Where’s Spain?

I didn’t realize it until recently, but Spain is relatively unknown to most Americans as compared with France or Italy, because people don’t know it is a European country.

I am not even kidding. Consider the following occurrences, all within the last 2 months:

A client of mine I’ve been working with for over a year, who knows I am sometimes in the states and sometimes in a place called Spain, responded with “Oh wow, have fun in Europe, what are you doing there?” after I informed her over the phone that I was no longer in the US but was calling from Europe in that moment.

Now remember, she knew I lived in Spain. And yet was asking me what I was doing in Europe, as if it was an exciting new trip.

Confused at first, the question does she not know where Spain is…? creeped into my head, so I tested her with “Well, I live here sometimes, you know that”. Sure enough, the response was “But I thought you lived in Spain?…”

long pause

“OH! Gosh, I thought you were in South America somewhere. I don’t know what I was thinking.”

Another fine example: A woman I worked with last year contacted me the to see about my availability for a project, and asked me to remind her where I live. I said Europe, and she responded, “Oh yes I remember. Brazil, right?”

Yet another: In a peer meeting/interview for a project via Skype, the interviewer asked me (rather haughtily I might add), “So you live in like, Mexico or something?” when she saw that my city of residence is Barcelona.


And don’t even get me started on the responses I get from random people in Starbucks and in shopping malls.

It sure stands in stark contrast to the replies of “OOOOH you are sooo LUCKY!” when I lived in Italy. But that is a whole different story.


7 thoughts on “Where’s Spain?

  1. Well, I’ve lived here in Spain for almost 25 years, and I have an equally mind-boggling collection of bizarre comments by educated, middle class people. A friend of mine who had a secretarial job in El Palacio de la Moncloa (the White House/10 Downing of Spain for those who don’t know Spain) was telling a co-worker that he had gotten a job in Jamaica. “Wow, great beaches, the Pacific Ocean, reggae…” “No, Jamaica, in the Caribbean..”Yeah, Jamaica, with the hula and volcanoes and Rastafarians…” Turns out co-worker had totally fused Jamaica and Hawaii and located it somewhere near Samoa. Then there are the students who ask me if the New York subway goes to Washington D.C. (the two cities are 200 miles apart). Or the friend – who has been to New York – who staunchly insists that it’s part of Boston. Or the waiter who asked an American friend of mine, who had been a regular customer for years, “What language do you people speak over there? German, right?” Or the people who ask me about driving from the East Coast to California; “If we left before breakfast, could we make it in time for dinner in L.A.?” I could go on…..

    • I love shocking Europeans with just how huge the United States are with the following image:

      I actually carry it with me on my phone and refer to it often, and delight in the gasps and wide eyes in response.

    • So, you’re equating confusing which continent a large country is in; with the distance between two American cities?
      Yeah, I guess they’re totally the same thing.

      • Hi Jake…I don’t think he is equating the two, and I think you know that. He is just adding a relevant and sadly humorous example to the mix.

  2. Pingback: Spanish tacos | An Expat in Spain

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