Expat Voices: C. Todd Lombardo on living in Madrid
American expat Todd finds summer in Spain too hot but nonetheless wishes to trade siestas for shorter study/work days.
Name: C. Todd Lombardo
Nationality: United States of America
City of residence: Madrid, Spain
Date of birth: Dec 1973
Civil status: Single
Occupation: IE Business School Studemt, previously a marketing manager for a biomedical company
Reason for moving to Spain: Attend IE business School and work in Spain or Europe afterwards
Lived in Spain since: April 2009
What was your first impression of Spain?
Climate was the first thing I noticed: It’s hot. And by hot I mean blazing hot like the desert. The other thing I noticed is that “Spanish time” is quite prevalent, not many things start on time in Spain.
What do you think of Spanish food?
Cochinillo is lovely although a bit heavy. I am fond of paella, too. Jamon iberico y serrano are also nice (although slightly salty). Europeans (not just Spain) seem to make bread 1,000 times better than the US.
What do you think of the shopping in Spain?
As a student, I have little, if any, shopping money, though el barrio de Salamanca in Madrid, seems quite nice.
What do you appreciate most about living in Spain?
That I can bring my dog to the local terraza and enjoy cañas y tapas outside in the evening. That dinners start later than typically in the US.
What do you find most frustrating about living in Spain?
Nothing being open on Sunday. I used to do grocery shopping on Sunday evenings in the US. Also the “siestas” in the afternoons make the weekdays much longer as well as difficult to do shopping after classes. Banks never seem to be open here. A 9am to 2pm schedule makes little sense to me. The nightlife is VERY late compared to Boston, so it is difficult for me to go out and enjoy the nightlife since I’m used to returning from a night out by 1 or 2 am, which is when most people go out in Madrid!
What puzzles you about Spanish culture and what do you miss since you’ve moved here?
There’s a lot of food I miss. And I don’t mean the “fast” American food; I don’t eat at McDonald’s. I’m talking about good old-fashioned peanut butter, oatmeal, hot chocolate, apple pie, etc.
What puzzles me: I find that Spaniards tend to be very laid back. Almost too laid back for me sometimes. Sometimes it comes off as a lack of drive to make things better, and a reluctant acceptance of what exists.
How does the quality of life in Spain compare to the quality of life in other countries that you’ve lived in?
There are many different things that one person holds dear about qualities of life. Sometimes it is family, sometimes it is friends, and sometimes it is environment (city versus countryside). The quality of life for me is nice in some regards but others it leaves lacking.
Even though I am a foreigner, the healthcare system seems setup to take care of the population here. The few times I have been ill it was easy to see a doctor and get any medicines for recovery. The infrastructure of a city like Madrid makes it very easy to get around without a car due to the buses, Metro and Cercanias. There are some bike paths on the edges of the city, but I would certainly like to see the city embrace bicycles more like Amsterdam, Copenhagen or Berlin.
I miss my friends and family and have found it challenging to make new friends in Madrid since I do not live the typical Spanish lifestyle (nightlife, etc) and my language is intermediate at best. The Spaniards I have met are certainly very nice although there is a distance from being accepted and welcomed as a true friend.
I have been enchanted with Barcelona, its architecture, its art-loving culture and its openness compared to Madrid. It is at the top of my list of places to live after my MBA program.
If you could change anything about Spain, what would it be?
The heat and the siesta break in the middle of the day. While in principle it’s nice, it makes for a much, much longer day.
What advice would you give to a newcomer?
Get an apartment with AC.
If you would like to share your perspective about life in Spain and contribute to Expat Voices, send an email to editorES@expatica.com with 'Please send me an Expat Voices questionnaire' in the subject line.
Photo credit: scaredy kat
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