By Lauren Hartley

I never imagined that I would leave home to teach English in Spain, but my desire to live abroad began after my friend and I visited Europe together for the first time in 2007. Between the summers of 2007 and 2008, we’d traveled to more than 10 European countries, the last of which was Spain. I loved every country we visited, but Spain was the place that I loved the most with its sunny weather, beautiful beaches and palm trees (something we don’t get in Ohio!), and the perfect place to improve my Spanish. I told myself from that moment that I would return to live in Spain after graduating college.

Unfortunately (or fortunately), things didn’t go exactly as I’d planned. For one, the opportunity for a foreigner to make money while living in Spain didn’t seem too easy at the time. Plus (and the bigger reason), I’d starting dating a boy in my last year or two of school and I just didn’t want to leave him for that long knowing we probably wouldn’t last if I went. So, after much thinking, I decided to forego the idea of living in Spain and I got a nine-to-five job like most after graduating.

Fast forward three years.

My boyfriend and I were still together and more serious, having recently moved in together and occasionally discussing marriage. And, I was still working at the same job that I’d started after graduation. Overall I was happy. I found time to travel with my company’s generous vacation days and I was making significantly more money than I ever had. I also liked the people I worked with, and I felt that the company I worked for recognized me and my efforts, which allowed me to move up nicely. Still, I just knew in my heart I wasn’t where I really wanted to be and I often dreamed of what a life in Spain would be like…

Chasing A Dream

So, I made the tough decision late in 2013 to leave everything I knew and was comfortable with to fulfill my dream. To say that making the decision to leave an amazing boyfriend of five years and a good job wasn’t easy would be a huge understatement. I knew that there’d be a lot to work out to make it happen. But, I knew it was the right thing for me to do. I knew that if I didn’t go now, I never would. And, I just kept telling myself that ‘whatever is meant to be, will be’ and that ‘anything worthwhile in life isn’t easy’.

I’m happy to report that things more than worked out.

On Christmas Eve in 2013 (having known my decision to leave), my boyfriend really surprised me when he proposed to me! I never imagined in my wildest dreams that this would be the outcome after telling him my plans to go. He said that he supported me and my decision to live in Spain to fulfil my dream, and that he just wanted to make things official before I went.

I began a few short months later confirming how I’d make the move to Spain happen. I found LanguageCorps’ website while searching online about teaching English abroad, and decided to fill out an application after comparing them to many other companies and confirming that they were who I wanted to use. After quickly hearing back that I’d been accepted, I begin the rigorous process of preparing for my trip that would begin in August 2014.

Looking back, it’s crazy to think about where I was a year ago today and were I am now. The time has flown by and it’s all been a bit of a whirlwind. But, I don’t have a single regret about the decision I made and could not be happier. If you’re thinking about taking this opportunity but aren’t sure, I hope that my story inspires you and allows you to take the plunge if going abroad is what you’ve been wanting to do, but been afraid to do for one reason or another. After all, one year really isn’t that long and I guarantee you that more will be gained in that year than would be doing nearly anything else, especially the same job you’ve just been okay with!

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