My first post has had a few likes (from friends and others) and two encouraging comments - thank you, so I will continue.
I will get back to my adventures in Spain later on, but for now I will move to the present and my summer adjourn to London my hometown.
Mixed feelings always accompany my usually short visits home, this time around I decided to spend the summer here, partly to connect with friends and family, partly for needing some space from Valencia and partly to feel out my occasionally emerging thoughts about returning to live in England.
Cultural differences between Spain and England have been a reoccurring theme for me this year owing to some recent difficult times in Spain, all related to relationships with local Valencian people. And, once again, I´m drawn to consider the cultural gap of my home and adopted country and where does one English woman fit in after 6 years living abroad, with the continually reoccurring question; "where is home?" I am inspired to write this post by the following TED talk on this topic:
A particularly gruelling family constellation highlighted the plight of my ancestors, all Jewish refugees forced to flee their homes and march to unknown lands. I wonder if refugees all ultimately yearn for home or do they adapt and relearn and blend until they become their adopted country. Or does it just depend on the individual? Obviously I´m not a refugee. I suppose I´m an expat, or perhaps I´m an economic migrant, like a large proportion of the people recently welcomed onto Spanish soil by my adopted city´s Mayor. I´m not sure economic migrant fits when the pay is better in the UK than in south eastern Spain. I´m not a digital nomad as I am not transiently moving from city to city and I work with people for a living.
Here are most recent cultural experiences, highlighting some of the differences I regularly experience and at times find challenging:
1. have been immediately drawn back into drinking alcohol on a daily basis, leading to morning hangovers and very minor morning epileptic seizures. Like entering a time warp as if I drink daily like I used to. I hardly drink at all anymore in Spain. The drinking here is so culturally ingrained, much more noticeably so when you live somewhere where it is not.
2. A well intentioned Osteopath taking up half of the hour long 65 GBP session talking to me, and unfortunately not helping me with my neck problems at all. As I told my sister today, in Spain the touchy feelyness of the very nice Osteopath was irritating and useless and would not have happened over there. In Spain I´ve recently dealt with one angry and unreasonable physio demanding money from me and another wonderful female Osteopath, very direct lady, and also an animal rescuing volleyball player with a six pack who jumps over hedges while taking her dog for a walk - I love her and she sorts my neck out!
3. An ongoing and exasperating work situation in Spain, highlighting the general
ineffectiveness, inefficiency, lack of commitment and changeability in the workplace. My memories of the UK are highly efficient, well thought out, impeccable standards and hard-working.
Here are various friends and family´s answers about where home is:
- "where your heart is"
- "where you´re loved"
- "here, I can´t imagine ever living anywhere else than London" (my niece - she may change her mind when she´s older, she´s quite a cameleon anyway)
- "wherever I am, as I am at home in me"
All my friends and niece are evidently hippies at heart.
But once you´ve lived abroad for a number of year, in my experience, it becomes harder and harder to figure out where you belong. I love Englands green and pleasant lands, I hate the busyness and stress of London, I love my friends and family, the possibility of a more rewarding career here are enticing. Spain is chilled out, with a fantastic quality of life, having a constant fiesta and some really aggravating and annoying ways, its also too hot to live there from June to September. My experience is that the cultural differences seem to glare more over time and I´m going through a particularly intolerant period towards Valencia and locals, which may be based on recent personal experiences.
At the moment, my heart is both in Spain and England (especially Oxford, which I just visited), my head is all over the place with its usual random and repetitive thoughts and I perhaps am starting to understand what it is to feel European, , although Brexit is determined to stop that being a possibility, with a feeling of always being ultimately English but becoming a little Spanish too.
Its a never ending debate, not good for a libra.