October 25, 2012, by Guest blog

Tapas in the staffroom

Having coaxed our first words of Spanish from us only 2 years ago, the university has thrown me and my course mates to sink or swim into the big ponds of Spain and Latin America. The year abroad team call it “A big adventure,” but I’ve been feeling a bit more apprehensive and, risking sounding as unenthusiastic as Karl Pilkington from “Idiot Abroad,” have been known to call it “My year in exile.” I’d say I’m quite an adventurous person, but by the end of second year I was just starting to feel settled in to my studies and life in Nottingham and whilst I’m very independent, I will really miss having my family, boyfriend and friends fairly close by.

Nevertheless, I arrived in Logroño on Sunday, and despite feeling like a very little fish in a big pond (Okay, I think I’ve exhausted that metaphor now!) I’m really pleased with how much I’ve managed to sort out since then.  There are no taxi ranks outside Spanish bus stations, so it was thanks to a lovely man who knew a number and called one for me that I didn’t have to wander the streets with two heavy suitcases looking for my hotel!

Not one for hanging about, I went to view a flat on Sunday evening. Its Spanish owner spoke incredibly quickly, and had I never viewed a house before I’d have had no idea what was going on! The whole experience was quite disheartening and not one I’d like to repeat. The price was fair compared with other adverts I’ve looked at and the flat is big, clean and in a good location so I took it, and by Monday lunchtime the contract was signed. I was hoping to move in quietly while my new flatmate, a Spanish dentist, was working but accidentally interrupted her siesta. Stood outside sweating, having just dragged my bags across town in the afternoon heat, I was really unprepared and struggled to explain myself in grammatically awful Spanish! I don’t think she’s very impressed with her new flappy English flatmate, but is very helpful and chatty, not that I understand it all yet!

Tuesday was more encouraging. I told myself I wasn’t nervous to go into school to meet the staff but spent the previous evening desperately trying to cram vocab and grammar! But they were more than welcoming and pleasantly surprised that I can speak some Spanish, as their previous auxiliar de conversacion knew almost none! The headteacher insisted I joined in her birthday celebrations so I found myself drinking La Rioja’s famous wine and eating tapas in the staff room at 11am in the morning! The other teachers were also very friendly, offering me lifts and I was even invited to join one on his morning run (thanks but no thanks!) They’re typically chilled; I was also told to wear what I wanted and to turn up when I want on my first day! I’d be lost without my diary; I like to plan, which is definitely at odds with the Spanish attitude!

Posted in First impressions