5 Things I Miss About Santiago

It’s well into 2014 and in honor of the new-ish year, Jeannette is feeling homesick…and apparently speaking about herself in the third person.
However, because I’m a special pretentious snowflake, I’m not homesick for the place I grew up–ewww, rural southern Oregon…shudders…But I do deeply miss my beloved Santiago de Compostela.
The Specialness Continues…

My First Article for 48 HORAS

I’ve started writing for a brand new travel blog called 48 Horas and my first piece has just been published!
I wrote a guide to making the most of Santiago de Compostela in only 48 hours (it’s mainly food-based because yeah, eating is awesome). I drew on my experience hosting numerous couchsurfers and travelers, as well as my personal favorite things about Santiago. I’ve included an excerpt for your reading pleasure…

48 Hours in Santiago de Compostela

There is an old joke in Santiago de Compostela that makes gentle fun of the visitors that have flocked here for more than a thousand years. It features a tourist asking how to find the cathedral, and the punch line translates loosely to: “Just look up, doofus!” Visit Santiago, and you’ll understand– the ancient stone building towers over the rest of the skyline, its tall towers and intricate arches visible from just about everywhere in town.

Santiago is a medium-sized city (population 95,000) in the northwestern province of Galicia, and as one of the most holy places in Christian Europe it has attracted visitors for centuries. It is packed with classic tourist activities, as well as hidden-away dives bars and local treats. If you’ve got 48 hours to spend, you can have a great experience that mixes rich Galician cuisine, traditional tourism, and local fun. Just remember to bring an umbrella and waterproof shoes, because Santiago rain is legendary…
Read the entire article here.

But I Don’t Want a Real Job: Why I Came Back

As of September 21st, I began my second year in Santiago de Compostela, thereby avoiding getting a “real job” or even permanent residence in the USA. Why? Well, that’s a bit complicated…

I came back because my Spanish is functional, but not on level with any native speaker’s. I want to be able to sound less like a foreigner who can converse comfortably, and more like a person who speaks with a slight accent. I want to be able to use the subjunctives and conditionals without hesitation. I want to stop tripping over certain consonant combinations; I also want to stop making sounds in the back of my mouth when I need to use the front.

I came back because I love teaching but am not ready to commit to getting an actual teaching degree. I don’t know if I want to be a full-time teacher in America. I’m hesitant about committing to a career where I won’t have a ton of job security, or income security, or general respect from the population, yet will be expected to work miracles with the few resources that I have. So I’m taking another year (maybe more) to decide if this is something I really want to pursue.

I came back because my pain in the ass students are improving, some of them greatly, and I want to be a part of that again. Yeah, they’re still a bunch of lazy buttheads, but I can see their English improving by leaps and bounds. I feel like I’m actually making a difference here, and I want to see what I can do after another year.

I came back because there’s still more countries to visit and adventures to be had.

I came back because I empathetically do not want to be floating around in Portland, working boring jobs and trying to figure out what I’m doing with my post-college life. There are too many fun ways to spend my 20’s and living abroad is easily a better choice than letting time slip past me as I try to figure my life out. Oh and I’m also not ready to go to grad school.

And finally, I came back because I have friends here. I have bartenders who know me by name, bank tellers who can help me when the ATM tells me to go fuck myself (metaphorically, usually). There’s a park with an excellent view of ancient buildings, a 4-story library, and way too many bagpipes. Plus one medieval cathedral that I love walking through on my way to work.

Really, why wouldn’t I come back?

A Santiago Christmas

Well I am all kinds of backlogged here. Expect several rapid blog posts as I procrastinate preparing my lessons for the new term.

First, Christmas in Santiago. Some of us decided to stay in Santiago for Christmas (read: too broke to travel anywhere until our paychecks came in on the 31st). So we managed a days-long series of festivities, mostly involving an ungodly amount of food (and wine).

On the 23rd, there was a Hanukkah party with loads of food, the remainder of my Christmas cookies, and dreidel. On Christmas Eve itself, we gathered at Fabian’s house out in the boonies of Santiago for a holiday sleepover. After devouring gnochi, chicken, and way too much other food-yumminess, Quila and I sewed stockings (because just going to the Chino and buying them would have been too simple). We watched Elf (still ridiculous, but somehow tolerable on Christmas Eve), and crashed on Fabian’s numerous couches.

 I woke up on Christmas morning to find out that Santa had come! Our stockings were filled with oranges and little presents. Note: I first found out about Santa because “he” had hung a stocking on the bathroom door and I’d tried to close the door on it. I also, aptly, got a purple umbrella–perfect for when I inevitably break my pink one in the ridiculous Santiago wind.

In the midst of devouring Christmas breakfast (and mimosas, yum yum), watching stupid British Tv shows and reading DH Lawrence, lounging on the couch in my beer T-shirt, and other assorted productive activities, I managed to Skype the familia. Thanks Dad, for snorting and making insinuations about my “sleepover.”

We then picked up and moved to Quila’s for tacos and more movies–with me nerding out to the early 20th century authors, especially the depiction of crazy Dali and his mustache 😀

After Christmas, I had a couple days of relaxing until the trip to Madrid and craziness ensued.

I am Covered in Sweat

Seriously, why the hell is it so hot here? It must have been 85 today and SOOO humid. And of course, Jeannette in all her brilliance decided to hike all the way across the city, bleh. And now I’m going out to eat cause I have nothing in my flat and none of the grocery stores are open today. F**k you Spain; I need to eat on Sundays.

All right, bitching over. Now, my life in Santiago has been hella awesome–where did I leave off last time? Oh yeah, so I’ve been searching for a piso for most of the week and just moved in yesterday! So nice to not be stuck in a hostel room full of smelly pilgrim feet. BTW readers, finding a flat in Spain is fairly easy, but requires a couple of days’ commitment. Mostly cause you have to figure out where to look; there’s no Spanish Craigslist where everyone posts; it’s all over the place. However, you CAN move in immediately and without showing any identification whatsoever. Yeah, that’s right. Mi duena (landlady) collected 360E from me in cash, gave me a receipt and my keys and I was golden! I don’t think she even knows my last name, haha.

I looked at 4 different places in total, one that was fabulous in its stereotypical old, creepy, European apartment qualities. I almost went with another flat with a Spanish girl I met online, but it was more expensive and we couldn’t have moved in until next week, and I wanted OUT of the hostel where I kept tripping over hiking boots.

So my new place is a 3-room flat with two other Spanish university students–right next to the Southern Campus. It’s on the 4th floor, which was special yesterday morning as I had to cart my 65 lb suitcase up ALL. THE. FREAKING. STAIRS.

Now, I have a crapload of storage for all my crap–yay. However, my bed lacks blankets.  (I may have possibly “borrowed” the sheets from the hostel) This morning I took my first ducha (shower) in the flat, only to discover that there was no hot water. Luckily it was 1 pm and starting to get toasty so I wasn’t too pissed. My roomie later informed me that I need to turn on the gas to get hot water–lovely lovely. Luckily I’ve cooked on a gas stove before, so I feel that my eyebrows are safe, unlike my roomies who are terrified of the stove and want it gone 😀

Now, regarding my non-piso-related life, I start work tomorrow and oh joy, I have to take a bus to Vila de Cruces. Something tells me that the buses in Galicia are crappy (that something being every Gallego I’ve talked to). Still, it should be hella fun. I’ll get to see the school and meet everyone. Espero que everyone speaks Spanish and not Galician, but if it’s the later, I’m so screwed.

Last night was characterized by a gathering at Rick’s piso, which was broken up by the cops at 2 a.m. Apparently noise complaints do exist in Spain, duly noted. But it’s Spain and the night doesn’t end at 2, so we took the grumpy cops as our cue to leave for the bars. We found a bar with a rather large, pony-tailed DJ, but there were tequila shots and tasty beers. After poor Rick got his hand slammed in the bathroom door (apparently the Spanish guys didn’t appreciate him leaving the stall door wide open) we moved on to a disco and danced for a nice long time. I eventually made it home, after following the boys out of the Old City until I actually knew where I was. It was about 5:30 a.m. and I proceeded to mock the world via Facebook, vastly amused by the fact that people were, at that very moment, starting their Saturday nights in Oregon.