The run-up to Christmas has been somewhat different this year. Needless to say there are no mince pies in sight, no Costa Coffee Christmas drinks to fuss over and no Cadbury chocolate advent calendars on sale. Christmas in Spain is, in general, quite different to in the UK as the festivities start a lot later, and the sun is still shining relentlessly…
Until a few weeks ago on a weekend getaway to Lisbon, I naively believed that Portugal and Spain were pretty similar. After all, two countries that were united for centuries must have a lot in common, right? Continue reading
After a few weeks embracing the Erasmus life, it’s time to tackle five stereotypes of the Spanish culture in search of the quintessential Hispanic lifestyle…
- The siesta = REALITY
Before moving to Salamanca, I was under the impression that the siesta was a thing of the past, or at least reserved for lazy summer days. Within moments of my arrival, I realised I would drastically have to adjust my body clock to fit in with the Spaniards. Not only do the vast majority of shops (and all university offices- helpful!) close between 2pm and 5pm but the academic timetable also revolves around the siesta. This means I have scarcely any classes in the afternoon. What’s the catch? Lectures starting at 7pm three times a week… The fact that nights out here start at 11pm at the VERY earliest and can end at 7.30am also makes the need for siestas a lot more understandable. Continue reading
Only a few days have passed since I first set foot on the cobbled streets of Salamanca and I’ve already fallen in love with la ciudad dorada. The city has a lively student vibe and a friendly cosmopolitan atmosphere thanks to all the Erasmus students. With nine thousand international students from all over the world and a host of events happening all the time, there’s yet to be a dull moment! Continue reading
Anyone who knows me well enough will be familiar with my overwhelming love of crisp winter days and my corresponding disliking of the summer heat. This raises the question: why am I moving to Spain, a country notorious for its unfailing supply of sunshine? Continue reading
So here we are, at the second part of the Time Capsule series. If you want to watch the first part, get it by clicking here where I ask myself a load of questions about year abroad curiosities before I go. And in the video below I’ve revealed how my expectations turned out at the end of the placement! Hope you enjoy.
With just over a month left now, I’m very keen to tick as many destinations off my Spanish bucket list as possible. Being on the borders of the Basque Country, Bilbao was something which had to be done, especially after getting a taste of this unique and often overlooked province of Spain in San Sebastián. So it was music to my wanderlustful ears when my flatmate from Bilbao itself said I could tag along on her weekend trip home. Continue reading
I did a test-run with the packing today. I think I can just about get everything into one suitcase and a rucksack, if I can only jettison a few books. It’s always the books. If there’s one constant that’s true for everyone in my family, it’s that we’re all great accumulators of stuff. Not fridge magnets, not stamp collections, just… stuff.
I booked my flight home a couple of days ago. I booked my onward flight to Morocco the day after. I’ve been in a kind of denial ever since. Three weeks and two days to go. By this stage in Jordan I was getting feverish over the tally calendar in the back of my notebook. Right now I don’t even want to think about it. It’s a testament to just how much I want to hold on that I’m sticking it out right up until the end, rather than ducking out of the last two days like the others. I’ve got a job to do. It’s a bloody brilliant job.
I don’t want to go.
It was raining this morning. Rain… One of the only things I miss about England. Whenever I was home from university I used to put my bed against the window, draw back the curtains and go to sleep listening to the sound of the wind in the trees outside. The colder, the better. It was especially magical around Christmas time, with the street lit up with blinking yellow fairy lights and the chill of frost in the air. Nights spent wrapped up in bed watching Watership Down or Harry Potter.
Winter in England. It’s the only time I ever get nostalgic for home.
Three weeks remain. History lessons this week. I’ve been meaning to do a lesson on British history for a while. We’ll do something time-travel related so it can span the year groups. I might even throw in a little Doctor Who. Tennant, though. Naturally. And no historians in these lectures, no sir. Just full-on individualism. Just the way I always wanted it when I was at school.
Cracks at the seams, I think. Did you notice? I’m nearing the end of the DVD collection I had sent out. I forgot that I took out at least half to make room for The Tudors and then forgot to replace them when I took them out separately. I guess that means I’ll have to fall back on reading again. That’s no bad thing. I’ve had a nice long break since finishing Shadow of the Moon. M.M. Kaye writes with a golden pen but she doesn’t half suffer from a Stephen King-esque page-churning syndrome. Pavilions took me months to wade through, what with all the research I kept going away and doing…
I tidied up my room today. Threw away a lot of junk. Found some things I haven’t even used yet. Stuff. The wryneck feathers were at the back of the drawer where I put them way back in October, along with the vulture feather I found in Badajoz, of all places. My first aid kit. Andrew’s adaptor. The condom from Fresher’s week ’13 – ‘just in case’. The diary that lasted all of two months. As is so often the case, it documents the build up to yet another one-sided love affair and then, like a candle, it snuffs out. I might add it to the pile when I get home. Or not.
There’s a sizable part of me that doesn’t want to go to Tetouan in June. A part that wants to toss in the towel with this two-and-a-half-year Arabic sortie for good. It’s the very same part that gave me cold feet the night before Arch and I set off for Morocco last Easter. The part that turns telephones into air raid sirens and bank clerks into drill-sergeants. The part that turned the vale of Jordan into a personal Hell.
I have strange triggers.
I don’t want to be a spy, or work for the government, or serve in the Middle East. I want to settle down to a quiet life teaching English in Spain, writing novels on the side and searching for the One, wherever she may be. I don’t need Arabic for that. I really don’t.
No. Hold it right there. I’m many things, not all of them good, but I’m not a quitter. I’m not quitting on this, nor will I ever. I fought for the right to go to Morocco. There’s no backing down now. This time, I’m determined to make it work. That’s why I’m pulling out all the stops: going solo, staying with a local family, extra classes on the side. It’ll cost me, both in cash and freedom, but it’ll be worth it. Besides, everybody gets cold feet from time to time. It’s perfectly human to be afraid of the unknown… but even more so to face it head-on.
I’ll be twenty-two in a month or so. The open world yawns and it looks a lot like Extremadura right now. But that’s OK. I know where I’m meant to be. BB x
P.S. I’m going to lay off HBO’s The Pacific for a while. It’s put me in an odd mood this evening…
Still catching up on my antics of a few weeks back… To see part two click here
My flight from Paris got to Barcelona for 10.30pm, and here I was again with a different metro system and an Air Bnb to find, seeing as there was no transport back to Tudela at this hour. Only this time I had the help of a fellow Cuths linguist and dear friend who is doing her year abroad in the outskirts of the city.
It was interesting to see how different the Air Bnb was once I was out of one of the most expensive capitals in Europe… Continue reading
I love travel.
In fact, I don’t just love it. I’m obsessed with it. I’ve tried telling myself time and time again that if I had to live in a quiet, country village surrounded by beautiful mountain ranges and gushing rivers, I’d happily stay put.
But I’d only be kidding myself. I’ve got a bad case of wanderlust and I don’t think even a year in Paradise would cure me. Perhaps not even a month. Continue reading