MADRID, SPAIN. As a continuation of our expat series, ROOSTERGNN conducts a second interview with San Diego native Jessica Wray, travel blogger and connoisseur. Jessica has lived in several different countries teaching English and has learned so much along the way. Here we chat with her about her experience living in Spain thus far as she documents every special moment in her blog Curiosity Travels.
When did you move to Madrid? What brought you here?
Jessica Wray: I moved to Madrid in September, almost 9 months ago! I had been traveling for 6 months prior to that. I came to enjoy the Spanish lifestyle and to start a teaching contract.
Do you speak fluent Spanish?
Although I studied Spanish as part of my university degree, a few years of living in Asia after graduation and currently teaching English 4–8 hours a day (also blogging in English) has made improving my Spanish difficult. While I can communicate well and express most things I want to say, I need to put more time into it!
What is your nationality, where are you from originally?
I am originally from San Diego, CA. I love my hometown almost as much as I love traveling and it is always exciting to return. In fact, I’ll be spending most of the summer there.
When did you start your blog Curiosity Travels? How would you summarize what your blog is?
I started my blog while I was teaching in South Korea. As a teacher in Korea you are asked to spend a considerable amount of time at your desk, and I didn’t want to waste it. I started by documenting my life there and creating a resource for others who wanted to do the same thing. It has now morphed into an international blog about expat life and travel in general.
Who is your target audience? What do you hope your readers will gain from your blog?
My target audiences are international 20-somethings and anyone who wants to live and travel abroad extensively. Since I’ve now lived in four different countries on three separate continents around the world, I hope to inspire others that they can do it too. At the same time, I strive to create an honest documentation of what it is like to live your life on all corners of the world, ups and downs included.
Have you met other similar bloggers like yourself here in Madrid?
I have met so many different bloggers here in Madrid and they now make up some of my best friends. Most of us met because of blogging and it is that, and our common love for food, that has helped us create such a strong bond.
Professionally, do you have another job here in Madrid besides writing for Curiosity Travels?
I teach English with the BEDA program to maintain my visa and to have a somewhat steady income. That will soon come to an end though as I finish my contract in June. After that, who knows? I’m hoping to focus more on blogging and my other passions in order to create a life which allows me to be location-independent for a while.
When I’m not teaching or blogging, I am also a social media intern for Madrid Food Tour. I help fill their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts with mouth-watering food photos throughout the day. From doing this, and also frequenting Madrid’s best spots for “research,” I’ve learned so much about Spanish food!
Do you plan to turn your blog into a business one day? What are your professional aspirations for now?
I love blogging and it is something I’m almost obsessive about. I’d love to turn it into a career but I know how difficult that can be. For the time being, I’m going to give freelance online work a chance and hopefully just grow from there. After that, the sky is the limit! From travel blogging, to social media work and/or creating a small travel planning business, sometimes I just have too many ideas!
What are all of the other countries you’ve lived in thus far?
I studied abroad in Buenos Aires, had an internship in Quito, Ecuador, taught English in Seoul, South Korea and now I’m currently in Madrid, Spain! Each country has been so extremely different from one another, and I’m so grateful for all the beautiful experiences these countries have provided me with.
What are the most significant things that you’ve personally learned from living in Spain? Any advice you could give to other expats?
If Spain has taught me anything, it’s to enjoy life and forget about all the societal constraints we put on ourselves. Your age and your profession actually matter so much less than we make ourselves believe in the United States. Do what makes you happy and you’ll have a full life.
As for advice for other expats, I’d say to not take your time here for granted. Most expats come to Spain to teach, but you shouldn’t get too wrapped up in lesson planning and private classes. Although you should do a good job, allow yourself to have fun, go out and travel. Most expats, especially Americans, only stay about 9 months, so don’t let it slip by.
How do you feel about the economic crisis here in Spain? What advice could you give to expats moving here to start a business or who are simply looking for jobs?
My situation is unique since I’ve used teaching as a means to get a visa, have a steady income and allow me free time to cultivate my blog. This has proven to be a pretty stable way to live here while I transition into other interests.
Advice I would give anyone coming to Spain is that you have to learn how to cut back on expenses. Most people in Madrid, especially with the crisis, are living on tight salaries. Also, don’t be afraid to teach private English classes if you are native speaker. You have the opportunity to tap into all the people who want to speak English fluently. Although it is time consuming, and not always fun, it is a profitable way to pay the bills and have extra money to go out with friends.