Strange as it may seem, I have been in Valencia for a year and a half. When I arrived, I really did not know what to expect of my new life here, and have been through some adventures of both the good-fun kind and the good-terrifying kind. Living in another country has helped me grow and taught me so much about myself and about other people. Looking back, I have to say that the experience has been wildly positive on whole. Gentle reader, if you are considering making a change like this in your own life, I recommend that you consider it deeply as a life-growing experience!
So what has changed in the past year and a half? Well…
- I have learned to ask for help early and often.
- I tell people when I don’t understand what they are saying.
- I know the best places to buy the vegetables that I like.
- I talk to strangers on park benches and share stories about dogs, the weather, family, and life.
- I go to restaurants and navigate through being a vegetarian and allergic to eggplant, which is apparently a shock.
- I appreciate sitting outside with friends at bars and meals.
- I have used the metro, two different kinds of buses, trains, taxis, and light-rail systems here in Valencia.
- I have gone to museums, walked miles and miles and miles, and taken time to relax.
- I have moved to a new apartment that is much closer to the city center.
- I have visited other countries.
- I have hiked in the mountains.
I am not, even for a minute, say that this has been easy. Some of these things required me to be extremely uncomfortable before I learned how to say or do the right things. There are so many times I do not know the right questions to ask. Even if I did ask the right questions, I didn’t always understand the answers. Now, though, I am more comfortable with the day-to-day experiences that come my way, and I am thankful for the discomfort (most of the time) because it means that I am learning and growing.
Some of the things that make my life easier are the groups of people who have become friends. Yelp (yelp.com) is especially good as a mixer for exploring the city if you are lucky enough to have a community coordinator. Internations (internations.org), Meetups (meetup.com), and various national groups are great ways to meet people. From my own experience, Yelp has been an essential bridge to being part of a fun Spanish community, and they have really embraced and encouraged me.
There are plenty of times where missing family and friends became overwhelming, but this is a natural part of the process, too. I call the states often, and there’s a great tool called Ooma (Ooma.com) that makes this possible. Skype, Google Voice, and WhatsApp are all great ways to stay in touch, too. I have to say that the negative part of being here in Spain is missing other, especially my girls and my friends.
So what’s coming up in the next few months? Well, I have moved to a new apartment that is perfect for me. One of my dearest friends just came to visit me in April. This month, my youngest daughter is visiting me for two weeks (yahoo!) and she will be followed by another friend who is taking a side trip here after visiting Barcelona. I am really thankful for friends who have taken the time and $$$ to come visit. It means the world to me.
And gentle readers, thank you for spending a little bit of your day sharing this adventure with me. The comments and feedback have been great so far!
Here’s to continuing the adventure!