The time has come (and gone at the time of this posting) for me to say adios to Spain, and it was much more difficult than I anticipated. There is no doubt in my mind that my time in Spain has taught me so much both about the world (cheesy) and myself (even cheesier). I’ve had a lot of time now to reflect on my experiences and life there and have come to the following conclusions –
Whilst living alone is something I enjoy and which definitely suits me, being alone for 6 months is not ideal.
I am the first one to say that I LOVED living my own, having my own apartment and the serious independence that comes with it. I learnt how to use superglue and how to deal with water coming through my bathroom ceiling. I would say that I lived alone very successfully actually, but that doesn’t change my need for human company! I would certainly live alone again, however, I’m not sure I would do it somewhere where my friends didn’t live round the corner and couldn’t come round to see me every second of the day.
It’s hard to prepare yourself for the politics of a workplace. Especially when you’re only 21.
I can’t decide whether my working experience was positive or negative. It was probably a bit of both. Of course, I would never criticise or divulge the reasons why in a post such as this (although if you are interested, do feel free to ask), but it was difficult at times. If I had a pound for every time my age was mentioned or I was told I couldn’t be tired because I was only 21, I would be able to buy all my shopping from Waitrose for a week. Working long hours and also trying to find the time to do any university work has been challenging, but the improvement in my Spanish makes it all 100% worth it. I was sitting in a restaurant with my Dad on Monday, chatting to the waiter about where I’m going now and what I will be doing, after which dad just looks at me in disbelief at how much my Spanish has improved! He’s right of course, and it wouldn’t have been much of a successful six months if it hadn’t, but I do feel that my Spanish is now so natural, easy and free flowing that I don’t even have to think before I speak. Soy Española.
Sometimes, you have to just roll with it
I would say that I have had a few lessons in tolerance over the past six months. They started with a month of looking after screaming children at summer school (although that month was also the most fun I had in Spain), continued on to what I now call ‘ceiling-gate’when the bathroom of the apartment above me decided that it was going to leak into mine, and also included the questionable volume levels on the stereo of my (lovely but slightly bonkers) next door neighbour Augustin. When you’ve listened to Electric Avenue six times in a row after a long day at work, it takes a lot of control not to go round and have a little tantrum… I’m much more chilled out nowadays.
It’s okay not to love every moment
A while ago I wrote my post about how it’s okay not to be okay. The fact of the matter is,everyone is in the same boat. You may think that you’re the only person struggling when you see pictures on facebook, but at the end of the day, that’s all they are – pictures on facebook. The response I had from that post was overwhelming, with around 20 fellow year abroaders telling me how they felt exactly the same at times and they were glad that they weren’t alone. If you’re having a bad day, a bad week, or a bad month, it’s good to remember that it is incredibly unlikely that you’re the only one. The year abroad is hard, but so worth it.
Your friends haven’t forgotten you.
I’ve received countless messages from my friends in England and abroad, and even if it’s just a line, it’s lovely to know that you’re not forgotten. I’ve even had the messages ‘we’ve not forgotten you’ or ‘we were talking about how much we miss you’ on multiple occasions. It’s hard not to feel emotional when reading them, but it’s a happy emotional. A very happy emotional. The icing on the cake for me has to be both the emails my fantastic friend Josh has been sending me with updates on all the Durham goings on (shout out, you’re the best) and the visits I’ve had both abroad and at home (AND the visits I am expecting in the next few months!)
I loved my time in Spain and would do it all over again if I could. It’s crazy how quickly time flies, and how soon I was packing up to leave, but it was time to move on to pastures new (and Italian!), and I have so much to look forward to!
Hasta la proxima (for the last time)