So the last time I wrote about my new home for this past year, Linares, Jaen, it wasn’t necessarily the most…positive post. Screw it. It wasn’t positive at all. I was really quite unhappy. I came in with certain images of what living in Spain would be like, and it turned out to be not at all what I thought. I also started out loving the small size of my town, then grew to despise it.
However, as my time here draws to a close, and I prepare for my brief stint at home before moving to the complete opposite end of Spain for the next school year, I can’t help but think about what I will miss about Linares, and what I do appreciate about having been placed here of all the different places I could have been placed. Fact of the matter is that I will definitely miss some things, as much as I complain that Linares isn’t that great.
1. The size. So I know I complain about the size. There’s not much to do here in Linares, and I pretty much rotate through the same four bars (post about the top four tapas bar coming soon), throughout the weeks. But I LOVE that you can walk anywhere in Linares, the longest walk being 20 minutes at a leisurely stroll. Coming from New York with daily two hour commutes, or even a 30-45 minute train ride from one place to another, it’s such a relief to be able to get anywhere within a short time with my own two feet. The size is also perfect because it’s small enough where you see some of your students or friends walking around once in a while, but big enough where not everyone knows your name.
2. The weather. The first thing the locals tell me when I say I’m moving to Asturias is that it rains and I will be really cold. If there’s one thing that Andalucians are really proud of (and they are super proud of A LOT of things), it’s the weather. And I can’t blame them. It is sunny the majority of the time. With the exception of a rainy winter, the weather has been perfect. I will probably be singing a different tune once the heat of summer truly hits, but I’d take the dry heat of Andalucia over the humid, traffic ridden streets of NYC in the summer any day. And after three consecutive days of gray in my recent trip to Scotland, I realized how accustomed I’ve become to waking up to sunshine 95% of the time. There’s no doubt I’ll be taking some trips down south for the winter when I get tired of the rain up north.
3. The friendly locals. The majority of people in NYC are quite friendly, as much as people say that we’re not. (I have to ask those people if they’ve ever tried to ask a New Yorker for directions in the subway. At least five people will swarm over you trying to help you figure out how to get you to where you need to go). However, I’ve found the locals here quite friendly. And though there is absolutely no concept of personal space, which would be sacrilegious in NYC, I have never had a bad experience when interacting with the locals. They all love a good conversation and will talk your ear off, but it’s because they’re genuinely interested in who you are and what you’re doing and they want to hear what you have to say.
4. The free tapas. I’ve turned into a major foodie over the past couple of years and the first thing I do when planning a trip is look up the best restaurants. Food is one of the most beautiful things in the world and I hope to have the fortune to keep discovering new great restaurants and incredible food. Now in the beginning tapeando can get old really quick. It’s not a meal. They’re little snacks and once in a while you just need a full on meal. Luckily the bars also have raciones which are very reasonably priced. So for a few beers with tapas and a racion, you’re good to go. Linares may be small, but the few bars that have good food are powerhouses and more than make up for the low quantity of great places to eat. Some of the best dishes I’ve had this year have come from Linares.
5. The small pockets of culture. As far as Linares goes in terms of culture and character, to be honest, there’s not much to it. The town has really declined due to the crisis, and a lot of locals say that it was once a completely different place, full of life and character. That being said, when you do see culture and character pop up out of the blue, it makes it that much more special. The town’s graffiti artist, Belin, has work all over, and it’s great to see. There’s also the museum of Andres Segovia which has concerts once in a while, and a theater that has some interesting shows. You just have to keep your eyes peeled for the posters around town.
There are also plenty of things that I won’t miss about Linares, to be honest. But that’s just because I grew up where I
grew up and I’m used to living a certain way, so everyone’s experiences will be different, and what I take for a negative may be a positive in their eyes. Therefore, I’ll leave it at the positive and let you experience and get to know Linares for yourselves.
I have to say that overall, I’m glad that I was placed in Linares. This was my first year living on my own in a foreign country and it was definitely a good place to get started. Being in a bigger city would have definitely been much more overwhelming. I will remember Linares fondly when I look back. This is where I started my adventure and where I continue to learn all the lessons I need to learn to move on to the next stage.