During my fourth week in Costa Rica, I received an email from the British Council.
I was anticipating this email. In fact, as soon as the first person reported that they’d received one, everyone who had applied to teach abroad for the next academic year suddenly started caring deeply about the fact that they were stuck in a rainforest with no WiFi. It felt like I was receiving exam results, something I always dread, on a much greater scale. This email dictated the next eight or nine months of my life from the end of September, and there was NOTHING I could do to change what would be typed in black ink on my larger than average phone screen.
Thanks to a hummingbird garden with internet access, one by one our emails flickered to life as our fates were revealed to us. It turns out that my year abroad, a crucial part of my degree, will be spent in the Basque Country in northern Spain.
Everyone was ecstatic. There were people who had been granted their first choice of region, people who were already working out which friends they were close to, and people updating their Facebook statuses in a flurry of excitement. I was overwhelmed.
In hindsight, my situation was laughable. The other two places I’d applied to either had limited spaces or none at due to budget cuts. In hindsight I was lucky to get any of my choices (obviously an essay on Welsh Rugby is exactly what the British Council need). However, it was a massive deal to 20 year old me who was currently on the other side of the world, about to LIVE in a different country.
“Loads of people have done it before, and they’ve been fine”, people say. “You’ve literally been in Costa Rica for five weeks and you’ve been alright, how is this different?” others will comment. I’ve never been to Spain. This is going to be very different.
A few weeks later, I found out my province, my town, my school and almost every other piece of information I needed to know. This time, I was the first out of my friends. I can plan. I can look into where I’m going, what I’m doing, and bombard my new contacts with emails.
Bilbao and the area surrounding it, here I come!