Making Madrid my new home

28 February 2017 0 Comments Category: blog, James Logue, Living in Spain

Let’s face it, moving to another country, despite the sheer excitement at the prospect, is tricky business and eminently daunting, but what proves even more challenging is attempting to make it your new home.

Luckily, I was given a double head start in the race towards “fitting in” after previously spending my Erasmus here and then making the permanent move with my Madrilenian boyfriend two years later. This favourable combo helped cut out some of the obligatory bureaucracy and the urgency to join any social circle that will have you.

So, there I was, semi-new to sunny Madrid, instant friendship group and NIE in tow, but I was already missing my dysfunctional yet supportive bunch of friends and family back home. This is the thing, becoming an expat is a turbulent process that sees you being thrust through various stages, and this stage I was at was homesickness. Nothing a few reassuring Skype calls with my mum and an exchange of silly memes with my friends couldn’t handle though. The important thing to bear in mind is that everyone else on the same boat is experiencing the same feelings as you; just make a conscious effort to embrace the process but, more importantly, stay patient. If Rome wasn’t built in a day, I was certainly not going to settle in a new country overnight.

So, after rinsing the last few weeks of summer (and my bank account), it was on to more pressing matters – finding a grown up job. I already had one interview lined up with a translation agency, so I put on my Sunday best and convinced them I was the best thing since sliced bread…and it worked; I got the job. Two and half years later, I’m still with the same company and well integrated I would say, despite the embarrassing start that involved turning up to the ­–casual as I would soon to find out– office in a shirt, tie and smart trousers while it was 33 degrees outside and the other employees were sweat-free in shorts and t-shirts.

Now that I had a job, it was time to get down to the nitty gritty, you know, the stuff that everyone hates doing, but unfortunately has to: opening a bank account, sorting out a phone contract, registering with a doctor…the list is endless. On top of it all, what no one tells you when you’re moving to Spain is that these processes, which are reasonably straightforward back home, are a total rigmarole here that involve a lot of toing and froing, classic instances of lost in translation and in the odd case, a tear or two. However, there are two main things to remember:
1. Spanish red tape is there for a reason, just navigate through it as best as you can and don’t be afraid of seeking help if required.
2. On the upside, once you complete all of the processes, you will feel completely overcome with pride (and astonishment) that you actually did it.

Let’s say it was six months after I had moved to Madrid, things were going swimmingly at work, but I felt as though my social life had taken a nosedive. In a bid to rectify this sad state of affairs and simultaneously mix more with ‘Typical Spanish’ people, I decided to join a Zumba group near work. Surely turning up to a club decked out in my joggers would break the ice and allow me to meet more people, and that it did. After week two, we were nipping off to the pub for a few cañas after class and undoing all the effort we had made beforehand. What matters, though, is that I was mingling and finally becoming integrated.

Two and half years on, a lot has changed. I have moved house, gotten engaged, had a feline baby, made more friends –expats and natives alike– and continued to follow my own rule of thumb of embracing the situation, staying patient, not being scared to be scared, and never ceasing to make an effort in my new home.

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