Every single year, the coming of fall has signified a change. As a child, it meant that I was one grade older. New classmates, a new teacher, new school supplies and new clothing. In university, it meant the same thing in addition to a new place to live. Perhaps new roommates and a new class schedule. Getting settled into my dorm or apartment was always an exciting process.
For many of us, these changes stopped when we entered the working world. After all, most careers do not necessarily follow this same schedule of a renewed fall. I imagine that for most, the fall just feels the same. You might notice the leaves falling and the fact that Starbucks now serves a Pumpkin Spice latte. However my life from age 22-30 has looked a tad different than someone who perhaps found a 9-5 job and worked it for the next 5-10 years. It has always seemed that the fall continues to mean change. It was during August/September that I had to return home from Nicaragua to be with my mother in the hospital (you can read that post here). It was also around this time last year that I moved from the United States to Spain.
Fall in Granada
This fall begins my second year in Granada, Spain. Ah fall in Granada. This year, however, feels quite different. Last year I arrived in Granada on September 23rd. I had very specific goals for what I wanted my life to look like in Spain. The biggest and most important goal was to surround myself in the culture. Bettering my Spanish was a big goal of mine and it still continues to be. After all, I’m so lucky to live in Spanish-speaking country for two years. Spanish is the second most spoken language in the United States, so I want to take every opportunity I can to practice and better it. I also am a huge extrovert, so it’s important for me to be able to connect with the locals. In the South of Spain, Spanish is essential to do this.
However more than anything, my goal was immersion. It can be so easy to just stick with people from your culture when living abroad. I remember I first noticed this in university. My school had a lot of students from India and they always seemed to spend time together. I remember thinking “they have traveled halfway around the world to attend college in the United States and yet they just make friends with people from their own culture?” Fast forward about 8 years to the month I spent in Matagalpa, Nicaragua. I did the exact same thing. All my friends that I made in Nicaragua were either American or Scottish.
From my experience in Nicaragua, I knew it was super easy to just stick with people from my own culture or who spoke my native language. As a social person, I knew I had to really be conscious of this and work against it. So the first thing I knew I could do to work in the direction of immersion was to find Spanish roommates. Would it have been easier to live with other English teachers? I’m sure. Would it have taken less than a week? Potentially. Would it saved me from crying in the corner of a cafe one afternoon? Honestly, who knows. The overseas life can be tough in general. At the time, my piso hunt felt like the worst. Now I look back and laugh. You can read all about it here.
This fall in Granada has been quite different. September started with escaping a not so good aupair experience in the Czech Republic. It meant arriving to Granada on a Friday morning broke, tired but ready to get back into the routine. I was alone in my new piso as my roommate had yet to arrive. The peace and quiet was exactly what I needed.
I started back to my old routine a bit. I began teaching private English lessons with some old and new families. I caught up on sleep. I drank a lot of coffee and I just breathed. I cooked dinner for myself and enjoyed the nice weather. I escaped to the beach in Malaga one Sunday and I watched the sunset over Granada. I counted my blessings. And I started a new online tutoring job … one the really values my time.
Putting the energy out there
I believe that you receive what you put out into the world. After a rather tainted summer, I wanted to get back into the essence of who I was. I’m someone who is super extroverted and also highly sensitive. It means that I enjoy bringing everyone together and making everyone feel included. It means I likely overthink things. It also means that I sometimes have a lot of feelings and say ugly things as I am also an extrovert. I’m really and truly trying to work on that last one.
I had extra space to sleep two extra people, so I decided to open my home up to other English teachers in my program who were looking for housing. Basically, I invited them to stay with me while they looked at flats. I simply made a post in our Facebook group and had a few ladies take me up on my offer. Since it often takes about a week, the costs of a hotel, hostel or Airbnb can really add up. I was happy to host and to have the company. One of the other girls in my program joked that it was like I was running a hostel. Sort of. However only three girls total stayed with me, so you can hardly consider it a full hostel.
One of the girls who stayed with me is Amy from North Carolina. Like me, she was also an auxiliar last year. Also like me, she is not fresh out of university and had a career before moving to Spain to teach. It was really great to host her and get to know her better.
She wanted to practice photography and I always need blog photos, so we went outside one morning and shot these. She really did a great job. Thanks Amy!
Welcome fall, welcome change
This dress is actually a year old and was bought here in Spain. I feel like it’s a perfect symbol for fall in Granada. Fall is when everything is new again. This year change means a new piso, a new roommate (still a Spanish one … duh) and a room with a larger bed. It means meeting lots of new faces. This means working in two new schools in the city center of Granada. It means walking to work rather than meeting teachers to carpool three mornings a week.
As I look out onto the horizon of this school year, I realize that I love Spain so much. This is exactly where I want to be. This year my goals are still the same as last year. I still want to practice as much Spanish as much as I can and meet lots of new people. However this year, we can add saving money to the list. I will be more diligent about saving what I earn rather than just spending it here and there. I will do what is free over what costs money. Will I still travel? Of course! Just not every weekend. After all, living in Granada means actually living my life in the city.
My other big goal for this year is to take this blog to the next level. My plans are to develop and e-course and make my blog something that would support my life here in Spain. My plans are to continue to make connections with other bloggers, travel companies and brands. If we can all work together, we can all mutually benefit.
The road less traveled
One of the things my mother always told me was that I have always been super independent. I also always believe that there is another way. The fact is, finding a way to stay in Spain or in the European Union in general when you hold a passport from outside of the EU is not easy. It’s like people immigrating to the United States (although I think my country makes it much harder for immigrants than Spain would make it for me).
However I am determined to work and find a way to stay not only in Spain, but in Granada specifically. Like here is the best and to be honest, I just want to stay.
So over this next year, I will be working my behind off to make my dreams a reality. I hope you’ll follow along. Feel free to download my e-book here. It’s all about my journey to moving overseas to Spain.
What does fall mean for you? Does it signify change for you as well?
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