Monday, May 25, 2009

Is there anyone out there? Cos it's getting harder and harder to breathe

My photo of something in Madrid I stumbled upon..coughcough.

No hablo espanol. No entiendo espanol. I am one culture shocked little girlie. I finally understand why everyone thought I was so brave to buy a one-way ticket to a non-English speaking country. It appears I was not brave, but rather …ignorant. I feel like that one really ditzy friend everyone has, the one who can’t do anything themselves. I may have perfected the ‘don’t even think about it’ look but my ‘oh, I’m a helpless, foreigner- please take pity on me’ look isn’t far behind.

Getting here has certainly changed my thoughts on a number of things. Things I thought I felt, I don’t; things I thought I’d feel, I don’t. Don’t worry, that isn’t supposed to make much sense to anyone but me I suppose.

I’m starting a course tomorrow so hopefully some study with other useless foreigners; you always feel a bit better when there’s someone more useless than you. With any luck meeting people in the same situation as me will help me regain my awesome, which I possibly left on a playground in Melbourne. But enough of my whining, things are not all tedious; my French Canadian flat mate is singing along to REM, I have English Breakfast tea, I got my first ‘guapaaa’ catcall today (which I pretended not to hear whilst smirking), I can look down onto the street and see little old ladies walking their dogs in high heels.

I guess I didn’t expect things to be so much different from Australia with the exception of the language, but it is the little things which have thrown me- people walking on the right side of the street rather than the left, weird supermarket baskets, doors which I can’t figure out how to open. See, hopeless! I need a personal care worker.

The night I arrived at my new flat my Canadian flat mate took me out for tapas in Sol, the heart of Madrid. At least catching the metro is something I can now do without my hand being held. She did the ordering with her ‘not very good’ Spanish, which is a million times better than mine, and I held onto my handbag with the vigilance of someone who has read all the guidebook warnings. I can see how easy it must be for newcomers to this city to get totally, utterly and completely (yay for using different adjectives for the same meaning) trashed, drunk, smashed, tanked, intoxicated, pissed, inebriated…okay okay. The plan was to go to a couple of bars and then a restaurant, but since every drink comes with tapas, I was full by round two…and somewhat trashed, drunk, smashed, tanked…. slightly tipsy. I also hadn’t had a decent night’s sleep in four days and eaten little else but bread and ham since I arrived in Spain; I can’t blame Spain for this, but my complete fear of entering one of the many dimly lit tapas bars, which seem to be almost exclusively filled with males, and attempting to order in Spanish.

Wow, check out my rambling. I am writing this from my room, which doesn’t have Internet or a television, so pre-emptive blogging is my escape for the day. Hopefully I will be able to post it from my school tomorrow, which should have wireless. It’s a Sunday, everything is closed and the Spaniards all leave their houses and take to the streets with their families and dogs. So. Many. Dogs. It’s 8pm and still light and there are children playing with a ball in the park outside my flat. There are always people in the street, even though this isn’t really a major residential area. All ages are out at all times of the day, little old grannies take the metro at midnight, groups of men wake me up at 4am singing loudly outside my, nobody is serenading me yet.

The word that I learnt today: La impresora - Printer

My room.


  1. Cute lamp!

    Wow, it's kinda cool that you're in Madrid, and you've already gotten 'somewhat trashed, drunk, smashed, tanked…. slightly tipsy'. REALLY good effort! =)

    Hope everything goes well at your course, and the pressure of speaking Spanish eases for a while x

  2. Sounds amazing Te, you will be foot solid soon enough I reckon. Keep up the good work intrepid one...x

  3. i think it's time to change your blogger profile. you are no longer 'moving to spain in may'. although this little 'issue' is probably the least of your worries right now...

    SO...anyway, spain sounds amazing. i wanna read more.

  4. Sounds NOT bad at all...enjoy your local dear!!

  5. Wow, culture shock and a half - enjoying your adventures immensely :)

  6. Hi guys, thankyou for your comments! adreamer: Ha! thanks for pointing that out, it's changed now.

  7. I´m going to love reading your adventure because it reminds me so much of when I did the same so many years ago.

    I totally get it.

    After about a week here I started feeling depressed and didn´t want to leave my room and I just beat myself up over it because I had built it up so much and I was supposed to be having the time of my life. That was culture shock. It went away after a couple of weeks of being down and feeling sick and scared and not wanting to leave my house. Later I was able to recognize it. I hope you don´t have it as rough as I did though.

    The differences are funny because you notice a million things at first, then not so much, then you start to notice the subtle, more important differences over time here.

    I´m so excited for you. just remember that you don´t have to, nor is it possible to enjoy every single moment that you are here. you´re going to live here and there will be good days and bad days. But then you´ll look back and be grateful for both of them.

    Geez, I hope that didn´t sound like a lecturing old lady.

  8. well I was just as shell shocked as an 18 year old moving to London where they spoke english and I had somewhere to live so I hear you Te. I appreciate that you are doing a course, but if you need to relax and feel even more superior to people who cant and WONT speak spanish, you could always hightail it down to Malaga for a week or two?

    Get the suitcase sorted too. You don't need so much stuff. You just dont. Ship it or sell it or donate it.