Life in Madrid...six months in.
So, where to start? What a crazy six months its been...both good and bad. In an effort to be transparent, I have to admit it hasn't been all puppies and rainbows. While the majority of the first six months have been amazing, there have been challenges. For me, that starts with teaching...I'm not a natural born teacher and am nervous doing it every single day. Kudos to all of you teachers out there...I honestly don't know how you do it day in and day out. The issue isn't my students...they are lovely, wonderful people. I love learning about their lives, Spain, etc. Also, news flash, teaching doesn't pay very well. For someone coming from the riches of San Francisco to low pay and constant cancellations, that has been a tough adjustment. I think its important to share all sides of the story for anyone thinking of moving here to teach. You're not making a lucrative career choice and should come here with bucketloads of money in the bank...way more than you think you may need. If it wasn't for having my safety net of savings, I'm not sure how I would have survived this long.
What else...oh right, extreme culture shock. I never thought it would happen to me, but it did. From June to September everything was fun and carefree. Come October, I fell into a funk, which I've now been told from fellow expats was culture shock. Everything became so incredibly difficult...going to the supermarket, the bank, clothes shopping. Basically everything you need to do on a daily basis without being able to speak the local language. I felt (and still do sometimes) like a baby giraffe learning to walk. And, unfortunately, I didn't have a network of support from friends here to help me through it, which made it even tougher.
So, what about all of the positives? Living abroad is amazing!! Not to get too political, but its especially amazing not having to live in the U.S. right now under the current administration who shall remain nameless. I've been forced out of my comfort zone more times than I can count, but I know that is only going to make me a better, stronger person. Teaching has given me valuable new skills and has forced me to face my fear of public speaking. I've met incredible people that I can't imagine not having in my life. I have traveled to some beautiful places in Spain like Pozos and Menorca, as well as Denmark and Sweden, with many more countries to come. I'm attempting to learn a new language albeit very slowly.
Fellow expats have told me that the first six months to a year are difficult and you have to tough it out, which I (likely) plan to do. After a couple of weeks back in the U.S for the holidays, I adjusted my expectations and attitude and now understand that any big change in life will take time. I'm looking forward to more traveling, actually practicing my Spanish on a daily basis, and seeing what comes next in this adventure.
I'm Becki...a part-time traveler and recovering expat back in the U.S. after two amazing years spent living in Spain.