I have officially moved into my new “piso” or apartment in Móstoles. Its about forty-five minutes southwest of the city center of Madrid by public transport, but it is only a twelve minute walk from the secondary school I am working at, IES Juan Gris. During my piso hunt, I was really torn about living closer to the city center where all the action is or living closer to my school. In the end though, I am content with my choice because it is cheaper to live in Móstoles, less crowded, closer to my school, and I’ll have more money leftover to travel on my 3-day weekends! I am renting a room from a señora named Encarna. She is a very sweet older lady, who speaks no English, and has a small dog named Nano. Encarna has helped me cook, grocery shop, navigate the area, and she taught me how to air dry my clothes outside the kitchen window, which was a lot more challenging than I expected.
This week has been a lot slower than the past weeks in Madrid and it has left me feeling a bit bored and isolated. I am eager to start working and build community in Móstoles by connecting with other young people. I would describe Móstoles as a working class area with lots of families and schools. It is definitely not as beautiful or vibrant as the city center of Madrid, but it has its own unique charm. It has a small town feel and is filled with local Spanish people, so I stick out a bit more here than in Madrid. An element of surprise about Móstoles is that there is a polideportivo or sports center about seven minutes walking from my piso that has tennis courts. And get this, the tennis club director of Club Móstoles, Victor Sancha, happens to be old friends with my college coach, Joaquin Lopez. What are the chances of that? If you’re reading this Joaquin, thank you for connecting me with Victor! I didn’t plan on playing much tennis here, but I think it’ll be beneficial for me to socialize with other young people and stay connected to my sport. I’ll begin training again the first week of October because tomorrow I am flying to Holland for ten days to spend time with my Dutch side of the family. They have a family reunion weekend every year, but my family and I have never been able to attend since we’re across the pond. After the reunion weekend, my plan is to stay with family members and explore their cities.
Yesterday I was fortunate enough to meet my cousin Papoose and her boyfriend Rafa in Madrid because she is visiting him for a bit before returning to Belgium. They are both such warm people and gave me a walking tour of Madrid, while Rafa pointed out all the best spots to eat, drink, go out, etc. It was my first time meeting them and it’s so funny to me how I’ve been connecting with all these family members that I’ve never heard of or met before coming to Spain. Being in Spain has truly opened up a life for me that I never could have imagined in the U.S., despite how uncomfortable and frustrating it can be on a daily basis.
The theme for this week has been patience, faith, and compassion for sure. When you’re doing something new, whether it’s switching jobs, living abroad, or cooking a new recipe, it’s important to be extra compassionate with yourself. Things are often rocky and difficult in the beginning before you can get into the groove of it. I need to remind myself to stay patient during this learning curve period and have faith that things will work out, even if it deters from my expectations. And I encourage you to do the same for yourself, wherever you are in life. Be proud of yourself for stepping outside your comfort zone. Anytime you do that, it’s like giving yourself a gift because it’s contributing to your growth as a human being. The post grad life is messy. Things don’t usually go according to plan, but it’s vital to be resilient and stay awake to the joy and miracles around us. My new Spanish debit card wasn’t working earlier this week and I was so pissed about it, but external situations shouldn’t rob me of enjoying life. What’s important is that I have my family, my health, food, and a roof over my head. Somehow, life has a mysterious way of working itself out so we might as well stop worrying about everything and live it up!