Becoming an Expat in Spain

Neighborhood haunt in San Sebastián, Spain
Neighborhood haunt in San Sebastián, Spain

Season 2 kicks off with a discussion of our impending move to San Sebastián – Donostia in the Spanish Basque Country. I share some of the motivations, thoughts, and emotions behind the decision to pull up the roots and become an expat. 

Interrupting a well-developed career arc and living in another country for a year was not part of the typical life stories I heard when growing up. These types of narratives were associated with 20th century artists and bohemians such as Ernest Hemingway and Jack Kerouac. That said, the impulse to take extended time off or become a digital nomad is now a more common trend with younger generations that came of age in the 21st century.

In this episode, I explain why I am taking a risk, interrupting a stable life, and embedding myself in a different culture and way of life. I explore the key reasons sparking this move and my attitude about the life-altering risks.

Some of the themes discussed include:

  1. Rescuing the role of leisure and idleness from a worldview that regards them as suspect,
  2. Nurturing the value of our time in the world, and
  3. Unpacking the meaning of “creativity.”

I also share why the Spanish Basque Country became the front-runner and what living in Spain will mean for the future of this site and podcast.

Basque countryside near Atxondo, Spain
Basque countryside near Atxondo, Spain

Friends who bit the bullet and undertook similar adventures have been a source of inspiration to me. I hope sharing my own story will bring inspiration and practical value for those of you nurturing a similar idea. Please pose questions or share stories in the comments section since I read them all and would love the dialogue.

Night time in Bilbao, Spain
Night time in Bilbao, Spain

Episode Links

The Land of the Basques – an Orson Welles documentary from 1955

How We Spend Our Days Is How We Spend Our Lives: Annie Dillard on Choosing Presence Over Productivity” – from Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings site

The Basque History of the World by Mark Kurlansky (Amazon)

The Philosophy of Creativity” – Scientific American

Podcast intro music: “Mister S” by Luc Marcotte
Podcast exit music: “Park Bench” by Gunnar Olsen
Photography © by Eric Parkinson
Taken with a Fujifilm X-T1

3 Replies to “Becoming an Expat in Spain”

  1. Norene Sandifer says:

    I envy your decision and wish for a rewind in my own life, 25 years would do just fine. That being said, I will create/plan some less ambitious adventures in my future. I am so happy for you and Laura and excited to hear your expat experiences.

  2. Carsmella says:

    Great podcast Eric! Made me wonder if reflection is simply the ultimate pursuit for many. Cesar Chavez spent sunny Santa Clara Saturday mornings in my Nana’s kitchen enjoying her chorizo creations. He said, “Our language is the reflection of ourselves. A language is an exact reflection of the character and growth of its speakers.” Hopefully (re)immersion in the Spanish language and culture will spark growth of new reflections.

    Sending positive travel wishes to you both.

  3. Hello!

    My partner and I moved from Seattle to Spain in August. We currently have a one year visa and are currently in San Sebastian. We are moving around the country over the next year in hopes of finding our forever home. As we have landed in Donostia for the next month I can say it honestly feels like home, not only considering the weather but the culture as well. I am very excited to have come across your site and if you are here and would like to go for drinks and pintxo let us know. It would be fun to exchange stories.

    All the best,
    Tiffany (& MJ)

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