Well, there’s only about 2 months left until I leave for Spain. Time keeps on flying by, which is both good and bad. While I cannot wait to set foot back in Spain and indulge in all that is the Spanish culture that grabbed a hold of me and never let go, there will obviously be certain things that I will be missing from home too.
In the spirit of wishing I was in Spain right now and that I haven’t written in a while – thanks, tedious Visa process – let’s start with what I’m looking forward to in Spain. I picked 10, even though one could argue that there are many, many more.
If you’ve read my blog at all you may have noticed that the theme of walkable cities comes up fairly often. I’m not a huge fan of having to hop in my car just to drive to the grocery store – uhhh, supermarket. I like to visit and live places where I can easily walk, bike, or take public transit anywhere I want. In fact, if it were possible for me to never own a car again, I’d happily do it.
Spain and Europe in general are far more walkable than most U.S. cities. This is mostly because many were built and laid out before cars were invented. The school I’ll be working in Logroño is right in the city, so luckily, I’ll be able to live near the city center and have a quick 20 or so minute walk to school. It’s really a dream placement in my opinion.
Come to think of it, maybe I should start driving more before I head to Spain. I’ve been riding my bike 17 miles roundtrip to work and only driving about once a week at most…..Nah, I’ll save on gas, so I can spend more in Spain!
Learning another language has forever intrigued me, and the best way to do it is through total immersion. Living and working in Spain will allow me to be surrounded by español. Although it will undoubtedly be difficult, annoying, and frustrating at times, I am looking forward to being immersed in the Spanish language. The Castillian accent in Logroño will be easier to understand then the andalú of Granada, but that still does not make me a Spanish language expert. Right now, I’d say that I’m at an intermediate level. However, I’ve been trying my best to learn Spanish before moving to Spain.
3. The Ups the downs and everything in between
Life abroad is filled with incredible highs and, unfortunately, some lows. I cannot wait to experience them all. The lows will be tough and difficult to go through without family and some of my best friends nearby, but they will make the highs so much better. The highs will be some of the highest of highs that I’ll ever experience. Being abroad is a special experience that cannot be substituted. While I’m in inevitably in a rut, I will try to remember this because that rut will pass, and it will be on to the next great experience.
4. Pinchos and tapas
Okay, whether you are traveling to Spain on vacation, studying abroad, or moving there for a job, tapas and pinchos will be on your list of things you’re excited for about Spain. That is of course if you like rich, delicious food with quality alcoholic beverages in the best of social atmospheres. If not, I’m not sure we can be friends…
Plus, I’ll be living in Logroño, the gastronomic capitol of the world in 2012. I’ve detailed its famous Calle Laurel in other posts. There will be more to come once I’ve actually experienced it too!
5. Opportunity to teach
In college, I majored in Political Science and Public Administration. Why? Because it was fun, the professors in the department were outstanding, and it was fun instigating intense political discussions. I guess I also saw a future for myself in government work, particularly urban planning. However, during college I made money by teaching tennis and pottery lessons to both children and adults, and this is where my passion was. I loved it.
Post college graduation, I took a job for a government contract in a pseudo-urban planning field, and its not at all what I thought it would be. I love the people I work with, but I have no passion for the work itself. Teaching abroad will give my an opportunity to try out teaching, even though the auxiliar program places people in different schools and they all have wildly different experiences. I’m keeping an open mind, and maybe, just maybe, I will find that passion that’s been missing from my work over the last 3 years.
6. Warmer Weather
Logroño, while not nearly as warm/hot as Andalucía, will still be a heck of a lot warmer then Wisconsin, especially after this past winter. -16°F for multiple weeks and plenty of snow to go with it, no thank you. I love the changing of seasons, and I love being able to experience a full winter, spring, summer, and fall. I will always be grateful that Wisconsin gives me all four seasons. I just wish summer was longer than three months and winter was shorter than roughly five months. Regardless, I will always love Wisconsin, but needless to say, cannot wait for the warmer climate of La Rioja.
7. No pasa nada
Part of the Spanish culture that I really enjoyed while studying abroad was the attitude of no pasa nada. It essentially means no problem, don’t worry about it, or it’s not a big deal. In Granada, it was used frequently throughout many aspects of daily life. The Spanish have a slightly more laid back attitude towards life then Americans. In America, everything is go, go, go, while Spanish things move a little slower and at more of that don’t worry about it pace as it will get done eventually. While obviously no everything is no pasa nada all the time, I am looking forward to living in that mindset again. Although, I’m well aware how frustrated I may become with it sometimes when things “should” be getting done faster a la Spanish bureaucracy.
8. Living out a dream of mine
Teaching and living abroad, particularly in Spain, has been something I’ve wanted to do since my first ever trip to Spain in high school. After studying abroad, it only compounded my interest. However, post-college graduation I settled into the all to familiar 9 to 5 cubicle job and put my dream aside. Fortunately, that will all be changing in under two months now! Studying abroad was great and afforded me things I never thought I’d have the opportunity to experience, but I’ve always wanted to push myself just a little bit further and live abroad. Teaching English in Spain is a way to do that for now, and who knows where it will lead me!
9. Meeting fellow bloggers
Since I started this blog about a year-and-a-half ago, I have met numerous other bloggers who have reached out to help me in ways I never thought people would, especially because I have only met them via the internet which the exception of one, Danielle from Because Normal is Boring. Some of these bloggers are Spain based and others living elsewhere, or have no “home” at all and are criss-crossing the globe. I started this blog in hopes of getting out my thoughts on paper, be it virtual paper, in order to document this journey of living abroad. However, it turned into something much more and that’s in large part due to the wonderful, caring, and compassionate people I’ve encountered through the blogging world. They have been there to encourage, advise, and most importantly support in times of trouble when I have needed it most. I truly cannot thank you all enough, and that’s why I’m really excited to meet you all. Plus, I have no doubts that you all are a lot of fun!
10. Working to Live vs. Living to Work
One of my professors when I studied in Granada told me that the United States lives to work while in Spain they work to live. This quote really struck me and made a lot of sense. Obviously money pays for our most basic needs and then some, but what’s the point of accumulating tons of money and working your life away to do so if you never truly live. I know plenty of people who work all the time and are flush with cash, yet they are never available to do anything.
For me, I would rather live and experience all that this world has to offer then work 24/7 and accumulate mass quantities of money and never get to experience anything. That’s not living in my mind, yet I’m not here to judge others’ decision. To each his/her own. Therefore, I am very excited to be experiencing all the ups and downs that living and teaching in Spain will offer me while being paid enough to still get by on. I look at that as a win-win!
What are you looking forward to about Spain or wherever your next trip is?