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Integration

This is a big issue among expatriates here in Andalucia. Just how integrated into the local culture are we? Just how integrated should we be? It's clear that many are attracted to the south of Spain by a radiant sun, clear blue skies and stretches of heavenly beach. Those who settle in coastal areas have more opportunity to band together in colonies with only minimal contact with the "natives". Their inland counterparts have little choice but to learn the language, get the know their neighbours and adhere to the old adage, "when in Spain...". I speak the language. My Spanish husband's family has welcomed me with open arms. I work for a Spanish company, have my (Spanish) kids in Spanish school and have plenty of Spanish friends. "How can you get more integrated than that?", you might ask. However, when it comes down to it, I'm a very stubborn person who clings to her ways with a vengeance. I resist doing things the Spanish way until wild horses have dragged me several kilometres. I will "do it My Way" if at all possible... It's just the way I am. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I - the super-organised, ultra-Anglo woman with the practical Scandinavian roots - arrived at the supermarket on Saturday night just before closing along with about 99.99 percent of the local population. I wasn't even ruffled to find myself there in the midst of the Spanish masses - all of us together, doing the last minute shopping. For once I hadn't spent the whole day worrying about how to organise every last detail of my life in order to do my shopping while my Andalusian neighbours were taking their siestas. No, I was living in "The Now", as they say - moving from one moment to the next with careless abandon. And now, here I was, rubbing shoulders with a trillion other last minute shoppers - doing things the "Spanish way". The thrill was lost, however, as I made my way out of the parking area, weaving my vehicle in and out among the crowds, and suddenly realised that I had missed one all important detail: I had left the husband, kids, grandparents, aunts and uncles at home! In essence, I was the one and only lone shopper on the premises. Very un-Spanish!
Blog published on 31 March 2008