Madrid, Spain

There’s something particularly different about flying by yourself for the first time to a place entirely foreign to you.

- Oliver ambros


You connect with it in a different way. You appreciate it for the way it changes you, inspires you, and makes you think. You get to hold onto it, grasp the memories, and say: “This place truly is mine.”

Madrid revealed its true beauty to me from the very moment we arrived at the Airbnb, our home for the week, located in an older more central part of Madrid. Watching the people strut by on tightly narrow streets, a canyon, surrounded on both sides by colorful walls decorated with the porches of its residents was moving.

I was in a country very foreign culturally, but I immediately found myself at home. No longer was I knee deep in a bustling society focused more on getting through the day than actually making the most of it. For the first time in my life, the language I had studied, practiced commonly with my fellow restaurant wait-staff in high school, and obsessed over revealed itself to me.

That first day I knew I could live there. That first day I knew I could be happy there. That first day I knew that I just might fit in more there than back in the US. That was the first day.

Seven days later I was flying home on a plane with an entirely new perspective on what I want out of my life. I’ve always been an adventurer, someone who seeks new places to grow roots and learn more about themselves. I always figured my adventures would come in the form of backpacking trips across the world, spending shorter periods of time in each local. Those seven days taught me what I really want and the value of diving head first into a place.

At the end of the day, across language barriers, cultural differences, and physical appearances, we all want the same thing out of life: happiness.

To some, happiness comes in the form of familiarity, connecting back to the things we’ve known all of our lives. To others, happiness comes from discovery, placing yourself in the unknown of the world and investigating each new place like it is your last time there. No matter which characteristic resonates more with you, the end goal is the same: happiness.

- OA

Oliver Ambros