Getting ready to leave this week....FOUR MORE DAYS!!!!! (But who's counting?)

...I've been thinking a lot about what I'd like to accomplish in the next chapter of life.

Forget new year's resolutions. Now is the time to live, and live right! (Cue inspirational music). Different from my bucket list, these are personal goals, hopes, and aspirations I'm striving for in the near future.

10 things I Want Accomplish this Year
1. Make new friends, but keep the old.
2. Take a trip somewhere I don't have the desire to visit.
3. Read a novel, in Spanish.
4. Fall in love with something new.
5. Spend one week without internet.
6. Attend a futból match. 
7. Dress like a european.
8. Spend less money.
9. Affect the life of a student.
10. Remember how blessed I am.

What do you want to do in the next year of your life? It doesn't have to be January 1st to begin new goals, and you don't have to be loco enough to pack up and move across the world to have new aspirations for yourself either. Share with me some of your own!
Conversations lately have become very repetitive. 

In the dentist's office today, I had basically the same conversation with three different people. Let's just take a glimpse at all the (sometimes stupid) questions I've been asked.
I'll take, "I Think You're Really Ignorant For Not Knowing Where Spain Is" for 400, Alex.
Do you speak Spanish?
Where is Spain? South America?

So, you're studying abroad?
Oh, you can teach English? Is that like, a job there?
Will you get paid?

Do you have a Spanish boyfriend?
Are you going alone? Why?
Do you have a place to live yet?

Is it hot all the time there?
Is the food really spicy?

How long will you be there?

Of course, all of this is followed by: I am so jealous! I wish I would have done that when I was younger! You are very lucky, just make sure you are safe!

In short, my answers usually go like this: No, I don't. Not even answering that. No, I'm a college graduate. Yes, duh. Yes, duh again. No, I don't, thanks for the reminder! Yes. Because! Yes again. No. No you tonto, that's Mexico! I have no clue. And, I know, I am very excited. Cue fake smile.

I know people are sometimes honestly interested, and sometimes just trying to make small talk, but overall...I'm sick of the questions! I hate to be cynical, but ask me something about why I want to go, how I got this opportunity, or if I'm nervous or scared. Challenge me people!

To quote Elvis, which I don't think I've ever done in my lifetime...'a little less talk a little more conversation' would be nice! End rant.
I had some quality time by the pool and some fro-yo with a friend, Tara, today that helped me to rid some of my anxieties about the next year. 

She spent the last year as an English assistant, teaching in Castilla La Mancha.
Now, the school year is over and she is back home in the US. But she's only visiting.

She loves her family and friends so much here, but longs to be in Spain, where sometimes the grass just seems to be a little bit greener. Or the sangria seems to be a little bit stronger. 

So she's creating a life there for herself.
Maybe for a little while, maybe forever. Who knows!

I think for some, living abroad seems very unattainable. Moving there is loco. It's out of the question to live in a country where you don't speak the language. It's dreamlike to think that you'll be able to have fun and enjoy yourself when you don't know anyone. It's unreasonable to take a degree for something that you studied for four years and not even use it to it's fullest abilities. 

But that mentality isn't right. It's not wrong, it's just not right. Tara is living proof, and I will be too!

Putting all the scary stuff aside, things CAN work out, and they will, if that's what you want for yourself. I don't know what the Spanish word for cliche is, but, dreams really can come true!
Tara in her new home for the next year, Madrid!

Things I'm looking forward to in Spain:

I've made a small list of things I'll miss about the US. But there are so many things I'm looking forward to in the year(s) ahead.

1. Fiestas. Claras, cañas, and Spanish wine (or for the hard drinker in me...Vodka Negra). Staying out until daylight on Friday and Saturday nights dancing to my favorite Spanish songs, because that's just, what they do. Discotecas.
The street after the New Year's Eve (nochevieja) fiesta.
2. Tapas. Small appetizers you eat with a drink in bars. The spanish word for lid. An old legend describes a King who put a piece of jamon over his drink when the wind blew through the bar. Now ham and other small appetizers are called tapas. And they are delicious. Tortilla de patatas. Croquettes. Aceitunas. Tostada con tomate. 
From a tapas bar in Valladolid. Bread with sausage, cheese, and onions. Yum!
3. Siestas. In all reality, I won't take siestas everyday. Nor does any Spaniard I know. The always working American girl in me won't have time for that. But the fact that I COULD if I wanted to, and still not be socially labeled as an 'old lady', 'lazy youknowwhat', or a 'burnt out youngster' is a wonderful thing.

4. People watching. Seeing the old men and women in their Sunday best window shopping as they hold hands, and the little girls and boys dressed with bows in their hair pushing miniature baby buggies.
Precious Cherub children at Christmas time looking at a Nativity
5. Transportation. Letting my feet take me wherever I need to go. Walking past old Spanish architecture, even a 900 year old cathedral on my way to meet a friend. Riding through the Spanish countryside, on two-lane roads, scenic land on all sides of me.
Not the most scenic view, but still the Spanish countryside.
6. The language. A bit of a challenge for me, but still something I love. Castellano will be spoken to me, about me (hopefully good things) and written, all around me. Note: Stop signs say STOP. Weird, right?
7. Soccer. Ahem, fútbol. I don't know all the rules, I can't play very well, but I love watching the Spaniards obsess over it, and the passion they have for their teams. This year, I'll have to become a loyal fan. But hmm...which team should I choose? ¡VAMOS!
David Villa = a babe.
There is no list that could put into words everything that is so amazing about Spanish culture.

But this is a start to the list of the things to come in the next year of my life. I'm getting so excited!

"Home is where your mom is."

My mom has reminded me of many things over the last 23 years of my life. She's guided me and directed me down wonderful paths in my life.

And she's had a lot to say about each and every one of them. 
Especially about how her ONLY daughter has decided to pick up and move across the ocean. ....¿Quien?

We all have moms, and they all have their words of wisdom. Moving anywhere that isn't down the road is a huge change in a mother-daughter relationship. We've had our ups and downs about the topic, but I know more than anything what saying will be ringing in my head as I pack up these suitcases in the next few weeks:

A large magnet stuck to our fridge (and what will most likely be slipped into my suitcase before I go)..."Home Is Wherever Mom Is." She knows I will have many houses, casas, pisos, apartments, etc. throughout the next few years, but there is one that I can always call home. With her.

"If you don't know where you're going, then any road will take you there." -George Harrison

Just when things seem like they turned sour for me yesterday, the Florida sunshine awoke me with a new attitude. Opening my inbox, I found some pleasant surprises:

1. It is official. I have an apartment! The search is over and my fear about getting to Spain and becoming homeless, or fronting el dinero for a hostel is long gone.'s AWESOME!
It is in a great location (without giving away my exact address *ahem* stalkers...Campo Grande is my next door neighbor) and the pictures of the place make me smile...painted walls! Ikea furniture! And SO not abuela-ish as I thought a future apartment may be.
Won't you be my neighbor?
2. I have ALREADY been asked for private classes starting in September. I put up an ad a few days ago (Note: I am a planner. Due to, Things my mom says: "Early bird gets the worm!") and received an email this evening about a little boy who needs a private English tutor in a village close to Valladolid for the next school year. That means I won't be broke when I get to Spain either. 



As the time before leaving approaches, I have to be honest... I'm scared to go. 

I have so many emotions rolling through me, and I am unbelievably excited about so many things, but the fear of leaving for such a long period of time has sunk in. It has hit hard.

I am afraid of being alone.
I am afraid of losing touch with who I am.
I am afraid of not succeeding in the new things that I'll try.

But, I am most fearful of the friends and family I have in the US, the friends I have and the friends I will meet in Spain, and even the strangers on the street.

I'm scared they are all going to look at me and think, "What is she doing here?", not belonging in a place where I want to belong so badly.  

As I cry myself to sleep tonight, maybe several more in the next month before I leave(and I'm certain a few in that first week in Spain), I'm going to think of the opportunity I have made for myself, and remind myself that sometimes the scariest things in life are worth the most in the end.

Let the countdown begin

In exactly one month from today I will be arriving in Spain. 

The moment I'm most excited for upon arriving is seeing the Plaza Mayor again. I imagine it'll be like seeing someone you haven't seen for a long time. It's a shame I can't hug 10 buildings at once.

It's not a particularly special landmark or site. Just the center of a city, a square of buildings that Spaniards walk through on the path of their own lives, to go have coffee, grocery shop, or meet a friend. Pretty soon that's going to be me. Walking through that plaza, living in that city.

It's not the biggest, oldest, or most beautiful in Spain. But something about it just feels like a true home away from home.

A picture of the plaza is not only etched in the back of my mind, but at the top of this very website, so you can share the image with me as much as you'd like.
Plaza Mayor at Christmas Time