Some tips to make you feel at home when living the expat life or studying abroad for a while.
Having been away from the UK since 1998 I have adjusted well to life in Spain but occasionally I like to enjoy British things and a few home comforts.
Here are a couple of ideas:
- Magazine subscription – This may seem a little outdated now with Internet and new technology. For me receiving a glossy magazine once a month from the UK is a real treat. A yearly subscription makes a nice birthday gift for someone too. This way I keep up to date with UK shops and trends. I´m currently subscribed to UK Glamour magazine.
- Visit Britain. When you travel home to the UK, make sure you fit in some time to do a little tourism. I actually know Spain better than UK now and like to learn things about Britain when I´m there.
- I have never got used to watching Spanish Television programmes. (no further comments required ) There are several possibilities to watch UK TV when away from home, cheap or even free solutions. You may install a satellite service or TV Box. But a cheaper and quicker solution is a UK Proxy tool on your PC or Laptop. Again some are free and others charge a monthly fee. The Apple iPad has access to BBC´s iplayer for a small fee or you can use a free app to see real time TV.
- Listen to your favourite radio personalities. Danny Baker, Scott Mills, Simon Mayo, Chris Evans… You can listen online on your computer or download podcasts to your MP3 player, tablet or computer for free. My personal favourite for keeping up to date are Vanessa Feltz on Radio London & Scott Mills Daily which I listen to each morning.
- Bake! Nothing like baking a batch of scones or a lovely shepherds pie to feel at home. I have my BE-RO cookbook that we have passed down in my family and often bake something from it. You can purchase Self Raising Flour in many places. If you go to Carrefour you can buy British brands of SR Flour. Mercadona also sell SR Flour, called Harina de Trigo con Levadura. You may also use plain flour and Royal baking powder which can be found anyway in Spain to substitute SR Flour in a recipe.
- There are many different ways to get British Food when abroad, some places have a healty expat community in Spain, Costa del Sol, Alicante area etc and have their own English supermarkets. In Marbella at La Cañada there is M&S with the supermarket part. But also other multinational chains carry favourite UK brands, my local Carrefour has several lines in a separate area with Weetabix, British jams and teas and other items. It is also worth checking the supermarket at El Corte Ingles and their Club del Gourmet for British items. When I travel to UK I occasionally bring back things that have a long use by date or that are light in weight such as soup sachets or drinks sachets. You can also see suppliers on line that deliver to you home if you are in a more remote area.
- Books in English. Buy Online at Books 4 Spain. A great specialist bookstore with books in English about Spanish history culture and even Cuisine. Now with Kindle and ebooks it gives another alternative for international readers, buying e-books. They are also lighter to carry! Again in more popular expat areas there are International book shops or second hand bookshops where take your old books to if no longer needed.
- Another way to purchase from the UK is on EBay, you can purchase online second hand goods, nearly new and new items at outlet prices. I have been using eBay ever since I arrived in Spain and have had very few problems. The only issues tend to be when purchasing from Non UK buyers. If you are inexperienced in EBay best to select sellers in Britain or Ireland (Please avoid non European sellers if you are new as there could be customs paperwork needed) I have even purchased gifts online and had them delivered directly to family in UK to avoid high postal costs of heavy items from Spain.
- Birthday cards. In Spain (and possibly other countries) it is almost impossible to purchase Greetings cards that are appropriate. Most of them seem to feature Garfield or Minnie Mouse ; ) My tip is to buy all the years greetings cards when you travel to UK . Spend an hour in the card shop and choose all the birthday cards and anniversary cards that you need then. I also buy a couple of blank cards or generic congratulations or Thank You cards too. This way it makes it a lot easier to send when the date comes around. You can also purchase greetings cards online, I have bought from EBay and it worked out pretty well.
- Search online. There is heaps of advice on line in blogs and on twitter. You can find a huge support network among Expats. Look for groups in the area where you live too there´s sure to someone not too far away with sometime interesting to share.
There´s no need to say that you should look out for a British or Irish pub nearby as I´m sure you’ve already done that but these places can be a great place to start to get information or meet people who know about the local area.
Not all these tips may seem useful to you but some of them certainly have helped me ´Keep calm and carry on´
I´m based in Granada now, I have previously lived in Barcelona, most of these tips are relevant for Spain although some may help people in other countries too. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them!
A day in the life of Do you want to know what a typical day in my Expat Life in Spain is like.
Click on the link to read on you might be surprised….