Categorized | Daily Life

Where they will be good to me

Posted on 09 December 2016 by American expat!

In my early years of living here, the smallest acceptance or kindness would mean so much. Before I arrived, I took certain (OK many) things for granted. After arriving, and even still today, it’s quite simple to make me happy: Good customer service (so rare…), a helpful bank teller, a compliment from a stranger (wait, the last one has never happened–literally never–though I still dole them out as I much as I please, much to the surprise of strangers).

I cherished these rare acts of kindness directed at a foreigner. It definitely opened my eyes to the struggles faced by foreigners living in my own country and how locals treat non-native English speaking immigrants, visitors and expats. It certainly changed my behavior when I visit.

A lot of where I shopped and did business–and still do–has to do with where people are nice to me. I frequent the Chinese and Pakistani owned shops because they speak more clearly and do not get impatient when  you stumble over words. The Indian restaurant owners fall over themselves to please you. There is an understanding with these shop and restaurant owners: we are all outsiders here.

I’ll admit, I am trying much harder to integrate now, in fact it is a particular goal of mine: To belong to this city. But when something bad happens or I am feeling especially lonely or isolated, these are the places I return to.



6 Comments For This Post

  1. Lynn Says:

    It’s ironic, isn’t it? We move to a place because of the traditional culture of a place. Then as we try to settle in we find that we can’t, or at least can’t very easily. It’s not just language; the fact that we have left our families, cultural things like that, will perpetually mark us as outsiders. I moved from California, where nearly everyone comes from somewhere else. Being from somewhere else has become part of the culture. Here in France, there in Spain, it doesn’t work like that. I have come to terms with it. I study French, live with a delightful French man and apart from his family gatherings and the like, live in an English-speaking world. It is what it is and though it is not what I had in mind, it’s not a bad life.

  2. American expat! Says:

    You sound like me…my boyfriend is from here and apart from his friends and family, I live my life in English. However, I’ve been here 8 years now and I want to stay (a recent decision, gee do you think it took me long enough?) and I’ve decided I REALLY want to be a part of this place. So I am going to study the local language and try to integrate as much as possible. Wish me luck´.

  3. remorada Says:

    can totally relate to this, I’m peruvian so language and culture is not a problem, and I’m married to a local catalan and living in BCN for 10 years now… but sometimes I wonder if I ever will be part of the city… it’s really hard!

    I’ve found friends, but they are expats or from other parts of Spain… it’s really hard


  4. Marcelo Cunha Says:

    I am trying to email you but can’t find your contacts. The contact form in your blog isn’t working.
    DO you have an email I can contact you directly?
    Thank you!

  5. American expat! Says:

    I’ve updated the contact form. Try now!

  6. armando Says:

    Hi, I am USA citizen but Catalan Origin. I would like to retire in Catalunya but it is not clear. I have retirement sources from USA. Can you advice me?
    I cannot find my roots in Catalonia but still trying. I speak fluent English and Spanish and some Catalan
    Thank you

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