The Second Year

A few days ago, I had a few (and by a few I really mean 9 or 10. YIKES) cañas with my friend Aubree from Iowa City. We saw each other very infrequently last year, but seem to have very similar experiences here in Spain.

The biggest? Things are super different the second time around.

When I came to Sevilla 13 months ago, I was nervous, but excited nervous. I didn’t know anyone or much about the city, but I knew the language and the customs and that you have to take a number to buy a train ticket. I was starting a new job in a new place with new people. It was as scary as it was exciting. Everything seemed fresh to me, and I loved spending hours walking around, taking pictures. This year, I haven’t been to one museum or any tourist attractions. As this city becomes more and more of my home, I’m finding I’m spending more time making it my home rather than treating it like a place I’m visiting for a few months. Thus, like Aubree says, I’m seeing some of the icky stuff too that was kind of glossed over last year. Things suddenly don’t seem as beautiful and I’m annoyed with things I once found endearing. That said, I can also appreciate more things because I’m not running around trying to do everything. I walked on a different side of Pages del Coro and looked up at the buildings. One of them has tiles halfway up, which I never craned my neck to see before.

Actually, things aren’t working out the way I wanted or expected them to. I thought that coming here another year to an apartment, a job and a set group of friends would mean I’d jump right back in like I hadn’t even been away. It started with the huge phone bill and the hits just keep coming. One of my friends even said, “You can’t catch a break, can you?!” First off, with Kike gone, I haven’t seen many of his friends (besides his adorable little brother) and most of them are super heavily involved in their relationships. I’ve been making friends with new auxiliares, but I miss being able to speak Spanish and feel like I’m always surrounded by study abroad students. And I don’t feel like I have a really close female friend here anymore, either.

I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself at school since I’m the only auxiliar. This led to a crying breakdown on Wednesday in music class when the kids were acting up. What the hell am I doing teaching music? I´m clearly not qualified, made evident when the kids ask, “Cat, what means enharmonics?” and I say, “We´ll talk about it next week…” They complained about having to do the class in English, so I told them if they wanted to drop out of the bilingual program, they should tell Nieves right away. The teacher who was in the classroom with me mostly for crowd control completely ignored us and didn’t help me, even after I started crying. The teachers who I ride home with on Wednesday afternoon could tell I was upset, so they called my director right away. The kids told Nieves what happened the next morning before I even came to work and told her they felt awful (good). She took me out for coffee and breakfast as soon as I came in, and told me not to go to Serafin’s class. She assured be that I was well-respected and appreciated at the school, and that I shouldn´t put so much pressure on myself. Many of the other teachers had a talk with the bilingual kids, too, which is why nearly all of them apologized to me individually in art class that afternoon. I was happy for the weekend to clear my head and focus on other things.

Kike tells me I have to grow up and be a big girl. Rather than letting things slide, I’ve been letting people know I have a problem. I don’t want to be ungrateful at work, since most people are willing to accommodate me, so I´ve had to stand up for myself. I´m being proactive instead of unhappy. I told Nieves I want to be as flexible as possible, but I won´t compromise my well-being in the school or take on more than I can handle. I also quit my second job at the language academy. As it turns out, they were paying me 3E less an hour and would randomly stick students in the class. I ended up being so stressed out last week, my heart was beating really fast and my chest felt all tense and I thought I was going to pass out. I told the boss, Juanjo, about what happened and how I felt that I was working too hard for the students to not even show up. Turns out they pay per hour, not monthly, so they come whenever they feel like it. And then, they’d tell me I’d have to stay for a class with no prep! So, I´ve been telling my friends that I’m looking for language classes, and gave three hours of class last week. There’s a high demand for tutors, thankfully!

Sad news: my cuñado (brother in law) Alejandro, Kike´s 19 year old brother, is moving to London today. Ale and I have gotten really close since Kike´s been gone fighting pirates, and we´ve been hanging out a lot on the weekends. I had a bad day about a week ago, and he showed up at my house and we bought some pizza. He´s really a doll. On Friday, we had a party for him, and he bought me a t-shirt that says, “Pon un Montero en tu vida” or, Get a Montero in your life. He has an identical one! All of my friends are in lovvvvvvvvvve with him…

I’ve got class tomorrow then a day and a half to prepare for Florence! I’m leaving this Thursday night and surfing in Pisa, then heading to Florence and staying with an American woman who´s a study abroad coordinator there. Hopefully she can help me get a job here…


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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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