Travel Advice

Part V : Slow Down

Slow down and enjoy life…

It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why. – Eddie Cantor

My last piece of advice about living abroad comes from a saying I heard everywhere in Spain. Mañana‎, mañana‎. It literally translates to “tomorrow, tomorrow.”  You would use it if you had a paper to write and your friends wanted to go out instead, you could just say, “Ah, mañana‎, mañana‎ – I’ll do it tomorrow.”  It’s a really great way to procrastinate something you don’t want to do.

But it’s really more than that at the same time.

observant nomad | living abroad part 5

It encapsulates this total Spanish mindset of slowing down and enjoying the good times. There was this air around Spain that appreciating time with friends, savoring long lunches, or taking the time to get away from it all, were all more important than the daily minor tasks that we stress over all the time.

My Spanish friends would always tell me I worked too much, or that I was too worried about the small things. The great things to them, were the smiles, the laughter, the food, the wine, the experience of being alive and experiencing it while we could.

observant nomad | living abroad balcony

observant nomad | living abroad part 5

Letting go of the tasks and daily to-dos that bogged my mind, allowed me to feel lighter and free to experience more in my time there. I know that I usually struggle with taking a lot of things in my life too seriously. So, what’s wrong with letting go every now and then to allow yourself to have more fun, and enjoy things more? Nothing, cause there’s always mañana‎.

Now this doesn’t mean slacking off, it’s just about re-prioritizing the experiences we allow our mind to focus on. I think that many of us have this exact behavior problem. I mean, how often are we telling ourselves to stress less and not to worry about getting everything done, or to stop trying to be perfect all the time.

To me, this little rule forgives me for putting a date night, a good book, or a little relaxation at the top of my list when I really need it, instead of that 100th email of the day or completing every single task on the to-do list.

observant nomad | living abroad slow

This is actually really hard for me to pull off. When I was abroad I was taking classes at uni and I consider myself a super serious student. I have always been a little bit of an overachiever when it comes to academics. But when I was abroad, I started letting go a little at a time and discovered that nothing awful happened! I still got good grades and really enjoyed all that I went out there to do.

I think relaxing a bit allowed me to feel really rewarded and rested before starting difficult studies. I had no more excuses or things I’d rather do to distract me, because I had already done them all before I had to get down to work.

When you live abroad, saying “mañana‎, mañana‎” means you can worry about it tomorrow. And instead choose to focus on today. Because, today you can let go of your expectations and jump in, or say yes to a crazy adventure. Don’t be afraid of doing it alone either, because you can worry about that tomorrow instead. And while you’re there, in that moment, take it all in and enjoy it now.

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What do you think?

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I love it! What a great way to prioritize life. Seems like it would be especially hard to do in the US, surrounded by so many people doing the exact opposite.

Brianna

It is harder than you would think. Mostly because many people here find it very rude to be late (which wasn’t the case in Spain)!

Gotta love the Spanish way of life! Great post and beautiful photos :)

Hi, I really love your blog posts about living abroad! I have been living abroad since August 2013 and I love it, but I can really identify with your challenges. I’m currently in a tiny town in Italy with no friends and the itch to travel Europe while I’m here.

Brianna

Thanks! I’m glad you’ve enjoyed them, maybe if you start traveling alone, you’ll find people along the way who want to join. Hostels are great places to meet other travelers like yourself.

What a beautiful blog! I am so impressed with your simple yet totally powerful way of expressing words and images. I love your creative eye and your posts really spoke to me! Thank you for taking time to share with people what you are about..it helps, especially for someone like me moving abroad next year. Thanks again, much aloha!
-L

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