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Living and Working in Spain

Emily Woerfel: American Expat in Seville

April 1, 2022

Even in my senior high school yearbook I knew that I wanted to see the world. My goal then was to be a travel photographer for National Geographic, and while that may not have panned out, seeing the world certainly did.

I first came to Seville in 2009 as part of my study abroad program and, like so many, the semester just wasn't enough. I fell head over heels for the language, the architecture, the food, the colors, the festivals, and the people. The question of coming back was not if, but when.


I found my ticket to return to Spain as a bilingual language assistant, where I taught for three years in a number of different schools around Andalucía. It was a fateful day on the beach in Cádiz that brought me to my now husband and we moved to Barcelona for the next five years.

Barcelona was just where we needed to be in our mid to late twenties--the incredible international and cultural scene exploding with new restaurants, outdoor concerts, and social events on every weekend in every neighborhood had us constantly buzzing with things to do and people to meet.  We camped the Costa Brava in the summer and explored the Vall d'Aran in the winter. We ate amazing Thai food on Wednesday and barbecued calcots on Saturday. Barcelona and its artistic spirit will always take up a big space on the list of the places I call "home". 


Jobs and family brought us back to Seville in 2018 and we've been here ever since. I still miss some of the vibrancy and "noise" of Barcelona, but I could not be happier to be back in Seville--my first true love and the reason I came back to Spain in the first place. 

Seville has also been witness to our wedding, the welcoming of our first child in 2020, job changes, and an ongoing pandemic in between. As the orange blossoms open in spring of 2022, it finally feels like the spirit of the city is coming back to life, and I could not be more grateful.


From 2010 until 2020 I worked as an English teacher in a variety of educational settings from international schools to universities. But it was the creative soul of Barcelona that set fire to my lifelong interests of writing and photography and I decided to create a blog: This is the Milk. The blog and accompanying social media accounts acted as a creative outlet as well as a library of experiences and information gathered from over a decade as an expat in Spain. From there I continued to study content writing, SEO, and digital marketing and just started working in the sector full time as of January 2022.  


After over twelve years abroad, people often ask me if Spain is my permanent home. Truthfully, it is hard to say. There are always things I'll miss about The United States, (my family and less bureaucracy to name a few), but for now Spain is exactly where I want to be. I could go on almost endlessly about what it is that makes me want to stay in Spain--from the parental leave to the warmth of its residents. But I often like to illustrate my love of Spain with one particular image: sitting around a small metal table with friends, sipping a cold beer in a frozen glass with a side of salty olives in the sunshine. If you're fortunate to experience that, you'll begin to understand why I continue to call Spain my home.

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