My name is Michael Macdonald. I first came to Spain in 2007, for love and for music (I’m not sure in which order), after living in my native Glasgow, before Cambridge and London. I had been working there as a musician and school teacher. For me, Madrid seemed to bring together the bustling metropolis I’d loved so much in London and the European lifestyle I had always wanted to be part of.
Moving from Scotland to Spain
I decided 12 months before coming to Spain that I would make the move. I spoke no Spanish whatsoever before arriving. I had just turned 30 when I arrived and to be honest I think I really underestimated how difficult it would be to learn my first ever foreign language. However, learning Spanish taught me lots about my own language. It generated such an interest that I actually decided to go into teaching English, which I had never done before, and it worked out really well. I got the chance to teach adults, who each had interesting jobs in interesting industries. I found myself working in the city and I really loved the vibe.
A love of Madrid & music
Madrid is a true world capital. It has everything you could want – the best restaurants, the best museums, the best nightlife. I enjoyed all of them. I do remember craving things from home, some of which I never imagined I would miss. But healthy Mediterranean breakfasts soon replaced English breakfasts, and 2 hours lunches become my favourite thing.
I searched for links to the music I came in search of. Madrid has a very different music scene to anywhere in the UK. I came looking for Spanish guitar – classical guitar, flamenco – but also needed rock and pop bands to go to see, and to play in. I have found all the styles I was looking for but also such a wide mix of South American music and African music too. People say Spanish people live and socialize in the street and I have found that to be the case with music as well; my greatest find here in Madrid has been the street musicians and the sounds everywhere around you. From the balcony of my flat, right in the centre of Madrid, you can listen to the constant stream of excellent buskers in the street below. A visit to the Rastro Market on a Sunday in La Latina is a feast of impromptu concerts. Madrid also has many large concerts – organized by the city council for public holidays and the likes. The central square of La Plaza Mayor is regularly turned into a concert venue – much to my delight.
Madrid continues to surprise me and always has something new and interesting to discover. I still think it flies under the radar for many tourists and travellers – and that’s just the way I like it.
Becoming an entrepreneur in Spain
After about 3 years in Madrid I found myself setting up my first company - Prosperity English – an English Language agency here in Madrid. That led to Prosperity Education – a digital and physical publisher for the ELT market, which I co-founded and for which I am the lead author. I had never really seen myself as entrepreneurial when I lived in the UK but something about Madrid pushes me. Maybe it was the confidence I gained from knowing I could come and start a new life in a new country and thrive. I recommend it to anyone.
So Madrid inspires my mind, and continues to feed my soul with its wealth of the Arts, gastronomy and never-ending night life. Viva Madrid.