Spain, Work

From Madrid to Heaven

De Madrid al cieloAnother way of saying “there’s no place like Madrid.”

It originally comes from a work of writing by the author Luis Quiñones de Benavente called “Baile del invierno y del verano” (“Dance of summer and winter” – how appropriately titled for Madrid.)

Pues el invierno y el verano,

en Madrid solo son buenos,

desde la cuna a Madrid,

y desde Madrid al Cielo.

(The winter and the summer

are always good in Madrid,

From the cradle to Madrid,

and from Madrid to heaven.)  Or something like that.


I’ve made an exciting discovery: my old blog from when I first moved to Spain. I thought I had deleted it long ago, but I logged back in to my old WordPress account and there it was. So now my blog is full of my old musings about life in northern Spain between 2013 and 2016, with a big gap from 2017 to 2019. This post will attempt to fill in the gaps and bring you up to speed on my current situation. (tl;dr – I live in Madrid now. I have a “real” job which technically is two or three jobs.)

For a while – mostly in 2018 – I was writing blog posts about “frases hechas” – typical Spanish expressions that you have to memorize to really understand what people are saying. I was tying those expressions to things that were happening in my life, but it was a stretch, to say the least. I was writing about studying web and UI design, which wasn’t super useful to the general population. I’ve now eliminated those old posts and brought back those old reflections on life in Spain as a foreigner and some of the ups and downs I’ve been through.

I’ve been so busy in the last couple of years, moving cities and changing jobs and my entire life around multiple times, that I had forgotten about the simpler days of being a new language assistant. After finishing my year in Galicia, with my mini-stint in Salamanca, I spent the years from 2016 to 2018 working remotely for a great company called Lingo Live. It was truly a whirlwind of a couple of years, and I was fortunate to be able to travel to the US multiple times as well as Tuscany and Paris and other parts of Spain. I moved from Santander, my Spanish “hometown” to León where I experienced the joy of free delicious tapas, hiking, and parks with great people, getting to know Castilla y León’s hidden corners.

Around the middle of 2018, I decided it was time to take a career leap and try to transition into web design. I took a few courses and then enrolled in the online university Universitat Oberta de Catalunya. However, it only took one semester to see it wasn’t taking me in the right direction. I learned some basics of programming and some new skills, but ultimately decided not to spend more money or time on the degree, opting to study some independent online courses through Udacity, where I learned JavaScript and managed to build my own website and a couple of others. I learned Flexbox on my own and implemented it all on my own without any pre-packaged code. Around the same time, I made the choice to move back to Cantabria, hitting Ctrl-Z on my León life. I spent the school year living with the most fantastic roommate (Raquel!), studying, and teaching part time.

Moving forward to the spring of 2019, I was on vacation for Semana Santa in Granada and Málaga, and I got a call to interview with a small publishing company in Madrid. I ultimately accepted the offer and moved down at the beginning of June, right along with the summer heat. Suffocating, overwhelming and exhausting are the three words that come to mind when I think back to my first months in Madrid. (And to think all my Cantabria friends warned me in advance. Jaja, you were right.)

Professionally speaking, I’ve spent the last 11 months learning to write about the pharma industry – massively improving my WordPress skills – and diving deeper into hand-coding MailChimp emails in HTML & CSS. Ultimately though, I was offered the chance to teach business English to professionals in the pharma industry, and I jumped at the chance to take it. I missed directly contributing something useful to improve people’s lives. My students are an absolute dream to work with and I’m so glad I took the opportunity. Of course, now that the coronavirus has slammed Madrid, I’m working remotely with both my former company and the new teaching job, as well as some other freelance work.

I’ve been fortunate in so many ways to be able to live in a good area with a friendly roommate, and my experience in Madrid has helped boost my professional skills, not to mention my personal style (a bit). However, I still get the underlying feeling that I’ve landed in the wrong place and that it’s a temporary stop. It’s a place where I tend to feel tired the majority of the time, regardless of the season, it takes all my energy just to barely survive.

So as you can probably guess from my overall culo de mal asiento nature, along with the COVID-19 crisis, I’m considering where I want to land next: a smaller-than-Madrid city, possibly coastal, bikeable, where I don’t need to travel to work on a crowded metro or feel I need to work so hard just to live a simple life. For me, while it’s been an overall positive experience, it’s less De Madrid al Cielo, and more De Madrid a Cualquier Otro Sitio.