In a few days’ time I’ll have just wrapped up yet another nine-month stint here in Spain– my fourth since that life-changing day back in 2010.
Looking back on the year, I wouldn’t say there’ve been as many major changes as in previous years, but changes nonetheless and changes that I’m sure most of us are constantly going through, expat or not.
Career goals take new directions, friendships intensify, people get engaged, loose acquaintances become close friends, we discover new places, we develop new interests and discard others, we become wiser and we even– and this one might just be me –decide to start hand-rearing birds.
That’s right. I recently encountered a tiny common swift– vencejo in Spanish –on my terrace, after presumably crash-landing from an ill-fated first flight. It’s mother was nowhere to be seen and I even left it for a day before retrieving it. Google –once I’d filtered out all the Taylor Swift stuff –threw up a couple of sites written by people who’d practically dedicated their lives to the lil’ critters. Thus, I suddenly had a surfeit of tips and information pertaining to swifts. I bought live crickets and worms, replaced its flimsy shoebox with a giant cardboard one (so it had room to do its ‘press-ups’ in order to strengthen its wings) and learnt all the uber-important feeding and grooming methods.
All in all, I felt excited! Noble! Heroic! That I’d been entrusted with a formidable task I would endeavour to achieve…
Then it died (cause of death unknown but possibly because of ongoing shock), but not before, as if by fate, another one fell into my lap! I found this one, who has since been named Taylor (also my surname), outside a bar. Maybe she killed the other one when I wasn’t looking. I don’t know though– she looks way too cute to be capable of anything like that. Healthier too.
Now friends of mine have started calling to say that they’ve found a bird on the street and if I’d like to come by and get it and add it to my nest. I think not. One is enough– having two didn’t go so well last time.
So what is the point of all this bird babble you ask?
Perhaps there isn’t one, and now you think I’m a a bit peculiar, but something tells me it might mean that I am subconsciously aching for some more responsibility in my life, which goes beyond the nurturing of a homeless and by now probably very confused bird.
At the start of the year I set myself five goals that I’d hoped to achieve by July. Interestingly, successfully rearing a swift chick to adulthood wasn’t one of them and– after a quick glance back –none really pertained to me becoming more responsible in any way. That’s not to say they weren’t reasonable though. To quickly review and assess:
1. Study Spanish properly and pass an exam:
I studied Spanish, quite a lot actually, and enjoyed it too, but never got around to taking an exam. I’d like to argue that by now exams are pointless, since four years is long enough to learn a language well enough without doing any. It probably is for most of us, but given my ever-expanding gaggle of guiri friends and my ever-shrinking circle of Spanish friends (post in the works), I’ve begun to feel my Spanish is seriously flagging, and possibly even going backwards. Big problem. Need to sort it.
2. Learn Another Language:
Ok, I’m not up to much yet but I have grappled with the basics of conversational French, thanks to Michel Thomas’s French for Beginners CD boxset. Hoping to set up a regular intercambio next year.
3. Visit Ten Unseen Spanish Cities/Towns
This was overly ambitious. I’ve definitely visited ten new places, but only four or five could be classed as cities or towns, and most of them were in the Granada province. Valencia, however, was somewhere I absolutely had to see, and I managed that
4. Get Better at Techy Stuff:
The idea was to sign up for a digital-based course of some sort, and while I haven’t actually started yet, I did recently bag a place on Google’s own, distance-learning, digital marketing course called We Are Squared. It’s expensive and will take six months to complete, but I am very keen and this will, I hope, be the kickstart to the career I’m striving for. Starts at the end of the month. Expect updates.
5. Be a better cook:
I haven’t attempted anything too elaborate but I’ve had a few small victories here and there (see sushi below!) I do have a habit of using ginger and soy sauce or avocado with EVERYTHING. Always seems to work
Three out of five. Not bad I suppose, and there’s always next year. Yes, next year. There is still no real, adequate reason, as far as I can see, for me to move back home permanently. In fact, this whole ‘should I stay or should I go’ conundrum is getting easier by the year.
And for the record, Taylor is doing great