Top 7 Questions for Expats

Posted by The Expatriator

The top 7 questions you're bound to be asked as an expat living in Spain.

Get to know your fellow expats!

The top 7 questions you’re bound to be asked as an expat living in Spain, both by fellow expats and Spanish friends, is totally unscientifically based on my own experiences and conversations with other expats. It’s the questions you’ll overhear between people meeting for the first time. And those that you’ll find yourself asking your new expat neighbour.

  1. “So where are you from?” Classic. Timeless. Unoriginal. Some like to just outright guess: “So you’re American?” or “You’re from England?” You’ll find Australians asked if they’re British, Scots asked if they’re Irish and Canadians asked if they’re American. and vise versa too. Rest assured your senses of expat geography and accents get much better over the years.
  2. How long do you bring in Spain? Right, it should be “how long have you been here?” But we like to hear how funny the direct translation in “Spanglish” “Inglellano” sounds. We also pop in the occasional word in Spanish to sound cool. Top 3 responses:
    1. “Just arrived 3 months ago.”
    2. “Almost 3 years now” (or 2, or 4, but you’re always rounding up after the first 18 months).
    3. “Let’s see… about 7 years now” (After the 5th year the years blur wildly. You’ve become more Spanish than English; your mastery of the language is nearly complete.)
  3. “What do you do here?”
    Of course it’s also the top question asked by people in our own countries. It’s important here, but less so.
    Top 3 responses:

    1. “Retired” (heard mostly on the Costas)
    2. “Teaching English” (heard mostly in Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, etc.)
    3. “Own a bar” (heard mostly in tourist zones everywhere)
  4. “Why did you leave country x

    Surprisingly there are people who don’t understand why one would move to Spain. The reasons why one leaves home, however, can be even more perplexing, and indeed, deeply personal. This is often an interesting question and answer.

  5. “Why did you come here?”
    Replace the word “here” with whatever city it is you live in. Another good question (we like those Why questions).
    Top 3 responses:

    1. “It was kind of random actually…” (followed by the story)
    2. “I used to come to Spain for a number of years and always liked city/town x...”(followed by the story)
    3. “I liked the idea of moving to Spain and am doing it for real estate investment reasons…” (you bastard! Just kidding, but would you really want to hear their story?)
  6. “How’s your Spanish coming along?”
    Then, if you were in Catalunya, Galicia or Pais Vasco, it would be “how’s your Catalan/Gallego/Euskera coming along?” (followed by sentiments of being overwhelmed by the thought of learning two languages at once)
    Top 3 responses:

    1. “Mostly fluent”
    2. “Oh, it’s okay, I just don’t get to use it as much as I should.”
    3. “Yo hablar español un poco”
  7. “Have you heard of that new telecom company xyz

    And then “Yeah, but I checked them out and of course you still have to keep your line with Telefónica for it to work.”
    “Those bastards… I hate them.”
    Followed by further conspiratorial antimonopoly statements as if you two shared a great secret hatred for Telefónica. It’s a bonding experience.


Last updated 30 03 2006

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binspain said:

I love the telefonica comment.. how the f&ck;do they get away with that? it?s daylight robbery.


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