I am writing this post for you as I close out another chapter of my life.
Throughout my life I try to live for the moment and take the positives out of every situation. With my disability, there are many times that spontaneity is impossible and the negatives rear their ugly heads. For my trip to Spain there have been very few negatives, but it was by no means a spontaneous project. I think this is the reason why I am feeling more sad than the ‘average’ EVS placement as I prepare to leave.
When I arrived on March 4th 2012 in the beautiful city of Aviles, Asturias; I had few thoughts on what was about to happen. For me the worries had been on finding an accessible project (in Spain), receiving the funding and having all of my many needs seen to. Once I knew the project, accommodation, funding and equipment was A-ok I could relax. You may remember my first blog post here. The realisation I was away from home for 2 months in a new country, with new people and a new language suddenly scared the crap out of me! It wasn’t until a week later that I felt more settled with my new home, new flat-mates and new surroundings.
From this point I got stuck into the project itself – teaching English, having my own radio show, running workshops on CV’s and social media, giving talks on my experiences to schools, youth clubs and many other places. I also tried to improve my Spanish without much success for many weeks. Our class had different levels, and I felt left behind early on. However, last week whilst the gang went on a training in Valencia I had 2 ‘one-to-one’ lessons, and things began to click. For the last week I have been understanding much more, and have put the odd awkward sentence together too. This is a massive shame that it’s clicking so soon to leaving, but that’s life. I hope to use this as a platform to learn more Spanish in the future nonetheless.
Beyond the great city, great project, great people and great learning experiences; I made sure I found some social time too. Since leaving university I really slogged and pushed myself professionally. Working full-time at Scope often resulted with less time and energy for later nights and crazy times. Since going self-employed I have been working all hours with Misfit-Inc on my websites, planning and improving the content on them, trying to market them to more people and pay the mortgage and food. It’s been tough, but awesome. Therefore I felt justified to let it all out a few times here and regress back to my university self 😉
Of course, it wasn’t all drinking and debauchery. I have explored too. Seeing the towns of Oviedo and Gijon have been great trips, on multiple occasions. I have been to the beach on the couple of days when the weather acted the way it should have through my whole stay. Turns out Asturias is the Manchester of Spain weather-wise. Then there was the crazy trip up the mountains. I will share the photos on flickr as soon as I can.
In reflection I have gained more from this experience than I ever could have hoped. I want to thank Chris Fisher (Leonard Cheshire), Clair Brown (everything is possible), The British Council, and Vane Morreno (Europa Aqui) for making this all happen. Vane has been the best coordinator and lifelong friend. I am also excited to work with Clair on some ideas in the future. I know in reality this chapter doesn’t close, but moves location.
This will not be the last blog on my time here. I have a few ideas on comparing the UK and Spain with disability, and generally on cultural diversity. Until then I must head off, film the video on access for my last project here, grab more leaving coffee/drinks and prepare for my next moments. As you’d imagine I have many new plans, but for now I will head off in to the Spanish sunset and allow myself to feel proud of my latest achievement!