Love is estúpido. That’s Spanish for DON’T MOVE ABROAD FOR LOVE YA BIATCH!
When I relocated to Spain, I put my communications career on hold for fun and adventure in a new land. I threw it all away to meet new people, blah blah learn a new language, blah blah experience a new culture.
Honestly, I just wanted to shake off the sameness of my life and return later to brag about how next level my life had become. Plus, I really hate winter. I fucking HATE IT!
Now, it’s a buttload of years later and I’m asking myself that dreaded question, “How the hell did I get here?” The exact location of here being: jobless, dependent on husband for everything in the eyes of the Spanish government, out-of-date employment skills and plummeting self-worth.
And the Answer is….
The simple answer is I’m a love-pat. From what I’ve read about the subject, a love-pat is someone that moves from their home country for love. Well, I moved to Spain on my own because I was bored with life in Canada. I guess owning a house, belly laughing with my BFF, having a great career and the unconditional love of family was boring. Yes, I know. I’m an idiot (facepalm).
Love came later. Exactly six months before my departure date back to Canada because Spain was so not for me. I had underestimated just how hard it would be to obtain a basic level of Spanish with my old-ass brain and the unending culture shock – “Umm, what do you mean the kitchen is closed? It’s only 4:30 p.m. I’m HANGRY!”
I met my future hubs when I walked into his English academy – looking for a job. I had accidentally on purpose partied hard with 21-year-old Erasmus students and pissed away too much money from the Spain Fund. The bank account needed replenishing, before returning home, and the easiest job to find in Valencia was teaching English.
Thank God I had predicted I would be a dumbass, so I padded the old resume by volunteering as a literacy coach before I left home. I didn’t need the experience though. Luckily, future hubs was more interested in my winning smile and curvalicious booty and hired me on the spot.
Three weeks after I was hired, we both knew we had found the one. For a girl that never wanted to get married, it felt quite normal moving in together after four months. Weirdly, we didn’t experience the usual growing pains that most couples encounter when first living together.
We got hitched in Prague three years later with our nearest and dearest looking on.
What Rhymes with Ducked?
After a two-week honeymoon, me and Insta-hubs returned to Valencia to begin the new school year. Everyting irie, right? WRONG. What we hadn’t considered was the fact that I was now the legal wife of a business owner in Spain.
The accountant informed us that if I wanted to continue working in the “family business”, I had to become autónomo – Spain’s equivalent of self employed and fucked.
Being autónomo in Spain means many things – none of them good. The monthly social security contribution, among the highest in Europe, gives you very little in return. Everyone pays the same, whether you make €5 or €500,000. Trust me, I was not making anywhere close to €500,000. Hell, I wasn’t making anywhere near €500 a month.
Basically, I would be working just to access healthcare I was already entitled to. Plus, the chance to receive a minuscule pension if I managed to work 30+ years in an economy that was in a death spiral.
I had to make a choice. I could become autónomo, work for another English academy or stop working. I chose the third option. I already knew the hideous landscape that was teaching English in Valencia. If you wanted to make a decent LEGAL living, and be treated like a human being, there were only a handful of schools to choose from (my husband’s being #1).
Add to the fact that most jobs meant teaching ill-behaved children AND working Saturdays; my decision to stop working was a no-brainer. Besides, we weren’t hurting for the extra income and after working for so many years I would finally have the time to do whatever I wanted.
The Easy Life Sucks
My plan was to spend mornings perfecting my Spanish and afternoons walking through sunlit streets on my way to abstract painting class. On paper, my life looked fantastic. In reality, it was an unmitigated disaster.
After five teachers and four years of trying to learn Spanish, I realized I sucked at it. There are a lot of verb tenses in Spanish – like A LOT. Why do you need to learn the subjunctive to demonstrate mood, desires and doubts? Giving the middle finger or putting an imaginary gun to my head summed up what I wanted to do every day – those gestures didn’t need translation.
Don’t get me started on painting either. Let’s just say, you should never look at an abstract painting and think a child could do that! They can’t. You can’t. I can’t.
It slowly dawned on me that working for a living is a good thing (who knew!). I had no idea how much I’d miss being able to answer the question, “So, what do you do?”
It’s important for me to have a purpose to get up in the morning. Plus, I like getting paid! Dolla, dolla bill y’all.
So here I am, asking the question what do I do now?
Hey, maybe I’ll start selling essential oils. I heard that’s a real money maker.
My Expatations: love is enough, early retirement is cool
Reality: got a kick ass husband, need a freaking job