In today’s installment in our “Expat Life in Spain” series, we are happy to share a guest post from Nina Bosken from A World of Dresses. She’s originally from Cincinnati, Ohio in the US but she’s been living in Spain for the past five years. Nina works as an English teacher and travel blogger. She’s passionate about speaking Spanish and traveling, as well as finding travel deals. In her free time, she also loves to plan events and organize things. The way Nina sees it, “when you live abroad, you have to create the life you want.”In this series, we talk to expats living in different cities around Spain. We hope that the real, lived experiences that you’ll find our guests sharing shed light on what the expat experience in Spain is like, but also how different it can be for each person in each different place. If you have any questions, please reach out to us or the authors so that we can support you with your own journey.You can find our previous interviews in the series below:
Read Chloe’s story about living and working in hospitality in Barcelona
Sincerely, Spain: Tell us a little bit about your Spain story and how you ended up in Logroño.
Nina: I came to Spain five years ago and to La Rioja three years ago. After spending two years working as a language assistant in Granada, I decided to explore the North a bit. I had been to Logroño on my first trip to Spain and liked it. I wanted to be in a city and region where Spanish is the main language spoken as I love speaking it.
When I initially came to La Rioja, I lived with a Spanish family in a town outside of Logroño called Nájera. While living with a family had a lot of perks such as Spanish immersion, I decided I missed my independence and found a room in a shared flat in Logroño. Literally weeks after moving into my new flat, I met my Spanish boyfriend. Now we live together and I’ll be in Logroño for the foreseeable future.
In short, I moved to Spain because I loved the culture and language, and decided to stay long-term when I met someone.
Sincerely, Spain: What is your daily life like in Logroño?
Nina: I spend four mornings a week working as a language assistant in a bilingual school within walking distance of my house. Apart from that, I probably spend another 15 hours a week teaching private lessons both online and in-person.
I also manage two groups in Logroño: Riojababel Language Exchange and Logroño Girl Gone International (GGI). The first one is a weekly meet-up at a bar where people come to practice languages. We have over 200 people in the Whatsapp group and run two meetings a week. I do the logistics and have a group of people who help me organize the actual events. GGI is a women-only group focused on friendship. The idea is that when a woman moves to a new city, she can join the local GGI group, meet people and not feel so alone. We have a Facebook group and hold several social events per month. It can be hard to live abroad, so I really love running these groups because they help connect other expats in the city and hopefully they don’t feel so alone in Logroño.
Sincerely, Spain: What are your favorite things about Logroño?
Nina: I love how easy it is to get around. I can walk anywhere in about 20 minutes. The cost of living is low and the food is great. We have several streets that are known for their pinchos (small plates of food). I also cannot forget the wine. Logroño is the capital of La Rioja, a region that’s home to over 500 wineries and many vineyards.
Sincerely, Spain: If you’re having guests visit, what are the top things you have to share?
Nina: I usually take them on a winery tour, take them out for pinchos on Calle Laurel and walk them to the top of Monte Cantabria where you have an amazing view of the entire city.
Sincerely, Spain: What would be your top advice for people looking to move to Logroño?
Nina: Brush up on your Spanish beforehand. Since this region is smaller, you will encounter lots of people who don’t speak much English. It can be difficult if you don’t know some Spanish. You of course don’t have to be fluent before coming, but expect to be in situations where you have to use your Spanish. On the upside, Logroño is a great place to live if you want to improve your Spanish!
Sincerely, Spain: What is your relationship with Spanish?
Nina: I would say that I’m fluent in Spanish. While I learned a bit in high school, I really got serious about studying it seven years ago. I was planning to spend a year in Nicaragua, so I found a teacher in my city to take weekly classes with. My year in Nicaragua got cut short, but I happened to find a job in my hometown coordinating an ESL program for Spanish speakers. I spoke Spanish daily in that position with my clients. It was an amazing place to really improve my Spanish because most of my clients were really patient with me. They were in my country, so I think they were just appreciative that I was speaking to them in their language even if it wasn’t perfect. I also loved that I could both practice my Spanish and help people.
After a year of working that job, I moved to Spain. Speaking Spanish with people who couldn’t speak English was the best thing for my Spanish, so I sought out situations like that here in Spain. Living with Spanish-speakers was my biggest deal-breaker. I remember looking at a flat where one of the roommates was a language assistant like me and I turned it down because it wasn’t quite the immersive experience I wanted. I’ve always had Spanish roommates, I spent a year living with a Spanish family and now I live with my Spanish boyfriend. So I’m not fluent by chance. I’m fluent because I always put myself in situations where I have to speak.
In short, I love the Spanish language. It was definitely a big part of why I moved here. I speak it everyday and am always eager to learn new words and expressions.
Sincerely, Spain: Is there anything you would change about Logroño if you could?
Nina: The weather isn’t my favorite thing. It can get cold and rainy in the winter. This past summer, it took forever to warm up. I know that the South can get too hot in the summer, but I would love to have something in the middle.
Sincerely, Spain: What are your future plans?
Nina: I see myself in Logroño for the long-run. Before meeting my boyfriend, I knew I wanted to be in Spain for the long-run as I loved the country, language and culture. I don’t know if I would have chosen Logroño out of all the amazing cities in Spain, but it’s a place where I’ve made a life for myself. I have an amazing community here and am happy.
As far as a career goes, teaching English is a thing I know I can always do here since I’m a native speaker with experience. I’m sure I’ll at least always have students, even if they’re just students I teach privately. I’d love to turn my blog and writing into something a bit more profitable.