The Grass isn’t Greener on this Side, In Fact it’s Mostly Desert.

Last week I was feeling a bit down and not fully into the whole Spanish/year abroad thing. “You have been quiet this week” my flatmate said to me which, for anyone that knows me, is not a thing often said about me. I couldn’t quite put my finger on the problem and spent most of the first half of the week, when I wasn’t at work, napping or watching TV in bed on my MacBook. I’ve now put it down to a combination of slight homesickness, post-Sex & the City depression and an adverse mental reaction to my return to vegetarianism. Ever since I gave up vegetarianism 3 years ago I had always pondered a return but didn’t fully consider it fully as an option until early this year, and I have many more personal health, economic and environmental reasons for doing so which don’t necessary revolve around animal rights. A month into my return I’ve started to get all sorts of crazy cravings including, bizarrely, Curly Wurlys; and I have to be honest that today I did relapse, but that’s totally normal. I had a piece of ham pizza at breakfast at work (don’t ask) AND a tuna salad for lunch (Lena if you’re reading this, don’t hate me). Who am I to deny my body what it craves? I nap whenever I feel the need and pop to the loo when I feel the urge so why should I resist my food cravings? For a while I think I’ll detach myself from the vegetarian label and follow an almost meat-free diet, learn more about where our food comes from and obviously enjoy the delicious delights Spain has to offer.

ANYWAY this is a blog about the year abroad, not my stomach, so back to the matter at hand! I honestly can’t say that living in Spain is any better or worse than living in Britain; it’s just different. Spanish bitches be crazy. The mañana culture is rife here and the Spanish have a saying which loosely translates as “Why do today, what can be put off until tomorrow?”, which may as well be extended to “Why do now, what you can delay for anywhere between 2-4 hours?”. Meal times in Spain are offset by at least 2 hours compared to back home and I spent my first two weeks here permanently hungry and exhausted. Breakfast, if at all, is almost never eaten before 11am; lunch takes place between 2pm and 4pm and you’ll be lucky to see an evening meal anywhere before 8pm! Rock up to a club at 11pm and you’ll find it deserted, but arrive after 1.30am in Madrid and you’ll end up paying anywhere in the region of 20€ entry. It’s a fine art. The nights out don’t wind down until about 6am but the Spanish, like everyone else, start their days at 9! That’s all well and crazy until you consider the fact that most people work late into the evening until 8pm and nowadays it’s only small businesses that close for siesta. Loco. I only work 9-2 Monday-Thursday and most days I’m knackered! Thank god for siestas.

Sticking with the subject of nights out, on Friday my friends and I went to one of Madrid’s biggest clubs – Kapital. We had aimed to get there before 1.30am to take advantage of the 15€ entry which also got you two free drinks. We arrived at 1.35… 18€ and 1 free drink later we arrived into main hall hating life and slightly bemused by the dancers on the stage who were wearing what can only be described as tin foil dresses. Surely the extortion could pay for more glamorous costumes? It soon became apparent where my 18€ had gone when two almost naked men unravelled from the ceiling and began a sort of crazy trapeze dance. This combined with some crazy fire extinguisher thing erupting from the ceiling, endless Gangnam Styling and me repeatedly screaming “DON’T YOU WORRY DON’T YOU WORRY CHIIILLLDDDDDD, SEE HEATHER’S GOT A PLAN FOR YOUUUUUUUU!” made for a pretty hilarious night. That said, I thought the club was pretty average and obscenely overpriced. Everyday is a lesson here!

On Saturday my flatmate and I took a ride on Teleférico, Madrid’s cable car which offers a panoramic view of the city (see So You Want to be Madrileño? The Tourist Edition) and on Saturday night I went out for a few drinks with some other assistants I met at the training day back in September. Naturally we sheltered ourselves from the autumn night in an Irish pub and got in plenty of Bailey’s and Guinness while catching up on work gossip that no one else would care about. Many many Irish Car Bombs and several metro stops later a little voice said “Who paid the tab…?” … Erasmus Students 1 – 0 Madrid.

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