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Pepino
11th September 2006, 02:49 PM
Well, at last the bags are packed, the pets have been distributed amongst various unsuspecting family members, and everything else is organised (kind of) and I’m all ready for my big move to Barcelona on Wednesday morning. Just thought I’d better squeeze this post in now, as by tomorrow, I’ll probably be in the middle of a “what the hell am I doing?” kind of nervous breakdown and therefore might not get time to write! hehe

I’ve got a busy first few days planned when I arrive. Meeting my flatmate is my first priority. I hope he’s sociable and likes all my mildly-psychotic (but extremely loveable) little quirks around the house. I’ll be hitting the ground running by going straight into work on Thursday and all my colleagues are under strict instructions that they should talk to me in Spanish, and not let me get away with any slacking on the language front (despite the fact that some of them speak beautiful English). That’ll be a laugh, as I’ve already been chatting with them in advance of my arrival and, although they’re all desperately polite, I’m getting the impression that my spoken Spanish level seems to be somewhere between “mildly incomprehensible but acceptable” and “hysterically funny”. I’ve checked on the DELE websites and these levels don’t seem to exist on the official list. Very strange. ;)

Then on Friday, normality returns for the weekend as my friend arrives for a visit (he’s bringing the other half of my luggage, hence the quickness of his arrival). We’ll be checking out the nightlife and so I hope to have a few recommendations of fun places to go (or maybe avoid) by early next week. I recall the first time I was in BCN, and I ignored the warning in the guidebooks that says quite clearly “don’t even dream of going out before midnight!” and I remember thinking that the famous nightlife that I’d heard was world-class was actually a giant con. Won’t be making that mistake this time! J

Right, I’m off to dig-out my old tapes of Eldorado now, so I can brush up on my Spanish culture! (Any Brits reading will know that the dismally-bad, failed BBC soap-opera set on the Spanish Costas is quite simply the most accurate portrayal of authentic Spanish life ever made…… not! Hehehe)

More later in the week…. :)

Ben
11th September 2006, 03:02 PM
Good luck! And don't worry about the Spanish, you speak a lot better than I did when I first turned up here!

Can't wait to here how it all goes! Suerte!

Marina
11th September 2006, 03:42 PM
¡Mucha suerte Pepino!

It seems to me that you have everything well organised so hopefully your arrival will be very smooth. Don't forget to keep us updated!

que
11th September 2006, 07:56 PM
good luck mate! keep us updated on your progress.

I think its great you've got a company transfering you. Great opportunity, really it is. :thumbs-up:

Keep us updated like Steve W, talking of which, anyone heard from him lately :confused:

Good luck

Steve W
11th September 2006, 08:32 PM
I'm still here!

Good luck Pepino, and we'll meet up for a drink when you have the time.
No last minute nerves are allowed. The sea is very warm right now and the beer is cold.

Pepino
13th September 2006, 09:29 PM
Hey, I'm here! Arrived this morning and came straight to my new apartment. Met my landlady briefly before she had to shoot-off back to London (where she lives most of the year). Also met my flatmate, and all my worries have evaporated. He's really considerate and friendly, and is keen that I feel at home etc. He's moved around a bit himself and seems to appreciate just how much a few kind gestures can go when you're new somewhere. Can't write more yet as I'm heading out now, but will do a proper update asap. :)

Steve W
13th September 2006, 09:59 PM
First thing you have to do is change the location on your strapline, from Manchester to Barcelona. That will make you feel like you're really here.

Glad to hear you're settling in to the Spanish way of life. "Can't write more yet as I'm heading out now...."

Pepino
14th September 2006, 02:10 PM
First thing you have to do is change the location on your strapline, from Manchester to Barcelona

Sorted. I feel better already :D

Ben
14th September 2006, 02:18 PM
Give us an update, how's it going!?!

Pepino
14th September 2006, 07:07 PM
Oh my God, how crazy is it being here! I love it but I’m absolutely exhausted!

OK, my heads in bits but I want to get this down in writing soon in case I start to forget things, so here goes…

First, the flat. I’ve totally landed on my feet with it as it’s absolutely beautiful. It’s in an old building in Eixample near to the Hospital. Actually, that’s one down side as we have the intermittent sound of ambulances (presumably rushing to casualty the constant stream of tourists who’ve made the mistake of trying to cross the streets of the never-ending grid system!). The interior is gorgeous though, and I have plenty of extras to help make it super-comfortable for me – aircon, balcony, humongous wardrobes, comfy bed, satellite TV etc). My flatmate is lovely, and is keen to improve his English even though it’s near word-perfect (some people make me sick! hehe) so we spent last night chatting in mainly English. Tonight we’ll split the language chores a bit more 50/50, as I desperately need the practice with someone patient.

My first day in the office has left me worn out! I had a lovely welcome (I handed out posh chocolates that I’d brought from home for them, and they oooed and arrrr’d, which was nice). I wasn’t ready for how hard it is to deal in a foreign language full-time from a standing-start! Everyone kind of quickly realised that the “stand around the new guy and listen to how funny he speaks” approach, probably wasn’t going to tempt my brain into constructing the most impressive sentences possible, so we all kind of broke up and little conversations sprang up bit with individuals etc which was much better. When I returned from lunch, one of the girls was alone in the office, so I closed in on her like a velociraptor ;) and we sat down together and had a really good chat about anything and everything, so I’d say that was my highlight of the day. Of course, my half of the conversation was made up of half-finished sentences and random verb constructions never before seen in the Spanish-speaking world, but she was really patient and we both got our points across more or less, which is all I could wish for at this stage.

Hardest thing so far by a mile, is simply being outside of my language comfort zone, and therefore not being able to reply with quick answers. People would say something that I kind of understood, and I could potentially have given a perfect answer to, if only I could gather the Spanish words in my mind in time. But no, instead it was blank looks all round, a feeling of total inadequacy inside me, and lots of bueno…pues… etc etc. (Even more than what could be considered normal!). Nothing prepares you for the feeling of total uselessness when your mouth opens….. but nothing remotely suitable comes out! I don’t know if I’m the type of person who feels the pain more, but it’s absolute torture, so I guess I must be. :blush: hehe

Tonight has been declared a shopping night, so I’m off to the supermarket now to try to work my way through all the different product brands etc and actually come home with some ingredients that can actually make a meal of some kind.

More shortly….

Marbella
14th September 2006, 08:04 PM
Great post Pepino:) :) :).

As each day passes it is bound to get easier. Good luck.

Pepino
14th September 2006, 09:21 PM
Thanks Marbella!

A quick add-on to my earlier post...

I've now returned from the supermarket with armfulls of incompatible foodstuffs :blush: . If Marina can suggest a recipe that can be made from a bag of apples, some yoghurts and a box of teabags, I'd be eternally grateful! ;)

The whole shopping experience was, well... an experience I suppose! Still primed and ready to learn, I homed-in on a lady on the meat counter because she was talking in the way only Spanish women can do... that's right, she was shouting at the top of her voice to an elderly customer who was a good 30 yards away at the other end of a very long counter. I figured I could pick up a few choice shopping-related phrases that might help with my next visit, but I think the shutters have been pulled down on my language-absorbtion skills for the day as I wasn't taking in anything unfortunately.

I know I'm rambling now, so I apologise for cluttering a previously very tidy forum, but I have to tell you that I committed a minor felony in the store. On the fruit and veg section, the procedure here seems to be that you have to bag-up whatever you want and weigh it on the scales yourself (I didn't know this beforehand of course, but I eyeballed a fellow happy shopper and learnt by example). Anyway, the scales have about half a million (slight exageration, but only slight) miniscule pictures of the various products available, and it's your task as an innocent shopper to select the correct picture in order to receive a little sticker to put on your bag and be charged the correct price at the checkout. Simple really. The problem is that, in this particular supermarket, it seems a child was in charge of drawing the pictures, so everything is just a different coloured circle. It's like identifying individual M&Ms from a family-sized pack. Well, after about 30 failed attempts to locate the Granny Smiths (and overloaded with little stickers by this point) I just plumped for the cheapest one that looked a bit like an apple. It wasn't the same price as that on the shelf of course, but I was past caring by now. Anyway, I wasn't followed out of the store by the overweight security guard, and there hasn't been a knock at the door so far since, so I guess that means I don't have to consume 8 apples in the next ten minutes in order to destroy the evidence! :eek:

On a brighter note, tomorrow is Friday which means I only have to work 10am until 2pm. My Spanish colleagues are green with envy at this, but this falls on deaf ears. This is what happens when your UK manager tries to convert an English working week into a Spanish one. My Mondays to Thursdays are fairly normal Spanish type hours, but by Friday, I have a massive surplus of hours to quickly get rid of, hence the early finish. Qué bien! ;D

greytop
14th September 2006, 10:08 PM
Thanks Marbella!

that's right, she was shouting at the top of her voice to an elderly customer who was a good 30 yards away at the other end of a very long counter. I figured I could pick up a few choice shopping-related phrases that might help with my next visit, but I think the shutters have been pulled down on my language-absorbtion skills for the day as I wasn't taking in anything unfortunately.



They were probably shouting in Catalan anyway!
Thanks for keeping us posted amongst all that's going on. It WILL get easier, honest!

Ben
14th September 2006, 10:18 PM
Grat updates Pepino, thank you! I remember the first days' language torture, but it really will get easier really quickly, by which time you will suddenly realise you are fluent in Spanish and laugh in retrospect at these first heady days!

Pepino
14th September 2006, 10:23 PM
Thanks guys. Writing everything like this will hopefully serve to remind me just how useless I was once that magic day comes when everything suddenly clicks into place :rolleyes:

cubix
15th September 2006, 04:28 AM
Sounds like your having a great time, I'm envious

timg
15th September 2006, 09:13 AM
This calls for some tonic wine and a sponge finger
Do they have tonic wine and sponge fingers in Barcelona? The people need to know.

Marina
15th September 2006, 09:15 AM
Hi Pepino,

It's good to hear that everything is going well and don't worry about the language, at the begining it will be exahusting to go by all day speaking in Spanish, but at the same time is the best expirience you can have with a language!

By the way, you made me laugh lots with your supermarket expirience;-)
Keep us updated!
Marina.

Pepino
15th September 2006, 10:30 AM
Do they have tonic wine and sponge fingers in Barcelona? The people need to know.

No sign of any so far! This is one of my favourite lines from Mrs Overall in Acorn Antiques...

http://images.google.co.uk/images?q=tbn:soWYBfoZwhoQgM:http://news.bbc.co.uk/olmedia/1165000/images/_1168413_mrs_overall150.jpg (http://images.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=http://news.bbc.co.uk/olmedia/1165000/images/_1168413_mrs_overall150.jpg&imgrefurl=http://popjustice2.proboards48.com/index.cgi%3Faction%3Drecent&h=180&w=150&sz=8&hl=en&start=2&tbnid=soWYBfoZwhoQgM:&tbnh=101&tbnw=84&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dmrs%2Boverall%26svnum%3D10%26hl%3Den% 26lr%3D%26sa%3DG)

Although, I have others so I might change it later :)


Hi Pepino,

It's good to hear that everything is going well and don't worry about the language, at the begining it will be exahusting to go by all day speaking in Spanish, but at the same time is the best expirience you can have with a language!

By the way, you made me laugh lots with your supermarket expirience;-)
Keep us updated!
Marina.

Thanks Marina. I have a habit of looking for the silly things in life (or maybe just silly things happen to me:rolleyes: ), so you might get more of this kind of thing as the time goes on!! hehe

ValenciaSon
15th September 2006, 03:11 PM
I really enjoy your entries Pepino. At this rate, you might have a book come out of all this in a year or so!

Pepino
24th September 2006, 11:44 PM
Thanks for taking the time to read my entries, it's nice to know that someone's listening, even though just writing it out is worth it from my point of view.

I've decided I need to formalise my thoughts and feelings, and so I've started an online blog. To get me going, I've pasted my above posts in as my first few entries, and added my recent updates (a couple of which I didn't post on the forum because they were just too depressing!) :blush:

Anyway, the address is http://pepino-bcn.blogspot.com/ but I'll still be on the forums here as usual, so I'm not defecting anywhere else! :) Just trying to organise things so that when I come to the end of this little adventure, I have everything in one place etc.

Thanks :)

Marina
25th September 2006, 08:57 PM
hi Pepino,

I'm very impressed by your new blog, looks very nice and it even has a link to NFS. Thanks for that!!!. But to tell you the truth I'm even more impressed by the weekend that you've just had. My god!!! looks like you don't need to make an effort to have an amazing time:D:D.