Friday, 29 November 2013

I might be becoming patriotic

I've never thought of myself as patriotic, in fact I sometimes really dislike being English. I find it hard to understand why so many people are so interested in England. I sometimes think of the English stereotypes as cold and unfriendly consumerists who are intolerant of anything different and don't do much other than shop and party, all qualities which I hope I don't have. I strive to be 'unEnglish' through travelling and taking an interest in other cultures and languages.

However, recently I've been feeling proud about my country. I'm proud that the music we make is played throughout Europe, that London is famous across the world and that I am 
a speaker of the most widely spoken languages that so many people are desperate to learn. Perhaps this is because I'm really missing all the everyday things that I take for granted back in the UK that I can't get here. I miss the short queues, the semi-friendly customer service and all of my favourite foods.

I tried to make potato salad

Part of me thinks that if I could, I would go back to England now. However, I am gradually continuing to discover things that I like here. One thing I like is exploring new shops and finding things that I've never seen or tried before. I also really enjoy the warm weather, but its starting to to get cold now. Its also raining a lot more, mostly at night and in the mornings, which means my washing usually gets absolutely soaked. On average its about 15 degrees which doesn't sound too bad but wind and humidity are prominent here so its easy to become cold and even easier to have a bad hair day. Most people don't have central heating either and I haven't found a duvet for less that 40 euros, so I often get cold at night.

Ice cream disguised as a lemon. Genius!

I still have the same phone which broke shortly after I arrived. The home and lock buttons are now both broken so I need to use the silent button to unlock it. If the silent button breaks I won't be able to unlock it any more, even though it is still in a usable state. I can't take many more photos now either because the back camera in my phone is also broken and really blurry. My Erasmus (European Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students) grant came through this week so both my English and Spanish bank accounts are looking healthy. Therefore, with this and my insurance money I should be able to replace my phone without too many problems. Hopefully I won't have to worry too much at Christmas either and I can be more generous with presents.

As I have a lot of free time and I sometimes feel a bit bored I thought I may as well use it productively, so I'm trying to find a volunteering opportunity. In the past I've volunteered with a few different organisations including Amnesty International, People & Planet and Street Pastors. I'm still looking for an organisation for immigrants so I could have the possibility to do some research. I haven't heard back from CETI (Centro de Estancia Temporal de Inmigrantes, Centre for the Temporary Stay of Immigrants) so I went to La Cruz Roja (The Red Cross) who said I need to complete an online course and then go back to talk to them before I can become a volunteer, so hopefully I will get somewhere with that. I don't believe I need any other qualifications.

Sometimes I feel pretty miserable and I'm starting to wonder if I'm bringing it on myself. Its sometimes difficult to find friends with whom I have some things in common: I'm a Christian, I care about world issues and what I'm wearing or how my hair looks are usually the last things on my mind. I'm not saying I don't like being friends with different people, because I do. University has helped me with that. From previous experience I think friends should take an interest in or at least consider each other's viewpoints otherwise you will drive each other mad. Even if I do find a new friend, will they be someone someone who can put up with my limited Spanish speaking capabilities? Have I just got unlucky or am I too quiet, shy or boring for everyone? I definitely know I've become less crazy and fun since university and it makes me sad, but I guess that's just part of getting older.

Surprisingly, some of the most disappointing relationships in my life that have let me down through false promises have been with other Christians. However, I am hopeful about making friends at church as many of my closest friendships have also started at Christian organisations. I've been going to an evangelical church some Sundays and it feels a lot different and more genuine than the churches I've been to before. Everyone seems really friendly, I've met a few nice people who are kind to me and I think I will be happy there.

I've also joined a gym. I haven't been to the gym since secondary school, so I was quite apprehensive about doing so. I decided to go to a gym that a few people recommended to me, which is at the port and has sea views. I have to cycle 15 minutes each way to get there, although apparently its one of the biggest and best in Melilla. I first went when it wasn't very busy and was disappointed to see that there isn't much equipment. There is one cross-trainer, two treadmills, loads of cycles with uncomfortable seats and the rest seems to be muscle building equipment that I don't know how to use and probably couldn't anyway. The first time I stuck to the treadmill and although I was exhausted afterwards I felt really good. 

The second time I went I decided to try a spinning class, which I felt nervous about because I've never done anything like that before. I felt like an idiot because I tested the height of a few cycles until I found the right one and then more people came in and I realised you can alter each one. I was tired after 5 minutes of the class and couldn't keep up with the pace of everybody else. However, people seem quite relaxed and do whatever they feel comfortable with. I feel down a lot of the time and it takes a lot of motivation, but when I force myself to go I always feel good afterwards. I will try to continue to do so and get involved with more things that make me feel better.

My card for Santa's Gym. 
I find the name hilarious

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