You may or may not agree with me on this but this is what I think. Even though I love traveling, and I enjoy moving around, and I still can’t see myself settling down anywhere or anytime soon, I do believe that moving into a new country is nowhere near easy.
And when I say this, I’m not talking about being a student in a different country, which is a whole different thing. What I’m talking about here is the situation you are in when you arrive in a new place where you don’t know anybody, where there is no one waiting for you, and you expect to build a life of your own. This is what I’ve been doing in Madrid since July 2015.
It’s going to be 2 years, and only until very recently, I started to reflect on the things I truly enjoy about living here. It actually isn’t about living in Madrid itself -my goal is not to convince you to move here- but more about some aspects of my life here that I really cherish. You know, those things that I know I would miss if I were to move out of here.
1.- It’s centrally located
We lived in Taipei for 7 years. During that time, very few people visited us, despite us inviting everyone all the time. I understand. It’s not like Taipei is one of those dream holiday destinations, or at least that’s not what the media make you believe. It’s also far, and I know this is relative, but at least to most of the people I knew at the time it was far, and when traveling, far usually means expensive.
Now that we are in Madrid this has greatly changed. It’s changed so much that I can’t even count the number of people who have visited us. It seems like everyone has to come here at least once in their lifetime or something like that. We have received friends from Japan, New Zealand, USA, France, Czech Republic and Chile, of course, lots of family and friends from Chile. I’m quite sure that there hasn’t been a single month where we haven’t met or hosted someone. It can even be tiring sometimes, but overall it has been amazing to be able to catch up and spend quality time with people I hadn’t seen in as long as 18 years.
2.- Retiro Park
As I said a few days ago on my Instagram account, my life in Madrid wouldn’t be the same without this park. It’s a huge green lung that I can get to in less than 10 minutes. In less than 10 minutes I can feel that I’m out of this gray, noisy jungle. I’m sure it’d be pretty accurate to say that 50% of the time I’ve spent out of my apartment I’ve been wandering around Retiro Park.
I think there isn’t a path I haven’t walked on. I love going there to connect with nature, to work out, to walk Matsu, to appreciate the beauty of each season, to read, to have a work meeting, to listen to music, to think, or to just breathe some cleaner air. I actually don’t need an excuse to go to the park. It’s the backyard I don’t have, it’s the therapy I don’t pay for. It’s my favorite place in Madrid.
3.- My job
This is one thing I’m particularly proud of. In less than 2 years I’ve been able to create and build up my business. In all honesty, it’s been hard, it’s been tough. But I’m doing something I like, something I enjoy doing, and something I really believe in. I’m a cooking instructor, but not just any kind of cooking. I teach healthy cooking classes where I get to share my recipes, original recipes that I develop and have a great deal of fun experimenting with. I also give talks on mindful eating and organize healthy food tasting events.
I’m a writer too. I write every day, about different topics, but mostly those related to food, nutrition, and healthy lifestyle. I write for my blog, but I also write for other blogs and media and get to work on photography and images for these publications, which is another thing I take pleasure in. Again, it hasn’t been easy to make some room for me in this field, but opportunities eventually come your way when you keep doing what you enjoy.
4.- My friends
Well, this has taken some effort too. It’s not like the neighbors would come to knock on our door with a welcome gift. It’s been quite the opposite actually. Besides the sporadic “Buenos días” or “Buenas tardes” in the lobby, there haven’t been any more meaningful interactions with the people who live in our building. However, I’ve managed to find and make awesome friends in Madrid. People from all walks of life who I’m certain will be my friends even after I leave.
These friends have spiced up my days -and nights- in Madrid. These friends have helped me figure things out and have generously invited me to be part of their lives. These friends have supported me and have believed in me, even when it’s been hard for me to keep believing in myself. We have shared moments, stories, knowledge and experiences. They have greatly influenced my life. They have made me grow and become a better, happier person.
5.- The blue skies
Yes, I like it when it rains, but after nearly 2 years in Madrid, I have to admit that I’m becoming spoiled by the almost ever-blue skies of this city. If there is a couple of consecutive gloomy, hazy days I’m already complaining and wishing for the sun to come back —I might have become addicted to vitamin D!!! I basically only check the forecast when I have to do laundry, and my anti-typhoon umbrella -which used to live in my bag- it’s waiting in a drawer for its minute to shine.
I’ll never forget that a British friend who lived in Perth, Australia, told us that he missed gray days. I was enjoying Perth’s sunny weather so much that I couldn’t come to understand what he meant. Then I came to Madrid, and I experienced it, I missed rainstorms. And although I still think that I could totally have a happy life in a rainy city, I’m finally starting to make peace with the lack of rain and I’m beginning to enjoy the beautiful and cheering blue skies. Yay!!!