The End Of An Era
9.5 months later and my year abroad is over. It has been the hardest 9.5 months of my life with several break downs but I’ve made it. Somehow if you had told me in November that I was gunna cry when I left and actually miss it I would have laughed in your face. I guess you have to go through hard times to really appreciate the good ones and luckily, my year abroad did turn around mid-April (although there had been days/weekends that I had enjoyed before don’t get me wrong) and that’s when my Spanish suddenly improved so I could connect so much better with my Spanish friends and the weather picked up as well! I’m not going to write in too much detail how my year abroad has been, I’m just going to summarise the main points. Some of the points will link back to older blog posts so you can read in more detail if you haven’t read those ones yet.
Obviously, the biggest part of my year abroad was myplacement in a primary school as a language assistant. I absolutely LOVED my school! I was so lucky to be placed in such an amazing school that helped me make the most of my year. All the teachers were so lovely and would chat to me regularly to help me practice my Spanish. I went back to school after I’d officially finished for the end of year lunch and everyone was so happy to see me! I also now have a LOT of funny stories because kids really do say the best things! The school also trusted me to run lessons(with another member of staff in the room just in case. I taught 4C once a week throughout term 2 and covered the year 5 and 6 teacher for a total of 5 weeks plus other random days as she frequently couldn’t make it to school. This provided me with so much teaching experience and I got a great insight about what it’s really like to be a teacher. I need to say a special thank you to Reme, Maria and Rosa who are the three English teachers. Reme and Maria in particular have invited me into their homes and made me feel like part of their families which has been so nice and I know it’s brought comfort to my mum that I was being looked after!
|Every class that I’ve taught in this year!! Quite a lot!|
This has been the hardest part of my year as I am a very sociable person but it has been so hard to find friends and then it has taken a long time to really become good friends because of the language barrier. I haven’t had classmates (well, after February I had one) and all my work colleagues were a lot older so I only have a small handful of friends. One thing my English friends regularly compliment me on is that they think I’m really funny but my sense of humour is very quick and witty and trying to be funny in a foreign language is extremely hard. I always secretly have a massive sense of pride whenever I make someone laugh in Spanish! I’ve got on well with all 6 of my flatmates (and one cat) and it was a shame when I had to move out of my first flat because I couldn’t go on any longer living alone 3 days a week! My best friends this year have been Irene and Ana, they have both made an effort with me to invite me out on nights out or to spend an afternoon together and I appreciate it so much! I’ve also met a lot of their friends who have all been really lovely and I will miss all of them! One thing that’s been great about them is that they never speak to me in English unless I really need them to when I don’t understand something. They also have only laughed at me a few times when my Spanish has been wrong! I’m looking forward to visiting them in the future and I can’t wait for them to visit me too!! I will continue to listen to reggaeton and will use the word ‘tío’ whenever I can!
|Night out in January|
|Day trip to Las Palmeras on my last day|
Naturally this is the place where I’ve felt the most comfortable all year. I turned up to my first lesson with a list of vocabulary translated so that I say what I wanted to and not put myself of anyone else in danger! It’s in my pole classes that my Spanish has been the most fluent – probably because we’re talking about pole dance and fitness in general most of the time – but it’s helped me to make good friends and I really, really will miss going to Pole Dance Art a couple of times a week. It was also because of this club that I pushed myself so hard to compete at national level. I didn’t do as well as I hoped but I improved so much that I’m very, very proud of what I’ve achieved this year. When I was added to the whatsapp group, it was such a little thing but made me feel like I was part of a group for the first time in a very long time and we use this group to show off what we’ve achieved in class and then everyone congratulates you which is so lovely! I want to say a massive thank you to Saul (my coach) and also, I’m sorry for being such a nightmare scaring you and needing the first aid box so often!
|Pole Dance Art Alicante, May 2015|
|Emotional goodbyes with my coach that I’ve nearly killed
Family and Friends at Home
Like I said, it’s been a really tough year with several break downs (I’m not usually a crier, ever!) so I need to thank everyone in England who has texted of skyped me or sent me anything in the post to keep my spirits up! I really do have the most amazing family and friends who would made sure I remembered why I was doing a year abroad in the first place and made sure I never gave up. Also thankyou to my mum, Fiona, Lilly, Zoe, Freya, Chloe, Max, Melissa and Scott who all made an exceptional effort and were able to come and visit me at some point in the year. I loved being able to show you all around and have company during Hogueras (festival in June) and have someone to go to the beach with. I love everyone who’s made even just a little bit of effort with me this year even though I was 1500km away. I also love that I’ve come home during holidays and it’s like I’ve never left!
|With Fiona, Zoe and Lilly in February|
|With Freya, Melissa, Max and Chloe in June|
Beth gets a special mention. Most people on our course went to university in Spain for the year or one semester and I don’t know of anyone who was the only person from our university at each Spanish university. Beth and I were pretty isolated in Alicante as The University of Alicante is not an option for NTU Erasmus exchange. We’ve both agreed that without each other being nearby (well, 1.5-2 hours away) we probably wouldn’t have made it past Christmas! We’ve both been though the same experience of being isolated away with not many friends and we’ve been able to support each other through the whole year. We’ve travelled together, learnt Spanish together (including the real meaning behind the song Taxi) and eaten a hell of a lot of crisps!! Thank you for always being there Beth!
|Guadalest in March|
|Madrid in October|
|El Campello in October|
The main reason for doing my year abroad! Spending all day talking English at school, I was really worried that I wouldn’t improve very much so I forced myself to only socialise with native Spaniards. I also started going to Spanish classes twice a week (3 hours in total) at Elcano Spanish School which has helped me ENORMOUSLY! I regret not starting in September! Alongside this, I have spent hours on end in my room studying vocabulary lists and grammar points. I watch films in Spanish and listened to Spanish music to try and learn as much as I possibly could! When I arrived in Spain I think I was probably at level B1 (lower intermediate), then in February I started B2 classes (upper intermediate). At some point soon I’m gunna do some cram revision and then do a test to see what level I’m at now! I’ve also learnt a lot about Spanish culture and my favourite part has been the festivals! I will definitely be back to celebrate like the Spanish!
|Carnaval in February|
|Las Fallas in March|
|Santa Faz in March|
|Las Hogueras in June|
Well that’s all for blogging about my year abroad! Well, if/when I find the time, I may write one about Hogueras (see picture just above) but my life has been pretty manic recently with moving home! I hope people have enjoyed reading about all the highs a lows of living in a foreign country for a year but obviously, no one’s experience is the same and I have got friends who say that it has lived up to being the “best year of your life” like we were regularly told last year. Goodbye Alicante, see you soon! Now for the next adventure in my life, INTERRAILING!! Yep, I’m off travelling around 11 cities in Europe later this summer with my school friends and we’re sooo excited!!!
Was it the best year of my life? No
Would I live in Spain again? Maybe
Would I do it all again if I had the chance? Definitely.