Moving from Spain to England as an ambitious 18-year-old
“There is no reward without risk”
This is one of my personal favourite quotes and something I remind myself of at the start of every day.
Here is a little insight into how I moved from Spain to London at 18. I will cover some of the challenges I faced along the way, including the ups and downs of moving to a new country. I really hope by writing this, it will provide motivation for anyone looking to take a risk. Whether it be to set up a new business, move to a new country or anything in between. If it helps just one person on their individual journey, then that is enough for me!
My name is Rafael and I’m originally from London, born in Islington in 1994. I moved to Spain with my parents at the age of 8 to a small town called Altea, near Alicante on the Mediterranean coast. As a lot of you will know, Spain is home to sunshine, beaches and a much more relaxed way of life. So, as you can imagine moving to the fast-paced, hustle and bustle of London was a complete change of lifestyle from what I was accustomed to!
Like any new challenge, moving to a new city or country can be daunting! There were many times when I wondered if I had done the right thing, but this was a new adventure I am so glad I took! It can be easy to fall into a routine and settle for what is easy, rather than striving to achieve your goals.
As my grandfather used to say, “A comfortable rut soon becomes a grave”.
I would be lying if I said that the thought of moving from Altea to London on my own didn’t make me feel more than a little apprehensive. But my ambition and hunger for success was stronger than any fear I had. In my head, I knew that the journey was key to not only my career but my personal development too.
At the time of moving, I had just finished my 6-month summer job working as a lifeguard on the beach in Albir. It was then that I decided I wanted a new challenge, and to pursue a career with some real earning potential. I did some research on where I could achieve my goals and decided on London. The main two reasons for choosing London was language and the fact that if you can make it in London you can pretty much make it anywhere. My parents were very supportive of what I wanted to do and the adventure I was about to embark on. Shortly after I had my one-way ticket booked and a room in a house share sorted. I was moving to London!
The hardest part of the move for me personally was saying goodbye to my family and friends. London can be a very lonely city if you don’t know anyone, something I experienced when I first got there as a fresh of-the-plane 18-year-old. I remember the first 3 months were the hardest I’ve ever had. I spent most of my days in the first month behind my laptop in the local library in Southgate, tirelessly looking for jobs. I had no friends in the city at the time, so my social life was pretty non-existent. My housemates were twice my age and other than the odd chat, we never had much more interaction. Loneliness and the feeling of packing up and going home were often lurking in the back of my mind, however, I was adamant that I would make it work. Being headstrong and self-motivated is so important, and I’m forever grateful that I got through those initial months. My biggest tip for young adults considering making a big move would be to aim to move in with people of a similar age to yourself. It will be much easier to make friends this way and you will share the new experience together!
With regards to the ups and downs of job hunting, I always say “just keep at it!”
Having left school at 16 and doing 1 A-Level after that, I knew I would have to start from the bottom and work my way up. Tea boy to CEO has been done before, so no matter what qualifications you have or don’t have, just remember, anything is possible!
Whilst doing that initial job search I didn’t exactly know what field of business I wanted to work in, I’m still not sure I do! I applied for entry-level apprentice roles in a few different industries, hospitality sales and finance being my preferred options. I learnt a very valuable lesson in that first month of job hunting. No matter how many times you are told ‘no’ - just pick yourself up and keep trying. This applies to a lot of things in life. As previously mentioned, stay headstrong, focus on what you want to achieve and work hard at it. Eventually, the pieces will fall into the right place.
I landed some great interviews and got a job as a Sales Coordinator for a hotel sales office in central London. It turned out to be an amazing job which allowed me to travel the world through work and learn a lot about sales and the hotel industry. This was also where I developed my passion for travel. All I can say is hard work and risk certainly paid off! So, if you are thinking of taking the plunge into something new. Do it!
There is no failure, only learning. The key to success is to keep moving forward!
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. Since my move to London back in 2013, I have taken many more risks, lived in several other countries and done many different jobs, all of which have led me to where I am today - the proud founder of my own fitness brand.
Stay tuned, more blog posts will follow as I document my journey.
- Founder of Fitness Freedom Ltd