If I got a penny for every time someone asks me “So why did you move to England?” I would definitely be able to afford the new Tesla. Something I have learned throughout the last few years is that people often think they know what the answer is before I even begin to explain myself. And they are usually wrong.
I didn’t leave Spain due to the alarmingly high rate of unemployment. In all honesty and without wanting to sound arrogant, I never struggled to find a job back home. However, in my mid-twenties, I realised that there were certain things I wanted to experience and there were also some aspects of living in sunny Spain that I didn’t enjoy. At all.
Now, after 3.5 years of being living as an ex-pat, I want to share with you what I think is the best and the worst of living in England for me.
1 | You become more flexible, adaptable and brave – I guess this is what everybody says, but seriously, experiencing a different culture does change you. For the best. And you become an expert in assembling IKEA furniture 😉
2 | Work-life balance – This is pretty much the main thing I disliked about Spain. People like to hang around the office for as long as they can, to show “commitment” with the company. This often leads to a pretty poor work efficiency and a very empty personal life. I could write a full post on this, and I probably will someday. But seriously, office culture in Spain needs to change. It’s fricking toxic.
3 | Increased self-knowledge – Living out of my comfort zone has led me to discover things about myself that I didn’t know before. I never thought I would enjoy yoga or run a lifestyle blog myself! And I always thought I was a city girl. I dreamt of living right in the middle of Madrid’s Gran Via, on a luminous flat overlooking the city. But as it turns out, I love living in the countryside and driving past farms everyday.
4 | Any weekend escape is a kick-ass holiday – It doesn’t matter if it’s Brighton, the Peak District or Bath. The moment I drive 20 miles away from Oxfordshire I feel like a total tourist with a million places to discover. And I love it!
5 | You meet amazing people that you would have never met otherwise – Once you reach your mid-twenties and settle into a job you suddenly start to meet less and less people. Moving to England changed that for me completely. There is a list of super cool people I doubt I would have ever met if I had stayed in the comfort of Madrid.
1| Loneliness – You will probably be wondering ‘Hey, didn’t you say that you have met amazing people?’ and the truth is I have. But it does take time to build meaningful relationships, especially with brits, who are often less outgoing and spontaneous than we are. Since I moved to England I have had to face super hard things, like my parents’ divorce, a break-up & house-move and two surgical interventions. And I did feel miserable and very lonely at times. However, I am lucky to have a super-woman as a mother, and an awesome brother who have never hesitated to take a plane and help me fix the situation. I love you.
2| Having to confront clichés about Spain – Sorry, but I find this extremely annoying and disrespectful. No, we don’t have a siesta every day and we don’t live off benefits. I know some people make this jokes to take the Mickey out of me but it does get very frustrating when you are trying to say something about Spain and suddenly people interrupt you with childish jokes. Spain is not an extrapolation of Benidorm. Spain is fricking amazing. Do some proper research, please.
3| Crappy weather – This might sound like a very shallow comment, but I have found that there is a direct correlation between how outgoing and sociable people are and what the average temperature in the region is. I miss the sun like crazy. Every day. And I miss having a summer wardrobe. I hardly ever wear short sleeve tops or summer dresses in this country…
4| The stores close at 5pm? Are you kidding me? – Yup. If you are lucky enough to live in London this might not be your case, but here in the Midlands, shops usually close before most people leave work. It does not make sense. Who is going to shop there during the week? Unemployed and retired people?
5| The cultural clash is always there – It doesn’t matter how long I live in the UK, I will always be as Spanish as it gets. I am loud, and enthusiastic and touchy-feely and I am damn proud of it. I have tried to adapt myself, especially in certain social occasions. But you do find some people who criticise you for being the way you are, without making the slightest effort to understand what your background is.
6| Life goes on back home without you – Your friends change, children in the family grow and you are not there to see it. My galician mate David told me last week that when you live abroad you often have the illusion that time has stopped back home. And I couldn’t agree more. The longer you stay abroad, the harder it is every time you go home and see that so much has changed and you are no longer part of it.
But despite all the cons, I would do it all over again because moving to the UK is probably the craziest and still the best decision I have ever made. It was a step in the right direction from moving from an ok life, to building something amazing with the man of my dreams, who happens to be my best friend as well.
I know one day we will return back home, but not yet. There are so many more adventures for us to live here.
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