One Month Down

Today is the one month anniversary of arriving to Spain! It seems to me that it has been longer, because our first couple weeks here felt like they dragged on endlessly. But as I said last post, things are picking up! To celebrate (and summarize) I’ve compiled a list of 3 things I miss from the good ol’ USA and 3 things I don’t miss. Let’s start with the things I miss… *family and friends are obviously numero uno, so they’re not included.

1. My favorite restaurants

I can’t talk about this for long without getting seriously upset… so let’s make this quick! I’m a picky eater simple person and I like simple foods that I have always liked! I don’t mind broadening my horizons on occasion, like when I ate a fish head in Ecuador or last week when I had to try the sheep stomach I accidentally ordered. However, I crave the foods I have always loved back home, and sometimes it’s overwhelming. Olive Garden, BWW, SmashBurger, Ichiban, George’s, IHOP, etc. just don’t happen here. Most places are holes-in-the-wall that I know seasoned travelers are alllll about, but I’m just sayin’ a girl misses her main kicks. With that being said, the past two weeks have been filled with amazing food finds and I’m sure there will be many, many more. Last night we stopped at a pinxto place and almost ordered black pudding, but caught our mistake and instead went all out with skewers of prawn and baby tomatoes, pork meat and pineapple, and pork sirloin with foie. There is delicious food here, I just miss my old favorites. That is all.

2. Knowing where I’m going and how to get there

Funny, right? I have the main bus to and from my schools down (great, since I’ve been doing it for 4 weeks), but even the most simple directions to places can confuse me. For example, which bus to take to the small villages surrounding Logrono if they aren’t posted at the bus station. When I get there, what street was that thing I wanted to see on again? Is there a map around? Even more frustrating– wandering around Logrono and seeing a store you would like to return to. I see school supplies, kitchen supplies, cute clothing botiques, then later I can’t remember what street they were on to save my life. I end up wandering around trying to find them (and stumbling on new places), then when (or if I ever) reach my destination, it will be during siesta. And the pattern continues.

3. English

OH YEA LET’S MOVE TO SPAIN AND “IMPROVE” OUR SPANISH LOL! …Okay that’s a little harsh, but this will definitely be on my list for several more months, if not longer. Do not underestimate the importance of language, people. I’m trying and the teachers compliment me on doing better each week, but I feel like it’s taking one step forward and two steps back each day. One teacher keeps giving me books in Spanish (plus grapes/apples from her family’s vineyard– score!), which is so so nice, but it takes me a longggg time to get through a page. She gave me a children’s book about wine harvest in La Rioja that is in Spanish/English and Jay and I have been reading it. The English translations are hilarious. We’re talking phrases like, “suddenly eclipsed by a corpulent shadow” or “albeit in spirit.” Quite the children’s book!

Now for the things I don’t miss about the United States. It’s better here in Spain.

1. Driving

Anyone who knows me well knows that I should have had my driver’s license taken away long ago for overly-aggressive driving. I have a itty bitty problem with road rage, and it’s better if I just… don’t. Pedestrian life has been somewhat of a therapy for me. Four weeks in and I see improvement (besides the confusion with directions and all that)!

2. Sorority clothing

Hate to say it, girls! There is more to life than Lily Pulitzer koozies and Ralph Lauren. Recently, some things on Facebook and Pinterest have been a struggle to take in. I still like the preppy style, and of course I loved a little srat in my time, but being away from it all in the oh-so-fashionable Europe has made me cringe each time I see something monogrammed. There is SO much fashion and shopping even in the small town of Logrono. It just makes me wonder– why is everyone trying so hard to look just alike? I’m not trying to hate, I’m just saying I don’t miss it. *obviously ZTA stuff is excluded from this rant, I’m referring to the fratty “style” in general

3. Being carded or judged at a bar… Ever

No more being frowned at for entering a bar (even though I’m 23)! No more need to make excuses if you want to drink before 5:00! After you pass the 21st hump (and the 22nd) in the USA, being asked to see your ID quickly becomes close to the most annoying thing on the planet. In Spain I’m pretty sure if you’re above 15/16 no one asks any questions or gives you dirty looks. And that’s nice, because after a day full of overly-excited-that-“Corney”-is-in-their-class-today children, you just need a glass of wine. The kids are actually really adorable, it just takes more energy and enthusiasm than I can muster, sometimes.

And that’s that! This has been an interesting week in Logrono. I got to see some main parts of Najera and learned a few things from fellow teachers about the harvest season. They are so helpful and kind to me. In Najera, I get to talk with the school psychologist about her work, and she is currently trying to rearrange my schedule so I can leave earlier in the day and ride home with her. So not only do I just have to work three days a week, but now my hours will be shorter. Que suerte!
This week Jay has had an experience with strikes going on at his high school. One day the students were on strike, and today it was the teachers’ turn. We both had the day off besides our private lessons and went for a stroll to discover a protest marching down Gran Via (mostly teachers and students). They’re protesting a new educational reform, but I honestly haven’t heard much about it because it doesn’t affect the primary schools that I work at, as far as I know. Jay can write about it in his upcoming guest post! Tomorrow morning we are off to Bilbao and San Sebastian. Stay posted for the photos!