Thursday, February 16, 2012

Snow in Spain

It's really hard not to laugh at Spain's inability to handle cold and snow. I know they're not used to it, but really, when I see articles like this one in the paper, I giggle. "Fourteen (of Spain's 17) regions are on alert because of low temperatures." The article goes on to say that the lowest of these low temperatures was -15 Celsius (about 0 Fahrenheit) on a mountaintop somewhere. 

I admit, I have a personal gripe with Spain's inability to keep it together when there's snow. The photo below illustrates how "bad" the snow was in Dec. 2009 when I got stranded in Madrid Barajas Airport for 4 days because almost all flights going out were canceled.

Madrid, Dec. 2009

But really, when you went to university in a place with snowdrifts that look like this:

Maine, 2008

And you're from a place where you feel the need to dress like Ralphie's little brother to go outside, kind of like this little guy:

Wisconsin, 2009

...all of this freaking out seems a little silly. However, I admit there isn't even snow here, so the extent of my experience with people losing it is from reading the paper and also from a few years ago. 

...and I also admit that they may have converted me on the temperature thing, because now anytime anyone says it's going to be below 0 Celsius, I say "brrrrrrr." But I live in a piso that has no heat, so maybe you won't fault me on that one. 

So I guess what I'm saying is that I'm half laughing at them being silly and half worrying that I'm turning into one of them.

Of course, perhaps none of "them" have heat in their apartments either! I guess Spain isn't SO silly after all. But maybe they should practice dealing with snow...just in case.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A State of Mind

Something I learned recently (that took me long enough to figure out) is that happiness is a state of mind. It's not about what happens to you, it's about your attitude towards those occurrences. There are no truly good things or truly bad things; everything is perception. So about a month ago, I decided to have a positive attitude towards life, and suddenly life seemed better. Is that a coincidence? I don't think so.

Lately, I've been busy. I've been traveling and making new friends and practicing Spanish and just learning things. And that's awesome, because when I'm not busy I get bored, and when I'm bored I get sad. So no sadness for me recently, yay!

A quick random example of something I learned the other day: when Spaniards say chay-toes, they mean Cheetos. Shouldn't have taken me this long to figure that out, did. Cheers to learning something new every day, be it important knowledge or not.

So anyway, here are some photos from a trip I took recently to the Cañones del Sil and the Playa de las Catedrales.

I enjoy the colors on these hillsides--and the fog and trees make me feel like the world I'm living in is primeval.

More fog. I've grown very accustomed to fog since I began living here!

So cool--a spiderweb covered with frost.

What looks like steps carved into these hillsides is actually vineyards, which is pretty neat.

A church in Lugo, a city a few hours away

Cute seaside fishing town

At the Playa de las Catedrales. I love the way we pop out of this picture!

I'm told this archway at the Playa de las Catedrales is famous, so here you go. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

El Próximo Año

I thought it was about time I shared my plans for the next year (because you were all so curious, I know). I was a flip-flopper there for a while, one minute deciding I wanted to go home and the next that I wanted to stay. But I had an epiphany a few weeks ago while sitting in a café relaxing that I would be a fool to go home now and trade in this laid-back lifestyle for one of stress and misery. I had thought that I needed to go start my real life, but I now realize that this can BE my real life, if I so choose.

Plus I still have so much to learn! My Spanish has not improved as much as I'd like, and I still have a hard time understanding my coworkers when they talk amongst each other. I can't go home before I've fixed that problem! And I haven't made as many Spanish friends as I'd like, and I haven't traveled to all my dream destinations.

So now I've decided to stay for another year.

The next question (the one I've been ruminating on for weeks now) is WHERE exactly to go next year. I have three options: a) stay at my same school, b) stay in Galicia but move to another school (which I don't get any say in), or c) move to another region entirely.

At first I had thought it would be good to move to another region and learn about other parts of Spain, but then I thought about how much easier it would be to stay in Galicia. My bank would already be set up and I (hopefully) wouldn't have to reapply for a visa in America--I could just renew my foreigner card here in Spain. Plus staying would increase my feeling of being settled, because the first few weeks wouldn't be a blur of confusion and being lost all the time, and because I could build on the small friendships I've already made here.

So now the decision is whether to stay in my same school or not. There are advantages and disadvantages to both options, of course. If I were to stay, I'd already know the people who could give me rides to work, I could make better friends with my coworkers, I'd already know the school schedule and how things work there, and I'd already know the kids and could build on my relationships with them from this year.

However...if I were to move to another school, maybe I could get a schedule that wasn't biweekly and could therefore do private lessons because I'd be free at the same time every week, maybe I could be just in a primary school instead of in a primary and a secondary, maybe my commute to work would be way shorter (instead of the 45 minutes that it is now), and maybe I could make even better friends with coworkers because we'd actually live in the same city (almost all my coworkers who are around my age live in Ourense; I live in Vigo).

The unfortunate thing is that if I choose to move schools, I have no idea what I'm going to get. I can try to ask to be placed in Vigo, and I can ask for a primary school, but there's no guarantees. I could end up with something worse than I have now or way better than I have now.

So I just keep on deliberating, back and forth and back and forth. Does anyone have any good advice that will help me make a decision?

Here is an unrelated awesome picture that my friend took for me last weekend in the Playa de las Catedrales, a cool beach in the north of Galicia.