a wandering woman writes

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Getting Started

Today marks the beginning of my blog!

Just about a year ago, I left a high rise tucked behind the Wrigley Building in downtown Chicago and moved myself and a couple of suitcases to Spain. I wanted adventure, I wanted to live in another culture and another language, and, well, something just told me this was next.

So here I am. I’m 42, American, I work in marketing and I live in Salamanca, a very beautiful, very old university town I’ll tell you more about later.

There’s a little bit of paying it forward in this blog, too. More than four years ago, when I announced I was quitting a nice fat VP job to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up, someone did me a favor. A very wise woman who I really didn’t know very well advised me to stop being me - driven overachieving 90 mile-an-hour me- for just a while, before choosing a new path. I took her advice and booked a 2 month Spanish course in Spain. (I couldn’t very well take a 2 month vacation without a measurable result, now could I??)

Those 2 months started me on a journey I’d never expected to make. I fell head over heels in love with the Spanish language. I fell in love with life at a slower pace. I fell in love with the adventure of discovering something new every day. Last May, I took the leap and moved to Salamanca, Spain, where I now live and work.

By blogging I plan to catch my travels and adventures in words for myself and for faraway friends, but hey, maybe I’ll pay it forward. Maybe I’ll make just one person question if it’s worth taking a crazy dream off the back burner, just to see what happens.

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  • Erin:

    Congratulations - you have made one person, namely me, taking all of my crazy dreams off the back burner. I have enrolled in Italian language classes and am pursuing my dreams. Probably will not move to Tuscany just yet (too many people in the Midwest need me), but nevertheless, am exploring my other self. Laura suggested I write to you(I left a message in your guestbook because I couldn't remember how I found you on Laura's site - Duh!) But now I have found you and wanted to say Thank You for your bravery and telling us about said bravery!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:42 PM  

  • Erin,
    Holey moley, I'm so happpy to have found your blog. I myself am moving to Spain, in February 2006, in order to live life the way I know it can be lived! I'm at my slavish corporate job right now, and I've been reading some of your posts, and they are really inspiring in that "this is how my life really is" kind of way. Oh, and my name is Erin, too! qué interesante.... I take Spanish classes at night and scheme and dream all day long. I´m so proud of you for taking the leap, hopefully my journey will be as wonderful as yours.

    By Anonymous Erin, at 10:27 PM  

  • Go, Erin!
    With a name like that, I'd expect no less of you. Great choice of leap, Spain, that is! Can't think what, but if I can help somehow, just holler (in e-mail, I suppose, if you want response.)

    All the best! Will you come back and tell me where/how you land?

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 5:32 PM  

  • Hola Erin,
    Oh sí, I will definitely let you know where I am at. I´m a compulsive planner, so I´m pretty sure I have all the mundane details taken care of, but I might need to write you and say "it´s okay to be lonely, right?" jeje
    Your posts so clearly display your zest for life... I love it!

    By Anonymous Erin, at 6:13 PM  

  • i just came across your blog while looking for spanish immersion programs...in preparation to leave the 'great' job that's sucking the life out of me.

    "(I couldn’t very well take a 2 month vacation without a measurable result, now could I??)"

    hmmmm. if i believed in signs, this sure would be one :)

    consider your 'debt' paid forward.

    thank you for sharing.

    By Anonymous amanda, at 8:28 AM  

  • In the end all that matters is if we paced our lives to match our breathing, and hence our lives, else we'd be born with accelerators on our feet. But we aren't, and so it goes.

    The pace of Spain almost reminds me of Goa, with its' portuguese feel and laid-back countryside.

    By Anonymous Anil, at 5:30 PM  

  • Thanks for the comment Anil, and you're right. I've wasted a lot of time sure those accelerator's would kick in, but they never do and everything, everything, is so small much sweeter when I slow down.

    I know nothing about Goa and so you've sent me off to discover it but I did visit your site, and your photos are delicious. Thanks for stopping by here...

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 11:25 AM  

  • I'm delighted to see other people have discovered your blog for the same reason I did. I was sitting here one night, on the 38th floor of this building in NYC, knowing this job was draining me. Not just this job, but NYC life. Every day is demanding and I looked around to realize I am not as happy as I would like to be. My boyfriend from Salamanca kept encouaraging me to go and live there with him. Fear crept up every time I thought of it. As my days in NY passed, as I saw all that I used to enjoy get further and further away... I started to do research and I found your site. You have inspired me and reminded me of what's really important. I'm now planning to move next year... Thank you.

    Another thing... He was born and raised in Salamanca--lived there his whole life except for a years spent in the US. He REALLY liked your site and told me you had such a wonderful appreciation of Spanish culture. For me personally, you made me realize he hasn't been exaggerating about how wonderful his little city really is after all. :-)

    Maybe I'll run into you one day....


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:44 PM  

  • Thanks for the comment, Audrey!

    Yeh, I do grin (WIDELY) when this first post still gets comments almost 1 year and a half later. Keeps me moving as I face my own new little leaps...so thank you!

    Jejeje, he wasn't exaggerating. Glad I could be the objective outside opinion in your boyfriend's description of his hometown. Salamanca is a lovely place with a wonderful quality of life. New York it ain't, of course, you'll get a good dose of culture shock :)...but it is what it is -- a beautiful small city that is very very easy to live in - with everything it's got. Salamanca has character. You know you are in Salamanca. As you know you are in NY, or Chicago, or Taos, or San Luis Obispo, or Sevilla, or the village I just visited in Wales. You know?

    I moved here from the 26th floor right behind the Wrigley in Chicago----smiled at your similar move, from the 38th floor in NYC.

    Follow your heart! And yeh, maybe we'll run into each other at a caseta at next year's ferias. :) I'll buy.

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 8:19 PM  

  • Hi Erin,

    Found you through Written Road/Budget Travel Online, read your profile and thought I must drop in a line.

    I moved to Spain-Valencia about 4 months ago. Drained and out of steam from my life in Dubai where I had a great job in PR, I came to Spain, for pretty much the same reasons as you. Am too had to book a course and am studying Spanish at don Quijote.

    Anyway, difficult for me to find a job. My Spanish is too raw and I'm not an EU citizen nor an American.

    Funny enough, my next plan seems to be the US. Perhaps Florida - where I will still have Latinos around me.

    Do let me know if you ever come to Valencia. I am here till November and would be great to chat!

    By Blogger Abha, at 5:05 PM  

  • Hi Abha!

    So sorry about the slow response; just hit me today I'd missed all the comments that came in while I was travelling. I'll take you up on Valencia if I ever get there. It's up there on my list. (Okay and confession I am a sailing fan and want to catch some of the preliminary Cup races this year if not the big event next year.)

    Hey, how's the don Quijote school? I get asked about schools alot.

    Welcome, anyway, and thanks, sincerely, for the comment!

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 3:53 PM  

  • Hello Erin,

    Am a London woman who dreams of moving to beautiful Spain but lacking the courage to make the leap. Reading this has confirmed for me that sometimes (with the minimum of planning) you just have to make a leap and trust that things will work out. Your blank page blog just shows how liberating life can be when we stop using our heads and start trusting our hearts. All I need to do now is find out which part of Spain is right for me. Maybe you can help? Thirtysomething teacher, looking for an intimate but lively city, not too pricey. If not, I'm sure I'll land on my feet somethow.

    look forward to reading future blogs.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:09 AM  

  • Glad I found your blog. In about a year from now (start of 2008), I may have to move to Spain. I don't want to, to be honest. I'm happy in the U.S., where I am from and grew up. But the problem is love (long story short: my boyfriend is from spain and is working in the US -- but now his company wants him back in Spain for 2008). So I may have to go there. I just wonder what your biggest fears were? And do you really think all the smoke and uncensored-nudity was worth it? I'm bothered by both, esp. the smoking. That, and the lack of hospitality (I'm from the South (US)) makes me dread moving there.

    Sigh .... I look forward to reading more of your blogs.


    anonymous 31yo female in Atlanta, GA

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:59 PM  

  • Hi anonymous female ;)

    Thanks for the comment. Sounds like you've visited Spain - where, can I ask? Where you'd live with your boyfriend? I can't say I had fears about moving here since I already knew I loved the culture and felt comfortable here, already spoke Spanish (which hopefully you do as well, that'll be important to you feeling comfortable/content here, says me...) My fears were more about my career, if I'd starve to death as an old, poor woman some day for having taken this leap. ;)
    I do think coming WITH someone is different than coming on your own, because you WANT to. I see the trailing partners I know go home regularly; strikes me as a good idea.

    That said, I haven't ever noticed uncensored nudity so it must not bother me, and the smoke doesn't either for some reason. My friends don't smoke, and other than the smell of my clothing after a night out sometimes, I don't notice it. I lived 35 years in the States with smoke in bars; guess I haven't noticed a difference here. There IS a new no smoking law but whether it will affect smoking in public remains to be seen :)

    I just finished telling somebody who wrote me an email how much I love Spanish hospitality. Beats the hell out of New England; can't speak for the American South. Maybe it's where you were? As Boston is not Atlanta, Barcelona and Madrid aren't I don't know, Salamanca or God help us, Córdoba, where I defy you not to find amazing hospitality. ;) Different regions have different characters. That said hospitality is different here, people don't necessarily invite you into their homes, but that's Spanish culture. I've been bowled over by the generosity and hospitality (after 3 years, I still lose every battle to pay for pinchos or meals or drinks out) I've found in Salamanca. I get sick, someone shows up with a bowl of alubias and another with groceries.

    I don't know. Read my blog. See if you recognize your boyfriend or your visit here. Spain is a different country with a different culture; you'll definitely know you are not in Atlanta. But give it a chance, knowing it's different, says me. There are things i prefer here and things I prefer at home, as there were things i liked and things I liked a lot less less ;) about all the American cities I lived in. And every one was different. Yeh?

    Thanks again for the visit and the comment. Hope to see you back here!Erin

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 8:24 PM  

  • Hi there, I love this first post. Every single one of my friends and family members have been telling me to just pack up my things after I graduate in June and move out to Spain. I lived in Asturias when I was 15 for a summer and I fell in love with the culture, and I'm a Spanish major, so Spain/Spanish has always been a big part of my life. Now as a 21 year old on the verge of graduating I'm wondering "what if I just did it?" and moved out there. But I always plan my life well in advance so I'm terrified as to what I'd DO out there. Any suggestions for jobs/apartments/meeting people/etc? I can't wait to read the rest of your blog!

    By Anonymous Liz, at 2:33 AM  

  • Hi Liz,

    Thanks for the comment, and welcome! Sorry not to respond sooner, if you've read a bit you know I just got back from doing the Camino de Santiago...and am taking reentry nice and slow. :)
    I laughed when I read about your family and friends' comments - Back in August when I started wondering aloud if, maybe, by any chance, I dunno, if maybe my some freak accident of fate I could manage to take 5 weeks off and do the Camino, a friend asked me if I was going to be the last one to find out I was doing the Camino, lol. I almost was. I read your comment and wondered if you might be the last to know you're going to live a while in Spain.
    Tell you what, send me an email
    corcoran.erin AT GMAIL DOT COM and I tell you everything I know. You lived in a part of Spain I am dying to explore, btw..Asturias.

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 8:40 PM  

  • As someone who is doing the 90 mile an hour thing in NYC your journey put a smile on my face. Great blog. I look forward to seeing what else you get up to.

    By Blogger Wendy, at 8:25 PM  

  • Hi Wendy, welcome!
    I'm rather curious myself, though I do predict it will be at less than 45 MPH... :)

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 8:12 PM  

  • Hello! Thank you for sharing your experiences, Erin. Would you be kind enough to tell me a little bit about how it is like to be a female living in Salamanca? In other words, how are young women treated there? I've heard that the rape levels are amazingly low. Is this true? I'd love to know. Thanks and good luck!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:01 PM  

  • Hello Anonymous,
    Have to say I'm intrigued that this is what you'd love to know about Salamanca. I'm not an especially young woman, chronologically speaking (rather than mentally), but I've found no difference in how I am treated in Salamanca verses Chicago or Southern California or anywhere else I have lived. I know nothing about the rape levels, but nor did I know the local level living in the States. Salamanca has some crime, certainly, but I have found it a very safe city where I don't think twice walking home alone at any hour of the night (and where a Spanish friend leaves his car unlocked with the keys in it, just because he can....and so far he's had no problem doing so.) Hope that helps.

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 3:09 PM  

  • hi there!!

    I just wanted to say you that not all who wander are lost. That was the sentence I wrote last week on my blog, so i was really surprised whan I saw yours.
    Take care.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:40 PM  

  • Erin,
    My wife and I are thinking of moving to Salamanca once I graduate with my doctorate in a few years. She studies there while in college and I have visited for a few days and we both love it. Do you have any advice/suggestions about packing up and moving? How is the cost of living compared to a big city like Phoenix, AZ?
    Thank you.

    By Blogger tkisicki, at 2:04 AM  

  • Not sure how to do this, but I want to subscribe to your blog and find it easily. Would you know the steps I must take to do so? I looked and looked and jsut did not figure it out. Love reading it for various reasons:
    I walked the Via de la Plata and loved Salamanca,
    I am planning on moving to Spain and Salamanca is on my list of places to live
    I love your writing and feel kinship to your reflections.

    By Blogger MermaidLilli, at 10:07 PM  

  • Hola Erin, soy Isabel tu profesora de español en Sevilla¿te acuerdas?no sé dónde estás ahora pero me gustaría mucho tener noticias tuyas. Escríbeme por fa, me acuerdo mucho de ti
    un beso fuerte

    By Blogger Isabel, at 11:46 PM  

  • Hello,
    I'm a young woman from Texas who was going to try and move to Spain and become certified to teach English and learn Spanish..any advice on how to make my journey to Spain easier and more obtainable?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:41 PM  

  • OH dear. Somehow I've missed notifications that all of you have stopped by here, and I'm sorry! SO, anonymous in Texas -- and mermaid, and tsicki -- email me, at corcoran.erin AT gmailDOTcom and I will happily help anyway I can!!

    w-w (erin)

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 3:07 AM  

  • I ended up living in Spain as well, but I fell in love with a man!
    thanks for your blog.


    By Blogger Canadiagaditana, at 11:06 PM  

  • Hi Erin,

    Is this blog still alive? I'd like to write you a note but am not sure how to do so. I am a professor in the US (also from RI, actually, Biscuit City Rd in Kingston to be exact!) and want to take my family to Salamanca for a semester next spring. I am just not sure where to start with the planning...and thought I might ask you for some expat sites or ideas. Anyway, I won't write more now because I don't know if you are still posting on this site. Thanks for letting me know!


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:37 AM  

  • Rachel --

    email me at corcoranDOTerinATgmail...ok? I'd love to help.... I take off tomorrow for a wander through Australia so might be the weekend before I get back to you but I will!

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 5:54 AM  

  • Rachel --

    email me at corcoranDOTerinATgmail...ok? I'd love to help.... I take off tomorrow for a wander through Australia so might be the weekend before I get back to you but I will!

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 5:54 AM  

  • Hi Erin,
    I am 39 and have been studying Spanish For three years.Now to actually make use of the language I want to enroll For a three year course in Salamanca.Please suggest is April a good Time to come?.Also Is it Too difficult to make new Friends at this age?I am scared that It might get Too lonely.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:28 AM  

  • Anonymous,

    Email me, ok? I would be happy to chat in email about your trip to Salamanca. corcoran.erin@gmail

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 4:25 AM  

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