As I’ve mentioned before, the process of moving to a foreign country and adjusting is going to be in baby steps. And it has been. So far I’ve had my ups (mostly ups thankfully) and some downs. But in order to take control of my life here, I need to make adjustments to my life. It’s not the same life I had in the US and I need to come to terms with that. My life here is completely different save for my work – and even with my work, instead of working mornings, I’m now working evenings – so even that has changed!
I’ve decided that every day, at least for now, I need to have a to do list. Now, I always had a to do list by my side at home and it always felt good to accomplish something on it. But here I feel like that to do list is going to take on a new life of its own. Things as simple as picking up the dry cleaning. Or today, I had to make a decision on my cell phone from home – do I reduce my plan or do I transfer the number to vonage. I’ve been putting off the research and just decided to get it done. Not a huge milestone, but something I can now check off my list. Well, maybe not check off – I made the decision but I still have to perform the action!
I’ve also decided that every day I will walk a minimum of a mile. I really don’t think that will be hard to do on a daily basis but given that my first 2+ weeks here have had at least one of those weeks full of rain, sometimes it’s hard to motivate to leave the house. I’m actually becoming familiar with my “regular” route that I take – usually out the door, down to the end of the street and to the right – that takes me to the metro, to Big Kid’s bus stop and to the market. I never go left. The other day, I went left, if only for a little bit. And tomorrow – I’ll go left again because there is a lot to check out down that way too. Baby steps I tell you. Baby steps. And every time I set foot out the door, I see something I didn’t see before, even on my regular route. Stores who’s names I now understand – like the dry cleaner that we spent forever looking for. Now that I know it’s a tintoreria – I’ve found another 3 since then.
I finally set up a playdate for Aidan. I don’t know why I was hesitating. Yes, I do… the mother speaks English, though not as her first language, but I don’t speak Spanish and I feel badly calling her when she is from here and me not speaking the language. Her daughter is in Aidan’s class and she is the one that helped me at the café on the first day of school when I needed to change Liam. So we are meeting after school next Wed for a playdate. Now the question is – what does a playdate consist of here in Spain?
One of the things I do love about Barcelona that I have not had the opportunity to do yet, is to explore the beachfront. They have this amazing bike / walking path right along the Mediterranean and the beaches stretch forever. Liam and I hopped on the metro with his little motorcycle (motorcar as he calls it) – I would have taken a picture of him sitting on it in the metro but I couldn’t hold my foot under his wheel grab my camera and then angle in for a good one. But he was funny. We rode his motorcar down to the water and along the boardwalk for a bit. We stopped for a snack by the boats which he loved looking at. And we even had some lunch. I managed to get him ham and cheese and myself a crepe with chocolate.
I was all set until I was waiting for my crepe (the rest was on my tray) and the girl at the counter seemed annoyed that I was waiting and told me in English to go sit. Again with the protocol – I figured that it was a seat yourself place which it is, with no wait staff, only counter help… so wouldn’t you wait for your food? Oh well… I got us the food right?
Then we meandered down to the beach area. We saw our first nude sunbather – it wasn’t pretty… I’m only sorry that Aidan and Josh missed it because they would have gotten a kick out of it. I thought of taking a picture just for the fact that it’s something I haven’t seen, but then realized that might be a bit invasive to the sunbather. Liam had a blast just dancing on the beach and throwing sand around. He wasn’t thrilled at having to come home to take a nap (and for me to work!). I do love that we were home by 1, I had him down for a nap by 1:30 and was on my computer before 2 and it wasn’t even 8AM at home so it’s not like I missed any of my work day per se.
Thursday night I headed out on the town with Cristy. We went to Ciudad Condal. It looks like a tiny little place on Placa de Catalunya. But it turns out that looks are deceiving. And the place is huge, especially by Spanish standards that I’ve seen so far. And they had great sangria too! Awesome conversation, easy conversation and just a relaxing evening.
And I tried some new foods as well, which for those that know me, know that’s a BIG step! I have to say they have these tiny sautéed green peppers that are covered in sea salt (Spaniards love salt) – seriously I could eat them all day. I also had calcots – which are these long green onions that are grilled. You peel back the skin, then they have this Romanesque sauce you dip them in, tip back your head and suck it down. Messy but delicious. As a matter of fact, I had seen them on Anthony Bordain’s No Reservations on the Travel Channel a while back which made it even cooler to try them out. To watch the episode you can go to: http://www.fancast.com/tv/Anthony-Bourdain%3A-No-Reservations/97436/1353305793/Spain/videos but you have to login to your Comcast acct to watch it.
I could definitely get used to this tapas thing – lots of things to try and you fill up quicker than if you had a big meal. Dining out here is definitely a different experience than at home. I’m almost even getting used to going out to eat at 8 rather than being home at 8!
Today was Friday and the big NIE day. I’ve been stressing about this day for a while now. Going to a government office where I cannot for the life of me speak Spanish. Originally I was going to be on my own to do this since VP’s HR wasn’t going to go with me. But in the end, there were a few new families arriving and I have to say thank god Elise was with me! She actually told me the woman that I dealt with was rather rude – honestly I wouldn’t have had any idea.
The process in and of itself it a bit of a pain but not complicated. The paperwork is literally one page plus a copy of my passport. Simple stuff. I was told thru VP HR that the kids should get NIE numbers (because Brenda happened to mention it so I asked) and did they both need to be present or could Aidan go to school. HR said that after consulting their legal dept, that Aidan did not need to be present. Well… unfortunately legal counsel was wrong.
Honestly I can’t be annoyed by it because it’s a government thing – I’m sure if legal counsel checked with 5 different people, those people would have given 5 different answers. Similar to being in the US… finally a similarity! So anyways, we get there and guess what??? Aidan needs to be there. So we were able to get mine and Liam’s taken care of (Josh did his in Dec) but now I will have to go back to take care of Aidan’s. Now what’s involved in getting an NIE number? It’s just a sheet of paper that says where we live, where we are from, what is our country of nationality and how long are we here for. Easy stuff.
Then you take this piece of paper and a copy of your passport down to the NIE office where you sit down and they type a bunch of things up and then hand you a piece of paper that you then need to take to a bank down the street where you pay a 10€ fee only to then return back to the office to show that you have paid the fee and they give you back your certificate with your number. You ask – “why can’t they just accept payment when you are there the first time?” Good question! My answer – “because it’s Spain!”. There is no rational answer and guess what, I get the honor and privilege to go do it again!
I will say that despite my really good week so far here, I felt a little defeated after the NIE problem. But it was short lived. While I did have some plans today, nothing was formal and so when I had an opportunity to make a new friend I chose that rather than fix my cell phone (yes, again). Mim is a co-worker of Josh’s wife and they just arrived from the UK. She’s got two little boys – her oldest being a little older than Liam. But we got along great (they just arrived this week) and had an impromptu playdate for the boys. Although Liam was a little grumpy today I think he was excited to have the opportunity to play with someone other than me (and that makes me happy). I see lots of playdates in the future. AND we went into a cafe – I finally went into a cafe. And guess what? Same as going into a cafe at home – you order at the counter and then you sit down and enjoy your food/beverage. Why did I not do this sooner??? I feel foolish now!
So all in all, I have to say this has been a good week. I know they won’t all be like this, but if this is a sign of things to come, I feel like I’m going to be ok. And that’s a big jump for me this week. We can make this work. I can make this work.