Moving from Minnesota to Madrid

Authored by:
Kaylee J.

My name is Kaylee Johnson, I am 22 years old and a proud Minnesotan. I was raised in Brainerd, Minnesota. Brainerd is the type of town that the population triples in the summer, leaving many lake homes vacant in the winter. I graduated high school there in May 2017. After high school I moved out of the small town vibes and right into the city. I started at the University of St. Thomas in the fall of 2017, and graduated in May 2021 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Public Policy Economics. Post-graduation,  I am now moving to Madrid, Spain to teach English as a second language to children in primary school, ages 3-12. 


College for me was nothing like high school, and nothing like I've ever done before. Moving to the city there was a lot of adjusting to do, and more things to learn about than I could ever have imagined. I started to learn about different religions, cultures, state of mind, mental health, and more. Coming from a small town, I had very little exposure to variety, which is something I had to leave in the past.  The University of St. Thomas was a great place for me to do that. My classes included topics that challenged myself and my peers to think from a different perspective than just our own, and has made me a much better person coming out of it. 

During my junior year of college, I took a leap and studied abroad in Greece for a semester. During that time I was able to see Paris, Barcelona, Italy, Budapest, and Berlin. We got to see so many places while being full-time students. This was great but not even the best part. The best part was spending most of our time in our base country, Greece. I had the opportunity to see every corner of the country with plenty of stops along the way. The feeling of immersing yourself into someone else’s culture was interesting, and I did not expect to feel like Greece was our home. 

That’s where Teach in Spain comes in. It's time to work on my Spanish, to learn about myself and push my own boundaries. As much as I have the desire to chase the 15 different career paths I want to do right out of college (Maybe a later blog topic?) the most important thing for me to be doing right now is accepting opportunities. This invitation to apply to CIEE came from my bestfriend. She and I had spent many hours talking about our plans to move to Europe, Australia, or Nashville, or becoming flight attendants so we can go wherever whenever we want to. Well, less than a week before the deadline, which also happened to be my birthday and midterm, she decided teaching English in Madrid was the best option. This was the most ideal for her since got her degree in Elementary Educations. 

However the plan came to be, it happened. I finished applying as I was trying to go out with my friends for my birthday. The full decision to go wasn’t made until about mid-April. This was made with my parents, which to be honest, I don’t remember the last time I included them in any of my decisions. My mom especially thought the idea was perfect, while my dad was concerned about me getting a “real job”. That’s the thing though, they don’t have to agree with what I do as long as they are supportive when I need it, which they always are. 

Now that I’ve made my packing list, submitted my visa application, bought my airfare, started preparing my teaching lessons, and figured out the many steps along the way that I’ve forgotten about, this is when it really sank in that I’m actually moving to Spain for 10 months. 

I’m excited for all of it, even the parts that make me nervous. I'm nervous about the idea that we don’t have a place to live until we get there and figure it out. I’m nervous that my passport will get lost in the mail on its way back from the Chicago Consulate of Spain. I’m nervous that I will miss out on a lot while I’m gone with my friends and family. There’s so much to be nervous about, but that’s what makes it exciting. My plan is to live in the present and take my life one day at a time. 

Wish me luck :) 

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