Written by Elle
That’s right, and it’s happening in “less than 60 days!” according to Karrie’s text this morning. Before it all becomes “real” and inevitably flies by, I thought it would be a good idea to go back and figure out how we got here–60 days out, sending express mail to secretaries of state, cleaning out clothes, selling furniture, and getting generally very pumped for the impending move.
The Idea: I want to say it was August 2016, less than a year ago, that the real idea came to us. The idea to move abroad as two couples (& a cat). But if I reach a little further back in the memory of the friendship, this whole thing sort of spawned from our “dream commune”. Allow me to explain…
Six of us friends (Me, B-Rizz, Karrie, Mike, Sarah, and Travis–S&T we miss you!!) became quite close over just a couple of years back in 2014-ish, Brian and I had always dreamed (and still do dream!) of owning a large piece of land in the future, and building a small home and lots of fun spaces around the property. We shared our dream freely with our friends, and one (probably tipsy) night one of us brilliantly said that someday we should all live together in tiny houses on B&E’s property and it would be our own “commune”! We all loved this idea, but it seemed like a faraway dream for all of us apartment-dwellers. We left it as a “someday we’ll share an adventure like that” idea and moved on with our current realities. Then, last spring, K, M, B and I all had rental rates getting JACKED up at our current places and thought, “How cool would it be to move into a place together? Like a pre-commune experience?!” We hunted around a city close to our respective jobs and found the perfect place in a Seattle suburb that we’ve now all lived in for a year (not in the same unit, but the same building), and we’ve been loooooving it.
Cut back to August of last year. Us four, hanging out, talking about how much fun it has been living “together”, but also discussing our future desires for this life. Desires that it just so happened aligned pretty nicely…
B and I have always (seriously, like since we were in high school), talked about living abroad and/or taking a year to travel the world together. So last year, at 28 years old and in our current careers for 5+ years, we started wondering: if we didn’t try it soon, would we get sucked into the “American Dream” that we quite adamantly didn’t want for ourselves? We absolutely loved our fields of work, and I had just transferred to the school of my dreams, yet we felt a real need to get out of our established comfort zones and go live elsewhere. Soooo, we told K&M about these aspirations and how we thought summer 2018 might be the perfect time. We would have almost two years to research, prepare, etc. etc. etc.
K&M responded with their own longings to move abroad and travel, and how they just hadn’t found the courage yet to work through the logistics and just do it. From this conversation, one of our brains (I honestly don’t remember whose) came to the conclusion that “we should all move together!”. This was met with an instant “hell yes!” and a clinking of wine glasses that sealed the deal. We would move somewhere in the world together in the summer of 2018.
But wait, this is 2017 and we’re leaving in less than 60 days!
Well, last September, K and I had just started our “work year”, and were feeling a bit stressed out, disillusioned, and worn out with our work. One night after venting (bitching) about our jobs, I texted B about our conversation, to which he simply replied “#2017”. Once we got over the initial shock of B-Rizz using a hashtag, we realized what he meant and all quickly agreed that it made total sense to not put this off and to just move in 2017 instead! Let the countdown begin!
Making it Happen: Did we know where to go live? No. Did we have any job leads? No. Did we have any clue what we were doing? Hell no. But we made a decision and had the determination to make it happen. We started “researching” (blindly googling and reading books about where Americans can live easily, cool countries to live in, blah, blah blah). We made lists on lists of places we each thought we’d love to live, places we’d absolutely not live, and places we could live if need be. We ranked regions and countries and we all had our favorites. My favorite was Spain (spoiler alert! We picked mine!). B and I had visited Barcelona twice and loved it. There was something about the vibe of Spain, the laid back atmosphere, the incredible architecture, the beautiful people, that made us instantly say “we could totally live here one day!”.
When I pitched Spain as a contender, I was met with a collective “maybe!” from the other three. We were a bit all over the map (punny!) with our top choices: Fiji, Denmark, Germany, maybe Ecuador? Getting the four of us to all agree could be tougher than expected.
We chose to each research our faves a bit more and present our info with open minds and unbiased data (we’re an organized bunch!). So in my “research” I stumbled upon the blog youngadventuress. I read of her adventures living and traveling through Spain and fell in love with the idea. I looked (very briefly) into the auxiliares program, but truthfully, I thought I would rather find a “real job” at an international school. So I told my peeps about Spain, about this “awesome blog” I found, and about the auxiliares program. Again, I was met with a “cool, maybe!”.
Months went by and we thought and talked more about where to go and what to do. We had “planning sessions” that never really amounted to much more than fun hangouts playing cards and drinking Trader Joe’s wine. I decided that as the person with the most potential for an international job (it seemed more likely that, as a teacher, I could find international work more easily than my counterparts who had more “specific” careers), I should start really putting an effort into my job hunt. I figured that if I landed a teaching job then I could bring B with me, and that K&M could find work teaching English or something and come along. I’d been a primary (K,1,2) teacher for the past 5 years and had built up good contacts and references. I worked diligently on my resume and essays for my portfolio. I forked over the $225 to join Search Associates, sent dozens upon dozens of emails to schools I was interested in, and checked job boards daily. By the time mid-January rolled around, the only interest my profile got was from China. Having my heart set on Europe, I politely responded with a “no thank you” to several schools there, and was feeling quite defeated in my international teaching dream. Then, suddenly, I received an email that an international school in Madrid wanted to do a phone interview. OMG! An International school in my number one country?! Gahhh!
I studied their website, did my due diligence, had my talking points ready, and woke up at 4:00am to receive their call. And, in m my humble opinion, I nailed it. I had experience teaching both their math and ELA curriculums (which is rare as there are so many!), I gave delightful and insightful details of my teaching philosophy, and had a great rapport with the teacher on the other end of the phone. I remember waking B up afterward and whisper-yelling “I rocked that phone interview!!”.
I told K about it and she was so excited to have a bit of a lead on a place to go. She said that one of her friend’s sisters was teaching in Madrid and reached out to her about her experience and to see if she had any ideas about opportunities for SLPs. K got an excellent response back all about this young woman’s experience teaching as a language assistant through the auxiliares program. K rushed over and told me all about this incredible program that sounded “perfect”–to which I replied, “Yeah, I told you guys about this months ago!”. She vaguely remembered and we laughed and chalked it up to being so early in our search when I mentioned it that it didn’t have the same level of interest back then.
As I waited patiently to hear back from the international school, we did some more digging into the aux program and the whole 12 hour work week was sounding prettttty appealing (especially as I sat writing 28 kindergarten report cards and scheduling parent/teacher conferences). It looked like we had to start the process soon if we wanted a good “inscrita #”, so I really needed to find out my status on the Madrid job.
Exactly one week after my phone interview, I emailed my interviewer with a kind “Am I hired?!”. Just kidding. I was supes profesh. She replied a couple of days later with, “I’m sorry, I forgot to tell you that we’re not moving forward with your application.” Well damn! But hey, not having to lesson plan, grade papers, manage behavior, and deal with parents for a year sounded like maybe the best plan ever. So with my cool rejection, we said “let’s do this shit” to the aux program, and got to work!