Fun fact: I almost studied abroad in Segovia, Spain in 2010.
At the time, I was majoring in K-12 Spanish and English education, and aspired to be a high school Spanish teacher.
My original plan was to study abroad in Spain for a summer. Since I was a double major, that was the only time my academic schedule would have allowed.
But life doesn’t always go with your original plans.
First, I met a girl in one of my Spanish literature courses who’d studied abroad in Spain for a year. She, along with my professor, told me that a summer wouldn’t be enough – that I’d need to spend at least a semester overseas.
Then, my professor encouraged me to study in Argentina or Chile instead, like she had. Argentina was less expensive, and, according to her, “They love Americans.”
Finally, I changed my major from K-12 Spanish education to modern languages and linguistics. And, conveniently, this major allowed me to study abroad for a semester.
Which, if you’ve read my life story, turned into five months in Argentina and Chile. Two years later, in the midst of the recession, I decided to volunteer for a year in Colombia, which turned into 3.5 years.
So, it’s not that I didn’t want to travel to Spain. I’d been dreaming and writing about it for years, even when my life revolved around South America for four of them.
But finally, on a day off during my last semester in Colombia, I flipped through my journals and read about how bored I’d become in the last year. I’d already completed the goals I’d set out to do. I needed a new mountain to climb. So I thought, enough is enough.
It’s time to go to Spain.
An opportunity presented itself to me, and I took it.
Nine years later, I’m finally in Segovia, Spain. I went with a friend for a weekend day trip.
It’s funny to think about the path I almost took. I imagined if I’d decided to study abroad in Segovia, Spain for a summer. Would I have found the courage to travel alone? Would I have continued to seek and create for myself a life abroad? Would I have made friends from all over the world, many of whom felt like family?
Or would I have continued to live in Michigan, teaching high school, and yet wondering what else was out there? Wondering about the path that I have taken?
A few weeks ago, I was talking with a student about one of my favorite TEDx videos, which talks about finding your life purpose. He drew two vertical lines in his notebook, like a path, and drew small stars on the outside of the path.
“This is the path of people who get the typical job, house, kids…” And then, he pointed to bunch of stars outside the lines. “And then, these are the people who choose something different.”
“Which are you?” he asked, probably already knowing the answer.
If I’d studied abroad for a summer, I would have chosen the path between the lines. Because I chose something different, because I took a risk, I chose the life among the stars. It hasn’t been easy. There are times in which it’s absolutely terrifying. But at this point, I can’t imagine living any other way.
A few weeks later, I was talking with two people in a spiritual group I’ve recently joined. “You’re not meant for a stable life,” one of them told me. “You’re like a hurricane. You’re a batucada. Or a volcan tapada, with so much energy beneath the surface.”
“This is the life of a nomad,” the other concluded, after a pensive moment.
It took me 9 years to finally travel to Segovia, Spain. I was meant to be here all along. Except this time, I came here with several years of travel experiences under my belt and counting. It was always meant to happen – it just happened in a much different, a much better way than I could have ever expected.