Part 7: Lost in Spain
I had a great trip across the US and back to visit family in Canada, but it was time to get back to work in Madrid. School was back in session for the Fall.
In between teaching six days a week (yes, I taught 5 hours on Saturdays), I spent as much time with my friends as possible, exploring the city of Madrid and nearby locations. I made it to Toledo, Aranjuez, Ibiza, Moralzarzal, Fuengirola, Avila, and several other towns whose names I never caught while there. I remember one I went to had a ton of stork nests, and I even caught sight of a few storks carrying newborn babies to welcoming parents. ;) A student of mine lent me his season pass to see a Real Madrid soccer game. The stadium held 81,044 people. The fans were so intense that I was compelled to leave before the game finished. Another memory was of a crazy outdoor concert in Madrid called Rock in Rio, where 90,000 people watched as Shakira, Rihanna, and David Guetta performed into the early hours. It was wild. It's been a long time since I've been around that many people all at once.
My best friend Kathy was getting married in Las Vegas, so I flew there from Madrid, my mom arrived from Lethbridge, and my sister met us both from the Cayman Islands. It was great that we could all get away and meet up after so many months apart. We seemed to affect others around us infectiously everywhere we went with our sense of humor and laughter. We had a fantastic five days staying at the Luxor hotel and laughing together while celebrating with Kathy and her family and friends. It was my first destination wedding. Also, my first time ordering 50 chicken nuggets for $10! And, not surprisingly, my last. My sister and I decided to have our caricatures done, and I'm so glad we did. They are hilarious (and accurate)—one of my favorite art pieces (see it below).
After the wedding, we all went our separate ways again, and I returned to Madrid.
The experience of living abroad again was excellent; learning how to interact with individuals in other languages and speak with them in their language as enjoying the tastes of delicious Spanish food, the sights of history and architecture, and the sounds of flamenco music and the Spanish language was intoxicating. Even so, I decided that after three years of living in Madrid, it was time to switch gears and head once again closer to family. It was tough to leave all of my great friends and the life that I was starting to carve out for myself in Spain, but I just felt that I wasn't meant to live there forever.
I became the go-to instructor for many courses, including GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test). I enjoyed my time at the school and getting to know many amazing people, but I knew I had to be closer to family. I learned how to negotiate for the highest salary my private school had ever paid, as I knew that I was both highly competent and sought-after (being the only teacher of GMAT).
While making a life in a different culture yet again, I made the difficult decision to leave Spain and move closer to home and my family.
Giving a hug to my grandma was the best, and I visited her as much as possible. Coming from Spain, who had just made it to the World Cup final, I laid out my Spanish flag and sat with my grandma. We watched as Spain won the final. It was a great experience that I won't forget. I also got to spend more quality time with my mom. I helped her organize her new home and decided to dig into our family photo albums while I had the time, and sorted them as best I could. We ended up storing them in a big trunk, but at least we knew all the photos were now in one place, and the next step was getting them digitized.
After a few months of visiting with friends and family and helping out how I could, I still hadn't figured out a job in Lethbridge, so I decided to take the return flight that I still had booked for Madrid but get off in Toronto. I didn't want to waste the ticket and had a friend I'd met in South Korea who was now living there and could stay with while I figured out my next steps. I was excited to be able to explore the big city of Toronto finally.
I said goodbye to my family once again but knew that I would be back again.
You would think that living in an English-speaking country would be easier, but it wasn't. I was about to get another hit of reverse culture shock. But again, I'd persevere and adapt.
I hope you enjoyed the stories and photos.
Check out Part 8: Toronto & Beyond