49!

Sure, sure, 50 would have been a more impressive number to have as a title as the days quickly count down to my departure, but as I found myself out of time to write yesterday, I had to settle on the less dramatic 49.  That being said, 49 is not a very long time at all.  Yes indeed, in just 7 weeks I will be embarking on the first truly impressive journey of my life, leaving the confines of the United States for Europe, to spend 27 days in a country where English is, at best, a secondary language.  I will live in a neighborhood surrounded, hopefully, by only Spanish speaking neighbors.  I will do my best to brush aside my social timidness and introduce myself to total strangers in a language I have managed to teach myself over the better part of the last six years.  I will travel entirely on my own and once I am there I will know no one aside from the woman hosting me, who I have only spoken to through E mail.  For 27 days, I will be required to survive, to live my life without the comfortable bubble I have been surrounded by all of my life.  At 34 years old, for the first time I will step outside my comfort zone with the hopes of making myself not necessarily a better person, but the person I have always been but unable to show the world.

I’m not scared.  I think that’s important to say.  If I were scared, I wouldn’t be able to go through with it.  I am anxious, perhaps a little nervous, but more importantly, eager to get on that plane and show the world that I can do the things I want to do in life, even if it takes a little effort, hard work, and patience.  There was a time in which I was scared.  There was a time when life scared me.  While I can’t explain precisely why, I made excuse after excuse not to go through with the things that would have made my life better, or at least more interesting.  I denied myself opportunities to do new things simply by telling myself I wasn’t actually interested in, say, traveling to Europe or going to college in another state, or taking on a different job.  I settled in my location, accepting my life as it was, too afraid to risk even the smallest changes to what made me comfortable and found myself simply existing, not truly living.  I won’t lie, I still find it difficult to make changes in my life.  I try to challenge myself but it can be difficult, especially when I am my own worst enemy.  Going to Spain, hopefully, will allow me to see that I can do the things I want to do and that I don’t have to settle for what makes me comfortable.  Surely no one wants to be uncomfortable, but I think I will find that a little discomfort isn’t going to kill me.

I’ve spent a lot of time talking about my trip, the things I want to see and do, and of course the plan of spending the month not using English.  I have never really gone too deep into my reasons for my trip, why I chose Spain, why I decided not to stay in hotels, and why my goal is to “not speak English,” not “speak Spanish.”  A lot of people take vacations to Spain, but if I wanted to improve my ability to speak the language, there are 21 countries on this planet that have Spanish as their national language.  Why not Mexico, Ecuador, Colombia?  Well, my first response to that is safety.  Yes, I know, I am trying to get over my fear, however I think I might be afraid to travel to any of these countries at least by myself.  In order to avoid touristy areas, I would have to stay in a more rural setting, which I am doing in Spain, but I feel like to live in a rural area of one of these countries could present a little more danger than I care to take on.  Maybe on my next journey.  Also, Spain is just about as far away as I can get from the United States when it comes to Spanish speaking countries and part of my plan was just that, to be far away from any possibility of running home early.  Once I’m there, I’m there.  I have 27 days to get through whether I like it or not.  I purposely decided to stay in a rented apartment versus some cheap hotel both for financial reasons and the fact that I want to avoid at all costs any native English speakers, or even those who will speak to me in English thinking I would prefer that over Spanish.  I want total immersion and a hotel would offer me too many easy escapes to using English.  I am well aware that many things, especially in more commercial areas, will feature both English and Spanish on the signage, but that can’t really be avoided.  I will just do my best to focus on the Spanish.  I may sound foolish to those who realize I speak English, but I won’t let that stop me, and I think I will learn much more by forcing myself to speak in Spanish even if I don’t know that words with people who can’t speak English.

While Spanish is the ultimate motivation, if you were to take the language aspect out of the equation, this would still be a major accomplishment for me.  Yes, I’m using Spanish as my excuse to go to Spain, but traveling abroad by myself for a month means so much more to me.  I can finally show myself that I can do anything and I don’t have to let financial factors, fear, or poor excuses stop me from enjoying my life.  In 49 days I will embark on the journey of my life but the real adventure has already begun.  I doubt I will post anything here during my trip, as I want to keep my brain focused on Spanish, but I will do my best to post a few more times before and then of course after my trip.  See you soon.

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~ by James on March 12, 2015.

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