As we hurtle through the first month of 2019 I find myself reflecting on how much life has changed for us as a family, and for me personally. In the absence of friends and family we have had to navigate our way through a whole new process of socialising and integrating. It’s all part of the adventure and essential for our survival and sanity, and we’re having fun along the way, but it’s like being back on the dating scene.
Since we came back to Spain, after our Christmas return to the UK, Lizzy has started school full time. Thankfully she has completely taken it in her stride, and is extremely happy there, making friends and being occupied all day. Having completed her first three weeks there have been no complaints or tears, so it’s a huge relief that she has settled in so well.
With Selena and Lizzy both occupied all week I have enjoyed exploring the city, familiarising myself with the transport systems, and taking lazy lunches! There are many places locally that offer a daily set menu for around 8 euros, consisting of three courses with bread, drink and coffee included so it’s only right that I should try and find the best one so that I can point guests in the right direction!
Other than that the priority has been to really try and push on with the Spanish language, as although we are improving, it is a slow process and confidence often takes a blow. Selena has her two classes a week at work and has found a colleague who wants to improve her English, so they meet at lunchtimes to communicate and help each other.
I have had to take steps to progress as well, as books, apps and YouTube videos can only take me so far. They are all useful resources, along with Spanish radio etc, but we both need more conversation. To that end I have signed up for a language exchange programme where you try and find others in a similar position, who would like to improve their English.
I wasn’t sure what to expect and received a few offers, one of which involved meeting a lady in the city. Selena was dubious, but off I went and waited uncomfortably at the agreed spot for my date. Sure enough she arrived and we introduced ourselves and ended up having lunch together in the sun!
Strange days indeed. Needless to say her English was near perfect so I’m not sure what she was hoping to gain from the meeting, and we haven’t seen each other since!
Another request to communicate was from a male who wanted a Skype conversation. Again I was wary and uncomfortable about the whole thing, half expecting to be greeted by a naked body when the video call began, but it turned out to be a very nice man who happens to be a Policeman in southern Spain!
So new friends and contacts are developing here, in a variety of ways, with the school providing more opportunities as we have also met with parents of children that Lizzy is friendly with. All of this is helping with our Spanish and our integration.
Before too long the temperatures will rise and a busy year of visitors and travelling will ensue. These days, during the cold evenings, we remember the luxurious feeling of carpet underfoot and central heating. Thankfully the sun still shines though, so I’m heading out into the warm outdoors for a bite to eat!
Lizzy and I both had birthdays this month – my treat was a great paella followed by a boat trip on the Albufera lake.