Posted in Anecdot, Couch Talks, Daily Life, Deep Thoughts, Foreign cultures, Life Moments, Lifestyle, Story time, Tales of My Adventures, Trips, Work/Studies

The Joys and Pains of a Foreigner

Have you ever gotten frustrated by an obstacle which seemed small at first, but you can’t figure how to go about it?

That is exactly how I feel right now.

When one is a foreigner living abroad, it appears that the immigration service finds every excuse to not let us thrive and advance professionally. It’s so annoying… 

Background story: As many of you know, I am a foreign student schooling in Spain. Up till now, I didn’t have any necessity to find a job (financially speaking).  But as I’m growing older, I want to acquire some professional experience and, why not, make some extra bucks.

Look. I am fluent in 3 foreign languages. Also, my CV is overloaded with qualifications, trainings and extracurricular certifications… I have the required skills wanted for the jobs in my field and I’ve received offers from institutions who really wanted to work with me. But… 

My only hindrance is a freaking piece of paper: let’s call it the “Immigration’s green light”, a.k.a a work permit. The funny thing is, to get the work permit from them, I need a contract from a company. And to get the contract from a company, I need a work permit. In summary: They’re freaking toying with us, right?

There are small part-time jobs like tutoring or cleaning, etc which don’t need papers, but they don’t pay enough to make a decent living. So, except you’re from the European Union, the rest of us have to go through “the Overseas Aliens’ Transit Regulation”. (Excuse my language, I probably lost it out of annoyance, haha). Based on the absence of that sheet of paper, (even as a highly educated noncitizen) you are either forced to leave, or to stay in the country and not amount to much, or to sweat it (and buckets) before you can become anything substantial.

Because of that “system”, today was another failed interview for me. You know, that feeling when you’re in love with someone but the family is against you… Something like that. Worst thing, I woke up with a back pain today so I’ve been walking half-bent like a crab. Great… Awesome day…(sarcasm). I’ve chosen the title “Joys and Pains of a foreigner” because I didn’t want to scare you guys… And also because I decided to take all this positively.

By the way, when I’m feeling nostalgic or downcast, I like to play on Youtube some old songs from my childhood, or my favourite K-drama OSTs. Skillet also does the deal… When I got back home after the interview, I felt so deflated. I listened to “Saint Seya’s” opening theme and “Cat’s Eyes”, “Jayce et les Conquérants de la Lumière”, “Nicky Larson”, “Ken le Survivant”, “Sankukai”, amongst others (links below). Not only the lyrics are so corny, but the melody and the bad visual quality make me laugh so hard. And the reactions in the comment section are hilarious… Especially, the video for “Sankukai” is an antic…

Those songs from old mangas are full of warm memories. They remind me of when I was carefree and living comfortably in my family nest. Now I’m an adult living alone abroad and paying bills… Hehe (sarcastic laughter).

Anyway. My New Year resolution was to not be pessimistic. Where there is a will, there is a way. I must keep fighting for my future and to accomplish my goals. May God help us all.

Any expat friend here who can relate? You can comment below, I’d be more than glad to hear from you! 

Aside from that; maybe you’re reading this and you’re going through another type of difficulty. I’d like to share these encouraging words with you too. Whatever it is, let’s not give up! Let’s keep it up, let’s keep trying! We will knock until we get the right doors to open. Just like the lyrics say in “Jayce et les Conquérants de la Lumière”, “Si tu ne perds pas la foi, tu trouveras la voie.” (If you do not lose faith, you will find the way).

By the away, tomorrow in Zaragoza we celebrate San Valero, the holiday that I previously mentioned in the post on my New Year’s wishes. I’m thinking about writing a short article about it (with my personal quirk touch, without fault). Stay tuned!

Warms regards,

Nuna Blomevi.

Posted in Anecdot, Colloquial, Couch Talks, Daily Life, Fiesta, Foreign cultures, Life Moments, Lifestyle, Photos, Tales of My Adventures, Trips, Vlog, YouTube Channel

Spanish Wishes for the New Year

Finally!

The end-of- year celebrations are over. I get to have my first real day off since the holidays started. As an expat living alone abroad, I originally planned to spend the festivities by myself, but I got so many invitations that I went here and there, celebrating from house to house. Instead of spanning as “The Grinch” or “Home Alone”, my holiday season became “All I want for Christmas is you”. I tell you, it’s important to extend one’s social circle.

Until yesterday, I socialized, laughed my lungs out, slept, tv-binged and food-binged. (Now I am praying for discipline to go on an “effective” diet). I am not a difficult individual to satisfy. Including clothes and expensive perfumes (hehe), I find joy in these little pleasures in life. And personally, after going through certain bitter experiences, I have learnt to laugh and enjoy good moments while I can. 

In Spain, Christmas is not over until the 6th of January. From Nochebuena (24th Dec.), Navidad (25th Dec.), Nochevieja (31stDec.), Año Nuevo (1st Jan.), to Reyes Magos (6th Jan.)…  Spaniards commemorate “Los Reyes Magos”, the visit of the Three Wise Men to Jesus. Here, it’s also the day children receive their gifts. (Yesterday, I was at a get-together with some friends and we exchanged presents. I received a new bag, yay!).

Every excuse is a good reason to celebrate in this country. I heard that 29th January is also a holiday, “San Valero”. It even falls on Friday, bless God. Then we have 5th March, Easter, 1st May and many more all year long…. What a nice country to live in! They are the best at balancing work and rest. I’ve lost track of what we celebrate and why, I’m just happy to stay home or hang out. By the way, I  share videos about life in Spain on my Youtube channel. Please pay a visit, like and subscribe. Gracias! (I also created a special page on this website where I publish pictures of all the countries I’ve visited. (Click here to view Travel Gallery).

Oops… My bad. I got excited and forgot the main reason for this post…

Happy New Year, dear CTTBies! Health, Success, Happiness, Peace, etc. Amen, amen…

Ok, I will skip the usual protocol wishes, I’m sure you’ve already heard them a lot . Pardon my crudeness, you know I’m brutally honest and pessim… uh, uh, realistic. 

2021… We’re not sure what you will bring, but we are ready to take you on (since we’re already exist in this harsh world, we don’t have a choice but to keep going anyway, hehe). We are strong, we will bend but not break. There will be annoying days, but there will also be bright days. You might pick on us, but we won’t mind you. We will go through it and carry on with our lives. We will be firm until our very last breath, as we see you and other years pass by. That’s life. And we are humans, the strongest, ever-adapting creatures on planet earth. We always find a way out of the maze once we set our minds to it. And as long as there is food, housing and our loved ones with us, we can bear through anything. (My personal form of self-encouragment).

New year, bring it on! Maybe I should take that out, let’s not challenge the Universe.

On behalf of Corner and I; we want to thank every one of you who take their time to visit our blog and read our posts. We also want to express our gratitude to all of our followers. Thank you for accompanying us on this journey! We are grateful for your time, attention and affection. Thank you!

Happy New Year! Feliz Año Nuevo! 

 Besos,

Nuna and Corner Blomevi. 

Posted in Couch Talks, Daily Life, Deep Thoughts, Fiesta, Life Moments, Lifestyle, Tales of My Adventures

A Grinchy Christmas: overcoming loss and celebrating life again

A sweet and sour post, specially dedicated to lonely souls.

18/12/2020, a life recap.

As I was walking on the street today, I stopped at a traffic light to cross the road. I raised my head and looked around. Crowded shops, busy people, our town was bubbling. The queues waiting to enter stores or restaurants were endless. Pandemic or not, life must go on, it seems. I thought people might find it difficult to celebrate 2020’s festivities. Due to the Covid-19, we’re all a bit grinchy this year, but I guess human beings are good at adapting.

This year I really thought hard about how to celebrate Christmas. It’s not the first time I’ll be alone, but this year the feeling is different. I am ready for it.

When I looked at the happy people on the street, I thought: “Christmas is supposed to be a happy occasion, but it’s not always the case for everyone. There are some people somewhere who aren’t going through their best moment right now”.

Christmas celebrations made me reflect on the stages of life; it took me some years back.

When I was a kid, I really enjoyed the end-of-year celebrations. The gifts, the food, the cozy home atmosphere… Just like any child, I totally loved it. That’s the magic Christmas has, that special time of the year that we spend with the ones we love the most. A sacred period. It’s our society’s designated time to cut our hectic world some slack.

Well, it’s not exactly true every year. I remember, after that peaceful period of my childhood years, my family faced a stormy period due to one of our members’ serious illness. Then, the following end-of years, we faced death, the parting of a loved one. I was just a teen back then…

That’s when my feelings towards Christmas changed. “Arrrgh… It’s this time of the year, again. I hate Christmas so much! And all the new year festivities or what not. I wished the year would end quickly.” Hearing carols got on my nerves and decorations made my eyes itch. The allergy was severe…. I put extra effort in hiding in my room until the Christmas season was over and people stopped bothering me with their celebrations.

Many years have gone by, and our mourning has passed. We will never forget the hard memories, nor forget those who left us to a better world. Nonetheless, our hearts have healed since and we are stronger to continue the journey of life. After the tears, the living must go on living, they say.

Because of those past wounds, I always have on my mind people who have time during the Christmas season and New year. Whether it’s sickness, death, or any other difficult circumstance, my heart goes to them. Like a magic spark that flies in the wind, I hope my thoughts and sympathy can reach them. Like in cartoons, let us all gather some warmth and transmit it to them in these days, so that they receive the strength to make it through and come out victorious and stronger. Yes, the nightmare will end. Let’s say a prayer and light a candle for them. I’m sure people did it for my family too.

Back then, I cried so much that it felt like I was shedding tears of blood. I cried till my lacrimal glands emptied; my eyes got so stiff from the dryness. In those days, when people used to tell me that tomorrow would be a better day and that my tears would dry up one day, I was too torn to believe it. “Yeah, right. They’re just saying whatever to comfort me.” I hurt so much that I thought I would die too. When the pain pierces your heart through and through, it’s hard to believe.

Now I believe it. And I am more mature to smile at the future, no matter what happens.

I have survived my painful past, and I have grown into a beautiful adult. And now, I like Christmas again. Today, I was jumping on the streets like a deer, going from shop to shop and my eyes enlarged, all frenzy looking at the items. Gosh, everything was so nice and the stores smelled so good (I went to buy cosmetics). Oh, the divine fragrances! My lungs were so blessed today. Every woman has a shopping weakness; mine is expensive perfumes or similar scented products, aka exotic shower gels, shampoos, detergents or hand washes. (I bought three different hand washes today…)

Truthfully, as an expat living alone abroad, away from all family, I dread this year’s celebration a bit. (Last year I was sick with a bad flu so I wasn’t really in the state to worry about parties…). In past years it was harder, but I’m getting used to it now and I think I can pull it off. I used to get invited by friends to join their family celebrations, or  I “located” other friends who live alone like me and organize joint celebrations. This year I’ll skip. I’m in a “Home Alone” mood. I just feel like staying home. I’m going to break that everlasting law that says that we have to be agglutinated for Christmas. I just want good food this year…

Plot twist: I got invited by some friends last minute, and I couldn’t resist, Haha… I’ll be home alone only on the 24th on Christmas eve…

I’m planning to pamper me and spend lavishly on getting myself good food and nice gifts. I didn’t feel like decorating this year, so my house is as bare as it’s been all year long. I wanted to buy a little Christmas tree but I got lazy. I’m a foodie, so I’m going to invest in that instead. (There’s a particular Japanese menu that I’ve been targeting for these past weeks). There’s no issue in life that good food doesn’t solve.

I’m already planning the menu. I got inspired by Korean Mukbang videos on Youtube, so I’m thinking of organizing a virtual dinner with my family back in my country. (We did it for my birthday and it was great).

I guess I’m giving alternatives/  ideas to people who’ll be spending Christmas alone like me. I hope they are helpful. Hang in there. All depression,shoo! Be gone! Haha. Don’t worry, you’ll be fine.

Will I hate Christmas again in the future? I don’t know. If you love Christmas, I can relate with you. If you don’t love Christmas, I also relate with you. I have come to learn that it is not a celebration with a fixed pattern based on the sparkly, merry, ideal image that society has drawn for us. Christmas is different every year. Christmas is what you make of it personally. Your Christmas is you.

Others may be unaware of what you are going through, or they may be pushing you to celebrate as a way to forget your loss. Your Christmas doesn’t have to be happy because theirs is. Ride the tides, mourn, until you feel confident to smile again without having to fake it.

Bend, but do not break. Survive your loss, and let’s meet on the other side.

A grinchy Christmas to you!

Warm regards from a fellow life warrior. Forever overthinking, forever meditating,

Nuna Blomevi.

P.S.: I prepared a special song for you. Enjoy!💋

Posted in Couch Talks, Daily Life, Deep Thoughts, Life Moments, Lifestyle, Tales of My Adventures, Work/Studies

Fighting against the odds: compete with yourself and win

Today’s meditations led me to this topic: fighting against circumstances.

We all have something that holds us back or stops us from getting to where we want to be or achieving certain desired results.

Personally, I mentally listed all the characteristics that, in my environment and my context, might not be in my favor. The perspective looks sinister. “I am a foreigner living in another country. My skin color demarcates me from others on the spot. No matter what I do, I remain an alien. Even more, though I have learnt the local language and fully adapted to the local cultures, the absence of the corresponding legal documents makes me unrecognised as part of the natives. I will always be ‘the one who came from another place’.

I am from a very small nation that many here do not even know exist. I went to a great school in the land where I come from, but since my nation is not known, my Cum Laude degree does not count. My physical features, my foreign name, my age, they all stand against me on my CV. Where the natives have it hard to get a job, I have to make a triple effort with no guarantee of success. In spite of my academic achievements and professional experiences, I never get chosen. I rather get discriminated against and at occasions people look down on me. When I am wronged because of my origins, many at times I cannot say anything, again because I am not from here and do not have any power in this foreign land.”

It’s easy to drown in discouragement and accept failure. “That’s how things are. That’s how the world works”. Yes, I could say that. It’s true that certain things don’t change no matter how hard we try and bump our heads against the wall.

Still, I want to give life my best shot. When I die, I will close my eyes without regrets and know that I have done my best. In case I don’t make it, I will still be remembered as the one who did all she could. Or maybe, things will work out for me. Why not?

This year, I did all sorts of crazy stuff I never imagined I would do as the risk-free and  highly “will-it-work”,“take-your-time”, “are-you-sure”, “did-you-think-through” person that I am. I started a blog, started a business, created a YouTube channel. At the last minute, I went back on my decision to return to my country where I planned to live a comfortable life with my family. Instead, I recently submitted my candidacy as a student representative in my university.  Part of me is saying: “You must be out of your mind! What have you gotten yourself into?” while the other part says: “Well done! It will take time and effort, but it will work. You won’t regret it!”. Truthfully, there are days where I just want to silence both voices and quietly go on with my life. I don’t know how things will turn out, but I’m glad I did something noteworthy with my existence. It will remain a special memory.

I don’t know what your limitations are. I don’t know what wall you are facing. Tonight, I want to give someone a bit of courage as we all strive and work hard to walk through this life with our heads lifted. Little by little, with wisdom and of course, integrity, let’s break free from what holds us down, step by step, and walk towards achieving our dreams. Yes, you failed before and might fail again. Keep trying. Yes, nobody cheers for you. Encourage yourself.  (And let me tell you a secret: I also got some encouragement from above). God has his ways of bringing us support, as well as the positive words we need to hear. He shows us the right path to follow and roots for us everyday.

Think about that great person you admire or that celebrity you’re jealous of. Do you think they had nothing holding them back? I’m pretty sure they were in the same situation as you and me: the roundabout of “all or nothing”, the turning point of “make or break”. I wonder what fear they left behind and what small steps they took in the past that converted them into legends today.

Is something keeping you from moving forward? There are different ways of dealing with an obstacle: either you remove it, or if you can’t, you go around it. Or if it’s very big, you keep on knocking and scratching it until it crumbles down. Think outside of the box, or create your own. What can you do to make the best out of what you have, and use your circumstances to your advantage?

December is, for me, a key month that represents both a start and an end. At some few days to the closing of the year, what big decision will you take that will propel you to the next level? The access to your success is within your reach. Will you let life pass you by?

I hope you take your leap of faith.

Farewell and see you in my next post!

Nuna Blomevi.

Posted in Foreign cultures, Identity and Culture, Lifestyle

The story behind my webseries: “Three Expats and a Winter”

Hi CTTBies!

Three Expats and a Winter” is the first webseries I posted on CTTB. At the beginning, I wanted to talk about some cultural issues that I observed or faced as I travel around the world. Since all those experiences were too numerous to discuss one by one, I decided to turn it into a story.

The episodes of “Three Expats and a Winter” are published in a webnovel format, just like for my diary “A Writer Behind the Scenes“.

The purpose was to raise awareness about some sensitive topics such as cultural discrimination. For that reason I chose to create neutral characters to portray the story. Johnny, Malaika and Martins may be fictional, but the situations they encounter tell about the challenges that many expats face in real life. I got the idea as I started a promotional project called “Imagine Africa” to show the continent in a new, positive light, and not as a miserable, pitiful place struck by poverty, war, hunger and a cursed destination to a be avoided as the foreign media tend to display it. While I lived abroad, I realized that Africa has so many beautiful aspects (for example, its delicious food, its weather, the warmth and hospitality of people, the social culture centered on solidarity etc). I wasn’t quite content with how the foreign media seemed to always focus on the negative parts. That tendency has generated stigmatizing effects that greatly penalize Africans on the international scene. The good side is, things are changing for the better and many nationals from this beautiful continent have taken up on themselves to correct that label and foster change in people’s minds. I’ve decided to also join that great initiative, and I hope that my series will have a positive impact.

Until we meet again in my next post, take care! 😉

Nuna Blomevi

Posted in Food, Lifestyle, Work/Studies

No time+ No money: How do I maintain a healthy diet while living abroad?

Google Translate ⬇

I haven’t been eating well of late but money is so tight. What should I get?

“I haven’t been eating well of late but money is tight this month. What should I get?”

On many occasions, as students or as young adults living abroad go through this dilemma while going for grocery shopping. There’s no time for cooking between cramming, going for class or looking for a stable job. Pre-cooked meals, pizza, snacks, junk food etc… On the long run they end up not only increasing your weight but also affecting your health.

Here are some tips to improve your food intake and improve your health:

  • On the green side:

Fruits can sometime be expensive and vegetables may not be to our taste. Therefore, we don’t want to spend money on them. But you can add these affordable and tasty ones to make your meals more colourful:  * Bananas and apples are very common, and cheap.  *To replace brocolis (one of the greenies with most haters internationally aside spinach), carrots, zucchinis and cucumbers are a great choice. You may want to try a tomato salad as well (we’ll update you with the recipe).  Also, you may try cooking with frozen vegetables instead of fresh ones, it saves so much time!

  • Proteins

Sausages, chicken breast and eggs should be the first on the list. easy to cook, easy to fry! Compared to the other types of meat, the taste is also acceptable on the go without having to use them in elaborate recipes. Though you may want to add some little black pepper to season up the chicken breast (in case you may want to ask, note that the breast and wings are easier to cook than the drums, taste and time wise).

Chorizo is awesome too, but may feels greasy on the long run. Cut it in thin slices, then let them drizzle briefly on a frying pan to help reduce the fatty part (the little white dots). You can have it with some toasted bread on the side. Simple, but terrific!

  • Carbohydrates

Rice is king! Rice is king! And the queen, Ramyon! (Instant noodles). These two reign in the world of cheap, quick-fix and “goes-with-everything” category. Spaguettis are also tasty, but…. you have to boil it aside and then add a very good sauce (usually tomato) or another “topping” – let’s call it that way. Potatoes make another option, but leave you in the ordeal “How on earth to I peel this without getting burnt…” To shorten the cooking time, slice them into dices (nice rhyme). Also, take note that the skin is way easier to remove after you boil them. Last but not least, canned beans or chick peas provide to be really filling and don’t need much “retouching”. To enhance the taste, you may heat them with some onion, garlic and/or seasoning for some minutes, but it’s optional.

As we mentioned before, we’ll keep updating you with ideas for recipes and cooking tips. Stay in touch!

And all the best to our hardworking CTTbies. Keep strong, and all the best for your studies/ work/job search!

Was this post useful to you? Let us know by rating it!

Rating: 1 out of 5.
Posted in Lifestyle, Trips, Work/Studies

Hectic rhythm and its consequences: how to reduce stress during a rat race moment

Google Translate⬇

In the current society we live in, avoiding stress has become nearly impossible. In school or in a workplace, it’s no surprise to sometimes be overwhelmed by the demands and challenges that we encounter. If you’re living in a foreign country, things may be more difficult to bear especially if you have no family members around. Everyone deals with stress differently, but when should one start being worried about its effects, and how to deal with it?

The alarming signs: 

  • When your lifestyle is affected

Do you feel restless and find it hard to sleep? Is it hard to cope with your daily activities, and do you feel lost? It gets hard to concentrate and therefore difficult to organize your daily tasks and finish the tasks within the required time frame, making you even more nervous. Your mood is usually cranky and your relationships may also suffer from it.

  • When your health is affected

Aside from constant headaches, the stomach is one of the common organs to feel the “impact”, especially if an unhealthy diet adds to the stressful rhythm. 

Even though it is difficult to completely get rid of stress, mainly because it’s impossible to have control over circumstances. About that, talking about getting enough sleep may sound too idealistic to someone who has extra work left to complete or a student who has a pending exam to write (It’s not that we don’t know we have to sleep early and in good condition, it’s just that it’s a bit complicated to do so). Nonetheless, there are some ways to alleviate it and minimize the consequences.

Some tips that could help: 

  • Natural remedies:

A cup of warm infusion usually works like magic! There are different types, but some of them are more efficient, in relevance to stress: mint, passionflower or valerian.  Available as tea bags, they can also be sold as pills for  food supplement. Another excellent supplement is made of Ashwaghanda extract. It’s an expensive option compared to the ones previously mentioned, but it is worth the investment as far as relaxing and improving sleep is concerned.

  • Self- Massages

While you’re sitting in front of your desk, take your eyes off the screen/ your book a few minutes. Try rotating your head a little, left, right and then vice-versa. Use your hands to gently massage your neck from your ears down to your shoulders.

  • Beauty care

Working hard usually brings with it looking like a zombie (PhD students will understand it well). Does the greasy, rough skin with pimples sound familiar?

To try and minimize the damages, it’s good to wash your face before sleeping and apply a hydrating night cream; it’s not only agreable and refreshing, but your skin will also be grateful.

  • Interacting with other people

It may sound like a simple and habitual remark, but sharing with others helps a great deal. We all have different levels of socialization, some may be mor introverts while others are more out-going. However, it’s important not to bear the weight alone. It’s no shame to recognize that one is going through a hard time. Don’t forget; try and share your burdens with a trustworthy person.

You may also consult a specialist if things get unbearable (universities for example usually provide a counselling center where you can receive psychological help).

Was this post useful to you? Let us know by rating it!

Rating: 0.5 out of 5.