Expat files: Macey Hallstedt in Extremadura

There are plenty of super cool expats here in Spain. Most people who decide to move to a foreign country are open-minded, fun, and maybe just an overall bad ass. I feel very lucky to have met some and connected with others on social media. Moving to a foreign country can be a little intimidating but it´s a hell of a lot easier when you know that there are people just like you out there. So I thought I´d introduce some of these charismatic travelers on my blog so you can hear their story. Maybe their story is similar to yours and it can help you with any problems you´re facing or questions you may have. For me I find it so interesting that people love exploring just as much as I do. I´ve asked a few expats some questions and I´m linking their blogs below. Follow along and let´s meet them.
The first awesome blogger in Spain I want to introduce is a fellow Midwesterner Macey Hallstedt hailing from Michigan
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Her background: I never knew how thoroughly American I was until I moved to Spain. I enjoy sports (especially tennis and volleyball), reading, hiking, eating, cooking, and hammocking. I will go very far out of my way for a good hike or some excellent live music. But Spaniards call me an anciana because I love drinking tea, going to bed early, and am the biggest friolera you will ever meet.

 

1). Why did you choose Spain?

I chose to move to Spain for many reasons of varying rationality. Besides the obvious urge to travel, I love learning about and trying to understand other cultures. My desire to travel is partially because I am curious and partially because it is my life mission to make myself as open-minded and flexible as possible. But on a more practical level, I have studied Spanish my whole life. I spent three months studying and living in Costa Rica and have visited Mexico a few times. I had learned so much about Latin American culture and language, but nothing of its origins, Spain. I thought it was time to change that. Also, when I applied I was 21 and about to graduate from the University of Michigan. Being debt-free, bilingual, and, let’s be honest, fucking terrified of finding a 9-5 and wasting my life away, I thought this would be a good way to postpone “real life” for a while. I was right!

2). Can you tell us a little bit about where you are located in Spain?

I am located in a little medieval mountain town called Plasencia, in the mostly rural province of Extremadura. I am surprised by how much I love it. Coming from a decently sized city in Michigan, moving to a small city of 50,000 inhabitants is very relaxing for me. I love the chill vibe of the city. It is small enough to provide the safe, homey feeling but big enough not to feel suffocated. For example, when I first moved here, everyone would ask me where I was from and then why I was here. I would say “estoy aqui para enseñar ingles” and they would say something along the lines of “no, I know why you’re here, but why are you HERE?” They meant it in a nice way, and always ended the conversation wishing me well in the classroom and hoping I enjoy it. The Plasencians I meet are usually very welcoming, from teachers inviting me for lunch to hiking buddies inviting me asparagus-picking.

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A view of her city
I am also learning more and more that Plasencia is actually becoming a bit of a hippie city, all over you see yoga studios, stores for fancy organic cosmetics and food, and the people here are really into hiking and nature. Plasencia is in a mountain valley, so anywhere you go there are lovely views and hikes nearby for those with their own transportation. I have gone on many excursions with some of the local hiking clubs and it is always a day well-spent.
Plasencia is also potentially the cheapest city in Spain to live in. My rent each month is 150€ and I can eat like a queen for 30€ per week or less. One of my favorite things about living here is the fresh fruit scene (laugh away, but it is dope).  I can go to the fruterìa and FILL my backpack with stuff and it always ends up being like 6€.
The only downsides about this town are the connectivity (if I have a flight out of Madrid any time before evening I usually have to spend the night in Madrid) and the sports scene. Because I don’t play fútbol, it has been kind of difficult for me to find random drop-in groups to play with.

3). What was the biggest obstacle when you moved to Spain?

Not to evade your question about my biggest obstacle in moving to Spain, but I found my transition to be quite seamless. Profex is a clusterfuck, but I just read manuals, used the Aux group for support, and was very deliberate about following all instructions. I had studied Spanish extensively in high school and college so I could express myself decently well and didn’t have to worry about that too much. I read many blogs from more experienced auxiliars before moving here and made notes in my journal about the tips and tricks they suggested. I used Couchsurfing when I first got here to find a place (in my opinion, Couchsurfing is probably the most underrated tool we have in living this expat life – MAKE USE OF IT PEOPLE!) so that was no problem. All in all, I think if you have your shit together and make sure to keep yourself informed, the move should not be too much to handle.
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Macey hiking in Montserrat with another couchsurfer

4). Describe Spain in three words.

welcoming, inefficient, mañana

5). What is one thing you wish you knew before you moved here?

The one thing I wish I knew before I moved here is how much I would change. Before living abroad for so long, I had always considered my personality to be so fixed. But now, I feel like a different person completely. All of a sudden my identity has been stripped of some very important aspects. For example, as a lifelong talker and communications major, being able to express myself clearly with nuance has always been integral to who I am. Now, always working in my second language means I am wayyyyyy less funny/witty/confident in my communication abilities in my everyday life, which is a strange adjustment. Also, having always been an athlete, it is a little weird for me to all of a sudden not have practice or pickup games, or something to train for. But I guess that’s what growing up is like. I have traveled extensively before, but setting up a whole new life on a different continent always yields way more change than we expect.
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She makes bungee jumping look so effortless (In Plasencia)
About her blog:
 Her blog is called MaverickMacey (as is her instagram) and it’s kind of a compendium of all her intellectual activities. She likes writing about travel, life (philosophies, lessons, etc), and things she cares about, like feminism, books, languages, hiking, cultures, etc. 
Now go check out her blog!

 

 

And stay tuned for more awesome expat stories.

Hasta luego!

 

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