My Expat Story: Lyssie Dawn

My Expat Story: Lyssie Dawn

An American expat in Spain

At Global Living Magazine we want to connect with our readers — know what you’re all about, what you love, where you’ve been and where you’re going. The best way to do this? Hear it straight from you!

We received an email from American expat Lyssie Dawn, 30, who left New Jersey with her boyfriend to live and work in in a small village on a mountaintop in Andalucía, Spain. She works at a Spanish high school teaching music, science, physical education, and English classes. Here is her Expat Story.

AlyssaWhat’s your favorite part of expatriate life?

My favorite part of expat life is all of the trips I’m able to take. Once you’re in Europe, you can catch a cheap flight anywhere. One way flights can be as low as 15€ (that’s not a typo, they really do exist! In fact, I bought plane tickets from Seville, Spain to Marrakech, Morocco for 20€.) These low prices lead to many adventures both in and out of Spain. So far, I have been to 15 cities in Spain, 2 cities in Germany, 3 cities in Belgium, 6 cities in Italy, London, Gibraltar, the Netherlands, and Iceland. I also have planned trips to Morocco, Paris, Croatia, Athens, and Dublin all within the next 30 days. You don’t get travel deals like this in the United States!

Also, Spanish siestas. Need I say more?

What has been the hardest part?

The hardest part of living abroad is the language barrier. While I studied many years of Spanish in school, I realize that knowing the words on paper is much different than hearing and saying the words. We learned how to properly speak every letter of a word, but think about how you talk in English: words run together (there are no spaces between each word), we leave the “g” off “ing” words, our “t’s” sound like “d’s” most of the time, we make up our own grammar rules, and so many other little things that we don’t even realize we do. Once you live in a foreign country where this hinders your ability to communicate, you realize how much different ‘school language’ learning is from actual conversational language learning.

Another thing I miss from America is the big conglomerate ‘get everything in one place’ stores like Walmart. I love the simplicity of Spain, but sometimes I just miss running to a store that has everything rather than going to the carnicería for meat, then the frutería for fruits and vegetables, then the panadería for bread, the pescadería for fish, the albeyco for condiments, the pastelería for desserts, etc.

Where have you lived around the world? Favorite places?

I have lived in both the rural countryside and a small city in New Jersey, I spent many months working in Mexico as a travel liaison, and now I’m teaching English in Spain. New Jersey was my first home and I will always love it; it’s where my family is and where my heart is. Mexico was the first one-way ticket I ever booked but as beautiful as those beaches were and as wonderful as the weather was every day, I always knew it wasn’t permanent. Spain feels like home to me and I’m completely satisfied here. I love the healthy, fresh-every-day food we can buy from the mom and pop stores. I love that the preferred method of transportation in Spanish towns is walking or riding a bike. I love that the kids play outside in the afternoon rather than play video games and watch TV. I love that the stress levels in Spain are so low and the people aren’t angry or rushed; our biggest concern is what to cook for dinner that night. Spain has old values, and I love that.

Alyssa2Where do you want to move to eventually? 

Eventually, I would love to live in Spain without an expiration date. This is my first time living in Europe and I would like to say I’ve found my paradise, but I realize I must try other places as well. I hope France will be the next place I live abroad. But after years of Spanish lessons and visiting Hispanic countries, I would eventually like to end up in Spain full time. Now, I just have to convince my family to come with me!

What’s your sense of ‘home’? 

Currently, I consider ‘home’ to be Spain. When I travel outside of Spain and I wonder what the weather is like at home, or I miss home, or the food is so different from home, I mean ‘home’ to be Olvera, Spain. I find myself thinking less and less about America as home. In fact, I find myself thinking less and less about America in general. I have even started converting American dollars to euros to get a sense of how much something costs. My mind has already accepted Spain as home.

Share anything else you’d like us to hear! 

At 27 years old, I felt like I was too old to spontaneously move to a country I had never been to before and work part time on a short-term contract. But after obsessing for 3 years about whether to follow through with my dream or not, the thing I realized was that you can’t let predetermined ideas in society hold you back from what you really want or you’ll never be happy. So at 30 years old, I picked up my life and my boyfriend’s life and moved us both to a small village on a mountaintop in Andalucía. We’ve now been living and working here for 7 months and counting. Having no one but each other to rely on has made our relationship that much stronger. When you have no one else around that you can communicate with, your relationship is really tested. Our relationship has passed that test.

If you would like to be featured in our ‘My Expat Story’ section, send an email to Alison at info@globallivingmagazine.com and tell us about your experience as an expatriate by answering the above questions. Don’t forget to include a picture of yourself, your website/blog, and/or Twitter handle so we can help you connect with other expats from around the world!

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