My life here in Spain is slowly starting to take shape. I’m settled in my new apartment, the cupboards are stocked with essentials and I’ve unpacked three seasons worth of clothes.
I flew here in the company of my mum and sister (I desperately needed their moral support and baggage allowance), so we were able to hire a car from the airport and the hour and a half journey from Seville to Zafra was relatively smooth. I had provisionally accepted an apartment before I came out here, one that was recommended to me by a previous language assistant, so upon arrival a friendly landlord, Rafa, met us and we were shown around. It’s a HUGE apartment in the centre of town with two floors consisting of a kitchen, living room, two bathrooms and three bedrooms. I’ll probably rent out at least one of the other bedrooms but the rent is cheap enough that I could live in the luxury of a family-sized flat if I really wanted to.
In between stressful admin errands (setting up a bank account and phone contract) I have been exploring the town. It’s much bigger and prettier than I thought, with plenty of shops, restaurants and cafés. There’s also a public library (which I am currently sat in for wifi purposes), a museum, police station and convent – everything you need!
Yesterday I paid a visit to the school where I will be working. Things didn’t go completely to plan but I have come to expect perpetual confusion as part of the year abroad experience. I walked into the school, explained why I was there and was shown to el director’s office to complete some paperwork. He was an intimidating man who kept referring to me as Marisa. I initially questioned my hearing, then wondered if he was miss-pronouncing ‘Megan’, but soon realised that I wasn’t who he thought I was at all. I showed him my documentation and we eventually agreed that I was in the wrong place. I had walked into the primary school; the secondary school was actually in the building next door. Second time lucky and things were more successful. I was introduced to a second director who was expecting me. He was a vertically challenged but incredibly friendly man. What he lacked in height he made up for in enthusiasm and made me feel very, very welcome. He introduced me to lots of the other teachers and told me to return in a few days to meet my mentor, Mara, who was absent at the time. Introductions in Spain, as in France, involve kisses. So, after experiencing cheek-to-cheek contact with most of my new colleagues I now feel much more at ease about starting work in October.
By dealing with a rental contract, an apartment inventory, bank meetings and multiple phone companies it feels like I have spoken more Spanish in the past two days than I did in two years at University. I’m pleased to say that so far I have made myself understood and am becoming more confident with each encounter. The rest of the week will now involve registering for my NIE (an identity card that permits me to live here legally) negotiating an internet contract and finding some flatmates. It won’t all be hard work though, I plan to attend a local Zumba class and there’s an orchestra performing in one of the plazas on Friday night. Fortunately, afternoon siestas are just about compulsory here so I’ll be doing plenty of relaxing too…