Dear Iberian Peninsula,

I don’t think I miss you…

Plaza Mayor at night, Gijón

Plaza Mayor at night, Gijón

Whoa. That’s a bit harsh and not very nice.  Let’s see, how do I express all the emotions and the intangible…

I miss things about you.

Oh how I do.

But before I explain how I miss you so; you see, I’m happy to be with my family. To have happy hour dates with my mom and to see my good friends (who live in the Bay Area) on the regular.

Not to say, I didn’t create some pretty incredible friendships abroad. Being home makes it that much more complicated because I’ve come home to a small but amazing group of friends while my friendships around the world have grown. It’s never a bad thing to have friends in different places but it’s frustrating when I want to hang out with them and my best option is a Skype date. I wish I could hang with all of you lovelies where ever I am. 

Lauren (sobremesainspain) and Lauren (roamingtheworld) in Oveido, Asturias

Lauren (sobremesainspain) and Lauren (roamingtheworld) in Oveido, Asturias

 I know.

 That’s a bit selfish.

 I also have to say I really enjoy speaking in my native tongue on the daily, except I’m not quite sure if I can really say that. Between staying in touch with friends in Basque Country, I do a fair share of speaking and texting in Spanish. Living in a different language is quite the experience and I admit, I love(d) and dislike(d) it all at the same time. Learning new words, new expressions, noticing my progress and then the constant plateaus as my brain processed all the new information.  Interestingly, now that I’m “home,” some days my tongue and my brain aren’t cooperative and the words don’t flow in English as I expect them too.   On my really great days, I find myself thinking in Spanish and sometimes, even talking to myself in Spanish, (yeah, I do that).

 There are plenty of things I miss about you but I’ll save the laundry list for another post.

It’s true. I’m jumping into a new life here and am grateful to have great friends here. I’m pressing the “restart” button and beginning again. A place that is familiar, filled with memories and yet full of places still to be discovered and explored, restaurants to taste and new friendships to cultivate.

You want to know what I miss most about living on the Iberian peninsula?

I miss my life style.

 

I really do.

My life style was Simple. Social. Engaging. Fun. Easy.

 My work life was no more than 20 hours a week and though I may have had classes at different hours of the day, I had an impressive amount of free time. I quickly learned I had to schedule writing time and Skype dates because even with more time, it filled up quickly.  Having time meant a chance for the unexpected to happen, such as having a conversation in the street with someone I knew, ringing a friends’ door bell just to say hi, which turned into a 2 hour conversation or impromptu “Let’s go for pintxos” text messages an hour before or “want to come over and cook dinner together in a few hours,” type of calls because we could. I loved that I had plenty of time for friends, socializing, making time to cook (often 2 meals a day), practicing the art of eating (wink),  traveling and writing often. It was beautiful; life bringing the unexpected when you’re open to the possibilities (and have a flexible schedule).

Pintxos Pinxos! Bar Zeruko, San Sebastian

Pintxos Pinxos! Bar Zeruko, San Sebastian

Work was easy. Sometimes my job was engaging, sometimes fun, sometimes frustrating and downright boring. Teaching English to unmotivated high school students wasn’t fulfilling but then again, that’s not why I moved to Europe. I was there to improve upon my Spanish, to experience another culture, to push my comfort zones, to travel, and live in another country with different sets of rules and customs; never easy or simple but worth all the hardship.

 As I settle in to being back in the Bay Area, I’m crafting what I want my life to look like here. Some days I wonder how can I combine the best of both places?  It’s an interesting experience returning home (more on this later). I want to incorporate certain aspects about the Spanish/Basque/European lifestyle while simultaneously focusing on finding a fulfilling job, a place to call home and re-adjusting to the culture of California. 

Let’s see how my next chapter unfolds…

Have you spent time abroad? What are things you did to help with the BIG transition?  What are things you miss about being abroad?transition?

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20 thoughts on “Dear Iberian Peninsula,

    • Hi there,
      Thank you for reading. I can only imagine. What a big change. Weather, culture, food, landscape…

  1. Pingback: Road tripping and living the simple life in Boonville | Roamingtheworld

  2. As a person who is back home for the first year, too, I completely understand your thoughts. Diving in head first to American culture/work ethic has sent me reeling. I miss Spain, I love it, but I am glad to be back in the US right now. I think it is ok to have this kind of feeling.

    • I imagine it’s quite normal for us. Big transitions that I don’t always honor but would do me good if I did. Even just being around my good friend’s, sometimes they want to categorize me of how they knew me before Spain or have a hard time accepting certain things have changed within when on the outside, I “appear” the same.

  3. I understand you. It’s okay to feel split between the two!! I go to Spain and I get grouchy about what doesn’t go my way. I come home and I pine for Spain so it’s just normal! 😀 So are you back for good???

    • Thanks Birgit,
      It’s an interesting experience wanting the best of both. For now, I’m staying in the Bay Area but if I’ve learned one thing, nothing is for certain and the only thing constant in life is CHANGE. The travel bug is slightly dormant for now… but I’m open to living abroad again down the road. Maybe South America or …?

      • You should try South America! I would do it. I hear so many good things about Ecuador, Chile and Peru. Also Argentina…how can you chose one? Do all of them! But I hear San Francisco is pretty awesome so…just do what you’re doing, you’re doing life the right way I think!

      • Thanks Birgit.
        I’m actually researching going to Chile the first 2 weeks of January. I have a Chilean passport and family their. Just working out dates and prices. Of course, prices are expensive.

        I’m blessed with all my travels and life experience. I know my life will be filled with many more. Now I’m trying to build some foundations to continue to have more travels in my life and work towards being able to have a family and support the lifestyle I envision…

      • Wow! I think I would like Chile too. My grandmother loved it. She went several times during her life and Ecuador and Peru. GO!! You should – the price will be worth it.

  4. Glad to hear your adjustment back is going well. Whenever I think about moving back to California, the lifestyle is definitely one of the major things I think I’d miss about Spain. I also wonder if I’d get bored in a way from not having the constant challenges of living in another country…and I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing.

    Out of curiosity, are there any California things you’re having a tough time with?

    • Hi Jessica,
      You know there are challenges here. I’m not sure you’d get bored, it’s just different set of rules to face.

      I’ll have to think about what I’m having a tough time with. I’ve been go go go.

      Traffic, people being impatient, having to use my car as the fastest means of transport (instead of a 15 min walk everywhere it’s minimum 15 minute drive everywhere), high cost of living (and now I really want to live alone rather than share an apt/house with lots of people) ha.

      How was your trip home?

    • Yet a lot connects to the lifestyle… we are convenience focused here. SF is changing culturally. Seems its the land of apps and creating things that are more convenient.

      We busy ourselves a lot. Friends don’t have as much time as I do (partly bc I’m soon to be unemployed) and I want a life full of balance. I don’t want my job to be my main focus, you know?!

  5. HI, Lauren. is touching to read your writing. Not only you incorporate friends or aspects from other places or from people, but you are a person who transmit a lot of good things. I miss you.

  6. God post. I’m not sure I’ll miss living here when I’m gone, but I will miss things about it: going for tapas, walkability, bares, etc.

    Also I talk to myself in Spanish all the time, and then I’m like, “Why the heck am I doing that? Oh well.”

    • Hi Kaley,
      thanks for reading and commenting. Sounds like Spain isn’t really your place but you’re making do, eh?

      Glad to know I’m not the only one who talks to myself in Spanish. Ha…

      • Ha! Yeah, it’s not that I don’t like Spain (I do, I swear!), I just see myself living somewhere else. I’m a total homebody. I hope that doesn’t seem derogatory to Spain and Spaniards, ya know?

      • Yeah. I get it. I like Spain but Spain never felt like a place I could see myself for the long term. Who knows what the future will bring but for now, I’m content to start my life again here, despite the challenges.
        But challenges are everywhere. It’s just different depending on the place.

  7. It’s hard to balance indeed! But the gift of knowledge and travel is discovering what you do and don’t like of a hobby, life, place and then taking that with you onto the next journey – you’ll do great!

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