“Living My Wanderlust: Going (Back) Outside My Comfort Zone” by Melissa S. Melissa is currently teaching English in Valencia, Spain.
Welcome: Basics, Hiatus, and New Opportunities
Shall we begin with the basics? I’m Melissa – Canadian, single and without dependents. I spent my 20s and most of my 30s working and doing some traveling, but now that I’m nearing 40, and I’ve decided to go beyond casual travel. I’m about to embark on a new adventure and career, in a new country, where I need to learn a new language, and it all begins in less than a month.
Beginnings – getting bit by the travel bug
I think I was hit with the travel bug when I was a child and we took our first out of country, family trip to a magical place – Disney World. I know that’s a cliché description but I couldn’t resist. Maybe it was just the excitement of being somewhere new, or maybe the “It’s a Small World” song was more than inane ear-worm. And sure, my Dad scripted commentary for our home movie (and not just any movie, it was a double VHS); we drove in a rented burgundy Cadillac with matching leather interior; we purchased a family set of commemorative Florida-themed t-shirts; and I woke up in my older brother’s armpit more than once, because, you know, it can’t be a real family vacation unless five people share a single motel room. But that’s where it began and I knew that I would wanted to see more of this amazing planet.
My kind of travel
Since that first trip, I’ve been fortunate to visit 25 countries and one principality. I’ve been on organized tours and field studies, road trips and long haul flights. I’m not a backpacker or hosteler, instead I try to balance saving and splurging. I’ve travelled with friends and family, but I’ve done more solo travel because, honestly, I love solo travel. I’ve had incredibly awful travel experiences, like getting food poisoning two hours into a nine hour flight, but those are now more cautionary tales and funny anecdotes. Besides, those less than stellar experiences can’t compare to the spectacular, right place/right time moments – many of which I had during, what I refer to as an “adulting sabbatical,” or my more cynical self calls it: My mid-30s life crisis.
Why? Because adulting doesn’t have to be so hard
Picture it, Victoria, BC, 2019 – I had been through some ups and downs in my personal life, and I really just needed to figure out my next steps. My mental haze was further exacerbated by my employer tasking everyone to define “your purpose,” and, well, I didn’t have an answer. Essentially, I did all those things that make you, supposedly, an adult: school – job – relationship – home, etc. I just didn’t know why? Why was I okay with work, sleep, repeat? If I didn’t want to stay in my current role at work and I didn’t want my boss’ job, why was a burning myself out? Why did I need the 3 bed, 2.5 bath home, when I was living on my own? So . . . I took a chance on myself. I quit my job, sold my house, and spent the better part of a year (re)visiting places and trying new things.
The (practical) Hiatus
After about six months of travelling around home and abroad, I made my way back to Vancouver Island for the holidays with my family. I had been back for only a few weeks, and was putting everything together for an application to a PhD program at the University of Edinburgh, when the first reports of something called the Corona Virus began getting regular news coverage. We know how that story unfolds, and needless to say, plans changed, so lets fast forward three years. I successfully completed my TEFL certification and honed my skills as an English tutor online. I’ve done the practical 9-5, so that I could top-up the ol’ bank account. I even lost my voice for four month and had to retrain my vocal chords, so that was fun. And I deferred an opportunity to take a job overseas last year, but I’m a pragmatist, and decided to stick it out another year to ensure I have a stronger safety net and my vaccine boosters. Now it’s actually happening . . . I’m taking the overseas job opportunity and the travel hiatus is coming to an end.
Going beyond the casual travel
I’m about to re-enter the outside world in a big way…I’m moving to Spain! I’ve been appointed a position with The Conselleria d’Educació, Cultura – PROGRAMA DE AUXILIARES DE CONVERSACIÓN EXTRANJEROS (FOREIGN LANGUAGE ASSISTANTS PROGRAMME).
I’ll be a Language Assistant, teaching English as a second language in Spain. I’ve been posted to a secondary school in Pinoso, a small town (approx. 8,000 people) in the Valencia Region. I’ve never been to this part of Spain. I don’t speak Spanish or Catalan. My visa is still being processed at the Spanish Consulate in Toronto, so I actually haven’t even booked a flight. But I’m not panicking…too much.
Seems like the perfect time to start a blog
Needless to say, this whole thing is outside my comfort zone – so why not share my experiences and a few of the things I’ve learned and will learn along the way both here and on IG (@wanderlusting_melissa). There’s more to come, but in the meantime, I invite you, dear readers, to leave a comment or subscribe.
Melissa has safely arrived in Spain and has started teaching her students at her school. Here’s to an exciting year! Want to experience living in Spain and working as an English language assistant like Melissa? Contact us today and set up a free meeting to learn more about our program and how we can make it happen for you!