Term Abroad: Week 1

Hi chums!

As part of my uni degree (Spanish and Italian) I get to spend a semester and one year abroad. Ever since I applied to uni, my aim was always to get to the semester/year abroad and now it's finally here! 

I'm currently in León, in north-west Spain, where I'll be spending the next few months studying at the university here. I've decided that I want to upload weekly updates to reflect on my time here (the good and the bad), so here I am with my first blog post about week one!

Last Saturday I got on the plane to Madrid because you can't get a direct flight to León so you have to go via somewhere else. Although this seemed like a major pain at first, I'm actually glad I got to go to Madrid (even if it was for under 24 hours!). I wrote another post on everything I did in Madrid so click here if you want to check that out.

On Sunday morning I got up early and caught the train from Chamartín station and two and a bit hours later I arrived in León. Arriving by yourself in an unfamiliar city where you know you will be spending the next few months is super scary and I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous - to be honest I didn't really want to get off the train!

After a 10 minute taxi ride I arrived at my accommodation which was university owned. The accommodation had three rooms in each flat and let's just say Aggie and Kim would be horrified to have seen the state of it. It was pretty gross, with cigarette butts on the floor, several kinds of sticky fluids on the table and floor, dirty plates piled up in the sink, and other plates with half eaten food on still on the table. There was also an ashtray which made me think that the other two flatmates smoke inside the flat, and to top it all off there was the most horrible smell (most likely form the unidentified fluids). 

Needless to say, I wanted out. So, the week started out with me trying to search for other accommodation whilst being hassled by uni accommodation to sign the contract. One day I actually ended up exiled in town because I was scared to go back and get hassled. 

Lucky for me, I managed to find somewhere thanks to one of my friends who is also on a term abroad here and on Friday I moved all my stuff (major hassle but worth it) to my new accommodation. 

School-wise I think I've gotten super lucky because all the teachers are so nice and I'm in a class with around 10 other people from all over the world; Australia, Japan, the US, Czech Republic, Italy, and of course the UK. For some reason 2 hours of grammar can go by in a flash, and yet a uni lecture at home would have me clock watching 10 minutes in. I don't know if I've entered some kind of Spanish time warp, but I'm 100% grateful for that.

In terms of Spanish language, I've felt mildly ill at times when I had to speak, but it's getting gradually easier. I think the fear of speaking is a lot worse than actually doing it but the fear that I'm going to sound really lame and that someone won't understand me is a really hard thing to get over. But stay tuned - I'm going to try and be positive about this one!

The only thing other than the accommodation which has been a bit tough this week was that I've not been very well, which, as you can imagine, is great for first impressions. "Hola *cough*, me llamo *sneeze* Emma *dozy smile with half-shut bloodshot eyes*". Not a good look. Hopefully my disgustingness hasn't been too off-putting for any possible future friends and I'm on the road to recovery now, so all should be good!

So overall this week has been super overwhelming and stressful, but also really interesting. León is not what I expected - it's massive and the temperature here seems to be competing with the UK at the moment which is less than ideal. There is so much more to see here and I still don't really know my way around, so the next few weeks should be interesting. However, what I have observed so far I've put into a fun list (lists are always fun) so I can read back the random things that catch my attention each week (the good, bad, and the ugly). So here they are:

  • The León accent is so clear and beautiful, I think my English ears might cry with happiness. 
  • Spain, this is a plea from me to you - get yourself some kettles! Life without them is just too much to bear!
  • Every pharmacy has a digital sign outside which switches between the temperature and the time. THANK YOU. YOU ARE A LIFESAVER. It's like Spain gets the fact I don't like to be constricted by wearing a watch. 
  • Ovens. So, this is another kitchen thing, but there are seriously a major lack of ovens here. 
  • Spanish bars are overly generous. I'm used to paying £3 for a coffee from Starbucks and for some reason here you get an A-mazing coffee and a tapas (be it a cheeky magdalena or a slice of heaven, also known as a Spanish tortilla) for 1.30 euros. At the current exchange rate, that means I'm getting all of this for £1.13 (yes, I did just look it up). HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?! Next thing you know, they'll be paying me.
  • Umbrellas. Ok, so you know how in the UK there has to be a reasonable amount of rain to pull out the ol' umbrella. Or it's light rain, but you just washed your hair, so an umbrella is a definite must purely for protection and survival. Well, here it seems that the sky just needs to look a mild grey and suddenly every Spanish person in the immediate vicinity is be holding an umbrella. It's like they're anticipating it. Interesting tactic, but I'm still very curious.

So, that's all I can think of for now. This has been a super long post, so thank you and congratulations if you have gotten to this point. Celebratory gold medals will be shipped out first thing tomorrow. 

I hope you're having a great week, wherever you are in the world!

Love as always,


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