Inspired by the many others who somehow think their personal thoughts and reflections will be interesting to the outside world, I am starting this blog. Despite my being an engineer, I have always had a hidden slant towards the world of letters. Perhaps it's the result (either genetic or learned) of having two English-teacher parents. Whatever the reason, I have long kept journals and diaries, chronicling the relatively tame world of a now 20-something from the suburbs of the Midwest. Tame that is until an innocent college semester studying abroad in Madrid, Spain.
Duke in Madrid probably changed my life. I’m not going to claim that it was such a profound educational experience that I arrived back on US shores with a newfound sense of self and surroundings. But there is no denying that my life was shaped by those 4 months. More than anything else, I was left with a desire to return. I’m sure that many people find themselves with the same urge, the same itch. In all honesty I cannot even claim that my desire was caused by a deep love or appreciation for Spain and the Spanish people. Quite possibly it was the simple result of 4 months of home cooking, unbeatable nightlife, trips around Europe, and very little schoolwork. Regardless, I left with a longing to return - little more than a year later I was given the opportunity.
They say that the enchufe (or connection) is invaluable in Spain – it opens countless doors, be they job interviews, real estate opportunities, or VIP treatment. It is only fitting, then, that my chance to return to Madrid was given to me by the daughter of an acquaintance of my mother. The connection was a tangled one but it left my good friend and I with an incredible apartment near the Parque del Buen Retiro for the summer after college graduation. We arrived with return tickets and suitcases packed with summer clothes only. It wasn’t too long before we were phoning home to announce that we weren’t ready to leave after all and begging our parents to send fall and winter clothes.
For the next two years we taught English classes to a myriad of clients, from 3 year-olds to VPs of major companies. My tenure even involved leading English-language aerobic and dance classes in elementary schools! Neither of us were top-level English teachers, but that profession gave us the ability to stay in Madrid and the flexibility to travel around, seeing the best of Europe – from San Fermín to Las Fallas, the Love Parade to Oktoberfest. At the end of those two years we both left, knowing that it was time we “grew up” and got real jobs. We couldn’t play in Madrid forever. When I left that time I did indeed take with me a true love for Spain and for its people. And for one person in particular.
I met Nacho towards the end of those two years. When I left we figured out a way to still be together and he moved with me to South Florida. Over the past four years we created a life in the States. We started careers, got married, and bought our first home, all the while missing the lifestyle of Madrid.
And so it is that we’re on the brink of returning there. Nacho, in fact, is already there – having left just after we sold our condo to begin the search for a job and an apartment. I’m leaving in just about 3 weeks and my intention is to chronicle the adventure on these pages. From suburbanite to city girl... As if the culture shock alone wasn’t enough!! The coming months will surely be stressful and exhausting as I begin the paperwork for my residency and work permits, and then the search for a job. Perhaps an enchufe will surface to help me out…