My second year in Spain is coming to a close. Life in Spain has led me to reflect upon how different my life is now than it was back in America.
As a native New Yorker, I grew up in the proverbial concrete jungle. New York can be a magical place where anything is possible, but it can also be humbling, stressful, and lonely. It’s something different for everyone who experiences it.
After 2 years in Spain, I can’t say that it is my “forever home.”
I’m willing to chalk that up to my current placement on the outskirts of Madrid.
Ideally, I’d like to live in a more tropical climate, but I’m leaving my options open. However, it has helped solidify in my mind that I can’t go back and live in the United States. I can’t go back to the rat-race in which you live to work instead of working to live.
Since fleeing the life of a 9-to-5er in America, I’ve become accustomed to shorter workweeks and more bank holidays. I enjoy more free time, and I just enjoy life more in general. Sometimes, I’ll ponder the idea of returning to my position as a teacher in the States, and it makes my stomach hurt. That’s how I know that I can never go back.
One of my favorite aspects of life in Spain is how they enjoy their culture.
For me, the Spanish have nothing on the festive nature of my Latino brethren. That being said, the people here do appear to be much happier and more carefree than folks back home. A lot of the Spaniards in my pueblo don’t have much, but they enjoy what little they have. When I lived in the states, I was stressed out all the time.
Money was usually the primary source of my everlasting frustration. The good thing about life in Spain is that the cost of living is much cheaper. I make about 1/3 of what I made as a teacher in the States, but I’m living a much better lifestyle.
Best of all, I can afford to travel and save money! In the US, I was living check to check and perpetually fearful of the financial rug being pulled out from beneath my feet. I am not rich by any means, but healthcare is free, food is cheap, and so is the rent.
Another big difference between life in Spain and life in the US is the open-mindedness of the people. The older portion of the generation can be a bit more conservative, but in general, Spanish society has been very open and accepting of me. The USA is going through a tumultuous time right now, and racial tensions are nearing an all-time high. It’s a dangerous time to be a black man there, but I guess you can say that for most places.
Spain is no Shangri-La, but a lot of the bigger cities have very diverse populations living together peacefully. I can’t say I’ve experienced any racism at the time of writing this. I’ve experienced curiosity in the form of stares and ignorance in the form of questions, but I haven’t experienced any outright hate, so that’s a plus.
I have 1 year of eligibility left as a Language Assistant in my current location, and the next year will bring about drastic change one way or the other. I’m still not sure if I want to stay in Spain or take a shot in another country, but either way, I’m going to keep this adventure going as long as possible.
A Jaded ’80s Baby