The Final Month

I don’t know how it happened, but, somehow, it’s already June, which marks my last full month of living in Spain. After spending about half of my adult life here — a year of studying in Madrid and two years of teaching (in Sevilla and then Madrid) — that’s obviously a big freaking deal.

Me as a wee teenager at LAX, getting ready to board my first flight to Spain. What little idea I had of just how much this would impact my life.

But I’m okay. First of all, I won’t be returning home to the States for almost two months after I complete my teaching gig at the end of this month (traveling to the Balkans, Italy, and hopefully other places as well). Second-of-ly (as Tobias Fünke would say), living in Spain has become too normal for it to hit me that leaving means really leaving. Finally, and most importantly, I’m ready.

I love Spain. I adore Spain. It’s probably the greatest love of my life. I know how to do adult things (finding apartments, paying rent, managing money, buying and cooking groceries, being independent, etc.) better here than I do in my own home country. Though I’ve only spent roughly 12% of my life living here, right now, it’s the place I know and the place where I’m most comfortable. And that’s exactly why I’m ready to leave.

Saying a bittersweet goodbye to Spain on my last night of my year abroad, lying on the cobblestones of Plaza Mayor after watching a World Cup match, when Spain was still totally magical to me.

That dream-like fascination I once had with this place, when I floated around Madrid at dusk or listened to the ancient notes of flamenco floating through Granada’s gypsy quarters on warm summer nights as a 17-year-old, only hits me every great once in a while. I’m too used to Spain. I love it, but it no longer holds the intense lure and mystery it once held.

Things I once laughed off about Spanish culture now drive me insane (spend one afternoon in Madrid’s foreigner’s office, and you’ll totally understand). This laughably easy, 16-hour-a-week job that I once saw as affording me plenty of time to enjoy Spain and explore Europe? A fabulous way to spend your post-grad years that I would recommend to anyone, but I was meant for bigger and better things. I’m so ready for a fulfilling, demanding job in a field that interests me where I can prove the skills I know I have (on a side note, thank goodness for the weekend work trips I’ve taken down to Sevilla for my side job that have allowed me to experience this).

No more Spanish bureaucracy, please! I beg you! (photo credit)

So, when I bid a somewhat permanent farewell to Spain on August 19th, what comes next? First, some time at home to reconnect with family and friends (and eat buckets of Del Taco, In-N-Out, Islands, etc.), and then? Drumroll please as I announce something I’ve been keeping mostly quiet…

Australia! The plans are still tentative (and will likely feel that way until I actually book a flight there), but I’m hoping to get a working holiday visa, head down under for anywhere between a few months and a year, live (most likely) in Sydney, and find a real job in the internet field (or, if that’s tough to find, do a part-time internship in that while I earn money in the retail/service industry). Because, at the end of the day, though I’m done with Spain, done with teaching English abroad, and ready to spend more time on my career, I have yet to rid myself of the travel bug.

My next home?

It may not be highly exotic, give me the chance to practice a foreign language, or allow me to country-hop on weekends, but Australia seems like a beautiful place with fantastic people, so, hey, why not? Besides, the visa is flexible, so I can change cities or even return to the U.S. any time I want. Plus, I definitely want to take advantage of being in that region by traveling to places like New Zealand, Indonesia, and Thailand.

So, there’s my plan. But first? 28 more days of embracing this country I’ve loved so much for the past 7 years and a whirlwind tour around Europe!

10 Responses

  1. I am so ready to find a fulfilling job too! Only problem: I live in Spain. Also this post made me grateful (again) for never having to spend any time in Aluche …

    Good luck in all your future endeavors.

  2. Olé tú! I agree with Kaley. It’s been really hard for me to move out of teaching, but I’m working on it really hard this year, between master’s, networking and writing. Australia sounds awesome!

  3. a l says:

    I hear ya on the whole “I’m too used to Spain” thing, except I feel that way towards MY hometown, which is why I’m heading to Spain. Go to a country where I’ll speak a second language, experience crazy temperatures, and party ’til dawn? I don’t think I could shake it up any more than that. 🙂

  4. Katherine says:

    I’m sad to hear that you’re leaving (I’ve just arrived in Madrid myself), but I definitely understand the feeling when it’s time to move on. Best of luck with your traveling and Australia! 🙂

    • Kirstie says:

      I know it’s happening, but even just reading “you’re leaving” startles me. Whoa, I really am, aren’t I?

      Thanks! I’m excited for both!

  5. Australia sounds like an awesome next plan!

    It’s nice to know somebody has the same kinds of feelings and experiences. I feel like I’d have to learn to be an adult all over again if/when I move back to California! The feeling that I have to move on hasn’t hit me yet, so we’ll see if it happens.

    • Kirstie says:

      Hopefully it doesn’t any time soon, because Spain is fabulous before that feeling hits you! Oh man, how will we function in our home society with people who speak our language and bureaucracy that is somewhat functional and wine and beer that cost more than a few euros?

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