While most of the people I’ve spoken to about moving to Spain for a year have usually responded with positive feedback and excitement, after moments, hours, or days of thoughts my statement is often followed up with comments or quiet personal thoughts of, “But why?” or “Are you crazy?” or “Aren’t you a bit old to study abroad?” or “Isn’t that a bit irresponsible?
I can only respond to that with, simply: “Because,” “Yes,” “No,” and, “No.”
After journeying off by myself on a month-and-a-half-long trip to Europe in Aug-Sept 2006, I experienced more than I could have ever imagined! For most of my life I marveled at those who traveled solo, often mocking or ridiculing them for, “How boring that must be,” and, “Why in the world would anybody travel alone?”
That is, until year after year I tried to plan a trip to Germany with friends, only for the plans to keep falling through and another year gone by, missing out on yet another event because I was simply waiting for other people to “make my experience happen.” I finally decided, “*#$@! you all, I’ll just go by myself!”
The thought of being female and traveling 40 days to multiple foreign countries BY MYSELF was pretty daunting at first . . . so I took comfort in planning a couple tours as part of my trip, but left enough time traveling alone that I could see what it would feel like to travel solo.
And it was absolutely one of the best things I have ever done! I fully embraced my own independence and realized how amazing it was to be fully in control of where you are going, what you are doing, and be confident that you will be OK in the end because you are a strong, independent, and confident human being!
In addition, like many other new experiences thrown at me, I just SOAKED IT ALLLLL UP! Country to country, new language to new language, amazing architecture, history, landscapes, people… I realized just how amazing it was to experience other countries and cultures around the world, and I really yearned to live in one of these foreign countries.
I met SO MANY PEOPLE in my travels that were living abroad, and it soon became a thought to me, “Why can’t I do that?” and I immediately felt as if this MUST be put on my “Life To-do list”:
1. Graduate college – check!
2. Move to a different city/state – check!
3. Run a marathon – check!
4. Live in a foreign country . . . MUST DO!!
After returning to LA after my trip, I definitely needed a bit of time to decompress. At first, in my excitement, I had thought to make this big move in the summer of ’07 . . . but I soon realized this idea definitely needed re-evaluation. What I NEEDED to do was put my schooling first, and finish the last damn semester of my degree! Two and a half years of schooling and a boatload of money would be “tossed aside” had I decided to go just then. . . so I signed up for my last two semesters of classes and let time go by to wait and see what happens.
I soon realized that if I’m going to ever do this–NOW IS THE TIME!!
Not gung-ho about my job, not particularly fond of my apartment, looking to get rid of my car anyway, no kids/husband/boyfriend . . . NO COMMITMENTS . . . (except the dog, who I can bring with me anyway)
NOW IS THE TIME!
I knew that I wanted to live in a country in Europe where the people spoke another language and had a much different culture then the U.S. — I really didn’t want to make it completely ”easy” on myself. . . I think the challenge of living in a county where you don’t really know the language is something that builds character, makes you more “worldly”, gives you an education, and makes it a much more interesting and fun experience.
In the end, I chose Spain… because spanish would be a very helpful language to know in the future, living in Los Angeles. Plus, I really DO love Spain, and enjoyed the Spanish cities I visited, so I thought this would be a good personal choice for me.
Even though I haven’t visited San Sebastian before—I’ve only been to Barcelona and Madrid in Spain—I have heard amazing things about the city, and there just so happens to be a friend-of-a-friend who lives there that could help me out with a few things.
I have found it nearly impossible to get a work visa, so instead will be attending a few classes at a Spanish Language institute there . . . which will allow me to live in spain for 6 months. After my 6 month student Visa is up, I am allowed to travel for 3 months in Europe! I think I may stay in Spain for a month or two during that time and travel for the last month… but who knows! I have a long time to figure that all out!
But for now, I’m excited at what the future will bring . . . the experiences I’ll encounter, the hardships I’ll face, the many interesting people and friends that I’ll meet, the places I will travel. The world is at my fingertips… and I can’t wait to embark on this brand new journey! 🙂