As part of my languages degree at university, I have just moved to Santander in Spain to teach for nine months. Despite a few preparatory lectures, you never know what to expect until you arrive in your new country. These are the 5 main things that I have found in my first month here:
- Everybody you know at home is very jealous of you.
During the summer holidays, when I told my friends that I would be moving to Spain, they were extremely envious. 'Aren’t you lucky?' 'Can you take me with you?' By the end of the summer, I was boasting about going. Which annoyed them even more.
- No matter how much preparation you do, you will encounter problems.
Sadly you will always find someone who doesn’t understand your Spanish. You will always have one day of the week where you miss home. You will always find something that makes you feel like an outsider.
- Because life is very different.
There will be changes that you don’t like. I have a gas hob in my new flat, which is very strange to me. The shops all close at 2 p.m.
But there will be many changes that you love. Spanish food is much nicer and much cheaper than English food. The weather here is much better. And, most importantly, Spanish chocolate is incredible.
- It’s all a matter of luck.
A few of my friends saw past the promise of eternal sunshine and Spanish omelette and asked me if I was nervous. In July, with weeks of preparation ahead of me, my answer was no. However, in September, with one week to go and a still empty suitcase, I was terrified. I had no accommodation. I had not practised my Spanish. I was doomed.
And yet within my first week in Spain I had found a lovely flat, new friends and had my NIE (a form for foreigners in Spain). All thanks to a few chance meetings. 'Lucky you,' my dad said.
- You make new friends very, very easily.
Before I arrived in Spain, I was terrified that I would not make any friends. However, after spending the first week feeling like Billy-no-mates, I found that I was suddenly surrounded by new friends. Another English student who knows no one. A Spanish girl who wants to learn English. Once you have met one person, it becomes incredibly easy to meet more.
Would you like to spend some time abroad in the future?