About seven years ago, around Christmas time, a good friend of mine and I started discussing the possibility of traveling to Spain together the following summer. We weren’t sure what the trip would look like; we just knew we didn’t have a ton of extra cash to spend. That said, I googled the heck out of “traveling to Spain on a budget”. Imagine my surprise when I received an email from a random travel site, advertising a free, 8-day (all expenses paid) trip to Spain for English teachers. This was perfect for us! After all my googling and inquiring, I wasn’t sure where this opportunity originated, or more importantly if it was legit.
My friend and I quickly hit the internet to investigate. We learned that the program was indeed real and seemingly as economical as it sounded. All we had to do was get ourselves to Madrid. After that, we’d be taken to a remote village with a group of Spanish professionals and English volunteers whose one job was to speak English to the Spaniards for 8 days. Still, we were skeptical. Could we find actual people who had done this? Were there really no hidden costs? Would we need to also buy a timeshare at the end of the week? Was there even wifi in this village? More googling reassured us, and before we knew it, we were on a plane to Spain to spend 8 days with complete strangers.
Needless to say, our plane ride was mixed with the excitement and nervousness that precedes any new experience. It felt like the anticipation we felt on the first day of high school. What if we hated the experience? What if we didn’t have anything to talk about with the group? What if this turned out to be some weird, scary thing? You get the idea. Our fears were alleviated just hours after our arrival in Madrid when we went to a welcome lunch where we met the other English-speaking volunteers and our program guides. Here, a seasoned volunteer veteran calmed our fears and told us this was going to be a life-changing week.
With that in mind, we got on the bus the next day with our fellow English speakers and a group of Spaniards. We were off on our journey. What followed was indeed amazing and life-changing. The experience introduced me to some very good people from around the globe who I now consider close friends, even after just 8 short days together.
The bottom line is, had I not taken the leap of faith to do this mysterious program, my world would not have opened up in the unbelievable ways it has. More importantly, I wouldn’t have taken that leap had it not been for my friend. There’s power in numbers when it comes to trying new things. It’s much easier to take a leap with a good friend by your side. Because of that trip, I’ve spent the past six summers in Spain and Portugal to travel, volunteer, study Spanish, and expand my world. Next summer, I’m planning a yoga retreat/English immersion for Spaniards. All of this is possible because I said “yes” to something new.
It’s amazing what happens when we as friends encourage each other to try new things and experience life together. Let’s bring this idea to the game of golf. What would happen if you asked a good friend to join you for lessons? A weekly lesson date might not only improve your swing but also strengthen your friendship. Already know how to golf? There are many ways to invite a friend along for the ride.
How about asking a friend to join a league with you? Or set up a foursome date and regularly meet your pals for golf and fun. Sign up for a company outing with your office bestie. Ask a friend to do a tournament or charity outing with you.
Whatever the case, I guarantee you’ll get something more out of it than you imagined.
It could be a new connection, a job lead, a new friend, a date, a husband . . . you never know!
Small steps can have a funny way of leading to bigger opportunities. The important thing is to just take that first step.