Nobody Likes You When You’re 23

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Tomorrow will be one year since I turned 22.  Coincidentally, it will also be one year since I got on a plane to begin my adventure in Madrid.  After a year of mundane unemployment, moving to a new country, holding down a paying job, and doing an internship in something I love; I really feel I have grown as a person.  Sure, my glorious year of singing I’m feelin’ 22 and actually, y’know, feelin’ 22 is coming to end, but this was definitely a chapter of major character development in the Book of Rosy.  So, because I love talking about myself so much, here are some things I’ve learnt during my first year as a proper grownup (grownups and adults are different things, because the former can’t refer to themselves as the latter yet).

5) Goodbye, Gossip Girl:

I’ve already discussed in length how I’m losing the ability to enjoy YA literature, but I’ve never addressed the loss of another important piece of media in my life: overdramatic dramas about teenagers. I realised long ago that I could no longer relate to real teenagers, but I never thought my love for the fictional ones would disappear.  Nowadays, I get annoyed with all the Pretty Little Liars’ stupid life decisions, I think Rory Gilmore is a whiney self-absorbed brat, and god forbid a student pursue an affair with a teacher (you love them so much you want them to go to jail, huh?).  When you find yourself more invested with the parents in Gossip Girl than whatever Serena is doing, you know something’s changed.

4) Work can be fulfilling, even if it isn’t exactly fun:

I never wanted to become a teacher, let alone work with children, but since I started my current job six months ago, I’ve had a complete change of heart.  As mushy as it sounds, whenever I see that a kid has enjoyed a lesson I created or has finaaaaaally learnt how to pronounce a word in the past tense (“walk-ed”), I get a little buzz that I can only presume is job gratification.  Sure, it isn’t what I thought I’d be doing fresh out of university with an English degree, but if I can give these kids the chance to learn a language properly, something the English education system never gave me, it can’t be that much a waste of my time.  Hell, I even spent two weeks of my summer willingly hanging out with some eleven year olds and crowning Taylor Swift the Queen of the World.  Tell that to 22 year old Rosy.

3) Don’t panic if you don’t know what you’re doing next week, yet alone next year:

All my life, I’ve followed a path. I’ve gone from school, to sixth form, to university.  There was never any doubt in what I’d do next, because I’ve always known what was coming.  I always presumed that the obligatory next step was a job related to the field I’d just spent three years studying, but that’s not how it went for me.  So after my year of spending more time with Indeed.com than with my friends, I thought hey, maybe I could go teach English for a year or something. Well, that year is now turning into two. And who knows what comes then? I could open my own business and stay in Spain, I could travel the world teaching English, I could go back home and dreamingly reminisce about my former life in Madrid. I have no idea. But I’m not panicking about it anymore. I have a job with a steady income, good friends, and all the cheap café con leches a girl could wish for. I’m pretty set for the time being.

2) I now know why my mum likes buying household products so much:

I’ve always loved shopping.  But -that- shopping revolved solely around clothes or films or cute stationery.  Then I moved to Madrid and got my first taste of house shopping.  But even then I was in a shared apartment, so my IKEA trips were limited to picking out my own bin and deciding to treat myself to the same glowing alien lamp I had as a teenager.  But next month I’m officially moving into my First Real Proper Grownup Apartment.  A studio apartment.  And last week I went shopping and bought tea towels and toothbrush holders and kitchen sponges… and it was invigorating!  But it’s more than that, it’s like I’ve become *gulp* house proud.  That empty bowl?  Wash it.  Those clothes on the back of the chair?  Fold them.  That laundry?  Cleaaaaan it.  I’d like to take this opportunity to formally apologise to my teenage bedroom, you didn’t deserve it.

1) I’m actually not a complete waste of space as a human:

This one’s a little braggy, but seeing as this blog started out as a way to document that excruciating year of unemployment I talk about so often, I think I’m allowed to gloat just this once.  From my graduation up until my 22nd birthday, my days consisted of Netflix, onesies, and trying to develop a psychic bond with my cat.  Hardly a life of luxury that one can be envious of.  And when I first moved to Spain, I didn’t really think anything of it.  Old retired Brits do it all the time.  All I had to do was pack a suitcase and buy a oneway RyanAir ticket; you’d think something so life changing would require more effort.  But since then I’ve had countless people tell me how amazing it was, how much I’ve accomplished, how they wish they could do it too.  And for someone who spent a little over a year staring at Facebook statutes about new jobs and new cities, it feels good to finally be through the looking glass.  Okay, gloating over now, we can continue on with the crippling self loathing you’ve come to expect from this blog.

Mainly I think it all comes down to being less of a perfectionist and just learning to go with the flow, maaaaan.  You can’t plan out your entire future.  You can’t predict where you’ll be in two, five, ten years.  You can’t keep comparing yourself and where you are to other people.  Because once I stopped focusing on one specific life path, a whole new world that I’d never even considered opened up to me; and now I have money, I don’t live in my teenage bedroom, and I have a super hot Spanish boyfriend. Olé!

So happy 23rd birthday to me.  Taylor was totally right about this past year, so here’s hoping Blink-182 got it wrong about the next one.  Wish me luck.

HEY NOW HEY NOW

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Housemate Horrors Part Dos

Picture the scene. It is 4AM. It is my new flatmate’s 3rd night in the apartment. Suddenly, I am awake. I hear him talking loudly on the phone, but because it is 4AM and he is speaking in tongues (aka Spanish), I have no idea what he is saying. I sneak a peek out of my door and see my other flatmate there.

“Apparently the whole building is being robbed!” she exclaims, surprisingly chipper.

They fill me in and we all anxiously wait for the police. New Housemate runs from room to room, pointing to where he sees the intruders. We see nothing, but whatever, it’s dark, it’s 4AM. We have no reason to doubt him.

The police come. He points to places. They go to investigate. After a while it is silent. The police have left.

We start to question whether there were ever really any intruders.

He keeps calling the police (I find out the next morning, he called them eight times). He can’t sit still or calm down, and is constantly signalling and telling us where he sees people. Every time we ask for clarification, such as which balcony he’s pointing at, or which floor, or even if he’s talking about our actual building, he ignores us and runs to another window. His story changes from ‘a group of black men’ to ‘people in ski masks’ (but all of this was in Spanish, obv). He is struck with fear over seeing a group of people tie a poor little old woman to a chair. We still see nothing.

There are no intruders.

The sane flatmate and I decide we should go to bed. He won’t shut up about the intruders, or sit down, or even breathe. Sane Flatmate tells him she doesn’t see any intruders and that he should go to bed too. He does not react well to this. I push my chair in front of my door, just in case.

It’s impossible to sleep because he is running around the flat, opening and closing blinds, banging doors, stepping onto the balcony to find the mystery intruders.

About an hour later, only twenty minutes of which I was asleep for, it’s now 6:50AM and there’s frantic banging on my bedroom door. I open it in case it is Sane Flatmate saying New Flatmate is brandishing a knife or something (it seemed likely at the time). No, it was New Flatmate. He blurts something out in rapid Spanish, barges past me, sits on my bed, and stares out the window. The window which had the shutter down and has the exact same view as his bedroom window. I just stood there, half-asleep and dumbfounded. Before I can react, he runs out again and I shut the door, barricading it once again. I hear him talking to someone. He decided to wake our building manager up because he’s still convinced someone is in the building. It’s completely light outside now.

An other hour passes and he finally seems to have shut up and I get a glorious three hours sleep.

Sane Flatmate tells me the next day, that in the beautiful twenty minutes of sleep I stole, he managed to lock himself in her room with her and claimed that there were twenty men on the patio. Those twenty men turned out to be twenty plants.

To keep the mystery going, later that same day, New Flatmate disappeared. We think he went to Barcelona and we had no idea when he was coming back. For the next week and a bit, we flinched at every noise, waiting for the day he would return home and probably try to murder us. When he finally does return, he says nothing. Apart from one incident when he chased me out of the apartment whilst screaming ‘why are you running?’, no other incidents have occurred. We start to believe that he is actually 100% insane and question why our landlord hasn’t evicted him yet.

Eventually, he assures us that he ‘took a little bit of meth’.

Oh, alright then. That makes it so much better.

TL;DR: I’m moving out at the end of the month.

As a side note, whilst New Flatmate had disappeared, a New New Flatmate moved in. He is 40 years old, married, has 3 kids, and has never lived outside of his parents’ house before. If you ever move to Madrid, please make sure your landlord gives you some say in who moves in with you (or, y’know, actually tells you someone is moving in before you awkwardly meet them in the hall).

Mapping Madrid: The War On Jamón

(Or, a Vegetarian Caffeine Addict’s Guide To Eating In Madrid)

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I’ve talked a lot of trash about Madrid in the past, and one of my most common remarks is that I don’t get why so many tourists visit here. And I’m not just saying that because they get in my way whenever I have to venture into Sol *shudder*. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an absolutely wonderful city to live in– I just don’t think it’s the place to plan and wait for a visit to. That been said, obviously there are places and things I love here, but because most people I know always visit Barcelona (how dare they?), my expat expertise is wasted. So when one of my favourite bloggers, Rachel, wrote about how she was visiting Madrid this year, I jumped at the chance to offer my favourite haunts in this city I call home. Then I figured that no one else I know is gonna visit this city again any time soon, so I’ll blog my tips as well. You’re welcome.

This installment will focus on my first worry when planning my move to Madrid, how to survive as a vegetarian, and my first hurdle upon arriving, where to find a decent cup of coffee. Hierarchy of needs and all that.

Time for real talk: if your idea of Spanish food is free plates of delicious tapas with your drinks at the bar, Madrid is going to disappoint you. Although it is possible to find, it’s not always worth the trouble. In fact, if you think any of my food related tips are going to be praising Spanish food at all, stop reading now. I am not a fan (and if you’re vegetarian, you’re not going to be either). But I do appreciate good food… it’s just not what you’d necessarily relate to Spain.

Federal Café (metro Noviciado): This is probably my favourite place to grab lunch in Madrid. It’s big and bright and spacious and is a favourite among the expat scene. It’s an Australian place, with another location in Barcelona, and it’s definitely my go-to place if I’m craving a sandwich… which really don’t exist in Spain. My favourite is the haloumi.

Toma Café (metros Noviciado/Tribunal): This place is consistently referred to as the best coffee in Madrid, and I’d have to agree. It’s a quirky little place that’s more like a hole in the wall, but if you do manage to fight for a seat in here, stop for one of their iced coffees (another rarity in Madrid, usually if I request one I’m handed a regular coffee and a separate glass full of ice… you’re welcome).

Coffee & Kicks (metro Callao): This is a new place but has quickly become one of my favourites. Another place for excellent iced lattes or cold brew coffee (and an extra delicious lemon cake). It’d be so easy to walk right passed this place if you didn’t know what you were looking for, but that’s just part of it’s charm.

La Chelinda (metros Sol/Antòn Martín): I’d describe this place as a feminist Mexican restaurant, which are three words after my own heart if there ever were any. I would do anything for Mexico and Spain to switch their cuisines, but I think this place is the closest I’m gonna get. Try the veggie burrito.

La Infinito (metros Antón Martín/Lavapies): As an English graduate, I’m a sucker for anything with a literary reference. This adorable little library café hybrid is a really quiet little spot perfect for getting work done. It also does hummus, something you’d think a country with such Arab influences would have more of, but alas. I promise I don’t pick my menu options based on which literary character they’re named after, honest.

Viva Chapata (metro Lavapies): VEGAN FOOD. VEGETARIAN FOOD. I LOVE YOU. Aaaaah. In a sea of chorizo and jamón, finding somewhere with an overwhelmingly vegan menu felt like a hallucination. A veggie mirage in a world of cooked animal carcasses. Although it does have meat options too, y’know, if you’re into that stuff.

So go forth, holiday-goers and newbie expats of Madrid, eat good food and try to ignore all the weird giant pig legs that adorn every bar/supermarket/restaurant you see.