Meet La Morena: Chrissy Leigh
Chrissy, a self-proclaimed foodie and lover of all things travel, decided to leave the hustle and bustle of New York City to try her cards in Spain. As luck would have it, she was placed in Madrid, the capital! Get to know more about one of the more recent Morenas and how's she's getting settled. We talk about everything from traveling within Europe to what the dating scene is like!
I'm a native Virginian but I was also raised in Pembroke Pines, FL (South Florida) and that's where my family lives. I'm an East coast girl!
You can find me in Madrid, Spain.
Most memorable trip of 2015:
Rome, Italy. Even in ruins, ancient Rome is beautiful. I think it's such a charming city and the people are so nice & helpful too. I got the rare opportunity to walk within the walls of Vatican City (which isn't actually open to the public) and although I'm not Catholic, I thought it was pretty dope! I guess you can say I got the hook-up at The Vatican!
Also, don't get me started on the pasta, desserts, and Limoncello (a traditional liqueur made from lemon peels). I even brought some Limoncello back to Spain with me. I wish I could have done the same with the food!
Favorite city in Spain:
Barcelona, Barcelona, Barcelona! I visited Barcelona for the first time in 2014 during a solo trip for my 30th birthday. It's such a beautiful city and the Gaudi architecture alone made me fall in love. I was smitten by the relaxing vibe there. Maybe it's because it's a coastal city on the Mediterranean, but it really did touch my soul. I can't wait to return!
My favorite subject! Well, I'm southern so I love macaroni & cheese, fried chicken and Louisiana creole cuisine (gumbo, jumbalaya, beignets, oh my!). Also, I'm a sucker for Mexican food. I mean, who doesn't get all warm & fuzzy when they're about to go in on some Mexican food?! So basically my comfort food is all the heavy, delicious food, that can sometimes be bad for you :) All in moderation, right?
How long have you been living in Spain, and what has been the most surprising aspect of living internationally?
I have been living in Spain for four and a half months and I love it! The most surprising aspect of living internationally is how affordable it is to travel within Europe! I absolutely love that I can take a trip to Paris for no more than 50 euros (and if you're lucky you can find it way cheaper!). It's crazy how much more expensive it is to fly within the United States. It's safe to say that I will continue to take advantage of this opportunity.
When you made the choice to move abroad, what made you decide on Spain? And furthermore, why Madrid?
I've wanted to move to Spain for quite some time. I think I've always had a secret obsession with Spain since I started learning the language in middle school. However, I first seriously thought about moving here six years ago when I was at a crossroads early in my career. I really just wanted to do something different and so I began researching how I could teach English here. I also thought it would be a great opportunity to improve my Spanish. However, I chose to move to NYC instead (which was also a dream of mine) and continue pursuing my career. I told myself if I still wanted to move to Spain later on, then I wouldn't hesitate. Well, six years later, here I am!
I ended up in Madrid because the program I teach through is in Madrid. I would have been open to living anywhere really, but Madrid is where I was placed and I love it.
Which countries / cities are on your travel bucket list for 2016?
Ha! This is always so hard to decide! I would love to see every city! But so far, I'm planning on meeting up with my sorority sisters and doing a more extensive trip through Italy, visiting three or four different cities. I also plan on visiting Marrakech, Berlin, Prague, England, Ireland, and exploring more of the southern and northern parts of Spain.
Okay, spill: what's the dating scene like in Spain? Is it over-flowing with Prince Charming's and Antonio Banderas look alikes?
Yes! The juicy stuff! Haha. I definitely don't think it's hard to meet men here in Madrid. Before I moved here, I read that black women are seen as exotic here. Thus, we get a lot of more attention than usual. Sometimes it's hard to tell is someone is genuinely interested in you because you're exotic/a novelty to them or really would like to get to know you. However, I do think there are very good looking men here. I haven't seen any Antonio Banderas look alikes (yet!), but then again, I'm more of a Cristiano Ronaldo kind of girl.
I've been on four dates since I've lived here. One of which I met through a particular dating app that may or may not rhyme with the word "hinder"(haha). The other three I met while out and about in Madrid. None of them went further than the first date, but I'm proud of myself for getting out there in the dating scene. If anything, dating Spanish men is a great way to learn Spanish. I noticed that a lot of guys offer to help with your Spanish as a way of attracting you. I think my time on dating apps is over, but I got a great Spanish lesson out of it!
What are 3 beauty products you'd never leave home without?
NARS lipstick "Damage" - This has been my go-to lipstick for almost two years. It's a natural, sheer, red hue that looks great during the day or at night
Hand cream - Any brand as long as I don't have dry hands. That's the worst!
Benefit "They're Real!" mascara - Offers great lash length and I've been using it for years.
What has been the most notable change you've seen in yourself as a result of moving from New York to Madrid?
How I manage my stress is the biggest difference I've seen in myself since moving from New York City to Madrid. As much as I love NYC, it can be stressful living there! From a demanding job to the dramatics that is the NYC metro, the noise and the crowds of people, plus whatever is happening in your personal life, it can really wear on you.
When I began preparing to move here, I made a decision that I would work on how I react to stressful situations. I realized that if I was going to move to another country, where I don't know the language, I was inevitably going to have stressful moments. The best thing you can do when moving abroad is accept the things you can't change and make the best out of a less-than-ideal situation. Everything always works out the way it's supposed to so you might as well accept it. Stress is bad for your health and it can really ruin your life! I decided that I just didn't have time for all of that. It makes me more free-spirited and I'm really happy about that!
What advice would you give to anyone who is looking to move abroad but is afraid to do so?
DO IT! You only regret the chances you don't take. And if you do it and hate it, you can always move back. But you'll never know until you gather up the courage (and you have it inside of you, I just know it!) and take the plunge. You'll look back at your time abroad and get to say that you followed your dream and there's nothing sweeter and more fulfilling than that.
You can follow all of Chrissy's travel adventures as well as her life in Madrid on her blog Wonder//Wander!
This interview was conducted by Danni. Danni, Community + Content Director at Las Morenas de España, is a twenty-something, Chicago native currently residing in Madrid. Lover of language, words, and travel, she's managed to combine all of her passions through her work. In her free time, you can find her exploring the winding streets of Madrid, hunting down good flight deals, planning her next adventure and writing & researching for LMDES. Danni loves spicy food, natural hair, music and of course, her wonderful life partner. If you need to find her, she’s the girl with huge hair and her face buried in her Kindle.