So, as of yesterday evening, I’ve been here for a week. Since my last post I have moved out of the guest house. I’m grateful for this, the room was dark all day around (or light, if you put the single flourescent light on). It was adequate, but no more.

I am currently staying with a friend (who is technically a friend of a friend, but they are so friendly and helpful it would be an insult to call them that now). A big thank you to Sabela for letting me crash here while I find a place, and for translating things from and to Spanish. ‘Big help’ would be an understatement.

Flat hunting is a monumental task, twice ior three times so in a foreign language. I’ve gone through hundreds of listings on loquo.com and culled a (long) shortlist of 30ish places to view. I have organised them by priority, so I (hopefully) won’t have to work my way though them all! I’ve seen a few… more on that later.

I met my contact who I got in contact with thanks to a friend at the amnesty group I’m a part of (thanks David). She was (brutally) honest about my chances of finding employment here. The fact that I’m Scottish will work in my favour in an Irish bar (close enough, apparently), but even still I’ll be very lucky to get a job. I’ll still pursue the teaching Spanish angle, but even that is less hopeful than I had initially hoped. Might have to burn a bit of money unfortunately!

Flats and the hunting thereof

I. Hate. Flathunting. At least, I hate doing it in a language in which I am not competent. More specifically, I hate speaking on the phone in a language which I am not competent and – to a lesser extent – talking to people in person in a language in which I’m not competent.

Perfectionist, or just a craven coward?

As far as I’m concerned, the main thing for me is that I just don’t have all the words to convey what I mean. This in itself isn’t a nice feeling. I now have a much greater empathy for people who suffer this problem. The other problem is, well… I don’t want to say something unless I’m going to say it right. The fact that I might stuff it up or forget words/phrases creates a whole bunch of anxiety for me, which I something I’m not so familiar with any more. It’s a bit of a ridiculous viewpoint, looking at it coldly and logically, but unfortunately cold logic can;t snap me out of it. I’ve tried.

I mean, trying (and perhaps failing) to speak another language is much better than taking refuge in my own language; and people aren’t going to hate me if I sound silly. On paper (or on a blog) it’s all very straightforward, but see when I go to dial a number for a flat, or even get through to someone, the panic is paralysing.

What I’m going to do is try a fun little technique. When I decide I need to phone someone, I’m going to do it as quickly as possible, suppressing all other thought and hopefully I’ll be able to sneak past myself and have the phone call before I realise what’s going on. Either that or have a couple of beers to take the edge off first…

Serendipity

(ramble, feel free to skip!)

I went to view a flat today. It was one from the top of the pile, so it was one I was quite keen on. €310/350 a month (two rooms available).

So anyway I walk there for 2PM in shorts an a t shirt, which I mention only to gloat about how blissfully warm it is here. I get there, check the number, ring tthe buzzer. No response. Again. And a third time. I get a rather irked voice telling me that I had the wrong place, I think. He has speaking fast and I was expecting to be buzzed in, so I was a bit overwhelmed. So anyway I figure I could phone one of the two people I had a number for, but I figured I should check I had the right street first. I did.

When I got back to the place, there was someone with a piece of paper and who was getting the same treatment from the now-presumably-even-more-irked man. I ventured an “Hola” and stuttered my way through asking if we were looking for the same place… which eventually amounted to just pointing to my corresponding piece of paper. She agreed we had the same place. In English, I should add. It turns out she had booked a viewing for the same place at the same time. She phoned the contacts. Y didn’t answer, but A did. We were told to press the buzzer that we had been pressing all along, so we did again just for the sake of the thing. Nada. My fellow-flathunter (M) phoned Y again and we told that the place had been rented. Most curious.

M didn’t have another viewing till 4, so I suggested a coffee over which we could compare notes, so to speak, on flats. M said she was here from Paris to look for flats for January, when she will be coming to start her PhD. No easy task – I think all the flats I have seen on loquo have been entry 1) now 2) a week or 3) December. Anyway, potentially mutually useful came of it – M had seen a flat she liked, but was unable to take it as they wanted her to enter in December, which of course would mean paying for a month unnecessarily; so she offered me the details and so I may have a place to stay till December. While it is lovely of Sabela to continue to let me crash here, I don’t want to wear out my welcome. We shall see! I did my best to be helpful by furnishing M with the details of a place with 2 smokers, which would suit her better than non-smoking places.

As an aside, it is surprising how many places are listed on loquo as ‘non-smokers only’; it seems (seems!) like there are a lot more smokers here than in Glasgow. Even if that isn’t true, there are a lot more pedal bikes, motorbikes, and scooters.

So I have several places to view tomorrow, and many many more to phone. Good luck to me! I have rambled enough, if I think of anything that needs added, I will below.