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Status Update: Difficulties Moving Abroad

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on Jaded ‘80s Baby. While I’ve stayed somewhat active in the blogosphere by publishing a couple of guest posts for other sites, I haven’t dedicated as much time as I should to my growing blog.

A lot has been going on behind the scenes, so my mind has been elsewhere. My family came to visit in September, the school year started, and I’ve been planning for a life-altering move that will take place at the end of June.

I’ve had a lot on my plate, but now that I’ve settled into a routine, things should gradually return to normal.

 

change

The Gift and the Curse

When you’re a child, something as simple as visiting your neighboring town is an adventure in itself. Once you do a bit of traveling abroad, you realize how truly small the world is.

Travel can be a gift and a curse. After you’ve experienced the freedom that accompanies life abroad, it’s hard to go back to your old way of living. It can feel like taking a step backward.

I grew up pretty close to the airport, so I always got to see planes going to and from JFK International. As a kid, one of my favorite pastimes was sitting on the front steps of my parents’ house and gazing up at the night sky.

I’d watch airplanes cruise through the night and imagine where they were going. I’d picture myself aboard the different flights, and every night, I went somewhere different.

Some of us are born with an innate sense of wanderlust. We need to explore every crevice of our surroundings. Others are content to stay within the confines of their slice of the planet. Both are fine, but I’m a wanderer at heart.

Is It Ever the Right Time for Change?

“I’m waiting for the right time.” I’ve uttered that line so many times that I should trademark it. Funny enough, it never seems to matter how long I wait because the right time never arrives. I know that I’m not the only one.

We’re told that luck results from the meeting of opportunity and preparation, and the one thing traveling has taught me above all else is to embrace opportunities (aka change).

But are you ever truly ready to change your life?

If you’re anything like me, you simultaneously yearn for stability and crave adventure. These strange bedfellows don’t make it easy to make important life decisions.

Humans are creatures of habit, so it’s good to have some change forced upon you from time to time. It requires you to self-assess and reevaluate your options moving forward.

I’m currently teaching English in Spain through the Auxiliar de Conversacion program, and I don’t have any major complaints about it. Overall, I’ve enjoyed my experience so far. If I had to pick a negative off the top of my head, it would be that you’re only allowed to stay in the same region for three consecutive years.

At first, I only planned on doing this program for three to four years anyway, so I didn’t give the time limit a second thought, but now that my circumstances have changed, that time limit has become a real pain in the ass. I initially saw it as a way to get my foot in the door should I decide that I like it here in Spain. How incredibly short-sighted of me.

Man sitting against a tree while thinking

I’ve Got a Plan

If you want to hear God laugh, tell him you’ve got plans.

One half of my problem is that I’ve gotten too comfortable here in Madrid. Comfort is the enemy of progress and change, and it can lead to complacency. You’re not as tenacious in attacking your goals when you’re complacent. It’s a trap that I get caught in far more often than I’d like to admit.

It might seem silly, but the one thing I didn’t account for when I embarked on this journey was getting comfortable. I knew that I’d have to put in some time to gain residency here, and until recently, I didn’t care where that time was going to be spent. My mindset in that area has drastically changed over the last couple of years.

My third year in the program is underway, and at the end of the current school year, I’ll be forced to make a huge decision. I could reapply for the Auxiliar program, but that would throw me into a placement lottery. I’d have no control over my next stop, and I hate surrendering complete control.

I also recently got engaged, and my fiancée and I would have to reapply to the program next year. The problem is that there’s a chance that we could get assigned to different regions during the placement lottery, and should that occur, it would immediately eliminate Spain as an option as far as I’m concerned.

The engagement has shifted my priorities completely. My desire used to be living in a place where I’d have easy access to international travel. Now, my focus is looking for a place where I’d be comfortable starting a family and integrating into society.

A Change Is Gonna Come

I uprooted my stable life as a teacher back in the United States to travel the world, and I don’t regret that decision for one second, because living abroad was/is my dream. Most people never even get the chance to chase their dreams, but I’ve already achieved one of my biggest goals.

As I alluded to earlier, I’d like to stay in Spain, but they make it prohibitively difficult for Americans to stay here with any degree of stability, so that has dampened my outlook on things.

I’ve all but packed up my bags and started looking for our next destination. My fiancé is much more optimistic about our prospects in Spain than I am. She’s been staying the course. Hopefully, she’s right.

At the moment, I can only see three real options:

  1. Stay in Spain and take my chances with the lottery
  2. Go to another country and start from scratch
  3. Return to the United States and pick up where I left off

I’m stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place. In the United States, my family and a stable yet thankless job lie in wait, but adventure and boundless opportunities await me overseas.

Every day, there is a war being waged between my adventurous and responsible sides. Try as they might, peace negotiations always falter, and the two sides never come to terms. All of that has to change this year.

Make Your Next Move Your Best Move

I don’t ever plan to stop traveling, so I’m going to have to find a happy medium somehow.

I don’t know if my looming decision will take me back to the US or if I’ll continue my adventures abroad. The only certainty is that I have to go somewhere thanks to these pesky rules. The next move has to count. Ideally, I’d like to find a home base where I can establish some roots. That’s been my singular focus these past few months.

I’ve been consulting my checklist for traveling/moving abroad, so that’s a start. I’ve been able to eliminate a few places from my list of potential destinations, but that’s as far as I’ve gotten at this point. I’ll keep you posted on the process, and I’ll be sure to share any helpful information that I find along the way.

I’ve been feeding my adventurous side non-stop for the last four years. Maybe it’s time to throw a few scraps to my responsible side. We’ll see what happens.

As for Jaded ‘80s Baby, I have some new ideas and changes in store for the website that I’m pretty excited about. The Jaded ‘80s Baby brand is steadily growing, and I can’t wait for you to see what’s next.

It’s sure to be an eventful 2019/2020, and I hope you’re there with me for every step of the journey.

Sincerely,

A Jaded ‘80s Baby

Derek Phifer

Financial freedom fighter. Breaker of molds. Destroyer of misconceptions. My name is Derek, and I'm a jaded 80's baby.

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