Living in Spain – Starting 2014 right!!
So I decided to move to Malaga, Spain for 3 months, to learn Spanish while experiencing a new culture and meeting new people. I knew adapting to a new place wouldn’t be easy, but I figured I was moving to a developed country so I would do fine, I mean, it can’t be that different, right? Wrong!
Having lived in the US for almost 10 years, it most definitely became the place I called my second home. This is where I spent the formative years of my life and so I became accustomed to doing things and living life “the American way”. After a mini life-changing experience late last year, I decided I was going to live my dreams and pursue the things that make me happy. You know, at every stage of your life you ask yourself – what is important to ME right now? Actually, a friend of mine applying to business school asked me that question – it was one of the application essays.
I pondered on that question for a bit. Five years ago, the most important to me was getting a job after college and making money – I wanted to live the American dream. Today, the most important to me is happiness. I know this sounds very cliché but it truly is what matters most to me right now – being happy in every area of my life. I think it comes with age or the various life experiences you face but sincerely, I’d rather be happy and fulfilled and healthy than rich and unfulfilled.
When I decided to fully take on this travelling thing – not just locally within the US – I realized what was important to me and it was being happy, making a positive impact in my community and in the world, and living life to the fullest, whatever your definition of that is. Mine entails living a purpose-driven life.
Anyways, so I decided to study Spanish in Spain for 3 months – well, I could only afford to live off my savings for 3 months – and make the most of it studying and living in Europe. I figured I might as well check off things on my “101 things to do in 1001 days” list. One of my many goals to become fluent in at least 5 languages and to live in all the continents, if possible.
Couldn’t have asked for a better roommate – Love you, Saskia!
Living in Spain hasn’t been an easy transition, and not because Spain is not a beautiful place to live in (because it is gorgeous!), but because adjusting to a new language and culture is indeed an experience. Especially moving from NYC where everything is so fast-paced and lively, to a very tranquil city like Malaga. It definitely takes some getting used to. Oh, and let’s not even talk about my experiences trying to buy stuff at the pharmacy and getting the wrong prescription because I couldn’t communicate effectively in Spanish. Or ordering the same meal everyday because you have NO idea what the menu says. They say it only gets better – fingers crossed. It has been 3 weeks now and with classes, I am now able to understand some words. The only problem I am having is that I find myself switching back to English – Solamente Espanole, dices el Profer en escuela.
I hope to do a lot of self-discovery in the next few months, taking the time to learn a lot about myself, and about life. You know, ponder on reasons why we as humans always have the “I wish I did” or “I wish I can” mentality, instead of actually doing. I always think to myself, I wish I did all these things (travel, study abroad, become a flight attendant, read more books, study more languages) while I was in college or when I was younger. Or sometimes I say “I wish my parents didn’t just give me German and French books to read while I was growing up, but actually forced me into language school or took me to live in one these countries”. You know, wishful thinking. So I’m over here trying to do everything possible before I hit 30, before I am labeled old and ripe for marriage and ready for kids – I just want to experience life all at once. I call it “Rushed Late Twenties Living.”
The first 3 weeks in Spain have taught me this: I can do it all, maybe not all before 30, but one is never too old to experience life and pursue that which you want to do – learn a new language, travel, fly a plane, whatever it may be. There is a lady in my Spanish class who moved to Spain for a year from the US with her family (husband and kid) and she is going to be learning Spanish for a year. There is also a 61-year old Korean woman in my class studying Spanish, and lots of folks my age and younger. Meeting all these people made me realize this. So at this point I’ve decided to take it one day at a time; write out all my goals and regardless of my age, try my best to achieve them. For those that are married, even if it means waiting till your kid is 5 or older to make that move to that country you’ve always wanted to live in or for those who have a crazy work schedule – even if it is at the age of 60, you can learn a new language. The most important thing is this: you seek to follow whatever your dreams or passions are.
“Learn how to enjoy yourself on the way to where you are going” – Joyce Meyer