I met a U.S. soldier on my flight to Madrid. As we made small talk during the flight, I learned that he had just finished his first year stationed in the Spanish city of Roda, in the southern part of Spain. As we chatted, I asked him what he missed the most, aside from being away from home. He told me that he still had a difficult time with parking and that he wished there was a 7-11 open that he could make a quick dash to when hunger struck at 3 a.m.
While I can’t say that I can relate to his woes of living in another country, our conversation got me thinking about what I might miss should I ever find myself living in Spain.
Over the past 14 years I have visited Spain almost every year. It is where my in-laws planned a second wedding for my husband and I. It is where my children were baptized. It is where I am often transported in my mind back to my childhood in California, as the landscape and vegetation are similar in some areas. Over the years I have tried to pay attention to the life, customs and cultural expectations in this country.
If one day I find myself in the land of café, vino and festivales (coffee, wine and festivals), here are some of the things I might miss most about my life in Chicago:
Even though I have only lived on my block in Chicago for 1 year, I have already grown attached to the people who live here as well as the uniqueness that it encompasses. I have made new friends for myself and my children have made friends too. It is lively during pleasant weather, filled with children playing in the street and running through yards and adults catching up with one another. It is multi-generational and multi-cultural, with as least 6 languages spoken. It is a place where neighbors trade gardening advice over the fence and keep an eye out for one another. A place that celebrates every summer with a block party, plans trick-or-treat festivities in the fall. And a place where neighbors shovel the sidewalks for each other.
My favorite radio stations WXRT and WBEZ. I look forward to Sunday mornings while I tune into “Breakfast with the Beatles” for 2 glorious hours. I also enjoy the local programs on 8:48.
My children’s school and the school community. It is a place where parents and educators come together for the common good of improving the school and all feel welcome.
My writing community.
My neighborhood, especially the library, bookstore and Old Town School of Folk Music where I take guitar classes.
Easy access to books in English. If I lived in Spain, I’m certain that I would become one of Amazon’s biggest customers.
My own pillow. The pillows over here for a double, queen or king sized bed consist of one long, thin pillow that is made for two people to share. In all my years of sleeping in beds here, I am still not accustomed to the pillows. I prefer my own softer, rectangular pillow thank you.
Although the food is of a great variety and high quality, there are some items that are either difficult to come by or non-existent in Spain. I would miss sweet potatoes, winter squash and corn on the cob.
And of course I would miss my family and friends. Most of them live so far away that I see them infrequently as it is.
What do you think you would miss about your home/community if you moved to another country?