Moving to Madrid: My Story of Landing in the Capital City of Spain

18 August 2016 0 Comments Category: blog, Cat Gaa, Living in Spain

Just a few weeks ago, on a long weekend to Seville, I took stock of the changes I’d made in just four short weeks. My husband and I made a split-second decision to both move to Madrid for work; he had been promoted within his line of work, and I began a new job in a new sector. We were together, happy in our new positions and enjoying a new city. But we missed home.

The reason we moved to Madrid – a capital of over 3 million people – from a smaller city had everything to do with professional aims. While the work culture in Seville meant long lunches and shorter work hours in the summer months, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d never get anywhere in my career if I stayed in Southern Spain.

So the chips fell, and they all fell into place at the very best time. One Sunday afternoon in early July, we closed up our house in Seville and hopped on a train laden with enough clothing to last us for a few weeks, bound for Madrid. His move to Madrid had been imminent given his status as a civil servant, whereas mine had been based on the want to stay together and to see if I could make it in a larger city. After all, I was getting a bit too comfortable in Seville.

But it hurt – leaving a city I love despite its (many) flaws was like the sting you get when ripping off a plaster on sensitive skin. It hurt me to go.

It had been so long since I’d left a place that I call home and jumped into the unknown – I’ve lived in Sevilla longer simultaneously than any other place. But, Madrid wasn’t really the unknown: I already knew the transportation system, had figured out how to jump all the bureaucratic hoops and didn’t trip over every other word in Spanish. Plus, my husband was born in Madrid and has family here.

Landing in Madrid has been free of major turbulence, just a few small bumps before a smooth taxi. The biggest hurdles have been settling into my new job at a university (and waking up early!), not getting too lost on public transportation, remembering what days the rubbish bins are set out and training my brain to say caña rather than cerveza when ordering a beer.

And it’s not been easy getting to know Madrid, to be honest. I miss festivals and concerts and events simply because I don’t know how or where to look for them, can’t fathom the high prices of a drink and a tapa on a rooftop prices and still have to ask in what cardinal direction from Sol most neighborhoods lie.

My transplanted friends to the city tell me it’s just a matter of time, patience and an intrepid spirit.

Seville is easy to fall in love with on first glance and romantic in a way that the Metro de Madrid and the long avenues could never be. We’re not so stuck in our neighborhoods and often crisscross the city for tapas or concert venues. We stop for a beer with friends because time moves at a different speed, and that beer is far cheaper, anyway.

On my last trip south, I was exhausted by the time my train rolled into Santa Justa just past 11pm. The contrast of sweltering air after two hours on a refrigerated train car was strangely welcoming, and several Andalusian expressions popped into my vernacular as I directed the taxi driver to a bar where friends were waiting. We don’t know how long we’ll be residents of Madrid, but three years is the minimum. We could stay a lot longer – or maybe try going abroad for a few years. Pase lo que pase, I wanted to live in a big city once in my life, and Madrid feels manageable.

But Seville will always feel like home.

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