It’s only been a few months since I thought about making the move to Madrid to work in a program directed towards recent grads with a desire to travel. I never seriously thought that one random application would culminate in a move to a completely different country, yet here I am with 4 weeks to go until the big move. It’s funny how one little, seemingly obscure, decision can become a huge life event.
The past few months have been hectic enough for me to truly forget what I’m committing to, as well. Aside from the financial planning, which I now (thankfully) have down pat, the visa process, and even my flight, I hadn’t actually thought much about what I was doing. Sure, I’ve been daydreaming about this for years; in fact, I remember the first time I seriously wanted to move to Spain for a year like it was yesterday. Still, when things you’ve been hoping to make a reality for years actually start becoming reality, it’s hard to accept it.
I’ve had mixed reactions from friends and family. Some friends and some family are a little concerned, even worried to the point of suggesting I don’t actually do it. I’ve had other friends and family who’ve expressed they wished they could do the same, and that I was lucky to be able to do it. Amidst it all, I’ve been a little confused.
I know, for certain, that I’ll be doing this and that I’m happy to be doing this. Yet, a part of me I never really thought about before now, is starting to think about how much work goes into this, how this won’t be a glamorous 1-week stay in a resort, and how moving to a new country in itself is difficult for anyone especially when the language is different. I’ve also thought about how I’m going to miss the people I love, because while distance makes the heart grow fonder, I’ve never actually been away from my entire family for this long before. I know I’ll miss some milestones, which makes it even harder to bear.
On the other hand, I know that this is the life I chose a long time ago; it’s the path I’ve wanted to explore not just in my own personal interests in travel, but in what I’d like my career to be. I like being on the go – I thrive on it. I know being in a city all alone doesn’t faze me, it’s been done before. I know that I love adventure, and not simply in books. I love the idea of living off your instincts, your own explorations, and the learning experience that comes with it. While I’ve been reminded that this won’t be a piece of cake and know that I’ll have to endure some bad days or nights, I believe everything worth doing comes with its challenges. Challenges – specifically how we stand up to them – are a big part of what define us; they shape us, and for some of us, force us to grow up.
I also know I’m ready for a different kind of world. While Spain isn’t exactly cut off from all the things North Americans love and overuse, such as facebook, the lifestyle is a little more ingrained in the phrase “carpe diem”. While the slowness of bureaucracy is bound to frustrate me at least a few times, I’m looking forward to a life where being spontaneous is treasured, where life isn’t 100% about work and duty, and where I can face up to things that might have scared me in the past.
Growing up, I always set goals for myself by consistently challenging what I could do. I had always wanted to do this in the form of travel, but knew that I couldn’t do it alone until I was ready. I challenged myself in other ways – in what I could do physically through the sports I competed in, and also in what I could learn intellectually through the different things I taught myself. The weird drive to push myself constantly has eventually led me to this point and place.
Still, I don’t know where to start now that the process of getting myself there is over. Now, it’s going to be all about finding a place to live, getting a map (including a metro map) and learning where to go, acquiring the little basics like a phone, as well as other little things I’m probably not thinking about. Either way, I’m in for a crazy 10 months.