The Guiri Complex (Or, Why I Can’t Have It All)

The other day, Seville was held hostage by light rain. I did a bit of puddle jumping, nearly taking out morning shoppers and walkers with my umbrella as I ran to catch the bus. The bus, in its normal fashion, stopped down the street and stayed there for five months.

As I tried to catch my breath, a man in his 70s covered me from the light sprinkle. He reeked of cigarettes and anise, just the way I like my Spanish abuelos. “Ofu, what a day,” he hacked, a small chuckle caught in his throat. We smiled at each other for a few moments before he offered a bit more, “Look at that bus, getting caught in traffic. People here don’t know what to do in the rain.”

It was my turn to chuckle. Being from Chicago, we’re used to two seasons in the year (winter and construction on the Dan Ryan) and four in one day. I can withstand heat and bitter cold, have survived three tornadoes and even learned to drive in the snow when I first got my driver’s permit. Upon mentioning this, the old man’s eyes lit up. “But your Spanish is impeccable! You may, in fact, be more sevillano than me!”

Aha, there it is. Whenever I seem to be out doing my normal guiri thing (in this case, picking up some forms for the academy), people stop to talk to me. Most are keen on touting my Spanish or are shocked that I moved away from home so young. Y tus padres? They ask, unable to fathom how a child would leave the comfort of their parents’ home, where laundry is done for them and tupperwares full of food dished out.

When my parents were visiting last year, my habits puzzled them. How could I be hungry at 3pm? What do you mean stores aren’t open on Sundays? You really do take a siesta? I didn’t come to Spain to simply hang out and learn some Spanish. I never set out to be Spanish or change my habits, either. What’s funny is that, the longer I live in Spain, the more American I seem to feel.

Just recently, an American food store opened up right in the center (and, ironically, in the same locale where I bought my flamenco dress). The chatter amongst my guiri friends was electric, with everyone sharing pictures of their goodies from the cell phones. When I announced, “I’m kind of against the store,” I got puzzled and even annoyed responses. How could I not love paying 2,50€ for two Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (I kid, and I almost did, except for that I already had some at home!).

Here’s the thing: the trips the Novio takes to the US always bring American gifts and the special treats my friends bring me on their visits are treated like contraband. I’ve left an entire box of Do-si-do Girl Scout cookies nearly untouched – I love opening my cupboard for some sugar to see them there. The Novio dutifully recites back what he needs to bring for Thanksgiving on his upcoming trip (and, bless his heart, he bought me new skivvies this summer at VS – it must be love), and my mother knows intuitively that I will always need greeting cards when she sends me a package. Just like in the Hunger Games, American Parcel Day means I won’t go empty-stomached.

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, vanilla extract, economy-sixed boxes of Cheeze-its. The Novio would take me, wide-eyed and fistful of dollar bills, to the American part of his base for the contraband, usually in the form of cans of Dr. Pepper and ranch dressing. The anticipation of these trips would build and build until I’d consume the overly sweet soda, usually after hitting the gym (I don’t feel guilty, in case you were just wondering).

What’s more, I’ve finally gotten cooking and baking with limited resources more or less figured out, and having all of those things so readily available would take the fun out of it.

Another case in point: When I visited my cousin for Oktoberfest, I nearly had a heart attack when we went into the grocery store on her Army base. For the first time in a year, I was technically on American soil, but my carry-on restrictions meant I had to pick and choose the most important goodies. Reese’s, Funfetti cake mix and cranberry sauce made the cut, and I almost sighed from relief that I didn’t have much room between Camarón and the dirndl. When I enquired about German beer, Christyn said it was only sold in the nearby gas station. Apparently Bud Light > Paulaner (wtf).

I think there’s a big difference between me and them: They came for work and because the Army required time abroad at one of the overseas bases. I came because moving to Spain sounded like a fun way to skip out of America for a year. I didn’t come for anyone but myself; I came for the adventure and the chance to learn Spanish, and I stayed for the culture, the challenge and the Novio (duh, and the food).

Perhaps it’s the fact that Seville continues to modernize, taking with it some of the old world charm that had me so smitten in the first place. As my friend Mickey pointed out, there were no Starbucks when she came to Seville eight years ago, and now there are three on the same stretch of street (and this was once my homesickness remedy). Souvenir stores have elbowed out century-old hardware stores in the Santa Cruz neighborhood, and there’s English everywhere I turn. My ciudad de alma is starting to seem a lot like any mid-sized American city, and it’s stinging a little bit.

But don’t get me wrong: I relish in the fact that the TDT finally works and I can watch TV in English. Hamburgers, guacamole and roast chicken get made just as often in our home as fabada and tortilla francesa do. I speak just as much English each day as I do Spanish. America is where I lived the first 22 years of my life, and I consider it my home.

There’s much more to it than looking the part with my freckles, blue eyes and reddish hair against the dark Andalusian beauties. The first time the Novio saw me in a flamenco dress, his eyes lit up a bit, and then he just laughed at a beef-loving American stuffed into a traje de gitana. Try as I might, I look the part and even act it. Nevermind that I am a card-carrying resident of the EU, that I belong to a country club and that my partner serves in the Spanish military. I still believe that arriving on time is late, that one can only stay up so long on weeknights (even when she works at 3pm) and that the 4th of July is the best damn date on the calendar because, let’s face it, I love hot dogs and fireworks more than jamón and bullfights.

The Guiri Complex is just that: the inability to really feel like both of your feet are in the same place. My heritage and my native tongue make me a hot commodity in Spain, meaning I’ll always have a means to stay here and work. I’m the lovable friend who makes language blunders and bakes brownies for birthdays, the affable guiri, or foreigner,  in the group.

My friends back home think that living in Spain must be romantic and full of sunshine and trips. It is and it isn’t. If I lived in America, I’d be working, paying bills and contemplating what to make for dinner. I do that in Spain, too. The currency I use for the ingredients for that dinner are bought in euros and sometimes have funny names, but it’s really no different. In fact, I’m often jealous that my friends are all so close to one another, can be at one another’s weddings and make a salary that allows them some luxuries.

I sometimes feel like I live in a strange cross between everything I knew as a kid and the excitement of experiencing a new culture and language from the ground. I still cling to my American traditions and comfort food, but have adopted new holidays and a more adventurous palate. I’m constantly torn between two places where it feels like my heart belongs: Seville and Chicago.

Do you experience the guiri complex? Are your feet in just one bucket, or in both? And how do you cope?

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About Cat Gaa

As a beef-loving Chicago girl living among pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she wrangles babies at an English Language Academy and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.

Comments

  1. I can so relate to this post! I feel like the same thing is happening in my beloved San Sebastian. 10 years ago no one spoke English (which was great for my Spanish), there were hardly any tourists, no chino shops, and coffee could only be drunk at a bar, not in a take-away cup. I saw it in Sevilla when I was there a year ago also. I couldn’t believe the three Starbucks within a stone’s throw from each other! I agree that it’s nice to have when you’re missing home but that it also feels a little out of place. Now that I’m getting ready to head back to the States, I feel even more that I have my feet in two different countries. But I suppose that’s what the guiri life is all about!
    Season recently posted..What it’s like to have Basque in-lawsMy Profile

  2. Out here in the wilds of Extremadura, the ‘cultural invasion’ is not so obvious yet, but somehow it feels like it’s just a matter of time, and your great post confirms it. Everyone under 30 around here wants to learn English. Halloween and Santa Claus are much more prevalent than they were when we arrived, six or so years ago. Let’s enjoy Spain before it becomes just like everywhere else!
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  3. Well said Cat! I know how you feel, though we haven’t been in Spain nearly as long as you. We are so excited when that box of food arrives from the US. We just returned from England and I did have my fair share of Dr. Pepper and Shredded Wheat. We love it in Spain and our small town is a little like stepping back in time, but that is the charm we love. There is only on McDonalds and other than that nothing “chain” here. So we do get excited when we see something “from home”, but also don’t like seeing it in Spain. Oh the world of mixed emotions.

  4. I remember when I lived in New York, I thought of it as my home, along with Puerto Rico, my home country. Having left New York, going back to Puerto Rico, and now moving to Madrid made me think seriously about the place I call home. For me, Puerto Rico is and will always be my first home, and New York, my second home. I don´t know if I will ever be able to call Madrid home. I´ve only been here for two months, but who knows?

    Great, GREAT post.
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  5. I can not agree more with your second to last paragraph in particular. I think that i had the same impression about living in Spain “romantic and full of sunshine” not anxious that it has rained for days and you are running out of clean clothes. Each of my feet definitely has it’s own bucket. Oddly enough I do not feel that I belong in either country, and I am hoping that DH’s next job lands us in a third country.

  6. I totally agree with all of this! i feel as though whether i’m in spain or in the US, there is a large part of me that is always yearning for the other place and there isn’t anything I can do to “fix” it. great post!
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  7. Perhaps I’ve become blasé after so many years (26+) in Spain, but I don’t see that you need to pin labels on yourself, that any of us do. If we are lucky enough to be able to enjoy different “worlds” isn’t it all to the good? I just moved to the second smallest of the Canary Islands – no burger chains, not even what I would consider a “proper” supermarket. There are advantages, and disadvantages but if I list them all this will be the longest comment in history! It’s all a trade off. Life’s a constant trade off. The fact that you’ve chosen to live in Spain is very unlikely to make you Spanish (few expats “go native”), so enjoy the fact that you can appreciate and understand both cultures you’ve experienced so far. Perhaps the answer is, as your friend commented, to live in a third country :)

  8. I’ve definitely noticed this – traveling between the U.S. and U.K., it was pretty amazing how much more similar things got over the years, from food to T.V. shows. It’s a bit weird, and it’s always a shame when the smaller shops get pushed out for big chains.

    Oh the note about the sevillianos being terrible about the rain, I think that’s hilarious. I grew up close to L.A., where we don’t get much rain either, and even I thought they were ridiculous about the rain! They must have broken out their floor-length winter coats in mid-October when I was there too.
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  9. I feel like there are a zillion things I want to say and also nothing I really need to say. Am I already not making sense?

    I live in Madrid, and that’s been Americanized for quite some time, but I don’t know how I’d feel if “my” city (Zamora) started becoming Americanized. I like Zamora for what it is—Spanish, thoroughly Castilla y León, full of Romanesque architecture, good food, home … I don’t think I’d like seeing a Starbucks on the main thoroughfare, though Burger King’s at the mall (where I never go, outside the city).

    I also don’t buy many American treats. I’m not one to buy Duncan Hines cake mix or too much candy. I don’t mind waiting until I get home. Except for I’ve had a huge craving for Ranch dressing for two months, and I want it now! I’m bringing some back this next time.
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  10. Oh, I love this! I admit, I have a tub of Vegemite in my cupboard here in the Netherlands, even though I get a craving for the stuff perhaps once a year. I just like seeing it sitting there, like it belongs among the hagelslag and stroopwafels. I find myself saying g’day to people, despite NEVER saying that greeting back home. I’ve often said I’ve become more Australian since coming over here, despite loving many aspects of the Netherlands more than my own country. I’m set to get a Dutch passport next year… then I’ll officially have a foot in both camps! Love your work :)
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  11. I think I’m happier when it takes a little bit of work to find those little American things that we all crave…it’s more of a treat that way! I had mixed emotions when a Taste of America opened in Vigo last year (speaking of which, holy expansions all over Spain with that store!). It was great to finally be able to show all my Spanish friends the things I had talked about, but it took some of the specialness away from having them brought all the way from the States.

    Great post. I think most of us who have lived abroad have pieces of our hearts left in every place we’ve been. That’s the sad part of being an expat–you never get to have just one “home” again.

  12. Ah, the troubles of a continual expat. We tend to become a strange breed of human, don’t we?
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  13. I think every expat can relate to this. Feeling more like your the place you came from the longer you live in a foreign place. I could easily pass for a French person in France, but even if I managed to fool everyone, I’d always feel very strongly that I’m American. But if I stay in France long enough, it’s really weird–speaking English becomes hard for me and the English starts to get replaced by the French. It’s a bit like split personality. I’ve always said my brain is linguistically schizophrenic. Doesn’t help now that it’s got Spanish banging around in there too!
    amelie88 recently posted..On the Literary Trail of New York: Washington Irving’s SunnysideMy Profile

    • My friend wants to write her thesis on this very phenomenon! Our linguistic identity is super interesting, and I find it hard to find the right words in English when some Spanish words seem to do far better. Why can venga or ganas exist in English easily?!

  14. Well written post Cat!
    I can relate to many of the things you describe. It’s true how friends and strangers have a certain version of what my time in Spain must have meant but it was still life!

    All the trade-offs that life brings. Lucky you have the novio to provide extra American goodies. So now their is the American goodies store in Sevilla? I remember coming across Tastes of America in Madrid one afternoon and turned out they were celebrating their grand opening! They had interesting offerings.
    Lauren @ roamingtheworld recently posted..A month of TransitionsMy Profile

    • I’m loving your posts on the returned life! I think that, after the amount of time I’ve spent in Seville, it would be so difficult to move back and not just see Spain as a beautiful hiccup in life!

  15. What a great article! Like everyone else, I can relate 100% to this blog… especially the part about “being on time is late”! Also, I have 3 boxes of girl scout cookies in my freezer that will probably last until next cookie season!

  16. Wow wow wow. So many things I want to comment on, but really it just encompasses so much of how I feel. Friends tell me I am so lucky to be living this life. It’s not luck, it was will and I have just as many boring at home working on my computer days as they do.
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  17. LOVE this post! people from home tell me how lucky I am to live in Germany, as if I’m on some kind of year-round holiday. But I work just as much as they do!

    A friend is currently putting together a food parcel for my Christmas present and was asking me what I can’t get here. I said Bourbon creams (a type of chocolate biscuit) and she was shocked that they’re not available in Germany. Why would they be?
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    • Isn’t it funny?! My sister couldn’t quite get her head around the fact that to-go cups only really exist at Starbucks in big cities, and that cafe culture is alive and well in the Old World!

  18. I am originally from Seville but somehow ended up in London, where I have spent the last four years. I can totally relate to this post, even though it’s the other way around for me. Being an ‘expat’ (or an immigrant) it’s like dividing yourself in two, and it’s impossible to conciliate both realities, simply because you can’t be in two places at the same time. You can only sit back and learn, from others as well as from yourself :)

  19. Yep, yep, yep, to everything in this post.

    I brought olive oil and pimentón picante home with me over the summer and brought canned pumpkin and sriracha sauce back to Spain this fall (and allergy medicine…). At home I’m always reminded of something in Spain, and here I’m continually explaining something about American culture to some teachers at school (the weather, the Tea Party, etc.).

    What I find really interesting is how recently all of the Americanization of Spain has happened; all these Taste of America stores and Starbucks popping up all over the country within the span of less than a decade. Do you know what’s been driving this besides general tourism and expats living here?
    Trevor Huxham recently posted..Segovia, Spain: 3 Facets of a Castilian GemMy Profile

    • I’m not sure what the driving force is, but I remember the Spain of 2007 and think that things have changed drastically, particularly with regards to English language and English/American culture. Yes, there’s probably an influx in immigrants here from Anglo countries, and I think that the crisis has made people – Spaniards and non-Spaniards alike – more entrepreneurial. I know several people who are property managers or run businesses catered to tourists/holidaymakers because tourism is growing so steadily here.

  20. Christine says:

    Cat,I loved this post, it hit upon so many feelings and thoughts I think anyone who has ever been an expat has. Funny I get some of the same questions living in NY as I did living in Spain and in South America. Some how it must be constant glitz and glamour, everyday is a party; the truth is once a place becomes “home” your life takes on the same routines (go to work, pay bills, do chores) just in a different locale.
    I have been fortunate enough to live in many different cities, states and countries and I still feel my heart tug when I think of different aspects of them all. I never want what I cherished in one place to be readily available in the next, that’s because it wouldn’t make going back so special.

  21. I definitely know how you feel… this week I’ve been feeling the guiri complex more than I ever have before! It’s funny, sometimes the more I love Spain, the more American I feel. A part of me is really nervous to go back home to Seattle for Christmas and then come back to Madrid again. I’m anticipating some serious culture shock/guiri complex galore!

    • The great thing about going home for Christmas is that you’ll be with your family and so busy, you won’t notice so much. The jetlag and the getting used to American timetables will be the worst, and before you know it, you’re back in Spain with a café con leche to stave off the hunger!

  22. Kevin Sealey says:

    I have been here over 24 years and although I have a Spanish wife and my daughters were born here and now at uni I still get that guiri look from time to time. I see that most of you are living in big towns, where I live there are only 2500 and even after all these years they still will not take you on board. Seems crazy but it’s true. Vilage life!!.

  23. Loved this, Cat! It’s interesting to see the different ways that we all interpret and experience our lives here in Sevilla as Americans. After only four years of being here, I consider this to be home, yet still refer to Boston as “home.” My first year here my mom used to send me boxes full of American goodies- Funfetti, Peanut Butter Puffins, etc. (yes, mainly food.) The box of Funfetti and the frosting was actually left untouched for about two years. Unlike a lot of people, I realized love that stuff when I’m in the States. For me, it’s not only the food, it’s the experience. Eating Funfetti with my family, going in for seconds/thirds/finishing it off as my dad beams, happy that I enjoyed his (boxed) creation is way more special than having to go to someone’s house to make it because I don’t have an oven and having Spanish friends/in-laws tell me it’s okay and really sweet. In fact, when I go back, I’m actually not even as crazy about it as I once was, which is sad for me. What I want to say is that, living here has created new habits, cravings, excitements, and I’m happy to enjoy each when in the respective locations. I get excited to go home because I turned a vegetarian/almost-vegan while living here (yes, the butcher’s daughter turned veggie living in the jamon capital of the world) and the States is way more veggie friendly, but then I miss all of my amazing fresh produce here. I love each of the two homes I have and regardless of how long I live here, the US will always be home. I love being American here and enjoying our Americanadas together but also being as Sevillana as the Sevillanas (almost). I think it’s definitely impossible to feel like both of your feet are in the same place. However, I think it is possible for your heart to be in two places. I have really adopted the saying “Home is where the heart is,” because I have two homes and my heart is in two places. Above all, living here has taught me that the most important thing is- wherever you are- to have both feet firmly in that place and enjoy the moment.

    • Completely agree, love. I think that my tastes haven’t changed as much as my habits, and I find that Spain has made me healthier, more relaxed and yet more American in my thinking. My heart is definitely in two places, and I’m happy to share that sentiment with our group of friends.

  24. This is, always has been, and always will be different for every person. It’s rarely wrong, unless you’re the negative-Nancy expat who sits around and complains. I’m sure we all unfortunately know and try to stay away from those.

    Personally, I feel at home everywhere, just as much as I feel at home nowhere. As soon as I land in the States, I miss things from wherever I just was. Right now, I miss things from a variety of places, including Sevilla but least of all the U.S.

    For people who are expats or travelers by choice, we cannot sit around pouting for things we miss, but we also have to be proud of where we came from since it’s a part of our DNA. More importantly, though, is how far we’ve gone, or progressed.

    You may never feel like a born-and-bred Sevillana, but you should feel about as proud as one can get (without having a passport just yet). It’s a monumental accomplishment to come as far as you have, and every time someone comments on that, you should be proud of where you came from (how you got here) as well as where you are.

    I will never, ever forget the time a French girlfriend of an American friend jumped out of her chair and nearly feel to the floor screaming after he told me to speak French to her. It’s that kind of validation of how hard you’ve worked that makes you feel like you’ve gotten to a point where – while you will never be a native – you have gotten oh-so close and much closer than pretty much everyone else.

    As for Americanization and all that, it is what it is. It’s sad, but it’s the way life is these days. You can be annoyed by it, or just take it in stride and keep patronizing local establishments and local foods/ingredients in order to do your part to keep those things alive.

    I love a Dr. Pepper or a Reese’s. And plenty of other American things that are hard to come by in most countries. I do not hoard them and I do not feast on them regularly. Just knowing they’re there is almost good enough for me. Here in Mexico, they sell both of those things across the street from us. I have had a Dr. Pepper in the fridge for a week and I haven’t opened it yet. I have not bought any Reese’s. There are plenty of new things to enjoy and things to miss from everywhere we’ve lived. These two foods are part of my youth and my heritage, but they’re not any better than so many of the wonderful things we’ve enjoyed in a variety of different countries.

    Okay, maybe they’re just a little bit better. =P

    All in all, you will always be who you are, no matter how much you evolve and change. And you cannot be a native because you are not a native. What you can be is proud and respectful of where you are and who you are and who all of the people and culture around you are. And be oh-so very, very happy that you’re doing what you want and love, and that people like the elderly gentleman on the street are proud of you for all of that.

    Also, America is so stressful. Too stressful. I was losing it by the end of our trip back there this summer. Just sayin’!
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    • You have pretty much summed it up, Ryan. I completely agree that those of us with itchy feet will continue to feel a sort of weird symbiosis for all of the places we’ve called home, but that makes us a part of who we are. I like the comfort of the Americanism here, even though I sometimes curse it (or even the people who make regular trips to McDonalds. Oops, I had Taco Bell for dinner Friday even though I would NEVER eat there in America – it was just the fact that it was there!).

      Excited to hear about Mexico – let’s all Google Hanggg! I have a big announcement to make anyway, and I feel like I may need yours and Ang’s help! Miss you guys!

  25. Well looks like I better get myself over there asap! Hot commodity – I’ll take it!
    Dieing to know what the “big announcement” is. ;)

  26. I really love this post and I’m still cracking up about the photo with Pam spray in it! I think I used Pam once in the States. I guess it’s weird for me since growing up in Miami is already a different culture compared to typical American life. My mom likes Reeses, I prefer rice and beans. My American friends are blonde and my Miami friends are all brunettes, dark brunettes. Moving to Italy is now a third culture I have to adjust to. Really funny how some people just can’t shake what they’re used to and others want everything that’s unknown. I live in the middle ground and love my egg breakfasts which are not something Italians ever eat…just in pasta.
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  27. Great piece! It’s a dream of mine to live abroad, but I know I’d feel the exact same way. There’s something about the comforts of home — I guess you don’t even realize that they’re comforts when you’re living them though!
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  28. Yes yes and yes!
    My friends at home say I seem Spanish and do weird Spanish things.
    My friends in Andalusia say that I am so English….

  29. Love this. And i love that there’s a word for it!
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  30. Oh, Cat, this really resonated with me. We’ve spent months at a time in so many places now (Australia, Spain, Thailand, New Zealand, Mexico, Canada and more), that I’m starting to feel that I belong, a little bit, to each of these places. It’s a wonderful thing, and I’m so incredibly fortunate to have been in all of these places, but it’s a curse at the same time. I’m always secretly pining for fresh, authentic tortillas when I’m in Canada, or wanting to smell the fresh, Rocky Mountain air when I’m in the heavy humidity of Southeast Asia.
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  31. I’m not sure I feel like I belong anywhere!! My home is NZ and I don’t really identify with the culture there. I’m still searching!

  32. I lived and worked overseas for almost ten years in Tokyo and London and know well the half in/half out feeling. In Tokyo, I visited the National Azabu Supermarket a couple of times a month to check out the American imports. The place was always mobbed. But while sales were brisk, a lot on view seemed like window dressing. They had every imaginable flavor of Campbell’s Soup on offer at exorbitant prices — and the sell-by dates on half of them were long gone. Still, the sight of them made me happy. Apparently others felt the same way.
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  33. I think very few people are every completely grounded in one place. Most of us seem to be physically in one place by longing to be someplace else. Thank you for sharing insights into your world and what it is like to live an everyday life in Spain. Next time include the photo of you in the Flamenco dress. I’m sure you looked fabulous!
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  34. I totally agree with all of this! Love this
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  35. I totally understand this, it’s a hard line to straddle. Being an expat seems like no big deal one day, and then you see Reese’s peanut butter cups and have a mini dance party. I eat a banana and peanut butter for breakfast and then spicy beef, rice and seaweed soup for lunch. Life is weird.

    It’s like when you feel as though you’re accepted into another culture, you struggle to remember where you came from. When you’re feeling culture shock and disconnected, you curse being the foreigner. The weirdest juxtaposition. Every. Day.
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  36. You can take the girl out of America, but you can’t take the America out of the girl. Most of the time, I love being the interesting, strange-looking, exotic, occasionally awkward guiri. But other days, I just want to be normal. I want to feel comfortable and at home and at complete ease. But I don’t regret choosing Spain over America for the moment. I can always go home. But once I’m home, I can’t always come back.

    But seriously, about those Reese’s…I will never understand why they don’t exist here. They’re so delicious.
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  37. It’s a wonderful feeling and hey, I love your writing on this one Cat <3

  38. Kevin Sealey says:

    Very true. Many people I know in the UK think that life here is all sun and beaches when it is the complete oposite, working in Spain can be very hard to say the least and can be full of draw backs if you are “autonomo” and clients often think you work a few hours a day and then sleep the rest!!. Maybe one day I will do that that but I feel it’s a long way off yet. :-)

  39. I’m considering becoming an autonoma after several years in the social security system – don’t make me nervous!!

  40. unless you are totally sure i don’t recommend you to become autonoma because if it fails, you will be left with nothing, i mean, as far as i know with no benefits…..my brother was autonomo and had to pay high taxes every 3 months…..the system has been created to be a real pain in the arse from what i hear, but you are living in Spain many years and you do know that Spain or the whole of Europe, is a country where the government loves to get the nose in its citizens’ business all the time.

    as for the “guiri” complex……you are not exactly what Spaniards think of a “guiri”, or at least i don’t see you as “guiri” because i do know that you are residing in Spain…..when it comes to “guiris” we think of northern Europeans mainly, above all British and German holiday makers who invade the coast looking for sun and beaches, their pale skin ready to roast like a roast chicken, they wearing flat sandals and socks in summertime….this is how us think of “guiris” mainly.

    your blog is really interesting Cat!

Trackbacks

  1. […] The Guiri Complex. What is really like to live in another country? Sometimes I get the picture that people think we live in a constant vacation world, that our lives are only filled with sunshine and rainbows. What is it like to miss things from the US? Should we always be searching those things out or treat them as what they are—a treat? Cat explores this question. […]

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