24 In Adventures/ Destinations/ Europe/ Journal

7 Things I Missed About New York While Abroad In Spain

Going from the busy, fast paced and diverse lifestyle in New York to a small, coastal suburb outside of Valencia, Spain took a bit of getting used to at first. New York City is always buzzing with people, places and things, so you tend to have a bit of FOMO (or ‘fear of missing out’) if you’re not out and about enjoying yourself. Whilst in Spain, I let go of all those qualms and eventually started to enjoy the laid-back, relaxed lifestyle of the Spaniards. But being in a new country for two months, you can’t help but compare it to your hometown and feel nostalgic. Here were a few things I missed about New York while I was living abroad in Spain.

1. 24-Hour Transit System

Not having to worry about catching the last train to get home is a blessing living in New York. There’s never a last train because the system always runs, every hour of the day and night, during weekdays and weekends. In Valencia, however, the metro only stays open until 2am, which might not seem like a disservice to a lot of people in smaller cities. Spaniards (and most Europeans for that matter) like to party all night long and into the morning just so they can take the earliest train back home. Personally, I  like my sleep, so there were countless of times when I had to take an expensive cab to get back home once I called it an (early) night!

2. Not having a formal city center

Most parts of Manhattan are bustling with people, shops and restaurants, even if you wander around residential areas like the Upper West Side or TriBeCa. There will always be something to do or somewhere to explore no matter what area of the city you’re in. In the suburb I was living in near Valencia, I was closer to the mountains, meaning there was nothing around or anything that convenient to get to. My trip into the commercial city center, whether to have a drink with friends, a coffee or to go shopping, was always about a 20 minute drive. A bit different for someone from a big city where every step is a step into madness, chaos and activity.

3. Abundance of convenience stores (Walgreens, CVS, Delis)

Bodegas and delis are some of the things I will always miss about NYC when I leave it. If there was anything I needed whether it be a light snack, a water or toiletries, back home, I could have easily just popped into a convenience store to find anything and everything I needed without having to enter a huge supermarket…like I had to do in Valencia. One day, I spent almost 2 hours searching for a pair of socks after having been at the beach all day, praying a makeshift Walgreens would appear somewhere. 🙂 In the end, I had to go into an H&M 15 minutes away from where I was just so I could buy the socks, haha.

4. Opportunities to attend art galleries, concerts & other outdoor activities

Even though Valencia is the 3rd largest city in Spain, home to tons of fun activities and gorgeous art, history and architecture, nothing really compares to NYC’s vast art scene. Of course, I know that comparing a city of 8 million to one of 700,000 can’t truly compare. Normally, I spend a lot of my free time going to art galleries and concerts in the city and definitely felt like I was missing out whilst in Spain for the first few weeks, but I can happily say that being in Spain during Fallas made up for it big time! At home, the festival wouldn’t be possible and feel as community oriented like it does in Spain.

5. Earlier dinner times 

Spaniards tend to have very late dinners, eating at 9pm just before heading out for the night or going to sleep. It was very different for me to get used to, since in the US (generally), dinner is usually served and eaten at around 6 or 7pm, with a small coffee and sweet treat at around 9pm before giving the stomach a break for the rest of the evening and into the morning.

6. Store hours and ‘siestas’

Between 4-6 pm stores, shops, restaurants and supermarkets are closed for siestas every day, which is very different, but anticipated, from what I’m used where everything is open all day (with some places open 24 hours; we are the ‘city that never sleeps‘ after all). In Spain, by 4pm, if I wanted to have a quick bite to eat or do some shopping, there would rarely be anything open. And on Sundays, everything is closed. I did appreciate how tranquil everything felt during this time, however, which would never be the case in New York (as 4-6 are some of the busiest hours of the afternoon). While I did enjoy the serenity of the city at these hours, it sure took some getting used to silence.

7. Diversity

There aren’t too many non-Spaniards living in Valencia and even less of a diverse age demographic in the small town I was living in. It took a bit of time getting used to the children, young teens or middle-aged adults around me, who have set schedules and don’t usually stay out late (even past 10 pm, like I wanted to.) I was lucky enough to be in Valencia during Fallas, a week celebration of firecrackers, fireworks and flames (more on that in another post), so there was a lot more diversity and people from distinct walks of life than usual. What I really love about New York is the tons of ethnicities, races, and different types of people that bring all types of cultures together to make New York the ‘melting pot’ that it is established to be. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the Spanish culture and learning more about the Spaniards’ way of life, too.

What do you miss most about your home when you travel away? Let us know in the comments below and make sure to subscribe for more content!

xoxo

signi

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24 Comments

  • Reply
    Sol Solntze
    April 21, 2017 at 8:23 PM

    I’m afraid that what I mostly miss when abroad is food. Namely, sausages and cheese. But I certainly goot a good look at both Valencia and New York from this. I can see the attraction of both!

    • Reply
      Michelle
      April 26, 2017 at 4:15 AM

      I had the same worry when I went abroad, Sol! I was quite surprised about how much variety Valencia had since NYC has so many eclectic restaurants but the Valencian food was amazing! Searching for good places to eat online helps a lot with that too.

  • Reply
    Natalia
    April 22, 2017 at 12:14 AM

    New York City is on my bucket list as well as Valencia. I can feel how much you miss NYC in your vivid discriptions, which I’ve read. NYC is now # 1 and I hope to visit it soon.

    • Reply
      Michelle
      April 26, 2017 at 4:17 AM

      I love NYC a lot. It will always be my home and what I’m accustomed to, but there are things I miss about Valencia too, especially how much they enjoy their leisure time. Look out for a post about what I miss about Valencia soon!

  • Reply
    Justine
    April 25, 2017 at 7:03 PM

    Although I have only been in NYC once, I fell in love with it instantly and constantly dream about living there someday! Lucky you that you were from NYC and now lives in beautiful Spain! <3

  • Reply
    Ania
    April 25, 2017 at 7:10 PM

    I moved from Toronto to a small town in Sweden a few years ago. Even though Toronto doesn’t have a completely 24-hour transit system, it’s 1000x better than my current town’s. It’s definitely something I miss about big city life too.

  • Reply
    Shaun
    April 26, 2017 at 3:38 AM

    I have missed my own bed at times but generally I think about my old desk job and don’t miss home anymore.

    Shaun
    http://www.thislifeintrips.com

  • Reply
    Maxime
    April 26, 2017 at 12:51 PM

    New York is an amazing city! I agreed with the points you mentioned. But I think if I would miss a lot of things if I would have to move from Europe to there. Food is the first one of course 🙂 But also the old buildings (like churches…) and the calm. As you say New York never sleeps and the noise is constant (that’s what I experienced) I like that European capital cities like Paris or Roma are quite calm during the weekend 🙂

  • Reply
    Eleonore
    April 26, 2017 at 9:31 PM

    These are some of the same things I would miss about London if I left (even though it’s certainly not home!), especially the city’s diversity! 🙂

    http://www.eleonoreeverywhere.com

  • Reply
    Emily
    April 26, 2017 at 10:00 PM

    I totally know where you are coming from with the earlier dinner time point! When I lived in Mallorca, I couldn’t ever quite get used to the 10pm dinner, and then casual drinks at 11pm… when in the UK all the pubs close at 11pm! I think you always miss some things from your home when you live somewhere else. When I lived in Spain I missed so many little things about the UK, and now I live in the USA I miss things from Spain! I definitely have never missed the UK weather though 😉

  • Reply
    Jill at Reading the Book
    April 26, 2017 at 11:04 PM

    Sometimes it takes living abroad to appreciate home, haha! Coming from New York you are definitely spoiled… but it’s good to see the world and have it to come home to!

  • Reply
    Steph Liao
    April 26, 2017 at 11:25 PM

    Nice! I went to Spain last year and was living in NYC at the time – I couldn’t get used to the late dinners either! Everyone rags on the grossness of the New York subway, but people who live there don’t know how lucky they are to have a 24-hour system!

  • Reply
    The Curious Creature
    April 26, 2017 at 11:30 PM

    Oh yes — those late dinners. But the tapas make it worthwhile in my books!! Yum

  • Reply
    Amber
    April 27, 2017 at 12:42 AM

    Sounds like Valencia is the opposite of NYC, which happens to be one of my favorite cities. The public transit thing is so critical when traveling, which is one reason why I love the city that never sleeps! I’m sure it was frustrating with the shops being closed in teh afternoon, but at least you can get a siesta in! 🙂

  • Reply
    Ressa
    April 27, 2017 at 4:21 AM

    Ahh, yes! There’s nothing like the Big Apple! I’m sure you’re also finding things about Spain that you do enjoy as well! 🙂 Glad to have read your post- I’m planning a trip to NYC soon!

    Ressa
    @ressamazing

  • Reply
    Fillia Barden
    April 27, 2017 at 7:56 AM

    I know exactly how it feels when you miss store hours. I’m from Indonesia where most store open till 9pm and many restaurants open for 24 hours. Here in UK.. oh dear you know it.

    ♥ Fillia
    @thereforewego

  • Reply
    Ro
    April 27, 2017 at 9:13 PM

    I hear ya! Native NYC’er here and I always compare Manhattan to the places I move to. I just moved to a small town in Italy so you can imagine I’m reliving much of the same experiences as you. I miss international food delivery the most!

  • Reply
    Liana
    April 27, 2017 at 9:27 PM

    Been to New York and Valencia already, and it’s so different, you’re right. Plus, living abroad is quite an incredible experience but you’re starting to miss home for a couple of things you’re being blessed with – I totally agree regarding the transportation and the convenient stores – I live in Paris and when I moved to Tel Aviv, I kind of miss those convenient stores when I get back to Paris. Here everything stops past 10pm!

  • Reply
    Christina
    April 28, 2017 at 4:10 PM

    When we were in italy it took us forever to get used to the siestas. Why did stores close between 2 – 4 for Italy. We had no clue but they also closed on sunday. That took a lot of getting used to. I miss the small town feel when I leave. Where everyone sort of knows everyone.

    • Reply
      Michelle
      April 30, 2017 at 5:09 PM

      I think the community feeling is always great wherever you go and that tends to get lost sometimes in big cities!

  • Reply
    Priya
    April 28, 2017 at 10:13 PM

    A lot of times when I am abroad I miss food the most as I don’t eat meat. New York is lot like Mumbai, India. 24 hours transit system, so many activities taking place all the time. Make the best of your travel when you are abroad. Each city will give you some new experiences. I have been to New York and I love that city a lot…. 🙂

    • Reply
      Michelle
      May 4, 2017 at 4:13 AM

      I don’t eat meat as well! There were plenty of vegetarian-friendly restaurants in Valencia, surprisingly since they love their meat and fish. Of course, Valencia doesn’t have as much variety as NYC but I took what I could get. I would love to visit Mumbai one day!

  • Reply
    Melissa @ The Family Voyage
    May 1, 2017 at 5:49 AM

    I can never get used to so much in Catholic countries of Europe being closed on Sunday! (Even more madenning is that nearly *everything* in Jerusalem is closed for Shabbat by law… try being a pregnant lady just arrived to town at 4pm on a Friday.)

  • Reply
    zz day
    September 2, 2017 at 6:24 AM

    The randomness of it all, and the amount of things I can do, only if I can find time to. Even what I hate, I miss it in another way.

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