Monday, August 20, 2012

Paranoia; or, this one time, I bowed to parental pressure

As part of the build-up to the excitement of moving to Spain, I get to perform joyous tasks like applying for a visa. It's a pretty annoying, nitpicky process, but bureaucracy is, straight up, a feature of the world in which we live. An unfortunate feature, yes, but not one that's likely to go away any time soon, so it's best to just live with it. I applied for my visa a while ago, and was told it would take four to five weeks to get it back.

In the meantime, my mom embarked on a campaign to convince me to buy my plane tickets right away. She generously offered to fly over with me, to help wrangle my dainty little teacup poodle of a dog, so it's understandable that she wanted a concrete itinerary. (Also, if I'm a Type A over-planner, my mom is a Type A^n+18 over-planner.) I withstood her assault for several weeks, but at last, I caved, and bought a ticket for September 18.

However. This is not a thing that I was supposed to do. I was supposed to wait until I got my visa back, and then acquire a ticket, because oh my God, what if my visa application gets denied?

I'm not quite at five weeks yet. Still, the paranoia is starting to kick in. I've been trying to convince myself that it will be okay, even if I somehow don't get a visa, and therefore can't be an auxiliar. I can always change the return date on my flight, flit off to Europe for a month or two (I've certainly got enough money saved!), then come back to the coffee shop and keep working there until it's grad school time. Right? Right?

Yeah, not really helping me, either. Here's a picture of Gwen looking cute.

(because pictures of Gwen looking cute make everything better)

Saturday, August 18, 2012


I've been so stupidly busy with work that I haven't had time to even think about Spain, much less write about it; but I decided it was time to force myself to revisit the reasons I'm going on this crazy adventure. Or, to refocus on all of the reasons I'm working 55 hours a week, and remind myself that damn it, this will be worth it.

So. While I am in Spain, I am making it a goal to:
  • Be creative. I'm probably going to have tons of time--I want to spend a good chunk of that creating things. I talked about art earlier, but I don't want to restrict myself to that; maybe I'll try photography, maybe I'll write, maybe I'll, I don't know, find a pottery studio and learn how to throw pots.
  • Run. I haven't kept up with running the two times I've lived abroad, for various reasons. I'm determined that this time will be different, since Spain appears to be more runner-friendly than the other two countries where I've lived (Portugal and Italy); and as a motivational tool I'll be registering for the Roman Marathon in March.
  • Get good at Spanish. I haven't mentioned language before, but I've never taken a Spanish class in my life. I can get by okay, thanks to 1. all the time I've spent with Italian, Portuguese, and French, and 2. the fact that I'm pretty good at learning languages. Some people can build bridges or fly airplanes; I can learn languages. I'm not the best with the miniscule details of advanced grammar (anyone remember function words from the old AP language exams? those were my nemeses), but I'm really good at speaking and comprehension. At this point, I can read just about anything in Spanish, carry on a basic conversation, and understand more advanced conversations as long as people speak slowly.
  • Learn about the Spanish educational system and related policy. I've worked in a high school in the US for the last two years. I'm interested in learning how differently Spain tackles some of the same issues. I plan to work in primary or secondary education long-term, but I absolutely believe it's important, and have enjoyed learning more about the policy side of things.
  • Eat. I love food. Love, love, love food. I like Spanish food in general, with its emphasis on good-quality, fresh ingredients prepared with a minimum of fuss, but I can't wait to try Galicia-specific foods. My exposure to it is pretty much limited to pulpo a la gallega--but man, do I love octopus and its sea-critter cousins.
  • Settle into my place. Even if I wasn't going to have a four-legged, cold-nosed tag-along, I wouldn't be planning on a whole lot of traveling. Honestly, I've been to almost all of the places in Europe that I feel strongly about visiting. There are a few exceptions (Greece *history nerd alert*, Sicily, Bologna, the South of France, the Dordogne); a few places I want to revisit (San Sebastian and Rome); and a few places where I'll visit friends (Paris and Lyon), but other than that, I'm much more interested in diving into Lugo than in jaunting off to Munich for the weekend.
Obviously this is all going to evolve when I encounter the cold, rainy reality of my Actual Life in Spain; but for now this is what I'm focusing myself on.

P.S. Gwen's lie is that she is the rarest of beasts--a Siberian that fetches. Not with the single-minded intensity of those slobbery labs or Goldens, mind, but she brings her toys back more often than she doesn't.