The Intentional Expat

Living Your Best Life Abroad

30/30 Bday Challenge Week 3

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It’s been a tough week to carry out the 30/30 Bday Challenge because I had to include international travel (14 hours), jet lag, apartment searching, and organizing my work schedule to my list of things to take care of as well. I’m also trying to save money so my options here in Madrid have been limited, but it’s also reminded me that Madrid is a great city to find free things to do. 

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Day 15: First time playing pickleball. My parents couldn’t believe it when I told them that despite the fact that they’ve had a pickleball net set up in their backyard for the past ten years, I’d never actually played. So on my last evening during this year’s trip home to Seattle I decided to give it a try. It actually turned into a pretty fun game as my mom and I took on my dad while my sister and brother-in-law served as our cheerleaders (and official photographers). Plenty of laughs were shared, which was the perfect way to wrap up my trip home for the summer.


Day 16: First time making and gifting a craft I’d seen on Pinterest. Like I mentioned before, the 30/30 Challenge could also be deemed the challenge of “finally doing things I’ve been meaning to do.” This was a perfect example. On my last morning in Seattle I rushed around town getting all of my supplies together to gift my sister a 1 year belated gift of a framed copy of my Maid of Honor speech from her wedding last year (which I’d found on Pinterest long BEFORE the wedding). Better late than never!


Day 17: First time eating Ethiopian food. Although I would have liked to crash as soon as I got off of my international flight, I drug my feet out the door and across town to meet my roommate for the chance to fill each other in on our August vacations and share a plate of Ethiopian food. I’d been told that Ethiopian food was known to be spicy, but the Madrid version certainly wasn’t. I’ll definitely be going back for more!


Day 18: First time getting kicked out of a restaurant (the oldest one in the world!) Originally, this challenge was supposed to be called “first time eating at the oldest restaurant in the world,” but things didn’t go according to plan. Madrid’s Sobrino de Botin is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest restaurant in the world and I’d been delighted to find online that you could go there to enjoy a beer and tapa if you didn’t want to spend money on an entire meal. BUT THAT WAS NOT TRUE. We were ushered in after telling them that we were just coming in to get a drink, and seated at a table downstairs surrounded by couples and families enjoying large meals. We decided we’d “splurge” for a plate of cheese and a bottle of wine. That was not acceptable and we ended up getting kicked out by the entire wait staff. My friend was horrified, but I was delighted because this is the true definition of a BLOGWORTHY experience!


Day 19: First time enjoying an outdoor concert at El Matadero. I’d been to Madrid’s former slaughterhouse turned cultural center for swing dancing before, but I’d never been lucky enough to enjoy a concert there. Saturday night was the final concert to wrap up their outdoor summer concert series and it was free! Not only that, but they were also offering unlimited free beer! People of all ages sprawled out on the concrete in front of the stage and we were able to watch a beautiful sunset while listening to some great music. And I ran into a friend from my master’s program! Madrid may be a big city, but it’s constantly giving me opportunities to marvel at what a small world it really is.


Day 20: First time discovering the park in front of Madrid’s Torre Picasso. One of the things I love about Madrid is that despite the fact that I’ve lived here for five years, I continue to stumble across new places. My roommate and I had been wandering all over the city exploring new neighborhoods that we’d possibly like to move to when we decided to follow some stairs leading to….a beautiful oasis hidden away from the hustle and bustle of Madrid’s giant Paseo de la Castellana (a huge avenue the size of a freeway that can take more than five minutes to cross depending on waiting time).


Day 21: First time buying flowers for myself. The 21st day of the 30/30 challenge was my actual 30th birthday! I tried to rack my brain for something I could do to ring in the important occasion, something to celebrate ME. And then it dawned on me…although I really adore receiving flowers, I’d never actually gifted them to myself! As soon as I realized this, I marched down to Madrid’s Tirso de Molina plaza and picked out the first bunch of blossoms that caught me eye. But as luck would have it…I wasn’t the only one who gifted me flowers on my birthday! And not only that, but I got the exact same bouquet that I’d bought earlier. You can never have too many flowers to brighten up your home though, especially when the flowers in question are my favorite– pink lilies!!

Only 9 more days to go before the 30/30 bday challenge comes to an end! Check back soon to see what other new things I’ve been doing! 


Author: Melissa

Born in the rainy, green Northwestern corner of the United States, Melissa relocated to the almost-always-sunny city of Madrid, Spain five years ago. After getting her master's degree, traveling to places her friends at home drooled about, falling in love with a Spaniard, and having her heart broken by said Spaniard, it's safe to say that she's learned firsthand about the less than glamorous side of living abroad. Thankfully, she gets to use this experience, along with her professional expertise, in her work as a mental health therapist in Madrid where she helps other expats learn to deal with the inevitable ups and downs of living abroad. This blog is designed to be informative and is in no way intended to serve as a substitute for therapy.

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