This is my last week in Miranda, and here are my reflections on my time here.
First, the good stuff. I can now say with confidence that I speak Spanish and I’ve gotten to see a whole lot of the world. There are also lots of things I’m going to miss about life here.
- Bachelor’s and bachelorette’s parties. The bride/groom and his/her friends dress up in really silly costumes (like dressing up in a giant diaper) and walk around embarrassing themselves from bar to bar.
- Running into people on the street. Every time I leave my apartment, I always see someone I know.
- Eating lunch at 2 or later and eating dinner around 8:30. I also don’t know what I’m going to do without the siesta!
- Family is a #1 priority. I think it wouldn’t hurt for us to be a little less individualistic in the U.S.
- COLACAO. This is a hot chocolate brand. Yummy, cheap, and available everywhere (but not in bars in Barcelona)!
- Just going into a bar when you have nothing to do. If you have 15 minutes of free time, why not go into one of the 10 bars around and have a coffee or beer?
- Cheap wine and food. At a bar, una copa de vino = 1.40€
- Cheap rent
- The schools go on a lot of field trips
- Tortilla. Hey, but don’t we have those in the U.S.? Not unless you go to a Spanish restaurant because a tortilla here is an egg and potato pancake. It’s a good thing I like it considering all my other options for bar pintxos are ham and shellfish.
- Truly friendly people
- Gorgeous and diverse countryside
Ok, now the bad stuff. I’ve already complained enough about what I don’t like about Spanish culture. At this point, I really don’t care. It is what it is and, aside from its effect on the school system (lack of work ethic), doesn’t really affect me too much. Yet, overall, this year has been very hard for me. Probably one of the hardest years of my life. And the reasons for this probably have very little to do with Spain.
- Teaching is simply not the job for me and I spend 25 hours a week doing it. A few classes a week I wish I had a gun so I could just end it right there (my life not theirs), but for the most part, the classes are pretty bearable or even pleasant. But it never makes me feel happy or fulfilled. So 9 months of mediocrity = feeling mediocre.
- As I’ve talked about several times, the transition out of college was much more of a shock than I expected. Confronting an immediate, uncertain future, a lack of control over the direction of my life, and doing so in a foreign country has made me feel extreme anxiety, helplessness, loneliness, and weakness.
- And finally, this is something I haven’t mentioned at all because I didn’t want it to be true (and because it’s personal), but I believe now that it is. I’ve been fooled again and believed that a guy was sincere in his feelings for me. Since January I’ve been in a weird limbo, vacillating between happiness/excitement and frustration regarding my situation with him. A month ago I finally had my first final straw, and my last final straw arrived in my inbox this morning. What I don’t understand about the whole thing is that I’m not clingy, nor crazy, nor jealous, nor a bitch and I’m actually a good person who has a lot of interesting things going on, and yet this keeps happening to me. Of all faults to have, I’m happy that mine entail trusting people and believing in their goodness, but it certainly gets me in trouble. (For those of you who consider me a pessimist, this is why I don’t see myself that way). The problem is, I either trust people or I don’t. I can’t half-erect a wall between myself and others. I need to give you everything or give you nothing. So, in a sense what happened was my fault, but I still contend that I have a reasonable right to expect people to act decently, as that is how I act myself. Anyway, I am certain now that this incident with this unnamed boy has been a huge factor in my dissatisfaction, depression, and loneliness.
What can I learn from all this? Life is short. I’ve wasted too much time being down, although I certainly have made several attempts at picking myself up. Maybe I should have admitted to myself that this guy was actually getting to me instead of pretending like I was too strong to be affected. Better to confront your problems head-on and go from there. But who knows? It certainly wasn’t the only factor in my psychological uneasiness.
What else? I’ve learned a lot this year. Maybe I’ve changed? I’ve done a lot of (probably too much) thinking. I am very happy with my decision to come here and it’s been an invaluable opportunity. I have no idea how this year will feel to me looking back on it from the future, but I hope to gain some clarity on that issue in the next few months. I’ll keep you posted.