My expectations for life in Spain were very high. I was thrilled for all the new things included: job, colleagues, students, culture, terrain, a slightly alternative way of life, and a different native language. I have traveled to Spain before, so I had an idea of what I was getting into culturally speaking, but the work side of things was completely up in the air. As my departure date approached, my excitement level continued to elevate.
Below is the breakdown of where I was mentally.
A NEW JOB
Prior to moving to Spain, I worked in the entertainment industry in Hollywood for seven years. I started my career in a talent agency and then eventually moved to production. Both of my jobs required creativity, extreme organization, professionalism exceptional time management and nonstop human interaction with every personality type under the sun. I knew that teaching would require many of the same skills and was ready to put them to work.
Due to the nature of production, new colleagues would come and go almost daily. Meeting and working with different folks on a day-to-day basis are things I enjoy so I felt prepared for an initial, overwhelming rush of fresh faces. That said, I was not ready to meet twenty-some different Maria’s and the same amount of Juan’s in one building…
…AND A NEW WORK SCHEDULE
ADIOS 80-hour work weeks and constant connection to communication and HOLA 12-hour work weeks and disconnection from the phone and email. It seems like the modern worker in the states is required to be endlessly reachable and responsive. To be honest, I did not mind it that much because I enjoyed my job and coworkers, and after a few years I was a pro at finding the balance. However, I was over-the-moon to work on the complete opposite end of the spectrum for a bit. I am hoping that by the end of the semester I will have a better idea of which I prefer going forward.
CHEAP COST OF LIVING
Ohhhh baby was I excited for the cheap cost of living in Spain! Although it is totally, 100% worth it, life in Santa Monica is not cheap. When I found out that I would be living in Huelva and that it is standard to find a room for between 150-200 euros a month, every organ inside my body screamed for joy. On top of that, food, transportation, and everything else was dirt cheap relative to California. Again, I was stoked to go from one end of the spectrum to the other.
THE LANGUAGE BARRIER
I purposely chose the Andalucía region of Spain because I wanted to be somewhere where English was hard to find. When I was placed in Huelva, I did research and found that English was indeed going to be a challenge to track down there, which was exciting. I figured there would be no better way to improve my Spanish than being forced to use it in almost every interaction – written, spoken or comprehension.
FOOD & DRINK
From my brief travel around Spain it was pretty clear that the Spanish approach to food and drink was much different than what I am used to in the states. Sure, we have an appreciation for great food and top-notch coffee, but in the cities, I visited having a meal or drink seemed central to everything. I was definitely looking forward to eating paella whenever possible and having a coffee at least five times a day.
After a smidge over a month in Spain, I am happy to report that all expectations were not only met, but in most cases, exceeded. I feel like an ultra-lucky fella!