Hasta Luego, Madrid.

Hasta Luego. See you later.

I have always appreciated this farewell by Spanish people. “Goodbye” suggests a permanent departure, whereas “hasta luego”, literally translated to “until then”, leaves room for a return.

When I said “hasta luego” to Spain for the first time, I was on my way home from a life-changing study abroad experience. I had high hopes and a dream of returning and living in Spain as a more permanent resident. My dream came true when I applied, was accepted and made my big move across the pond to Madrid to teach English as a second language (ESL).

I am not naive or ignorant. Going into my year of working abroad, I knew it would not be the same as my study abroad experience. This time around, I was not with friends nor was I in a large group where the program was holding my hand each step of the way.

I was alone.

I was not afraid to be alone, but I was nervous. But, I also was extremely excited and eager for what the future had in store! Getting my visa both before and right after my arrival was a total drag and saying my goodbyes to family and friends was difficult, to say the least. It was a rough start, but, still, hopes were high.

I felt confident in myself that I was prepared for what lied ahead. I had lots of traveling experience, a minor in Spanish, a certificate in ESL, a personality that can win others over, and most importantly, a good head on my shoulders. I had high expectations and thought I was going to be living my best life over there in Spain. I thought wrong. Maybe not completely, but I was still wrong.

Living in Spain was amazing, working in an elementary school was not so amazing, and making new friends in a city where I knew no one was almost impossible.

Living alone in a tiny studio apartment and traveling alone were eye-opening experiences. At the start, I thought I highly valued new experiences and learning how to survive on my own. However, I slowly came to realize that I value my family, friends and home more. I wouldn’t take this experience back and do not have a single regret. I needed these lonely times in order to realize and reflect on what is most important to me.

Spain was a little harder on me this time around. I needed it though. Many life lessons were had and a dream was fulfilled. I put in my time and I made the most of it. That’s all that matters.

Sometimes when I think about how I lived in Spain for a year, it’s kind of unreal. I have such a unique experience under my belt at age 23 that the majority of people will never have in their lifetime.

It was a hard farewell to leave Madrid, but one of the best homecomings ever. I have peace of mind knowing it wasn’t actually goodbye, but rather a “see you later.”

I am not sure when I will return to Spain or under what circumstances. My future right now is ultimately unknown and for once, I am okay with that.

So for now, until then, Madrid.

Pictures: My first weekend trip in Spain to my last…

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