In my last Expat Update, I was riding high. We’d had a great few weeks and everything seemed to be going more or less smoothly. But you know what they say: What goes up must come down.
The last few days have been marked with a series of frustrations. Just when I think I have things a bit sorted out, I am hit with another, brand new problem.
On Sundays, I like to do laundry to prepare for the week ahead. This past Sunday was no different, except it was. As our first load was in the wash, we started to smell something foul – like really foul. As we smelt our way around the apartment we came across a rather large puddle of water in our living room, which is pretty much on the opposite side of the apartment from the washing machine.
It was not good. Not good at all.
We mopped up the water, but as the laundry finished its cycle, water seeped onto the floor a couple more times. Obviously, we didn’t do any more loads immediately emailed the landlord and waited for a response.
It took over 24 hours to hear from our landlord, and over 48 hours for someone to come to our apartment to take a look. Given that water is coming from the wall, we know this won’t be an easy fix; all we can hope at this point that it’s not as super disruptive.
As I type this, we still don’t know what the plan is, all we know is that we can’t use the washing machine. Given that we’re going Hamburg on Friday, and we have an Everest-sized mountain of laundry, we’re going to have to resort to a laundromat.
Enter frustration #2.
It seems that the word for laundromat (lavanderia) is synonymous with the Spanish word for drycleaner. After a quick google search we found there are several in our area, the only question is: are they laundromats, or dry cleaners? Tonight is the night that I find out. Our clothes have been sorted, bagged and stuffed into a suitcase, and tonight I will wander the streets of Chamberí until I can find a laundromat.
I have been warned that they are a bit (a lot) pricey in Madrid, but my hope is that with sheer force and stubbornness, I can cram all out clothes into one machine! Not only will this save us money, but it will take much less time. Laundry efficiency is where it’s at!
On Tuesday morning, we woke up to no running water in our apartment. I was in the middle of making coffee so you can imagine my surprise and terror when the water stopped trickling out. Because there’s been so much confusion lately with the apartment — and a few unanswered questions regarding what is and what is not included in our lease — we immediately assumed that we were at fault. One hour, a two panicked emails, a conversation with the neighbour in broken English and a bit of investigating later, and we discovered that it was actually road work and not our delinquency that caused the shut-off. Phew!
Even though we know the cause, we don’t know the timeline. Here’s hoping our water is turned on again soon because walking to the gym to shower is really only fun the first time.
Mid-way through my third week of language classes, I decided to add on two more. Given that I still wasn’t feeling confident with the language, it didn’t make sense to take all of December off; plus, what else was I going to do.
I’m not sure what happened, but when I came in on the first day of my fifth week I was suddenly with a new class and back at the very beginners level. This was a bit disconcerting. I immediately thought that I had been put back to the beginning because I clearly was struggling with the language.
It didn’t feel very good at all. I was already feeling so self-conscious about my Spanish language skills and being put back with beginners felt like a really harsh blow. After a few minutes of self-pity, I decided to try and make the most of it by using the morning class to revisit and bone up on the basics.
As we broke for lunch, the teacher came over to tell me that I was too advanced for the class (hooray!) and special accommodations would be made for me and one other student: we’d be getting private lessons.
I can only assume I’ll be in this special class for the week, but it’s been great. I’ve had the opportunity to speak more which is what I so desperately needed. It’s helped my confidence tremendously and has reignited my excitement for learning Spanish.
Now, I still don’t know why I was put back with the beginner group — my lack of understanding of the Spanish language, who knows! All I know is it seems to have worked out for the best!
Overall, Expat Life is still great! These frustrations would have been annoying even if we were in Canada and speaking our native language, the only difference would be that I would know what questions to ask and who to ask them to. But, with every frustration we encounter and work through we learn more, so next time (hopefully there isn’t but it there is a next time), we’ll know.
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