I'm beyond thrilled to have a legal means to enter the country come September. And the fact that it arrived in such a timely manner is a feat within itself. (No offense, España. But being timely and organized isn't exactly your thing.)
However, my excitement soon dissipated as I over-enthusiastically started perusing many expat blogs, specifically those of former Auxiliares de Conversación in Spain.
Information overload is an understatement.
Much of the advice I came across detailed crucial information - such as what to pack in my suitcase, how to find housing, and how to acclimate to the Spanish meal and party schedule. In other words, all things that I need to know and should probably take to heart. However, all of that information at once made my heart race a little faster than usual.
And then came the complaints. All of the reasons why these Auxiliares disliked the program. (The word "hate" was even mentioned several times. Talk about breaking the cardinal rule of blogging!) Excruciating detail of how dysfunctional the Spanish government is, how frustrating it is to work alongside of them, and how everything that could go wrong does go wrong. The underlying message I got was: "Whether it be applying for residency, getting your first paycheck 3-4 months late or having teachers take complete advantage of you... shit happens. And it will happen to you."
The one word to describe how I'm feeling right now is "anxiety".
I recognize that this program won't be granting me the "perfect Spanish experience", because I've lived in Spain before and I know that those idealistic expectations ain't true! Part of living abroad is getting out of your comfort zone and letting life mess with you
I'm feeling particularly overwhelmed contemplating what to pack, what to buy, how to find a nice apartment, when to find a nice apartment, how do I get my residency card, how am I ever going to survive staying out until 6 am when I can hardly stay awake until 11 pm, finding gluten free food in Spain, saving money to travel on the weekends, saving money in general because apparently my first paycheck comes 3 months late, I don't know how to save money in the first place, why don't Spaniards wear J.Crew, what if the students I teach are all crazy and poorly behaved, what if I spontaneously forget my past 10 years of Spanish...
... you get where I'm going with this.
Emotion mind is telling me to keep panicking, because it's instinctual and I suppose I'm pretty good at it. Reasonable mind is ready to start planning the strategic details of my trip right now. Wise mind is telling me, "Okay, so you have some daunting tasks ahead of you, but if you tackle them one at a time - which you will - you don't have to worry. Breathe."
(C'mon. What kind of psych major would I be if I didn't sprinkle some subtle DBT references into my blog posts every so often? I didn't spend a year working in Marsha Linehan's lab for nothing, you know.)
So maybe it was a bad idea for me to marathon-read all of the blog posts I could find about this program. Now it's time for me to take some deep breaths, sip a nice cup of tea, and think positive thoughts about all that I need to get done before leaving - one step at a time.
And having my visa is an awfully good start, don't you think?
Sunset in Cádiz cerca 2010 - a calming force.