Calm after the storm

November 25, 2015

After nearly a month long hiatus, I'm back to the blogging game. A lack of inspiration isn't the reason for my absence, rather a laptop with a paucity of functioning keys- trying to type a post without the use of the full stop, backspace and certain letters makes for trying times. I could order a new laptop but it would be awkwardly decked with a European keyboard and charger, so for now I'm enchained to long writing sessions on three different devices. It's thanks to all three of my readers - Mum, my sister, Beth and no.1 Spanish fan, Martín- who have pestered me to do another post, that you're reading this now.

This absence however means that I have so much to write about. Having settled in now, it's been great to take a back seat and observe Spain and it's culture at a much slower pace; my first month had me feeling (once again) like Dorothy, swept up in a tornado and consequently landing in an unfamiliar, yet wonderful new land. November has allowed me to appreciate my year abroad so much more, and instead of feeling the dulling ache of writer's block, I've been inspired to write about something that has been staring me in the face all along. Unable to see for looking, the biggest difference I've noticed here in Spain is the people.
Magosto in Ourense
Of course, one would suppose that being a western country things aren't that different, and I would agree- opinions, trends, beliefs, etc don't tend to differ extremely. I'm finding it difficult to pin exactly what it is that makes Spaniards - or perhaps just Galicians- different to British people without sounding too pretentious. I hate myself for writing this as it sounds like something you'd find on an Instagram quote, however, it seems to me that the Spanish have a different lust for life. Their outlook on life is completely different, wonderfully refreshing and perhaps something that we should all take on board. 
It's starting to drop cold in Ourense- the view from my classroom 

I remember walking alone through the Intu centre in Derby earlier this year, when a woman approached me and told me she loved my outfit for the day. It wasn't until after I'd wondered if she was on day release from the home that I managed to express my gratitude. My Dad still insists that I made up this whole interaction. However it's obviously telling that we are uncomfortable with such friendliness in the UK. Perhaps now would be a good time to think to yourself when was the last time in which you paid somebody a compliment? I definitely think nice things often about others, yet am too nervous to actually approach them.This is going somewhere, I promise.

Drunk selfies are the best type.
Spain, however, is on the opposite end of the scale. Where Britain dithers, Spain is the outgoing leader of the group. It's common knowledge that the Europeans kiss to greet other which is something that we seem to have rejected in the UK, opting instead for an awkward hello, maybe a handshake if you're feeling fruity. I love the European kiss as I feel it breaks down any barrier of awkwardness from the very beginning. (Don't judge me when I return to England and plant two big smackers on each of your cheeks.) Referring to my story in the Intu centre, Spanish people, on the contrary, are so willing to give compliments out; since arriving, I've had so many compliments about my blonde hair (perhaps because I'm one of two blondes in Ourense) and my blue eyes. I was sat in the staff room recently as two teachers played with my hair as if I was a Barbie styling head. Would this happen in England? I sometimes feel that perhaps there's an unwritten competition amongst women nowadays and we're too scared to actually compliment another through fear of feeling inferior. Spanish women stick two fingers up at this.

We made our Spanish friends a curry- they couldn't hack it 
Spaniards throw the word 'beautiful' around all the time, and I can't decide whether this is something I love or hate. "Your dress is beautiful", "That bridge is beautiful", On the one hand, I personally only use the word if something is remarkable and I genuinely mean it, but on the other, I love that they see a world full of striking things and are not abashed to tell us. I think one reason that I struggled to form a bond with my students when I arrived was because I wasn't affectionate with them. Playing with the student's hair and receiving hugs from them is all part and parcel of teaching- they enjoy this physical relationship which creates trust, whereas this would be seen as overstepping a boundary in the UK.
My amazing family sent a wonderful care package! 
I'm not bashing the British when I write this, because we still like to demonstrate affection, just in a different way. It was my Spanish roommate, María who had opened my eyes to this whole idea- she'd been telling me that British people tend to show their affection through method of words, using endearments such as 'darling' and 'sweetheart'. Obviously this depends on where you're from- an affectionate colloquialism from my city is 'duck' or even 'chuck'. As a nation, we're genuinely much more reserved when it comes to physical openness, and of course, I'm not suggesting that there's anything wrong with this. 
It was Magosto this month, but I'll post a Brucy Bonus blog later in the week about this.

However, I do feel that we should let their openness inspire us; I'm not saying that you should profess your love from the tallest building you can find, but you should find time to tell your colleague that you like their haircut, to tell your parents that you love them or even give your friend a hug. I truly hope that this post hasn't come across as patronising, I just feel that in light of recent events around the world it's important to keep the message of love alive, rather than spreading irrational animosity.

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