This past year was wild. While we've only lived abroad for about a fourth of it, we started dreaming and planning in March. In other words, it has consumed a large part of our year.
The past few days, we've been in Malta, and our pace has been much slower than usual. It has been wonderful being here, having a little space to think and breathe and see the sky. I've been working on a list of what I learned in 2015 on the hotel notepad, jotting things down as they come to me.
Most of them, I've realized, have been learned since we left America. Maybe that's because my memory is fairly short-term, or maybe it's because the past few months have been jam-packed of challenges and opportunities for growth, but either way, that's where the majority of my learning this past year is being drawn from.
So, without further ado, what I learned in 2015...
- People will support you. Moving to another continent, away from family and friends is hard, but the support we've had from people cheering us on has been really great. It really truly means a lot, especially on those days when we're asking ourselves, "Is this really worth it?!"
- Do the crazy stuff...
- ...and do it now. Two separate things, but they go hand in hand. Quitting our jobs, storing all our stuff with our parents, booking one-way flights to a country we'd never visited and weren't sure we'd like...it's a little crazy. But it's been so stretching, it's opened so many doors, started so many conversations, and made us see the world a little differently. The truth is, last spring we knew that we were reaching a crossroads in our jobs and lives in Colorado after being married for a little over two years, and we were interested in trying out living overseas somewhere at some point, but had a lot of reasons not to go. Our jobs were steady and we both had really great bosses, we loved where we lived, we were in the midst of developing an amazing community, and we were within a two hour drive of all of our immediate family. But. We did it anyways, and now look. It was (is) crazy, but if we didn't do it when we did, I honestly doubt we ever would have.
- I don't know much about anything. I get the feeling that the more people I meet and the places I go, the more I'll realize there's so much I don't know about the world. Which is okay, because travel is a wonderful teacher!
- Spain is really cool. I'm not the most qualified person to make statements about Spain, but after living there for three months, I think I can safely say that I really like and appreciate Spain. Danny and I read a lot of children's books on Spain before leaving, but nothing can prepare you to really live it. Isn't that how most of life works?! I love how lively Madrid is and how many day trips we can easily take from the city. I didn't know that Spain was so beautiful and that I would enjoy city living...Spain has surprised me in many good ways.
- I'll never really "see Europe." I said before we left (and, okay, still say) that I love this chance we're having to see Europe. And it is really, really awesome to get on an hour or two long flight to another country for the weekend or Christmas break, but even if we live in Spain or elsewhere on the continent for the rest of our lives, I'll never see it all. There is just so much. So many castles, palaces, villages, monuments, mountains, and so on. I'm not going to stop trying to see this amazing, beautiful place, but I've finally realized seeing it all is very much out of reach, and that's going to have to be okay.
- Never take being with family for the holidays for granted. The day before Thanksgiving, it hit me. I missed my family and being with them during that sweet, sweet season from Thanksgiving to Christmas. When we're back in America and spending that special time of year with family, I hope we remember what a gift it is.
- I'm thankful to have a partner to be on this journey with. More than just someone to help me carry my suitcase up and down stairs, I'm not sure how I would fare living this abroad life without Danny by my side. He's been a huge support to me in so many ways, and while many people say solo traveling is easier (and believe me, I think we both get that sentiment sometimes!) I think that living abroad is easier with someone by your side.
- Ask questions - all the questions. We ask ourselves often whether this living overseas thing is still a good idea (financially, emotionally, relationally, etc.), and that's not always an easy question to ask when it's your dream to live and travel in Europe (I'm looking at myself here). But it's good to ask this question and all of the other questions that pop up because we want to be thinking and evaluating and open to it all (easier said than done, but that's the idea).
Phew. How's that? Still thinking some of those over, and hoping to learn them more fully this year. Speaking of this year, I'm slowly but surely coming up with a few goals for 2016. I don't want to rush into it, though. I've got, you know, a year! Happy New Year, friends! Hope it's a good one!
P.S. Pictures taken on the first day of the new year around Malta. Isn't it pretty here?! I've decided I don't ever want to leave.