On Instagram and Introspection

One of my biggest guilty pleasures is stalking myself on the Internet. From being a Myspace kid, to my short lived YouTube career, to curating my life on Instagram – I am so guilty of checking what I was doing one, three, or even seven years ago.

Which makes me wonder why I’m currently so aware of the idea of “aesthetic”. I may not be a gazillionaire fashion blogger who supports their lifestyle with Instagram, but for whatever reason, my Instagram seems to have developed a theme. What can I say? I’m a content producer both by day and by night. Keeping it on brand is practically second nature to me.

If I use Instagram as a means to keep tabs on my past self, I’m my own biggest audience. Something deep down is directing what content I choose to share online. Sure, a couple of hundred other people are watching too, but a lot of this is for thirty year old Rosy. Photo albums are obsolete. Part of the fun of nostalgia is now looking at how many likes a post got, as well as the picture itself.

Or maybe this is just me and I’m totally weird/self-absorbed/kinda pathetic. Your call.

When I lived in Madrid, for example, my feed was bright. Because isn’t that what the life of an expat in Spain is supposed to be? If Hemingway had an Instagram, it would be sun kissed and vibrant and warm. Old Ernie and I both liked to criticise Spain, but we definitely wanted to immortalise the country in its best light.

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Sure, in Madrid I did all these things. I ate pink lollies and drank iced coffee (when it became gentrified enough to get it, that is) and wore floaty dresses. My life was significantly sunnier than its English equivalent and I wanted to remember that. But my life in Madrid on social media is definitely not the life I had. I was unhealthy and unhappy. From the major lack of vegetarian options to the comfort eating to dull the pain of teaching English or unpaid internships, Madrid had its downs. But unless I screenshotted my empty bank account, you can’t portray that life on Instagram.

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Which brings us to my time in Brighton. The sky is grey, my clothes are black, and I’m still drinking my iced coffee. The colours may be more muted, but I’m so much happier here. I’m not sitting around carefully curating my life to look back on. I’m living in the now and posting it as an afterthought. Whilst I only chose to share the best of Madrid, for me, all of Brighton is the best. I may have only been here for five months but I’m already much happier than I ever was in Hull or Madrid.

I can post a picture of my work desk and planner because for once in my life, my work makes me happy. I’m sharing food pictures because, get this, vegetarian food is everywhere. Who would have thought? Not Spain! Who needs pretty dresses? I’m wearing all black and I’m digging it.

So thank you, Brighton. For making me evaluate my social media choices. And more importantly, for making me realise how happy I am here.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll post a picture of seagull or a bagel – and Future Rosy will know without a doubt that whatever the subject ends up being, Past Rosy was pretty freaking happy with it.

Brighton, So Far

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So I moved to Brighton. Not as dramatic as my move to Madrid three years ago but much, much harder. Although in Madrid I had to deal with language barriers, reentering education, and, well, the Spanish. In Brighton I have to live with the uncertainty that everything leading up to now has been for nothing. Sure, you might think I’m being overdramatic, but…

Hi, my name’s Rosy Parrish and I think I’m finally entering my quarter life crisis.

I thought I’d experienced my quarter life crisis already. Multiple times. When I first moved abroad, when I turned down a well paying teaching gig for an unpaid internship, when I decided to move back to the UK. Pretty much every second of the last three years. And maybe I was in a crisis and this is just the peak of it. Or maybe that was nothing compared to what’s about to come.

Brighton was a huge whim. I’d never even been to the city before I started flying over for interviews. I knew one person here. To me it was just this whimsical seaside town full of quirky street art and indie coffee houses. But it seemed like a good fit. And I don’t regret that part of the decision at all. Brighton is the perfect place for me and although I’ve only been here a month, I can’t imagine myself leaving any time soon. I never felt that way with Madrid. That was always like biding my time until something better came along and appeasing myself by going on about all the ~culture~ I was experiencing.

Currently I’m a freelance writer. I sit on my bed all day because my desk doesn’t have a chair yet and type away. Sometimes I take a break to apply for a proper job. Sometime I watch How I Met Your Mother on Netflix because it soothes me into thinking it will all get better. If I were to watch Girls right now, I’d probably cry. The Avenue Q song ‘What Do You Do With A BA In English?’ makes my stomach do backflips. This is not where I thought I’d be at the age of 24. With £25,000 in student loans and working from my bedroom in a shared flat.

The older I get the more I realise that life is just a series of flukes one after the other. I used to spend so much time thinking would this have happened if I did a different degree? Went to another uni? Didn’t move to Spain? Hadn’t failed GCSE maths? But now I just feel that life is chaotic and I just need to deal with it. Sure, this isn’t the ideal situation for me right now. But if I’d picked a different degree or decided against teaching English, I wouldn’t have had the experiences I’ve got right now. As stagnant as my time in Madrid felt, I know I experienced a life that many others can only dream of. I became friends with interesting people and captured myself a cute European boyfriend and I know the city will always welcome me back with open arms.

So I may not be writing in a swish city office wearing a cool blazer; but I’m writing on my bed wearing a dinosaur t-shirt. So I guess I’m doing okay.

I have faith that eventually I’ll get my cool job and my cool blazer because goddammit I’ve done 16 months of unpaid internships now and if that’s not seen as dedication to my art then I’ll probably just explode anyway.

Cheap Eats In Madrid


I love Madrid and I think the reason I love it so much is that it’s just Un-Spanish. That particularly applies to the food. There’s so much variety of food in this city so eating out is never boring. That been said, there are certain places I frequent more than others. Usually because they’re yummy, but also because they are super cheap! Here are my favourite budget restaurants, all different cuisines, so there’s something for everyone.


The Place: Baobab (Calle Cabestreros 1)

The Meal: thiebou (€7)

Senegalese food is not something I’d tried before moving to Madrid, but damn. Baobab is in Lavapies, right by Plaza Nelson Mandela, and you’ve probably noticed it if you’ve walked that way through the barrio. It doesn’t look much from the outside, but isn’t that how you find hidden gems? This place is particularly great in warmer weather, ’cause their outside terrace has such a great vibe. Service is fast, although do expect them to tell you that you can’t have whatever you try to order on your first attempt. It’s pretty hit and miss in that retrospect. But if you can, get the thiebou, an amazing rice dish with either fish, chicken, or vegetables. The portions are huge, I’m not sure I can even get halfway through the plate. If you’re looking for good food, and lots of it, with a chilled out vibe, then Baobab is for you. Just be sure to get there early, as otherwise you’ll be waiting in line a long time to get a table. Yeah, it’s that good.

The Place: Shapla (Calle de Lavapies 40)

The Meal: menú del dia vegetariana (€8)

Possibly my most visited restaurant in Madrid and for good reason. As both a vegetarian and a Brit, I love Indian food. And Shapla is my favourite place for it in Madrid so far. Their menú del dia is a steal (you can pay €9.50 for the meat version, but let’s be real, vegetarian is the way to go for Indian food), and once again, I can never finish the damn thing. For €8 you get a starter, main, side, dessert, and drink. My usual combination is onion bhaji, chana masala with pilau rice, and mango lassi. Also vino blanco, something they’re very liberal with. This is another place where eating on the terrace is the best way to do things, as something is always going down on Calle Lavapies. Admittedly this backfired once when some sort of drumming and dancing thing was happening, but one bad experience out of 500 doesn’t sway me. Shapla forever.


The Place: El Azul (Calle Fúcar 1)

The Meal: menú vegetariana (€7.90)

If Senegalese and Indian aren’t for you, definitely head to El Azul. There’s also no terrace here, so I was going all out with this one. El Azul is just a cute little cafe nestled in the labyrinth of Barrio las Letras and I love it. Not only do they have a great selection of vegetarian food, but they have hummus! Do you know how hard it is to find hummus in Madrid? I had almost given up. I love coming to this place for coffee, tea, or cake, but if I’m going all out I’ll get the menú de dia. I’m a fan of the hummus and pita bread, and either the veggie burger or the vegan sandwich. At this point I usually want to burst, so I’ll switch the dessert for coffee. It’s often pretty busy in here, but if you can grab a seat, take it. Cafe culture lives on.

My vegetarian tendencies make eating out in Madrid a little difficult, so I’d like to think I have a slightly more unique take on dining here. Maybe I’ll keep adding these little tidbits of my food tastes to the blog. I’m currently on a mission to eat all of Madrid’s veggie burgers, so maybe blogging it will make me feel less guilty. Let me know if you’ve tried any of these or have any other budget eats for me to try

A Day In The Life Of An Auxiliar de Conversación


For anyone keeping track, I’m currently what you call an Auxiliar de Conversación in Madrid. I’ve been doing this since February last year, and it’s a pretty sweet gig. I’m definitely not gonna complain about 16 hours a week for €1000 a month. That’s a lie. I am going to complain. Because it’s currently June, the end of the school year, which means I’m just about ready to nap forever now please. So to mark the end of my time at this year’s school, I thought I’d do a little day in the life style post, documenting what a typical day was like for me. Admittedly, if I’d written this earlier in the year this probably would have been a lot more positive, but that’s not my style. So instead, here’s a day in the life of a slightly frazzled language assistant approaching summer vacation.

If you’re currently applying for the programme, I’m sorry. If you’re currently in the programme, you get me.

6:00: Aaaaah I hate that noise. Even changing it to Taylor Swift doesn’t make waking up at this time any less painful for me.

6:15: Okay, so I should probably get up now or something.

6:40: I am leaving the house. Keys, phone, abono, money, okay. I hope the metros are running on time today. Also, what is breakfast? Who is awake enough to deal with that at this time in the morning?

6:52: Come on, metro. Go go go. We can do this. Do not make me miss my train dammit.

6:59: GET OUT OF MY WAY, PEOPLE OF ATOCHA. Maybe I should start leaving my house earlier or something? Nah.

7:01: Made it! Time to listen to the Hamilton soundtrack in preparation for my day. Revolution and teaching are practically the same thing anyway.

7:16: Everybody give it up for America’s favourite fighting Frenchman! LAFAYETTE!

7:44: Why is it colder here than in the city? Does all that smog keep me feeling toasty? Ewww, fresh air.

7:55: I feel I shouldn’t be expected to be at work yet if the bakeries don’t even have any napolitanas ready. This is just inhumane.

8:05: Time to say ‘buenas’ 82 times in a row whilst all the teachers appear. Why did I leave the UK again?

8:15: Game Face on. Let’s do this.

8:24: Aaaaaaand the teacher’s not here yet. How long do I wait before getting someone to help me control these monsters? How are children so loud at this time?

8:27: The sixteen year olds are revolting. Send help.

9:05: The first class is over and all I was asked was how to spell something by the teacher. I didn’t actually know, but can’t really admit that as I get paid to speak English, so I made it up.

9:10: About to give a presentation on popular books for teenagers. Let’s find out how out of date I am with the teenagers of today!

9:23: LIKE NONE OF THESE KIDS HAVE READ HARRY POTTER.

9:37: Teacher tries to tell the students that examples of genres are plays, poetry, and novels. Despite me just using the sentence “part of the fantasy genre”. I can’t tell if they just don’t listen to me or think I’m constantly wrong, but I’ve learnt to pick my battles.

10:15: I’m with the oldest kids in the school now. They keep forgetting I’m a ‘teacher’ and insult the real teachers in front of me. I try not to laugh but sometimes they’re just too hilarious with their insults.

10:34: Would it be unprofessional to eat a banana right now?

10:49: I am definitely not qualified to be teaching the suffragette movement and got all of this information from Wikipedia last night. Sorry not sorry.

11:00: BREAK TIME. Finally the banana is mine.

11:20: I have a free period but no one else does. I’m sure I’d be much more productive if the WiFi worked, but this is Spain.

11:51: Is this job really beneficial to my future? Let the existential dread sink in!

12:15: Now for the youngest kids in the school. Who speak literally zero English. We’re gonna listen to Justin Bieber.

12:20: Apparently 12 year olds in Spain do not like Justin Bieber.

12:31: “What are the Spanish lyrics?” That is definitely not the point of this exercise.

13:10: THE BELL HAS GONE. I AM HOME FREE. Oh wait, I’m not. Because I have to wait around an hour to then spend another hour in a ‘staff meeting’ that I won’t even speak in. Sixteen hours a week, suuuuure…

13:40: *sits*

14:17: Like only half of the actual proper teachers show up for this but you know if any assistants bailed there’d be CONSEQUENCES.

14:20: “We’ll make it a quick one” Sure you will.

15:10: WINE WINE WINE WINE.

17:00: Finally heading back home. Can I nap on this train?

18:30: Oh look, an email asking me to plan a lesson sent a day before said lesson. I love when this happens.

18:50: How does one sum up the British political system in a single powerpoint?

19:30: I just want to watch The Office until I morph into Netflix.

20:15: I guess I should eat something that didn’t come free with a glass of wine.

21:00: It’s hard to adult when your day job is so SOUL CRUSHING.

21:45: Gonna pack my bag for tomorrow and lay out all my clothes so I can stay in bed ’til the last possible moment.

22:00: I guess I should probably think about going to bed if I want a decent amount of sleep. This is what my life has become.

As much as I may complain about this job, I actually really enjoy it. The teaching part and the kids are great, it’s just a little hit and miss with the schools (I’ve experienced both). But overall, as someone whose own language education was pretty underwhelming, it’s a pretty rewarding job. And if you’re looking into the programme yourself, I hope I didn’t scare you off too much.

Expat Friendships: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly


Making friends as an expat is a weird experience. On the one hand, everyone has a shared experience linking them together; on the other, you’re introduced to people who you might not otherwise choose to socialise with. As many of us as there are (even in a city as big as Madrid), it can be kind of slim pickings on the friend front. Such is the life of an expat.

When someone moves abroad and begins the transformation into an expat, they follow a specific pattern. This is something I call the We’re All In This Together Mindset. But honestly, that only really works in Disney Channel Original Movies, not when it comes to building a solid foundation to base your new little expatriate life on. Sure, this theory works great at first. You arrive in a new country, nervous and second guessing yourself, and then boom… a whole bunch of other people in exactly the same situation as you. Of course you’re going to latch on. And this can be useful in the beginning when it comes to exploring your new city and figuring out the basics. But is it enough to base a long-lasting friendship on? Nah. As people become more comfortable in their new life, they begin to gradually move on. And I’m not just talking about your new found friends, you’re included in this too, Hypothetic Baby Expat Reader. It’s like the advice you always get before moving away to university: “don’t settle with your first year flatmates, there’s more people out there!” It was true at university and it’s true as an expatriate.

Obviously it’s not the case all the time, and I still have friends who I met when I very first arrived in Madrid two years ago. But for the most part, after everything settles and people feel more confident, they move onto bigger and better things. And that includes new friends. Which brings me to my next point…

You’ll meet people in the weirdest places. I’ve already spoken about how to meet new people whilst abroad, but I never really touched on the completely bizare places I struck up conversations with strangers. Trying to find my way into a locked building, searching for a bank, on an Irish pub crawl. People are everywhere. Keep your eyes open and don’t write off a way of meeting someone just because you wouldn’t do it back at home.

In a slightly related note, don’t completely dismiss people either. I’m friends with a whole bunch of people I probably wouldn’t roll with at home. If anything, my time in the expat pool has made me a less judgemental person. Of course, there have been exceptions to the rule. Times where I’ve been proved right and people have been exactly who I thought they’d be, but than can happen anywhere. At least in Spain you can dull the pain with churros.

And of course, the most obvious and painful part of any expatriate friendship: you go into it knowing it has an expiration date. It might not seem like a big deal at first, but as the months draw on it gets a little distressing knowing that L Day is approaching. The dreaded Last Day. This is especially annoying with those pesky Americans and their even peskier visas. EU friends are in it for the long haul, so stick with us. But it’s also disconcerting to know that eventually, it’s going to be you leaving one day. Everything is temporary! Time is fleeting! Aaaaaaaah!

So… expat friendships. In my two years here, I’ve experienced:

THE GOOD: Meeting a diverse group of people who have helped me grow as a person and have understood all those #expatprobs better than any family members or friends back home.

THE BAD: Finding your platonic soul mate and having them leave a year later. Then repeating the process every year until your little heart can’t take it anymore and shrivels up to die.

THE UGLY: Befriending someone you usually wouldn’t because of how tiny the expat bubble is, until they one day just completely snap and call you a “c*nt-faced bitch” for no reason and then you’re stuck in their social circle FOREVER*.

*Note: forever is only a year for expats because lol visas.

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.

Things I Miss From My Childhood Spanish Summers

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I’ve touched on my many visits to Spain as a kid before. And by ‘touched on’ I mean ‘mentioned it all the time ‘cause I’m still a bit bitter about it’. Mother, Father: I will never understand your obsession with this country, even after living in it for almost a year… especially after living in it for almost a year. But I digress. I have lots of good memories from my time spent in Spain that are very different to the good memories I’ve made myself here. So, to be fair to this country I’ve made my second home, here are some of my favourite Spanish things from my childhood… that I haven’t managed to recreate in Madrid. Aaaah, nostalgia.

  1. All those bars that have white plastic furniture and umbrellas that say Coca Cola and Irn Bru outside: It’s no secret that one of my main loves in Spain is the abundance of outside seating options and terraces, but from all the bars I’ve been in here, I’ve yet to find that familiar white plastic chair and obnoxious parasol combination. You might say this is a good thing, because in the 30+ degree heat of the Spanish summer, you more often than not end up sticking to these chairs. I always hated them as a kid, and remember bracing myself for the inevitable pain when you have to stand up again. But still, I miss them. Cool looking hipsters bars with cushiony seating in Malasaña is all fine and dandy, but I miss my Coca Cola parasols.
  2. People on the street thinking I’m cute and teaching me Spanish: As a kid, every waiter or barman in every restaurant we went to in Spain took a liking to me. And I have a distinct memory of being perched on a bar being taught ‘gracias’ and ‘adios’ from a nice barman. In Madrid, as a less cute twentysomething, this does not happen. It’s more like the opposite. Not one Spanish person has tried to teach me any words and phrases, everything I’ve learnt here has come from other English speakers or my iPhone. In fact, whenever I try to communicate in Spanish with a waiter or bar staff, I’m usually left with looks of utter disdain or cries of ‘QUE?!?!?!?’ Like, yeah, I know I’m not perfect. Actually, I know I’m pretty terrible. But maybe I’d be better if people were like ‘actually, you say it like x’. FOOD FOR THOUGHT. (Side note: yes, I am aware that this is because I spent my summers in cute little coastal towns and Madrid is a giant European capital city, but still).
  3. Wearing those hats with the giant flap that protected your neck: Maybe this is just a kid thing, or a 90s thing, or a British tourist on the coast of Spain thing, but damn, I miss those hats. I am a delicate pale British baby with a pixie cut. I need all the protection from the sun I can get. Factor 50 just isn’t cutting it for me anymore, I want it all. I want the giant tshirts from hotel kids clubs to protect my shoulders, the aforementioned hats with the neck protectors, and the ability to be grouchy and sleepy in the heat and have it be socially acceptable. Whatever was normal behaviour for me as a six year old in Menorca is not okay for twenty two year old me to do in Madrid.
  4. Friendly street vendors and what they were selling: Again, maybe this is a 90s/early 2000s thing, but the street vendor people I experienced as a kid are totally different to the people I have to deal with on a daily basis now. Nowadays my entire body flinches when I hear that godawful whistle sound (if you live in Madrid, you know it) or I get beer cans waved in my face every time I go out at night. But as a kid, it was all flashing dolphin keyrings and Now That’s What I Call Music CDs. On more than one occasion I remember getting some of these for free, which I highly doubt the people of Sol would do. But my favourite memory is after buying a cool statue off an African guy, we invited him to have a drink with us and he had a Sprite and told us all about his life and his job. Admittedly, he did try and marry me to his son (I was about nine), but still. I’ll take it as a compliment.
  5. TOUCAN ICE CREAM: The most important part of my Spanish childhood, and the one that still pains me every hot, sunny summer day whenever I get the uncontrollable urge to rip the head off a toucan, eat its insides, and then keep the carcass as a trophy of my triumph. What? Is that not an accurate description? Toucan ice cream (I don’t know the real name) was an ice cream that I had almost every day of every Spanish childhood holiday. It was a vanilla ice cream, which while nothing special in itself, was suddenly made amazing when placed inside a plastic toucan that you could keep when you were finished. If you were a British child, you probably had the toucan ice cream, and you probably loved it as well. Every other British expat I’ve asked about it also remembers it fondly, and is met with as much devastation as I when I tell them it’s been DISCONTINUED. I’m not crying, you’re crying.

So there you have it. Some parts of my Spanish dwelling childhood that I didn’t completely hate, and wish I could recreate now in my adult life. But mainly, it’s all about toucan ice cream and people being nice to me ‘cause I was cute.

Favourite Food Things in Spain

As a British child, I was dragged to Spain a lot as a kid. So much so, that I thought I had a pretty good idea about what I did and didn’t like about the country. And if you read my posts leading up to my arrival in Madrid last year, they’re more on the ‘didn’t like’ side of things. However, Spain has pleasantly surprised me and I figured it deserved a positive post for a change, so here are my five favourite things about living in Spain. And surprisingly, they’re all food related. Vegetariansaywhaaaaaat?

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1. Tostada con Tomate:

Before I moved here, my biggest worry was how I’d survive as a vegetarian. And even though it’s still a constant struggle with jamón and chorizo lurking around every corner, there are some foods I’ve sort of fallen in love with. Mainly tostada con tomate. Technically speaking, before my Barcelonés boyfriend complains, this is a Catalan dish. But political stance aside, I love this thing. Never would I have thought I’d want to eat tomatoes for breakfast if it wasn’t somehow related to baked beans, but I am smitten. It’s made even better by always being less than 3€ including a drink, speaking of…

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2. Café con Leche:

I’d heard so much about Spanish coffee, and was honestly expecting something amazing. However, my first experiences with coffee in Madrid just left me feeling underwhelmed. Tiny sizes and the seemingly nonexistent iced variety left me resorting to Starbucks more than I’d care to admit. But now I am one with the café con leches. Sure, they may not all be winners, but they’re cheap and easily accessible. And after twentyone years of living in my English hometown, I never found a coffee I liked within walking distance to my house. So I’m pretty content with the two minute walk to my preferred coffee shop nowadays. I’m almost over the fact that I can’t get a decent iced latte. Almost.

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3. Just General Eating And Drinking Outside:

This is a bit of a stretch on my food topic, but hear me out ‘cause I think it’s important. In the two weeks of summer we get in the UK, everyone runs to the nearest beer garden. But beer gardens are meh, because there’s not much that can compare to the joy of sitting outside in the sun with a good coffee and an even better book. I know it’s a weather thing, but come on, get on this one, UK.

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4. Sweet Things For Breakfast:

Back in the UK, I was strictly a banana or Special K kinda girl. Chocolate for breakfast? Eww. Gross. Blehhh. But what started with a bowl of my flatmate’s Coco Pops led to me possibly having a napolitana from every bakery in Madrid. Croissants just don’t do it for me anymore. Sleepy Saturday mornings at my local brunch haunt, chocolate muesli bars on the bus to work, or Coco Pops in bed. I am a convert. Well done, Spain. Give me that sugar.

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5. Froyo:

I have never been one for ice cream. It melts too quickly and it makes my teeth cold. Out of tradition, I’ll have a little pot of vanilla at the theatre, but I’m more likely to be found racing to finish a Mr Freeze before it melts into nothingness. But one fateful night in August, hungry and a little day-drunk, I stumbled onto my first froyo shop of Madrid. Magical. Now I’m just counting down the days until it reaches 20 degrees again so I can justify walking along with my yoghurt and my fruit. And not having it melt all over me because it’s not EVIL and TERRIBLE like ice cream is. Two words, guys: banana froyo. You’re welcome.

I think it’s safe the say… the vegetarian has been appeased.

Teaching English in Madrid: Pros and Cons

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So teaching English in Spain was a bit of a whirlwind decision for me, and since deciding to do it last May and moving to Madrid in July, my opinions and expectations have changed a lot. Firstly, I was so completely against teaching children. I hated high school when I was there myself, why would I willingly spend more time there as a grownup? One of the selling points of teaching for me was that I could work exclusively with adults. So how did I end up, eight months later, working with kids (and more importantly, enjoying it so much more)? Let’s investigate.

I’ve pretty much done the whole teaching spectrum during my short time in Spain. I’ve worked in an academy, taught in-company Business English, and taught in a secondary school. I’m by no means an expert, but just in case anyone is an obsessive Googler like I am, here are my thoughts on all three of my teaching gigs so far.

Teaching In An Academy: Most people who teach in a language academy will tell you the same thing: it’s very hit or miss. I kind of fell into academy work. It was one of my first job interviews in Spain, and they were the first place to offer me a job. As an unemployed college graduate, I jumped at the chance. I was gonna have money? Yes please! However, I really wish I’d done more research first. I quickly found out that my €10 an hour pay was kind of, well, terrible. I pretty much just spent my days teaching straight out of a textbook and fighting with the CD player to get listening exercises to work. Also, for all my fear over teaching kids, adults (with barely any command over the English language) will very often fight you over basic English grammar or word pronunciations. Like, who’s the English teacher here, Juan?

  • Pros: Your classes are all in one place and most of the time materials will be provided.
  • Cons: The pay isn’t the best and there’s a strong possibility they’ll expect your academy classes to have precedence over any privates you might have.

Teaching In-Company Business Classes: I really liked teaching Business English, but I did get amazingly lucky teaching only C1 level students. A lot of the time Business English students will want to focus more on conversational English that will help them with clients and travel, rather than revising the joys of the past participle for two hours. Originally I was worried that my lack of business knowledge would hinder my ability to teach Business English, but you’d be surprised how much stuff you pick up from just general day to day life, and there weren’t any instances were I couldn’t answer my students’ questions. A lot of the time I’d plan a lesson on a specific subject, and by the end of the class I’d be answering random questions about Scottish Independence and the, uh, nightlife in Amsterdam. Definitely more interesting than phrasal verbs.

  • Pros: You have more control over the lessons and can ask your students what they specifically want to learn (you’ll also get to sit in fancy conference rooms a lot).
  • Cons: When taking on new classes, you have to account for travel time between locations, so you better bring a book to read on the Metro.

Teaching In A School/Being A Language Assistant: After my Business English contract was coming to an end and seeing how much my friends liked working in schools, I decided to try my luck applying for the Ministry Program… in the middle of the school year. Shockingly enough, it actually worked. And I’m so glad it did. Teaching kids is very different to teaching adults, but for the first time since starting this little teaching adventure, my job actually feels… rewarding? I thought that teaching paying adults would feel like this, but I quickly realised their interest mainly stems in landing a job. Whereas kids might not be learning English by choice, the majority of them do seem to actually enjoy their lessons. And the best part is that because I’m only a measly language assistant, I just get to play games and do fun stuff with them, all the boring grammar stuff gets loaded onto the teachers. It’s like being the cool aunt or something.

  • Pros: Your classes are all in one place, you get to hear sentences like ‘Madonna will have a baby… and then kill it’ whilst teaching the future tenses, and let’s be real, the pay is pretty great.
  • Cons: The likelihood of getting placed in a school in the centre is slim, but honestly the commute isn’t so bad. When I first got placed in Zone B2, I almost cried. But it only takes me about 45 minutes and my 40 book reading challenge is coming on like a dream. So not really that much of a con after all.

So that’s my experience with teaching English in Madrid. I know the experience is different for everyone, but that’s part of the fun of it. It’s supposed to be an adventure! And if you really do get a job and it’s completely terrible, just change it. In case you couldn’t tell from what I just wrote, there’s lots of opportunities for teaching English in Madrid and you’ve just gotta find your perfect fit. If you’re thinking of applying to teach English abroad, I highly suggest it! It definitely changed my life for the better… although whether that’s the joys of teaching or the cheap vino blanco is purely a matter of opinion.