Friday, October 9, 2015

Learning the Ropes in a New Country

It was great meeting the new auxiliaries for this year. Fresh-faced, young, eager to start a new adventure. As a veteran, I gladly answered their questions. Because Lord knows, the people in charge won't. Every year, auxiliaries receive promises and read grandiose statements in emails, intentions against the fact that our bosses don't have time to help us. The heads of our program give us their phone numbers and email addresses, and tell us, “If there's ANYTHING at all we can help you with, contact us!”


Within a day I was receiving texts from newbies, because the organizer wasn't answering her phone. In a way, they were receiving a good lesson: in life, it's sink or swim. My first year in Spain, I almost drowned. Emails went unanswered, and when I tried to call I couldn't deal with the Andalucían speed nor accent. Bank machines spit out my Canadian card. Clicking on webpage after webpage led to dead ends and more Spanish gibberish.
This year's auxiliaries.
During my first few weeks back in 2013, I had to open a bank account and go to a specialist for surgery follow-up. I was extremely nervous about doing both alone, so my boss said she'd go with me. Only to be told one day before my appointments that she had to cancel in order to attend a parent-teacher meeting. I learned two lessons: 1) things change last-minute in this country, and 2) I will survive. Without internet on my phone, I ran around like a chicken with its head cut off, trying to figure out the complicated, two-bus journey to the tiny town where the specialist was. I made it to my appointment, the doctor spoke extremely slowly and nicely to me, and in the end I was issued a clean bill of health.

How are things two years later? I'm definitely more confident. Thanks to my time in Villacarrillo, my Spanish is a lot better. In fact, I played Scattergories with Spanish friends and came in second place! I still balk at calling – I prefer email or making the trek to talk to the person face to face. But I push hard to get a response. In a sea of unanswered requests, I know that I have to be my own life preserver.

Monday, September 28, 2015

On Becoming More Spanish

As proud as I am to be Canadian and hold on to some of my cultural qualities, it's only natural after two years that I have changed in many ways and become a bit more Spanish. Here's a lighter look at how I've changed:

When I first arrived in Spain, I maintained my productive Canadian habits:

Within a few short months in Villacarrillo, it changed to:

Another way I've changed is that I walk like this:
If I walk any faster, I actually start to sweat. It's not good sweat, either; it's a weird mixture of ham and olive oil that comes out of my pores. (If I marry a man whose last name is 'Jamón', I will die a happy bride.)

What else? I'm no longer weirded out if someone wears shoes in my house, nor if they use SCISSORS to cut PIZZA. Also, a shot of alcohol in coffee at 11 a.m.?  Sure, why not?

In addition, when I talk or write, every f***ing second motherf***ing word is a g**damn swear word, b**ch. Seriously, holy sh*t.

Of course, this isn't 100% what I'm like here. It's just amusing to see the little ways in which I've adopted tiny pieces of the Spanish culture.