Hey everyone, welcome to my second blog! I like to call it my Spanish Blog: The Sequel, since this will be the second one I will write while having the fortunate experience of living in the majestic country of Flamenco, tapas, and siestas– otherwise known as Spain! (here is the link to my first blog)
I had my first taste of Spain 2 years ago when I studied abroad in Sevilla during the spring semester of my junior year. It was undoubtedly the best time of my life. When May arrived, it was heartbreaking leaving the friends I learned to call family and the city I came to call my second home. I vividly remember my last day: I sat by the Guadalquivir River watching the sun set over the Triana Bridge. By myself. Crying. Yeah…not my best moment. But I suddenly became super dramatic knowing that that was the last time I would see Sevilla in the daylight and I had no idea when I would return. I imagined returning in my 30s or 40s, walking down the cobblestone streets reminiscing about those amazing 4 months I had when I was 20.
Now fast forward 2 years: I’m planning my return trip to the country that stole my heart! Never in my wildest dreams did I know my reunion with Spain would come so quickly. It was just as much of a surprise to me as it was to everyone else. Up until November, I had spoken of nothing except going to grad school in the fall to become a Speech-Language Pathologist. But suddenly my life’s path took a major shift. Here’s the lengthy background story (I’ll try to keep it as short as I can):
Towards the end of my semester abroad, I met a few girls in Lisbon, Portugal who were teaching English in Spain. This is when the idea first sparked, since it was my first time hearing of this job. I thought, “What a PERFECT way to move back to Spain after college!” I promised myself I would make it happen and I was determined.
When I returned to the U.S., things with school started moving full speed ahead. It was my senior year and I was preparing to graduate in the spring. I was also getting ready to change my career path from Communications to Speech-Language Pathology, which meant doing a Pre-Graduate Program for a year right after graduation then going on to do 2 years of grad school after that. My dream of returning to Spain didn’t seem feasible anymore; life was getting in the way (and I despise this excuse when it comes to not living your dreams, so clearly it only took a matter of time for me to wake up and realize this couldn’t happen).
This past fall is when everything really started to spiral out of control. It was the start of my Pre-Grad Program and I was excited about this new career. I loved my classes and I was doing really well in them. However, it was a VERY stressful time trying to figure out what grad schools I would apply to, worrying about the GRE, figuring out which professors I had never talked to before would speak upon my behalf in my letters of recommendation, all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA (because grad school for this profession is ridiculously competitive). All of this was overwhelming, but I was pushing through it because ultimately, being an SLP is what I really want, right? Well, something was just not sitting right with me…
Suddenly I felt suffocated, like I was losing control of my life. At 24-years-old, was I really going to enter the career that I will have until…..I die?? Or retire. Whichever one comes first. My biggest fear is that I’m entering this “standard adult lifestyle”–you know, getting a 9-5 job right out of college, getting married, having kids, the whole sha-bang– and one day I’ll wake up when I’m 40, look around and ask, “Where did my life go?” For me, that’s terrifying. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a great life to have, and I DO want that life one day, but I want it when I’m 30 and ready to settle down. I don’t need that type of stability right now. I’m 22-years-old, which is so young in the scheme of things. I’ve been in school 19 of those years. I’ve had the travel bug my whole life and I have never been fully able to get rid of it. I want to live. I want to explore. I want to travel. If I don’t do it now, when will I? I have nothing holding me back from doing so at this point in my life. I’m fortunate enough to be commitment-free right now, and the responsibilities only grow the older you get, so I need to take advantage of this time.
Now enter the day that changed everything: I was sitting in my class back in November. My professor was asking about our plans for grad school and one girl said she was considering teaching English in Spain but wasn’t sure if she will or not. Then my professor started to preach, “You have to go! Now is the time. You’re young, you’re not married, you’re not tied down. Now is the time to travel!” I’ve known this all along but there was something about hearing my professor say it out loud and be so passionate about it.
That moment was my deciding factor. I said, “I have to do this now.” I’ve gotten so comfortable with my life here in the U.S., that I re-acquired the usual mindset. The mindset that says “There’s always tomorrow. I can push off my dreams for another day. I’m so comfortable in my lifestyle here, I don’t need to make a life-changing decision right now.” Life is too short to keep putting your dreams on hold. Although this spontaneous change was somewhat scary, in order to make my decision definitive, I had to ask myself one question: “What will I regret more? Putting grad school on hold and moving to Spain? Or forgetting about Spain and taking the safe and comfortable route?” It wasn’t even a question anymore, the answer was clear. Grad school, Speech Therapy, and my future American life will always be here waiting for me, but the opportunity to live abroad might never come again.
It took a WHILE to get my parents on board with this change of plans. They’ve been so excited about my future as an SLP because it’s a well-paid job that is so incredibly needed (which means job stability until I retire). And although I do want that someday, I just haven’t been able to get Spain out of my mind since the day I stepped back onto U.S. soil. It’s hard to describe the experience I had in Spain before. Yes, I understand on the outside it looks like I just want to postpone adulthood and gallivant around Europe again, but it’s so much more than that. Living there had an impact (excuse my cheesiness) on my soul. It brought me to life, made me independent, and introduced me to what passion really is. It brought me a unique sense of happiness, and life is way too short to be anything but happy. Of course I’m happy here in the U.S. I am beyond blessed to have such an amazing and loving family with parents who are supportive of me no matter what direction I take in life. But my life has been at a literal standstill here. I’ve been going to the same school and have been working at the same job for the past 5 years. My semester abroad showed me that there’s so much more to life than living in your comfort bubble. Big changes such as this one are what help you to grow as a person. I’ll leave you with a quote that completely describes how I feel: “We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” I’m not running from reality, I’m just trying to live my life to the fullest! 🙂