auxiliar program, reflection, spain

Why I Said Hasta Luego To Salamanca

I’ve realized that my sudden life changes might require an explanation.

Getting right to the point, I was very recently offered a language assistant position (to start ASAP) through a private company in Cantabria. I decided to take it. I left the public (government funded) language assistant program. I probably will be banned from ever doing it again. It’s been my safety blanket and it has let me live in Spain pretty easily the last three years. I decided to go with the uncertain route, despite the fact that it’s uncertain what will happen after, for the chance to live in Santander, somewhere I have really wanted to be for quite a while.  I ran away to Asturias a few weekends ago, another of my weekend escapes that I felt compelled to make in order not to spend full weekends alone in my small town apartment. Airbnb hosts and Blablacar drivers were becoming my main social connections. But when I came back from Asturias, my whole vision changed. I saw everything with new eyes. “This is not the place for me,” they seemed to say. It was like being startled awake. I thought to myself, “I’ll try to move up north after the school year is over, but in the meantime maybe I’ll move to Salamanca city to not be so lonely.” But then I got word that Cantabria was hiring immediately. No hesitation, I decided to look into it and one thing led to another, and less than two weeks later I packed up a tiny red sassy Fiat 500 and drove myself to Santander, singing loudly the whole way.

“El miedo sentí de la soledad….” Thanks for getting me to my destination, crazy singing and all.

Salamanca Province

I haven’t written at all about my previously assigned region for this year. What can  I say? It’s dry and yellow and you can see for miles and miles over the plains. It has a different kind of beauty. I wasn’t totally thrilled to be sent to Castilla y Leon but decided to embrace the change and give it a shot. Besides, everyone told me how much I’d looove Salamanca. Yes, it’s a cool place. But I decided to live in Peñaranda de Bracamonte. The type of name that takes foreeever to fill out on residency forms. The type of name that makes even the most Spanish Spaniard say “bufff!” if they’re not from Salamanca or “Ahh, está muy bien Peñaranda, hay mucho ambiente”  if they are (“It’s a cool town with a lively atmosphere!”) … I guess everyone’s definition of atmosphere is different. I thought a small town atmosphere would be perfect..tranquil,  personal space, plenty of time to get work done. There was more than  enough of that. I guess I learned that I need more than work and personal space?

Personal space for miles

Sometimes the best things in life happen all at once and don’t give you time to breathe. Life has changed really rapidly and I’m mentally and emotionally struggling to catch up. I’ve been through a lot of change recently and I hope this isn’t a knee jerk reaction to make me feel better about other changes. I try not to worry about whether I’m doing the right thing. Moving so much and starting over every year actually has started to make me really tired and it has taken a toll on my mental health, so even though it meant moving again, it’s to a place I already know, near people I already already know. I’m just thrilled to have the opportunity to live and work in a beautiful city in a region I love.

Yes, this is my living room.

FAQs about my life recently:

-So it’s a better job and you’re getting paid more, right?

Um, that’s a bit personal isn’t it? I do believe it’s a better fit for me, yes.

-Why didn’t you just move to Salamanca?

(A little late for that now, isn’t it?) Because for me, Salamanca is great to visit and study, but I can’t see myself living there on a long-term basis. It feels totally wrong for me.

-You mean you didn’t go out partying ONCE in Salamanca?

Nope. I don’t actually regret that.

-You weren’t happy because the people of Castilla y Leon are too cold and dry, right?

Well, I didn’t find it easy to make friends where I lived, but have you BEEN to Santander and experienced the elderly ladies in fur coats? You don’t know cold and dry. Actually, I found Salamanca people quite pleasant. Peñaranda is just a typical small town with people in their own worlds, much like American small towns.

-You mean you left your school in the middle of the year?!

It would appear that I did. It was not a big deal at all. Auxiliares de conversación are not irreplaceable and someone else will be there for the rest of the year. Honestly? I was feeling mostly useless in my school anyway, even though the kids were nice.

-Won’t this affect your legal status?

I’m legal through the end of July. After that, ya veremos. We’ll see. I take my “maybe I’m living in Spain forever” status on a yearly basis anyway. I’d like to fight for the chance to stay in Cantabria as long as I can if they’ll let me.