As you’ve probably figured out from the blog title, I’m an American (Bostonian specifically) living in Spain. I’ve been living here (both in Madrid and Barcelona) since 2006. Back in August of that fateful year I decided to pack up my comfortable life and cute apartment in downtown Boston into two big suitcases and try out my luck living abroad. I didn’t have a job (although I did have an internship I found through some creative investigation online) nor an apartment or friends over here. Something about the Spanish culture (and climate) had been stuck in my head ever since I studied in Madrid in the fall of 2000.
Now, more than a DECADE later I can safely say that I’ve become “españolizada” or “spanishized”, or, to put it easier, accustomed to the Spanish lifestyle and fitting in as if I were from here (minus the accent). There are a lot of expat blogs out there, but this is quite different. If I were here in Spain as an expat I wouldn’t have had to go through nine months of running around to government buildings and getting multiple fingerprints to be able to work here. And I probably would be hanging out with other expats. In quite a few instances I’ve actually had people (including my own mother-in-law) talk about “those foreigners” or “the Americans” right in front of me without even thinking that I’m one of them! I take this as a compliment. I’ve spent a quarter of my life now in Spain and can tell when I go back to the US.
Update 2017: since starting this blog a couple years ago, there’s one big thing that’s changed: I can now officially say that I am spanish. What do I mean by that? Well, after a long 2 1/2 year process I’ve been granted Spanish nationality and will be obtaining my DNI and passport to officially become an EU citizen. (see: Obtaining Spanish nationality – check.) Of course the one thing I can’t change that easily is the accent…
Professionally I like to thing that I’ve had some success as well. With determination (a lot) I was able to get my working papers. Then I received a scholarship to complete a bilingual MBA at IESE Business School, and after that worked at a multinational consumer goods company in marketing (“multinational” American company, but really more like a Spanish company in my opinion). Currently I work in my alma matter at IESE in the Custom Executive Education department developing Custom Education programs for companies, in both Spanish and English. Anyway, that’s the profesional part. For more info you can check out my linkedin profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/michelleamato
In my first blog entry I elaborated a bit about why I’m writing a blog. Here’s a recap:
- I love to talk and write. One of the things I most like to do is meet new people, talk to people, and share stories. What better place to share my experiences over here that could be interesting or useful to others than in an inoffensive blog?
- Customer experience. I’m passionate about customer experience and believe it is fundamental for any business to succeed. Unfortunately over here in Spain that concept is probably close to #15 on companies’ top 10 lists of important items. Customers do not deserve to be treated poorly! Aside from that companies need to realize that the future is not just getting customer experience right, but exceeding, surprising, personalizing… making unique experiences that make loyal customers and generate future revenue. Unfortunately, after being here for so long I’ve started to get used to the customer service….but this shouldn’t happen. I think it’s important to share these stories so companies realize the impact of the direct contact they have with customers. More valuable than any marketing plan investment is what the person next to you has to say. On the other hand, it’s important to share the positive experiences as well and to promote these actions that actually leave customers happy! I’ve had quite a few of these as well, although the bad ones tend to stand out more.
- Helpful info I remember when I was thinking about moving over here that I was looking everywhere I could for any sort of information that might be helpful to me. I’ve gone through a lot in almost 9 years and can definitely share some of those experiences and insights.
- Interesting stories. Spain is definitely different than the US, in more ways than one. Sometimes when I’m talking to my family and say something that seems totally normal to me, I realize that it’s not at all normal to them. Of course it makes sense that in the local parade for Three Kings Day on January 6th, the black king is usually a Spanish person with black paint on his face.
- Unemployment leaves you with time on your hands. Update 2017 – no longer unemployed since October 2015, although this was a good reason to start this blog. This can also explain the less-frequent posts, but I try to write when there’s anything interesting/useful that comes up during my daily experiences.
Enjoy! And please feel free to contact me with any feedback, topics of interest, suggestions, etc.