Saturday, February 1, 2014

Thoughts on Living Abroad

A year or two as an auxiliar in Madrid is an exciting and invigorating experience. I make enough money to live comfortably in the city and still have plenty of time to explore, travel, and look for the answers to the umpteen questions all twenty-somethings have. It's really an amazing deal, and I'd recommend the experience to everyone willing to take a leap and embrace their independence.

As you know, my situation is slightly different from some of my American friends. Although we are all attempting to answer those questions I mentioned above, many auxiliars I know are doing so while keeping in mind they will be returning home in a year or two. Although I have (slowly..) found some passion in teaching English and began to hold some meaning to my work here, we all know the real reason I came to Madrid was to be with the person I love. And although I know I will be here for another year, what lies beyond that is truly unknown. Really. I literally have no idea where in the world I will be after two years.. Nacho and I talk a lot about living in different countries. We discuss where he may have the best opportunities as a bilingual civil engineer, and also what my opportunities are in those places. The United States is high on the list, but not definite,and because of that both of us are open to living in other countries. Of course in this moment we are only throwing ideas out on the table; Denmark, Singapore, Brazil, Chile..the list goes on. For me this is super exciting. I feel energized thinking about the endless opportunities and paths before me.

I have always embraced the idea of living a 'global life,' one which is aware of cultures, people, places, lifestyles different from my own. But since my time living here, I have realized that an extreme amount of patience, energy, effort and intention MUST go into each and every day in order to live it well. To live far from home (and by home I mean physically close to family and those who love you, and also submerged in all that is familiar and comfortable, or mundane) requires a person to live with intention. Now, I'm not saying that this isn't required of those who live where they know. To be happy anywhere requires living an intent life, this is for sure. But to live in a foreign place seems, for me, to require a little extra something. An intention to make what is uncomfortable, unknown, or unfamiliar just the opposite. To embrace new routines. To put yourself out there in an endless number of ways. And to be able to live with the (constant) pang of homesickness. These are daily realities. For a traveler, they are exciting, amusing, enjoyable even. But adding a sense of permanency to the situation changes things, and life in a foreign place gets harder. I can do it now. I like to do it now. Can I do it in two years? Can I do it in three years? Can I do it for ten or twenty or thirty years?
Afternoon sun on my apartment ceiling 

1 comment:

  1. This is my third year living abroad and I often wonder how long I can do it as well. I'm currently in bit of a slump and would love the ability to just go home for a week or even weekend and regroup. That's not really possible being for far away! Sometimes it is tiring....most of the time I wouldn't want it any other way.

    All those plans and ideas ahead are very exciting! I'm sure you both will figure something out. Here's to leading a global life! ;)