auxiliar program, spain

Reflections on 33

I’m sitting in my third floor apartment on the morning of my 33rd birthday thinking about all the things that have happened since my last birthday – the day I landed in Berkeley, California to start working at camp. It’s mind blowing to think about how many things have changed in a year. There has been change and adjustment, tons of movement, and then lots of sitting still. Pendulums. Balance and order. Dust settling. Since June of 2015, life has looked like this: Spain > NC > CA > NY > England > Spain > England > NC > Spain. Fortunately, the last segment has included more than seven months of sitting still, almost entirely in Galicia. Here are a few things that have happened in the last year.

Getting To Know Ferrol, Spain

I landed here in late December after a whirlwind few months with my parents and have shared zero updates on the blog since then! Ferrol is a city of about 65,000 people on the coast of Galicia and its main industry has been ship building and the military. It has suffered a major population bleed over the last 15 years and it’s very evident when walking around town that this place used to be really fantastic, but time is leaving its mark. Buildings are weathered, shops are closed, some buildings stand half demolished, most of the grass is uncut, it feels like nature is trying to reclaim its space here and push humanity out of the way. On the bright side, everything is really cheap. I currently pay less than 200 euros a month for a shared apartment, tapas come free with drinks, there are free concerts almost every weekend, extracurricular activities are inexpensive, so life has been really affordable. The downside is that people from here are really disillusioned and frustrated. It’s easy to see how hard the economic crisis hit Galicia.

I haven’t posted a lot of about my life here because it’s actually pretty mundane during the week. I haven’t felt the need to broadcast things like the prepackaged gazpacho or salmorejo from Mercadona that I eat nearly every day, or the park with peacocks that I walk through on a regular basis, or the fact that multiple times I’ve Google mapped a local business to shop at and when I show up it no longer exists. There are cool things happening here though – there’s art, music, poetry, dance, a university. And it’s surrounded by natural beauty with its beaches and Las Fragas do Eume, a beautiful forest.

The town’s emoji that’s painted everywhere.
Hangin’ with my main mon…ument.
Hello, good sir.
Lovely Valdoviño.
The enchanted forest of Fragas do Eume. It’s not really enchanted, I just like it a lot.


I also worked at a really sweet little elementary school for half the school year. There were 100 kids in the entire school. I really enjoyed my time at O Ramo!


Accomplishing Goals And Making New Ones

I’ve lost track recently of goal setting. But one goal I’ve had on my list for more than a year is the DELE C1 Spanish Exam for foreigners, to get an official certification. I dragged that exam prep book around with me across oceans multiple times and I can finally say goodbye to it! One day before turning 33 I finally completed the exam.Now I need to start thinking about new goals. The problem is that I have too many ideas and struggle to stick with one. I’d like to continue doing more photography and one goal is to finally buy the Canon SL-1 to replace my dearly loved, almost-dead Rebel. I also am hoping to branch out into more freelance work this coming year to sharpen my skills in editing, writing and translating.

Relationships And Las Domingueras

I’ve been extremely fortunate, cada año mas, to meet wonderful friends where I live. There are so many English speakers that I get along fantastically with here in Ferrol and we have had some great parties and hikes. Also, I sort of fell into a group of Spanish girlfriends and we meet on Sunday evenings to go for walks and visit local beaches. They have been SO generous and kind, and I even have a dog best friend now. Her name is Macarena. Be jealous.

Trying Not To Worry About The State Of The World

Well, this is nearly impossible. This has been a tough year for a lot of the world and there’s a lot of tension – back home in the US, and around the world. I’m shocked (and sadly not), angered, and saddened by the number of senseless deaths. My home country is growing more divided and polarized by the minute, with black lives becoming more and more targeted by violence, and the death toll from sensless gun violence increasing every day. It’s hard to know how to help or what to do. Finally, all I know to do is to love the people in my life and my community the best I can while voting from abroad to participate in my country’s democracy.

Living a Minimalist Lifestyle

Also in the last year I’ve taken very seriously the idea of minimalizing and giving away things. Last year I read that popular book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and tried many of its suggestions and found my life feeling lighter. In fact, after a summer of purging ruthlessly, I was able to come back to Spain with one suitcase and one backpack. Plus I feel more at peace with less belongings, not having to keep up with so many unimportant objects. I find inspiration from blogs by others living this way and it has given me the perspective that I have more than enough things and time and I want to use them wisely. Oh, and totally off topic, but I’m growing a tomato plant in my window.

In final news, I’m being assigned to a new region for the next school year: Salamanca!! I’m so excited to have this opportunity and can’t wait to explore the region.

That concludes my 32nd year of life. Thanks for being part of it! 🙂