Today has been one of those massively reflective kinda days. You know the type of days that people only really have in music videos? Where they stare out of a rainy window whilst they drink something alcoholic, smoke a fag and think about their ex.
I’ve been having the same kind of day in my head. Minus the beautiful dramaticness of it all though, as I’ve been at work all day so wouldn’t really be able to get away with it; and rather than thinking about an ex – I’ve been thinking about another love from my past… Spain.
Spain is the most passionate I think I’ve ever felt about anything or anyone in my entire life. It pulled me out of the gutters of a breakup, it gave my anxiety a big old shake and told it to do one, it taught me that I don’t have to be afraid to do things on my own. Spain showed me that beauty is everywhere and that as bad as one week can be, you need to hang on in there because the next one is going to be great.
I can’t believe that I haven’t lived there for 3 whole years now. Like, what the actual shit? I still talk about it like I’m still living there now. But I’ve realised that as much as I may not be living in Spain anymore… Spain is and will always be living inside me in all the ways I’ll list below:
1. Wine should be consumed as often as possible.
I’m not saying that you should get completely and utterly shitfaced on wine all day long. But the way that the Spanish drink has taught me that I will always be partial to a good glass of red whenever it’s accepted by those around me to have one.
It’s the perfect accompaniment to food, conversation, blog post writing *ahem* and life. And if you really think about it then wine is made from grapes, and grapes are a fruit so technically you’re just working on your five a day… you’re welcome!
2. I’m uncomfortably affectionate to strangers.
Boy better know you’re getting 2 kisses and a cuddle when I meet you.
3. Things can always be done a little later.
Okay, I need to put in a lot of work on my organisational skills as they really do leave a lot to be desired for. But where I used to be a bit of a stress head about things not getting done as soon as I wanted them to be, Spain has taught me that most cases of things don’t need to be stressed over about getting done there and then. When you constantly have that naggy voice in the back of your head screaming your to do list at you, it’s kinda difficult to enjoy the there and now.
4. Love doesn’t make you weak.
After losing loved ones and having my heart broken I always thought that love was for the weak. Why would you open yourself up to friendships and relationships that could hurt you? People leave and they die and they go behind your back and hurt you. But then I moved to Spain and those around me slowly taught me that the inability to open yourself to love and hurt was far weaker than loving deeply in every aspect of your life.
5. The love of drinking outside.
Growing up a Brit throws you through the motions of drinking in parks and putting your liver in good stead for university drinking games and keeping up with your co-workers during after work drinks. But when you look back to those days of a good bottle of white ace in the cold, wet park you can’t help but cringe.
Spain is absolutely full of people drinking in parks and on the streets surrounded by live music. You don’t get uncontrollably drunk like we do in the UK, you just enjoy the moment and the conversation, and also the euros that you save from not drinking in bars.
Whenever I see a glimpse of the Sun now, my mind automatically diverts to a good bit of greenery and a group of pals.
6. How not to beat around the bush.
I’ve always been one of those people that are very careful about what they’re about to say. I’ve never wanted to hurt anyones feelings by saying something out of place – but the Spanish have taught me to be a lot more abrupt and direct in my approach.
What’s the point in tip-toeing around something in a conversation with someone you’re never going to see again? If I don’t want you to sit on the table and have a chit chat with me and my friend when we’re trying to catch up then I’m going to be honest about it. I’m not going to be rude – but I will tell you. If my friend has sauce on their face or food in their teeth then they are going to get told. It’s certain things like this that I think that actually, I wish someone would just be upfront with me – so what’s the harm in doing it back?
7. I can give a damn good example.
In Spanish a lot of sentences are followed up with “por ejemplo”, without actually having to follow it up with an example. But when translating this to English, it doesn’t quite work out the same… and so you either dwindle away or learn to commit and take that example in your stride and give it to whoever you’re talking to that doesn’t actually want to hear it.
8. Ice, Ice baby!
I never really cared that much about whether or not my drink had ice in it before moving to Spain. But after you’ve been to countless Spanish house parties and have been looked at like absolute scum who has threatened to kill everyones family for passing up ice, I now just don’t enjoy a spirit and mixer without it.
It’s too warm, and it’s wrong.
You’re right about that Spain.
9. The night is never long enough.
Going home much before 7am is a very rare occurrence when living in Spain. I’m not saying that I can go until that time very often anymore, but the night doesn’t seem to last very long over here in the UK and I’m always left wondering what I can do next.
10. A job isn’t everything.
When I used to dream about what I wanted to be when I grew up, never once did I sit back and think ‘Oh hey, yeah I know, I’ll be a travel blogger’. But here I am, working at making this my full time gig.
Before living in Spain I used to be all about the jobs and working every hour that I could fit in, even at University I was juggling 3 jobs whilst studying full time. Spain taught me that work is a necessity to live and not the other way round.
11. Weekdays are to be enjoyed just as much as weekends.
In moderation of course. I don’t go out during the week and go crazy too often, but Spain taught me that weeknights shouldn’t just be spent having dinner, watching the TV and going to bed. When you have more of those then you do weekend nights, your life becomes very dull and docile just sitting around waiting for the weekend to come along all the time.
During the week I see my friends for dinner or drinks, I see the boy, I go to the cinema, I’ll try new things and I’ll spend time with the family. It’s actually quite rare for me to just sit at home and do nothing during the week these days. Spain has taught me how much more energetic and happy that makes you in the long run, even if you do need that extra shot of coffee in the morning.
12. Speaking of which; I am coffee’s biggest fan and it is mine.
I used to be a tea kinda gal all day errrryday. But now I hate to cheat on my British routes, I’m far more likely to choose a coffee in the battle of the hot drinks!
13. Strangers are just people that aren’t your friend yet.
I met one of the people that I hold closest to my heart one Summer when I was working in Madrid. We only knew eachother for about a week, and threw a couple of words back and forth, but when he caught wind that I was moving their permanently he got in contact instantly and became my rock. He took me out with all of his close friends that equally went from strangers to friends.
In England we tend to not really talk to people unless we’re super drunk and make best friends and a million and one plans that we never intend on sticking to, but the Spanish don’t give a shit. You will be their friend whether you like it or not. You will go and stay in their family home, break bread with everyone they know and go on adventures together. The Spanish life has made me far more open to approaching people who I don’t know and initiating friendship.
14. And friends are the family that you choose yourself.
I was going through a rough time when I moved to Spain. I’d cut ties with my family and I felt pretty bloody isolated and one of the lowest I ever have to be honest with you. But before I knew it, I was living in an apartment in the North of Spain with my best friend and 2 of the guys we’d met at work and became one big, albeit drunk and dysfunctional, happy family.
Spain fixed me and so did they.
15. I want to explain everything.
After having taught in both Spain and Italy for a pretty hefty chunk of time, I still find it difficult to snap out of my teacher mode. I’m always slowing down and explaining things with different examples, emphasising different syllables and then even using actions and pictures to help me when I get desperate.
And then my Mum is like “err Lizzie, I got it the first time” ten minutes later, and then I put teacher Lizzie back in her box.
16. Experiences are greater than things.
I’m always comparing everything to bus, train and plane prices. Like no, I don’t want to buy those new clothes even though mine are covered in holes because there goes my weekend in Amsterdam. #Scattylizziefolife
17. I learnt to listen.
Don’t get me wrong, I still bloody love to talk about myself – hence the blog. But long evenings with wine, opening my ears as much as I could to understand the Spanish being thrown my way have taught me to listen to people a lot better. Other people are really bloody interesting, and your story doesn’t always come out trumps.
Unless it involves you having a smooch with Johnny Depp in the Caribbean, and then yes, yes it does.
18. You can have it all.
I used to think that life stopped at getting married and having kids. How bloody wrong was I?! The Spanish are some of the happiest, busiest and most adventurous people I’ve ever met. Even with their kids they will be travelling all the time, socialising with their friends and generally just living their best life.
I don’t want that right now, but I’m not scared of it happening when it eventually does.
19. Languages are bloody beautiful.
When I studied Spanish in school, I was the laziest, most disinterested person that there ever was – because when would I ever need it? Dick.
Moving to Spain taught me how fascinating and amazing languages are and just how much I would love to be able to speak each and every language. I don’t think I’m ever going to be done trying to perfect new ones.
20. Life just is.
I’ve always harboured the death of my best friend a little bit too close to my chest. Every now and then it pops up and eats away at me. But then I moved and found that for the Spanish, when someone dies, they’re just dead. They have their mourning time and they celebrate their life and then they get on with it.
They believe that crying about it forever doesn’t make it any better, but the thing that you should be doing is living your life to the full and smiling whenever you talk about them, which isn’t that often. I haven’t completely managed to adopt that yet, but I do like the way that death isn’t such a big, scary thing in Spain and that if it happens then it happens.
It’s the same with life, whatever will be will be. You sit in the sun with your friends having a beer and a chat about happy things, rather than whinging about how shit your job is in the pub with your friends after work like we do over here in the UK. I’m not quite there with either of these things yet but I’m definitely trying to adopt a happier, more positive outlook on life.
How has Spain changed you? I’d love to hear in the comments below!
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