expat, reflection

Tea, Biscuits and Existential Crises On Aisle 7

I’m convinced that moving to a new place doesn’t really mentally sink in until my first grocery shopping experience.

Just two days ago I wandered up and down the aisles at Tesco, taking  everything in. The massive tea assortment,  the biscuits,  the various Indian frozen meals,  the courgette instead of zucchini. The strange fears and doubts of living in a new city.  My mind immediately raced back two years to my first grocery shopping experience in Bilbao. I was walking through El Corte Inglés* when for the first time, I felt that dreaded feeling.  That voice reminding me that I’m completely alone in this new world and I’m going to have to navigate it myself.  Jamon,  chorizo,  morcilla,  boxed milk,  “what am I doing here?” White asparagus,  octopus,  creepy noodle fish (gulas), “I’m not sure I want any of this.” Weighing my fruits, Google translating the vegetables I want,  bagging all my items myself, scared I’m doing it all wrong,  I’m doing life all wrong.

I quickly forgot that moment and life in Spain started at full speed. I learned how to organize my items so I could bag them more quickly.  I tried all the new foods, even gulas. I went out and met new friends the first week.  Hundreds of crazy teenagers became part of my life.  I forgot all the fear and doubt.  Now I’m reminded of it again as I settle into another country (“but I just got comfortable in Spain, why did I have to make things so difficult?”) –  I’m having that moment of fear and doubt again and it helps me to remember that it’s not the first time and I can quickly adapt. It might be age, circumstances, or finishing a particularly crazy summer,  but the doubt and fear are speaking louder than ever.

So what am I up to besides having a mild existential crisis?  I found a house within the first 24 hours of arriving to Nottingham,  with two housemates from France and Portugal.  I’m trying to explore the city and find everything I need.  School starts in ten days and,  like always,  I’ll probably forget this moment.

*El Corte Inglés is not recommended for regular food shopping if you are new to Spain and want to save money. Just a tip.