It occurred to me today that this whole “living in another country” lark, whether for full-timers or part-timers, would be massively harder without my trusty laptop and the dear old internet.
I use the internet to support and enhance my move to Spain in dozens of ways, many that I wouldn’t even notice (I put the description of how to re-start the water heater into a blog post so I’d always be able to find the instructions!). I think the main ones are these:
- Research. Finding out the basics like how to get an NIE number and a bank account, how to transfer money, and how much properties cost this month, would have been infinitely more complicated (and slower) without the internet.
- Finance. Now of course we have internet banking, enabling us to make payments that fall due in England or Spain on the right date, from the right bank account.
- Language. I’m sure many of us have used the internet for at least part of our Spanish language, whether it’s those little exercises on the BBC language website, or just searching for free or low-cost classes in our new home area. And then there’s the translation sites – invaluable for checking exactly what the letter from Endesa is saying.
- ExPat Forums. These are invaluable for the preliminary research, and for ongoing queries about paperwork or other practicalities. However there’s a warning – some of them are rather full of people determined to have the last word! I’m fairly regular on Eye on Spain, but would be interested to hear about any other forums that people have found useful.
- Facebook. So much more than just a network of friends! Once I worked out to start searching for Groups and Pages relevant to Spain, Andalucía, and the Axarquía región, I discovered all sorts of places to go, blogs to read, récipes to cook, walks to go on, and even people to meet.
- Keeping in Touch. But most importantly, the computer and the internet keep me in contact with people who are nearby and those who are far away. Facebook again is invaluable. Those little updates, however trivial, enable me to picture a friend in their garden, their shop, their kitchen, their art studio, at work or at a business breakfast, out with the dogs or visiting the hospital. We share information about the weather and our day, and we play Words With Friends. Even a silly wordgame with a long-lost friend in Australia keeps her in my thoughts. Daily contact with people who are important to me, just through a glance at Facebook in the morning with a mug of tea in bed – priceless. Emails, so much easier (and faster) than letters. Photos arriving instantly following a big event. It keeps me in the loop, makes me feel less of a deserter. So on my visits back to England, we can pick up straight away, as though I’ve never been away.
I almost wonder just how possible it all would have been before the internet. Well of course it WAS possible, as millions of people did it!
But now we have much greater expectations of connectivity. Working the net has enabled me to not only keep my existing networks alive, but develop new ones. Thanks to the internet I have joined a choir in Spain (and collected the music via DropBox) and from a local co-blogger I have got a wonderful recipe for “patatas pobres” to fill the freezer (see yummy picture)..
Slowly I am building new networks. Not instead of old networks though, but as well as those. I’m casting my net further afield, and enjoying what I’m catching.
© Tamara Essex 2012