Back in 2014, I had the opportunity to go Spain via the BEDA program or go to Mexico to teach at a University in Oaxaca. Despite having dreamed of traveling to Europe for my entire adult life, I chose Mexico because my money was tight and going to Mexico would result in a job that would pay me enough to live on comfortably. While the BEDA program in Spain paid a stipend that, without a decent savings, would definitely require me to make supplemental income teaching English on the side. And having never traveled there before, I had no idea how viable that option was. Not to mention, air fairs to Mexico were costing half of what it would be to travel to Spain. Too, it was an American guy, a Howard University alum, who was to be my colleague in Mexico. A guy who’d I’d had a few comfy chats with (I’m a Morgan University alum) and who seemed eager to show me the ropes and help me get acclimated. With Spain, I’d be on my own, with no connections to anyone prior to arrival. Mexico felt safe and logical, Spain did not. I picked Mexico.
And guess what? My move to Mexico turned out to be a disaster. So much went wrong, stuff that by all accounts, just should not have. The irony is that nearly two years previous, I’d gone off to teach in China, not having any connections prior and no savings. And you know what? China turned out to be amazing. Everything fell into place beautifully. Don’t get me wrong, I had my challenges and snags, namely arriving at my apartment that first day to find it an absolutely horrible filthy mess. But those challenges, the ups and downs in China weren’t anything I couldn’t cope with. So, despite being brought to tears on a couple of occasions, nothing did or didn’t happen that made me want to pack it in and return home. Too, some of those challenges proved to be the pathway for making nourishing and fruitful connections with others.
So, now it’s 2018, and I have the opportunity to go to Spain to be a cultural & language assistant via CIEE or going to Asia or the Mid-East to teach. My dream of traveling to Europe has grown even stronger, like a bright and enduring thirst in my soul (sorry for the dramatic simile, but I am a fiction writer, so hey). Going to Asia or the Mid-East would only be about money, nothing else. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that at all because making money is important. Which is why going to either of those locations is probably the logical choice, even the best choice in some ways. And I’m not trying to make a case against or for making choices strictly from a pragmatic view point. But given that at this point in my life, going to Asia or the Mid-East is only about what perhaps I should do, and not at all about what I actually want to do, I’m deciding to go with my dream this time around. I’m going to Spain.
With my credentials (BA in Education, MA in English, CELTA certified, with a decade of experience in teaching and training), going to Asia or the Mid-East to teach would probably be mostly a straight shot – send out my CV, do interviews, select a position with the highest pay, and go for it hoping for a good situation. But Mexico seemed like a straight shot too, so I’ve learned not to put too much stock in seemingly “straight shots” at this point. My experience in China taught me so much about the power of making choices that require stepping out on faith and needing God to work some things out. And Mexico taught me how choices that appear as if most things are already worked out can be crushingly deceptive.
I’ll heading to Spain in December to stay through the end of June, and while it’s probably not the most practical choice, at this point in my life, I know it’s the choice I need to make. Of course, I’m experiencing the myriad of fears that moving abroad always triggers. There’s anxiety over how limited my Spanish is and whether it’ll make my life super difficult to navigate. Will the people I encounter be racist? Will I enjoy teaching there? …. you get the picture. But having done it a few times now, managing the fears have become easier. My thing right now, is trying not to second guess my decision to pass on teaching very young children in southern Spain, because it doesn’t suit my teaching style or experience, and going for the region of Madrid and working with a 12-18 year- old age group. Still, despite all the fears and uncertainties, one thing is sure, I’ll no longer be haunted and weighed down by wondering, “What if I gave myself the much longed for opportunity to live in Spain?”
Turn your greatest strength(s) into a fictional character – what does this character look like, what are its fears, what does it love/hate etc.? If this character was a superhero, who or what would it save?
Stuff that’s sparking resonance, excitement, or wonder:
My upcoming move to Spain
Local libraries – I’ve used them all my life of course, but periodically I find myself struck with a deep sense of gratitude for the fact that thousands upon thousands of books are available to me for free. I’m in one of those periods now.