Optimism vs Reality

The reality of living in a foreign country alone vs the everlasting optimism that things will get better.

I’ll be honest and actually say it out loud; my year abroad is not living up to the hype. The amount of times I’ve heard the phrase “a year abroad is the best year of your life” this year and last year, but sadly for me, I can’t agree with it.  I don’t have many friends here because the teachers are all a lot older than me and I’m not a real student (there’s one other person in my Spanish class), I’m still not fluent in Spanish because I’m talking English all day at work (so please stop asking me if I am) and having to go to work and Spanish lessons and being here over winter means that this is not a holiday like everyone else seems to think it is.  Although I love the school I’m in and I love the over-excited attention the children give me, I sometimes find myself wondering if I would enjoy myself more if I had decided to study at uni here instead of working. I feel like I spend a lot of time sitting in my bedroom (which doesn’t get much natural light) studying grammar and vocabulary lists whilst seeing pictures on facebook that make my friends look like their having loads more fun than me.
Me and some friends at Santa Faz last Thursday.
Despite all this, I need to remember that my Spanish has improved massively.  At the beginning of the year I could only just hold a conversation one-on-one if we were talking about me or them and now I can (kinda) join in on group conversations on a whole variety of topics (although I still struggle occasionally, obviously).  I do have some good friends here! I feel like it’s taken a while to settle but I’m feeling content now. I’d like to think that at some point next year, some of my friends will come and visit me in England and they will invite me to come back and see them again!  I have made some good friends at pole who I currently see three times a week and we have a whatsapp group so I feel like I’m part of a group of something here and it’s great!  Also, spring has arrived and now I can finally get some colour on me! It was a bit weird over Christmas telling people I live in Spain but I looked as pale as someone doing their year abroad in Russia.  I also need to remember that although I’m here in Spain for the Spanish side of my degree, I’m getting so much experience teaching English that I hope my TESOL teachers see that next year and give me good grades! I’ve decided to utilize this time when I don’t have a social life to start studying for next year so that when I’m back in Nottingham I can have a social life.  Fingers crossed that goes to plan!  To help me get through the last two and a bit months I’ve composed a list of things I’m looking forward to until the end of June;

1.        Competing at the Spanish Pole Dance Nationals (Professional Category). Still not 100% how I got here but this Sunday is when I will be strutting my stuff and loving life as I do it!
2.       Travelling! I’m planning on going to Barcelona, Granada and little towns North of Alicante in May and in June I’m off to Rome with my mummy and hopefully going to visit two Spanish friends in Castilla y Leon.
Maria (far right) is one of the English teachers and is a bit like my Spanish mum

3.       Friends coming to visit for Hogueras.  I have two friends who have already booked their flights (and a few more considering it) and we’re gunna celebrate an Alicantino festival with lots of beer and beach days!
4.       I still have just over a month left of Spanish lessons, (3 or 4 on my own) and my Spanish teacher specialises in 20thcentury Spain which is what one of my modules is on next year!
5.       One day I’m gunna brave going to the University of Alicante library to study, purely to get out of my flat and stop distracting myself when I feel like I should be studying.
6.       I’m looking forward to when the sun really comes out and I can go to beach bars here in Alicante or visit Beth in Benidorm.  Hopefully the end of June isn’t too early!
7.       I’m going to hopefully come home with nice long hair and a great tan (preparing myself for a glow in the dark butt!)
8.       Despite the fact that I have only been on two Erasmus nights out in seven months, I’m still hoping that I’ll make some Erasmus friends and go on nights out with them in May and June.
9.       I’m going to try my best to make good use of the cheap sangria, beer and tapas available before I go back to expensive England!
I’ll always have the children to show me love and attention!
I’m glad that somehow I have it in me to still always be a positive, optimistic person otherwise I’m not sure how I would be feeling about this all.  I have about 9 weeks (8 if you take away the week I go home and to Nottingham) to really try my best to make the most of it all and learn as much Spanish as I possibly can!
My next blog will be when I announce that I’m now the Spanish National Champion in Pole Dancing.  I joke, that’s way too optimistic! But I will tell you exactly how I did and upload a video of my routine too!  Wish me luck!

Annalise x