Recently I read a running post where the said person, a fellow Brit told the tale of their hot weather UK run. I all but burst out aloud laughing when they said it was f’ing hot. 24C. That’s leggings and t-shirt or shorts, t-shrit and jacket warm. 11 years ago 24C would have been hot for me too.
This next August will mark 11 years an ex pat. 11 years living in some kind of surreal is it real life bubble that many ex pats live in (Marta Live In China explains it better). It’s real life because you live it, but it’s not the culture or language you grew up with. Or the climate.
After 11 years I realised after reading the aforementioned post, I’ve acclimatise. I wrap in a duvet coat and scarf in the winter like the locals, think 8C is cold, cold (it can hit 0 and under around 3-8am in the winter, but the sun soon warms that up). In the UK that’s autumnal weather. Spring time, I feel the chill at 18-20C. That’s cold summer UK temps. In the summer months, shorts and tanks, dressy tanks or cami tops are my staples. I hardly wear sandals, I wear trainers like so many girls do here. You can always spot a British or American on summer hols by their shoes. Cute sandals that kill your feet at the end of the day from all the walking.
I’ve noticed that in the winter when I’m wrapped up, I’m spoken to in Spanish. She must live here as she feels the cold like us! In the summer however’s a different story. Being strawberry blonde, pale and because it takes me all summer to get a tan that Spanish get in a week, people automatically assume I’m here on holiday. Mostly in shops. I don’t mind, but it does bother me. Don’t judge me because I’m pale! I can speak Spanish (kinda, some will debate that. I’m nowhere near fluent, but know enough to get around), I’ve lived here for nearly 1/3 of my life and every year’s the same. I usually respond in Spanish and they switch automatically back to Spanish. Some insist on continuing to talk in English, I continue to talk back in Spanish until they get the message, Esta chica puede hablar español. Vale. While none speak to me French, I’m nearly always mistaken for French before they think British, which I don’t mind. I’ve been asked if I’m Italian, Spanish, French, German, Brazilian (wild one I know. That was by a Brazilian lady as to her, my Spanish accent sounds Brazilian. I’ll take that).
I did feel a little sorry of the girl in Sephora the other day. When I went up the till, I can’t remember what she said, but it was in English. I say in Spanish please and she looked taken aback. She then noticed my Sephora card and was all apologetic. Oh it’s because you’re blonde I thought you were extranjera! Technically yes and this lead onto me saying in winter I’m addressed in Spanish as I’m wrapped up like you, but in summer you think as I’m pale I’m automatically a tourist! Not every pale blonde walking in here’s a tourist!
On a side note I have noticed that it’s more the non Spanish who immediately talk in English with me. Even if I talk to them first. Have I got doesn’t speak Spanish well written across my face? Anyways, after 11 years, I’ve acclimatised and am forever a beach lover. I’ve no idea how those inland deal with 32C+ heat.
Do you get mistaken for a stereotype that couldn’t be further from it?