Advertisements

Life in Valencia

LIEBSTER AWARD: I SAW HER BLOG AND NOW I’M A BELIEBSTER

Thank you to Sapna, owner of travelfoodnfitness who nominated me for the increasingly popular Liebster Award only four months after I decided to start blogging.  Her blog documents her wondrous journey for ‘fat to fit’, traveling solo and sampling local food. It’s a great follow for anyone interested in these areas. The ethical slant she adopts in her writing is my favourite aspect of the blog by far and I hope to see more of this in the next few months.  I’m sure you’ll find something you enjoying reading on her diverse site.  I’ve answered 10 questions asked by Sapna in accordance with the Liebster Award guidelines and you’ll find those towards the bottom of this post.

As it’s a valenciandoporlavida post, there’s a simple structure and a song reference in the title that you can guess if you so wish.  Simply scroll to the bottom of this post to see if you’re the musical genius Trivial Pursuit thinks you are!

I’ve always been one of those people who keeps a diary every now and then.  I used to write in my own English-French-Spanish-Italian mash-up mongrel language until two major life changes occurred.  The first of these was the introduction of Google Translate which meant that anyone wishing to decode my complex entries could probably do so.  The second was living in Spain and France for a while and completing my degree which meant that I could actually write a coherent diary in one sole foreign language.  Linguist goals and all that!

Any of my close friends or family will know that 2016 was, let’s say, an interesting year for me for a multitude of reasons and I actually began to keep my diary on the Penzu app with the main aim of ensuring that I would never let myself end up back in the same position again.

I’m a sucker for a lovely jotter, and the calligraphy set I have in my flat here in Spain pretty much sums up the kind of writer I am.  That said, diary-keeping online has many perks.  I’ve been able to add entries easily while travelling, add pictures and share the odd humorous comment with friends.  Reading the entries back is also somewhat easier as the layout is ridiculously user-friendly.  Indeed, the personal touch can get a little lost but if you’re wanting to avoid teardrops on the page or you want to write a little more objectively, an online diary is the way to go.  I found myself writing entries that resembled short poems and it’s actually really cool to go back and read them now.  The best thing about the whole process for me, is that I can remember how I felt, exactly why I made the changes I did when I did and, more importantly, the music I was listening to throughout the whole process.  It’s a bit more poppy and ‘girl-power’ heavy than my usual thing but all music is ok in the right context I guess.  Except Jedward.  That’s never acceptable.  Categorically.

Moreover, the website will forever hold little gems like this:

penzue diary.png

Now, back to the Liebster Award Nomination itself.  Sapna left these little questions for me.  These answers are about as personal as it will get on here so make the most of it.  Next week I’m looking at gender neutrality in gendered languages!

Q.1. Where was your first destination?

The first type of traveling that I would class as an adventure as opposed to a holiday was the summer as I spent as a 16-year old in Trebisacce, Calabria which is located on the Ionian see in the heel of Italy’s boot.  It’s my Puglia to your Tuscany or perhaps my Dundee to your Glasgow; it’s fantastic yet understated and somewhat overshadowed by its more popular, arguably trendier, neighbour.  I stayed with a host family with whom I’d chatted a couple of times on the 2001 version of Skype we used have on our ‘Tiny’ PC!  I guess it was organised very haphazardly through a contact at my secondary school and I’m lucky that my parents allowed me to go.  I spoke about 3 words of Italian when I arrived and two months, one ridiculous tan, two weddings and twenty-seven types of cake later, I could get the gist of most regular conversations. I returned the following year and it was just as fun!   This website features a lovely article about the unspoilt beaches of Calabria.
Q.2. What has inspired you to travel?

Languages, languages, languages!  All I want to do is learn new languages and practise ones I know already!  That’s a lie.  I also want to have ALL THE KNOWLEDGE about EVERYWHERE.  I really think that those who haven’t travelled are missing out massively.  I also wasn’t subjected to horrendous package holidays as a child. At time I somewhat resented the camping trips to Northern France, rural Scotland and the Lake District but now I’m so thankful that I wasn’t a Kids’ Club tot.  I think I may have run away never to be seen again! Hang on… I did that!
Q.3. Have you ever tried traveling solo, if yes, then where??

I went to Thailand on my own and it was great!
Q.4. Which one is your favorite travel destination and how many times you have visited there?

Barcelona. Three times so far and I plan on many more trips.  You have to experience it for yourself!
Q.5. What type of traveler you are- backpacker, luxury, destination, or any other?

A bit of both.  I like to backpack but stay in luxury hotels!  Sorry!  It great to occasionally challenge stereotypes.
Q.6. What is your travel bucket list for coming years?

Latin America, Japan, Vietnam and Malaysia for a start!
Q.7. What is your favorite mode of transportation to travel and why?

Tuktuk. They’re absolutely hilarious!  I would have written scooter but I fell off mine when trying to turn around!  Currently trying to pluck up the courage to get a scooter in Valencia!
Q.8. A place you always wanted to go and whether able to go there or not?

Bhutan.  Just click here.
Q.9. If you could live elsewhere, where would you live? Why?

I live in Valencia and I love it.  I’d like to be able to move to new cities more frequently hence why I’m building up my client base on Converse with Chloe quite nicely. 🙂
Q.10. What is your most memorable trip that you’ve had?

It’s so difficult to choose but I would probably say that it was a little jaunt to Wales with my boyfriend not long after we first met.  Just a casual date tackling the longest zipline in the world… See my insta for pics without blue spots @valenciandoporlavida or here.

Wales Zipline (2)_LI.jpg

Advertisements

Improving your Spanish: Uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, cinco, seis

Don’t forget to guess the song mentioned in the title!

Here is a cute little infographic I made to help Spanish learners improve their language skills and expand their vocabulary.  You can apply this to most language pairs!

improve your spanish infographic.png

 

 

Stay tuned for more simple ways to improve your fluency.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the song is…

 

 

 

The Offspring – Pretty Fly for a White Guy

You know it’s kind of hard
Just to get along today
Our subject isn’t cool
But he fakes it anyway
He may not have a clue
And he may not have style
But everything he lacks
Well he makes up in denial
So don’t debate, a player straight
You know he really doesn’t get it anyway
He’s gonna play the field, and keep it real
For you no way, for you no way
So if you don’t rate, just overcompensate
At least you’ll know you can always go on Ricki Lake
The world needs wannabe’s
So do that brand new thing
Give it to me baby
Give it to me baby
Give it to me baby
And all the girls say I’m pretty fly (for a white guy)
He needs some cool tunes
Not just any will suffice
But they didn’t have Ice Cube
So he bought Vanilla Ice
Now cruising in his Pinto, he sees homies as he pass
But if he looks twice
They’re gonna kick his lily ass
Now he’s getting a tattoo
He’s gettin’ ink done
He asked for a ’13’, but they drew a ’31’
Friends say he’s trying too hard
And he’s not quite hip
But in his own mind
He’s the dopest trip
So don’t debate, a player straight
You know he really doesn’t get it anyway
He’s gonna play the field, and keep it real
For you no way, for you no way
So if you don’t rate, just overcompensate
At least you’ll know you can always go on Ricki Lake
The world needs wannabe’s
The world loves wannabe’s
So let’s get some more wannabe’s
And do that brand new thing

Autónomo or AutónoNO? Do You Know I’m No Good? [Freelancing in Spain 2017 and 2018]

Is it Worth Being Autónomo/a in Spain in 2017?23634367_10100381844335458_1269468209_o

Mention that you’re autónomo/autónoma to a Spanish friend and await their wince-infused, anxiety-inducing grimace.  It’s hard work, expensive and risky.  It’s also liberating, empowering and perfectly achievable… at least in the short term.

Almost everyone I spoke to when considering to ‘dar de alta’ tried to put me off.  I also had numerous offers from friends of friends to act as my gestor (accountant) if I did decide on doing it.

A few weeks after moving to Spain I decided to take the plunge and go freelance, taking advantage of discounted rates and avoiding having to earn money under the table.  I’d never been self-employed before; I’d always had the security of a somewhat fixed salary in a system with which I didn’t necessarily agree but at least one that I felt I understood.  So now I find myself working freelance in Spain – preparing invoices, juggling spreadsheets, discussing tax rates in castellano and declining 1$ lesson requests on italki.  I mean, a girl’s got to eat!

I’m not claiming to understand the intricacies of this system but by giving a brief of account of my personal experience hopefully it will give prospective autónomos an insight into this ‘el Revés’ (The Upside Down).  If you’re not a Stranger Things fan, then get on it now before Netflix tighten up their password sharing and multiple user protocol.  If Eleven (aka Once or Ce in Spanish) isn’t the new Emma Watson, I’ll eat my hat.  Or perhaps that of Jim ‘Indiana Jones’ Hopper.

Just to reiterate, this is my own opinion based upon my personal experiences and you should always seek legal/financial advice from experts before making any serious decisions or commitments.  TANGENT: as a little sidenote, perhaps don’t go ‘autónoma’ with your hair.  I decided to dye my own and the process was, let’s say, interesting.  It went from balayage with mega roots (which I kind of liked) to blorange in the picture below the song lyrics.  After using what felt like litres of purple shampoo, I then tried the Schwarzkopf Reaviva Color for rubio claros and it worked a treat.  It was more of a grey than purple colour and was much more effective in ridding my locks of the yellow tones than any blue or purple shampoo. There is even enough product for 5-7 applications too, at least on my fine hair, and it’s only around 6€ in Carrefour Campanar!

Back to ‘autónoma’.  So, the bottom line is that you pay a lot of money for the privilege of working for yourself.  There are different categories of autónomo/a which can be found here in English http://www.ine.es/daco/daco42/clasificaciones/cnae09/estructura_en.pdf.

In terms of Social Security, basically you must pay whether or not you are earning money, but the government have made some recent changes to the law which come into force in January 2018 to make self-employment and freelancing a little less detrimental to your bolsillos.  The flat rate is around 285€/month, whether your income is 500€ or 5000€ and everyone must join the RETA scheme.  Everyone who contributes (and earners have to – you can’t legally opt out of the system) is entitled to the same unemployment and sickness benefits. You can’t get around this by setting up a one-person company.  You can, of course, offer to pay more to increase pension contributions etc.  The only people who can avoid SS contributions are those who are legally recognised as neither employed nor self-employed.  For example, academics or lawyers who are on a salary but are then also paid additional money very occasionally by a different company or employed for one-off conferences.  If you’re emigrating from the UK, it’s almost certain that in terms of SS you’ll be worse off in Spain.  Thankfully, the cost of living is significantly lower in most areas and it’s sunny in Valencia so don’t worry too much about leaving Brexit Britain!

New autónomos* get discounts of 80% for 6 months (12 months if you become autónomo from 1.1.18). This is the flat rate (tarifa plana).  ‘New’ means those who haven’t been autónomo in Spain in the last five years but the meaning of ‘new’ is changing from 1.1.18 to ‘those who haven’t been autónomo for 2 years’.  If you’ve used the tarifa plana before you must wait until three years have passed before doing so again once the new laws come into effect.  To explain, for me this means that I pay around 70€ a month social security at the moment and after six months it’ll go up to 150€ because I stupidly registered before the new laws come into effect.  My discount is roughly 80% for 6 months, then 50%, then 30%.  There is little clarity at the moment about how new autónomos (say those who registered in 2017) will be treated in light of the new laws.  As far as I can gather, they won’t be affected by many of said new laws.

Advice: wait until January to register!

From 2018 female autónomos who already took prolonged maternity leave or leave to care for another dependent will also be entitled to the 12-month 50€ tarifa plana too.

There are many other benefits regarding multiple job holders, pensions, work-related accidents, maternity/paternity and fines coming into force with the new laws as of 1.1.18.  Read this for reasonably up-to-date accurate information in English https://www.citizensadvice.org.es/wp-content/uploads/NEW-AUTONOMO-SELF-EMPLOYED-LAW-2017-2018-A-SUMMARY-10.pdf and this in Spanish https://infoautonomos.eleconomista.es/seguridad-social/cuota-de-autonomos-cuanto-se-paga/.

Now for tax.  Once you’ve ‘dado de alta’ with the Hacienda (no, not the Manchester nightclub but the Spanish Tax Office), you’ll be paying your tax quarterly at a rate of 20% in most Comunidades Autónomas in Spain (this is roughly half to the central government and half to the regional one for local services etc.) You have to invoice companies you work for in order to get paid and they actually pay some of your tax for you through the retention system by effectively withholding some of your gross pay.  The rate is usually 15% but for new autónomos it’s 7%.  That means that if I earn 200€ a month from one company, they will pay me 186€ and keep 14€ to pay to the Agencia Tributaria.  At the end of the month, I’ll have to pay the remaining tax (13% / 26€) to the Agencia Tributaria via my gestor minus any tax reductions I may have earnt (electricity, fuel for business, equipment, etc.)  Warning: don’t live month-to-month in Spain.  You need a little cushion in case you miscalculate outgoings or if someone doesn’t pay you on time for example. Also, certain types of workers including those outside of Spain aren’t part of the retention system so you will have to keep this in mind during the quarter.

I haven’t touched on IVA (VAT) as teaching is exempt so please check this out if applicable. http://www.agenciatributaria.es/AEAT.internet/en_gb/Inicio/_Segmentos_/Empresas_y_profesionales/Empresas/IVA/El_NIF_en_el_IVA.shtml

In short, get a gestor (accountant) for between 40 and 80€ a month but check him/her out beforehand as many aren’t up to date with the new laws and some have been known to run off with all the money!

Did you guess the song?  Autónomo or AutónoNO? Do You Know I’m No Good

Scroll to find out and, if you dare, scroll further to see the state of my ‘autónomo’ hair…!

 

Amy Winehouse – You Know I’m No Good

 

Useful websites:

http://www.advoco.es/hot-topics/43-guide-to-spains-autonomo-system.html

https://www.serautonomo.net/cuota-de-autonomos-2018.html

http://www.seg-social.es/Internet_1/Trabajadores/CotizacionRecaudaci10777/benefCotiz/index.htm 

 

 

InFiernes: Friday, I’m not in love

Any ideas on the song reference in the blog heading?  Of course you do. Whether you’re a music fan or fashion fan who wears Pixies and Metallica t-shirts for fun, you’re sure to have heard of this one.  Scroll to the bottom (preferably reading the post first) to find out if you’re right!

So the title of this blog stems from the very simple equation below.  Much liked the loved-and-hated-in-equal-measure Kimye, Brangelina and blast from the past Speidi, here goes my fickle fusion:

viernes + infierno = infiernes 

(Friday + hell = Friday from Hell)

It works much better in Spanish…obviously!  That’s why you should speak different languages! While you’re in that frame of mind, book an amazing class of mine at Converse with Chloe.  GO ON!  There are reviews of me on iTalki and Tus Clases Particulares too.  I’m 5* you know!  If you book now I’ll let you read the rest of the blog post!  If you’re a bit of a wordsmith and you like these horrid hybrid names, check out this tío for a little chuckle or nine.  Some of the suggestions are funny, some just groan-inducing. Private tutoring sites have been great for me so far.  Actually, scrap that and cue use of the pluperfect past tense:  they HAD been great until this morning. I received this little gem:

spank

Four times in the last three weeks I’ve been on the receiving end of the inappropriate behaviour of men.  In light of the whole #metoo movement, I actually typed out two separate statuses for social media, posted them on Facebook and very quickly changed my mind and made the posts invisible to others (‘me only’).  I think a couple of people might have seen them and sent some very lovely messages of support/encouragement.  Thank you, you wonderful folk.  We’ve all done it; the question is why?  I did absolutely nothing wrong in either circumstance but I almost felt guilty for posting this. I like to think of myself as a modern, liberal, woman-and-man-loving feminist (feminist meaning ‘promoter of gender equality’), someone who is prepared to stand up for quality and speak out when the wrong thing happens. For years as a form tutor in UK secondary schools I spent hours talking to many teenage girls about how they have the right to express themselves as much as boys, how they do not have to look a certain way to please any apart from themselves and how the world unfortunately is still a man’s one.  Despite Beyoncé’s greatest (and contradictory) efforts.  How can you say ‘who runs the world? Girls!’ and then ‘if you like it then you should have put a ring on it?’  No, I don’t love Beyoncé.  Shoot me!  Why do girls feel the need to brush their hair and apply make-up mid-lesson? In my experience, boys rarely do this.

I was even targeted myself.  Yes, by teenage boys.  No, the endurance of countless sexist comments is not addressed in teacher training.  Then again, I did train the Gove era.  What a mistake he is.  Sorry, I mean what a mistake that was… A wolf whistle, a sordid cartoon depicting how they imagine I look naked and the refusal of certain young men to listen to any female teacher whomsoever.  Feel free to vomit.

So the four main incidents that have happened recently:

  1. Being shouted at in the street a few times (general terms like ‘guapa’ and ‘rubia’).  Nothing too sinister but still something that no-one should have to put up with.
  2. Guy at a gig deciding to describe in some detail, to my face, about how large my ass was and how many of the stage lights I blocked out for him whilst on novio’s shoulders at a JAWS gig in Manchester (part of the amazing Neighbourhood fest). JAWS were pretty good, by the way and I did not have the biggest ass in the joint.  You know what though?  It shouldn’t matter a bit if I did. Someone’s got to have it.  neighbourhood (2)
  3. Being hassled by prospective students for ‘private lessons’ in return for ‘alternative methods of payment’.
  4. The ‘spanking’ request mentioned earlier.

spank

Thankfully I received a polite, apologetic and prompt response from the website concerned who blocked the user for good and promised to take more security measures to prevent repeat incidents in future.

<< En primer lugar decirle que lamentamos mucho que haya tenido una mala experiencia con un contacto realizado a través de nuestra página web. Desde ************com trabajamos para que los contenidos y anuncios de la web se ajusten a nuestros criterios de profesionalidad y rigurosidad, pero fuera de la página resulta imposible mantener dicho control.

Como le decíamos, lamentamos lo ocurrido y le agradecemos que nos haya informado de ello. Nuestro equipo de moderación ya ha bloqueado al usuario >>

 

I do feel that more should be done, though, especially considering that some minors use that website and may not feel confident enough to reply to such vomit-inducing messages with words as strong as the ones I utilised.

So, I’ve been to uni, I’m reasonably intelligent, I speak a few languages, dress to express myself (thanks, Cate), work hard, act professionally and that’s the thanks I get.  Yea, go figure!  That’s pretty much why I’m behind the #metoo campaign, although I do not believe that women should feel obliged to share their stories.  It’s a personal decision.  I don’t know any woman 18+ who hasn’t fallen victim to some sort of sexual harassment, belittling, mansplaining or abuse.  This doesn’t even skim the surface.  I’m asked at least once a week why I don’t have my own children.  I work in education in which the majority of employees are women yet the majority of managers, directors and headteachers are men.  Again, go figure.

Girls generally outperform boys at GCSE level, and have done for some time now, and I just read that in Spain this year, in 13 out of 19 Comunidades Autónomas woman outperformed men – read more here. This is not reflected in today’s society.  Trump, Weinstein, Kesha. Say no more.  I kind of agree with the argument Clinton makes here.  I’m actually currently thinking of the best feminist project to start up. If you have any ideas, please pop them in to the comments box below.

BACK TO INFIERNES:

Needless to say I was experiencing a slight resaca from the previous night’s shenanigans [Hinds gig, drinks with the support band, bathrooms with transparent doors, beers and one large G&T] so me quedé en la cama a little longer than usual, got up around 11am, rushed around ironing clothes with my housemate’s amazing steam iron and finally packed a few things to take to work with me so I could go directly to Cabanyal after work.  Why?  Because my novio was coming to visit. YEY!  I wanted his first time in Valencia to be perfect.  I wanted him to come back.  He’s more than alright, that one, after all. So having literally rammed eight Mercadona own-brand Belvita biscuits down my throat, I set off for my appointment at the local Social Security office to ‘dar de alta’ (register as freelance).  It’s a shame that my gestor (accountant) used my old surname (remind me, why do men not change their surname?) so it was assumed that I was some sort of illegal psycho alien dressed as a blonde British girl, here in Spain only to infiltrate the realms of private tutoring and translation and write meaningless blog posts about how good life is compared to this time a year ago.  Hang on a second…!  Anyway, I managed to convince the extremely pleasant yet suspicious civil servant that I was, well, ‘me’ by showing him photos on my phone.  Thanks Mam for looking like me and being on Stalkbook.

I rushed back to my apartment, grabbing the usual cheese sandwich on the way.  Correction, I didn’t ‘grab’ it.  I ordered, chatted with the overly gregarious and quick-witted panadera on Av. Cortes Valencianas and then discovered that I had 67 cents in my backpack (along with water, to keep me hydrated of course) and no purse. Mi monedero había desaparecido.  Mierda.  I definitely didn’t lose it the night before which was one saving grace. But where was it?  Rushed home.  That Valenbisi journey was 8 minutes long but it felt like an eternity.  Ran upstairs to the sixth floor instead of taking the lift; the lift beat me anyway.  Open the door. Key got jammed.  Left key.  Slipped on Corte Inglés plastic bag in the corridor. Caught my top on a door handle. Almost did the splits.  Opened bedroom door.  TA-DA!  PURSE.  FOUND!  Then, the whole day went smoothly…

Jokes.  Of course it didn’t.  I wolfed down the sandwich, headed to work and realised that I was going to be late, jumped in a taxi and got my bag strap caught under the seat, adding 3.5 minutes to the 4 minute ride.  It would have only been 9 minutes by bike!  Once at work and settled, the classes were great; Fridays are definitely my favourite day.  Morrissey wasn’t right after all, with his Friday Mourning.  Novio arrived, hugs exchanged, wine drunk and some food eaten.  Black squid ink and random fish innards were moved around on the plate: how do people eat that stuff?  Taxi couldn’t find me so after a 10 minutes of walking up and down the same street, we eventually made it and set off for the bright non-city lights of Cabanyal coast.  AirBnb lady was hostile to say the least but her parents, who were there on our arrival, were amazing.

Wine, cute Cabanyal surfer bar, mosaics aplenty, casual strolling and my favourite person later and finally…

Friday, I’m in love.

 

Yep, you guessed the song!  You WordSMITHS you!

 

 

 

The Cure: Friday I’m in Love

I don’t care if Monday’s blue
Tuesday’s grey and Wednesday too
Thursday I don’t care about you
It’s Friday, I’m in love

Monday you can fall apart
Tuesday, Wednesday break my heart
Thursday doesn’t even start
It’s Friday, I’m in love

Saturday wait
And Sunday always comes too late
But Friday, never hesitate

I don’t care if Monday’s black
Tuesday, Wednesday heart attack
Thursday never looking back
It’s Friday, I’m in love

Monday you can hold your head
Tuesday, Wednesday stay in bed
Or Thursday watch the walls instead
It’s Friday, I’m in love

Saturday wait
And Sunday always comes too late
But Friday, never hesitate

Dressed up to the eyes
It’s a wonderful surprise
To see your shoes and your spirits rise

Throwing out your frown
And just smiling at the sound
And as sleek as a shriek
Spinning round and round
Always take a big bite
It’s such a gorgeous sight
To see you eat in the middle of the night

You can never get enough
Enough of this stuff
It’s Friday I’m in Love

I don’t care if Monday’s blue
Tuesday’s grey and Wednesday too
Thursday I don’t care about you
It’s Friday, I’m in love

 

%d bloggers like this: