I’m living in an amazingly stunning city. Working only 12 hours a week is enough to cover all my expenses. I’m living my dream. Who could complain?
Yet, as all expats know, it’s not always perfect. It’s not just one big vacation, but it becomes your life, and the normal challenges and disappointments of normal life accompany you wherever you go.
The first week or so was perfect. I was amazed that I didn’t have the same trouble adjusting as I did when I studied in Madrid and didn’t feel a smidge of homesickness, but it just took a bit of time to catch up with me. I’m still elated to be here. Spain is still wonderful. Don’t worry about me. But, the truth is, I miss you guys. I have a ton of amazing people in my life, and I’m incredibly grateful for that, but the downside is that, when you leave them, it sucks.
For the most part, I can handle it. I can Skype you, I can Facebook chat you, I can email you, I know that I’ll see many of you again at Christmastime and others of you after the year is over. But it’s not the same as being there in person, some relationships will never be the same, and some people won’t still be around when I get back. But that’s just what life is! You learn to deal with it!
So that’s been getting me down a little bit, and, though I’m feeling better now, it was making the little challenges of Spain all the more overwhelming earlier this week.
For instance, Friday I went to a bank called La Caixa to set up an account. The woman was super nice, I had no trouble communicating with her in Spanish, and all went well. Oh, by the way, she told me after I had signed most of the papers to open the account, you’re required to buy life insurance for something like 60€ to open this account. She insisted that there was no way around this and that other banks had similar fees, so, being the naive foreigner I am, I believed her. Fine, if I have to. Then, after the account was already opened, I found out that 81.25€ had been deducted for the life insurance (“Ah, that’s how much it is!”), and, even worse, I talked to other auxiliares and learned that not only do other banks have no charges whatsoever, but other customers of the same bank were not required to pay this. I got ripped off, and I hate that she took advantage of me because I don’t know the customs of this country. Because banks are only open here 8:30 to 2 and I, you know, have a job, I can’t go back until Thursday to deal with this, and I don’t know if there’s any way to remove the charge. Ugh. So, please, if you’re a foreigner living in Spain, be very careful with La Caixa. Avoid them, or at least be sure to avoid this bogus charge. Not a fun situation, but at least now I know!
Already frustrated by this occurrence, my roommate then entered the room, saying, “We have a problem.” I was terrified I had accidentally offended them somehow, but she went on to explain that the owner of the building is very difficult, and my roommates had given her an ultimatum: “Fix a few things around the apartment, or we’re out of here.” She refused to fix them. So they have to find another apartment by the end of the month, and my living situation is up in the air less than a week after I moved in! Either I’ll move with them if they find a place that works for me or we’ll see if I can stay here and live with other roommates, but neither situation is great, because it’ll be tough to find an apartment as nice as this, and if I end up staying, I have to buy a lot of household goods and take the lead on making sure rent is paid, paying off bills, fixing things, etc., which are difficult to handle in a foreign country in a foreign language.
But! It’s all okay. These challenges are super minor in the grand scheme of things, and it wouldn’t be an adventure, nor would you learn anything, without setbacks! I ended my frustrating Friday with Skype calls with my mom and my best friend Jessica, and then I wandered around the neighborhood and had an incredibly peaceful time sitting in my new favorite place in Sevilla, the pathway along the river (canal, technically!) and watching the city lights reflect on the water, allowing me to go back to my normally happy self. Yesterday, which I’ll write about more in depth later, involved a trip to the beach in Matalascañas and a great night out in Sevilla. A+.