As is the habit when you’re an English teacher in Spain, I was talking to some English teachers yesterday. In Spain. We got onto the subject of the unrealistic expectations your friends have of your life abroad when you go back home to visit. I think when our friends think of our lives here, they just think we’re constantly living the highlights reel; sea, sun, sangria. When in actual fact, our day-to-day lives consist of a lot of the same tedious mundanities; a stressful early-morning commute, ups-and-downs of the job, feeling so knackered by the end of the day that all you want to do is sleep. Not to mention that most English teaching jobs are not terrifically well paid. I’m not trying to dispel the suggestion that general quality of life is better (aside from economic woes); I think it is. But I get the impression my friends think I’m constantly sitting by the sea supping on a San Miguel (check out my sexy alliteration). So I decided to compile a list of some of the mis-informed assumptions and questions of our friends that we came up with yesterday. Think of it as the alternative guide to Erasmus:
– Myth: Your Spanish must be so good by now! Reality: I speak English in my job, with my flatmates, and the people I socialise with. (Unfortunately, when you move to a new city, the people who tend to be most friendly and receptive towards you are not the locals, but the people in the same position; the debutantes, the travellers, the foreigners). As much as I would like to improve my Spanish, I don’t think asking for a menu, a cerveza and the bill a couple of times a week is really helping me.
– Myth: You must be so tanned by now! Reality: Hot? Yes. It’s very hot. The metro is more or less unbearable mid afternoon. Unfortunately our outside hours tend to be early in the morning and the evening after work. Of course there’s the weekend, when you bomb down to the park thinking you’re gonna get yourself a nice tan and then end up moving your picnic into the next bit of shade every half an hour because it’s too boiling to think.
– Myth: So you spend all your time by the beach huh? Reality: No. Madrid is dead-centre Spain. It’s a flipping desert for hundreds of miles around.
– Myth: Tell me one of your stories!.Reality: Now this one should be taken with a pinch of salt. It is generally true that the combination of a new place, change of mindset, and an introduction to new and different kinds of people is generally conducive to new experiences and interesting situations. However, my life is not the plot of Eurotrip.
– Myth: Have you killed a bull yet? Reality: Ok so this one is so ridiculous that I… made it up. Yes I made it up. No-one has ever asked me this. (But if you were to the answer would be yes. 3.)
So please guys, stop asking us these questions, you’re only making us feel unfulfilled and like we’re letting you all down. We all know life in London isn’t all fish and chips, Mary Poppins, and red telephone-boxes. In fact I haven’t used a red telephone box in a very long time. I shall have to do that next time I’m back.