I'm from Denver, Colorado. I lived in Almeria, Spain for 2 years and have reciently moved to Valencia, Spain.
Why did you decide to move to Spain?
One of my majors at Kansas State University was Spanish. I studied abroad for a semester at the University of Salamanca in Salamanca, Spain and absolutely loved it! Ever since I got back I was looking for opportunities to go back. My senior year, one of my Spanish professors sent me information on the North American Language and Cultural Assistant program and it turned out to be the perfect opportunity to come back to Spain!
How was the moving process?
It was not too bad at all. Since I was doing the Language Assistant program which is run through the government, the visa process was relatively easy and since I was placed in Almeria that narrowed down where I was going to live. I met a girl on Facebook who was doing the same program and we decided to live together. Although I studied Spanish for 8 years, my speaking skills were still pretty low so luckily she spoke Spanish well enough to get us an apartment! My parents also came with me which made me feel a lot more comfortable.
How did you find a job in Spain? Any advice to share with the other members?
My first two years were through the Language Assistant program. Then when I moved to Valencia, I was ready for a different job. I looked on all the job listing websites until I found a school that fit with what I was looking for. My advice is to look on the websites and wander around the town as a lot of places have signs up when they are hiring.
Did you face some difficulties to adapt to your host country (language, culture, do's and don'ts)?
Not a whole lot. The language at first was really frustrating for me because I had studied it for a long time, but still had trouble communicating. Even after I felt more comfortable speaking people still had trouble understanding my accent. Luckily that is basically all in the past now!
What surprised you the most in Valencia?
I think what surprised me the most when I first came to visit was how beautiful the city is. There is so much to do and see here. Everything is beautiful and different. It surprises me still that it is not higher on the list of tourist cities in Spain. I think it is WAY better than Madrid.
Is it easy to meet new people in Valencia?
It is, as long as you are willing to put yourself out there. There are a ton of expat groups. They have regular meetings and activities. A lot of the bars in the city center have language ex-changes which are good to meet people and practice Spanish at the same time! As long as you are willing to make the effort to go out and find a group that is good for you it will be easy to meet people.
Could you please share with us something you like about Valencia and something you don't like?
If I had to pick only one thing about Valencia that I love, it would be the Turia Riverbed. It is a former river, now green space that runs all through the city. It is beautiful and a great place for a picnic, bike ride, yoga, kids' birthdays, football and volleyball games. I go there at least once a week.
Something I don't like is actually really hard to think of....I think I would say the public transportation stops too early at night, around 10:30, which is too early if you are planning on going out.
A common belief about Spain which wasn't right:
Not everyone cares about bullfighting and not everyone can dance Flamenco.
What do you miss the most from the US, your home country?
The work opportunities were more prevalent there. Also, peanut butter and some candies that aren't available here.
Why did you decide to create your blog, A Foodie in Europe?
I started it during the summer when I wasn't working, most of my friends were either working long hours, or weren't in the country. With few friends and no creative outlet I was very bored! So, the blog was born. I love sharing stories with people and this was the perfect opportunity to take advantage of my great city and share some travel and food stories as well.
Which advice would you give to people wishing to live in Valencia?
Make sure you get involved right away with some groups so you can get to know people. Also, learn Spanish if you don't already speak it. Spanish people are very welcoming and will appreciate any effort to speak their language!
What are your projects for the next few years?
Nothing too major, just to keep working, traveling and eating!