“Would You Like A Job Selling Hats On A Market Stall?”

… is the question I was asked when I walked past my Barista friend outside Milkaway – my go to Cappuchino hotspot. Well, absolutely! I would totally love a job in a market stall selling hats in a language I’m only just getting my head around was my response – I still haven’t heard back but here’s hoping my flailing bank account might be perked up by a bit of market selling eh!

Anyway, my people, I’ve had a wonderful week. It’s been absolutely fantastic for me to get settled into my new house, with my awesome housemates, writing about my experiences here. Post me having a bit of a mare last week, the cloud has disappeared, evaporated and I am throwing myself into Spanish life again, with a fresh head on my shoulders and an excitement for the week ahead where I will be walking around in slippers and a face mask drinking all my housemate’s Guatemalan coffee when it’s raining and sunbathing on top of my gym doing absolutely no exercise when the sun eventually decides to make an appearance – if it does that is.

Me and my famous, manky orange towel

Alongside being asked if I was free to be a hatseller on Friday, it was also my last day at Sevilla Habla – the wonderful school I’ve been taking lessons at the last two months.. 😦 .. and it’s crazy how fast time has flown by:

Day 1: I walked into class on my first day in September knowing nobody, living with a random family in an unfamiliar country and city. I was only meant to be at school for a month.

Day 28: I extended my time at Sevilla Habla and therefore spent September and October learning Spanish for 3.5 hours and another 3.5 in the afternoon whenever I overslept and missed lessons.

Day 52: I’ve made new friends from different countries, I’ve learnt tenses, new vocabulary, how to understand Narcos with Spanish subtitles, how to distract the class with episodes of Black Mirror and how to use the Imperativo tense and be downright bossy – and it’s been an absolute blast. Class B1 with profesora Lucia had a fiesta to say Happy Birthday to my friend and wish me ADIÓS complete with little presents – a fruit salad and gluten/dairy free meringues from Ophelia’s Bakery – the best send off ever!

Me and my awesome teacher

With the school so close to the centre, and with me visiting certain cafes and shops regularly, I’ve been lucky enough to get to know the Sevillian community really well. As well as my friends in Milk Away, I’ve befriended the people in Haus Tattoo who will be making their mark on me in a week (gulp!) and we’re going out tomorrow for Halloween; the manager of my favourite Sunday brunch place Paradas 7 wants me and my friends to try his new menu – post me correcting all the English for it -; the random woman in the market who I had a whole spanish conversation with and who I forgot to message, wanted to meet for a coffee; friends of friends and friends of THOSE friends of friends want to hang out, and it’s amazing. This city I’m living in hasn’t become a passing visit, it’s become my base, a place to feel safe in and my home. The community is small, friendly and non judgemental. They rally around you, invite you to events and become your best friend in a matter of seconds.

Within two months I’ve created an almost new life, it’s the same and yet different. And it’s like me – I’m the same, but inside I feel almost like a completely different person. I am still Emily, sensitive and friendly, quiet (occasionally) and downright sociable, scared and excited, but I’ve been pushing my boundaries since Day 1 and I’m flying back in 8 days stronger than ever. I’ve got a lot more countries to travel, a lot more sites to visit, a lot more people to meet and a lot more situations to work out, but I honestly thought Sevilla would be a walk in a Spanish park and it hasn’t and I’ve loved it for exactly that reason. I’m living within a community that speaks little to no English, living with people of all different nationalities and ages but who I can WhatsApp for a de caffeinated tea at 10pm and we’ll spend hours looking at trailers for new films and laughing over lip reading videos. I have been to the happiest points of my mind and encountered some of the lowest, telling me I’m nuts for even moving countries in the first place, that I’m incapable of anything and yet I have powered through. I am loving the freedom, the space to think, the beauty of time and the magnificent sites I walk past everyday from my house. I am somehow surrendering to a life where my mind may race some days but it has nothing to grab onto because eventually it has to settle with the peacefulness of the city. I am not even able to panic about things I would usually panic about because my mind is becoming too slow, too relaxed with the word “tranquilamente” defining more moments than I ever thought possible.

I came to Sevilla in a kind of daydream, where I’d left a company I loved, a family I worried about, friends I would miss and an anxiety I would meet no one and be totally lost. I came to Sevilla desperate to see that life could be beautiful and relaxing and not built from helplessness. I came to Sevilla to challenge all my fears, to learn a language I’ve always been in love with, to live away from the anxiety of home and come to terms with what my mental health does to me, usually in secret. I came to Sevilla to commit myself to a secure base before gallivanting off to South America, India, Asia, Australia and NZ. I came to Sevilla to remind myself that despite splitting up with a boyfriend of nearly four years, and my best friend of eight years, despite seeing my wonderful Grandad have a terrible accident, get so close to making it through and lose him at the same time of my relationship breakdown, despite constantly living with the pain of a disabled Dad, that life is beautiful, has moments of stillness and the best part of it is throwing yourself into unknown situations to conquer them. I came to Sevilla having just started on Anti Depressants and I am returning from Sevilla for two weeks to proudly raise my head and open my heart to say I did it. I built a home that I now don’t want to leave, I have friends I don’t want to be away from and I have a new language I’m in love with. I conquered my fear of leaving my family, throwing myself into one of the most cultural, non English speaking cities of Spain by being alone and doing it for myself, by accepting and succumbing to the dark moments and letting them get overtrodden and blasted with light, love and the support of my best friends both here and in England who I’m now closer to than ever.

I spent a magical weekend just gone, being a tour guide and showing off my city. If it was possible to fall more in love with it, then I think I have. There’s nothing better than pointing out the streets, the restaurants, the cafes, the sites that you take for granted but are epic to live close to and it was fantastic to share those moments with someone who can appreciate them.

My last full week I’m spending both chilling and drinking, in PJS and dressed up for Halloween, with coffee and with wine. I will be deciding if I’ve got time to visit Cordoba down south to have some me time, visiting a Sevillian I met in a restaurant in June and who it’s taken me this long to see whilst trying to work out how to visit my old Venezualan Spanish teacher in Valencia. I learnt with Judith from the website “Preply” and she taught me Spanish years ago online and turns out she’s in Spain for a bit! I’m trying to fit in visiting Triana, Karaoke, Utopia nightclub and a free Salsa lesson as well as writing, relaxing and catching up with as many people as possible before London. Believe me when I say, I don’t want to leave my home in Sevilla, I don’t want to leave my friends here but I must keep pushing forward. Going back to London is part of the adventure, and I’m not going to stop just yet.

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