January: Ring in the new year in France
February: Back to Spain
March: Beat personal record in Malaga Half Marathon (1:50 flat, baby!)
April: Get accepted into law school
May: Visit Prague, Czech Republic
June & July: Go back to the states with Leo; show him around NYC, DC, Chicago, and my home.
August: Start law school
October: Run another half marathon
December: Wrap up my first semester of law school. Visit Spain & Italy for Christmas and NYE!
If anything, that may sound… tiring. And it was. It was also amazing, heartbreaking, wonderful, and a pain in my ass. C’est la vie. To some, my gallivanting around Europe is probably a dream come true, and I certainly do not take it for granted. However, my life trajectory is a little non-traditional (for an American), and while I may have had access to ancient architecture and the world’s finest cuisines for the better part of 2017, that does not render me incapable of having a bad day, week, month, or year, to quote Friends. On that same note, living in Europe does not equal vacationing in Europe. I became much more than a “traveler” when I started dating Leo. I have residency in Spain. My partner is a French citizen. I visit his family with him. He is my family. I don’t hang out in Europe because I want to have a great Instagram feed. I go to visit people I love. Everything else is just a bonus! 😉
In addition, living abroad poses its own problems. I missed weddings, graduations, and holidays. I sacrificed hobbies of my own and seeing my own family to pursue life in another culture. I was also attacked while running in Malaga, and I shared that trauma openly. I may have been in a geographical paradise, but I still experienced pain and loss like anyone else.
On a personal level, 2017 was pretty good. My relationship grew, I made new friends, both on planes and in school (holla @ my capfam), I reunited with my family, and I started a journey to my dream career. It wasn’t always smooth, and it wasn’t always healthy.
On a national level, 2017 was a disaster. I cried many times over seemingly endless tragedies, many of which could have been prevented. When I lived in Spain, I felt like my home country was in shambles. I felt guilty somehow, like by leaving the country I caused the awful things to happen. When I lived abroad, I contacted my senators more frequently than I ever had before. And when I was accepted into law school, I finally felt like I was on the right path to doing the right thing.
In the beginning of my euroventures, I was embarrassed to share my nationality with others. A specific turning point occurred when visiting Prague, more than a year after I made the big move. I checked my phone once a day when I had wifi, and one night before I fell asleep I saw that Trump pulled the US from the Paris Agreement. And I cried. I was ashamed to be American. But then I realized that I can represent the best of my country if I choose. I jokingly call myself an unofficial U.S. ambassador. I may not know exactly what type of law I wish to pursue, but it will certainly have an international twist.
When I made the decision to take a risk and move to Europe in 2015, I didn’t expect anything. I didn’t expect to gain a new family or career. That decision was made in grief. Growth occurs in grief. I made career decisions when grieving injustice in my country. If you feel hopeless, take the risk.
Happy New Year.