We are sailing

I felt compelled to write and express my pleasure on reading the article about the “bowing out” of the British Ambassador to Spain it was such a good and positive article. Ambassadors are figures that you know about but rarely really think about. His advice about integration is very poignant. The British by and large are reserved by nature. I brought my children up firstly in France and then in Germany and it is easier to become integrated when you have children as you interact through the education system of the country naturally. On coming to Spain I home schooled my son although he did take Spanish lesson at the local university, he has since returned to the UK to complete his higher education.  People who are retired here do find the language barrier a drawback for them to think they can integrate, one way I found to overcome this was through charity and volunteer work. I helped at a riding stable and helped teach both English and Spanish children who came to learn to ride there and subsequently got to know their parents and even their grandparents.  I then became involved with a humanitarian aid charity and came into contact with local Spanish, Moroccan, French, German, Dutch and English people who either came to the charity shop or who were people who needed direct help from the charity. I have a very small command of French, German and now Spanish but I am by no means fluent at all but that really doesn’t matter, if you get to know people on a regular basis and are willing to meet them half way,  i.e. an open heart most people will respond to kindness and courtesy in any language. You do not have to have an in depth conversation to be known and accepted by someone. It may be a friendly hello in the street, an acknowledgement of recognition, that is integration, a process of merging together.

One of the biggest problems for retirees in a foreign country is fighting time, it’s great for a few months to do what you want when you want but at sometime the novelty will wear off; not for everybody I know, some people are more than happy to be in the sun relaxing with friends, have family or old friends come out from the UK or be able to visit other parts of Spain and the Mediterranean that are more accessible from where we live but for those that feel they need and want to do more to become part of the community volunteering for a cause that is close to your heart could be the first step to integration into your community. To meet people and for them to meet you IS the first step to integration, do not let language be the barrier, that will come in time. Language is an activity, a kind of play, learned through practice, it is social.


Kind regards Anne Bennett  

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