Ralston

Ralston
Age: 28

Hometown: Carrollton, Texas

School/Major: Texas Tech University/majored in History, minored in Spanish

What I was doing before I moved to the island: I graduated on August 8th, 2009 and I moved to Spain on September 24th. In between that time, knowing I was moving abroad for awhile, I stayed at my folks’ house, hung out with friends and family and worked part-time as a paramedic.

Schools I worked at: Colegio Arcángel San Rafael

First impressions of the island: Extremely humid! As soon as I stepped out of the airport, it hit me. You think East Texas is bad, Mallorca is even more humid than that! Texas is a dry heat; in Palma, you go out for five minutes and you come back drenched in sweat.

Living situation: I chose to live with three other auxiliars: one from Ireland, one from Houston and one from Portland. We had exchanged emails beforehand and that’s how we got the group together. The guy from Ireland came down early and found the place. I went straight there from the airport when I arrived. It was pretty hassle free. We lived off of Calle Manacor about 10 minute walking distance from the beach, near the Extranjeria. We had a pretty sweet looking apartment. It was one of the nicest apartments I had seen and I paid 220€ per month. It was an all right experience. One of my main goals of going was to learn Spanish so I later chose to distance myself from other native English speakers so I could practice and improve my Spanish.

Experience on the job:  It was fantastic! I couldn’t have had a better school. Everybody was extremely nice even from day one. Margalida, the head nun and director of the school treated me like her favorite little grandson. Every time she saw me she just lit up. The head English teacher, Marta, was also very accommodating. She was 28 at the time, the same age I am now. The first month I was there I didn’t know too many people so she invited me to her house in Inca to have dinner with her family and showed me around the town. For Christmas, since she knew I couldn’t afford to go home, she invited me to Inca to spend Christmas with her family. She wrapped up the original copy of her favorite childhood book, Sin noticias de Gurb, wrote a note on the front cover and gave it to me as a gift, which I still have.

What I did in my free time: I lived right next to a German guy and became good friends with him. We got to see each other everyday and he introduced me to Couchsurfing.  Most of my free time was spent with that group and I met a lot of Spanish friends through there. We would go hiking, have beach parties and campfires, go swimming, and bar hopping. It was exactly what I was looking for: Native Spanish speakers.

 Favorite drinkery: In the mornings I would go to Bar 31 de Diciembre for a coffee and croissant. It was the closest thing to my school so I’d go in between classes and read the newspaper. It’s very pleasing to the eye, with a wooden-beamed ceiling and feels very homey. They don’t have Wi-Fi which is nice, because when you go in there no one’s on their computer and everyone’s talking to each other. I was always the youngest person in there and they got to know me as the “foreigner”.
For drinks, I’d meet up with the Couchsurfers at L’Ambigu. Our group always guaranteed to bring in at least 20 people so they gave a discount. We got cañas for 1,20€ instead of 2€. Then we would go to Molta Barra and probably keep bar hopping. Towards the end of the year we started going to Templa Natura.

Favorite eatery: I don’t remember to be honest. I’m not one of those people that eats out a lot. I did have a favorite market though that was near my house: Mercat de Pere Garau.

What I’m doing now:  I just spent a month in Palma on vacation so I could reconnected with friends. I would still be there but I had to come back to Texas and get a student visa. I had enough money saved up to apply for a non-working visa (most applicants are retirees) but only about 15 % of the applications get approved. I had a backup plan and enrolled in the University of Granada. I’m about to start a course in Hispanic Studies at their University Modern Language Centre. I’m going back to Palma for a bit then straight to Granada. I already found a room near the city center for 180€!

Words of wisdom: In Spain in general, I’ve met a lot of people from U.S. that come over thinking they’re going to learn Spanish. But after a few weeks they start hanging out with other English speakers. Soon the year is over and they haven’t learned anymore Spanish than when they started. Don’t trick yourself into thinking that just because you live somewhere, you’re going to learn the language. You have to put in the effort just as you would back home.
Also, if you leave the island, don’t go to Texas. The beaches and crystal waters of Mallorca have no comparison!

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