Every country has its quirks, its benefits, and the little reasons that make living there quite peachy, even if you don’t appreciate these qualities unless you’re elsewhere. I won’t say I’m missing England with incurable homesickness (no offence England but not at all), however there are some things I miss.
And of course, there are some things about life in Spain that are so much better than in England.
So what little things in England do I miss?
OF COURSE THE TEA. I swear it is the only country in the world a proper cuppa can be found (not including the tasty teas of other countries such as China or India, but a good cup of English Breakfast? You’ll have to go to England). I recently discovered the British brand of Tetleys is available in my local Spanish supermarket, and my gosh the taste difference between that and the standard Spanish version of English Breakfast is immense. And Tetleys isn’t even the best brand. Not to mention the odd ways of serving tea here (sometimes they put the tea bag IN THE MILK JUG. Just why). Rant over.
The Spanish lunch is typically 2-4pm, or something similar. This is no problem on the days I only work mornings, but when I also teach in the afternoon, I find the long lunch break makes me sleepy (it is siesta time after all!) and I may have fallen asleep on the bus before. It can also be a nuisance when shops are closed until around 5pm. At least with the British style of grabbing something quick for lunch, you get a break but not so much you have to drag yourself back to work.
Aside from the news (and sometimes Spanish dubbed Simpsons) I don’t really pay attention to the TV, and being in a foreign country I can’t access all the British TV Channels on demand via my laptop (I hear there’s a way round this but it’s too complicated for techno-phobe me to understand). But British TV is amazing – the comedy, the drama, the documentaries, even the shows about property searches. At least my reading time has increased, which is better for the old brain.
Absolute Fear of Saying Anything that may be Interpreted as Rude
Although I appreciate the refreshing bluntness of Latinos, sometimes it can make me want to do a double take, and be all “I beg your pardon?”, true Brit style. Brits can understand when another Brit is being insulting, or demanding, even if they sugar coat it with a million polite words. It can make it easier to absorb, and when you do it yourself you feel less guilty about insulting or demanding something of someone. Feelings are delicate things!
Cheap Supermarket Food
Don’t get me wrong, the food in Spain is great. The fresh food is clearly of a higher quality than in England. But it’s harder to find cheaper brands, which is a given in British supermarkets. In England I would do a big food shop once a month, only topping up the basics like milk once a week, and would spend around £60 a month. In Spain I do a food shop once a week and I spend 20-30 euros each time, and I have no idea where it all goes!
And what about Spain that has captured my heart?
Not that I’m converted from tea (I have just finished a cuppa), but it cannot be denied the Spanish make better coffee than the British, and my coffee intake has definitely gone up. From once in a blue moon to maybe a cup every week or two, but still. The flavour is stronger, and the quality is better than all the lattes and cappuccinos and whatnots that we sip in Britain.
It is currently the middle of winter, but I was still surprised how gloomy England was when I was home for Christmas, not to mention the days are far too short. In Burgos however the sun sets later, and when it is setting the sky is filled with orange and pink and frankly still takes my breath away. My friends should be afraid that I got a new phone with a better camera for Christmas, as my snapchats may involve a hell of a lot of sunsets…
Sometimes this can grate a little if I want something done urgently, a word whose translation I don’t think holds much importance in the Spanish dictionary. However it is refreshing after three years living in London to enjoy things at a slower pace, with less worry. One example is when I accidentally turned up to a personal training session at the gym half an hour late. In England, this would not be forgiven. In Spain, however, they waved my apologies aside and did not mind at all. People here take their time, and enjoy their time!
In Spain the evening doesn’t really begin until 9 or 10pm. Which sounds bizarre from a British point of view, but in my opinion is quite brilliant. You can do all your tasks, or just laze around the whole day before enjoying your evening. You don’t need to keep an eye on the time, or quickly shovel food down your gob if you’re planning a night out. Cafes stay open much later and become bars, and tapas are available for the peckish at this time. And tapas are always a good idea.
I cannot rave enough about the friendliness of the Spanish. It’s a funny contrast: the British are seen as super polite but cold and distant whereas the Spanish can come across as rude but their are warm, welcoming and friendly to everyone they meet. Something the British should learn to embrace! When you’re not a native of a country it may feel overwhelming to be living there, but when the people are always wanting you to feel welcome it certainly helps! Especially when they don’t let the language barrier become an obstacle!
I have come to love Spain for all its quirks as much as I love England. To (currently) be a girl of two countries is a fantastic feeling, which I would recommend to anyone at any time in their life!