Jerez de la Frontera is my new home and the place I’ll be spending the next 10 months teaching English. It’s a really old city located in southern Spain, not far from the beach. It’s a beautiful city with historic buildings and tree lined roads; it’s the capital of Flamenco and Vino de Jerez (Sherry) and home to one of the most renowned ferrias in Spain.
So far my time here has been great, I have met many awesome people, the school is great and it’s filled with very welcoming teachers; I’ve also gotten to go to the beach a couple of times. However, it hasn’t been without its difficulties. When I first arrived, I was lucky enough to stay at one of the teachers (Carlos) place until I found my own place. I’m very grateful for that because it took me a lot longer than I expected. I didn’t move into my current apartment until the 20th of September. While at Carlos’s I was sleeping on a very uncomfortable futon. I’m not complaining, just stating that it was very uncomfortable. It was divided down the middle because of the cushion, so half the time I was sleeping on the metal beneath and the two haves were kind of raised; so I always fell toward the middle, the whole thing would tip over if I got close to one end. It led to some interesting nights sleeping there.
On top of my complicated sleeping situation and struggle to find an apartment, I struggled to initially get a Spanish sim card. The problem with a lot of companies here is that they don’t offer plans without contracts, if you sign up for a contract it has to be for a year and there are penalties for breaking them. Carlos recommended a company that some friends of his used, it was a prepaid card, but they had to deliver it. It wouldn’t have been that big of a deal. I think I ordered it on a Tuesday and it came on Thursday or Friday, but you had to be there to sign for it. Carlos was at the apartment, but I wasn’t, and of course he didn’t have my ID on me. After that I contacted them and told them the time I would be there. The day came, I waited and nothing. Apparently they called Carlos two more times, but each time we were working. I thought, if I went to the carrier’s office I’d be able to pick it up there. One of the teachers was nice enough to give me a ride there since it was outside the city. We went, spoke to the people there and nothing, it wasn’t there. At that point I was over them, I lost the money I paid for SIM, which sucks and I eventually found a place in town with a prepaid card.
While there has been some difficulties, there has been a lot of great things that have happened so far. My first night in Jerez Carlos took me out with some of his friends so I got to see the city very quickly upon my arrival. The teachers at the school have been really friendly and welcoming. The following weekend, there was this wine and food thing by the Alcazar and one of the teachers from primary invited me. She was meeting with other teachers, so I got to hang out with them and meet some new people. The same weekend I met with some of them at a beach nearby. I took a bus to the town and then they picked me up and we went to the beach. Also, one of the primary teachers has a boyfriend from the US, so it’s good to have another person from the U.S around. I played poker with him, another one of the teacher’s boyfriend and some other people one weekend. Another weekend, I met with some people from couchsurfing at a bar to see a concert and then we hung out the rest of the night. I also went to the beach with two of them and toured the Alcazar of Jerez with one of them.
Every Tuesday and Wednesday I’ve been going to an Intercambio, or language exchange at two different bars and I’ve met a bunch of friends there. I’ve met a couple of Spanish guys who I’ve been hanging out with and a group of people from different countries that I’ve also been hanging out with. It’s awesome and a completely different experience from last year. This past weekend we had a four day vacation and two of the night I went out with everybody. It’s a city so there are a lot more things to do. One night I went to a flamenco show with another friend. The friends I made had made friends with an Erassamus event coordinator, so there all all those events we can do. For example ,next weekend is Halloween and they are hosting a Halloween party at one of the bars. Two weekends ago, I went to a town nearby, El Puerto, with a couple of the friends because there was a music festival there. Once in el Puerto, we met with some of the couchsurfers that I had met previously and enjoyed some free music. Overall it’s been great and I’m excited about the future here and what it will hold.
My last strife and the most difficult thing to deal with up to this point has been not having wifi. It had been a month without wifi in my apartment and it has not been easy. Last year, I had to wait a week and I thought that was bad. This has been a struggle. Were it not for the generosity and loveliness of the people below me, I would be dead. The people below don’t live downstairs, but have a photo studio. I became friendly with them my first week here and was talking to them about not having somethings and I mentioned a TV. They had one in their office they weren’t using and gave it to me to use. It has been my saving grace.
For wifi, I tried going to the library, but they have the most abysmal wifi of any public space I have ever encountered. The connection is so slow it can’t load pages. Since I can’t do that, I’ll go and sit outside the cable company store on my phone because I’m connected to their wifi. I only go when it’s closed. One Sunday I was sitting there and I saw some of my younger students. When I told them why I was there they laughed. Now, I would have had wifi sooner were it not for a silly little error. Twelve days after I first stepped into the store, they tried to come, but for some reason the technicians had the wrong address. Since I was at school, my landlady patiently waiting for two hours for someone to show up. Oh, she’s also 82. Now, the unexplainable part. For some reason, unbeknownst to god, the company has two separate entities, the store part and a mobile sector that work for the same company, but for their own financial gain. I got a call from the mobile sector, saying I needed to do a new contract in order change my address (which was true) and that I had to pay the 60 euro deposit again (also true), but I didn’t want to do it over the phone. The next day I went to the store to do it, but the mobile sector blocked the store from being able to access me as a client.
The worker, then spent the next hour and half on the phone, talking to at least 10 different people repeating the same thing. He’ll never forget my last name or my NIE number for sure. Eventually he was able to get through to them and they relinquished their hold on my account. However, now there was a 4-5 day hold period on my account, so I had to wait for a call from a different number (a good one); reconfirm my information and pay the deposit again (I got the old one back). This happened last Monday, the 12th. The next day I went back to the store to make sure all was good and it was, but I had to wait another 15 days for a technician to come. On a positive note, a technician came today (19th), but he wasn’t able to put in wifi because there’s no connection to the outside. So, tomorrow he is coming back and if all works out, after 3pm I should at last have wifi in my apartment.
*update: The technician came today, but he didn’t have a router with him, I now have to wait until Thursday.
And with that, that is what I have been up to and what I has more or less happened in my life. Moving to a new place is never easy and not having wifi for more than a month doesn’t make it any easier, but making new friends and meeting new people does.