Moving from Manila to Madrid

I moved to Madrid from Manila two and a half years or so ago. Whenever I meet people, they ask what a Filipina like me is doing in Spain, especially when they find out I moved here without knowing a soul, nor speaking the language. Well, the decision to make such a drastic move was quickly made by me after my first-ever trip to Europe three years ago.

During that trip, I went to seven countries. Since it was my first time to be here, I wanted to make the most of being on this side of the world, not to mention my oh-so-hard-to-get Schengen visa. I first flew to Finland and more or less worked my way to warmer climes. Spain was my last stop before flying home, and on the flight back, I made up my mind that I wanted to do two things: one, live in Europe, and two, become fluent in a new language.

Walking along Retiro Park one of the most popular and beautiful places in Madrid.

I thought that Spain would probably be a nice country for me to live in, because the weather is relatively mild- a rather important consideration for a basically-tropical person. I also considered that Spanish would probably be the easiest language for me to learn, as Tagalog has so many Spanish words, or at least words of Spanish origin. At the very least, I would have some vocabulary to work with. After all, “basura” means garbage in both Tagalog and Spanish. What more did I need to know?

Spain was the logical choice.

I did my research, and within months of arriving back in Manila, I had already firmed up my plan of moving to Spain. I enrolled in a language school in Madrid and applied for a student visa which would allow me to work a certain number of hours. In this way I could: one, afford to live in Europe; and two, start learning Spanish.

Plaza España

It’s been two years, and I’ve never, not even for a millisecond, doubted my decision to pack up, sell or give away most of my earthly possessions, and leave Manila. Don’t get me wrong- I was happy there, in close proximity to my family and friends. I could go scuba diving without much difficulty because I was near many excellent dive sites, and my other sports (like rowing and climbing) were accessible and affordable.

But moving to Madrid has been fantastic for me. I walk around the city and find myself smiling, just because of simple things. Because I see so many different breeds of dogs, or I come across beautiful old buildings all the time, or because I can buy a good bottle of wine for only two euros. (Okay, that’s pretty major for me, I admit.)

I just feel like this city is a good fit for me, as a single woman. It’s pretty safe (one of the main considerations of single women), public transport is excellent, you can walk around everywhere, and you never run out of things to do. Food is also a main draw, as it occupies my thoughts most of my waking hours. So many interesting restaurants to try, so many new dishes to attempt to cook.

I don’t know if this is just the honeymoon stage, or if this is for keeps, but at least for now, I’m definitely, absurdly, and absolutely in love with Madrid.


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