Saturday, November 15, 2014

One Year Expatversary

3 continents | 12 countries | 35 cities | 1 lifelong love affair with Spain


As hard as it is to believe, today marks 12 full months of living as an expat in Madrid.

*Technically speaking, I moved to Madrid on September 15th, 2013 - but I don't count the two months I lived at home in Seattle this past summer. 

Not only is it hard to fathom how fast the time has passed, but it's also surreal to look back on how quickly I built a life here in Spain. At this point, Madrid genuinely feels like home.


Here in Spain, I've developed what I never thought I would: roots.

I have an apartment that feels like home. A job that I look forward to going to everyday. A solid community that I can fall back on, filled with friends who are always up for spontaneous adventures and never fail to make me laugh. I know the streets like the back of my hand, and I can order off a menu without needing to double check my Spanish dictionary first.

I've developed a deeper appreciation and respect for the culture, and I finally have a better command of the language. (Though let's be real, that'll always be a work in progress.) I've even surprised myself by adopting curious Spanish customs, like always  wearing slippers inside the house, never eating lunch before 2 pm, sleeping in the middle of the day, and never leaving the house with wet hair and/or flip flops.

Coming home to this colorful plaza makes living in Madrid all the more enchanting.

The weirdest part is how natural it all feels now. Through the trials and tribulations of adjusting to a new country, a new culture and essentially a new life, I've reached a point where I finally feel settled. The culture shock and homesickness have subsided, and as each day passes I feel more and more integrated. 


That's not to say that I don't ever have moments that make me feel like a total foreigner, or never witness events that make me think "What is the DEAL with this place?!?" There are still plenty of frustrating moments (most of them dealing with Spanish bureaucracy - I'm looking at you, Aluche) and things that make my blood boil (ahem, racism and machismo...), but I've learned to not let the negatives outweigh the positives. As often as I just have to shake my head and think, "Oh, Spain...",  at the end of the day I still love living here - nonsensical Spanish quirks and all.


Moving to Spain has required me to challenge myself and face my biggest fears head on, and because of that I've grown tremendously this past year. It's pretty damn scary to move to a new country where you don't know anybody, build a new community from scratch, submit yourself to the misadventures of love and dating, and test out a new career for the first time - all while trying to communicate in a foreign language. (I guess I can't speak for everybody, but at least it was really, really  terrifying for me.) But I survived to tell the tale!

All that said, moving abroad is undoubtedly the best thing I could have done for myself, and I hope to continue to grow as an expat this next year (or maybe even in future years...?) to come.


We make a good team, Madrid. Here's to many more adventures together!

38 comments:

  1. Happy one year in Spain!! You just gave me a big ole gut wrenching homesickness for Spain! We loved living there!!

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  2. Happy One year! Spain sounds amazing!

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  3. ...Happy Expativersary, my dear--I can't wait 'till I can celebrate mine!!...

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  4. Thanks Tina! I hope you can come back to Spain soon! It's not that far away from London, right? :)

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  5. Bravo!!! Cheers to you and making a new home in a foreign land! Spain will always hold a space in my heart....so amazing that you call it your home :)

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  6. Congrats! It's so cool when you get to the point where you realize you've just been "living" instead of "living abroad."

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  7. Congrats!!! One year is a big milestone!

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  8. Happy Expatversary! 35 cities in 12 months? fun!

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  9. aw yay for the first expativersary! What an amazing feeling it must be to have found roots! The same thing happened to me the first time I moved abroad - it's just the best to find that you can build a home for yourself so far away in foreign land!

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  10. I really love how you worded that! Yes!!

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  11. Thanks Jamie!! I feel beyond blessed to call this beautiful country home now (even though sometimes it drives me crazy... haha. All part of being an expat I suppose!)

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  12. Thank you Yalanda! It feels pretty cool to have made it this far!!

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  13. Exactly! Now if only I could just transport everyone I know and love from the USA to come live in Madrid with me... haha :)

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  14. Happy anniversary! One year (two years in my case) might not seem like that much but like you I feel so much more comfortable returning to the same city, same school, same neighborhood even! Here's to another year :)

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  15. This makes me so happy! I love seeing how people grow accustomed to different cultures and having roots is so awesome, Courtney! This is making me miss my dear España, but I am so happy for you–big time congrats on one-year! That is such an accomplishment! :)

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  16. Thanks Trevor! Here's to a magnificent year of many more expat adventures!

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  17. Thank you so much for your kind words Gina!! :)

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  18. Danielle @ Seoul TapperillaNovember 16, 2014 at 2:56 PM

    Loved this, and congratulations! Moving abroad was the single best thing I ever did, and now switching it up with a new place and new culture, even though it's a bit off still for me, I know is the next best thing I ever did. It's amazing to look back at all the places you've traveled and FEEL just how much you've grown in a year, especially abroad. Super happy and exciting things await :)

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  19. Congrats, Courtney! Can't wait to see what year 2 brings to you :)

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  20. Happy Expatversary! I loved having the feeling of making Spain home, and I think I'm finally starting to feel it in Sydney as well.

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  21. happy Expat a versary!!! This is a huge deal and achievement. All of us expats should not underestimate how hard living abroad away from family actually is. As fun as it may seem there are also hard times, but I love how through your blog you share your joy for this incredible life adventure.


    In December I'll be celebrating 7 YEARS as an expat in Italy. I still can't believe it!

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  22. Aw congrats on one year! I am so excited to be visiting Spain for the first time next year. I am so excited. I will have to start going back through your posts for a game plan. ;)

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  23. So excited I keep saying "so excited" haha

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  24. Yay this is a huge accomplishment a lot of people never will get to experience! Continue to make amazing memories in Madrid, and mayyyybe there will be a new country to read about at some point too! ;) xoxo

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  25. Thanks Danielle! It's definitely a cool feeling to look back and see how much growth has occurred, especially during all of the times when it wasn't very easy!! How is your transition from Korea to Spain going? I really need to catch up on your blog!!

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  26. Thanks Kirstie! That's so great that you're starting to feel at home in Sydney now!! It's strangely relieving, isn't it?

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  27. Thank you for your kind words Angie! Agreed - it isn't sunshine, sparkles and rainbows all the time, especially living so far away from family - but the adventure takes us in many challenging and beautiful directions that make it all worth it at the end of the day. And 7 years?!?! That's amazing!!!

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  28. Thanks Ashley! Spain is definitely worthy of lots of excitement, haha :) Whereabouts are you planning on visiting?

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  29. Thank you Marisha!! We'll see what adventures the future holds :)

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  30. Definitely Madrid and Barcelona, and I am not sure outside of that, I need to do my homework. It would be nice to do a couple more cities. I'd love your recommendations!

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  31. Danielle @ Seoul TapperillaNovember 21, 2014 at 5:38 AM

    It's going! It's definitely an adjustment that's for sure! BUT, I'm so happy I'm here. Madrid is stunning! :)

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  32. Happy anniversary! Here's to many more years in this fine country! From my personal experience, I am sure there will be plenty more highs but be prepared for a few lows too. Looking forward to reading more about your adventures

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