The More Things Change, the More They’re the Same

Now that we’ve been here 3 months, I’ve realized that even though we’ve moved to La Coruña, Spain, our family operates in much the same manner we did in Mundelein, IL. The things that had to get done every day back in the US still have to get done every day here, it’s just that the details have changed. Here are some examples:

– Go to sleep and get up. Except here Nate and I sleep from 1am – 8:00am, and the kids sleep between 9pm and 8:30am.

– Go grocery shopping. Stores here are so close, though, that now it’s a few times a week rather than once a week.

– Get the kids to school. I walk them every morning because we have one car and Nate drives it to language school.

– Drive around. But now it’s in a stick shift car instead of an automatic.

– Live somewhere. Here we live in an apartment instead of a house.

– Get the kids out to play. Because very few people here have backyards, much less houses, everyone goes out to the parks and playgrounds.

– Bake, communicate to doctors and teachers what our kids’ temperatures are when they’re sick, know what the weather is. Except here it’s all done in Celsius. And we also have had to adapt to the use of kilometers, kilograms, and liters instead of miles, pounds, and gallons.

– Use money. Here we use euros (which, unfortunately, is still spanking the dollar). And there are so many coins! The denominations of the coins and bills are: 1 cent, 2 cent, 5 cent, 10 cent, 20 cent, 50 cent, 1 euro, and 2 euros for coins; 5 euros, 10 euros, 20 euros, 50 euros, 100 euros for bills. And not only are the coins sized from small to big depending on their value, but the bills are sized differently as well.

– Go shopping for our family’s clothes, shoes, household items, etc. Except here they only have sales twice a year. Ack!

– Go see the local sights and downtown area. We’re blessed to live near the ocean, ria, and old city (of La Coruña).

– Communicate with store clerks, teachers, new friends. Except here it’s mostly in Spanish instead of our beloved English.

– Go to the bank, post office, video store, book store. Here we walk, walk, walk, since all these places are in our neighborhood and it would be more of a hassle to drive due to the limited parking.

– Go to church. Vida Nueva meets in a converted warehouse, and the service is conducted in Spanish. One of our expat friends usually sits next to us and interprets.

– Eat. Here’s a peek inside our fridge:

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So, no more gallons of milk. Now we buy milk in 1-liter “bricks” and cut them open with scissors. R has his Vive Soy soymilk, and also his yellow soy yogurt. The Europeans are crazy about their yogurt. At Alcampo, the store I wrote about in my previous post, they have a huge aisle that is stocked with all yogurt–I’ve never seen anything like it. In our fridge we have all-natural strawberry yogurt for Nate and B, natural fat-free yogurt for me, and soy yogurt for R. There’s also juice, which is sold here in bricks for about 60 cents.

Here’s the door to our fridge. I’m amazed at how many things are the exact same as what I’d have in our fridge in IL:

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And here’s our freezer. It’s on the bottom of our refrigerator unit, and as you can see it’s all drawers. The containers of everything frozen around here, like ice cream, is made to fit in these drawers:

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So we’ve had to adapt to many changes, some little and some huge, and now that we’re three months into our new life here, I can say that I’m getting used to most of them! I still miss bathroom fans, though :).

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  • Sarah S.

    Thanks for sharing! It’s fun to see the differences and similarities – great visuals! You are brave to share photos of your fridge. :)
    Enjoy some yummy European yogurt for me – I love it! 12/7/2007

  • Now you guys can understand it when I tell you that my parents used to buy us 48 liters of milk? (four boxes of 12) and that we’d down a liter a piece in one sitting as we raided the kitchen for an ever-important midnight snack during our teenage years? Thanks for the snippet and reminder. 12/8/2007

  • Kristi

    Oh my, do you need someone to send you an air freshener for your bathroom? Isn’t there some type that you plug in and it has a fan on it? I’m sure it’s not the same. Thanks for the interesting comparisons! I want my kids to learn Spanish so badly, mainly to give them an advantage just living in the US, especially in our area. 12/9/2007