I change for every new place I live in. Not entirely, but I scratch off the surface layer of baggage from my last home and try to find more interesting baggage to haul around with me. But this time I scraped too deep – past the layer of Luggage down to the good stuff and pulled off some helpful habits too. In Philly I finally learned to stay organized and keep a planner. I stopped double-scheduling friends and then canceling on someone, I stopped forgetting about doctors appointments and I started showing up prepared and informed. My Philly friends actually thought of me as a responsible person.
When I first came to Spain I imagined it more as an extended vacation than an extension of my life. School would be something to occupy my time and help me make friends rather than the institution that my life revolved around. I was here to learn a language and a culture, soi wouldn’t be making to many plans. My afternoons would be spent wandering the streets and meeting cute waiters, my nights, dancing with said cute waiter. I would grow into a free spirit, roaming Europe, meeting fabulous people, finding villages and dive bars…never to return to school again.
The first day of class at Universidad de Alicante everyone trooped over to the papeleria to get their school supplies: pencils, folders, notebooks, planners. Only I didn’t get anything except one notebook and one folder. I debated a planner, but realized this wasn’t my real life with 5 different classes, work, and volunteering, this was my Spain life. Homework would be all I needed to remember, and I’d just jot that down in my notes.
But turns out four months abroad is far too long for a vacation. Roaming a city every afternoon is fun for about 2, and meeting cute waiters is possible in about 0 cafés. Unfortunately, Spain me started making plans. Plans that without a planner I quickly forgot. I started double-scheduling my language exchange partners, forgetting English class today, physical therapy, sailing lessons.
Finally Spain-me “planned” a trip to Paris. Turns out the best-layed plans don’t usually go awry, but really shitty ones often do. When I got back to Alicante at 3:30 on Sunday morning I decided my Spanish-life might be happier with a little more of my Philly life.
So yesterday I bought a planner from a “Chino” (any kind of Walmart/dollar store type shop, often run by Asians) for 1 euro. It’s pink with Barbie holding up her shopping bags, but it works. I write down my homework and Skypedates, and no longer have to be in two places at once.
Image courtesy or Melanie Phillips.