Communication in Gran Canaria

Communication is a topic that is very close to my heart as I like to talk.

In this post I share my thoughts and experiences of communicating in a foreign country.

It is not just about the dance

Communication is such an interesting topic for me for many reasons. 

  1. Anyone who knows me already, knows I like to talk!!!
  2. My job has always been in sales so I need to talk and communicate effectively.
  3. I love people and am very interested in their stories and getting to know people, and for this you need to talk.

So… Even knowing the above about me, I still decided to go to live in Gran Canaria where I don’t speak the language! Hmmmm! So yes, this has been a very interesting experience for me.

As English people we often think “we speak English” and that is all that matters. We are the worst country of people for learning other languages and often expect everyone to speak in our tongue. I have to say I suppose I have also  been surprised by the number of people here who don’t speak English, but then why should they?

One thing that I read before I came here was, that to work here you only need English, but to live here you need Spanish, and this is so true. If you want to go to the doctors, the dentist, the hairdressers, the shops, make local friends, you most definitely need to speak Spanish. To work in the tourist industry here you only need to speak English. Luckily I have managed to find a sales job here, that does only require English. 🙂

Written Communication – Shopping

food shopping

My first experience of needing better communication of the written language was food shopping. Buying food was a very early necessity. Yes, I can see that they are olives, but olives in what? Yes, I can see it is a tin of tuna, but tuna in what? Herbs and spices, well, they could just be anything. I have to say google translate has come in very handy and food shopping at first was a very slow job. Over my 5 months here it has certainly got easier and quicker.

I bought a hair colour and whilst I could have bought my usual one for three times the price I opted to buy a local brand. It must have taken me 30 minutes of going through the instructions, with the help of google, to understand whether I apply the colour to wet or dry hair, but I got there in the end.

Non Verbal Communication – Dancing

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We all know that dance in itself is a form of communication and this is my passion. Luckily to dance I have not needed any words and this has been my life line. It has helped me to laugh, to smile, to meet new people, all without words. What a blessing dance and music is!

All of my best friends that I have made here have come through my dance community, all based on a mutual passion and non verbal communication.

It is easier to get to know the men of course as you are mainly dancing with them, it is however more difficult to make friends with the ladies as for this you need to speak. I have been lucky enough to meet some girls who do speak some English and some who we merely communicate with a smile and two kisses on the cheek each week.

Text Communication – Emoji’s

smiley 1

In this modern world much of our communication is through messenger, text and here in Gran Canaria mainly Whatsapp. Emoji’s  have never held such an important part of my text communication. A gif image or smiley or other emoji is often the quickest, simplest and most accurate way to communicate a feeling or message. Thank you for emoji’s.

As most of my communication is in Spanish with my growing knowledge and help from google it is meaning I am learning fast.

Listening

Confused lady 2

Everywhere I go I hear Spanish, so listening is more important than ever. I have to admit that sometimes it becomes too much and I stop listening. But the more I listen the more I understand. I am starting to be quite amazed myself and what I do actually know and understand when listening to a Spanish conversation.

In my growing frustration to be able to speak clearly with my friends and the people here in Gran Canaria. I have now started a weekly private Spanish class  to guide my self learning.  My teacher only speaks Spanish to me unless she really can’t get the message she is trying to explain across to me. I have only had one hour so far, but that was so enlightening, and has really increased my desire to improve my knowledge and given me confidence to start to speak more.

The Language of Love

heart-hands (1)Just as most of us, I dream of finding love. One thing this has taught me here is that when two people have a connection, whether that has stemmed from a smile, a look, a touch or a dance, if they want to communicate they will. It is amazing how when there is a real desire you find a way.

It has also shown me that perhaps verbal communication is really not the most important. You can say so much to someone without even saying a word, just by a look or by the things that you do. Ok, you might not get the full intricate detail of the message than if you used words, but you would still get the message non the less.

Lack of communication and the need to rely quite heavily on google has also proved to not be a bad thing, it has meant I have laughed so much at the miscommunications that have arisen and laughter is such an important form of communication.

If two people laugh together, I think you get through anything.

Non Verbal Communication – Hand and Face Gestures

hand

I have to admit that some days communicating here can feel very much like a game of charades, lot of hand and face gestures.

I have always been quite expressive but here I think that has become much more so. There can me lots of gestures, pointing and frowning going on. All very funny.

All in all every day here of trying to communicate continues to make me smile, happy, frustrated, but most of all determined to soon be speaking fluent Spanish! 

So that I can talk to my hearts content. 🙂 

Why?

So many people ask why, and why Gran Canaria. This will answer that for you.

So many people ask Why!

  • Why now?
  • Why Gran Canaria?
  • Why did you want to leave?

So I will answer these questions for you.

Why now? and Why did you want to leave?

The above two questions have the same answers. Everything just kind of fell into place all at the same time. My job was stressful, my relationship was going through major changes, of which I did not feel included in, my children had left home and I began to realise I don’t have to be here, I could go anywhere.

I was torn between moving to London in a relationship that was struggling, moving back to my home town in Stoke-on-Trent, which felt like going backwards, or staying put in the same area but in a new house and alone, or, doing something completely different. There was no stay put option to see if we could work through our difficulties, it was change or change.

So as you can see after much thought and consideration, I opted for the later. I felt this was my time to do something for me. My children are finding their feet in their own lives and don’t need mum about so much, but they always have a home, where ever I am. My parents are fit and well and I didn’t mind giving up my job to find something completely new. Also, Brexit is looming and in a couple of years time, moving to another country may not be so easy, so I felt if I did not do this now I probably never would.

I have always said that I could live quite simply, somewhere warm and in the sun, so this was my chance to see if that was true. I must lead by example as I have tried to teach my children that there is a big world out there and they should explore it and always live life to the full. So many youngsters travel after University before working. I thought if they can survive it on their small amount of life experience, then I will be fine! I am just doing things in reverse to the norm.

And here I am.

Why Gran Canaria?

I have been on many holidays to the Canary Islands as well as Spain over the years and other countries. I have also loved the Spanish culture and music the most. I have been to most of the Canary Islands at least twice. I was in Gran Canaria in April with a girl friend and as you do on every holiday, you dream about staying, so that was still on my mind.

For me the most important part was that I had found a dance scene here, Salsa, Bachata, Kizomba that was similar to the UK. Friendly people that all danced with each other, with lessons and teachers etc. As all my dance friends will know, you are always welcomed into a dance community no matter where you are. You don’t need to know the language, it does not matter where you come from, but you can still socialise and make friends.

Stop in Brazil

My favourite place here is a lovely, friendly bar called Stop in Brazil. It comes highly recommended to anyone that visits the South of Island, whether you dance or not.

I also felt and feel very safe here. Whilst, yes, there are a lot of tourists, the local community really is quite small. I often joke and say I can make friends just walking down the street, well here that is literally true. I have made so many friends. My short walk to Stop in Brazil can take 20/30 minutes by the time I have said hello to the people I know along the way.

Finally why would you not choose Gran Canaria or any of the Canaries for the lovely sunny weather. I know the locals here actually get fed up of the sun but coming from the grey and cloudy England I can honestly say, it is going to take me a very long time to get fed up of the sun! It changes your life in so many ways, and makes life more of an outdoor life, people are happier, your days feel longer. You are so much more active. I know I am getting fitter by the day with walking more, swimming, dancing, and that is before I start any other activities.

I chose to be in Playa del Ingles for work reasons. I don’t know much Spanish yet, but as this is the tourist area, to work here English or German is the key language that you need. To start with I don’t mind what that job ends up being whilst I find my feet, I realise I have a lot of learning to do so at the moment any job is a new experience.

Hopefully this has answered the why questions but please ask any other questions in the comments if you have any.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Power of Dance

So here I am 4 weeks into my new life in Gran Canaria. I have been so “busy” relaxing, taking in my surroundings, dancing, making new friends, dancing and finding my way round, that I have not once, sat at my computer to write and tell you about it. Mainly because every time I think about it, I just don’t know where to start as there is so much that I actually want to say. So I have decided to start finding the time in my daily routine to write, possibly often some quick short blogs to keep you updated. For my friends on Facebook you will have seen some snippets on there already.

Today I wanted to share with you, the most unusual and unexpectedly, emotional event that happened to me this weekend.

keep reading

What is an NIE number and why do I need one?

I have learnt that I can stay in Gran Canaria for 3 months as a tourist, basically on holiday, but if I want to stay longer, rent or buy a property, or work there I need to have a Spanish NIE number.

What is an NIE number?

NIE Spain is translated as the Foreigner’s Identification Number (or Número de Identificación de Extranjero, NIE number).

The NIE number is the legal number assigned by the Spanish National Police to foreign people who don’t have Spanish citizenship, so that you can carry out legal activities in Spain, such as the ones mentioned below.

The actual format of the NIE number certificate is a A4 white sheet which contains your name, surname, date of birth, city and country of birth, and the unique NIE number, of course.

keep reading

Big Step One

I have to admit that whilst I have thought this through in great detail now that I am starting to get things moving the reality and excitement has kicked in.

Today I handed in my notice at work, and am now currently working my three months notice.  Considering I have always worked since I was 16 apart from two short spells off for maternity leave, handing your notice in for a job when you have no job to go to is pretty scary.

But that deed is now done, now all I want to do is ensure that I leave work as up to date as I possibly can and await the day that I can handover my daily tasks to my new replacement. Only a few close friends at work know at the moment as the boss wanted time to plan before announcing it to the rest of  the team.

Step one complete