As you can probably guess from the title, I’ve had some highs and real lows this week. Apologies in advance, I’m feeling a bit down at the mo but I’ll try to keep this upbeat! I don’t want this blog to be a moan, but I also want it to be honest. I’ll write chronologically as that way I’ll start and end on an up!
I spent the 3 days following my last blog post in Madrid, put up in a 4 star hotel by the Spanish Ministry of Education… no complaints there! Spain’s train network isn’t as developed as ours at home, so the cheapest and often fastest way to get anywhere is the bus. 4 hours there and 4 hours back wasn’t as horrific as it sounds as I met lots of other auxiliares and it was a good opportunity to catch up on sleep missed the previous nights…
The convention wasn’t that useful but I did feel reassured that I could understand most of the Spanish. Highlights included the Spanish Secretary of State popping in to say hello and a late-night tour of Madrid. (Some might say bar-crawl!)
I arrived back in Logro on Saturday evening to meet my two new flat mates, a Welsh girl and an American guy who are both teachers, so along with the Spaniard we’re an international bunch. Both are lovely, but it was that evening two of us realised we’d been conned. Talking about the flat, it came up that we were all paying different prices for our rooms (which are pretty much the same size, other than the Spanish girl’s – she pays the least for the biggest room). I agreed to pay more than asked for in the advert because the landlord said it would include bills. He seemed very helpful, ringing his son to translate (only parts, it turns out) of the contract for me, and being stupid and innocent and too trusting of people I signed a document I didn’t really understand and – you guessed it – bills aren’t included. Although it’s a lot less than I paid for my flat at uni, and a heck of a lot nicer, this makes the flat preeeetty expensive for the area. To top that off, although it’s really central (10 mins walk to the shops and 15 to the bars and restaurants), it’s not very close to where most of the other assistants are living so when I want to meet them I have to walk by myself. I’m a little bit lonely; I’ve met lots of new people but don’t feel like I know anyone yet and I’m scared I they won’t like me because I’m not my usual chirpy self.
I’ve looked for loop holes in the contract but there aren’t any; it’s completely legal and I can’t get out of it for at least 6 months. The teachers at the school have told me that he probably wouldn’t bother suing me if I left but I wouldn’t be able to cope with the worry of a potential Spanish lawsuit!
Despite new friends reassuring me that it could have happened to them too (and to one of my other flatmates – it did), it’s made me hate myself for being so stupid and to doubt myself and my ability to live here; it’s my fault but also it wouldn’t have happened if my Spanish was better. It’s been a catalyst for how rubbish I’ve been feeling recently – so if you’ve contacted me asking how I am, sorry for the lack of reply but I haven’t felt like replying. I replay my first week in my head and do it differently – hindsight is a horrible thing! I haven’t been able to sleep or eat very much (my life usually revolves around both!), I cry skyping people at home and I have a horrible angsty feeling in my chest.
I’ve tried to keep myself busy and had a really productive day yesterday. I opened a Spanish bank account (which took over 2 hours to open because I was incredibly careful that I understood all the paperwork… lesson learned!), bought a mobile and a duvet and applied for a foreign worker’s number – all before the 2pm siesta! I hoped it would make me feel a bit more settled but I just feel like I’m a bit stuck somewhere I’m not very happy. I’m probably homesick, which is something new to me as I’m normally really independent. I’ve had lots of offers of help coming home for a weekend and I’m really grateful for them but don’t think it would help in the long run.
I don’t want to worry people or attention seek – I don’t want people to feel sorry for me, but honesty is the best policy and I think it might help any other year abroad-ers who might be feeling the same to know we’re in the same boat! It’s clichéd but true that time’s a good healer and after putting my poor boyfriend through a few miserable evenings of skype (I’m so sorry and I cannot be thankful enough! ❤ ) I woke up no longer feeling like throwing myself off the balcony. I’m healthy and warm and have a roof over my head, as well as lovely helpful family and friends. Wallowing in misery isn’t constructive and this is the situation I’m in, so I have to deal with it and make the best of it.
Handily, this new attitude coincided with my first day of work, which (thank goodness!) went really well. I have a really flexible timetable which gives me a three day weekend and I’ve been offered extra work holding a private conversation classes with the headteacher’s children a few times a week which will bring a bit more money in (shame it’s to the hands of the ladrón (robber)/ landlord!) and keep me busy! Everyone was really welcoming and the kids are better behaved and far more motivated than you’d expect in English schools, although in my first class I asked the students if they had any questions for me and the first one was whether I thought Gibraltar was British or Spanish…
Overall it’s been a good day and left me feeling a lot happier; I’ve managed a bowl of pasta to burn off at a Zumba class I’m going to tonight. No good news on the siesta front though, despite trying almost every day it’s just not happening!
Again, sorry for the miserable post and hope it hasn’t put you off – hopefully next week’s will be a happier entry!