Here I am, back in Madrid!
After I arrived, I immediately settled right in to my old routine. It felt good, and odd. Like I was never gone, and that’s how it feels when I’m home too–like I never left. So it’s like my life at home pauses while I’m here and my life here was on pause while I was home. The only difference is that I forgot Spanish. Yes, I was gone for less than three weeks. Yes, my Spanish had gotten pretty good before I left. Yes, this makes me nervous for when I leave Spain for good.
I could possibly blame it on jet lag. My roommate picked me up from the airport and was telling me about lots of things. I understood her fine, but giving any insight on my opinion was impossible. This went on for most of the week. People at work asked me questions, told me things, and I felt like they were speaking to me in code and I could respond only in the simplest way possible.
I’m getting better now and catching up to where I was. It’s funny, language. Some people are so good at it, some people can’t do it at all. There is an episode of the Simpsons where Bart gets kidnapped and is in France. He’s there for a long time, and keeps trying to talk to people in English. Finally someone says to him, “Any reasonably intelligent boy would have picked up the language fluently by now,” and then a while later he can speak fluently…it just turns out he was less than reasonably intelligent. I relate to Bart.
However, I’m doing OK. I met a guy the other night who was British. We were talking about teaching English in Spain and learning Spanish. He said he was really bad when he first came, then casually said, “But I’m fluent now.” I said, “Wow, really? You’d call yourself fluent?” And he said, “Well, yeah, I can speak it now. But there are some tenses I don’t even bother to learn…like the subjunctive…who needs it?” And that’s when I realized that different people have different ideas of fluency.
OK! That was a tangent! Anyway, Madrid. I feel really good about being back. Better than I ever thought I would. I think the transition this time was MUCH MUCH easier because I’m already settled in at a great apartment, I already know the lay of the land, and have a great group of friends. Also, I missed the hustle and bustle of the city while I was away. I also think that I’m not taking it for granted as much now because the next time I get on a plane to go home, I won’t be coming back. It makes it a lot easier to appreciate the experience.
I also have internet in my apartment now! Yay! Access to the outside world, and plenty of time to write blogs.
Like I was starting to tell you before the subject change, when I got back, I immediately settled back into my old routine. I went to work, and was actually really happy to be there. Don’t tell anyone, but I think I secretly like my job. During lunch I went grocery shopping, did homework, went to the bank, and picked up my official SPANISH IDENTITY CARD. That’s right. No more illegal status for me. I am legit.
It only took Spain four out of the ten months I will be here to process said card. What are the benefits, you ask? Well….there aren’t many. I took the pending paperwork with me when I went home because I feared there might be some questions about my passport when I tried to re-enter the country with an expired visa (there weren’t.) So, other than that, the only thing it’s helped me do is get a better rate on my cell phone. So I guess that’s important. And I guess it will allow me to feel more confident when traveling outside the European Union that I won’t get deported.
I have lots and lots of work to do right now as the second quarter of my Master’s classes is coming to a close and the rough draft of my thesis is due at the end of the month. On top of all that, I’m really trying to get my act together when it comes to traveling to places I’ve never been before; look forward to a future post on that!
In the meantime, I’m trying to live by two new philosophies which I will paraphrase from a book I’m reading that I think paraphrased them from another book:
1. If you live your life worrying about what other people think, you will always be their prisoner.
2. If you realize that all you have is all you need, you will always be rich.