June 16, 2011 - Posted by Erin in Culture, Expat, Madrid, Spain

I made the big move to Madrid over three years ago, and boy was I a mess. I missed family, I missed my dog, I missed sushi and frozen yogurt. I flew home (to SF!) at least once every three months only to return to Spain and miss home some more. Don’t get me wrong, I love Spain and always have (so much so that I never want to leave), but adapting to daily challenges overwhelmed me in the beginning. A big part of this had to do with finding my own identity here – leaving behind my job and friends made me feel like I left ME behind too.

Fitting in and finding my way didn’t prove so easy that first year. The Spaniards have always been incredibly welcoming, although sometimes we run out of common ground beyond a shared passion for jamón and Spanish wine (certainly enough to form the basis for a solid friendship, however). I’ve also made other amazing foreign buddies – Italian, Georgian (the country, although the state is rather foreign to me too), Argentinian, Columbian. We’re all expats and we all get each other.

But at the end of the day, you sometimes kind of just need an American girlfriend. Right, chicas?

After a year of living here, I found her – one of my best friends. Both hailing from California, we discovered we shared a love for cheese and festive socks (seriously), and from then on we were inseparable. Last summer she was in my wedding, and a year from now I will be in hers. LOVE her.

But then she moved to Valencia to be with her hombre. Tear!

Fortunately, over the years I’ve met other irreplaceable American friends here (like the awesome wedding and mullet photographer), but that didn’t happen overnight. I’m reminded of this as one American expat in Madrid after another contacts me via my blog, new to the city and eager to make familiar connections. One by one I’ve met many of these girls in person and discovered that they’re all pretty spectacular people (apparently my readers are awesome – but you already knew that!).

So, at this point, what would any proper American do? Arrange a Cinco de Mayo get-together of course! And then a Flag Day one too! Yep, now a group of us ladies meets monthly to get all patriotic by celebrating quasi-American holidays. We love our Spanish lifestyles, but every once and awhile some good ol’ USA fun is just what the doctor ordered.

If you are an Americana in Madrid, you can join our Facebook group here.


15 Responses to “American amigas”

  1. Sabrina Says:

    That’s awesome! And I totally hear you. Sometimes you just need to hang out with another expat that really understands what it’s like to live in a foreign country. I’ve lived in Texas so long that most of my friends are actually Americans at this point (mainly because the foreigners usually only stay for a year or two), but there are still quite a few expats and the connections are usually much more instant. It doesn’t even have to be a German expat, but people who have lived abroad for a few years usually get me quicker. I love that you have a monthly American gathering 🙂 The city I live in is unfortunately too small for that, but if I lived in a bigger city I would totally join a German meeting like that 🙂

  2. Erin Says:

    It’s been exactly that way for me – being expats you just kind of have an instant connection. But then the Americans helped me get over that nostalgic hump. Admittedly, I don’t really get homesick ever these days, but in the beginning, having American connections helped a lot – now it’s just the icing on the cake (often literally!). And yeah, I can imagine Germans are far and few between out there in TX. I’m pretty sure I’d feel like a foreigner there too, actually….

  3. Sabrina Says:

    Yes, it’s weird sometimes. Though most people that I meet casually don’t even know I am a foreigner, so I guess it’s more my feeling of being different than actually standing out 🙂 I think there are quite a few Germans in Houston and Dallas, but out here in West Texas? I should start a campaign to get more out here 🙂

  4. Cat Says:

    If you’re in Sevilla, there’s an American Women’s Club, and the Costa del Sol has Costa women, as well. I always thought I would want to be 100% free of Americans, but it’s nice to have someone who understands you and doesn’t question why you are the way you are. I treasure my American friends here in Seville like gold!! Who else will spend 5€ at VIPS for a milkshake?

  5. Erin Says:

    @Sabrina – I’m jealous – I wish I could pull off the “I’m not a foreigner” thing. Unfortunately I don’t have anyone fooled! @Cat – there is indeed an American Women’s Club here, which I’m sure is great, but from what I’ve heard, it caters to a different generation (I mean that in the nicest way possible!). What I’ve found particularly interesting is that I have a lot in common with the Americans who’ve contacted me – around the same age, same interests, and so on.

    Mmmmm, milkshakes.

  6. Sabrina Says:

    Give it another few years and you’ll be as “Spaniardized” as I have been “Texanized” – and I am totally aware that I just made up some new words 🙂

  7. Erin Says:

    However, the minute you stop thinking the religious billboards are weird, you know it’s gone too far!

  8. Millie Says:

    I found your blog a couple of weeks ago and have been reading ever since. I’m an American in Texas and just found out yesterday that my husband and I will be moving to Madrid in October. We’ve known it was a possiblility for a while now, but now knowing that it’s actually going to happen, I’m so excited, anxious and scared all at once! But I love this post! Gives me hope of making new friendships while we’re abroad and makes me excited for all the new experiences! I definitely can’t wait to join the FB group and hopefully get to know you girls!

  9. Erin Says:

    Yey for more Americans in Madrid! I’m so excited for you and your husband – what a great experience you have ahead of you. And now you know you’ve got a group of Americanas here waiting to meet you :). Don’t hesitate to shoot me a message if there’s anything I can do to help as you plan your move!

  10. Sabrina Says:

    Haha! No kidding!! I already ask myself sometimes if I have assimilated too much when I don’t even notice five different churches on five consecutive blocks anymore… I still think it’s overkill, but I guess I have just gotten used to them being there.

  11. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures Says:

    I love the little group of besties you’ve collected! How fabulous!!!

  12. Kristen - Anywhere There's An Airport Says:

    I don’t know what I would do without you… In the end I think we all just need to relate to someone. We need to hear someone say “you aren’t crazy, I felt the same way… and it will get better.”

    Thank you!

  13. Erin Says:

    It took me about a year to figure that one out, but I’m like you – gotta have my american amigas 🙂 Glad you found yours!

  14. Kristen Says:

    @Erin: I’ve been reading your blog for a few weeks now, and I love it! I lived in Spain for 3 months from January – April, and I miss it so. Reading your blog makes me feel like I’m not crazy for wanting to go back and live there. It also reminds me of all the wonderful traits of Spain, both big and small, that made me fall in love with it. Thank you so much!

    Also, it makes me so excited that you are friends with Kristen – Anywhere There’s An Airport, because I read her blog, too!!! I’m from Orlando, FL too (same as her). Next time I visit (perhaps later this year), I would love to meet the two of you, and possibly all of these other smiling Americanas! 🙂

  15. Erin Says:

    @Kristen – and I’m glad I have you too! I definitely know what it was like that first year or two, so I’m hopeful that I can make it just a smidge easier for you – because you totally aren’t alone. @Erin – glad you found yours too! @Kristen2 – of course you’re not crazy for wanting to come back! I hope you make it out later this year – would love to meet you in person (and with the other Kristen too of course!).

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