I’ve been called many things, but easy-going has never been one of them. Uptight, maybe or control freak, sure, but never easy-going. I get compared to Monica from Friends, Jane from Happy Endings, and Claire from Modern Family; the fretting, mothering, perfectionists. I don’t take it as an insult though; I don’t necessairly want to be easy-going. To me, that brings up images of someone who accepts any situation or idea and just goooesss wiiiittthhh thhheeee flooowwww. Nope, I have my strong preferences and I’m stickin’ to them. I like to get things done, I like to be on time, and I like to fit as much of this life into every day as possible.
Here in Spain, I have no choice but to go with the flow and just chill the fuck out. Trying to get things done in Spain or even get people to do more than one activity in one day is like trying to swim against a current; a current of very slow, relaxed people.
The girl who would get up at 6am to go on a run is slowly dying and being replaced by a girl who gets up at noon to meet people for a cafe con leche. The girl who made sandwiches and burritos to save time, now cooks every meal because there is always a spare hour to make a curry or soup. In some ways, it’s nice to slow down, breathe, and take in life as it inches by and it has been beneficial for me to not stress out about doing so much, all the time, but I am still having a hard time adapting. Here are the things I cannot get used to, even after 7 months in Spain.
Two Hour Lunch Breaks
Most Americans get a 30 minute lunch break, for that’s what it technically is; a short amount of time to eat your lunch and then return to work. In Korea, I would get an hour, which felt languidly perfect. I could eat, check my emails, and perhaps meet up with a friend for a short walk. I might even watch a TV show if the weather was crap. The Spanish two hour lunch break is set up so that Spaniards can go home, make and eat lunch, take a 20-30 minute siesta, and then return to work. For someone like me, without a car, I have to stay at school for two, boring hours (where hardly any business are open because they also are on their lunch “break”). I eat my lunch, Facebook it up, perhaps watch a show and ohmygod it hasn’t even been an hour?! So then I go on a walk by the river and head to the nearby bar, that seems to play a jukebox of my past, for a coffee or tea and I study some Spanish. I return to school with 20 minutes to spare…it just seems unneccessary. School ends at 5:00pm, which is LATE, although it should be said that school starts at 10am because Spaniards are averse to early mornings. Shave off an hour of lunch, damnit, so we can go home an hour early and get something done with our day! But alas, I am condemned to spend my lunches talking to the stray dog who sometimes shows up on my walks and hitching a ride with other teachers to the NEXT TOWN OVER for lunch. Because we can. Because it’s Spain.
Lying About When Things Start
“So, we will have everyone over at 2pm.”
“Ok, awesome, so then what time is everyone really coming?”
I have a problem with being constantly early to things. In Spain, this is an issue because everyone is always at least ten minutes late. Furthermore, when they say that a party or event is starting at 9pm, this means don’t come until 10pm or 11pm. It all gets really confusing. I don’t get why we can’t just say the time we actually mean. I see my roommate say he has to be somewhere at 8pm and there he is at 8pm, ironing his shirt. Time doesn’t matter here so don’t even try and adhere to it. I was later than all of my friends the last time we met for tapas and it was a huge moment for me. My friends had never been prouder.
Siestas Even When A Siesta Is Not Needed
Some days you don’t get enough sleep, you feel under the weather, or you are exhausted from a hard days work, so hell yeah you take that siesta!! Yet, is just the act of eating a meal worthy enough for a siesta? I know that if I arrive home after lunch time, my roommates doors will be closed and there will not be a crack of light from beneath. They must rest after all that exertion of eating some pasta and bread, poor things!!! When on vacation with my non-Spanish friends, who have adopted the siesta to their own lives, we had to take a siesta every day. I’m not a baby, I don’t actually need a 20 minute nap every day…I mean, we ate some pastries and went and saw a monument. I believe our bodies are built to take that. Sure, if we had a late night out or we went on a huge hike, my body would love a rejuvenating siesta. Otherwise, it is not needed. Spain isn’t about the neccessary things though, it’s about enjoying life. So I force myself to siesta with my friends and I can’t say it has ever been detrimental 😉
Working Hard or Hardly Working?
Today, I cleaned my whole apartment, did laundry, tried a new recipe (that involved my first time ever poaching eggs!..), went grocery shopping, went on a run and worked out, researched for an article I have to write, looked into hard drives and laptop cases for my future travels, got my Taiwanese visa straightened out, and now I am writing this. I’d say DAY DONE RIGHT BOOM! What’s funny is I do far more on a day off than I do when I am actually working. I only worked Mon-Wed this week and on this coming Monday, I may not even work, but instead will go to a farm, make some cheese, and ride a buggy or something. I only spend about an hour or two a week making lesson plans, mostly because I only teach a quarter of most classes since I am an assistant and I only have one class where I am the actual teacher who controls everything. I have 12 classes a week which, compared to 22 classes a week in Korea where I was a full-on teacher, feels lazy. I love my co-workers and (most of) my students, but I do get bored and crave more challenges. Working four days a week, hardly having to prep, and getting time off whenever I need it is WONDERFUL, but I can’t live like this forever. It’s like eating only cream. It’s delicious, but I get very little nourishment from it. I know I will miss these days when I go back to a normal work week so I am savoring them now, what little bits I can.
So, am I now an easy-going girl, changed forever by her days in Spain? I’d say no, but I have more of an appreciation for a relaxing, long dinner with wine or having coffee a couple times a day while chatting with friends. Spain has helped me to, once in awhile, forget about time, and just delight in the here and now, do nothing until it feels like everything, and even go with the flow.