I’m Sarah, a 20-something Midwestern American girl who embraces the world as her home. I love languages and cultures, living in Spain, eating international cuisines, a good cup of tea, photography and exploring new places.
I grew up in Dayton, Ohio, in a military family with parents who instilled a love for travel in me at an early age. I boarded my first cross-country flight at the innocent age of two and have been hooked on flying and traveling ever since. The odd thing is, I haven’t lived full-time in the Midwest in over 10 years so while it’s the place I’m from, it’s not exactly my only home. I’ve found many “homes” around the US and the world now. My extended family all live in the U.S. (in 4 different time zones!) while I’ve made Spain my home for almost a decade now.
My first international living experience was when I went to Baja California, Mexico in 2006. I was 17 and I was a very enthusiastic advanced Spanish student with big dreams about living abroad. I went back the week after I graduated from high school in 2007, adding an extra souvenir in the form of living in a Spanish-speaking country in the future.
I started by immersing myself more in the language by living in Jacksonville, Florida, where I accepted a spot with a hefty scholarship package and mild winter (aka no Midwestern winter!). I discovered the Latino community and learned about the study abroad programs my university had to offer. I had always wanted to go visit Spain and the study abroad advisers couldn’t convince me to study abroad for less than one semester.
In the fall of 2008, I took a full course on Spain and Spanish culture and my plan was to study abroad in Seville, Spain in 2010. With careful planning, research and recommendations from classmates who had studied there before me, I made my dream come true and spent a full semester there (while other students went to Barcelona).
I wholeheartedly enjoyed Sevillano life: the festivals, the parties, the summery sangria and tinto de verano and the monstrously delicious tapas. From not being able to feel confident enough to speak, I left Seville being able to speak Spanish fluently, just after four months of total immersion, which was a game changer for me. I lived with a host family and took 75% of my classes taught in Spanish. I practiced writing and continued thinking in Spanish (something I started to do as per the recommendation of a professor). I made local, non-English-speaking friends and limited my contact with the English language. It was an incredible, life-changing era for me and I wouldn’t be where I’m at today without having had that experience.
After an incredible experience in Southern Spain (with trips to Morocco and Portugal), I went back to the US to finish my double degree in Spanish and Economics. I worked in freelance marketing and translation for a couple of years post-college and I managed to make a return visit to Spain (and Portugal) to spend time with my local friends.
That visit confirmed my desire to come back to Spain but this time to teach English.
Somewhat selfishly wanting to preserve my study abroad home, I applied to teach in the North of Spain (Galicia) and lived in La Coruña in 2014-2015 and then Santiago from 2015-2016. I had the most incredible two years of my life but the endless rain sent me packing and I moved to Madrid in September 2016.
The biggest twist in my story was that I fell in love with a Northern Irish man whom I had met towards the end of 2015 but didn’t think *too much* of it. Fast forward a couple of years, after staying in touch for a little while but really reconnecting and chatting a lot in 2016, we realized that our feelings for each other had changed–completely. Cut to visiting each other in our respective cities (Madrid for me and Huelva for him) as much as we could until he took a big leap to move to la capital in 2018. A marriage proposal in Puerta del Sol and then, we finally tied the knot, not once but twice (legally marrying in Gibraltar) and then formally -and officially in our eyes- with friends and family present in Northern Ireland in late September 2019, just six months before the world flipped upside down and battled a global pandemic.
And I’ve been here ever since!
I took a huge leap last year in terms of my career and modified my student visa to a freelancer/self-employed work permit. Now I’m working as a freelance copywriter, translator and ESL teacher, trying my hardest to make this blog a form of passive income to support myself in the future.
It hasn’t been easy to live abroad or to be away from the United States and my family for over two years now but it’s definitely been worth it. All the personal growth, opportunities, new countries, new friends and adventures in life and in love have helped to make my expat life rich and fulfilling.
Will you come along for the ride with me?
I filter everything around me through a Christian worldview and I hope to inspire other women to travel solo and follow their dreams. There’s more to the world than news headlines and reports. Locals are your clearest window into other cultures and the media tries to fuel our fears and squelch our curiosity of the world. I’m here to show you that the world isn’t as scary as you think it is.
I’m by no means perfect and I’m always curious to learn new things and from all perspectives. Please add to the discussion on my posts and we’ll talk there!
If you have made it this far and really found one of my blog posts helpful, please consider making a donation to reduce the financial costs of keeping it running. Web hosting, extra Cloud and email storage space, subscriptions…not to mention the dozens upon dozens of questions I receive each year and the large chunk of time I personally spend handcrafting the content – it all adds up!
Your donation, whether small or large, will go a long way to help people just like you get the most updated and accurate information on living in and enjoying Spain. Thank you so much in advance for that.