This is my home now

I am feeling optimistic. It is the end of my second week and I am feeling optimistic. I started working this week, not only am I working in the most beautiful building in the world but the work itself is hard, tiring and completely worth it.

Working with children is definitely hard work, but working with children who don’t speak your language is bordering on impossible. Luckily for me the modern foreign languages education scheme is much better here than in England. Something which is highly disappointing. Children at the age of 3 are asking me questions in English, which is not their first language. As a child I remember not learning a single foreign word until I was 11, this demonstrates to me that we are too far behind as a country and this is why we are not culturally aware or welcoming as a society. Something which I really hope changes going into the future.

One of my favourite and least favourite things about living in Spain has taken me completely by surprise. The siesta. Prior to living here I simply believed it was a historical thing, a myth. A fun myth but still a myth, but no. Even in winter the shops shut at 1pm, work closes at 1pm, everything stops at 1pm and then reopens at 5pm. Providing me with the perfect 3 hour nap gap, something which no doubt I shall be taking back home with me in 8 months time.

Homesickness is still digging away at me, I find myself counting down the days, the hours, until I get to go home. Something which I don’t want to spend the next 8 months doing. But I have a few ways of getting through this that I am going to share with you.
(16/02/2017 – Two weeks on I can honestly say that these tips saved my whole experience, I was so close to giving in to the fear of being alone that I think my parents were genuinely concerned about me. But following each of these has helped me get through to the other side, a happier and more settled side.)

1. Don’t feel like you can’t contact home. The first couple of days the only way I survived was by knowing that in the evening I would be able to call home, see familiar faces and know that nothing has changed. Although it was hard at the beginning, seeing everyone at home was simply making me want to be there too. But I pushed through and now contacting home is something that makes me want to stay. Knowing that everyone is healthy, happy and proud of what you’re doing.

2. Make your room, your space. Feeling like you don’t belong in the room that you are living in, makes you feel like an outsider in what is now your own home. I handled this by bringing all my photos and pinning them up on my wall, l purchased cushions to decorate my bed like I do at home and I have filled it with my own personal possessions. This makes me feel comfortable and gives me a place that I can retreat to when I’m struggling.

3. Keep yourself busy. Luckily for me I have a job that starts at 8:30am and ends at 8:30 in the evening so I always have full week days. The hardest parts are the weekends, when you are alone struggling to find things to do. I started watching a new TV show which passes the time, I also have started a new book which means I always have something to do. You don’t want to give yourself time to think.

4. Prepare for the nights. The night times are the hardest, the time where you are stuck in the dark with your own thoughts. I find my throat closing up, the panic seeping into my chest and I start to breakdown. The way I have conquered this is by listening to music whilst sleeping. Music from my young teenage years that have memories attached to them, this means I’m thinking about happy memories of home. This soothes me. Makes me feel safe and keeps me from panicking.

If this advice can help anyone whose in a similar situation right now then I will be happy because I know how hard this is. Just know that if you ever need someone to talk to, send me a message and we can comfort each other together.

Lots of love,

Char xoxo

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