Expats in Spain: Sarah from Our Spanish adventures

I am very happy to inaugurate a new section in the blog dedicated especially to expats living in Spain. The aim of this section is that you can meet other expats who have arrived in Spain a while ago and that their experiences become an inspiration for you.

In each post, I will share with you a short interview with an expat living and working in Spain. An expat who is learning or has learned Spanish, and I will ask them for some advice for you, who are looking for help and ideas for your next adventure in Spain!

In this first interview, we meet Sarah from Our Spanish Adventures. In this blog an English family shares with you what daily life is like in Spain and helps you with a lot of useful information related to moving, jobs and different services that an expat family may need.

Sarah, an English expat living in Spain

In seven questions, Sarah summarises her experience in Spain. Take note of her advice, it will help you a lot!

Living in Spain in 7 questions

Who is Sarah? Where are you from and what do you do for a living?

I’m originally from Poole, Dorset in England, and I work as a Social Media Consultant for small businesses in both the UK and Spain. I also have a ‘side hustle’ as an Independent Travel Agent, and run a blog with my husband called Our Spanish Adventures.

How long have you been living in Spain? Did you speak Spanish before you arrived?

My husband, daughter and I moved to the Costa Blanca in May 2019. I studied Spanish at GCSE level and got an A* so thought I spoke quite good Spanish – until we arrived and I realised it wasn’t actually that good as I’d forgotten most of it! We did use DuoLingo before we moved and our daughter had some Spanish lessons so we all knew the basics.

What place does Spanish have in your life?

We live in quite a high expat area (lots of Dutch & Belgian as well as English) so it would actually be possible to get by only speaking English most of the time, however we try to speak Spanish as much as possible when we go to the supermarket, bank, farmacia, restaurants etc to practice as often as we can. We also have to speak Spanish when communicating with the school, though my daughter speaks much better Spanish than us now!

What was the biggest change for you when you started living in Spain?

The biggest changes for us were being away from family and spending so much more time outside because of the amazing weather. The language barrier was obviously also a big adjustment. Talking to teachers at the school, builders & plumbers, doctors etc was a struggle at first but luckily we have learned enough Spanish to get by now.

 What would you have liked to know before moving to Spain?

It goes without saying that learning more Spanish would have helped a lot, and also knowing more about schools, and the processes for applying for things like residency, bank accounts, buying a home, would have been useful – that’s why we try to cover these things on our blog for anyone else thinking of moving here.

A useful Spanish word or expression you have learnt over the years.

I think knowing words like «vale», «claro», «por supuesto» etc helps when talking to people so the Spanish speaker knows you at least  understand what they’re saying even if you can’t have a full blown conversation with them. Spending a lot of time waiting at the school gates I also find that knowing how to talk about the weather helps as that’s what most small talk with other parents is about – «hace sol/frio» etc.

Finally, any student tips for learning Spanish?

Try everything! Listening to podcasts, using apps, reading books, watching TV in Spanish with English subtitles, having lessons… I’ve found that you need to do a bit of everything to make sure you can speak, read, and understand Spanish. And use Google Translate when you’re not sure how to say something!

I hope you found this interview useful and that Sarah has inspired you for your next steps in Spain.
If, like Sarah, you believe that speaking Spanish will be a great advantage in this new life experience, I’m here to start your Spanish classes whenever you want!

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