What’s inevitable about my time here is that the time will come where I have to leave. I staunchly refused to come home for Christmas this year for un montón of reasons – Chicago is cold. Christmas drives me crazy. I didn’t want to experience reverse culture shock. It’s a good excuse for my dad to finally leave the north American continent. And even though I’m full of anticipation for my family to come see what I’ve been up to the last three months, I’m a bit nervous. I’ve gained about 4 kilos (7-8 pounds), and it’s obvious. I struggle sometimes with my Spanish, especially in this area with their accent. I know they won’t like the food, and I’m afraid they won’t be open-minded. I would have NEVER ordered coagulated sheep’s blood, but it’s really not that bad. Seriously. So I am staying here with a few others to spend the holidays. But many of my friends are returning home, and some of them permanently. My darling roommate Eva decided to go back to Germany for good, and she leaves in two days. Although sometimes I feel like her mother, she’s become a dear friend and I will miss her. She always has chocolate. But Helen makes a great point – you may not have Eva in your piso, but you’ve got a friend in Germany forever. Well put, abuela.

So, my family will be here from 23 Dec to 3 Jan. We’re staying a few days on the coast in Benalmádena and taking day trips to Málaga, Ronda, Marbella and Gib, then we’ll head to Sevilla for the new year before I take them back to the Alhambra. After that, The Novio and I may go to Scotland for a few days, then Nancy and Matt and Brian are coming to Sevilla. Busssssssy. I’ve added a lot more to my schedule the last few weeks, too. I was able to score a no-work friday, so I’m now working at Heliche M-Th in the morning, then I go right to WLS. On Monday and Wednesday, I give private lessons to an adult who speaks English really well and asks too many questions about theory that I can’t answer, then on Tuesdays and Thursdays I meet Franco for an intercambio, which is a conversation hour essentially – one day Spanish for me, one day English for him. Then I’ve got the gym and lesson planning and me time etc. etc. Two months ago, I was begging for something to do, and now I’m begging for some time off!

Speaking of Spanish, mine has improved a lot lately. I was with Kike the other night and had to go to an ATM, so he walked me there and two Americans were taking out money. I was speaking to Kike in Spanish, but sometime can just express myself better with a word in English. That word happened to be DUH!!, and one of the Americans turned around and was like, “You speak English?” and I said, “Yes, pero prefiero hablar en español porque vivo aqui.” And while I was getting out money, the guy asked Kike if I always spoke to him in Spanish, and he said yes, she does. And then he said I’d improved in the month that we’ve known each other. I’m really, really trying to make an attempt to speak Spanish so that my parents won’t come and be like, “You’re fat, you don’t speak Spanish that much and you’ve got no friends.” I don’t want to go back to the US in June without being able to speak the language of the country I’ve lived in for several months. How lame. It helps having a little Spanish teacher and going out with his friends and being forced to speak it. If I only knew how to distinguish between “Hecho polvo” and “Hacer EL polvo.” A prize to whoever can guess either of the meanings correctly.

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About Cat Gaa

As a beef-loving Chicago girl living amongst pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she works in higher education at an American university in Madrid and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.

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