Having been in Ciudad Real for six weeks now, and having only written 2 posts, I reckon it’s time for another one, right? I remember what was going through my mind when I was in my second year at Cardiff with regards to the Year Abroad and I never really got a large feeling for excitement nor sadness beforehand, I suppose it was all a feeling of apprehension, thinking is this the best thing to do? Is it really going to be worth it? Can I really get through it all? But, having been here for a while now, I can safely say, that it is completely pointless dwelling on any of these things! There is no real need to spend time questioning doing a Year Abroad. The positives of the whole thing certainly outweigh the negatives and it’s necessary be thankful of the fact that you’re actually within a different country immersed in a different culture where the vast majority of people aren’t speaking your main language, I mean, how cool is that?! The best thing about September and October was just embracing myself in all the positive things that come with this opportunity, just remembering that it is not forever and that my family, dogs and my girlfriend will all be there waiting for when I return and that thought just keeps me going and I guarantee the same will happen for anyone. These past six weeks have absolutely whizzed by and to think that six more weeks will take me to the end of November, it’s fair to say, each day here cannot be wasted. Positivity is the way forward, the opportunities are endless, perfect the language, embrace the culture and in a way, create a new identity for yourself – that’s what being in a foreign country long-term kind of requires. I’ve certainly noticed that being in a completely Spanish environment has allowed me to almost think in a different way altogether, it’s almost like taking on a new personality in effect because we’re creating new perspectives, new experiences, new relationships – seeing the sights of a different country, tasting the vast range of food on offer, watching Casino Royale in Spanish (obviously there’s a unique case, granted) and just realising that each part of the world is totally different in all of its amazing ways.
Anyway! What have I been up to? Well, apart from fixated my eyes onto a Spanish verb book and reading novelas, I recently went to Toledo, a small, picturesque UNESCO World Heritage site in between Madrid and Ciudad Real. I can honestly tell you, I remember getting off the coach when we were nearing the top of a hill and looking down at the beautiful city and it was absolutely unreal, just taking everything in, realising what amazing things that are normally outside everyday experience can bring you. With its famous landmarks and its breath-taking scenery, Toledo is a must-go destination in Spain. Apparently, there are plans to visit Cordoba and Granada in Andalucía in the very near future and it’s absolutely amazing and exciting to have the opportunity to visit even more of this fantastic and inspiring country. Before coming to Spain, I would never have imagined that there would be this strange sense of euphoria when I discover new things here. Whether it was indulging in the food or just walking through the deserted roads of Ciudad Real, everything thus far has sparked an interest in me, whether it be big or small. Speaking of food (I did mention that I really love it, yeah?), I finally for the first time ever, got a taste of Paella in Toledo!! Considered the ‘Sunday roast of Spain’ (seriously, that is the perfect description), my desire to try more and more Spanish dishes was fuelled even more with this classic and ultimate piece of mastery.
Not only is Toledo famous for its fantastic vibe, but coming to Toledo give us a large insight into the actual history of the place and its relation to Spanish history as a whole. The cultural heritage that exists in Toledo is very prominent throughout the city and with a lot of people from all different world famous religions having lived here over history, it is no wonder why Toledo is such an important city not just in Spain, but in the whole of Europe. From the buildings to the streets to even the shops, there’s a great sense that the citizens of Toledo are extremely proud of the historical value and the heritage of the city and quite rightly so! Such an incredible city and with it being very close to Ciudad Real, I will visit Toledo many more times in the future for sure.
As I mentioned earlier, I described Spain as being a very ‘inspiring’ country. I’m quite strange in the way I describe things but the reason I say Spain is inspiring is because everything about it just provides so much motivation. I’ve been given the motivation to constantly try out and experience new things, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be involved with the language. A main source of motivation has been the few language barriers, and language barriers in their own right can been seen as catalysts in making people not want to learn the language but for me, language barriers are a huge source of motivation because they make you want to learn it so much that you get to the point where you just want break right through that barrier. For those of you who’ve watched Gavin and Stacey before, who remembers that scene where Bryn and Smithy are working out in Bryn’s home gym and Bryn says to Smithy; “There’s a wall, you can’t jump over it, you can’t run around it and you can’t go under it, so what are you going to do? You’re going to run straight through it!” – that’s the approach I’m taking with learning Spanish and overcoming the language barrier, it’s only through perseverance, determination to succeed and of course, motivation that will get you on top of the language. I’ve also said to myself that I’m going to learn Italian and Polish after (hopefully) perfecting Spanish and the only way to get there and succeed is finding a passion and a motivation, which for the most part, is something I have.
So, that’s been happening thus far. Successfully found my feet here and loving pretty much every minute of it, been jamming away new amazing songs from Foo Fighters and Machine Head and wrapping my ears around the absolutely incredible new Slipknot album (which I’m going to write a blog about very, very soon, watch out for that!). So, so far so good! Everything has been falling into place really well. Missing family, my dogs and the Mrs a lot, but it’s all worth the experience. Now, time for another coffee and get some early birthday celebrations done ready for my 21st on Monday, happy times!