Friday, 17 February 2012

Back home.

As of Wednesday, I am back semi-permanently within the UK. Semi-permanently meaning about 5 weeks, which is probably more temporary than anything. I'm back to Cardiff at some point for some study, and then off to Japan; Saitama to be precise. Flying home was a weird experience, as I realised when I had touched down here that I had been in Spain for a sizeable amount of time, and now I've left as if I was never there in the first place. I got thinking about a few things that I would miss or not miss about living in Santiago. 

Firstly, the cost of living in Santiago was great. Rent is cheap, food is cheap, drinks are cheap. In addition, in some cities in Spain you tend to get free food with your drinks. Having to pay twice as much back here and not getting a little snack as well may be a little hard to accept at first ^_~ The food varied in quality. If it is just a bar, without a kitchen, you'll usually just get some crisps and mixed nuts. If it is somewhere more fancy, you can get little starters, practically. 

In O Elefante, I had a bowl of noodles with soya mince, cream of vegetable soup, falafel, and vegan tortilla with my drinks at various stages. This brings me onto how much I will miss that place. The staff were lovely, the music was good, and it just reminds me how horrific some bars and clubs can be and that nothing beats a small place that has a nice atmosphere. 

Obviously I will miss the people I met and chatted with, not just friends but also staff in bars and supermarkets and so on who I often saw every day and who were always friendly to me, even if they had no idea who I was. 

Finally, certain foods which I may or may not be able to find back here - tortilla, empanada, patatas bravas...

To keep the negativity to a minimum, my dislikes will be short. The queue-jumping there (oh the queue-jumping) will definitely not be missed, in a very British way. Teachers turning up 20 minutes late to a lecture and not batting an eyelid. Lack of certain foods was also a problem. And finally the hills. THE HILLS. My back is still aching from pulling my suitcases to the train station. 

Overall, I'm pleased to say that I will definitely miss more things than not, I had a good experience and my Spanish improved. The fact that it is over already is a little surreal. Now it's time to focus on the Japanese. And the terrifying thought that I will be trying to survive there with my Japanese in just over a month. Eep.


On Thursday I went out to Babel, a bar here in the old town. It's on two levels, with seating and a bar upstairs and then a performance area down in the basement. We went to see a three piece band perform. They did covers of Cat Stevens and Bob Marley amongst others and they were really nice. We danced away until the end of the set, caipiroska (a caipirinha with vodka) in hand and then wandered to another (not-so-good) place before I decided to go home. 

Going out can be a tiring experience here; a tactical mid-afternoon nap is usually required. The band didn't start playing until 11. Most clubs don't get going until 3-4 in the morning. It's curious how different that is to the UK. It's little things like that which make you appreciate the subtleties of every country. That's the lovely thing about travel, learning and experiencing all these things.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Last week of lectures.

Last week was the last week of lectures here. It ended on a día festivo/bank holiday, in true Spanish style. In addition some lessons weren't on due to various reasons, so it was an odd mix of lessons and doing last minute bits of work and revision and not really getting a chance to see people. Last week I also:

Bought a fake Rubik's cube (Fauxbik's?) for a euro and proceeded to learn how to solve it, truly showing off some procrastination skillz. 

Shelled out for some soya natillas so I can enjoy it without a tummy ache.

Tried to resurrect my beloved and seemingly asleep mp3 player.

Oohed and aahed at the sunsets again, before I lose the chance to do so.

It's all going rather quickly now.