It has now been a month since our move to Madrid, Spain. We’ve moved into our home, started our jobs, and our girls have started school.
Let me start by saying that as much as I post all of the “happy” and “exciting” moments on social media, there have been equally frustrating moments.
If it wasn’t for the help of our current employer and the long list of our friends and Spanish neighbors, I don’t think this move and the transition of becoming a resident (of Spain) would’ve been possible.
There have been so many life lessons in this short month already, but if there’s one thing that I could share to a fellow expat, it would be to put yourself out there and get over any fear of meeting new people. When you’re living in a country other than your own and in a place where you don’t know the language, it’s important to go out and get to know those around you.
If you sit inside all day, avoid speaking the language, or refuse to meet others because of lack of understanding, then you’re going to miss out on incredible opportunities, and more than likely become homesick.
In Madrid the common meeting place is in the garden. Where our flat is located, the garden is the area surrounding the pool. Here, families and friends get together for conversation, playdates with kids, lunch, dinner, and drinks. For awhile we would sit and witness this across the garden. We would watch others get together while we sat alone with each other and spy/eavesdrop. During this time I would find myself missing my friends.
Something as simple as girl-talk with my close girl friends had turned into watching others do it from across the pool. I also noticed it on our oldest daughter’s face as she would watch the other children play. I wondered if she too was remembering and missing the times with her friends.
Of course it took some time and we were definitely a bit intimidated. We were the “Americans” that had just moved in and, although we are social butterflies, this was new territory to us. Because we don’t speak Spanish very well and aren’t from the city (let alone the country), we were very hesitant to approach anyone. But we had to be brave for our girls and set an example. We needed to establish a community for ourselves.
We could no longer stay in our bubble and needed to take that first step out of our comfort zones.
And I’m so glad that we did. We were nervous this whole time, and all it took was a simple hello/hola. What we have gained in these short few weeks has been life changing. Because we allowed ourselves to be vulnerable and put ourselves out there, we have not only made friends but built a small community for ourselves. There’s no sense of feeling alone or lost. And for that I am grateful.