Columnist: A Skoosh of Espanya by Kathleen Speirs

By Kathleen Speirs

Christmas at home was a complete and utter blur. One fuelled by many a catch up, cross-country car journey, and cheap vodka mixes. I also realised that a diet based on dearly missed, home produce such as square sausage rolls and ‘Cadbury’s’ chocolate, washed down with copious amounts of aforementioned alcoholic beverages can never end well. In short, Scotland, I had a ball. However you ruined me, and I returned to Murcia for ‘Year Abroad Part Dos’ a broken shell of an English Language Assistant!

Easing the pain slightly was not only genuine excitement to get back to Spain and its more favourable clime, but also the knowledge that the unfamiliarity I feared the first time round no longer existed. Nothing was new and I was amazed at how a place and way of life once so alien to me, now felt like a real home away from home.

Yet my sense of ‘belonging’ was rudely interrupted on my first day back at school after the holidays, as I was reminded that the Spanish, unlike us Scots, love a bit of P.D A. and touchy feely behaviour at any opportune moment! Frankly, a near-on New Year’s winch from every member of staff in the space of a playtime, was a sure fire realisation that I was back ‘on the continent’. Away from home, I now live in fear of what absolute awkwardness any Valentine’s Day encounters might bring.

With New Year come new faces, like Gabriel who gave me a huge bag of oranges from a field just beyond his family’s Castle last week. As expected from your average I.T teacher with whom you’ve had only two conversations, both brief and broken, of course!

Such generosity from, ‘Angel Gabriel’ broke my heart as much as his matching V-neck and socks combo, bless him. And let’s be honest, rather than bringing news that I am with child who is to be the Son of God, I think I’d prefer an Angel Gabriel with a stronghold and some thousand orange tress to his name!

January has also brought another tutoring job, allowing me to spread my wings, go beyond my comfort zone and venture across the city to the other side of the river, I felt like modest Murcia was my oyster! Until being introduced to my pupil, Alberto by his mother. I responded to our introduction with a confident “Hi Antonio, nice to meet you!” Just as well the mother and Alberto had a sense of humour! Yet again, we find ourselves sitting at an embarrassing Spain 1 –Kathleen 0.

Additionally, my friend visited last weekend to celebrate submitting her over-hanging dissertation! It was a great weekend, and her fourth year woes made me really appreciate what my year abroad has, thankfully, postponed for a year! This period in Spain has also provided me with funds, friends and Fridays off for which I know I cannot complain.

I am always delighted to welcome a wee lodger to my humble Spanish abode, who I know will understand my accent, dispel some much needed gossip from home and come bearing gifts of the confectionary and dry shampoo variety!

Although it must be said that a mere eleven days after my return to Murcia, a visit from a pal seemed a little premature; for on her departure, it hit me that with the unlikely nature of a break at home before the summer I was here for the long haul now.

Honestly, I have yet to feel truly homesick on my year abroad. Despite my desperation to flee the nest and test the ‘moving out’ waters, I always assumed that at some point, the novelty would surely begin to wear off.

So, in a bid to avoid such home sickness as a result of boredom there was only one thing for it, or three things, depending on how you look at it. My year abroad amigos and I have just booked Barcelona, Lisbon and a month of travelling in America, you know, just as a precautionary measure . . . #YearAbroadProbs #SorryNotSorry