What I Know Now:
I met Bri on a Sunday afternoon in an area of Madrid to which I had never been called Tirso de Madrid. I was excited to meet her because I have followed her on social media but had not yet had the opportunity to speak with her in person. When I first sat down with Bri, I felt like I already knew her and she said she felt the same about me. We both said “social media!”
We talked and got to know one another a bit. She filled me in on her recent marathon training and told me more about some of the trips she had taken. It’s always nice to share with other ex-pats which adventures are worth taking and which to skip. Bri clearly has a treasure trove of good tips about travel!
I wanted to speak with Bri about her experiences in Madrid because I have seen how well she has adapted to life abroad. I’ve followed her travels across Europe and just recently saw that she completed a marathon. Many people don’t travel to Europe or do a marathon in their lifetime let alone accomplishing that while living abroad! I thought I would find out more from Bri.
LT: Looking back to your arrival on August 8th, what do you know now that you wish you would have known then?
BS: What I know now is how important it is to practice Spanish everyday. For this reason, I wish I had Spanish roommates this year instead of Americans. Speaking the language as much as possible would have helped more than just the once a week I am practicing now. I meet with a Spanish tutor once a week for one hour but practicing everyday is what is most important. The constant repetition of using the language everyday would have been more beneficial to a person with my proficiency level. I need a different method to learning Spanish that work for me because the tutor is not enough.
Also, in improving my Spanish I could have utilized my resources more. I have a coworker from Puerto Rico who speaks Spanish as her first language. She’s offered to practice with me and I haven’t taken her up on the offer yet. We only speak English together.
I also know now that I would like to learn more Spanish but not in an environment where I am being taught, so to speak. I would like a private lesson where I am not being forced to learn but rather speaking in a natural way. I would prefer to have a conversation in Spanish and practice using the language that way rather than being taught grammar.
Finally, I would have done more things in Madrid over the course of the year. Once it got cold, I just hibernated. I stayed inside, trained for races and didn’t explore Madrid. I traveled a lot but I did not explore this city as much as I would like. I plan to do more of that.
I read Sam’s post on your site and I plan to make more Spanish friends next year. She recommended doing something in Madrid that you would enjoy doing back home so I plan to look into taking dance lessons to learn how to dance Bachata.
Meeting Bri I learned that we have more in common than either of us had thought. I had seen her posts on social media and thought she seemed to be a very interesting person who likes to travel to some of the same places that I do. What I know now is that after speaking with her is that many expats are wired in a similar way; we have big dreams and we are looking for an adventures within adventures that challenge us to our core.