(First posted on http://www.namisadventures.tumblr.com on 16/01/2016)
Buenas días readers!
I’ve been in Spain (Madrid, just in case you wanted to know) for five months now, and since going back home for the holidays, I think I’ve definitely garnered a new-found appreciation for the country and their way of life. So, seeing as I’ve been meaning to blog about my experiences here since September (the move was very traumatic, okay! And also I’m a professional procrastinator. For example, I should be working on a paper for university right now, but I’m doing this instead…), I thought I’d just share a few highlights (and lowlights) of the last five months. Enjoy!
1. That first day is hard. And it gets harder. I can’t count how many times I cried in the first three days of my placement out here, but I can say this; the key to settling in is going out. I had a huge support network from my family, friends and loved ones, and that was absolutely fantastic, but things started to look up once I actually started going out, meeting people and embracing the fact that, yes I’m in a whole new city, alone, where everyone speaks a langue that I’m only sub-par at, but I’m in Spain! I get to do this amazing thing, as part of my degree, which most people won’t get to do ever! So suck it up, Nami, and embrace la vida loca.
2. This brings me to the ESN group and how important it is to go to at least one event. ESN stands for Erasmus Student Network, and everyone involved are absolute angels. Sure, you might not like the whole crazy nightlife thing, but they do daytime events too, and I highly recommend them! I ended up going to the Welcome Picnic where I met a lot of people, who I’m still friends with today! And on top of that, they offer some really great day trips to surrounding cities, where you get to take in the culture and the history of new places, with new friends!
3. Spanish bureaucracy is bull. Seriously. Any admin tasks taking at least 3 working days, which doesn’t include Saturdays, nor does it include the hours between 1330 and 1500 so… basically, go to places on Monday, expect to be kept waiting, and leave unsatisfied until at least Thursday morning.
4. Also, Spanish people hate the Great British Bake Off. How do I know? Because my landlady evicted me over it. Sort of. I politely asked my landlady, with whom I was in a house share (never. Never again) if I could have friends over. She said yes. When she saw my friends, my other housemates and I watching GBBO together, she flipped out and told me I had 30 days to leave. Thankfully I’m now in a student and young professionals house share, and these guys are way cooler and much more fun. So it worked out for the best, but I’m still kind of bitter because, really? GBBO?
5. Spaniards party hard. Like really hard. Like 6am finishes when the rest of the world is waking up for the day. And it’s totally normal. I learned very early on that this life was not for me… so I pleased myself with cocktail nights until not quite so late (okay, so like 3/4am but still! That’s a valuable 2-3 hours extra in bed!) and Spanish drinks are glorious. They are cheap. They are highly alcoholic. And they taste delicious.
So, that’s five key things to know about Spain; Madrid in particular because hot damn the cocktail bars in Chueca and Malasaña are incredible. So far Spain has been, overall, a really great experience, even if it has had its share of ups and downs. After all, that’s life! I just know, since being back, that there’s no way I’d have gotten through that first stretch without the support of the people I love, or without going out and making new friends so… to anyone considering moving abroad, those are my two biggest pieces of advice: use the support network you have, and make sure to meet new people! Or at least, that’s my advice so far… who knows what might happen in the next few months! Anyway, I better crack on with this uni work now… whoever said Erasmus students don’t have to work is a liar. I hope to be updating this a lot more frequently than every five months, so for now I’ll just say, until the next time!