From Canada To Spain With Love

I've always loved Spain, for many reasons. I was 20 years old the first time I visited Spain, and within minutes of stepping foot on the warm red tiles, I was in love. 

When those around me ask, "why Spain?” it is tough to express my feelings towards a country I have now gotten to know very well. 

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It is not so much the things in Spain (who doesn't love jamón?), but rather the feeling of Spain. It’s the feel of the intense energy surrounding you, the love from a Sevillans smile that you just can't help but admire in their eyes. 

After my first trip to Spain, in which I visited Barcelona and San Sebastian, I got a taste of a life I loved, and I was left craving much, much more. 

In 2017, on one hot summertime day in Calgary, I found myself browsing through GLT (Girls Love Travel Facebook group - aka THE BEST travel group ever). *If you are reading this post and are a female and unaware of GLT, please send me a message.* I was seeing all the beautiful photos of summertime in Sevilla, and for the rest of the day, I just couldn't get the thought of Spain out of my mind. 

I could sit there and close my eyes and imagine it all. Sitting outside in the sun, next to the Cathedral, horse-drawn carriages passing by, sultry Spanish couples kissing passionately next to me. 

Of course, in these visions, I also envisioned my own sexy Spaniard there with me. Leaning in close, whispering some hot Spanish words into my ear as we drink a flavourful Ribera and taste olives. Not saying I need a man. I can also whisper sweet nothings into my own ear (solo travelling is the best). 

It was a lovely fantasy in my mind, to say the least. 

Only a few short days following my sudden Spanish dream, I saw a posting on GLT by a woman from Sevilla. She was seeking English speakers to come to live in the South of Spain for a language exchange. 

Spanish Language Exchange: Native English speakers get paired up with a Spanish family. You get the opportunity to live at their home for free and have all meals provided. In exchange, you spend around 3 hours a day with their children speaking English. *If you would like some more information, please send me a message here.

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I knew right away this was something I HAD to do, and if I didn't do it now, I most likely never would. I had to take the risk, or I would lose my chance. I always have these crazy wild ideas running through my mind and always tell myself they will become a reality. I learnt a long time ago, that if I don't take immediate action on these dreams (or at least act on them and start to plan), they will soon pass me by. 

It was as if every single piece of the puzzle was coming together one piece at a time. Only a few short days after my Spanish Language Exchange find, my best friend Sophie asked me to join her in Europe for 2 months at the end of September. Of course, I said yes. That is one dominant personality trait I carry. I can never ever say no to a trip, ever. 

It was as if the universe was giving me a sign that this was precisely what I had to do in this exact moment and time in my life. The puzzle was almost complete, and the fantasy was still running strong. 

 However, there was still one critical piece of the puzzle, that was not an easy one to fit. 

During this period, I was working almost full time at a job I love, following my career path as a dental hygienist. I was feeling overwhelmingly lucky with my team at work, the dentists I worked for, and the thought of leaving them and my job made me feel sick to my stomach. 

We all love and desire that feeling of stability, no? We search for that sense of security and the belief that everything will be okay. We all find this safe and secure feeling in different forms, and at this point in time, mine was through a fulfilling job that I really enjoyed.

When I sat down and reflected on my feelings, agonizing on "what do I do?,” I also had the realization that this feeling of security with my current routine is that exact reason I am so infatuated with travelling and living in different countries. 

It is when we are the furthest away from home that we most become ourselves. This is where we discover new things, grow, share, and fuse with others. 

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It is when I am travelling or alone in a different country when I honestly find myself. I get the opportunity to connect with my true divine self on a deeper level away from all the distractions. It leaves me coming home feeling confident in my decisions and secure with myself. 

My next move was one that I knew was my only option. This was the only solution that left me not losing anything, yet allowing myself to grow and pursue something I love more than anything. 

I then decided to ask for a leave of absence from work to go to Spain and pursue the language exchange…

Much to my surprise, I was granted the leave of absence, and I couldn't believe it. 

The weeks passed, and every day I was preparing myself for 3 months away from Canada. Preparing myself for my next great adventure and my venture away from home living in Spain. 

Now, I am aware that I got VERY lucky being granted this leave of absence. Still to this day I am not sure how I got so fortunate with my job. Here is my blog post regarding HOW I asked for the leave of absence. Please remember, this is in no way legal advice. I am merely sharing with you the steps I took to ask and be granted a leave of absence for travel. 

I said goodbye to Calgary on September 11th, 2017. I flew to Portugal to meet my best friend, Sophie. The next 3 weeks following my arrival in Lisbon were the wildest weeks of my life.

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I won't be getting into any of the dirty details now regarding my time travelling around Europe with Sophie. It is too much to handle.. trust me. But to give you an outline, we started in Portugal. Went to the BPM festival on the beach. Afterwards, we headed to Munich for Oktoberfest. Next, we took over Greece. And the cherry on top was many days spent laughing in Amsterdam. 

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Like I mentioned in my previous blog post, the next time I find myself in any of these cities or countries, I will share my raw journal pages. If we get lucky enough to read these pages once again, it will definitely be one hell of a story to read. 

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After saying goodbye to Sophie in Amsterdam, I met my mum in Mallorca, Spain for a beautiful week spent on the Balearic Island.  

I flew from Mallorca to Sevilla on October 6th, 2017. When I arrived at the airport, my lovely host family was there waiting for me with open arms. 

I will never forget my first day in Sevilla. My host family was so incredibly welcoming and beautiful. We spent my first day exploring the city, walking around the historic center. It was a hot October fall day, and I felt nothing but love and excitement for my new adventure. 

My time spent in Sevilla was full of life, full of excitement and full of an extraordinary love that I never saw coming. Little did I know on October 6th, my whole life was quickly about to change. Taking that step forward and accepting the risk with the leave of absence was the best decision I could have ever made. I saw the opportunity for a marvellous experience and just went for it head first. 

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Before I moved to Spain for the first time, I always had this vision of how beautiful life in Andalusia must be. And let me tell you, a beautiful life it is. Everything about Spanish culture is incredible. I have grown to have such a deep, robust connection with the food, the people, and the culture. Spain is a country that is VERY easy to fall in love with. 

Are you interested in coming to the South Of Spain for a language exchange? Please contact me for further information. 

Coming up on Redhead Round The World I will get into ALL things Sevilla. Stay tuned for my love story, living life in a non-English speaking country, and all my favourite things to do and where to eat in the city. 

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xo, elaina