwiched between science and math. I stop by the teachers’ room in between classes, greeting and being greeted with a chorus of hola, buenas from my coworkers, stopping to chat for a few minutes while I switch out my materials and leaving the room with plans to meet up for coffee and tostadas during recreo. [Read more]