Hi there, I’m Dani! I’m a thirty year old American who calls Granada, Spain home. Trust me, it was a process getting to the place where I now call this city 4,000+ miles from where I grew up ‘home’—and I still question what that really means on a regular basis—but I feel incredibly lucky to have found the ideal little corner of the universe for me and I’m excited to share the country and culture I love with you here on the blog. But a bit of my personal story first…
My love affair with Spain officially began in 2011 with my study abroad semester in Alicante, but the truth is that I have my mom to thank for talking me into starting to study Spanish back in the seventh grade (approximately age 12 for those of you who aren’t familiar with the American school levels). It’s funny to admit now, but back then it wasn’t really something I was passionate about; it was simply the only foreign language offered at junior high. However, little by little, my life became more and more centered around Spanish.
In another ironic twist of faith, I actually enrolled at my university, Illinois Wesleyan, as an English Major but soon discovered Sociology and fell in love with the field that I had previously never heard of. I didn’t want to lose my Spanish completely, and it turned out that adding a second major in Hispanic Studies was reasonably easy and would keep me motivated to maintain that goal. Besides, although I loved literature and writing, it didn’t make much sense to me to study English as the only profession anyone seemed to expect me to pursue with that degree was teaching and I was definitely not interested in that…[LOL from post-graduation Dani].
However, studying abroad was something I really was interested in and it was highly encouraged at Illinois Wesleyan. If we’re being completely honest, I chose to study in Spain as opposed to a closer Spanish-speaking country as I figured it would be my one and only time to explore Europe. As many had warned me, though, the ‘travel bug’ bit me hard and living abroad is now my real life. After five months in Alicante in which I fell for Spain’s no pasa nada lifestyle, I returned to the States with one question in mind—How would I eventually get myself back to Spain?
That’s why I applied for a number of teach-in-Spain programs for the year after my graduation and finally accepted an offer from CIEE to work as an auxiliar de conversación y cultura in Granada. I spent a year working as an assistant in the bilingual classes at an elementary school in a pueblo outside of Granada, giving private lessons, and exploring España in my free time. I’ve changed my professional focus slightly over the years switching from an auxiliar to a private language school teacher to an online teacher—but I hadn’t strayed from that profession for a full seven years. Just like life abroad, teaching immediately grew on me, I quickly started to connect with my students, and it’s a job I am passionate about and proud to have done!
All the same, in 2020, I made the difficult decision to leave that line of work and become a full-time writer. Being a published author is something I’ve dreamed about for most of my life and I’m so excited to finally be doing it. I’m always working on different projects but most recently I published my second collection of short stories, Snapshots of Spain. I think you’d be particularly interested in it if you’ve found this blog because of your own love of Spain. If you’d like to check it out, you can purchase it here as an e-book or paperback. You can also find my first collection of short stories, Fairly Familiar, linked there too. Please feel free to reach out and/or follow my author journey on my personal website and Instagram account.
Since moving to Granada permanently in 2015 (there was a school year in which I tried out living in Costa Rica after my first year as an auxiliar), I have wandered down nearly every winding road and taste-tested in as many tapas bar as I can. I have laid out in the sun at Parque Garcia Lorca and have journaled in the inspirational surroundings of the Alhambra. I have gained an unexpected appreciation for Spanish wine, olives, and cheese. I have spent introvert weekends at home, catching up with my friends and family in the States and not worrying about “missing out” on life outside my piso walls. I have also taken chances on things that once felt scary like Couchsurfing and thus fallen in love. I am now happily married to my Spain-loving soulmate, Oli, who also moved here from an English-speaking country (although England is his homeland). I have set up my ‘real life’ as an adult and I can no longer imagine what that would mean without Spain.
Living in Granada, I’ve learned what balancing what matters most to me means and now I’m so excited to share that wisdom with you. I hope you will find all the answers and advice you need here at Sincerely, Spain and I look forward to hearing more about you and your experience. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with whatever questions you may have!