Expat Interview With Kaley - Indiana to Madrid

Published: 28 Nov at 11 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Spain
Kaley Hendrickson is the blogger at Y Mucho Más (see listing here). Born and raised in Indiana, she fell in love with Spanish in high school and chose her major accordingly. After graduating from college in 2009, she took a leap and moved to Salamanca, Spain, where she started blogging to rant and rave about Spain's good and bad sides. After three years of an on-again, off-again relationship with Spain, and despite a deep-seated fear of bureaucracy, she's now back for good. Having lived in four cities -- Toledo, Salamanca, Zamora, and now Madrid -- she's seen many different sides of Spain. Currently she resides in Madrid with her husband Mario, whom she married in July 2012, in his hometown of Zamora. Kaley also writes for Vaya Madrid, an online magazine for English-speaking residents of Madrid.

Y Mucho Más

Here's the interview with Kaley...

Where are you originally from?
I'm from a small town in Indiana, and I attended Indiana University, home to all things basketball. A Hoosier through and through!

In which country and city are you living now?
I currently live in Madrid, Spain.

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
I've lived in Madrid for two months now; however, I've lived in Spain for around three years.

Y Mucho MásWhy did you move and what do you do?
I moved here because my husband, a Spaniard, got a job. We had been doing the long-distance relationship thing for quite some time, and we were ready to make the leap, get married, and start our lives in either Spain or the US.

Did you bring family with you?
No, just me! I joined my new family here.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
I first came to Spain in 2008 for a study-abroad semester in Toledo. That transition, although the shortest, was the most difficult for me. I wasn't prepared to miss home so much, and I felt alone because most of the other students were having the time of their lives. When I returned to do an internship in 2009, I was much more prepared for the feelings of homesickness I might have had, and I tackled them early and often. Nowadays, Spain feels like my second home. I barely notice the differences, and having my husband's family support me lessens any feelings of homesickness.

Y Mucho MásWas it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
When I was studying abroad, it wasn't easy to meet Spaniards, at least for me, since I didn't go out to the bars and clubs that often. I did have some intercambios, which helped me meet, but not necessarily become friends with, some Spaniards. After meeting Mario, however, I started to meet and befriend many more people. It's like that one friend who connects you to others. I think we all have a friend like that. Well, Mario has been mine.

I tend to socialize with expats and Spaniards. It just depends on the day. I don't find it beneficial to avoid socializing with other expats, but then again I don't want to only hang out with English speakers either. I love sharing experiences with them, and I'm an active member of an American women in Madrid group, which gets together periodically to do typically American things. The last thing we did was carve pumpkins and drink wine. A dangerous combination!

What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Since I'm a newbie, I'm not the expert on things to do in Madrid (yet). Nonetheless, I always recommend eating tapas! I think tapas are a fun, cheap way to explore local cuisine. It's not like ordering a whole dish. If you don't like it, change it! I also recommend taking buses here, not just the metro. The metro is fast and easy, but taking buses and/or walking allows you to see the city as it passes by.

What do you enjoy most about living here?
I enjoy the healthy lifestyle. I like walking, eating fresh foods, appreciating local cuisine like olive oil, red wine, and, of course, bread. I think the Spaniards (those who don't smoke, that is!) are generally a healthy people.

Y Mucho MásHow does the cost of living compare to home?
Madrid is not like the rest of Spain; it's quite expensive, especially in the center. I find most things more expensive: electronics, books, gasoline, clothing, etc. But fresh foods (fruits, vegetables, meats) are generally cheaper. I'm from a small town in Indaiana, so the rent there is obviously cheaper than in Madrid. But in small-town Spain, that might be untrue.

What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
I miss my friends and family. I sometimes miss the ease of speaking English instead of Spanish. I miss things in conversations! I don't really like the whole dog-poop-on-every-sidewalk situation, and smoking is one of my pet peeves. Nonetheless, I don't let these negatives overwhelm me.

Y Mucho MásIf you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Don't blame things on Spain. I tended to do that, and it made me quite unhappy. You have to realize that, for better or for worse, Spain is different. Accept this, and you'll be much more content.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Missing my family. I'm quite close to my mother and father, and I miss the ease of visiting them, calling them up at whatever hour I like, and spending time with them. I won't be home for Thanksgiving, and as it's a holiday I love, I feel sad on those days.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
Someday my husband and I hope to return to the States. We'd both like to live there in the future. I think that, knowing myself, I'll be fine. I love Spain, but the US is, and will always be, my home.

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Get used to bureaucracy and long lines
  2. Be open to trying new things
  3. Don't get discouraged if you feel your Spanish isn't improving as rapidly as you like
  4. Take it one day at a time.
  5. Enjoy the experience.

Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
My blog, Y Mucho Más, is quite personal. It's all about me, my husband Mario, and our lives together. I talk about things I find odd, things I love, food, tips, advice, everything. There's no real theme besides me and Spain.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
You can email me (kalhendr[at]gmail[dot]com) or check me out on Twitter @ymuchomas

Kaley blogs at http://ymuchomas.com/ which we recommend a quick visit if you haven't been already. Y Mucho Más has an ExpatsBlog.com listing here so add a review if you like! If you appreciated this interview with Kaley, please also drop her a quick comment below.
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Comments » There are 4 comments

Daisy De Plume wrote 11 years ago:

Fun interview - it's well rounded and interesting. Kaley's advice not to blame problems on Spain is wise, indeed!

Hilary wrote 11 years ago:

Love this!! Especially your 5 Expat Tips and word of advice about not blaming Spain. So true. Thanks for sharing!

Toby wrote 11 years ago:

Great interview!! I love following your life in Spain, it inspires me :)

Shantanu Jain wrote 11 years ago:

Nice interview!! dog poop on side walks!! you are getting flavor of India in a small doze. Like your red umbrella :) Have fun

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