Sitting here in this little café in Malsaña, writing this first Madrid blog post is a bit surreal. I remember this time last year... I was a senior at Penn State, unsure of what direction I wanted to take my life come graduation. You see, there was so much pressure to have a plan, and for someone who plans everything, I was feeling the pressure.
Side note about me- I always do my best thinking in a coffee shop. I can’t begin to imagine how many hours (and money) I have spent over the years at little cafés, journaling, catching up with friends, working on my computer.. You get the idea. Anyways, I remember exactly one year ago, I found myself walking into one of my most frequented State College cafés, determined to come up with a plan. For months now, I had had this crazy idea of ditching the norm of getting a corporate job to instead pack up and move to Spain. This idea was terrifying yet at the same time, so exciting and captivating; I couldn’t think of anything else.
I sat there in that café at Penn State, laptop open, clicking on blog after blog, written by those who had mustered up enough courage to move to Madrid to teach English the year before. I recall reading these short little posts, feeling a tang of jealousy for the authors who had been brave enough to live out their dreams and move to Madrid, embracing all the things the world had to offer them. I was jealous in the sense that these strangers were able to make the jump and start their own adventures, something I craved desperately yet felt too scared to do the same. In my heart, I knew I wanted to move to Madrid and experience the incredible things that these bloggers had written about, yet at the same time, the idea of not sticking to my original plan was beyond overwhelming.
You see, I had always had a 5 year plan... and trust me, for 21 years, I had always stuck to that perfectly planned out schedule and to-do list. Up until March 2020, I thought I had my life completely figured out. I would study abroad for 4 months in Sevilla, graduate in May 2021, start work a month later hopefully with the highest paying job, and then continue to work my way up the corporate ladder. So original, right?
Then March 2020 came around. At this point I was a junior in college, studying in Sevilla, Spain, living my absolute life... or so I thought. Everything felt surreal. Traveling every weekend, making friends from all over the world, exploring new cities and cultures… If you studied abroad I’m sure you can relate. Before March 2020, my plan was working out perfectly. I had my dream internship lined up for that summer, I already knew the companies I wanted to apply to for a full time job and senior year was on track to be incredible.
Then, suddenly my 5 year plan hit a little roadblock...Or a major roadblock. 2 weeks of quarantine quickly turned into months of lockdown and I began to reflect on what I truly wanted out of my life and the things that actually mattered. I realized how unpredictable life is, and how little we can truly control as human beings. The little things all of a sudden became much more important and cherished, and my 5 year plan no longer seemed as concrete.
This time last year, sitting in that small State College coffee shop, I had a few job offers on the table awaiting my response, but, I also had my computer open to the application to teach English in Madrid. As I filled out the application, I remember thinking to myself “Kendall, I am going to be so pissed if you end up not moving to Madrid next year.” I was scared of the unknown, and for someone who is used to constantly being in control, the idea of moving to Madrid instead of starting work right away seemed like an impossible dream.
Now flash forward one year, and here I am, in Madrid, in a little coffee shop, reflecting on the past 22 days that I have officially called this city my home. To anyone now who is feeling the same way that I did last year, if I have any advice for you, it would be “just go for it.” Seriously. Just go for it. Life is short and we have a lot of life to live, adventures to have, and places to explore. I couldn’t be happier than how I feel right now. Ditching that ‘5 year plan’ and having the courage to move here has already been the best decision of my life, and it’s only just begun...