The right time to leave a city is when you feel uneasy about leaving, but you look forward to what is next to come.
It’s a strange feeling thinking I’ll be leaving Madrid tomorrow. Madrid has been my home for the past 9 months, the longest place I’ve lived in since graduation (can you say commitment-phobe?)
I didn’t like Madrid off the bat, but it grows on you with time. As with all big cities, though, it begins to weigh on you as well. I’ll leave excited for my summer adventures, yet not fully at peace with my time spent here.
Here are my biggest regrets from my time spent living in Espain:
1. Spanish culture. I didn’t necessarily want to live in Spain. I really just wanted a base to travel around Europe. The teaching gig through the Spanish ministry was easy enough to get and with an already good level of Spanish I figured a Spanish speaking country would be better for dealing with bureaucracy, renting an apartment, going to the doctor, etc. etc. The problem was that very early on I realized I had absolutely no interest in Spain. I’d done it before. Spain swept the teenage, boy crazy me off her feet. After a year and a half spent in Chile the adult me had this strong (misguided?) sense of Latino pride. I chose not to use the vosotros form, sneered at the idea of using their slang and cringed a little when I did let slip a “vale.” I found everything (not just the food) about the country lacking flavor….spice….zest.
Although I feel I’ve now grown an even greater love for Latin America, I can recognize that I came to Spain with the totally wrong attitude. I was so determined to maintain my Chilean estilo that I likely missed out on learning a lot about a beautiful culture. If I had come to Madrid eager to learn about the cuisine and language I may have had a more enriching experience and been more satisfied overall with my decision to call this country home.
2. Friends. Coming to Spain I knew there would be a lot of Americans and English speakers doing the same program. I assumed my friends would basically already be made for me and I began very lazily. My friends today ARE awesome, but most I either met in my building or they sat next to me at orientation. I did go on one random trip with strangers, but I regret not putting myself out there more. I’ve never been a fan of forcing friendships just for the sake of having friends, but had I gone to more events and struck up more conversations maybe I would have met some people that were worth the effort. Oh and maybe I would have met a Spaniard…whoops!
3. Spanish. This last regret goes hand in hand with the other two. I’m really disappointed with my progress in Spanish this year. I know that when you reach a higher level in a language, progress is slow. But I think this was my chance to really become fluent… and to be completely honest…I blew it. Because I wasn’t (1) interested in Spanish from Spain and (2) didn’t put myself out there enough to make new friends, my Spanish has completely plateaued. I can thank Chile for everything I know and Spain gets left without any credit. Dare I say I’ve regressed?! Teaching English all day and hanging out with English speaking friends made it difficult, but I know I could have made time for some español en mi vida.
With these doozies you must be thinking “hmmm she’s leaving Spain sad and full of regret”
Learn from your mistakes annnnnnd
MOVE TO IBIZA!!!!!!
I also don’t want to know the regrets I’ll come up with there!