May 24, 2012 - Posted by Erin in Expat

A different language, missing home, questionable peanut butter, and outrageous inefficiencies. I can handle all of these expat gripes. In fact, I often think my living-abroad adjustment process has run its course, only to be seen in the rearview mirror. But the truth is, in some ways I think the worst part has yet to come.


You see, when I moved to Spain, I found it tremendously difficult to say goodbye to my friends and family back home. Over the years, it has, thankfully, gotten tremendously easier, especially as I’ve built my own family here (filled with friends, my husband and in-laws). What I didn’t anticipate, though, is that this family wouldn’t – even couldn’t – last forever. With so many of my friends being expats, my little circle would inevitably evolve as people moved on to the next stop, or even back home. Which brings me to this new lovely (*sigh*) phase in expat adjustment: when you don’t leave, but rather when people actually leave you.



In a couple of weeks, one of my very favorite people on the planet, Heather, will be leaving Spain to move back to the States. Have I told you about her? She’s kind of amazing. We met online prior to her moving to Spain, and instantly hit off due to our shared love for chocolate, festive socks, and often inappropriate silliness. That was three and a half years ago.



Since then, we’ve baked cupcakes, colored easter eggs, and celebrated Cinco de Mayo. Along the way, I got married, she was the best bridesmaid a girl could ask for, and now she’s engaged, and I’ll do my darnedest to return the favor….in LA….because that’s where she’s moving in a couple of weeks.



I get it: this is the bittersweet life of an expat. There are highs and lows, and at the end of the day I’m just incredibly grateful to have formed such an amazing family here in what really feels like my home away from home. But gosh, it just won’t be the same without my number one partner in crime. I’ll miss ya, Sox…and so will Spain.

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13 comments

13 Responses to “Expat bittersweetness”

  1. Mommaexpat Says:

    I’m a newb expat and have yet to develop that forever friendship since moving abroad. I can’t imagine losing such a great friend, so hugs to you from France.

  2. Steph Says:

    You know it’s just as hard for us to say goodbye when we leave, so at least you’re not alone in that… We repatriates miss you and Spain too! Ok, I’m kind of sad now :) Hang in there!

  3. Meg @ Revamp Homegoods Says:

    What an amazing sendoff for an amazing friend. Hugs! It reminds me of lots of my old college friends. Miss those people! BTW, just wanted to let you know that I’m an email subscriber and I love getting your little messages from Spain in my inbox. Makes my day…even these bittersweet ones.

  4. mel Says:

    Awwe Erin, this is heartbreaking. I do SO know what you’re going through. When I left Sydney after what feels like a lifetime, I left behind my dearest friend too. I feel with you :) But like my friend always said to me, don’t be sad to loose it, be happy that you’ve had it.

  5. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures Says:

    I HATE goodbyes!!!!! I hope your last days with her are filled with beautiful memories.

  6. Nik Says:

    You’re spot on with this article, Erin. This is certainly one of the hardest thing about being an expat; watching people move on to other places is kind of depressing even when you are happy for your friends to start over somewhere new. It’s still super sucky!

    And friendships cannot easily be replaced, but I’m officially applying to take over her position. I love festive socks and being highly inappropriate is my speciality…

    I’m available to interview at your earliest convenience!

  7. The Spain Scoop - Regina Says:

    totally get this! and it’s hard! sometimes when I hear a person is just staying in Barcelona a few months I don’t even want to make the effort in the friendship because I know they’ll leave ;-( many of my favorite people have moved on over the years both here and in Guatemala. The good side is that in this lifestyle you always meet new people, and now have friends all over the world – meaning more reasons to travel!

  8. Erin Says:

    Thanks, everyone, for all the comments and support! I can’t even tell you how much it means to me!

    Steph – you were the first to leave and iniate me into this phase of expat goodbyes. I think of you every single time I go to Tipos or pass through Ildefonso….life in Madrid just isn’t the same!!!!

    Nikki – funny thing: yesterday I actually met Mr. Will Peach in person while in Valencia with Heather. I mentioned you to him (knowing that he knew of you), and then turned to Heather and said something along the lines of: “oh my gosh, you’d love Nikki – she’s got our same ridiculous sense of humor.” Hehe. So yeah, you’re hired!

  9. Megan Says:

    ugh i hate these times. i can totally sympathize with what you’re going through girl. my friend here in norway is about to move back to california on june 6 and im traumatized over the situation. finding that person that becomes your family in a foreign land is hard enough, but to have them say goodbye is even worse. good luck <3

  10. Simona Says:

    So the weirdest thing happened to me yesterday. I’ve been following your blog ever since I applied back in November for this program to teach English in Spain (and I think it’s absolutely fantastic btw), and then I was watching House Hunters International last night and an episode on Valencia came up and I was like “OMG I recognize those two girls! That’s one of the bloggers I follow!” I mean, what are the odds?! Anyway, I just wanted to stop by and say hi! Sad to hear Valencia didn’t work out for your friend, but best of luck to her back in the states!

  11. Erin Says:

    Too funny! So many more people seem to watch that show than I ever would have imagined. Even funnier is that “Heather’s apartment” in Madrid isn’t her apartment at all, but rather mine. That’s my book shelf, my bed, my closet, and my clothes she’s packing!

    And while Heather is sad to leave Spain, she and Garen are excited to go back to LA. So it’s a good thing – except that I will miss her!

    Hope you make it out to Spain!

  12. Simona Says:

    Oh, the things you don’t realize when you watch a show! That’s hilarious that everything was yours!

    And thanks! I’ve got my fingers crossed that everything works out smoothly and I’ll be in Madrid by the fall :]

  13. Cat Says:

    I’ve had the same best friend since moving to Chicago when I was 12. Today is her 27th birthday, and it’s hard to believe we’ve stayed friends despite different colleges, being a continent apart and the millions of other changes that happen when you grow up. USA best friend met Spanish best friend, now living in America and was happy to know I was taken care of for two years. The most normal cycle of my life is the coming and going of old, trusted friends in Spain. I lean on my american girlfriends here like never before…because you kinda have to!!

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