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Avni's adventures... The story so far

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Who would have thought a culture shock would exist after just one month of living in a modern, European country? Starting a year of being an English Language Assistant in Spain is going to be more than just an adventure. For my first morning, I met with two teachers at the local train station in Santander to join them on an excursion to a small tourist town, Santillana del Mar. It seemed more like a school trip if I'm honest! Rather than conforming with typical tourist expectations and walking along the sandy beaches, I roamed around shops that were selling Pinocchio dolls and old Roulette boards. For me, the best part was sitting inside and watching the heavy rainstorm whilst enjoying the only vegetarian option on the menu, stuffed aubergine.

Induction day saw the gathering of all language assistants, hours of rambling in Spanish and the importance of getting a national insurance number, a bank account and somewhere to live. I spent most of my time trying to figure out which of the three Javier's had been emailing me during the application process to come here. After finally being set free from the induction, I took some time to explore the city. Much to my surprise, it was completely dormant. Of course, I was in Spain. It was siesta time. Whilst wandering, I unfortunately had to say 'No' to a job offer in Montmartre, but happily took the advice 'never say no to an invitation' and arranged to have lunch at a lady's house who I had coincidentally met when asking for directions. Risky?!

New week, new start. I began work at a primary school in a town called Torrelavega which is a 35 minute train ride from Santander. Apart from being unable to understand the English teacher's strong Spanish accent (which changes a sentence from 'He has a beard on his face' to 'He has a bird on his face'), working with primary school children has been great so far. Youth preserves innocence has definitely been proved right through questions I have been asked, such as: 'Have you cooked for your husband today?' and 'Does Father Christmas really come to your house in England?'

After a glorious day of sun and searching for Flamenco lessons, I still somehow manage to get caught up in dodgy situations. This time, it was being stalked by a man who somehow knew my name, where I lived and that I spoke French. After having him follow me for at least 5 minutes, I phoned a local police number and was told to go back to my flat (in a dark street) and not to worry. Apparently this is normal in the northern regions of Spain. So much for police 'protecting our communities'! On a more positive note, my weekly shop, bearing in mind my ever-increasing love for food and lack of vegetarian options in restaurants, came to a grand total of 10 Euros. Happy with that!

Other things I've been up to over the past 3 weeks here:

- 5km run, 'Carrera de la Mujer'. This is the equivalent to the women's Race for Life in England. Couldn't complain when running with a stunning view!

- A free two hour surfing lesson!

- And of course, immersing myself in Spanish culture by participating in the occassional siesta!

Avni's adventures... The story so far


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