I’m now in Madrid. Moving to a new place can be a little strange for the psyche. Before I took off to Spain, I really began to think about the different lifestyle I was about to have. I thought about the fact that I have no immediate plan after school, and I really can’t develop a plan because the whole ‘obtaining a degree’ thing is somewhat part of the confusion. It’s not like a bachelors degree; it’s a graduate degree and it’s only going to take one year rather than four. A year isn’t that long, not like four years is when the end seems to be forever away, and your big life decisions really are put off for a while. This time those ‘big’ decisions somewhat loom before I ever set foot into a lecture hall. Where am I going to end up living after this is all said and done? Where will I have the most job opportunity and what field do I immediately pursue? What type of career do I really want to have? What’s the biggest thing I need to take away from this experience? How do I make sure I don’t miss a big opportunity, and how do I recognize that moment? When is the next time I will see my friends?
It can be scary. I got frightened a bit in the 48 hours leading up to departure. My mom dreaded the departure more than anybody, and I felt as if I had to keep it together and be confident to make sure I gave off the impression that I was sure of what I was leaving for. But I was clueless, still am clueless, and will only figure it out with more time. I didn’t even process the amount of schooling I will be doing until I arrived and reread every last document I have received in the past eight months from the school. Let me just say, I’m in for quite the ride. It’s a program packed into a year, and that makes it pretty intensive. Imagine a summer mini session, for a year.
This intense schedule could exist in part because I’ve chosen to study something of a broad subject, exactly what I was hoping for, in Sustainable Development. People hear ‘sustainable development’ then process these two words, especially when strung together, and immediately go off thinking environmentalist – tree hugger. Yes, of course, there are good bits of ‘environmental’ subjects covered because they definitely impact sustainability, but there is a lot more to it. I’m actually going to a business school, one of the first in Madrid, and the focuses revolve around main sustainability challenges such as environmental management, socio-economic development, corporate responsibility and reputation, sustainability programs in international organizations, and social entrepreneurship. Basically every book I’ve read thus far, as suggested to me by some of the professors, are all written by economists. I definitely fit in, and it’s exactly what I was hoping for as far as I can tell. There’s a lot of macroeconomics involved.
I’m in Spain; therefore my Spanish is tested every day. I live with five other people, only two of whom are from Spain and still the entire flat communicates in Spanish. You live in a place in which you must speak another language and the motivation to learn becomes necessity. This is good for me, because I want to walk away from here with another language under the belt. I want to be more competitive, and I want to be inundated with another culture. I find that understanding and appreciating differences across cultures is one of my worthy pursuits in life. I strive to be a man of this world, not a man exclusively of one’s city, state, or country.
I think it takes a lot of drive and motivation to go to the lengths I have gone in the past eighteen months. People ask me, “What the hell have you been up to and how/why do you do it?” It’s a perfectly acceptable question. To answer: I do what I do because I have somehow conjured the idea that with the circumstances I have been given, it is my duty to do what I think I’m most capable of in order to help my fellow human being. It is also my duty to find happiness in my pursuit of helping others, and during that pursuit I am sometimes selfish in that I want to experience other cultures for myself, I want to eat good food for myself, I want to share laughter with somebody new for myself, I want to experience the thrill of a lifetime for myself, and I ultimately want to have a good story to tell.
There’s a lot of growing to be done when you live in the way I live. You have deep conversations with people you’ve only known for two hours. You contemplate all the time over what other people have to say, and your own beliefs as well. I challenge myself more than anybody else, and for that I am proud. I often sweep accomplishments under the rug, but this accomplishment and decision to move forward with a masters degree in Spain is not one I need to act so nonchalantly about. It did take a good bit of ambition to get here, and at times I’m still fighting discomfort, but in the end it’s another step in what appears to be the right direction for me. Let’s hope that is exactly what it is.