As I wait patiently (impatiently) for my teaching placement to find out where I will be teaching English in La Rioja, Spain next year from the Spanish government, there are lots of emotions and thoughts running through my mind. They range from excitement and jubilation to fear and thoughts of missing out. Day-to-day, even hour-to-hour, they change. By penning my thoughts as a prospective auxiliar de conversación, I’m hoping to convey to others getting ready to teach in Spain or considering making the jump to teach and live abroad that not everything is quite as rosy as it’s often portrayed online, even when it comes to the anticipation of moving abroad.
On a daily basis I read posts on traveling, teaching abroad, and living abroad. Most speak to the glamorous, exhilarating life of, well, an expat living in a foreign country. Now, I cannot wait to be living and teaching in Spain. Hence, the constant checking of my email for updates of my teaching placement. However, as excitement and anticipation consume the vast majority of my emotions the majority of the time, there are times where I feel weary and doubtful. Thoughts of “What if…” and “I’m going to miss out on….” do cross my mind. There’s no denying that. While everything is not rosy abroad, it’s not all rosy preparing to move abroad either.
As a quick aside, I should make it clear that yes, I want to teach and live abroad and doing so has always been a dream of mine. That’s why I’m doing this after all, but moving abroad, and quitting a safe, stable job to do so, is a large decision that can drastically change the trajectory of one’s life. Now, whether it changes it for better or worse is up to the individual. I certainly plan to make the most out of this opportunity and grow as a person and global citizen.
Most days I am eager to get on that plane and jet off to Spain and indulge in pintxos, siestas, and español. I believe, and hope, that this is conveyed in my previous posts. However, there are certainly moments that I have feelings of worry, doubt, and hesitation. I do not want to cover those feelings up. If you, as someone considering teaching abroad, have these feelings from time to time, don’t worry. It’s okay and in my mind, normal. Moving abroad is a huge move, and there are times that it can seem all just a little too overwhelming.
I’ve questioned myself since deciding to apply to teach in Spain.
Am I doing the right thing…
Am I looking to squeeze out a couple more years of “fun” when I should be settling down like the majority of Americans my age (25 for any who is curious and I’ve been working full-time for 3 years since college)…
Maybe I should just travel using my minimal vacation from my 9 to 5...
Will my Spanish be good enough to get by in Spain…
I’m going to miss out on so much back in the U.S….
These questions and doubts subside but do enter back into my mind from time to time, and I’d be lying if I said they didn’t. Once again, it’s normal to have these thoughts. However, I find that these doubts and worries usually pop up at times when I’m overtired, abnormally stressed, or am simply overthinking the situation – something I have a tendency to do. When I get enough sleep or am no longer stressed, I can clearly tell that my heart is telling me – pleading me – to go live and teach in Spain.
My heart is telling me what I should do, while my mind is getting in the way. Obviously there is a balance between the two everyone needs to find, but what I always come back to is whether I will regret not doing this. The answer to that questions is a resounding yes. For me, I know I will always wonder “What if…” if I choose not to go and listen to these scattered thoughts and feelings of doubt.
I’m not naive in denying the fact that these doubts and worries will inevitably arise once I am living in Spain. It will happen, but I know that my heart is leading me in the right direction. Realistically, I am not going to miss out on a ton here in the United States. There might be a wedding, an engagement, or a birth, but those are events, while the friends and family that are part of them are my friends and family for a lifetime. This was a worry of mine when I decided to study abroad back in college, and everything turned out just fine. I didn’t “miss out” on as much as I thought I would, and honestly, I found I experienced and lived more during those 6 months than I would have had I not gone and taken that leap of faith.
Living abroad and traveling is the best time of many people’s lives as evidenced my numerous blogs and stories out there. I urge you to talk to anyone who has lived abroad, and I believe most will recommend you going. However, that should not go without saying that there are incredible ups and downs. Many times living abroad is painted as a glorious, glamorous life with only highs and no lows. I can tell you that I am indeed looking forward to the highs. It’s one reason why I’ll be making this move abroad. The lows will be there to challenge me and help me grow, but I’m guessing there will be more highs than lows.
I’m not entirely sure why I’m writing this. Maybe it’s to get my feelings out as the process of teaching English in Spain moves along. Maybe it’s trying to let other prospective auxiliares de conversación know that it’s normal to have worries from time to time about making this move abroad. Maybe it’s just some late night/early morning rambling of mine put down on this blog.
Most of all though, I don’t want anyone’s doubts and worries about teaching in Spain to dissuade them from jumping at this opportunity. It truly is an opportunity of a lifetime, and if your heart’s telling you to do it, do it. Don’t look back. Everything in the U.S. will be there when you get back, and you will have had an experience that few can say they’ve had.