No, I’m not dead yet. Yes, I’ve been a horrible blogger for nearly two full months.
So I wanted to check in. I made it to Spain two weeks ago (after exhibiting Herculean efforts to get my Visa this summer!). I’m living in the suburbs of Zaragoza, a very comfortable city about the size of Pittsburgh, PA. And I’m stayings with a very welcoming Spanish family. (The father is a pro-soccer coach who used to play pro, so that’s pretty cool.)
So what do I want to share about this experience? A lot. here’s the stream of consciousness mess of it, in no particular order.
For me, traveling is not glamorous. I am constantly a sweaty mess who looks like a wretched American tourist (even though I really am not one—touristing makes me grumpy). It’s difficult, it’s exhausting, and it’s nothing like in the movies. And yet, I’m deeply grateful for this experience.
I’m writing this on my phone because I still haven’t found a store that carries a charger that fits my laptop. My cord broke before I left the US and I didn’t have a chance to replace it, so my laptop is pretty useless at the moment. Which has contributed to my silence here. Blogging via smartphone—while it’s indeed incredible and has me thinking of my Spy Kids obsession when I was younger—really is not my favorite pastime.
Spanish people are truly lovely. I’d never have survived the last two weeks’ crash course in public transportation without their unfailing patience and kindness.
Today I made a friend on the bus—a wonderful woman from Romania who lives here with her husband. She spoke English and could tell I was lost and flustered, so she ran after me (after already giving me change for €20, because I’d run out of change and the bus driver was NOT pleased) and asked if I needed help. She then gave me her phone number and we are going to meet up sometime for tapas or coffee.
The school where I work is amazing. I’m sure there will be more on that later.
The Frequent Oopses
When I was in Barcelona, I missed my appointment to see the inside of the Basílica de la Sagrada Familia. I’d bought the ticket weeks in advance and everyhinge.
I was asleep.
(Because of course I was.)
However, I did meet up with a lovely couple and their adorable son while I was there. (One of my Sick Pilgrim friends put me in touch with them, and I’m ever so glad he did. They are amazing).
It was really comforting to step into a church and kneel in front of a Tabernacle and not be angry or afraid or . . . any host of negative emotions. Just peaceful.
My Spanish has really taken off since I’ve arrived. It’s been exciting. I know everyone said that would happen, but . . . I was actually really scared that I’d be the one weird person who went to a foreign country but never improved in my speaking skills. In the US, anytime anyone tried to talk to me in Spanish, I’d freeze up, total deer in the headlights. Here, it hasn’t even been two weeks and I’m conversing more or less easily. I mean, not brilliantly or super fluently, but I speak with my host mom almost completely in Spanish because she knows virtually no English. Basically, I know so much more Spanish than I thought, and I’m gaining more daily. Many people here have remarked that my Spanish is really good, which is shocking for me.
And thinking in a new language is the strangest thing I’ve ever experienced, by the way. When I’m in Spanish mode, it’s actually really hard and takes effort to switch my thought-language back to English!
My favorite thing about Zaragoza: the constant cooling breeze.
My favorite thing about Spain: the amazing people.
My favorite thing about Europe: that, like myself, no one here understands why my country willingly elected a horrifying orange tyrant. This fact makes me feel so much more welcome here right now than in my home country.
My favorite person: this fascinating Londoner who sat beside me during the flight from Iceland to London. His wife and 2 daughters—one of whom was an adorable chubby cheeked 6-month-old—sat in the row in front of us. Anyhow, he and I talked for about four hours straight, and he had the most amazing accent. We discussed countries and cultures, languages, politics, Barbados, football (soccer for us American doofuses)—which he used to play professionally—racism, accents, the USA, the fact that people in London don’t talk to the police, and that people in France are racist and rude (his words, not mine!). Apparently America’s current orange predicament is highly entertaining for Britain. Well, at least its good for something. Glad to be of service.
My favorite photos of Zaragoza so far: this canal near my school.
Unfortunately, as I recently informed my mother, I cannot return to the USA until they build a bridge across the Atlantic for a Renfe bullet train. This is because I hate flying (love the concept, hate the airsickness and lack of sleep and personal space) but trains are AMAZING. When I booked my trip to Zaragoza from Barcelona, the app I used had a promotion and the cheapest option was first class. I got a free (and legitamatly delicious) meal during my trip complete with my own personal tiny bottle of white wine!
The United States has A LOT to learn when it comes to fun. Behold: !La fiesta de espuma! (Foam party)
Photo credit: all mine!! Muahahahah! (Check out my Instagram for more pictures and videos of la fiesta de espuma! @the.shoeless.banshee)