For those of you that read my blog post about all the major changes that have been happening to me lately here in my lovely city of Seville, Spain (or, you know, those of you who talk to me in real life), you know that I have transitioned from being an au pair to teaching English full-time and living in my own apartment. It’s honestly what I wanted from the beginning but was afraid to take the leap, and now that I am doing it I can hardly believe I was able to get to this point all on my own. It involved a lot of insecure moments, anxiety, and a week of sleeping on an almost-stranger’s couch, but finally I am settled and happy and in a position that could not be more different from where I began.
That being said, there are still quite a few (small) things I struggle with on a daily basis, but it’s all part of the adjustment process. I love my apartment, situated in a beautiful, culture-filled neighborhood and just a short walk from the academy where I teach, but anyone who lives in an older apartment in Seville knows that they are built to withstand the scorching Andalusian summers and trap every bit of cold inside, which means even though it doesn’t get that cold here during the winter (rarely below 50 Fahrenheit), it still feels about 10 degrees cooler inside the icebox that is my living room. My flatmates laugh when I venture outside my bedroom in four layers and with my blanket wrapped around me like a fleece cape, but I’ve become spoiled by the Spanish sun and can no longer handle temperatures that in Geneseo would probably warrant the commencement of Breakfast Season, shorts, and frisbee on the Green.
In addition, I have found myself quite disoriented with some of the customs here that make me feel as if I have not only travelled across the ocean, but also back in time. The first of which being the absolute process that is involved in me using the hot water in my bathroom. Whenever I want to shower, I need to go into the kitchen, open the cabinet where we keep our gas tank, hold down the button to start up the gas, and then simultaneously press a different button until the flame ignites. Then, after I am done showering, I need to remember to turn the gas back off (this part I always forget, which results in my flatmates sending fire emojis to our group chat to not-so-subtly remind me that we’re living in the middle ages). Furthermore, if I want to use the hot water in the sink, I need to go through that entire process AND run the water in the shower, or else the water in the sink won’t heat up. That little nugget of know-how came from some experimentation.
Perhaps the strangest adjustment for me has been the clothes washing process. I can only vaguely remember a time in my life when people actually line-dried their clothing outside (fade to hazy childhood memories of me playing with wooden clothespins as my mom hung sheets over the frayed rope stretched between the trees in our back yard, very akin to that scene from the Stephen King movie It but with 100% less murderous clowns). That being said, maybe it’s very “first world” of me to say that hanging my clothes on the clothing line that extends from my kitchen window to the other side of the apartment building (see pic below) is not only extremely nerve-wracking, but also pretty impractical. In defense of that statement, I live on the top floor of my building (with no elevator), and if a piece of clothing were to fall, it would be quite a process to retrieve it from the little courtyard below. I once had a pillow case slip from my line onto the line of someone a few floors beneath me, and I immediately relinquished it as a sacrifice to the bedding gods, because I knew there was no way in hell I was going to go from door-to-door to try to figure out who was now in possession of my funda de almohada.
All that aside, I love living where I do and I love living with Spaniards who give me a daily opportunity to practice my Spanish, even if it occasionally means having to rewash clothing because it fell victim to the droppings of a passing bird. I love the trees that line Calle San Jacinto and that currently look like illustrations from a Dr. Seuss book. I love the little panadería across the street that once gave me free bread (“just pay later, no worries!”), because I forgot my wallet at home. I love the gym 5 minutes from my house where I take Sevillanas dance classes (edit: where I embarrass myself trying to dance Sevillanas). I love my walk to work, dodging fallen oranges from the trees that will bloom with sweet-smelling flowers in the spring. I love Tuesday afternoon picnics by the river, when the sun seems to have forgotten that it’s late January. I love Thursday night language exchanges near Las Setas, where I have met people from all over the world united by the common
struggle desire to learn Spanish. I miss my family and my friends (and bagels. Oh my god do I miss bagels), but I know that once I return, it will be after having had an adventure of a lifetime.