I have to say, there definitely is a plus to being a double citizen and bilingual. There will never be a day that does not go by I won’t thank my Mom for teaching me Spanish, for making sure I got to meet the culture and experience the lifestyle of Spain.
My earliest memories are in Spain, and having moved as many times as I have, when asked the question, “where are you from?”, Madrid has always been the easiest answer. To me, Spain was the only place that stayed constant for the longest time. It was the only place I could go back to and knew people, had stories to share and have people know me for who I was and not having to start all over. That now, has changed. Last summer was the first time I had been in five years, and people change. I changed.
There is a funny place I am stuck in between. In America, I will always be known as “the Spaniard”. My funny little sayings, way I word things, my dance moves, obsession with seafood, my late night social coffee, my “work to live not live to work” theory, tend to be all that Spanish outlook. In Spain, I will always be “the American”. Growing up in the suburbs, I’ve relied so much on cars to get everywhere that I am not a pro when it comes to public transportation. These are silly little differences I’ve noticed between each country. In America, when I tell my friends something they do in Spain differently, I’m looked with a face of “that’s weird” and I get the same thing in Spain.
It’s a struggle as well. When I tend to start speaking in Spanish to my mom, people who don’t know stop in shock and stare in awe (no, the look upon your face does not make me feel like a weird looking animal at all). On top of that, when they finally know what language I am speaking, they are able to utter “you don’t look Spanish at all”. You can’t just look at someone and tell where they are from, especially nowadays. My hair color, skin complexion or any of that does not define where I come from nor where I grew up and what culture I believe defines me.
But I will never be able to deny I love having met two cultures that are so different. It has made me more open to people, differences and ideas. I like the fact that knowing these two languages, learning other languages is easier. The languages have opened doors for me multiple times.
When I was younger, I was told that when I turned 18 I would have to choose between citizenships. In all honesty, I don’t think I would have been able to make that decision if the law had not changed (hence, now I am allowed to hold both citizenships). I would have been forced into choosing which country I was living in at the moment (which as of now, is America).
So a quick shout out to my parents for opening my eyes to the world, for making sure that no matter how hard it was going to be, I would learn both languages fluently and be culturally diverse.
Yo soy una española. I am an American.