Prior to my departure to A Coruña I google’d pretty much every aspect of life in this new city – the place I would call home for the following 9 months. With every search my anticipation, and excitement grew. To my amusement I found a traveller’s blog that described Coruña as the ‘Spanish Brighton’ (a seaside city an hour from London) – Of course, an exaggeration I thought >_<. After many hours spent online; checking bus maps and local amenities and taking virtual journeys on Google Street View, it was time to make my dreams a reality and take the 20.30 direct from LHR > LCG. 2 hours later, I arrived in A Coruña!!
On arrival, I was met by Anastazja and Ana, my mentor. Both extended the warmest of welcomes to me and made me feel at ease instantly. Ana was just as friendly and funny as she had been through our WhatsApp conversations and it was more like meeting a friend than a stranger .
Day 1 in A Coruña
After a lazy morning Ana collected myself and my first compañera, Lubna. Ana took us on a sight-seeing extravaganza, from Torre de Hércules, around the coast (passed a nude beach :P), down into the ‘Old Town’ and into the Ayuntamiento square – home to a statute of María Pita. With every landmark came with it an intricate tale. It was so interesting to learn more about the rich history and culture of this less well-known part of Spain. To my great delight I hear bagpipes at the foot of the Torre hill – an ode to the Celtic ancestry that this part of Galicia shares.
All this walking worked up an appetite – of course, to try a local delicacy ‘Pulpo de Gallego’ – a dish of Octopus typically served with Padron peppers. I must admit, I was not sure when the platter of mauve chopped tentacles arrived o.0, however…I was pleasantly surprised! Pulpo is very tasty and succulent; not chewy as I first expected. I recommend it highly (and I am the fussiest of eaters)!
Later Lubna and I visited Gadis our local supermarket to stock up on some essentials for our new home. It’s funny how a boring task at home becomes a thing of excitement when you are abroad in a new country. We entered the store 20 minutes before closing time but 5 minutes before closing Gadis decided to begin switching off lights and closing shutters over the shelves. Much like something out of a Hollywood Bank Heist when the robber triggers the alarm. The scene must have been a spectacle as two ‘nubes’ to the city begun to panic buy things to tide us over to the next day. Real Supermarket Sweep.*
*A popular gameshow from the 90s haha ^_^
First Days of School
The first day of school came and with it mixed feelings of nerves and uncertainty… What if the students don’t like me?… How will I communicate!? – No hablo Español! Ahhh!!!
Tranquila, no pasa nada! Lucia, my responsible introduced me to all my profesores and gave me a tour of the school grounds. After my first few lessons it was clear to me that teenagers are the same everywhere – Loca! The hustle and bustle of the school corridors reminded me of the school I had previously worked. The nerves melted a little as my surroundings felt more and more familiar. The pupils were all so interested to meet and ask me questions they had prepared in English. I was particularly impressed with the English level of the lower school. Garda de Transporte and Garda Recreo give me a chance to speak with students and staff in Spanglish as we both practice our foreign tongues and attempt to make ourselves understood with gestures and broken sentences. Practice makes perfect J.
In many ways Coruña seems similar to the UK and maybe this is why I have felt at home so quickly. I suspect it is more than this though; having great [María Pita] compañeras who are always up for an adventure (and love to share food, stories and laughs), having a great support system from both sending and coordinating organisations and also the help of Ana has helped me settle. I know the coming weeks will be filled with challenges as I get to grips with the Spanish language (brand new to me) and the strange daily routines but I embrace them with open arms as Coruña has welcomed me so warmly.