Six Weeks

A lot can happen in six weeks, especially when starting a new life in a new country.

It is not often that you have an opportunity to start afresh in a new place with people who know nothing about who you are and what you’ve done in the past. If you had to start your life anew today, how would you live it? What would you change?

To start off, I always thought I wasn’t any good at learning languages. I took enriched French in high school, but mostly because I wanted to finish grade 12 French a year earlier and study something else in my final year of school. However, I never really enjoyed taking French or really considered it of any value to me. Four years later, I found myself fresh off the plane in Spain speaking with my future landlord in the only language we had in common: French. A few days later, two Erasmus students from France moved in to my flat and suddenly I had an even greater interest in speaking French. Next Saturday, I’m travelling to Paris, and I am grateful for sticking to learning a language I had no interest in, because it is now of great value to me.

Even more importantly to me know is my education in Spanish. I never had any motivation whatsoever to learn a new language, let alone Spanish. However, after one week of living and working in Spain, I was yearning to learn more grammar and vocabulary so that I could communicate with others and express myself. While I still have people I can speak with in English, I feel like a young child, frustrated with not being able to communicate effectively and soaking everything up like a sponge. After 11 hours of work, including a 1-2 hour Spanish lesson, I can actually feel the language centres in my brain throbbing. However, the satisfaction of being able to talk to my co-workers in Spanish after just six weeks is incredibly rewarding. Thankfully, most of them have the patience to allow me to string together my sentences and correct me when I’m wrong.

I’ve noticed another big change in my new friendships here in Spain. For many years, I’ll admit, I was afraid of forming close relationships with people. Perhaps it is in fact true that people from Toronto are cold (no offense to anyone back at home, you’re all great people ๐Ÿ˜‰ ), but after forming such good friendships with people in Spain in such a short period of time, I feel like I’ve been missing out a lot in this area of my life. Some of the people I’ve meet here, I’ve known for only a few short weeks, but it feels as if I’ve known them for years. In Canada, you’re someone’s best friend after ten years, but in Spain, you’re someone’s best friend after ten minutes.

Tonight is fiesta night! Which means I’ll get to practice my Spanish (which is always easier after everyone has had a few drinks) and my dancing (which I’ve actually heard good things about for once).

ยกHasta luego! Watch for my pictures from Paris later this month!

Falling in Love with Firenze

Cathedral @ Night
The Firenze Cathedral under a full moon.

Just got back from an awesome trip to Italy! It was my first trip within Europe since moving to Spain and I will remember it forever. Italy is a beautiful country! The architecture, the food, the wine, the people, and the language combined make for an incredibly romantic and magical atmosphere that I have never encountered before.

I travelled with three other friends from work at CYPE, and we had a blast. We flew into Bolonia, rented a car and drove to Florence (Firenze) and Pisa. Here are the trip’s highlights:

  1. Parking! It took us at least half an hour to find parking and it involved manoeuvring into impossibly tight spaces and bumping into both cars in the front and back. One parking job required the re-location of a dumpster.
  2. Driving! Italian Drivers drive wherever there is space on the road without much regard for traffic rules or street markings. Mopeds are often seen tailgating ambulances and whizzing past gridlock by driving in the centre of the road.
  3. “Tonight’s Going to be a Good Night” by the Black-Eyed Peas. We heard it at least 2 or 3 times a day.
  4. Ordering 1 L of red house wine with dinner every night.
  5. Finishing an entire bottle of Limone liquor on our first night.
  6. Waiting for 2 hours to see a 20-metre… uh 6-metre tall statue of David.
  7. Getting lost in the walled city of Lucca.
  8. Always being the last ones to eat in restaurants at night, and always finding restaurants closed for lunch at 4pm.

You can also check out a multitude of pictures in my gallery.

Rafa Near Firenze
Raphael overlooking the city of Florence at sunset.