Next Year

This is the first year where I haven’t renewed my application for this program. On the one hand, my experience is better than ever. I love living in this city, I get on well with the students, and I learn a lot from my bilingual coordinator. At the same time, I am starting to feel like maybe I’m not qualified enough for other types of jobs, and that feeling scares me. I remember when I was younger and felt like I could do anything if I set my mind to it. I want to regain that feeling by giving myself bigger challenges to overcome with work that, while not less enjoyable, gives me greater freedom and responsibilities.

Of course, I don’t want to leave Madrid. I don’t have a work visa to stay without this program.

It’s complicated, and something I need to figure out within the next month or two.

I have a few options:
– Get employed by an academy
– Work illegally giving individual classes
– Get employed by a company or a restaurant
– Marry someone with European Union citizenship
– Study a Master’s degree
– Start a business

This program is finished at the end of June. It will be the end of an era for which I will be forever grateful. I don’t regret it even one little bit.

Madrid

This year, I’m living in Madrid. Each day I feel less like a tourist. I stop taking pictures because the novelty of crumbling plaster no longer calls my attention as it used to. I start to yearn for weekends in, reading books and binding homemade journals, rather than getaway after getaway to fill my passport with stamps as soon as possible.

Maybe one reason that things have changed so much is because I really love living in Madrid. Sevilla was a beautiful, warm, friendly, sleepy town. I spent lots of time laying in the sun and reading in the afternoon. When I wanted to meet friends, we’d sit outside on the terrace, stare out across the river, or cook a big meal together. When the weekend came, I was ready for excitement.

In Madrid, it’s always excitement. There are dozens of theaters to choose from, and even the most formal of them are ridiculously affordable. The Royal Theater of Madrid, bringing in Russian ballets and Italian operas, sells tickets at a 90% discount to anyone under the age of 30. Every café is competing to be the cutest, the coolest, the most alternative, the freshest, the most traditional, the most creative, the most underground, the most innovative. I can go to a café that calls its dessert menu “Orgasms” with a decor of hot air balloons and a mounted unicorn head. I can go to a café where 20 living cats share the seats with you. I can go to a restaurant that only serves 20 people each day, and turns away the rest, because the owners are young and couldn’t afford a refrigerator when they first bought the place. I can go to a café that offers brunch theater every Sunday. I can go to a café where you’re sure to see a famous singer, actor, or author every week. Then there is the physical activity: roller blading is huge. You can rent mountain bikes and take them up and down the hills in Casa de Campo for only €4/hour. Daytrip hiking is easily accessible by bus or by train. There are art exhibitions everywhere: in the world-renowned museums, in the restaurants, in the post office, in the bank. Plus, Madrid is a bustling city full of expats, students, young and ambitious professionals, big thinkers, film makers, and entrepreneurs. There are groups meeting every day at all hours to discuss the philosophy of Love, international craft beers, and original version cinema; different groups meet to explore coffeeshops or vegetarian restaurants; so not only is there plenty to do, there are plenty of people to do things with.

When the weekend comes, I’m excited for all the things I could do each weekend — including relax.

I’m trying to remember to look at Madrid with fresh eyes. I want to take lots of pictures so that I can keep the memories of this fortunate experience I’m having. And I want to remember to buy and send postcards. It’s funny and gratifying how postcards from Madrid feels sort of like sending postcards from college. I like how I’ve adjusted to life here.