¡Hasta Luego! I’m Headed Back to Spain

Returning to Spain

Agridulce. /aɣ.ɹi.ˈðul.se/ adj. Language: Spanish. Meaning: Bittersweet. Like 55% dark chocolate, or returning to Spain for another year.  

It doesn’t get much easier the third time around.

In a practical sense, I know the routine. Secure the window seat far in advance; eat ten burritos in the hopes I’ll get sick of them; weigh my bag before I get to the airport.

But my third time moving to Spain is proving the most difficult. The goodbyes don’t get easier with time; instead they grow heavier. Should I really be doing this again? 

It doesn’t help that this summer in the U.S. was one of the best on the books. It started off with ten fantastic days in Chicago, first for Bloghouse and then extra quality time with my mom, exploring the diversity of the Midwestern city. Then back home, where I spent every weekday rediscovering my sleepy hometown and writing till my wrists ached, and every weekend in San Francisco visiting old friends and new. It was a summer of picnics in the park and wine on the roof; writing in coffee shops as we sipped bougie $5 pour-overs; eating my way through Oakland; climbing the peaks of Yosemite; conquering Marin hiking trails; and wondering how I could leave it all again.

Returning to Spain: Summer 2014

But after two months of deliberation, I decided to move ahead with my original plan of returning to Spain to live and teach in Barcelona for the upcoming school year. Although I was mulling over the very tempting idea of finding a job in San Francisco and moving into the city I love most, I knew I would regret forgoing the chance to live abroad once again while I’m young and unattached. Plus, as many of you fine readers pointed out, returning to Spain isn’t the be-all-end-all of decisions—I could always come home again if I’m unhappy. (It seems unlikely that one can be miserable in Barcelona, right? Though I hope those aren’t my famous last words.)

And this isn’t to say I’m not excited to move to Barcelona. I am! I’m looking forward to living on the Mediterranean coast; to exploring the artistic city and getting to know its quirks; to discovering my new favorite cafés and writing spaces; to tapas and Catalan cuisine.

To diving back into Spanish, and possibly taking Catalan classes; to cheap and delicious Spanish wine (naturally); to being based next to a huge airport with budget flights to every European destination; to tortilla española; to swapping the car for a bike with Barcelona’s bike rental program, Bicing.

To the best sandwich shop in the entire world, Bo de B; to being more than a fair-weather fan when I cheer on FC Barcelona; to hopping a train to Southern France; and to meeting more fellow expats and travelers and locals. It’s the people that always make the experiences, both at home and abroad. I think that point was made clear this summer.

Hello Goodbye: Returning to Spain | A Thing For Wor(l)ds

So once again, I’ve packed my bags with the feeling that I’ve touched down at home for only 24 hours. For the third time, I’ll be driving to San Francisco International tomorrow to make the move to Spain. I’ll return to Bilbao, where I’ve left half of my belongings (hence why I’ve worn the same three shirts all summer ;) and my visa renewal torments.

Then, sometime before my teaching orientation on September 9th, I’ll catch a bus to Barcelona and desperately search for a flat before the good ones are snatched up, trying to heed my own tips for the Spanish housing hunt without pulling out my hair in the process. And on September 15, I’ll start my position at a daycare/preschool in the heart of Barcelona, where I’ll ponder the best way to instill English phonemes in the minds of teething one-year-olds.

Hasta pronto, California. Thank you for making it so difficult to leave—I wouldn’t have you any other way.

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  • Lily

    What program are you using to teach in Barcelona? That’s my favorite city!

    • Hey Lily, I’ll be with the program Meddeas. Stay tuned for future posts about them—they’re not as well known as the major government auxiliar program!

  • Jenny! Have a safe return back to BCN! I am sure you will have an amazing adventure ahead of you (and who doesn’t love teething one-year-olds) – I can’t wait to read about all of your lovely adventures and glad that you had such an amazing time being back home! Hasta pronto amiga! :D

    • Thanks Chanel! And so glad you’re having such a great time in Europe. Now we’re back on the same continent! :)

  • Mindi @ 2foodtrippers

    I look forward to reading about your Barcelona adventures! (I’m also jealous of the cheap tomatoes that you’ll soon be eating, not to mention the wine, olives, etc…)

  • Pedro1312

    sad to hear that you are about to become a culé, it really makes me feel sad, so true!

    anyways even if i really dislike Barna and i think that it is a grey and overrated city i hope you have a great time, and most important i hope that you do not feel pressured or forced to learn or speak in Catalan.

    have a great time Jenny!

    • Hahaha thanks Pedro!! I hope I don’t disappoint you too much with my future posts about Barcelona ;) Hopefully I’ll like the city more than you do, so I can last a full year there!

  • I’m so glad that you came to a decision in moving back to Spain that you are happy and comfortable with. Just yesterday, I officially resigned from my job and will be heading over to Spain in 34 days! Lots to do in preparation before the move, but I cannot wait. Here’s to the adventures that are in store for both of us!!

    • Congrats, Mike!! That must have been a scary move, but hopefully so worth it in the end. I’m back in Spain now and must say, despite the downpour that greeted me in Bilbao, I feel like I made a good decision going back :) Excited to read about your adventures once you’re over here!

  • I have never been to Barcelona and now I have a reason to make the trip. My boyfriend lived there ages ago and he keeps wanting me to come. I adore your blog and will be so happy to see you in Espana!!

    • Thanks so much, Susan! I can’t BELIEVE that you’re such a world traveler and haven’t popped on south to Barcelona yet! I’ll be happy to show you around when you do :)

  • Olivia

    Safe travels! I definitely know the feeling of trying to decide which way to go with things, but I’m glad you picked Spain in the end. I’m hoping to get back to Granada again early next year.

    • Thanks, Olivia! And if you end up in Granada I will be eternally jealous, that city holds such a special place in my corazón :)

  • ASH

    So excited for you. We will be there the first weekend in October, so if you could get a place with a futon for 2 that would be great! And, get in touch with Devour Barcelona for a food tour before you start class! Good luck.

    • Hahah ok I’ll keep an eye out for the futon! Barcelona rents are menacing and we’ll see if I can afford more than a kitchen cupboard. And thanks for reminding me to get in touch with that tour, I’d love to do it!

  • Safe travels back to Spain. As Barcelona is my favorite city, I might have to stop over and visit while you’re there. Let me know if you need any recommendations.

  • Ooh, right there with ya on the whole moving-to-Spain-for-round-three thing. Looking forward to hearing any on-the-ground reporting you might have to share about the independence referendum when it comes in a month or so! :E

    BTW just a random fellow linguistic nerd question: when you transcribed the Spanish word “agridulce” at the top, why did you use the /ɹ/ symbol, which usually represents the English-style R (alveolar approximant), instead of the /ɾ/ symbol, which usually represents the non-trilled Spanish-style R (alveolar flap)?

    • I’ll definitely have to follow along with the Catalonian independence! First Basque, now this…wonder if I’ll ever end up in a place in Spain that likes being Spanish? ;)

      As for the linguistics thing…..great question! And also, great catch!! Hahah it’s been too long since my college phonetics course. I kept thinking /r/ is for the trill and /ɹ/ is for the non-trill, but you’re right, it should be a flap!


  • Stephanie U.

    Best of luck! It was so nice meeting you and hopefully we’ll meet again!

  • …Safe travels, Jenny, :-)!!…

  • Anne

    Summer of magic. “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” I’d say that’s a great wrap-up of why/how life in SF was so great for you.
    Could never have predicted I’d have such a lovely partner-in-crime this summer, that I’d meet on the other side of the country just as it was beginning. Here’s to being #jealous of each other’s Instagrams, to chats or video calls from Jane (me) and Bar del Pi (you), and to picking up where we left off when you are ready to come back home :)
    It’s not “adios” it’s “hasta luego!”
    <3, Your blog's biggest fan!

    • Anne

      P.S. Who’s that weird girl hunched over her laptop in the coffee shop photo? :P

      • Hahah i know you think that’s you but it’s actually a random person! Remember you didn’t have your laptop yet?

        • Anne

          BAHAHAHA – are you sure? Could’ve been my iPad screen back when that was a thing.

    • aawwwww, this one just about has me tearing up!! I WOULD leave it to you to find a quote for this moment ;)
      Luckily, since bloggers are inherently tied to the internet, I know we’ll have no problem staying in touch this coming year. I’ll probably talk to you 8 times a day, as per usual…..

  • lindsaypunk

    Bon voyage! So so excited to hear about your Barcelona adventures! I can totally understand why you’d hesitate to leave an amazing city like SF behind, but it’ll always be there – you’ll be back someday! For now, just enjoy all that cheap delicious wine and pretty men! (ahem, Tinder adventures in BCN? ;)

    • Cheap wine + pretty men + Tinder….that’s some motivation right there, hahaha.

      • Anne

        LOL I need all of these things in my life. Can I please have two lives, one here and one there?