on 25 January 2005
This is quite a gem of a book and would be good for anybody interested in living in Spain to read this. However, 90% of the contributions come from people living on the Costa del Sol-the "carbuncle" of Spain, and is really not a totally true reflection of what this beautiful and diverse country/culture can offer.I would have given this book 5 stars if it contained more stories of expats living and working in cities (the real Spain), such as Madrid, Valencia, Barcelona, Seville etc. and not just stories from expats living along the coast. I have lived in Seville for 4 years and I can honestly say most of the negative experiences written about are totally alien to me i.e not being able to make Spanish friends. All my friends are Spanish and that is on top of me speaking still quite bad Spanish after 4 years!
Nonetheless the stories in the book are really fascinating, and what it does illustrate are that there are 3 types of expats that come to Spain. The first type are those that are really looking to live and experience a new country and culture. These expats take the rough with the smooth and put down any negative experiences as just some of "life's lessons". The second category are the "beer-swigging, fish and chip brigade". You know the ones! They perhaps have only been to Spain on a two week holiday, to a place that resembles Blackpool in the sun, and then are totally shell-shocked when they experience their first drop of rain and consequently go running back home (because they didn't realised it actually rains in Spain!) And the third kind of expat are your "professional whingers". We've all met them, the ones who find 101 things to complain about when they go on a weeks holiday to a foreign country. They carry on as though they come from a totally efficient country, when usually this is far from the truth. I think when reading this book it is important to identify what kinds of expats contributed to this book, otherwise it could put you off coming to Spain for ever, and that would be a real pity.
However,all the stories prove a couple of things that i) do your research first and don't just base you emigration on your 2 week holiday lying by the pool, ii) learn the language before you come, even if it is just the basics so you can at least show some courtesy to the natives in everyday communication and iii) make every effort to integrate with the natives, as oppossed to " sticking with your own". You will get so much more out of your experience, and like me, never want to return home.
Overall, this is a good book, but be open-minded when reading it.
on 22 February 2015
A unique collection of anecdotes - irreplaceable documentary collection of an era....I lived through more than ten years of it. Many of the observations are familiar. There are some tedious ones, such as a former committee member and president of a residents' in the block where I live going on and on about members being a nuisance - that made me laugh! Presidents of residents' associations in Spain are notorious for doing very little and Spanish residents' associations are a by-word for weakness and even corruption. So I wonder what opinions others might have of some of the other entries I happen to agree with it. But that's oral history - different opinions and perspectives all round! A great compilation.