I’m Leaving Spain, and Here’s What Comes Next

Barcelona port

Barcelona’s port

Today I didn’t wipe butts or noses.

Today I didn’t sing “Old McDonald Had a Farm.”

Today I woke up on a Monday and for the first time in nine months, I didn’t go teach 20 screaming babies.

So this is what breathing feels like.  

My job “teaching” English at a daycare in Barcelona ended on Friday, and if you’ve read any of my past posts about the position (like this or this), you may have deduced that this finale is not heartbreaking. What my semi-curated-online-social-media life doesn’t fully show is the dark side of my seemingly glorious existence in Barcelona. I was truly unhappy at my job, and it affected other areas of my life here.

I still feel so lucky that I was placed by Meddeas at a school in the city center of Barcelona—that’s almost like winning the lottery. Meddeas, the English assistant alternative to the very popular auxiliares program in Spain, was helpful, professional, reliable, and I would certainly recommend them if you’re looking to teach and live in Spain. My unhappiness boiled down to the personal: teaching daycare is not for me.

I do love little kids and their bulging, borderline obese tummies and cheeks. I simply don’t like being responsible for 20 of them and their pooping, shrieking wellbeing. Also, if it were up to me, all children would play in the mud for 12 hours a day until they were five years old; they wouldn’t be forced to sit still against a wall while I passed English flashcards of “bookshelf” and “toothbrush,” day in and day out. (Probably more painful for me than the babies, but still.) And the fact still remains that I was never trained to teach at a daycare. I was basically feeding these babies Legos and just hoping their airways survived the battle. 

So with this school year (finally!) coming to a close, I’ve decided to leave Spain. 

Girona street

Girona, Catalonia

What It Came Down To

I’ve taught English for two years in Spain and think it has been a very valuable experience and a fantastic growth opportunity. I’ve solidified my fluency in Spanish, met international friends, traveled to many countries in Europe, overcome some hardships about being abroad, and had a damn good time rediscovering the Spanish way of life that I came to truly value while I was studying abroad during college.

But I’ve also come to really value some things about my home country, and the more time I spend away, the more I’ve come to miss it.

When Meddeas offered me a placement for next year in an elementary school in Barcelona, I strongly considered it. Was I truly done with this city? I’m in love with Barcelona and there’s so much left to explore here. A change of schools could be just what I needed to feel like a fresh start. I also struggle with an unhealthy mentality that if I’m offered a chance to live abroad, I should accept it unconditionally.

But in the end, I felt like I was chasing a Spanish high that I’m not sure I would ever feel. There are factors to happiness that go beyond a perfect city and a nice leg of ham. Barcelona’s winding gothic streets don’t replace the tight friendships I long for back home. A 2-euro glass of wine can’t make me forget the 16-hour flight separating me and my family. A 20-hour workweek in a dead-end teaching job isn’t always preferable to a 40-hour workweek in a path I’m more passionate about.

So I feel proud and grateful to have lived two years post-graduation in Spain, and I feel completely at peace with returning home. There will be things I’ll miss for sure, and things I rediscover about the U.S. that I’m slightly less than thrilled about. But I’m ready for my next adventure, closer to my roots.


I’ll miss the tradition of an afternoon vermouth, that much is sure.

Future Plans

For the first time since perhaps ever, I’m actually not sure what I’ll do next. In high school I knew I’d go to college; after college I knew I was moving to Spain. But now? I have vague ideas but am also not too put off by spending a bit of time on my parents’ couch and mooching their freezer of Ben and Jerry’s. 

The general idea is to return home, just north of San Francisco, in early July. Commence with the Ben and Jerry’s. Visit friends, possibly take some short U.S. trips, start exercising again after a year where that whole “sweat once in a while” thing went out the window. Then, whenever I get burnt out of from too much of the good life (or from my parents’ nagging, whichever comes first) I’ll look for a job and apartment. Ideally I’ll start working in a writing and/or PR-type job. Something that pays me more than 850 euros a month. Something where I can think a bit more creatively and not sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” quite so effing often.

It’s always been my dream to move into San Francisco, but with sky-high prices I’ve started to consider other options, primarily Austin and Denver. I’ve never been to either, but heard great things about both. If any of you readers have any input—SF, Austin, or Denver—please let me know in the comments!! I’d be so grateful for any advice!

Me in Tossa

Tossa de Mar, Catalonia

Until Then…

I’ll be taking off Friday for a 10-day solo trip through Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. I’m excited to see a part of Europe I haven’t yet explored, but also a little apprehensive. Will I get bored or lonely being by myself for 10 days? Although I loved my solo trip through Poland, that was bookended by travel with friends. I truly have no idea what to expect from this upcoming adventure—I figure at the very least it will be some good reflection time. My greatest fear is that my Kindle will die on me, and then I’ll really be alone.

If any of you have traveled to these countries, I’d love any recommendations!

After 10 days in the Baltics I’ll return to Barcelona for 4 days, taking in as much tortilla española, Mediterranean, and final moments as I can get. Then I’ll try to catch a standby flight home. If that proves impossible, I actually may just stay here forever, since there’s no way I’m dropping $2000 on a peak-season ticket the night before the flight.

As For This blog

For the past three years, this blog has been my constant. That’s not going to change just because I’m changing country codes! I’ll still be posting regularly, and I have a ton to write about Barcelona and my travels that I’ve been meaning to get to for about six months now. Look for city eat and drink guides, weekend getaways around Catalonia, ways to explore the city on a budget, and much more.

And beyond that, I’ll be writing about wherever and whatever I end up doing next. That’s the beauty of Wor(l)ds . . . I’m not locked in to just one place. 

Thank you so much for reading. Spain, I love you. America, I’m coming for you.

  • Pingback: GVK BIO()

  • Pingback: www.cpns2016.com()

  • Pingback: bns gold()

  • Pingback: blade & soul gold()

  • I just discovered your blog (via 20something travel) and I dig it! I hope you keep writing more, even if it’s not about Spain and life abroad :)

  • Lauren @Roamingtheworld

    Best of luck with your next adventure! I just came across your blog courtesy of Como Consulting… I was an auxilar for 2 years 2011-13 and came home ready and determined to make my life in the Bay Area. Long story and now I’m coming back, unexpectedly! Not excited about the dead end job options here but I’m learning when we’re open anything is possible. I wish I could give you positive news about the Bay but you may be better focusing on other cities right now… I’m born and raised there (currently in Oakland) and despise that I have to strive so hard just to stay in my own home! Anyway, May the Bay welcome you with open arms. It’s truly magical and if you fancy meeting up I’ll be there in July-sept!

    • I completely agree with you, I’m from Marin and it seems like the only people who can afford to stay in the Bay anymore are our parents generation. Those who grew up here have to move out because of rents! I’m determined to make it work but we shall see. Crazy that you’re going back to Spain…..I hope it’s a blast, I miss it already!

      • Lauren @Roamingtheworld

        If you’re determined, you’ll figure something out. Positive thinking. And use your network. ;) I refused to be pushed out and I made it work! Let me know via email (imroamingtheworld@gmail.com) if you want to meet up sometime. I’m in the Bay (Oakland) this summer and figuring out visas and the like until I return in Sept/Oct!

  • We seem to be in the exact same stages of life and see eye-to-eye on the whole “being done with Spain” thing ;) I wish you the best of luck as we begin the dreaded quarter-life crisis and millennial job hunt!

  • Anna Lindsey

    I think I found your blog while searching for information on my trip to Spain last summer, but I’ve also lived in both Austin and Denver. I wrote a post about it for CityLeaper (https://www.cityleaper.com/2015/03/austin-vs-denver-10-reasons-to-help-you-decide.html), but spoiler alert, I moved back to Austin after three years in Denver. Still, neither is a bad choice!

    • Ha! What a coincidence, I came across your blog about a week ago when I was google searching “Austin vs. Denver!” Very useful advice. I’ve booked a trip to visit Denver in July so hopefully that will give me more of a feel for things. But also, I may just fall back in love with San Francisco when I go home and it could be too hard to leave….

  • lindsaypunk

    I am SO feeling this! Good for you for following your gut. I think unless your goal is to be a teacher, this teaching english thing is best enjoyed as a temporary stint. Though admittedly, I will miss hearing about your teaching woes with those spanish youngins! :P

    Also, let’s not forget about Secret Option C: WORKING HOLIDAY IN AUSTRALIA. If this USA thing doesn’t work out, you know where to find me ;)

    • Not such a secret option!! I would DEFINITELY consider doing a working holiday visa if I realize the 9-5 life back home sucks as much as everyone says it does. (I’m still holding out hope that it won’t ;) But I’m confident you’ll move to SF when you’re done over there anyway so I’ll see ya when I see ya.


    I live in Denver and am actually a native Coloradan (we’re a rare breed) and Denver is definitely a hot spot for millennials to move to. Pros: 4 seasons but generally mild weather year round; outdoor activities of every kind all year; endless hip places to eat and drink; decent public transit. Cons: with all the people moving here housing/rent prices are sky rocketing; you’ll have to learn how to drive in snowy/icy conditions; traffic is getting worse. Pros and cons to every place, but Denver is a cool place to live with nice people and a laid back, outdoor oriented lifestyle. If you’re really considering it, I’d love to answer more questions :)


    • Thanks so much for these tips, Laura!! It definitely appeals to me that Denver is attracting more and more millennials. The weather sounds manageable, although I’d say more of a con than driving in the snow is driving at all!! I’m going to miss Spain’s amazing transportation so much. And people do say rent prices are skyrocketing, but in comparison to San Francisco they still seem affordable. I’m visiting a friend there in July so I look forward to getting a feel for the place. Thanks so much!

  • Anne

    Follow your gut, girl. It’s what I always say. (Hopefully that will place you permanently in SF, btw.)
    Love the post, and can’t wait to have you back in the Bay. Can this summer top last summer? Pienso que…es posible. Vale.

  • In the same boat and haven’t been able to put it into words. I do know what my next step is (UK) but it’s still a pretty scary transition. I’m loving the free food at mom and dad’s house/ I’m basically using it to deal with the emotions that come with leaving Spain. Hard decisions but sounds like you are making the right one!

    • Hahaa I’m so looking forward to the free food. Let’s see how long it takes for them to realize I’ll be jacking up their grocery bill tenfold….glad to know we’re in the same boat, and hopefully we both figure it out soon :) Good luck!

  • Umm Austin and Denver are great, but what about SEATTLE? Sounds like a visit up north may be in order.

    I think you made a good decision and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

    • Seattle would absolutely be on my list except that I can’t do rain. (Been there done that last year in Bilbao.) And I know I know, you’ll say it’s not as bad as they say, but this girl’s from drought-ridden California.
      On the other hand, I totally want to come visit you guys up there, and hopefully can sometime this summer or fall! Also, YOSEMITE STILL?? I’ll be back in CA, woooooo!

  • Chelsea Alventosa

    exciting news! I recently figured out what I want my next step to be (after 4 years here in spain) and it feels good! You’re revalation will come to you :) My sister lives in denver if you ever end up there and want a friend! she moved there knowing no one as well!

    • Must be such a nice feeling!! Will you be taking that next step in the U.S. or Spain? Also, if I do decide on Denver I may have to take you up on that haha. Hopefully she likes the city!

      • Chelsea Alventosa

        Fingers crossed it will be in England! in 2016.. but it feels good having a “finish line” in sight!

  • AH! So much in common here… Your plans sounds pretty much identical to mine, even down to the trying to catch a standby flight home! I know how tricky that can be… here’s to hoping the non-rev gods are on both our sides and that the adjustment to life back home goes well.

  • I reached the same point in Spain, where, as much as I loved it, I knew I had to move on, and I still think it was a wise decision. Good luck heading back to California — it will be fun to follow along and see where you end up!

    • Glad to hear that it was the right choice for you. I definitely think it’s time. But that doesn’t mean I can’t come back to Spain for future visits! Nothing’s too final as long as I keep renewing this passport.

  • Great post, Jenny! I love how truthful you are about your job. While everyone from home might be thinking we’re living the high life, it’s definitely more difficult than it seems on the surface and through edited/filtered Instagram photos, ya know? Still, I’m really going to miss Spain and I think a part of me will always remain here :)

    I’ve never been to the countries you’ve traveling to in Europe, but I’m sure it’s going to be amazing! You’ll probably make so many friends along that way that you won’t be alone at all.

    Good luck! I’m looking forward to seeing where your next adventure takes you! And let me know if you’re in Madrid before you leave! xoxo

    • Thanks Lavi! Yep, I think everyone who lives abroad has at least some ups and downs, even if their IG feed is littered with frolicking bunnies and and chorizo tapas. And I wish I could get down to Madrid before I leave, but time is running out! I know I”ll be back to Spain sometime though, and if not, see ya when our travels cross ;)

  • Cassandra

    Jenny! I’m glad that you are ready for the next adventure. It’s terrible to be forced to leave a place before you are ready, but in this case it seems everything is pointing you to a new destination.

    Since I don’t have a job lined up after this school year, I also feel the pressure of eeeeek-what’s-happening-next?! But, at the same time, there is a delicious freedom in knowing that I won’t be an auxiliar anymore (whew). I can empathize with both feelings.

    As for the city dilemma, I visited Austin for several weeks and loved it. My impression is that it’s a fantastic city to live in when you are young, especially if you are into outdoor activities and music. (Bonus points for dogs, tattoos, and bikes.) You’d also use your Spanish there, which is a plus ;) I haven’t been to SF or Denver but have also heard good things about both. I look forward to learning more about one of these places vicariously through your site!

    • Delicious freedom in not being an auxiliar—so well put. Such an amazing short-term gig, but not my thing for the long run.
      And I definitely agree, perhaps it’s almost better that I feel this way so I won’t be so torn up when the time comes to leave Spain.
      Good luck on finding a job for the coming year!! No te preocupes, something great will turn up.

  • Gloria Atanmo

    I love this SO much and your honesty and transparency is appreciated more than you know.

    Many people don’t understand the passing of the “honeymoon phase” after living abroad for so long, and I definitely can relate to so much of what you’ve written. I’m so glad we’ve spent some moments together in our Barcelona chapter.

    As mine is closing as well, I’ll definitely reflect on the same moments you did and how I’m not quite sure anything will ever replace a stroll through the Gothic Quarter or midday vermut. God bless it.

    One last shindig before you go please! I’d love to grab drinks either pre or post 10-day trip. Sounds awesome by the way! Can’t wait for pics! Xx

    • Thanks so much Glo, means a lot! It will be hard to leave this place but hey, we can always return for a gothic stroll and one (or eight) vermuts. Plus a side of fuet, obvs.
      Yes to the hanging out before I leave. And now you live so close to me!

  • Where you work has a profound affect on everything else. It seriously distorted my views of Spain, and teaching older kids helped me see that! Very exciting to see your transition, and that you’re happy and at peace with your decision to leave and try something new. Que sepas que siempre hay un vermut pendiente!!

    • Yes I often wonder how this year would have went if I were teaching adults or an age group I could have meshed better with. Oh well, what’s done is done. Plus I taught high school last year and I think it just boils down to the fact that I don’t love teaching in general, haha. Hold down the Spanish fort for me and drink all the vermuts at all the old man bars so I can live vicariously through you.

  • Being content with your decision is what’s most important. I spent the “best four years of my life” in Austin, so I can highly recommend it as a city, as long as you love the heat :)

    • Ahhh the heat is the main thing keeping me from Austin, I complain at anything over 78* haha. But I’ve heard so many incredible things about the city that I may just have to suck it up. Regardless of if I move there, I’ll at least have to visit for sure!