Life has an interesting way of surprising me sometimes. After returning home 2 weeks early from my travels, I faced heart break after a long distance relationship I was determined to make work, well, just didn’t work right after I got back. Pressure and expectations got the best of me. So, I focused on getting my life started again in the Bay Area.
Step 1: Get a job. Next thing I knew, I had a job at a bean to bar chocolate factory. While on the commuter train after my first day of work- 9 hour work day and 1.5 hour one way commute home, I questioned just what I was doing. After all, my work hours in Spain were 12 hours a week, not 12 hours a day. The work as a teaching assistant may not have always been inspiring but my lifestyle was pretty darn good. I didn’t’ have to question too long because when my 2 week trial period was over, they abruptly told me, “Thanks but no thanks” and I breathed a sigh of relief. No more commute and no more monotonous human factory machine.
When the job fell away, Spain seemed to fit the bill. Except Spain wasn’t a place I thought I go back to so quickly. I questioned if I should go. Mind you, I was coming home for a guy whom I love (d) and we were both excited to be back together after being apart but just as travel teaches, plans are often made to be broken. I’m (slowly) letting go of the ideas I had created for myself months before, ideas that propelled me back home.
I’ll admit, returning to Spain scares me slightly and it’s surprising too since I’ve just spent a year living in Spain. I know what it’s like. I know the bureaucracy, I know the frustrating and difficult things I’ll face as an expat. What scares me isn’t the teaching job or the language but rather all the steps it takes to rebuild a life in a new place. I recall telling my good friend Jessica in Spain, after returning from my Winter holidays in California, ” You know, even if I wasn’t in a relationship, I wouldn’t do a second year because I would want to be in a new region of Spain, and it takes a lot of effort to get to know a place, create a sense of community, make friends, have a routine, etc.” I was so sure of this of course, until the door opened for me to have a second year.
The crazy thing is, I didn’t even try for a second year nor have any plans to renew and sometimes I wonder if it’s simply destiny. I only renewed to the program for legal reasons (my visa expired in May, I had a ticket home in July) and simultaneously, my boyfriend at the time, surprised me by mentioning he was considering applying (at the last minute) and we talked about regions we’d want to live in. He told me just in the nick of time so I could update my application a few days before I sent in my renewal application. As you can guess, in the end, I was placed. His application was never received. When I got placed in June, I didn’t pay any attention to where I was placed, except I knew the region was in the North; Pais Vasco, Basque Country.
The last 2 months has been letting go of my ideas and expectations of what I thought would happen, what I thought I may do and what is happening. Letting go is one of the hardest things to do and yet every time I’ve had to Let go, I find everything always falls into place, way better than I expected.
So in a few weeks time, I’ll be boarding a flight to Spain to a new region; to a new university town, where I’ll begin my search of finding a place to live, meet new people, visit my school and meet my students and colleagues and see what an unexpected second year brings me. I’m excited for the adventure and a little nervous at the same time.
Now I’m just waiting for my visa, that will be sealed into my passport, to arrive in the mail from the consulate. Until then, this will likely all continue to feel surreal.