My Expat Story – Kim-Ling Richardson
An Australian expat in Córdoba, Spain
At Global Living Magazine we want to connect with our readers. We want to know what you’re all about, what you love, where you’ve been, and where you’re going. The best way to do this? Hear it straight from you!*
We received an email from Australian expat Kim-Ling Richardson who lives in Pozoblanco, a small village just outside of Córdoba, Spain. Kim-Ling has lived in Spain since 2014 and works as an English language assistant working in both English and bilingual classes in primary and secondary school. Together with her husband, she has set a personal challenge to travel to as many places in Spain and across Europe as possible, so far visiting nine countries in six months. Here is her Expat Story.
My favorite part of expat life is the opportunity to become part of a different culture and lifestyle. Some of the celebrations here are just so crazy and I love being a part of it, even if I’m wondering what it is we are celebrating half the time! I’ve thrown myself into flamenco singing and dancing lessons, Spanish conversation classes and have even learnt to cook Spanish delicacies. Spanish people have such a love of life and celebrate it as much as possible, and find any excuse to party or celebrate, which is quite different to back home. I’ve tried to go to as many of these Spanish events as I can (such as Carnaval, Las Fallas, Feria, etc.) and have enjoyed them all. They really know how to party!
I love my Spanish life here and feel like I’m really experiencing what Spain has to offer, more as a bewildered local, and less as a lost tourist. Oh, and I have to add that I love how easy it is to travel throughout Europe. We try to visit a new city (either in Spain or within Europe) each weekend. My colleagues and I joke about how much we travel, but coming from Australia, a flight to another country in Europe is like a domestic flight back home and so much cheaper! We don’t want to waste the amazing opportunity to see as much as we can while we are here.
What has been the hardest part?
Knowing that at some point we will be returning home. I love Australia and my life there, but living in Spain has really changed some of my attitudes towards life and its priorities. In Spain family and happiness comes above all else. Sure we all have to work and often do things that may not please us all the time, but they really put time aside for family and prioritize that over other things. Since being here, we’ve taken on the Spanish mentality, and have lived a reasonably carefree existence. My husband and I have been able to spend a lot more time together, and having the opportunity to travel every weekend has been a somewhat exhausting, but life enriching experience.
Where have you lived around the world? Favorite places?
I’ve never lived outside of Australia until now, but I can say with all certainty, that this won’t be my last time! I’ve traveled a lot, but there is something appealing about living in and immersing yourself in a place you love. Spain definitely has a special place in my heart and I hope I can live here again. I’ll always call Australia home, but in the famous words of the little Mexican girl on the Old El Paso ads in Australia, “¿Por qué no los dos?” (Why not both?)
Where do you want to move to eventually?
If there were a way, I would love to live in Spain without worrying about visa renewals and having a set departure date. My husband jokes and calls me a ‘Hispanophile’, as I love all things Spanish – the food, the fashion, the language, the lifestyle, the architecture… the list goes on! Ideally I’d love to live in Barcelona, Valencia or Málaga. I love how these cities have a beach vibe, yet still feel quite cosmopolitan. We are always daydreaming about living in a small apartment, with our dogs, and going for afternoon walks by the beach. I’m also a little obsessed with Gaudí’s work and the Art Nouveau movement, so Barcelona gets me every time.
What’s your sense of ‘home’?
Right now, my sense of ‘home’ is going through an identity crisis. I’ve spent long enough in Spain to really feel at home here (even if I do get stared at a lot and asked where I’m from!), but a lot of my life (family, friends, pets, etc.) is still back in Australia. I will often refer to ‘home’ as our little place in Pozoblanco, Spain and call our home back in Australia, simply ‘Australia’. At the end of the day, I believe home is where your heart is, as clichéd as that sounds. Home should be where you are happiest and in your element. Right now, I feel like I’m in my element in Spain.
Share anything else you’d like us to hear!
I would love to encourage others who are thinking about doing something like this to do it! Traveling and living overseas is such an enriching and life-changing experience. The hardest part is making that decision and taking the plunge! You can always return home if it doesn’t work out, but to regret not doing it is far worse than having a go. Of course, everyone has different lives and circumstances, but I am so happy we found the courage to do this, and hope to do something like this again! In our case the benefits have certainly outweighed the risks. Follow your heart and don’t let others dictate how you should live your life. Last time I checked, there’s no black and white manual on these sorts of things, so write your own rules and be the author of your own story!
*If you’d like to be featured on our ‘My Expat Story’ section, send an email to Alison at email@example.com and tell us about your experience as an expatriate by answering the above questions. Don’t forget to include a picture of yourself, your website/blog information, and/or Twitter handle so we can help you connect with other expats from around the world!
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