We’re back with another Caribbean Millennial Abroad feature! This week we’re introducing you to a Jamaican-Antiguan making a life for herself in Spain as an English teacher with the BEDA Programme! Want to learn more about her experience on the road and life in Spain? Keep reading!
Kacy is 24 years old and has lived in Castellón de la Plana, Spain for the last two years! Where is that? Not many people know but to answer it’s a part of the Valencian Community (Comunidad Valenciana). She has a love for travelling, interacting and sharing her experiences with others. Thanks to a life of travel, Kacy has learnt that she’s more of an adventurer than she initially thought!
Where in the Caribbean is home for you?
I was born in Jamaica but raised in Antigua then eventually went back to Jamaica to live. I’m an island girl through and through.
How long have you been calling Spain “home”?
Spain has been home since September, 2017!
What made you want to venture abroad?
My reason was two-fold. I had fallen in love with teaching and I wanted to be fluent in Spanish and here was this wonderful opportunity to teach in Spain. The programme basically had my name on it.
What kind of visa are you on? Was the visa process complicated?
I’m here on a student visa. It was not complicated at all. I think that’s why prorgammes like these do student visas because they are easier than others. All the documents were provided (acceptance letter to the univeristy which stated how we would financially support ourselves etc.) and my programme really guided us throughout the process of filling out the necessary forms (which were not excessive at all) to receive our ID card.
In what ways is your current location different from home?
We have winter haha. The weather, while in winter is similar to the Caribbean, dare I say hotter at times, is different between October-May. Summer is also different in that days are longer but I actually love having sunlight at 10:00 p.m. The language, food and daily timetable are also different. Spain is known for it’s siesta and late night dinners.
What is one thing you love about where you live now?
I love the comfort of home that it gives me in the sun and the beach. I also love the things that are drastically different – the paella, the tapas and of course, hearing Spanish everyday.
And what is one thing you’re still getting used to?
I’m still getting used to a huge three hour gap in my day (siesta time!) and seeing ham legs for sale in the supermarkets lol. Some days I still struggle with the eating times – lunch at 2:00/3:00 and dinner from 9:00 p.m. onwards, rarely ever before.
How easy/difficult has it been for you to adjust to the culture/lifestyle of your new location?
I think my experience in Colombia prepared me quite a lot. I lived in Barranquilla which has a lot of similarities to the Caribbean such as the weather, some of the food and the musical influences. However, it is also different enough regarding the language, religious denomination and other aspects of culture to make me realise that everywhere is not like where I am from.
What are the biggest challenges you face being away from home?
I really miss the food. I like Spanish food but I miss the variety of fresh fruits and vegetables we have all year round. I miss out really big (and probably outrageous) breakfast now that I think about it. I also miss the ease of which I can connect with people. Although I speak Spanish, there is still a language barrier when connecting with people and I miss how easy it was to interact and make friends in my own country, not just through English but through Jamaican Patois as well.
Do you see yourself living outside of the Caribbean long term?
Well, I would like to think that I have been doing so. It’s now been three years since I lived in Jamaica or Antigua. Could I do it for another five years? I would love to. There is still so much more left to explore, so much food left to eat and much more Spanish (and hopefully French) left to learn.
What are some things you anticipate that you’ll miss about your life abroad if you ever move back home?
It will definitely be weird hearing English everywhere, everyday. I am going to miss the long list of things to do in Spain. So many parks, museums, restaurants, big cities and antique little towns to visit. I will also miss the convenience that comes with living in Europe. Some things are just easier, like travelling from one country to the next, ordering online and opening a bank account.
What is one thing you’ve experienced abroad that you’d love to see people embrace back home?
The love of family. Family units are central in every culture but in Colombia and Spain family is everything. It always comes first. Their lives centre around family in a way that I have never seen back home and now, especially being far removed from mine, it’s made me realise how important it really is.
Have you noticed any differences between the Caribbean Millennial and the Millennials you encounter abroad?
There are certainly differences. In many ways, Caribbean people are different from others. There is a stereotype that we are party-lovers, and we are, but in many ways we are also more conservative. We make rum but don’t drink as much, we produce coffee but prefer tea in general and I would say that we aren’t as adventurous when it comes to trying new food as others are.
What do you think are some common misconceptions that your peers have of life abroad?
Living abroad isn’t a bed of roses like many people think. Yes, travelling is exciting. However, there are downsides like navigating an often complicated and lengthy bureaucracy, worse doing so in a foreign langauge, the language barrier which makes establishing meaningful relationships difficult at times, the cltural differences like religion, food, sense of humour or simply things like when people go to bed. From a distance some of these may seem trivial but when you’re actually in the country they can all compound and just make you miserable at times. I think the benefits definitely outweigh the difficulties though.
What’s one piece of advice you have for fellow Caribbean Millennials who want to move abroad but might be uncertain if it’s the right move for them?
I’ve experienced this. Prior to moving to Spain I had a wonderful job in Jamaica. However, I knew that staying there wouldn’t have afforded me the self-development that I knew I needed. I think moving abroad definitely helps you to mature and discover parts of yourself you didn’t even know existed. I think indecision is common. It’s good that you’re weighing pros and cons. It means that you’re smart. However I think that it’s better to make the move and then be certain that it’s not for you than to have stayed in your comfort zone and miss out on a world of wonderful opportunities.
Kacy has since moved to Spain’s capital where she continues on her journey as an Auxiliar de Conversación with the BEDA Programme! If you’re interested in the BEDA programme or you’ve got questions about how you can move abroad, drop your questions in the comments below!