I am Gabi, a 25-year-old girl living in Spain. And I would like to welcome you to my blog where I write about my life in Spain and popular travel destinations on the Spanish mainland and islands.
How did everything start?
In August 2016 I took a 6 AM Ryanair flight from Berlin to Madrid that was the start of my move-abroad-adventure. I came to Spain for a six-month exchange as part of my bachelor’s degrees studies, and five years later I am still here. So what happened?
But before we dive into that, let me introduce myself properly: My name is Gabriele. I was born in a small Baltic country called Lithuania, which is the reason why I called my blog like that. I have been traveling for as long as I can remember. My parents were professional athletes when I was young so we have been moving around a lot. I even lived in Iceland for a year with my mom. I think this is where my curiosity and ¨Wissensdurst¨ (a German word that means “knowledge thirst”) for different cultures and languages come from. Of course, I absolutely hated it when I was young. But thinking back right now, it made me the person I am today. And I am grateful for that.
My parents and I moved to Germany when I was three years old and I lived there, until the start of my semester abroad when I was twenty years old. So how did I choose Spain? I decided to study “International Business” (sounds much fancier than it actually is!) and chose Spanish as a second language. Did I know any Spanish back then? No. Was that a smart decision to take? Not really. But that’s how it all began. Part of my studies was doing a semester abroad. And thanks to my rather mediocre GPA I ended up going to a small beautiful town in the North of Spain called León.
So this is not fancy Barcelona. This is not glorious Sevilla, nor trendy Valencia and it isn’t a metropole like Madrid. When I tell Spanish people I lived in León they all give me a strange look and ask “Why the hell would you go to León?!” or “Poor you! Why didn’t you go to a bigger city?”. I think I went to León because I was lucky. Because I had the best time of my life!
León is a beautiful city in the North of Spain. It is famous for its incredible tapas culture, great nightlife, and its rich history and culture. Compared to other destinations it was also quite affordable. My poor student heart was so happy! Those six months went by so quickly that I decided to extend my stay. I wanted to be bolder and chose only Spanish classes during my second semester. I even took excel classes in Spanish. Not my best choice, to be fair. But during this year I met so many amazing people and made some once-in-a-life experiences that I will never forget.
After living in Spain for one year I had to go back to Germany to finally pass my B2 Spanish exam. I was so scared! Before leaving for Spain I had postponed it as much as I could. At the beginning of my exchange, I was way too shy to practice my Spanish. And is it just me, or do you also agree that Spanish people speak incredibly fast? But I got more confident towards the end of the second semester. And by the end of my first year, I was able to have whole conversations in Spanish. And guess what, I passed my exam with the highest grade possible! I was so proud.
And that is the story of my first year in Spain. After that, I moved to Madrid to start an internship, which was the second part of the “International aspect” of my bachelor’s degree. To be fair, the choice of Madrid also happened because of my now ex-boyfriend, but we will not talk about him here! Because that relationship was over a couple of weeks after I arrived in Madrid. And here I was. In a city where I did not know anybody. A city that was not in my home country and where my physical appearance made it quite obvious that I was not a local at all. It was obvious that I was a “guiri”.
So let’s fast forward to 2021 again when I am writing this post. My journey in Spain had its ups and downs. It had everything from money issues, language barriers to stupid tinder dates where you do not understand each other, ex-boyfriends, and loneliness. Including absolute frustration of not being able to communicate the way you want and fear of the future, the scary unknown. Bureaucratic nightmares, problems with landlords, and finding a job. And many other things that would make this post explode.
But every day when I wake up, I chose Spain all over again. Because my journey in Spain was also filled with incredible people, learning a new language and learning about a new country and its culture. Moving to Spain made me a much more open-minded, confident, problem-solving, and independent person. And let me tell you: Once you get used to the Spanish sun and the welcoming and loud Spaniards, every other place will seem odd. And somehow boring. So I am very happy to call Spain my home now.
If you are still here with me, then I want to welcome you to my blog. I created this blog on a random night during Spain’s lockdown. I do not even remember which day exactly it was. It was one of those times when all days were the same and we just lost track. But I wanted something to keep me busy, something creative and maybe even useful for other people out there.
Thelithuanianabroad is a source for traveling Spain and moving to Spain. After you read my whole story you want to make sure you make 50% fewer mistakes than I did. And if you are looking for recommendations and tips for traveling Spain, let me forward you to the following page.