Seville Snapshots: Focusing on the Future

Alright, alright. I know these are supposed to be pictures of Spain and Seville. I’m on my way there, so cool down!

But today is Labor Day, and I’m in America, enjoying what I love about it: beer, brats and fireworks. I didn’t choose to leave the day after Labor Day; rather, I chose to give myself time to enjoy the Hawkeye football game and a Cubs game with friends and have Monday to recover.


Ellis Island, NYC Harbor. August 2012.

But having these five weeks at home has allowed me to put my life under a microscope and examine where I want to go, both next year and long-term. I traveled to three new states. I lost a loved one and found a new canine friend, reconnected with old ones I hadn’t seen in years. Ate without calorie counting (oops) and finally have an answer to the, “How long will you be in Spain?” question.

“Will figure that out this year.”

I’m still unsure as to whether or not Spain is where my future is, even after five years. My feet seem to be firmly planted on both sides of the charca, the proverbial “double life.” How can one be so staunchly sevillana while in the Hispalense, yet a beer-chugging, Chicago sport-loving chick while Stateside? Regardless of where I end up, I want my life to be about the same things it always has: having fun, making friends and doing stuff that scare me as often as possible. I think my last five years in Spain have encapsulated that quite nicely, ¿verdad?

How has travel or life abroad made you examine things? Any advice to share?

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About Cat Gaa

As a beef-loving Chicago girl living amongst pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she works in higher education at an American university in Madrid and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.


  1. Cat I feel the same way! I so often feel like I am like a reeses… you can´t have chocolate without the peanut butter inside and I can´t have Spain without America. I always feel like I have one foot in each bucket and it´s very hard to decide which bucket to stuff both feet into. It´s so scary deciding to leave behind our lives in a sense, with the decision to stay here year after year, but on the other hand when I think about the reverse situation I think that after so much time it would be horrible as well to leave this life behind. Decisions decisions. And ps… I tell myself (and my family and friends) that “this year” is when I will figure it out. I have now been saying that for three years.

    Lots of besos,


    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      Great way to state it! I’ve really accomplished everything I wanted to do in the past five years, so it’s time to make new goals! We should catch up over cervecitas about it!

  2. :-), no comment needed…you already know how I feel…looking forward to seeing you soon! Love the new page!

  3. Living abroad, and even living in other states where I didn’t grow up, made me realize there is no one way to live that’s best or one way to do things. I’ve learned to love the question and be okay with not having the answers. To always keep learning. To take with you wherever you go who you are and bloom where you’re planted. That very act of blooming opens you to this great Life! It seems you’ve discovered that too. You’ve found that just as you said, you can love being a Sevillana in Spain and a beer-chugging, sport-loving chick in the States. Reading your blogs it’s evident you love the adventure of discovering a new place wherever you go and you have an eye for seeing the beautiful and interesting. With your spirit you will always have fun and be able to draw from that deposit when things aren’t fun. You’ll always make friends and be able to expand that love space for those more challenging relationships and do stuff that scares you that grows confidence and allows expansion!
    You’re squeezing every drop out of this juicy life! Continue to give it a good squeeze!

  4. I just left Spain after living there for two years. The decision to leave was hard and who knows, I may end up there again someday. People of our generation rarely live in one place forever like our grandparents and parents did. You don’t have to “figure it out.” Maybe one day you’ll want to move back to the States. Maybe one day you won’t. You don’t need an answer. :)

  5. Wisconsinite Christine says:

    In a way, I was you four years ago, and I left. And while I have my logical reasons (because I had to leave my heart out of it), your circumstances are sure to be a bit different. I can sympathize, though. Let me just tell you what I experienced:
    – It was hard to move back to the States. I wanted to turn around and go back to what had become home. I got homesick for Madrid often, looked for Spaniards in New York, and spent a lot of money on skype for the first year or two. BUT, New York eventually became home, I eventually made friends, and I eventually started building a life it is hard to imagine not having now.
    – I still miss Madrid, and I have to go back as much as I can. It will always be a part of me.
    – Spain changes. Once I left that was it. I couldn’t go back to live, at least not as my life was before. This saddens me. The decision was a definite one, and it was time to move on.
    – I get to have the best of both worlds. But the whole being torn between two worlds, feeling sevillana in one country and sports-lover in another, it never goes away. No matter where you move to :-)

    Good luck! Whatever you decide, it will be right for you :-) Just make sure you’re sure, because people will question and poke and prod….and then before you know it, life is established :-)

  6. I think that living abroad (especially when we have very little control of where we could end up next due to the scarcity of academic jobs) has forced me to stop making plans and to be okay with that. I’ve tried to learn the value of having fun and creating meaningful experiences, regardless of where I am. I agree with other readers: whatever happens will happen for a reason, and it will have pros and cons as well as any alternatives would. Good luck figuring out the next step – or just letting it happen to you, whichever the case may be :)

  7. Time abroad has always allowed me to re examine my life and make decisions that are better for me. Something aboutnday after day of new discoveries that helps you to connect with wha thou really want.

  8. Sunshine and Siestas says:

    It’s shockingly reassuring to have you guys all say that (so, thanks!). I think I’ve let my parents talk to me too much about it, and they clearly would like me a lot closer. As I get older and am still doing the same job and realizing it’s not for me, and all of my friends in America have actual material worth…I think that maybe Spain isn’t what I want. Like Christine said, it will always be a part of me and my story!

  9. I get ya. I mean, now that I have family in Spain, things have changed. (Game changer!) It’s not just a bunch of friends that I have puling me back (I have too many of those, scattered everywhere); it’s a husband and in-laws and a decision to go where the jobs are. Ha, I know, Spaiiiin? Well, he’s got a good one now, and it’s in Spain, so we’re there. Not yet, but soon. I don’t know how long it’ll last, but … until then, Spain it is!

    It’s good to know other people struggle like me sometimes to see where they fit into this whole two-culture thing. :)

  10. Living abroad means this is a constant struggle, but we all chose it for a reason. A very wise woman (my mother) sat me down and said I don´t have to choose. I can be Malagueña and American when I want. That there is love, life, relationships, experiences, adventures, etc. on both sides of the pond and I can dip in where I want when I want. That, to me atleast, was comforting to hear… made me realize I don´t have to “choose” one over the other – I can have both.
    Suerte, nena!

  11. roamingtheworld says:

    It’s good to know so many people have struggled with this and we’re not alone.
    I don’t know what a year from now brings and it seems as I get older, it scares me more than 5 years ago. I’m guessing society is influencing me in ways I don’t like.

    I’m excited to see where your adventures lead you…and to new goals and opportunities!

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