In the last weeks, I have been asked the above question quite a lot of times. Two weeks ago, I was supposed to be in Canada. In 2009, after the lack of opportunities in Spain, and the scary forecasts for the economy in Spain (with unemployment rates reaching 20%), I started to look for research and university teaching positions abroad. I was lucky, and I found a postdoc in Canada, for three years, in a top research group.
I was very happy for that opportunity, and looking forward to starting to work there. I was having a hard time in Spain, because I did not manage to get "accreditation", and Canada was the right place to gain a lot of experience and opening new future opportunities. Accreditation in Spain is an official (and painful and hyper-bureaucratic) validation process that every candidate for an university position must go through before being able to apply for positions. The process is tough because you have to collect a lot of documents, and you need a lot of teaching and research experience to pass it. With my CV, it was difficult to get the accreditation, and my estimations were that I needed at least two more years doing research to get it. That's why the opportunity in Canada came in the right moment.
However, last November I got the accreditation. I applied with the idea of a last try before going to Canada. And it turned out to be successful. Having got the accreditation, I started to apply to every position that was open in Madrid. After a couple of months, I finally got a position in a small university in Madrid, which is very teaching oriented, although it is starting new research and doctorate programs. That means that I will probably need some time to continue doing research, because I have to adapt to this new university, and I have lot of teaching duties. But I think that in the following months I will manage to find the way to combine teaching and research.
So, where am I now? Well, right now I am on a plane, heading Brussels, to attend FOSDEM (the magic of my new blogging system is that I can add posts offline, and synchronize my blog once I am connected). And in the following months (probably years), I will stay in Madrid. Hopefully, my current position will be long-term, maybe even permanent.
It has been a hard decision. Going to Canada for research is a life changing experience, and I have probably dropped a lot of future opportunities after this decision. But in the personal side, this is the option that currently makes it easier to balance my professional and personal life.
I have not spread the word till now because in the middle of this deep meditation, Rocío and I have had to face some personal issues. Her mother suffered a heart disease and needed surgery, and we have been very busy (I have been picking her sister's kids from school, preparing lunch for them and doing a lot of other fun tasks). Fortunately, she is now all right, and recovering fast. Should I have gone to Canada when I planned to, Rocío would have had to deal with all this alone. So in spite of all my doubts, and also in spite of being that kind of decisions that no matter what option you choose, you are probably choosing wrongly, at least for now, it has been the right decision.