Expat files: Giovanna Tapia in Castilla y Leon

The next totally rad expat that I want to introduce you all to is Giovanna. She’s based in Castilla y Leon in a city called Valladolid (the rival to my city, Burgos) Giovanna is a bubbly globetrotter taking on the European continent while she is here. She has traveled to Hungary, Turkey, France, and Austria to name a few but she is here to answer a few questions about Spain.

I’ll let her take it away.


A bit about me: I’m a recent(ish) graduate from the University of Washington in Seattle, where I studied Business Marketing and minored in Law, Societies, and Justice. Following graduation I worked in human resources for about a year where I was- to be honest- left completely disillusioned with the corporate world in the states. I’d previously studied abroad in England during college and felt a strong conviction to get back to Europe for longer than just a couple of months, so I began to research ways to legally work across the pond. I stumbled upon this program on Google and decided to take the leap of faith and quit everything back home to come teach English in Spain:) I chronicle some of my adventures, thoughts, and recommendations on my blog; sinceramentegigi.wordpress.com

1) Why did you choose Spain?

I was actually looking into ways to work in the UK, but after realizing that it is near impossible for a recent university graduate to obtain a UK work visa, I stumbled upon this program on Google! I’d visited Spain two years earlier and had also loved it, so I decided that although it wasn’t the UK, it’d be a great way to continue traveling, practice my Spanish, and step outside of my comfort zone!

Streets of Valladolid 

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

Valladolid is the capital of the Castilla y Leon region, with a population of about 300,000. Despite the fact that it’s a relatively big city, it has got a really small town feel- I always finding myself bumping into people I know around the city. It’s not very touristy since it’s not the most beautiful city per se, but that means that it’s more authentically Spanish in a lot of ways since it hasn’t been changed or ‘westernized’ to appeal to the tourism industry.

Plaza Mayor 

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

The biggest obstacle was definitely adjusting to the lack of efficiency and slower pace of life here. In Seattle, and the states in general, I’d say there’s more tendency towards a lifestyle that promotes instant gratification. Life in Valladolid is nothing like that- if you’re desperately craving a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream on a Sunday but didn’t have the foresight to buy it before, then you’re out of luck because everything is closed on Sunday’s. This of course extends to life in general- not just grocery purchases- but it’s a simple way to exemplify the leisurely pace of life here. I’m not the most patient person so it’s been a bit of an adjustment, but at the very least I think it’s been a great learning experience.12821981_1101314059891641_1172995964_n

4). Describe Spain in 4 words.

Beautiful, informal, carefree, diverse, and old-fashioned (that’s the fifth word and it’s hyphenated, does it count? Haha)

5). What is one thing you wish you knew before moving to Spain?

People say this all the time- but pack less!! I brought way too much unnecessary junk that I could have easily bought here. Especially clothes- you can buy almost anything here (and often times it’s cheaper than in the states). More importantly though, the thing that I had to learn the hard way was to never send expensive electronics to Spain via USPS. Basically, what happened was that the new iPhone 6s didn’t officially come out until after I left the states, so I had my sister send it over to me in Spain because I just had to have it. It ended taking multiple trips to Madrid, about 180 euros in taxes and fees, lots of phone calls, and plenty of tears to finally get my iPhone. Not worth it at all, I wish I would have just bought it here (or waited to get a brand new spanking iPhone).


Now go follow her on her blog and Instagram 🙂 (Teaser….. she’s got amazing photos!)

Hasta luego!


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