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March 9, 2011 | by  | in Online Only | [ssba]

Fuck Yeah, I’m in Spain 01

I don’t think it’s possible to prepare yourself for a 45-hour plane journey. I’m not complaining, I promise, and I’m aware that I may be partly to blame for taking rubbish flights to save a few hundred dollars. But that doesn’t mean it felt any less like spending two days in a form of limbo where time didn’t quite work the same way as it should, the food was far from real and where I had to choose between watching Julia Roberts learn how to not be psycho-depressive and old episodes of Seinfeld.

After two days (or one really long day) of travel, I arrived in this foreign land where everything appeared to be similar but slightly different. Slightly Spanish, even. I wandered around looking for my first real Spanish meal until I was so hungry that I settled for a very traditional chicken burger from McDonald’s—it was actually written in English on the menu but when I tried to pronounce it, my attempts were met with a blank expression from a woman who clearly hated her job. I knew then that, despite feeling more or less confident with Spanish grammar, verb tenses and vocabulary, I needed to find a Spanish person, or at least a Spanish speaker, to teach me all of the important things if I was to have a chance at doing anything without feeling like a complete foreigner.

Enter: Mateo, an enthusiastic South-American studying abroad in Spain who was kind enough to offer to teach me about la lengua española and life in Madrid. Through him I received my first invite to a Spanish house party (actually, it was an apartment party) with real Spaniards and so much Spanish going around that it would have been impossible to deal with without a bottle of 95 cent wine in hand – there I was truly beginning to feel like I was starting to be comfortable here. That all changed suddenly later that evening when I had a first-hand lost-in-translation experience. In a rage comparable to the drama of telenovelas it became apparent that Mateo had thought we were dating and I found myself having my first Spanish argument about the significance of eating Chorizo and drinking Sangria with somebody while talking about the correct Spanish mispronunciation of English words. Confused and slightly drunk, I had lost what I had come to think of as my Spanish (okay, South-American) friend.

It’s not all cheap wine and drama in Madrid, though. When I first got here I had the ever-exciting task of finding a place to stay. Living in an understated, only-slightly-dirty hostel nestled between the city’s gay and red lights districts, I was relieved when, a few days into the flat hunt I found a room in the centre of town with nine other exchange students that was within the budget I’d set myself. Perhaps it was the fact that at the time I was sharing a bunk with a middle-aged Argentine who only matched his ability to snore with his ability to sleep that made everything by comparison seem like the Ritz, but I ended up taking a room with no windows. Don’t ever think that it’ll be okay living in a room with no windows. It’s not. I learnt this the day we had a power-cut and I realised that I had to either go to sleep or leave the house. I chose the latter and got four blocks before realising: a) that I’d put my cardigan on inside-out and b) the true value of natural light.

But despite its minor flaws, I love my Spanish apartment and the fact that between English, French, German, Croatian and Spanish, we all slightly misunderstand one another yet we can still communicate enough to get on well. That, and I’ve learnt so many foreign swear words it should be illegal. ¡Hasta la próxima!


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