When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Sangria!

AUGUST 30, 2012

Photo: Jenna Kreitman

I was nearing the end of my senior year in college when I realized that I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I had been following my advisor’s advice and going on job interviews, but they must have sensed my insecurity.  Despite a 4.0 grade point average, I wasn’t offered a single job.

Instead of sulking, I did what any sane 22 year old would do in that position—I booked a one-way ticket to Spain. My Spanish professor had told me about the Spanish Ministry of Education’s teaching assistant program and I had applied as a plan B. Looking back, I realize that it was really my hidden plan A all along. From the moment I submitted the application, I secretly knew I would go.

The problem was explaining my decision to the rest of the world. I wasn’t supposed to go to Spain again! I had already studied there junior year, and when that wasn’t enough I hopped on a plane to Buenos Aires to spend the spring semester in Argentina. My boyfriend of four years at the time, as well as my friends and family, expected me to find a nice entry level job in the area and get a few years of experience before going to graduate school. But all I could think was, experience in what? Graduate school for what? I had no idea.

Sometimes I think that by moving to Spain I ran away from all the pressure, but regardless of whether that is true, it was the right decision. Leaving allowed me to finally break free from an unhealthy relationship and to focus my own interests and ambitions.

I arrived in beautiful Seville, Spain without knowing a soul. I had to fend for myself in every way and I was thrilled by the challenge. I put my energy into meeting people and organizing my life in my new city. Before long, I knew its windy streets and secret alleyways and had a wonderful group of friends.

I met my husband over tapas. We had gotten together for a language exchange—he had posted an ad wanting to practice his English, and in exchange I’d practice my Spanish.  He quickly convinced me that I had the wrong impression of Spanish food (at the time I thought it was bland and boring) by ordering Iberian pork tenderloin, homemade meatballs in almond sauce, and creamy ham croquettes. We talked and laughed and washed everything down with a few tintos de verano (the local sangria).

I wasn’t supposed to meet someone! I was in Spain to be independent, not to be tied down by another relationship. Luckily, I didn’t listen to those thoughts and opened my heart to Alejandro. Timing is a funny thing, but I couldn’t let such an amazing man pass me by. A little over a year and a half later we were married.

Now I live in Spain and face some of the same doubts I did a few years ago. I’m not sure what I want to do for a living or if I’ll decide to go to grad school. I don’t know if we will stay in Spain forever or move back to the US, as both places have their appeal.

I do, however, know that it’s important to enjoy life every day and to be thankful for the amazing people in it. Take risks and don’t be afraid of changes—sometimes what you aren’t looking for will find you anyway!


  • Lauren A. Ramires 5 years ago

    I love this! In German we have the word wanderlust and a word for when you miss a place that you want to go to, without it being your home, “Sehensucht” and I felt that the entire time during University. I studied abroad once in high school, once in college, and wound up graduating a year early unexpectedly. I realized that after three years of doing international relations, I didn’t want to do international relations – I wanted to do communications and connect with all cultures through writing.

    Now, four months after graduating, I’m planning a move to New York after purchasing a one-way ticket. I originally thought I’d be returning to Europe but after receiving an internship opportunity in New York, I suddenly felt uplifted: it may not be my original dream but it IS a dream, and any opportunity is worth a try. If that doesn’t work it doesn’t mean I’m back to square one.

    I can figure life one step at a time and be open to anything. I wouldn’t mind an invitation to Spain, haha!

    Good luck, love the post, I really connected to it.