Reflection · Special

21st on the 21st

It’s my 21st birthday!
This time for real.
I’ve already had 2 celebrations: one in a club with my friends, and the other with my family, so for the longest time I’ve felt like I was already 21, but today it’s happening for real.

It’s not directly related to my year abroad in Spain, but I figure this is a good place to write down my hopes and goals for my 21st year of life.

  1. I hope to be at peace with my appearance, more specifically my hair.
    I have a love-hate relationship with it. When it’s straight, I like it for a day and then stress out about the amount of heat damage I’m going to have. Yet, when it’s curly, (especially when you’re trying to rock day 3 or 4 hair), I always feel super unattractive and fed up. I always thought I was almost made of steel when it came to being influenced by the media, especially social media, but recently I’ve realised how the euro-centric beauty ideal of long straight hair has managed to seep itself into my conscience. The idea that afro hair like mine needs to be relaxed, pressed or covered up with a wig or weave, has me all kinds of fucked up about my own beauty, appearance and my relationship with my hair.
    So yeah, long story short, I want to be able to love and appreciate my hair and thus my appearance as a whole.
  2. I hope to become more patient.
    I think I’ve mentioned before that my Granddad is literally an angel. He has an abundant amount of patience for anything and for everyone. I want to be more like him in being more calm, understanding and kind.
  3. My goal for the year is to become fluent in Spanish.
    Okay so this one is year abroad related. It’s said that when fully immersed in a language is should take 7 months to become totally fluent. Seeing as I’m here for at least 9 months, there’s absolutely no excuse for this not happening. I’m only 2 weeks in and uni is definitely a bit better than the dire first week, so I’m hopeful that this goal will be achieved.
  4. My goal is to get my body back.
    So I’m sure some would consider this a bit superficial but, ya know, don’t currr. Everyone has that thing about themselves that they think is their best feature. Some say eyes, hair, etc. Mine is my body and right now it’s not the way I want it to be. I want my abs back, I want to feel cute in clothes, and I want to be able to walk up the stairs to my flat without passing out and having an asthma-attack half way through the journey.
  5. My goal is, and I hope, to live my best life.
    The other day I was thinking about the fact that so far, for 21 years, (my entire life that I have memory of), I’ve been in institutional education. I thought to myself, ‘I can’t wait to finish uni, have a year doing nothing where I can actually live life, before having to find a job’. Then I thought, come on now, you need to live your best life now. NOW IS THE TIME.
    I want to travel around Spain this year and discover different places (and foods lol). I want to meet good, kind, positive people and keep only good vibes around me. I want to experience and appreciate my friends and family. I want to go looking for adventure and find it.
    Basically, I just want to have fun.


During · Nights Out

Quick Catch-Up


I think I left off on Saturday night in my last post.
Our Zumba class was indeed cancelled, so we decided to go for a quick drink instead. Seeing as were all going out, we thought it would be a good opportunity to put the dishwasher to use.
Sweet Jesus.
After a good 40 minutes of pushing buttons, unscrewing and screwing things and passing the instruction manuel around in English, Spanish and Italian, we resorted to a bit of DIY and sello-taped a peg onto the ‘on’ button. Honestly, I still don’t understand what its problem is or why 4 university educated girls couldn’t figure it out; but it was actually so jokes.

Fast forward to Sunday, I made my way into the city to meet up with friends to go to the last Terrazassion of the Summer. It was such a beaut afternoon with such good vibes. We bumped into another friend from Leeds and one of his friends, so after our feet had pruned to within an inch of their lives, we headed to dinner.
I couldn’t help but feel a massive pang of jealousy of all the people living in the city. Everything’s so easy and close with the metro, they can see one another whenever they want and there’s so much so explore in Madrid. I felt like I was massively missing out but I guess I just have to remember why I picked a smaller town in the first place: improve my Spanish, cheaper living costs and force myself to make new, non-English, friends.

Monday came and I didn’t have any uni classes, just a test for the language course I’ve signed up for. I didn’t know we had to have an oral test too, which put me on edge. You would think that now I’m supposed to be speaking Spanish everyday, this wouldn’t bother me, but somehow my speaking being assessed had me literally shaking. Obviously, it really wasn’t bad at all, so my friend and I rewarded ourselves with a shopping trip. I was meant to buy some new summery dresses and t-shirts because my summer wardrobe is appropriate for an english ‘summer’, (i.e., Autumn), but instead I came home with one single top, a skirt, a jumper and a new purse. OOPS.
After that my flatmates and I went to a ‘latin rhythms’ dance class. It was quite funny though, there were no boys so it was just us girls dancing together. Overall, it was really fun. I haven’t danced properly in a while so felt like a bit of me.

Nothing else to report today. I had classes this morning and the lecturers had powerpoints, (I’ve never been so happy to see a powerpoint in my life), so things were far easier to follow.

During · Reflection

Snaps and Reflection of the Week


Just some random snaps from the week.
It’s just a little over my first week here and it has been challenging. Don’t get me wrong, I knew it was going to be, but I’ve actually struggled in areas I didn’t think would have been an issue. I was definitely under the illusion that my Spanish was far better than it was, (newsflash, I’m actually shit), so communicating with literally anyone has been super difficult. I think I’ve retreated into myself a little bit which is exactly what I do not want to do, as that’s not going to solve anything.
I don’t know if it’s subconscious stress and slight anxiety, but this week I have been tired constantly. I’ve taken the ‘siesta’ culture, (I’ve noticed that some of the shops and restaurants close for maybe 2 hours, from 3-5pm, but I’m not sure this stereotype we have that everyone goes home at lunch to sleep is actually legit), to a new level, and have had a nap every day since I’ve been here. Even when I wake up, I’m still absolutely exhausted. It means I can’t be social and don’t feel like myself at all. I honestly feel like that super boring flatmate who’s just in her room all the time; like the ghost of the flat.

In terms of things I’ve actually achieved, I would say that right now it feels like nothing. I’m trying not to see that negatively; it’s still only the first week so I have a lot of growing, learning and developing to do still.

For next week, I want to NOT BE SO DAMN TIRED. So I’m going to up my iron intake and try to get into a bit of a better nighttime routine. I’m going to try to be a bit more social and make friends. I need to try and speak to people and get rid of the fear that I’m chatting shit or that I’m gonna get halfway through the sentence and not know the word for something. I may aswell just give it a good go. Better an ‘oh well’ than a ‘what if’, amerite?

// Algunas fotos de la semana.
Ahora, he estado en España por un poquito más de una semana y me ha desafiado mucho. Yo sabía que todo no iba a ser 
fácil, pero me he costado en la areas que no me anticipaban.
Pensaba que mi idioma español que bien, pero la realidad es que yo hablo como mierda, entonces comunicar con alguien ha sido muy difícil. Me he puesto muy tímida, que no es ideal porque no va a resolver nada.
Además, estoy cansada constantemente. He tomado las siestas cada día, pero todavía estoy agotada. Esto significa que no puedo ser social y no siento como mí mismo en absoluto. En este momento, soy la compañera de piso que nadie ve nunca; como la fantasma del piso.

En cuanto a lo que he logrado, en este momento, diría que he logrado nada. Siento que no es algo negativo. Es la primera semana entonces tengo mucho tiempo para crecer, desarrollar y aprender.

La semana que viene, no querría estar cansada, entonces aumentaré la cantidad de vitaminas que tomé y crear una rutina por la noche. Intentaré ser más social y conocer a nueva gente. Tengo que perder el miedo de hablar en español, es importante que yo intente.


All the Carbs


If you’re ever feeling a bit down, tired, lethargic or just a bit meh, get yourself some pizza. Listen, there is nothing that some fat, grease, oil, shitloads of cheese and ALL the carbs can’t fix.
After having the most delightful pizza last night, I woke up this morning like a new woman. I wrote my to do list and smashed. that. shit. outI’ve done my first load of laundry, changed my sheets, done a food shop, sorted plans for a lil fiesta in the city tomorrow and I am just about to wash my hair. The Zumba class we were supposed to go to tonight, isn’t happening anymore so I’m not 100% on what tonights plan is. I might suggest watching a film or maybe just some TV together.

To be honest, I really have nothing interesting to say today but I’ll bless you all with a photo of the dear pizza, that has fully changed my life.

Not all heroes wear capes guys; not all heroes wear capes.

// Si tu sientes deprimido, cansado, letárgico, tienes que comer una pizza. No hay nada que alguno graso, aceite, mucho queso y todo los carbohidratos no pueden resolver.
Después de comer la pizza la más maravillosa anoche, me desperté esta mañana, una chica nueva. Escribí una lista con tareas y LO HE HECHO TODO. He lavar mi ropa, cambiado las sabanas, ido a compras, organizado mañana y estoy a punto de lavar mi pelo. La clase de Zumba que estábamos a asistir, no pasará, entonces no sé lo que haremos. 
Quizás veremos una película o la tele juntos.

No hay nada de decir hoy, pero os voy a bendecir con una imagen de la apreciada pizza que ha cambiado mi vida.

No todos los héroes llevan capa.

Nights Out

First Night Out

So last night was fun!
There was a Karaoke Erasmus event so my friends and flatmates went along. Not to sing of course, but to have a few too many drinks and meet some new people.
It was definitely an experience. I wouldn’t say a bar kind of environment is the best way to meet people, especially seeing as it’s hard enough to hear and understand people normally, without the added difficulty of speaking a foreign language. This naturally led to most people finding those who spoke their first language and stucking with them. I wouldn’t say this was a bad thing, it was all about meeting new people, but I’m excited to start my language course where there will be others, like me (i.e., those who apparently can’t speak Spanish), from all over trying to learn Spanish.
I didn’t meet anyone new, I guess that’s almost the curse of always wanting to be on the dancefloor, but it was a bonding experience for me and the other Erasmus girls in my flat. It was the first time we’d been out together and we danced together for the majority of the night so that was really nice.
I came home early, (Disha, is that really you?), with my flatmates who had early starts this morning, as the others I was with had thought I’d left and went to another bar when I was actually just in the toilet. This wasn’t a bad thing to be fair. I’ve run out of data on my phone so would have been walking aimlessly around Madrid, alone, trying to find my way home.

Today has been very slow. My mood is super low but we’re going to go out for pizza for dinner so I’m sure that’ll perk me up. Tomorrow, I need to email Leeds about my module changes, do laundry, cleaning and maybe arrange myself a bit better for the week ahead in uni.

// Anoche yo me pasó bien!
Hubo una noche de Karaoke para los estudiantes Erasmus, entonces fui con mis amigas y mis compañeras de piso.
Diría que, el bar no es el mejor lugar para conocer a nueva gente debido a que es muy difícil oír lo que dicen las personas normalmente sin la dificultad extra de un idioma extranjero. La mayoría de personas encontró las que hablaron el mismo idioma. Por eso, yo estoy entusiasmado empezar mi curso de lenguaje: porque habrá las personas, como yo, de una variedad de países, intentando aprender Español.
Yo no conocí a alguien nuevo, porque yo prefiero bailar en vez de hablar. Vine a casa temprano con mis amigas de piso que tenían que ir a uni temprano.

Hoy ha sido muy lento. Mi humor no esta bien hoy, pero comeremos pizza para la cena entonces esto debería levanter mis ánimos. Mañana, tengo que mandar a Leeds mis cursos nuevos, hacer las tareas domésticas y prepararme para la semana siguiente.

During · University

Day 2


Not much to report really today, it was just as horrible as yesterday. I made a massive error with my outfit this morning. The mornings here are F R E S H, so note to self: wear a hoodie when you leave the house.

Again my friends skipped this mornings classes, and again, I had already gotten up, showered, dressed, made my lunch and was eating breakfast by the time they told me so I went in alone. Much like yesterday, I couldn’t understand what was going on. My lecturer for American History speaks so softly and swallows the end of her words, so next lesson I’m going to sit right at the front, (like a keeno), and on the opposite side to the window. You don’t realise it when you’re amongst your first language, but any little noise causes a lapse in concentration, and then you’ve completely lost track of what’s being said. I’m super hopeful though that things will improve, (it can’t get much worse lol). I managed to pluck up the courage to ask one of the Spanish girls to send me her notes though so, hooray, progress.

I have noticed some differences between my uni here in Spain and Leeds back in England. The ‘lecture theatres’ are not lecture theatres that we know at all. They’re more like classrooms and still have blackboards. (Well, not quite blackboards because they’re green, but you still write on them in chalk. Greenboards?). The set-up too is far more like school, than what I have experienced during my time at uni. The number of people in lectures can’t be more than more about 50, and everything’s far more interactive. In Leeds, if a teacher asks a question or asks if anyone has any questions, the whole room goes dead silent but here, throughout the ‘lecture’, (it feels more like a lesson), people will ask questions and when a question is asked, students are keen to answer. It might be because this is a small uni, I don’t know, I’ll have to compare my experience with friends who are in far bigger ones.

I honestly don’t know how the Spanish do it. Most people start dinner at about 10, and dinners here aren’t rushed like in the UK, so they probably don’t finish until about 12. Yet everyone’s up for school/uni/work for 9am the next morning bursting with energy. I’m really struggling to wait until 10 o’clock at night to eat, so I’m trying to eat half an hour later each night to ease myself into this late night and long day Spanish lifestyle.

// No tengo mucho para decir. Hoy fue tanto horrible como ayer. Además, tengo que llevar una sudadera por las mañanas porque son frías.

Otra vez, mi amigas se saltaron las clases por la mañana, entonces fui sola. No pude entender lo que estaba pasando. No se da cuenta de esto en su lengua materna, pero los sonidos pequeños afectan su concentración y luego ha perdido el sentido de lo que dice el profesor. Sin embargo, siento optimista que las cosas mejorarán (no puedan ser peor, lol). Logré pedir a un estudiante de mandarme sus apuntes, entonces, progresión!

Me he dado cuenta de algunas diferencias entre mi uni aquí y mi uni en Inglaterra  Aquí es más similar a la escuela. Las clases consisten en no más de 50 personas, los estudiantes preguntan y contestan a preguntas y todo es mucho más como una comunidad interactiva. Es posible que esto sea debido al hecho que esta universidad es pequeño; tendré que preguntar a mis amigos que asisten establecimientos más grandes.

Es difícil para mi comer a una hora muy tarde. Entonces, estoy intentando comer una media hora más tarde cada noche para introducirme a este estilo de vida española.

During · University

Starting Uni

So imagine how you felt starting uni/starting a new school or something like that for the first time. You’re nervous about classes; what are the teachers like? Are the modules you’ve picked going to be any good? Will you make friends? Then multiply that by 100, seeing as the teachers all speak 100mph Spanish, with phrases and colloquialisms that no one ever teaches you in language classes. Everyone around you, that you could possibly make friends with, speaks Spanish with even more colloquialisms and even faster than the professor. Multiply all this again by 1000, because you are, unfortunately, a really shy person. If you followed the calculation correctly, your answer will be me this morning starting classes here alone.

Today we only had introductory lectures so a lot of people skipped the morning ones, including my friends (from England), but I was already up and ready this morning so figured I would go and get a feel for things… The feels are not good ones. Today is a really long day aswell, 9am-7pm, with a small gap for some lunch. I imagine the first week will be like this, but hopefully once I’ve got my bearings on everything, things will get better. I guess this is all character building.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom. The weather was beautiful, so during my gap me and my friend from Leeds sat in the sun. There’s been another turn of events with my modules (boo),  but I actually think it might finally be sorted! Things are already looking up, (yay).

// Entonces, se imagina sus sentimientos cuando se ha empezado la univesidad por primera vez, o una nueva escuela. Se pone nervioso. Las classes van a ser buenas? Los profesores van a ser amable? Se va a conocer a nuevos amigos? Luego, multipica esto por 100, porque nadie habla su idioma. El profesor y los estudiantes hablan en una manera bastante coloquial (que no nos enseña en clases de lengua), y muy rapido. Multiplica todo esto por 1000 otra vez, porque se esta una persona muy timida. Esto es como fue mi mañana cuando empecé las classes aqui.

Hoy, solo tenemos las clases de presentación, Entonces muchas personas no vinieron a clases, como mis amigas ingleses, pero esta mañana estaba lista para ir. Tengo un día largo hoy, 9-19, con una pausa por la comida. Me imagino que esta semana será dura, pero espero que cuando yo tenga mi orientación, todo será bien.

Todo el día no fue mal. El tiempo fue muy bonito, entonces mi amiga de Leeds y yo tomamos el sol during la pausa de comida. Pienso que he organizado finalmente mis cursos, entonces, diría que todo ya esta mejorando!