Change is Imminent … You Ready Espana?!

So if you still haven’t figured it out…SPAIN, are you ready?! I have been contemplating this change for the past 12 months and preparing for this trip for the past 6, and am finally here. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MEEE!! The feelings stirring in me leading up to the trip were unexplainable. Now that I am here, I think I can express what exactly I was thinking and feeling. If you have traveled in the past and had to plan ahead (such as obtaining a visa and foreign drivers license), I know you can relate. Though this is not the first time I have traveled or obtained a visa, this time around, getting my visa was probably one of the hardest and most frustrating processes I’ve ever had to endure in my life. Not to mention that the Consulate didn’t completely shut my USPS envelope when returning my passport to me, so it could’ve fell out or USPS could’ve accessed my personal information. I’ve been told that I am not the only person who has dealt with this ridiculousness. But thank goodness I did indeed receive my passport, with my visa properly inserted, and in 3 weeks from my appointment. Check out my post “Preparing to Enter a Foreign Country” and GOOD LUCK!! Do not sleep on the visa process. And do your best not to procrastinate or try to travel with little time to prepare. You always want to make sure your business is handled at home, and you have somewhere to go when you reach your destination. And don’t forget SAFETY!! Initial fears and anxieties were also a dominant memory. First, I of course was worried that I wouldn’t be able to afford the trip. But with help from student loans and having saved up before I lost my job, I was able to make it work. I promised myself that I wouldn’t make this type of decision with less than $2000 left in my bank account AFTER I paid for all of my expenses and considered the expenses I’d have once in a new country. Secondly, I worried about not receiving my visa at the time that I expected, or at all. I just felt like, what if I am the person who gets declined. So glad that wasn’t the case. Next, my loved ones. I was so afraid to leave my family (and friends). They have been my support system and my reason for pushing myself to be something worth recognizing and celebrating. But with their unconditional love and support, they made me feel comfortable enough in my decision. Last, I had anxieties about standing out too much and not being able to fit in with a foreign culture. I worried about cultural barriers and not having too much knowledge about the Spanish language and culture. I was afraid that I’d be judged or unwanted. And I know these fears were kind of melodramatic because my research has shown me that Americans are welcomed and the Spanish are understanding to our lack of language proficiency and cultural experiences. But when you are moving somewhere, alone, and without any resources or contacts, such fears are bound to creep in. As for packing, I was able to put my life into 3 large suitcases (no more than 50 lbs). I double-checked everything, making sure I had outfits for every occasion (including for interviews/work), and ensuring that I had all of my proper identification and documentation in case any emergencies arose. Don’t forget leaving a copy of everything with a close family member (or friend) or 2 in case of emergencies. So after I handled everything I needed to get done. After I said my goodbyes to my family and friends. It was time for me to embrace the change of pace and place that was about to take place. And I surely did. After I let go of all of my worries and reservations, I was able to enjoy what was about to happen to me. Of course you get those jitters. A bit of bubble guts. But all good feelings of faith, hope, excitement, and determination. As I waited to board the plane, Iberia Airlines, I recited the prayer of serenity in my head. I asked God to surround me and all the others boarding the flight with me. I asked Him to bless the Captains and stewards. I found my seat (next to the window of course), placed my bag in the overhead, and as a tear (I’m assuming of joy) fell from my eye, I smiled. I got adjusted, popped in my ear phones on the plane, and touched down in Madrid in no time (7 hours). One of the longest, but best flights ever. And maybe one of the best because I was mentally prepared for a great start to a wonderfully new journey in my life. I am looking forward to the wonderful people I will get to meet. I am looking forward to finally learning Spanish and experiencing the Spanish culture. I am looking forward to strengthening my core both mentally and physically. But most importantly, I am looking forward to doing something positive for others. I am not exactly sure how I will fulfill these dreams and accomplish all of these goals (meaning I have not planned what places I will visit, which restaurants I will eat in, what hostels I will get to visit, which organizations I will reach out to in order to help others), but I am dedicated to making this experience one of the most empowering experiences that I have ever had the opportunity to dream of, let alone live.

Stay tuned. I will be posting pictures once I get acclimated and settled. How are your new traveling experiences going? Any main concerns before you left for your journey? Do Tell Nicola…