Barcelona Pictures

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La salida

Por fin, el último día de mi estancia está mañana. Mi maleta no tiene más espacio pero hay algunas cosas que tengo que llevar. Díos! No me gusta dejar cosas preciosas aquí, pero creo que no hay otra solución… Pues, vamos a ver si todo va bien en el aeropuerto.

I am so happy that this day has finally come. It is time to say goodbye and go home for good. This stay surely was an experience, but I am glad to leave and not very heartbroken. I will miss my colleagues, I guess and maybe even the room – I have built a strange relationship with it. I hate the smallness of it, but it is somehow cosy and I’ve grown accustomed to it. I will not be sorry to leave the flat, I am looking forward to warm showers, clean floors and my own fridge. Add airy and big rooms, a proper bed, a door that closes without locking it and a blow dryer and I’m a happy person. There’s no sadness to the thought of leaving the noisy neighbours and my sometimes also noisy landlady, but I will miss the sun and especially the palm trees. they symbolize Spain for me and I instantly felt better when seeing one.

My baggage is once again overflowing, and I already threw out some stuff. However, I am very reluctant to part with my old Converse sneakers. I love them still, though they are rather battered. I feel bad abandoning them in a place I didn’t feel at home at all times. It just seems wrong. I don’t know if I can figure a way out to bring them back with me, we’ll see. (I know my parents will freak out about this, when they read it… :D)

At work, there isn’t much to do and I leave about half an hour early everyday. It’s summer break and my last week anyway. I have some cake for tomorrow and a cute little parting presentation, I’m sure they’ll like it. Though I’ll miss them, I’ll surely NOT miss my computer. The mouse has taken to not functioning half of the time and it annoys me like hell. Well, it is only one more day.

University stuff has crept back into my daily routine. I am studying for an exam coming up in September and I got my schedule today. I know some of the professors and am not overly thrilled to have them, others are new and I hope they will be friendly and competent. The subject sure seem interesting, there’s a lot of HR stuff since that’s what I specialize in from now on. I also signed up for the buddy programmes, for International Students and for first semesters. I’ll be a busy bee!

Last weekend, I went to the shopping center, just to look around, not to actually buy much (I already knew I had no room in the suitcase). It is a new shopping center, called the Forum and I like it. It reminded me a bit of Fairview, the shopping center in Montreal I went to all the time. I had a Subway sandwich for lunch and it was good to eat something different from noodles. I have tried to have a bit of variation in my food, last week I had rice with eggs and french fries at some days. Changing my diet to lactose-free milk and not eating white bread and the fake-cheese has improved my feeling immensely. I actually feel good most of the time and not inflated. Hopefully, I will be able to keep this up and even improve my diet further.

Just in case you’re wondering, I will keep this blog and post about interesting things every once in a while. I’ll probably switch to German though, or write posts bilingual, depending on the topic. There will be some events happening the coming semester to write about, or I’ll just randomly throw my thoughts at you. Be prepared!

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Las semanas pasadas

Hola a todos! Perdona que no he escrito mucho las semanas pasadas, pero no pasaba mucho aquí. Pues, ahora voy a escribir.

Dear readers, I’m sorry for not writing much the past weeks, but there hasn’t been that much going on. The internship is still interesting as always and I have been assigned the stand-in for one colleague for the duration of her vacation. Yay, responsibility! It actually is a lot of fun. I spent many hours with PowerPoint the last two weeks, putting together a rather important presentation about our new business plan. I discovered many things about PP, especially what you can do with PP2003. I would consider myself an expert by now.

Apart from that, I have spent my evenings at home, reading or listening to childhood stories: I rediscovered the Famous Five audio books and now listen to one story every evening before falling asleep. I loved them as a child and it is amazing how some little memories that have been blurring together finally grow to complete stories again.

Hm. I went shopping last weekend, I mean real shopping, not the flea market. I got some nice shirts at Stradivarius for less than 5€. Amazing! It is, however sad to see that so many clothes are now made of plastic. In Bershka for example, I won’t find anything because everything just feels wrong to the touch. There’s no way I’m putting that plastic on!

I also took the camera out for a walk and made some pretty pictures, if you’re lucky I’ll upload a few of them. It’s nothing fancy, just a stroll around Plaza Catalunya.

Geez, writing this I notice again how confused I get with the keys. In Spanish keyboard, the z and the y are swapped. So everytime I try to write something at work, I have to get used to it again – and vice versa back home. It is kind of annoying, so I’ll be glad when I get back home where it all is the same. Where my poor brain doesn’t have to work as much… Just kidding

There are only two weeks left. I cannot believe it! For some reason, the last month passed rather quickly. I will be sad to leave work, but I’ll be glad to go home and leave the flat. My back is hurting all the time now and despite my efforts to do stretching everyday and try to sit differently on my bed, it still is stiff as a plank of wood. I sincerely hope that I can get rid of that once I’m back and starting my dancing lessons again. Apart from that, the plug with the switch broke down so I had to buy a new one and had to live without a nightdesk lamp for a few days.

I survived two mosquito bites, one of which grew to be 10cm wide and hurting like hell, but I managed somehow. My landlady wouldn’t believe me, claiming that she never had mosquitos in her flat ever. Ok. I’m sure the buzzing and flying and biting black little thing wasn’t a mosquito, it was just playing dress-up. Her solution was to cleanse my bed with vinegar to get rid of lice or whatever she thought it was. Eugh. Thanks. For her, vinegar is the solution for everything. Everyfew weeks she runs the washing machine with vinegar instead of wahsing powder. I’m np expert, so maybe that actually is a good thing, but I really don’t like all my things to smell like it.

I also have a new room mate, a girl from Mexico. She seems nice and friendly – she studies Marketing, but works here in some other field (I forgot…) we don’t see each other often, but we get along. Oh yeah,  and I changed some of my eating habits and now only use lactose-free milk and eat only whole-grain toast. I feel like this is improving my overall energy level and feeling. We’ll se how things continue to be.

 

I think this is pretty much the summary of my past few weeks, if anything spectacular happens (which I doubt), I’ll let you know! Enjoy the rest of the day – today is a public holiday here, so I didn’t have to go to work. Yay!

 

 

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Celebrar, trabajar y relajar

Saludos! Qué tal? Aquí todo está bien. Tengo mucho trabajo y cada día es diferente que el próxima. Perdon que no he escrito mucho, pero las noches normalmente relajo y no tengo la paciencia para escribir. Pues, ahora si!

Ok, I’m not gonna say “Oh, it’s so hot” because that is getting old. Yes, it’s summer and yes, it is hot and sometimes miserably so, but I’m getting used to the temperatures. For the first time, I’m sleeping without a blanket; otherwise I wouldn’t sleep at all. But that’s perfectly fine.

The internship is going very well, I get new and different and interesting stuff to do every day. Today, I went with a colleague to interview someone at a restaurant. Yesterday, I was working through a very long excel sheet. The day before, I prepared letters and did some translating. So as you see, there is plenty to do and the people there appreciate my help. I really hope this will result in a nice certificate that I can use in future applications.

Last weekend, I went out with my roommate and another friend of hers to a bar that is quite famous around her, god knows why. As usual, we got there early by Spanish standards and ended up at the street festival that was taking place close by. There were bands, a lot of weird people, beer vendors and dogs. The music was ok, but in the beginning it was rather slow and well, not fit for dancing and merriment. At around 11pm, the bar finally opened and we got a table. The bar is called Bar Marsella, though most people just say “the absinth bar” – because that’s what you drink there, generally. The girls ordered some and I did try, but oh no, absinth is not for me. It smells like anis or something like that, but it doesn’t taste all that nice.

We spent over an hour in there, watching as the people milled in. It was almost unbearably loud in the end; the room was full of Spanish and other people shouting at each other to understand. The bar itself is the ugliest place I’ve ever seen, by the way. Apparently, it is part of the charm that nobody ever cleans around there and the old chandeliers are dusty beyond belief. The bar itself with the beverages is clean, so it is actually because they believe people like this. The bar is about 200 years old, and they try to keep the “old looks”. Well. Mum, if you’re ever in the area, keep away from the dusty place! It’s worse than my room back home ever will be.

When the bar got too crowded, we went back to the street festival. It being past midnight, there was finally some dancing and partying going on. We didn’t join in but rather watched at the weird people. There were some with dreads, coloured hair and clothing that should be illegal to wear matched like that. One guy had plastic film wrapped around his head – I have no clue what that could possibly be for. Maybe he lost a bet. The never-ceasing beer vendors (Cerveza! Beer! One Euro!) tried to sell us some, but we refused. Instead, we watched the police looking for their hiding spaces, where they kept all the six-packs. They got a few, but the vendors apparently have endless supplies.

I was glad to be with my roommate, for I wouldn’t have liked to go home alone. The area isn’t the best and it cannot hurt to walk around in pairs. The other girl left on bike, but since she’s been living here a bit longer, I guess she knows her way. We were back home by 2 am and I was contemplating cooking something – I hadn’t had dinner, I must have forgotten… But I ended up going to bed without anything. I wasn’t extremely hungry; it was more the feeling of “You should eat”.

Saturday (we went out Friday, by the way) my roommate and I went to the flea market together. She liked it, I guess and we spent an hour walking around. I ended up buying a skirt, though we weren’t able to negotiate the price. I got it for 10€, which I think is still a good price. There were a lot of books and she tried to find something easy but interesting to read, but we couldn’t find anything that sparked her interest. So we went home almost empty handed.

Afterwards, we headed out to the beach. We met up with a bunch of other people, some of them I have mentioned in earlier posts, some were new. I was still a bit tired from the night before, so I mainly slept and read my novel, I didn’t feel like interacting with people that much. It was hot, but there was a nice breeze going and I enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I fell asleep a tad too long and thus my arms had been exposed to the sun a bit too much. It’s nothing serious, but I have nice sunburns with a weird pattern on both my arms. This time I had worn a headscarf, so for once my scalp was NOT sunburnt. Yay!

The rest of Saturday and Sunday was lazy. Sunday, I spent the whole day in the living room, since both the others were gone for the day. I worked on some dance choreography and enjoyed sitting on a proper table instead of my bead where my back hurts like hell after a while. I spent some time on the balcony as well, but it was too warm outside. I tried to get some fresh air in my room by opening the window and the door and keeping the fan on all day. Do you think that actually did anything? No. Nothing. It was just as hot as ever in the evening. Even though I hadn’t been in there, no light was on and no laptop heating the room. Still 29°C (at least that’s what my little gadget tells me). So now I simply have the fan on whenever I’m home and try to survive in the nights without it. I’ll have a new appreciation for air-conditioning and German summers, when I’m through with this!

Ok, I think this is enough for now. I will now prepare some dinner (for I didn’t have any yesterday – again!) and enjoy the evening. I hope YOU enjoy your evening as well, wherever you may be right now. Write to you soon!

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Verano en Barcelona

Hola. Phew, el calor esta demasiado para mi. Ahora hace más de 30°C fuera y en mi habitación hace 28°. Solamente hay una solución: apagar la luz y el ordenador y leer un libro en my ebookreader – esto no causa más calor. Por fin, el verano ha empezado.

Seriously, it is too hot. I tried to go out on the balcony a bit earlier but after 10 minutes I gave up an fled back into my room, which was considerably cooler at 28°C. So after posting this, I will shut down the laptop and everything else, grab a book and open a window, so that maybe I can sleep in here tonight. It was a good thing I was shopping this morning, when it wasn’t THAT hot. It was my first shopping tour since arriving and I mainly looked around to see what they got. the sales have begun and are in stage 1, which means some stuff is cheap but other still isn’t. I didn’t buy anything but I sure went into every shop along the way: Zara, H&M, C&A, Pimkie, Bershka, Stradivarius, El Corte Inglés… They have a lot there. Stradivarius is one of my favourites, they have great clothes for low prices – and we don’t have it on Germany as far as I know, which makes it special as well.

Apart from running in and out of shops and constantly shifting from being too cold to being too hot (yay, air conditioning!), I also had my first helado in Barcelona. It was a bit expensive, but I just had to get it. I have three favourite ice cream flavours: amarena, which is with cherries; stracciatella, which is which chocolate chips; and the blue one, which is called differently everywhere I go. Blue heaven, Schlumpf, which is pitufo in Spanish, Blue angel – whichever it is, I love it. And this is what I had here. Oh, it was so good! Perfect in this weather.

I went back home before the great heat set in and watched Iron Man 2. Go super heroes! I think I’m almost through with all Marvel hero movies. It is really nice to watch them while sewing. As a few of you know, I’m working on some decoration and costume for this summer and it is great fun! I just finished sewing a banner with a lot of little blue flags. They are not very elegant but considering the circumstances – no sewing machine, only the bed for a working space and no helping hand – I think I did well. I would show you, but there’s no way I can hang it up in my room to take pictures. Anyways, those little projects have kept me busy for a time.

The past week – no, weeks, I haven’t written for a while! – have been quiet. I had some interesting new tasks in my internship and the people there appreciate my help very much. Even small tasks like preparing the mail and bringing it to the post help them a lot, because then they can focus on more important things. And I don’t mind preparing the mailings because then I have a break from staring at numbers and figures on my screen trying to get them into nice graphs using Office 2003. We’ll see how things develop but so far I’m happy with what I do.

Last weekend I’m pretty sure I didn’t do anything interesting apart from sewing and chilling. My roommate had another friend over and they were out most of the time, so it was quiet around the flat – my landlady wasn’t there either. By the way, did I ever mention that I now shower with cold water? Not because it is actually better in this kind of weather but because for some godforsaken reason I can’t get the hot water to work. I know how to turn on the boiler, and it works for washing the dishes, but every time I shower the water just stays cold. Even after 10-15 minutes – still cold. So now I’ve given up and have resigned to showering with cold water. It’s just not very nice when washing my hair. My poor brain almost freezes. Those are the little joys of daily life here.  

Yesterday I went out for dinner with my roommate; we found a cosy little Italian restaurant not far from here – great pizza and good prices, too. We enjoyed the food very much and afterwards rolled around the streets a bit. Sagrada Familia looks interesting at night, a lot more mysterious and you can actually see the coloured windows. I would say it feels more like a church at that time, not like a huge construction site for tourists to look at. There was just this one bad thing happening yesterday – I found out that mosquitos get up to the fifth floor. I have no clue how it happened, I never saw or heard the beast before or after, but it bit me on the arm. I scratched once before realizing that this was not the average itching and the emergency instinct kicked in – I took my globuli and smeared Fenistil on the bite immediately, sprayed around with Autan and put the anti-mosquito smelling device into the power outlet. And guess what, I got lucky. Within one hour, I watched the bite grow wider to the size of almost two centimetres, but it stopped at that and started receding. It doesn’t itch and I don’t really notice it much. It still looks worse than your average bite, I guess but for MY average bites, this is nothing. Phew! It’s just that now I’m paranoid and keep my eyes open for those little beasts and I can’t keep the window open the whole day as I used to – that’s why it is getting warmer in my room as well. We shall see how the situation develops. I hope there won’t be many mosquitos and that this was the only incident.

 

Oh yeah, one last thing. I stumbled across this shop today and thought: “Yeah right, try to get some London style. You’ll never get it. And the station is called CAMDEN TOWN, idiots!”Bild

I did feel a bit homesick for good old London again. Well, this is it for now. Please check out the weekly vocabulary, I uploaded more than usual because I forgot to do it last week. Cheers!

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Feliz San Juan!

Buenas días!

Ouf, qué fin de semana. San Juan es una fiesta loca aquí en Barcelona. Un poco como Año Nuevo en Alemania, pero sin la seriedad y la tranquilidad. Toda la gente simplemente baila y celebra en la calle y a la playa con fuegos artificiales – toda la noche.

So you can imagine there was a lot going on the past few days. Friday my flat mate and I went to another friend of hers that lives close by. We had planned to have dinner at her place and go partying later. However, we settled in and passed the time just chatting away. We had pizza and sangria and international company. J.’s room mate is Spanish and there was another French guy as well, so we all talked English. It almost felt like being back in London. The plans of going out were overthrown later because my flat mate and I didn’t quite feel like going out and it was almost midnight anyway. Normally, that’s when the Spanish people start going out, but I’m not used to that and I have always preferred a nice evening at home with friends to going to a club. So in the end we went home shortly after midnight with the promise of going out again the next day.

Saturday morning I strolled around the flea market again. I bought some more fabric, I really hope that costume I’m working on will look great. I can’t believe the prices here. This flea market is one of the few things I love about being here. Another would be peach jam. The Spanish know how great that tastes and I can choose from various brands for about one Euro. UK, LEARN FROM THAT!

Saturday evening I met J. and a colleague of hers from Poland in the city. We tried to have dinner in a supposedly awesome place – it was packed with people, you had to eat standing while customers squeezed by. And the food wasn’t good, either. I had a bocadillo con queso y jamón. It was ok, but nothing special but more what you can get in a small kiosk somewhere on the way. I don’t recommend this place to anyone – unless you like feeling like packed sardines in a can. The place is called Can Paixano, by the way.

Afterwards we had a drink in a small bar somewhere, I wouldn’t find my way back there I guess. We were supposed to meet up with a group of couchsurfers on the beach later, so we had to kill some time. For those of you who don’t know couchsurfing, it is basically a platform where you can find a couch to sleep on if you are in a city for a weekend or something like that. They also organize events for the tourists they host and such was the event we were going to. We sat on the beach for a while before they gathered but it was quite nice in the evening, watching the sun go down…

The group of couchsurfers was very international, I met french guys, a turkish girl, people from Asia and South Amerika and so on. We had music and beer a plenty, so the atmosphere was good. I was cold, though. I hadn’t brought a jacket, just a thin bolero and that wasn’t quite enough for a chilly evening on the beach. One of the organizers gave us – J. and me – his jacket so we could get warm. It was after 1 am when we left the beach together. It is always safer to travel in pairs and since we live only one metro stop apart, it made sense. The Polish girl stayed longer, I think.

Sunday started nice and slow. I had to prepare for the night, after all. So I just watched a movie or two and relaxed. My flat mate had a friend over from Germany, so they were out on sightseeing tour. At around 6.30 I headed out to celebrate San Juan. I met J. and the Polish girl I. in the city. There was a barbecue at some friend’s flat where I could join them. The people seemed nice enough but I stayed with the few I knew, mostly. It was raining a bit – YES RAIN! IN BARCELONA! – so we had to wait for it to stop before moving to the terrace on the roof. I liked the view, even though you couldn’t see the sea or anything, it was still nice to see Barcelona from above. We stayed there almost until midnight before we decided we wanted to see what’s going on in the city. So the four of us, I., J., J.’s room mate and me headed out to the beach. Seriously, the Spanish people are crazy. There were cannon shots everywhere, my poor ears endured some torture the past days. There is gente everywhere and you have to be extra careful with your belongings.

We strolled along the beach until we found the place where my falt mate had gone to. She was invited to a business event of some sort and when we arrived there we could join them. It was again on the roof of a house directly next to the beach. The view was spectacular! That’s how I like Barcelona. The lights, the sea, the people – great. The party itself wasn’t so awesome, it was more like chilling around, drinking and listening to music. But it was nice in it’s own way. The other’s of my group headed out again after a while but I stayed. I felt no special urge to go into the sea in the dead of the night to celebrate some weird custom. My flat mate, her friend and I stayed at that roof party until after 4.30 am. I was dead tired when we finally left. I had been standing for almost 9 hours by then, since both parties didn’t have many seating areas. It was 5.30 when I finally fell into bed, sleeping blissfully for the first time. I had found my ear plugs and sleepmask, so I didn’t hear anything to wake me nor could the light penetrate my sleep.

I happily slept until 1.30 pm the next day. It was a public holiday anyways, so I stayed in bed for the day, doing nothing much. I had planned to write this post yesterday, but I felt soooo lazy! Unfortunately, because of the lazyness, I didn’t sleep well last night, so now I am tired again. Today I work I yawned constantly and couldn’t concentrate on much. I still got work done, but it was slower than usual. I had my first business phone call with someone outside the company, and I was totally unprepared. Considering that I thing I managed it quite well. I won’t tell you what it was about, but the outcome is important to the company, so phew!

Now I will relax for evening, after having bought 12 litres of water – hopefully I won’t need to buy water anytime soon again, it’s freaking heavy. With that, I’ll leave you. See ya!

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Vamos a la Playa!

Perdona el retraso. No tenía internet desde ayer, pero ahora todo se ha resuelto. Pues, aquí mi post:

Buenas tardes! La primera semana fue muy interesante y ahora mir segundo fin de semana termina. Tenemos 28 grados hoy! Que calor! Durante la semana, no hize mucho porque tenía que aclimarme al nuevo ritmo de vida. Pero el fin de semana he hecho algunas cosas interesantes.

The first week of my internship went well, I really like it there. I didn’t do much in the evenings, mainly watching series and reading on the balcony. Yesterday, on Saturday, I went to the flea market just around the corner. It is bigger than any I’ve seen before. It was loud and full of people, but I loved it. I got some fabric and stuff for a costume I’m working on, but I could have bought so much more. Clothes, Shoes, electric stuff, antiques, whatever you want. It is incredibly cheap, too. Most of the fabric cost no more than 3€/m, which is almost nothing. Some vendors sold a shirt for one euro, but I didn’t buy anything of that. I’m a little bit suspicious about the quality and such. I guess I’ll go there at least one more time during my time, just to see everything that is to see.

In the evening, I went out with my flat mate and her sister, who was here for the weekend. We saw those famous man towers, where people stand on each other’s shoulders, you know? It is a tradition here, they do it all the time. We had dinner in a bar that had Pintxos, another local thing. Those are tidbits and you can eat as many as you like – in the end they count the spikes on your plate and you pay for the number you’ve eaten. I had three, one with a sausage, another with mushroom mash or something and one with goat cheese. They are really tasty! We walked quite a bit before and after dinner, so we were all tired when we got home.

Today I finally managed to sleep in (on Saturday I had been awake before nine, horror!) and had a leisurely morning with my ebook reader and breakfast. At 1.30, I met with my flat mate and another German girl from her Spanish course at the beach. Yay, my first time in ages being on the beach! It is a man-made beach, so there are no shells and the like, but I don’t mind. We had a nice spot somewhere in the middle between sea and promenade. We lasted not even an hour before I went off to buy a parasol, because I know my skin and how fast it reacts to the sun. I got one for only 12€, which I think is a fair price. It’s light and easy to transport and I didn’t have to worry about extensive sunburn or sunstroke. We were joined by a co-worker of that other German girl and an American they had met a couple of days before – so we talked mainly English, to be polite. The girls went into the sea as well, but there were warnings of jelly fish and I’m not fond of swimming in the sea (any more – as a child I was very eager, I believe). We stayed about four hours in total, and then we headed out to find some food. We settled down in a tapas bar in Barceloneta and enjoyed a light meal. No pasta this time! It was only my flat mate, her friend and me, though. The other two had stayed on the beach.

Well, I just got home from that and now, after a shower I’m happy and clean again. I have slight sunburn on my right shoulder, I guess there’s always a spot you miss, but for four hours in the sun – or under the parasol, I guess that’s not too bad. I’m still hoping I might develop a shy tan, so I don’t look completely foreign. Right now, with my white skin and blonde hair, it is extremely obvious I’m not Spanish. It’s not really bothering me, but there is an ad that is stuck in my head and every time I compare myself to others, I’m reminded of it. I saw it back in my hometown before I went off to Barcelona. It is a poster that shows an unbaked pretzel and the slogan says “Nur gebräunt ist lecker” (Only tan is tasty). It is obviously an ad for a tanning studio, but I think it’s not very nice. Well, anyways. I just hope I’ll get some colour during my stay.

For some reason, the internet is not working right now. I am writing this in word and I hope I can upload it soon. I have no idea what’s wrong, but we are working on it. If it is not better in an hour, then you’ll get this post tomorrow or so, sorry about that.

Oh yeah, there are some things that are weird around here that I will have a hard time adjusting to. Apart from the flat and surroundings being loud, my room is getting stuffier all the time. I have a window, but there is no fresh air getting in because it is looking out to a small patio. All the kitchens are on that wall as well, so when somebody cooks I cannot open the window at all because of the smell. I have no clue how that will work when it gets really hot, but I guess we’ll have fans and the like. I am still afraid of the metro exits – there are those door thingies that open when you walk through. Normally they stay open when many people go through, but occasionally they try to close on you and I am afraid of that. I hope I’ll get over that at some point. The metro is a topic in itself. Everybody is paranoid because things get stolen every day. So far, I have never witnessed it, but I won’t take risks. I always clutch my bag and don’t take out my phone – somebody could just snatch it from my hand, since there are no security bells on it (yes, my bell system HAS a reason!) I will do my best not to lose anything on the metro.

Compared to the tube, the metro is extremely uncomfortable. The people are noisy and smelly and move too much. In London, you get in and stay where you are. You politely keep your mouth shut and if you have a child with you, you keep them quiet as well. I really like this apathetic atmosphere and the metro is anything but. Last week I had a group of kids in my wagon and their teachers were cheering them on, clapping and singing with them. I was close to killing. Seriously, show some respect! Everybody is shoving and talking and moving, eugh. The metro is also designed differently. The tube is designed to hold many people, with the seats along the sides and places to hold on everywhere. In the metro, they have sometimes those four seats, two facing each other. There is no way that you can hold on to something in between, so that space is not used much. I could go on and on, but the essence is – I’m homesick for London. And yes, I know that is part of the culture shock and I am now in the phase of everything is awful. I’ll get over it. Though I guess I’ll never get used to the streets smelling of piss. I really hate that.

Now I have rambled on enough. Please don’t think I’m miserable over here, I’m not. I still enjoy being in Spain and I like my work. It just takes some getting used to. Talk to you soon!

 

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La Fase de Aclimatación

Buenas tardes!

Hoy fue mi primer día de mis prácticas. Me gusta mucho mi trabajo, la oficina es moderna y la gente es muy amable. Tengo un ordenador, pero todavía no hay acceso. De las ochas personas que trabajan ahí, tres hablan alemán y el resto español. Pues, es perfecto. No hay problema con la comunicación.

That’s it for today’s Spanish, but I uploaded a new vocabulary list, you can find the previous ones here. I have had some nice days here in Barcelona, met some people and saw the city. I went to that concert I wrote about in the last entry, it was in a small club somewhere in the city. I liked it well enough but the band was a bit off sometimes, I counted up to three different rhythms played simultaneously. If you’re not musical, you might not notice but I did. It’s a shame. But otherwise, it was a lovely evening and I enjoyed it.

Another day I went to an Argentinian event with two of my landlady’s friends. She joined us later because she had to work. Apart from a ten-year old boy, I was probably the youngest person there, but I didn’t mind. The music was great, some tango and samba rhythms and we all had great fun. I even joined in the dancing at some point even though I had no idea how it worked – but the others didn’t know either and we just danced in a circle.

I told my group that I love to sing and now they can’t wait for me to give them an example. Apparently, I might be in the show for the next month – but it’s not decided yet. The German girl likes to go to karaoke, too, so we might be going out at some point to sing the night away. The Argentinian evening lasted until one in the morning and I fell into bed exhausted.

I have no idea how they managed, but the friends were at our flat the next morning around 8:30 to 9, to have breakfast and gossip. I tried very hard to stay asleep longer, but shortly after 10 I gave up and got up. I still cannot sleep very well here, the noises are hard to tune out.  My landlady went out later, but I stayed in. She gave me the number of one of the women from before because her husband apparently learns German and she thought it might be interesting for us to do an exchange of languages. So in the afternoon, I called them and we met for a coffee (or chocolate, in my case). The family is incredibly friendly and nice, we got along very well. they have a 8 year-old daughter who was fascinated by my long blonde hair, a rare sight in Spain, to be sure. They say I look like a siren. I’d say that’s a backhanded compliment, but anyways.

We walked about the city a bit and ended up in one of those small clothing shops, where we all bought something. The little one got a skirt, the father a shirt and C. and I got dresses. I hadn’t planned on going shopping, so I didn’t have any money on me, but they lended me the money, how nice is that? I really like the dress, it is white with a few red flowers on the skirt, perfect for summer days. We also had dinner in one of the many cafes in the city and for the first time I didn’t eat pasta, but pizza. Yay! It tasted really good, with tomatoes and goat cheese. Around ten, I got home. We had been out for five hours, imagine that! I spoke a lot of Spanish, and the husband talked to me in German. I think it would be good for me to do some sort of tandem because he is correcting my mistakes instead of silently accepting my stumbling around. That is the only way I can improve, right?

Well, what else? Yesterday, on Sunday, I got a city tour by a friend of a friend of a friend. The lovely Beccy had helped me get in contact with a guy here in Barcelona and he showed me around the Barrio Gótico. We walked for almost three hours and he told me some stories about the city and so on. For example, did you know there are different Catalunian flags around here? There’s the one with the red and yellow stripes, the neutral one. And then there’s one with a star, either in red or in blue. That one is the symbol for the people who want Cataluña to be independent. So if you’re a tourist in Barcelona, be careful which souvenir you’re buying! It might be seen as a political statement. We also talked about series we liked and apparently we both like Game of Thrones and Sherlock and dislike Two and a half men, so we had something to talk about. I tried to explain that I had seen Dr. Watson and the film set and I guess I managed but really, my Spanish sucks. I am getting frustrated because I’m not used to scrambling for words, and I sincerely hope it will improve fast.

Today was my first day of work. I was so nervous and everything, but it was really relaxed. I got there a bit earlier and waited outside – if a Spanish person says to be there at a specific time, you are not supposed to be there on time, right? Anyways, the people in the office are incredibly nice and I think we’ll get along very well. Half of the staff speaks German or English, so there won’t be many difficulties with communication ( at least I hope so). I have some stuff to do for the next days, creating data bases, researching, translating and so on. It’s not too hard and luckily the internet is slooooooooow, so I won’t get the tasks done too fast. Normally I always want to be efficient, but I guess then I would be sitting around too much, so I’ll take it easy for now.

I don’t have strict working hours, I can come around 9:30 and leave when the work is done and I feel like it, so that’s a relief. I won’t take advantage but it is good to know that nobody will look at the clock and count whether I have been there 8 hours or not. Since I will be running some errands, I was shown the way to the bank and the post office. I am actually glad I get to do that because both walks are only about 10 minutes total and it will be nice to get out of the office every once in a while. The connection by metro and bus is good, it takes only 45 minutes to get there and I just have to change once. No problem at all. The whole sorry business with the NIE has not been resolved, that will wait until my boss is back. I suggested that I might not need this number at all, so maybe the topic will be dropped. We’ll see.

After work I finally got myself a Spanish SIM so now I have internet access everywhere. Since Whatsapp is connected to the old number, for those of you who have it, nothing will change. Compared to London, mobile internet is really cheap. I pay only 8€ per month! That is well worth it. Geez, now it is after eight and I guess I’ll have to eat something. Maybe not pasta this time. I bought some eggs earlier, so I might opt for omelette or something. In any case, I’m off now. See you soon!

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Weekly Vocabulary

I have decided to share some vocabulary with you. Each week I will write down some words – around ten I should think – that  I have learned over the days or that were somehow important during the week. You will find them in the right column. ->

I hope you enjoy this new widget.

 

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La llegada

Hola amigos y amigas!

Pues, es el tiempo para una nueva entrada. Me parece un poco extraño escribir en inglés porque ahora vivo en España, no? Tengo que practicar mi español más. Yo sé que casi nadie de vosotros habla español, por eso voy a escribir en inglés sin embargo.

There you go, people. Who understood that? It truly feels strange to write English while being here in Spain. Therefore, I will keep writing in English most of the time, but there will be Spanish parts as well. Who knows, you guys might learn Spanish alongside me this way.

I arrived safe and sound two days ago in the evening. The flight was actually too early and we had to circle above the sea for a quarter hour before we could land. The airport in Barcelona is big and I had to walk quite a while to get to the baggage belts. But I didn’t have to wait long for my huge suitcase to arrive. I am still surprised at how smooth everything went. I asked for directions to the bus at the information – in Spanish of course – and found the bus easily. I had to change to the metro at some point, which was a bit complicated with all my stuff, but I managed.  I had tried to message my German flat mate, but I wasn’t sure if it got through. When I arrived at my metro stop, I called her and she came to collect me. How nice!

The flat is comfortable enough, the living room is bright and we have a balcony, but it is rather loud because it looks out to the street. My room is next to the hall, so I hear quite a lot of what is going on at the staircase. The room is small but cosy, I have just enough space for all my stuff. Luckily for me, I’m small – otherwise, the bed would be too short.  So far, I like it here. I have my own space in the fridge and a small cupboard for pasta, cornflakes and the sort.

The day I arrived I didn’t do anything but unpacked and fell into bed. It was late enough. The next morning I first went to do some shopping, getting all the necessities such was bread, milk, cheese and so on. There are several supermarkets just down the street, so it’s not too bad to go shopping. And compared to London, it is quite cheap, too! In the afternoon, I went to find an office to get my student travel card. You can buy it at the ticket machine but they require an ID with only numbers and since the German ID has letters as well as numbers I didn’t quite know what to put in. I researched the office on the internet and took the metro to get there. They then told me there was a number on my ID that I could use, the one printed in the middle of the front – I have always wondered what that is for, so know I know! It’s for Barcelona Transport! (Just kidding) I managed to get the student travel card with that information and know I can get around for 90 days without worrying about travel expenses.

I had the big camera with me as well and I took some first pictures of my street and the surroundings. I still have to get used to that thing, but I’m sure I’ll manage soon enough. The weather is pretty nice by the way, it’s sunny but not too hot, I’d say around 20 degrees. It is supposed to be raining soon, but we’ll see how the weather develops around here. I watched a few episodes of Downton Abbey yesterday and just tried to get used to the flat. I had pasta with tomato sauce for dinner, a pretty safe meal to cook on an unfamiliar hearth.

Since my landlady wasn’t there the evening I arrived, I met her for the first time yesterday. She is lovely, she speaks slowly for our sake and if she talks about numbers, she writes them on the wall so we understand exactly what she says. I think that is very nice of her. I understand her very well in any case; I just have to get into answering with more than Muy bien or something equally intelligent. She invited me to a concert this evening, but I’m not sure yet if we’re going or not, she hasn’t told me about the details yet. I hope we go, though.

Today I tried to get my NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjeros), but it is so much harder than I thought. Spanish officials don’t seem to tend to their websites much, so the information on there is mostly outdated and contradicting. I managed to find an address and went there this morning, but the officer outside told me that I have to go to the main office or something and call them beforehand. I really don’t get all that bureaucracy. I might try that main office thing tomorrow, if I feel like it. Otherwise I’ll have to ask at my workplace if they know how it works – it was their idea that I get that wretched NIE in the first place (Yes I know I need it and it’s not their fault, but it is still annoying).

I encountered a few small shops on the way though, so that’s not too bad. There are so many shoe shops, little markets with fruit and vegetables and clothing shops around here, it’s quite nice. There are even draperies, which is great should I decide I want to sew something. I bought some cherries because, to quote my English landlady, I have to eat more fruit! So once I got back home, I sat on the balcony, had some cherries and read a book. I started a Spanish one – there are some on my ebook reader that had come with its purchase. I don’t understand much, but I get the general idea of it and I’m sure it will get better over time. I try to listen to Spanish songs and maybe I’ll even find a nice series to watch and to practice.

Ok, I think this is it so far. We’ll see what else I’ll be doing the next days before work starts. I am happy everything has worked out so smoothly and I will have a great time here. ¡Hasta luego!

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