by Erin Elaine
It feels really great to be back in Madrid. I loved this city from my first day here, and that has never stopped. The crooked cobblestones. The children playing in the plazas. The wine, the jamón, the paella, the café con leche. Having a picnic in Retiro Park. Standing on my balcony on a crisp winter day. Walking the streets on a warm summer night. Bonding with new friends. Discovering delicious cupcake shops or stores filled with adorable and cute clothes. Ordering my meal in Spanish.
Just, everything. I really love this city.
Since being back here, I’ve started thinking about my plan. You know, the Five Year Plan that all 20-somethings are expected to have and to follow.
A year and a half ago my plan looked like this: Get a teaching job anywhere in Washington State. It might be in some miserable little town in the middle of nowhere with a bad administration and unsupportive coworkers, but it will be better than the hell of substituting. Work there for one or two years, just to have something on my resume so I can move to a better part of Washington State and live there for ever and ever as an awesome teacher.
I think that plan was exactly the same as a lot of other teachers in Washington State, and it would’ve been a good plan.
But then, this job in Madrid landed in my lap, and even though it wasn’t part of the plan at all, I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.
Now I’m starting my second year and people are asking me what my plans are at the end of this year. I really love Madrid, and I like my job a lot, but it’s not something I can do forever. By its nature it’s a temporary job. There is no pension attached to it. The salary isn’t meant to support a family. Speaking of family, I really miss mine, so I do want to go back to WA in the semi-near future.
So, as of now, starting my second year in Madrid, here is what my new plan looks like: Enjoy this year in Madrid. In the spring, start working my ass off applying to all possible teaching jobs in Washington state. Do everything I possibly can to get a job. Be confident because not only do I have two years of experience now, but I can speak Spanish (incredibly useful in the US). If I get a job in WA, go work in that school for two years. After two years, I am eligible to apply to work for the US Department of State (or other departments) to teach in an American school overseas. They have American schools in thousands of cities worldwide, where I would be teaching the children of American diplomats and military personnel, and I would be teaching American curriculum, in English. It even counts towards Social Security and an eventual pension if I were to stay that long.
For now, the plan ends where that new chapter begins. So it’s really more of a Four Year Plan. I might want to teach abroad forever, maybe moving to a new culture every 5 years or so. I might land a job back in Madrid and stay forever. I might land a job in Bellingham and stay there forever. If I work hard at the job hunt and still can’t find a job in WA next year, I’ll probably stay in Madrid one more year. Basically I know that my plans will likely change, and that’s okay. But it’s still good to have a plan, because I need to be moving forward, not treading water. It feels good to have goals for the future, especially since I know they are not only entirely achievable, but they are goals that would make me extremely happy with my life and career. Now bring me that horizon.