Why Spain? Life lessons in a small town

My desire to live in Spain has always been unexplainable to me, it was simply a feeling, drawn to a country I didn’t know much about. After my first month in Spain, dealing with the challenges moving to a new country brings, I often asked myself, “Why Spain?” I was struggling through a long distance relationship and trying to find my place in my small town. I loved the beach and my high school but I felt uncomfortable with all the time I had. What was I going to do? I’m from America- I’m not used to having time to relax because gosh darn it, I have to be productive all the time!

Beach and paseo

Over time, I slowly embraced this opportunity to relax, watch TV to help improve my Spanish, read books and spend time with new friends. It took me several months to be ok with not having a plan for weekends I stayed in Roquetas. I would freak out a bit if I wasn’t hopping on a bus or getting in a car to go somewhere for the weekend. When I returned to Spain after a visit home for the holidays, I made a deal with myself, I would stay 2 weekends a month in Roquetas at a minimum. I soon learned and appreciated the  joys and fun that happens when I open myself up to possibilities and have an open schedule. Friends would unexpectedly invite me somewhere or my new teacher friend would include me in her plans, something that wasn’t possible when I wasn’t in town. The beauty of what happens when I Let Go…

I was reminded that if you want to create community you have to be in your community and seek opportunities out- I want dance and yoga classes? I’ve got to start asking around.  You want to make friends? You have to be in town. And like anywhere you live, creating community takes time and effort, it’s not a snap of the fingers. Sometimes it feels daunting and tiring but always well worth it in the end. My Spanish has improved because of it, (it still ebbs and flows- good speaking days and not so good) and some of my best memories have been with friends enjoying the Andalucian lifestyle of eating tapas, drinking and spending time with friends because moments are really all we have.

Tea and cookies at a tetería

There was also an unexpected turn when I returned in January when my flat mate told me he was moving out. I first viewed his move negatively and was frustrated and angry by his decision. But life has it’s ways of working out and after unsuccessful attempts to find a new flat mate, I came to love living on my own. Something I wouldn’t have done on my own nor could I have predicted I’d live alone in Spain and am grateful to have had the opportunity to do. Sometimes life seems to know best!

Living in Spain has also surprised me in a way I never could have guessed or imagined: it has taught me about a culture I grow up in, a Latino culture that I often didn’t understand and now am slowly putting the pieces together. Interestingly enough, my good friend whom I met on my first day is Mexican and she has provided me insight and background on a lot of things I had experienced growing up but lacked context, and therefore understanding. (Seems the good friends I’ve made here have Latino/Hispanic roots as if the Gods are conspiring for me to learn as much as possible about my roots!)

I grew up with a very Chilean father, distinctly Latino yet growing up I had no idea what having a father from a different country meant. He was just my dad. Chilean and Spanish culture have there variations and differences but there are a lot of similarities. Similarities that remind me of my dad daily and I’m grateful to finally be aware of how much culture has been apart of my life. Culture that has surrounded me, caused conflict between my father and I and yet has made me who I am today.

Sometimes we don’t know why we have specific dreams or impulses to do something or go somewhere. Just like my travels in Africa, my dream to live in Spain didn’t seem to have any foundation of where the desire came from. Living in Spain  seemed to be intuitive, a place to learn my next lessons in life. I’ve learned a  lot about myself this year but I’d say one of the most important has been realizing how powerful and important culture is and providing insight into my own roots. For this I’m deeply grateful. I give a big thanks to having a supportive family and great friends who always encourage  me to follow my dreams, even if it leads me far away from them.  


14 thoughts on “Why Spain? Life lessons in a small town

  1. Interesting what draws us to different places…I’m in Spain mainly because I wanted to learn the language (but don’t ask me why, lol, I’ve always had an inexplicable affinity with it…). I knew very little about Spanish culture and life before my arrival. I’ve learnt a lot in a year 😉 ….and still know nothing.

    • Hi Lady of the cakes,
      thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! LIke you I’ve also been drawn to Spain to learn a language my dad never bothered to teach me.. GUess there’s a reason= I’m suppose live in SPain for a few years! Where are you living?
      Yes so much to learn and every region/city is different!

      • Hi Simone,
        Toledo is still on my list of places to visit. I’ve been to Madrid several times but hope to make it to Toledo soon. So many places to see in Spain.

        Yes, the cold has begun in the North and I’m not a fan…jajaja

  2. Pingback: What I’ll miss about Spain « Roamingtheworld

  3. Great post, Lauren. We’ve talked about this before – it’s crazy, isn’t it, how intuition will guide us when we just stop to listen to it? And if we don’t, it seems to push harder until we give in! I think that at our core, we all know what’s best for us, and life does the rest, planting funny little lessons along the way. 😉

  4. I can’t blame you for being drawn to Spain and its culture, delicious foods, and warm atmosphere. I only traveled there briefly when I still lived in Europe, but what a great country! I’d be interested in hearing further about your cultural assimilation (though you mention having a Chilean father so I’m sure some cultural aspects were already ingrained in you). Wonderful post 🙂

  5. I didn’t grow up with a Latin background but there is sense of comfortability that I feel when I am there, almost as if it balances my Canadian-ness if that is at all possible!

  6. I can relate to that instinctive / intuitive need to live in Spain. That’s how I’ve felt all my life… and these are feelings for a country I essentially know nothing about! And the irony is that my perception of Spain is not romanticised, I’m very well aware of the negatives and challenges that come with living in Spain and yet that hasn’t been enough to deter me. All the best for the road ahead 🙂

    • Isn’t it interesting how we just feel compelled to go to certain places?! So you coming to Spain next year to teach English?

      • I honestly don’t know. It would depend on the economy and the state of the world – but I’d be there at the first opportunity! 🙂

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