Some Euro adventure and a little write-it-out-therapy for me

Well everybody you were right. I did fall in love in Europe, with the streets of Rome!

Well everybody you were right. I did fall in love in Europe, with the streets of Rome!

I’ve been having trouble lately getting all my thoughts into a cohesive, nicely readable blog post. I have so many of them swimming around in my head that it’s difficult to funnel my words down one trajectory. I’d really like to tell you about my holiday trip. But it’s hard! So, I decided to just give up that notion and write what comes! Bare with me here, it’s going to be a scatterbrained ride.

You can probably guess where this was taken ;)

You can probably guess where this was taken 😉

So first of all, let me just say that I’m sure this isn’t the first time you’ve been told Europe’s incredible, blah blah blah, I know, you’ve heard it. Don’t you hate when people get all superior on you, “You haven’t traveled Europe?? Oh my gawwwddd you haaaave to go!” And you just want to tell them to shove it? I get it. I used to be one of those people. People can get really stuck up with it comes to traveling. It’s like everyone thinks it’s this elite club and everyone loves to one-up each other about how many countries they’ve been to (and since when did travel become about quantity anyways? So NOT the point!), how far off the grid they’ve been and that whole thing, but that’s a whole nother subject, so let’s not get started on that. So, anyways, I know how douchey I’m about to sound right now, so I apologize in advance. Have you ever started a book and after the first page you’re hooked? You have to know more? It’s like when people say, the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know. The more I saw the more I wanted to see.

Obviously I’ve been really wanting to post something about my trip. (Dur, ya think!!? It’s only been like 3 months!) Before we set out on our adventure I was still undecided about whether I’d be coming home to the States at the end of the school year. But during those two weeks somewhere along the way those tentative plans fell the wayside. When I returned to Garrucha my attitude had completely changed, hence my now non-existent plans to move home for an indefinite period for a very long time. At least for another year. Maybe two. I know, that’s a heavy statement to make. That must’ve been quite a trip! Well, yes, it was! It was life changing for me.

I read a quote once that says, “traveling is only glamorous in retrospect” and I totally understand that now. Looking back at the photos I feel nostalgic, they make me so happy! All the good times, all the cool unexpected spots. Even looking back on moments of intense frustration now make me laugh. Throwing out your hair spray that you forgot to put in your checked bag. When you arrive in the hostel and think, “Ew.” Or when you’re lost in a new city, and want to cry, because you know that you’re wasting precious time when you could be eating food you’ve never tasted or seeing things you’ve never seen. Oh time, you never have enough.

But then there’s those amazing times that make it all worth it. Dancing with new friends you’ve made in a pub, cheers-ing and spilling your beers, laughing hysterically as you’re twirled around, feeling like a true Gaelic. Seeing a Christmas market for the first time, eyes wide with disbelief that something in real life could look and feels so storybook-esque. Celebrating the new year in a new city with new friends, and it somehow already feeling like you’ve known each other for years. Watching the fireworks light up the Roman sky over the littered plaza, people everywhere. It’s amazing how travel really brings people together, you’re all in the same boat after all, chasing the same goal.

NYE in Roma and bragging rights for life

NYE in Roma and bragging rights for life

It was truly one of the most eye opening experiences of my life. The people, the food, the sites, the silent in-betweens where you catch yourself smiling for no apparent reason besides the simple fact that you’ve just become aware exactly how far this journey has taken you, literally and figuratively, and how lucky you are to be where you’re at. SO LUCKY. And also maybe a little hard work. And whatever I say will never do it justice. So instead of sharing a play-by-play half-assed boring essay about my travels I’ve decided to keep the majority of my memories to myself and share some of my favorite pictures and feelings instead. Because I’ll never be able to say everything exactly the way I want to.

One of my happiest days, NYE, Roma.

One of my happiest days, NYE, Roma.

It’s like trying to describe being in love. Not matter how you describe it nobody will ever get it the way you do. It’s too great and intangible to constrain to words. Not only were the adventures we had worth talking and laughing about for days but they changed me for the better.

The Irish 'hood

The Irish ‘hood

When I went to Dublin I fell in love, I actually thought, how can I move here? How can I make this happen?? I distinctly remember a moment in the airport in Dublin, we were about to fly to Berlin for Christmas, and thinking, I have to come back. I need more time. I have never met so many happy people stuffed into one pretty space in my life. EVERYONE is so happy! And everything is beautiful! I wanted to wrap myself up in the warm memories I made. I couldn’t get enough and I didn’t want to leave.

If I knew I could've gone to college here I'd have tried a lot harder!

If I knew I could’ve gone to college here I’d have tried a lot harder!

And then I went to Rome, and I fell in love even harder. Within hours of arriving I knew I wanted to live there. Every corner I turned I squealed, “Aaaahhoohhmygoddd I’m soooo moving here!” While I was in Italy I bought a keychain, a mint green Vespa scooter, (ha, so original) so that as long as I had the keys to my place I would be reminded daily of my love for Rome. (Which, come to think of it is actually a pretty stupid idea considering I lose so many things regularly, but that’s besides the point) I didn’t want to forget it’s magic.

Just a regular fountain hanging out in Rome that's probably a million years old. NBD.

Just a regular fountain hanging out in Rome that’s probably a million years old. NBD.

Before we left I was already brainstorming in my head different ways I could find a job in precious Roma. “English teacher, private tutor, au pair, bartender, I’ll probably need to learn Italian for that, so factor in language classes…” And once I returned home I immediately began researching jobs in Rome, determined to make it happen, looking up employment agencies, the necessary credentials, anything I could find.

I kept in touch with people I met in Italy and asked their advice. And I emailed a friend of mine who had lived there previously, (Que suerte!) furiously asking her everything and anything that I could think of.

Some of Berlin's beautiful architecture

(Some of Berlin’s beautiful architecture)

Those plans are currently still tentative, but lucky me I have some alternative options that are equalling appealing to think about…

Pearing over the edge, outside the Albertina museum

Pearing over the edge, outside the Albertina museum

Because of Spain my world has expanded tenfold. I can never go back to the person I was before. (Watch out, it’s about to get real deep up in here.) I always knew I wanted a larger lens on life. And not to say that there’s anything wrong with someone who’s happy living in their hometown their whole life, because there’s not. I just needed to leave. A large part of me wishes I could be happy with that, living in one spot with all your loved ones nearby. It seems easier, simpler. And it’s a little ironic I feel this way because I think I’ve lived a less complicated, more simplified life here in Spain, away from everything, than I have ever enjoyed before. Anyways, it just so happened that I craved a different path, and I am lucky to have been in the position to take it.

Ah, will you just look at that!?

Ah, will you just look at that!? Sorrento, Italy

I’m happier with less lately. And in a lot of ways I think that is better.

I used to be afraid that Spain would change me. Before I left, for the most part, I liked who I was. But now I’m so glad that it has. (Ha! Who knew I could get even better??! Haha totally kidding. JK. Calm down. It’s a joke.)

So yes, while I did return home determined to move to Rome, my once set mind has lessened it’s death grip on returning to the motherland. I’m not sure why, I think the only logical reason is that time has passed and it’s been heavily filled thinking about some other equally amazing alternatives for next year. Like possibly teaching in Madrid or South Korea. I’ll be going back to Rome in less than a month (Yeeee!) and I’m really excited to return not only because I get to wander the streets romanticizing about my some-day future and stuff my face full of pasta and gelato again, but also to see if it still has the same effect on me. I planned on making a trip back to be sure it was something I wanted to do. So, we’ll see, I’ll let you know how it goes! But really, who am I kidding I’m sure it’ll be nothing short of amazing. 😉

Austria's Castle grounds, love me some spooky!

Austria’s Castle grounds, love me some spooky!

Anyways, now my heart is pulling me towards South Korea. I know, geez, make up your mind already! I’ve always loved Asian culture, it’s so different than anything I’ve experienced. It’s different than many people have experienced. And I’ve always had pleasant experiences with Asian people. They’ve always been very polite and respectful to me, and have a rich cultural history and strong traditions. Not that Europeans don’t have all this as well, it’s just, again, different. There’s a lot of positive factors in working there besides culture too, like travel opportunities, comfortable lifestyle, financial benefits. This all sounds really boring as I’m rereading it. Haha, sorry if you’re still reading this. But I’ll get into it later. Either way, It’ll be a hard decision.

The breathtaking Teatro di San Carlo in Naples. We saw The Nutcracker here and we both cried. One of those splurges that was worth every penny because I know I'll never get that chance again.

The breathtaking Teatro di San Carlo in Naples. We saw The Nutcracker here, in one of those legit balcony seats with actual chairs that you pull up to the edge to see. Sitting with our chins resting on the ledges the entire time, in awe, I’m also pretty sure we both teared up at some moments. The dancing and the music was so beautiful. One of those splurges that was worth every penny because I know I’ll never get that chance again.

And then there’s part of me that really doesn’t want to leave Spain after only a year. (a YEAR, ha, like it’s not that long, but it really doesn’t seem that long at all, I have 10 more days in March, and once April hits I’ll only have two more months! Waaa!! Don’t make me leave! It’s flown by so fast!) I love Spain! Spain is incredible. The people, their hospitality, the culture, the music, the food, everything. Plus, Andalucia, my autonomous community which spans all of southern Spain is extraordinarily special, it’s probably the most traditionally Spanish area in the country. So I still want more time here. But I’m so impatient that I want to see so much more of the world. Now! I’m also a little afraid that after two years abroad I’ll be tired of the readjustments, and be ready to come home. So I don’t want to regret not spending more time in Spain, or on the other hand not going to Asia when I had the wherewithal to do it.

What if after two years I’m just plain tired??!

I'm sure people have already written books about this place.

I’m sure people have already written books about this place.

And then there’s also a part of me (is this getting so annoying yet or what??) that enjoys having to adjust. (I know, I cried for a week when I got here and now I want to do this again) I’m almost afraid that when I go home and get to speak English all the time again that it’ll be feel too easy! (You mean I don’t have to speak Spanish??) I’m sure it’ll feel really great at first. But I like a challenge. I’ve grown accustomed to having to communicate in Spanish, it’s also kind of fun. Even though I still suck at it, I’m improving slowly. And then maybe I’ll never want to go home. Right now I don’t. At least not for awhile. If I get my TEFL (Teaching English Foreign Language credential) I may be able to find a stable teaching job in a city I love and settle down for a few years. Who says I have to go back permanently at all? Of course I miss my friends and family, but I’ve found that it’s actually possible to make a new life, with technically less and be happy! I have fewer close friends here than I’ve ever had, fewer clothes, fewer plans, everything is less, and what’s really great about having less, is that I feel lighter.

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Something I was telling my roommate the other day, one of the best things about being here, for me, as someone who’s always been so easily influenced, so swayed by what’s better for the group, is that I’m now completely separated from all my old influences. For the first time in my life I don’t care what other people want me to do. And it feels amazing. You want me to come home? Too bad! Haha, joking, but really, I actually don’t care. I love you immensely, with entire my heart and soul, I appreciate all you have done for me, and I still think of you often, but I’m going to go live my life the way I want to live it. Long distance love will have to do.

I have gotten plenty of strange reactions about my interest in South Korea, mostly just, “Why??” And, “How scary!” I’m actually surprising myself with how little I care. My decision is being weighed solely on my own desires, which is a little pathetic how new of a thing this is for me. But hey, better late than never, right?

So many people hyped it up for me that I was afraid Rome couldn't possibly live up to my expectations. But boy, did it ever. Mesmerized.

Till next time Roma. 

To be honest, I think I used to like feeling needed, with it came a sense of security, and that need likely stemming from my own insecurity. But now I don’t have that false security and I’ve grown to love something real and something I can depend on, myself and my freedom. I’ve never felt so free and so happy and content as I do in Spain. It used to scare me a bit, before I had it, that immense freedom, and now I never want to let it go. Instead of just strolling along my path, admiring the view, I am now on my hands and knees pressing my hands deep into the sand, grasping it by the handfuls, curiously feeling and watching the grains file out softly between my fingers, enjoying the sensation.

Perfect setting for a love affair... Ciao bella!

Perfect setting for a love affair… Ciao bella!

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