Monday, June 27, 2011

Settling in

Although I pointed out earlier that my brain had finally worked out that I am here to stay - not just on vacation. I feel like this week marks the time where I finally feel like I am settling into my new life and country.

That is not to say that going to the grocery store does not still give my a flutter in my stomach, but at least I have been enough to know the routine. I feel like I am making friends now and have finally had the time to seriously start applying to jobs.

Things take SO MUCH time when you are in a new country, heck they took a lot more time when I moved to a new city in the US! Ok here is an example: going tot he grocery store is only about a 5 minute walk from my house. You are new to the neighborhood so taking time to look around and get the feel of the area can take a long time in and of it's self. You look for what the buildings look like, where the post office boxes and recycling containers are, where the cars are going to pop out of (you spend a lot of time doing the last one). So your walk takes about 10 for the first couple of times.

Now you are at the store and have successfully navigated around the guy asking for money. You take your old-lady-wheeled shopping cart to the lockers and lock it up as it is not allowed inside the main part of the store. This can now take 2 minutes, before it could take around 7 as you look for the appropriate coin deposit in your purse, then turn around and go back to the cart as you realize you have forgotten something like bags. Something I really like about Spain is that now a lot of the food stores charge you for bags, therefore giving an incentive to bring your own and cut down on waste (up until recently I was not very organized and forgot my bag frequently.)

Now you are in the store and have a basket for your purchases. Of course this is Spain so everything has a different name then you are used to (both brand and common names) but the biggest time suck is figuring out what to buy. I am a non-traditionally raised American, so I tend to cook healthy meals from various parts of the world. This has been something that is really hard to wrap my head around here in Spain. Even though there might be more international people around (being in Europe and all) there is less access to international food. And by international food I mean non-Spanish cuisine ingredients. You Americans out there reading this might think that your grocery store isn't very international, but I assure you some of the smallest grocery stores I have been to in the states (and I have lived in a lot of places there) are more international than some of the biggest stores here. The food is not is just different. More on Spanish food later, the point is that everything is so new and different it can take you an hour to choose what to make for dinner. Now that I am more used to what is available in certain stores I can head straight for the items that I want.

The checkout lines are needlessly long. HAHA I am telling you right now that hard thing for me to adjust to here well be the laid back attitude. I have long realized that I have the American tendency to want things NOW, but this is pushing me to my limits. Spain has a whole difference Cadence of life which will take a huge mental shift on my part.

You bag your own groceries here, and that has been tricky to try and figure out how you are going to have the time to put things on the very small conveyor belt, bag and, pay (especially with your old-lady-wheeled-cart locked up by the front of the store) in a smooth way. I have to admit I have yet to figure out just how to do this dance, especially as I tense up for any questions or conversation the cashier might say to me in my second language.

Then there is the walk home, the ride up the elevator, the find where to put things in your tiny kitchen.

Going to the store 2 hours, meals you bought for = 2. Which means that you get to do it all over again tomorrow. HAHA but like I said the timing is getting better. Really the relief is knowing where all of my time is going to. Between going to the store and getting four hours of Spanish in - that is a full days work! ;)

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