Bienvenida a Ourense 2.0

September 21, 2016

After a ram-packed summer hopping around the continent, I’m finally back in Spain and ready to start another year of work. Had somebody told me that this time last year that I’d be taking a year out of university to prolong my stay in Spain, I’d have said that they were crazy; completing university with a first class degree, entering a graduate scheme and buying a house in the local area was the agenda. Now, however, that seems like my idea of hell. I absolutely adore education- I have this somewhat annoying thirst for knowledge and I have to know as many things as possible-  and whilst I’ll not formally be attending a university course over the next year, I do feel that I shall definitely be receiving some sort of education.

I’ve been back in Spain for a week now and it feels like I’ve never been away. After grabbing a coffee and a pincho of tortilla, first on my agenda was finding a place to live. Last year, in spite all warnings from my university to avoid living with fellow anglophones, that was exactly what I did. And, as one would expect, my Spanish didn’t improve so much. This year, I was determined not to take the easy way out and to live alongside Spaniards. Having never looked for a room in England, the whole experience is extremely new to me. It’s also a huge -want for a better word- ball-ache. After trawling through the available rooms on the Spanish equivalent of Gumtree and sending copious messages showing interest, I’ve found that it always always leads to some sort of disappointment; when do people respond- and believe me, it’s rare that they do- it’s normally to explain that they will only rent to spaniards, that it’s taken, or that instead of the double room you were interested in, there are cupboards available. This is no exaggeration; I went to a view a flat that looked as if it belonged to Versace, complete and utter decadence… until I was shown the available bedroom- a former servant’s quarters, complete with a Murphy bed. I decided there was more to life than pulling my bed down from a wardrobe each and every night, so needless to say I turned it down.

Fast forward one week, and I stumbled across a modest hideaway- centrally located, modern and very reasonable. One problem that I’ve come across during my flat search is that many flats are extremely dingy. I’m a person who adores the light- perhaps I suffer from SADS- so living in an ill-lighted room isn’t something that appeals to me. I was also delighted to see that the landlord had turned his back on the gloomy oak cupboards that seem to adorn almost every wall of every other apartment in Ourense.  Instead, the flat is a magnolia dream- minimalist and ready to be decorated with all that I can buy from Zara home. (I’m so chic, you know?) It also has one of those showers that blast you from all angles, a talking lift and a bed that it definitely bigger than a double. Yes, you can say it- living the dream. If anybody knows where to source giant bedsheets in Spain, please leave a comment.

Having spent less time studying Spanish than French, my confidence in Spanish has always somewhat dwindled. I spoke no language other than that of my mother tongue over the past few months, needless to say it was a complete surprise when discovering upon my return that I understood everything that was being said to me. In fact, I feel that taking a break from swimming in the Spanish culture has allowed me to develop a more relaxed approach to living with a different language. In hindsight, maybe I was starting to sink, rather than swim- by the end of May, I’d developed a stammer that would rear its ugly head whenever I spoke in Spanish, yet happily hid away the rest of the time. Now however, it seems to have died a welcome death and I no longer linger in a puddle of embarrassment when I make a mistake. It’s taken me a while to realise it, but sometimes it can take time to perfect something. As you can probably tell, I wouldn’t describe myself as a particularly patient person, so it’s been a great, useful learning curve for me. With my new flat-mates being Spanish, I only have a select number of people who I can indeed speak English with. 

They say that nothing is ever the same, second time round- a sentiment of which I completely agree. I understand that I shan’t have the excitement of uncovering a completely new way of life this year.  I do, however, have the excitement of feeling completely in control; understanding that now, I’m a (questionably) responsible adult and I can conduct my life the way I’d like to. I’m excited to live amongst Spanish nationals and completely surround myself in the castellan language and culture. Moreover, I’m excited to learn from last year’s mistakes. I wouldn’t necessarily describe the coming nine months as a do-over nor a second chance, instead I expect a completely new experience, one of which I can conduct with more confidence. (And of course, another year of getting delightfully drunk on fantastically cheap wine every day weekend.)
3 comments on "Bienvenida a Ourense 2.0"
  1. Good luck with everything!! NIEUWE KANSEN, NIEUWE PRIJZEN. .

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