Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sangria Send-Off and The 'Care Package'

Today was my last official day at my firm. It was bittersweet. I'm so excited to be moving on to Barcelona and taking a chance to do something that most people would shy away from and think "I could never do that!", but at the same time, I feel like I've made so many friends at work that leaving them is a really hard thing to do. I didn't even get to say goodbye to everyone, so I hope my blog address gets around and that people will comment and contact me!

I did have a bit of a going-away/ send-off at which I was able to sit and enjoy some drinks with anyone who wanted to come and say goodbye. It was lovely. The evening will hold a very special place in my heart and mind.

Some of the girls I worked closely with in my last position at the firm gave me a "care package". The first thing I pulled out of the bag was an economy-sized package of gum with a note on it: "For when you find a man hot enough to kiss". Well, I knew where this gift was going right away!! Other items it included were chapstick, a Spanish-English phrase book (with a page marker on the page with alcoholic beverages), a triple-power push pop, Dictionaries, a journal (for any adventures which are not PG enough to put on this blog), batteries, a practical guide to Spain and other items for "experiencing Spanish Hospitality". I love, love, LOVE it!

I was also encouraged by a friend of mine that I have all the right ASSets that Spanish men like. :) I can't deny that I have certain assets, and I certainly think that my very blonde hair will help me stand out in the crowd! Barcelona Men: get ready!

Thank you everyone for you words of encouragement and luck! Thank you for the gifts you've given me, and the promises made to keep in touch. I so very much look forward to hearing from all of you and maybe even having you come to visit me in Barcelona!

The other part of this evening will entail tidying up my apartment so that packing and cleaning will be a breeze tomorrow, and having my last roommate night with the lovely Dixie. I will so very much miss you my darling! And when I find out what fashion is like in Spain, I will be sure to tell you all about it!

Te quiero, mis amigos y amigas en el CB! Keep in touch!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

My First Official "Goodbye"

We both cried.

I have been trying to deny myself thinking about how much I am going to miss everyone I know. I will literally know two people in all of Europe when I arrive in Spain. One of them lives in France and the other in London.

When I moved to Toronto, I only had 3 friends here, but that was different. I had friends and family to visit only a bus or train ride away.

Le sigh.

Goodbyes are too hard, and way too permanent. So to all of my friends, family, loved ones, roommates, acquaintences, drinking buddies, adopted siblings, adopted parents, collegues, ex's (the good ones), building managers, gym buddies, bankers, travel agents, dry cleaners and anyone else I might be missing:

¡Hasta Luego! I will look forward to seeing you again someday! Please keep in touch and let me know if you're coming to Europe. I'll post if/when I come back to Ontario.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Packing! ... and Procrastinating.

Tonight is supposed to be "come home and pack" night. My father is graciously taking his Saturday to come to Toronto to help me move half of my belongings back to his house, where he will kindly store my things until my likely inevitable return some day.

I just can't seem to get motivated though. Instead, I watched Bones, made and ate guacamole, created my blog, watched a couple of music videos and stared at the wall. No, I'm not "being vacant" as one of my friends puts it; I am debating which shelves to take down and if I should leave one up seeing as how one of my dressers and my nighttable are going tomorrow and I need to have some surface on which to put things.

I also have a pile of laundry to do. Le sigh. Three weeks and 2.5 hours until I'm on the plane and departing (with a glass of champagne!)

P.S. Don't feel too bad for my dad, he plans on drinking my rum while I'm away ;)

How It All Began: From The Dream To The Reality

I am officially 3 weeks away from my departure date. It has been a long, drawn-out process (but really only since June – that is when the real thinking started.)

How it all began:

I’ve been thinking for quite some time now: “What am I doing with my life?” “Where am I going?” “What are my goals?” (Even though I hate the word ‘goals’, I do still think it’s important to have them.) I asked my self if working where I am was satisfying and if I’d like to stay there for a while. The answer was “No.” Don’t get me wrong, the people are fantastic; it’s the job that wasn’t right for me. I don’t think I belong in an office, sitting in a beige cubicle in a beige office staring at a computer screen and caring about whether or not to purchase travel mugs with a handle, or without. I took a long look at the other positions in my department and decided that I didn’t want anyone else’s job either. Time to move on. But where? To what? The quest began…

January: My roommate and I casually talk about how great it would be to pick up and move to some foreign city, like Paris or New York or some other beautiful European country. She’s in school (just finished her undergrad in the present day!) and wouldn’t be able to move until September at the earliest. I on the other hand, have nothing holding me back from leaving. I begin to think: I could actually move to Paris. I decide to put the thought out of my head for now because really, I can’t move until September because I can't run-out on my lovely roommate, and I’m probably being completely unreasonable and foolish thinking that I can just up-and-move to Paris. I don’t even speak a word of French.

February, March, April May: I am stage managing 3 shows in a series of 4, so thoughts of Europe are supposed to be pushed far from my mind. Somehow though, they keep popping up in my everyday life. I try to push these thoughts away and think: “You’re too busy right now, think about it in June if you want to, but NOT RIGHT NOW!”

June: I haven’t stopped thinking about it. And now I’m actually allowed to! I tell my roommate that I haven’t stopped thinking about it, and tell her we’re going to have to move out in September. I begin looking frantically for information about moving to Paris, even though I still don’t speak any French. I find out that I must have an interview with the French consulate before I can get a visa. First appointment is August 10. WOW. I sign up for my appointment and begin learning French (thank you Rosetta Stone, your lessons are very helpful). Through the process of attempting to learn French, I find that I am significantly worse than I thought I was. I found a course online in Paris, France that would educate me on French culture and language for only $13,900!  I bet you’re thinking: “Only $13,900??” Well that’s what I was thinking too. It’s a steep price for not getting a degree and meandering around France with rich people’s kids for 4 months. But what else to do? I decided that I should probably get some sort of certificate if I’m going to spend money on school.

July: Figuring out what you’d want to be educated on in another country is a difficult task. First you have to consider language barriers and then you have to consider if you’d actually want to know anything they could teach you that you would actually understand. In learning French, I discovered how good I am at Spanish. This is where Barcelona came into play. Though Paris would have been lovely, if you can’t speak the language, I don’t think living there is a good idea. I found a teacher training course online for Teaching English as a Second Language (ask me for details when after I’ve started the course and I’ll tell you what I think!). The course is taught in Barcelona and then they have resources to help you find a job after you’ve earned a certificate. And this course is only $2,700. That sounds like it’s a little more in my price range! They give you accommodation for the month that you are in school and they help you find a place after school if you’re interested in staying. Sign me up! So I did.

My visa application was a long drawn out process with the ending being: I’m not going to be on a visa while I’m there, but the good news is, I now have paperwork stating that I’m not a criminal and I don’t have yellow fever or the plague!

I got myself a Student Line of Credit with my bank and a new credit card that basically saved me $400 on my travel insurance (again, ask me about this and I’ll point you in the right direction). Amazing! My banker is fantastic!

July is also the month that I started actually telling people besides those nearest and dearest who would only encourage my crazy and tell me to GO!

Telling my mom and my sister was the hardest thing I’ve had to do. It was even harder than deciding to move to a country that I don’t really speak the language, by myself, with limited funds. I knew their reactions wouldn’t stop me from going, but that’s the hardest part. My mom actually took it shockingly well. Almost as well as my gramma, who told me “That’s great dear. Good for you. Come back with a man, just make sure he’s a good one”. (Thanks gramma, I'll do my best). My mom is happy for me and excited that I’d take this opportunity to do something exciting. I also had enough things in order that she would know I’ve really thought this through and I’m not just being a ridiculous dreamer in this. Telling my sister went a little something like this:

“Hey, do you want a bookcase?”
“YEAH! Which one? The big square one?”
“I’m moving.”
“Where? St. Thomas?”
(silence) “I don’t want your stupid bookcase anymore.”

She actually does want my bookcase; she just doesn’t want me to move. She then told me that I am abandoning her children. No, I am not. I’m going to send presents from Spain! I’ll miss them like crazy and if I could bring them with me, I would in a heartbeat but I cannot do that. I consider this Aunt Beth’s adventure that will one day help the future travels of my nieces and nephew (because I’ll know what to do when you move to another country!)

August: Wrap up my life, pack it in boxes, quit my job and move. That is what this month will entail (oh yes, and my best friend’s wedding, which was the loveliest event I’ve been to in my life! Congratulations to the happy couple: Kristina and Mark Shepherd!)