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L'Auberge Espagnole

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All I really wanted was some time away from my boring life.

Although I had only just graduated a year ago, I had already found myself a rather good job in a bank. My friend Marco told me I was very lucky to get in so quickly, but that wasn't entirely true.

He thought I had earned my position because of smartness or sociability or some other quality I don’t know why he thought I possessed, and I had never belied him. But in reality, my CV had been chosen over many more qualified candidates with the help and influence of my father, who worked in another bank.

In fact, what Marco said left me rather annoyed with myself.

I had been working in the bank for a year and I knew I wasn’t qualified enough to get a promotion. I didn’t want to rely on nepotism anymore, and as time went by I realized that I wouldn’t be satisfied with what I had forever.

I wanted a new perspective for my life, and I wanted to deserve it. And that is what was bugging me.

Marco was the one who deserved the job. We went to college together and graduated together, and the truth was that I owed him for my degree. For years he helped me through the disciplines and to improve my grades. He was always the smart one while I was the lazy kid who begged for his help days before finals. Maybe I wouldn’t have even graduated if it wasn’t for him.

But here I was, with my well paid job, while Marco still struggled to find a decent one. It put me off to know how unfair that was.

It was on one afternoon break that I finally saw an opportunity to fix that.

The bank would be opening an offshore Spanish sector in a year, and they would be hiring a manager to fill for that position. Needless to say, the job required that applicants spoke Spanish, which I did not.

Still, in a few hours I had already negotiated with my boss and ended up doing something rather impulsive. At that time, I knew it was the right thing to do. I could use the upcoming year to learn Spanish, and when I got back there would be a position waiting for me.

I quit my job and appointed Marco for my position. My boss had been willing and interested in knowing about him when I told about his grades and extracurricular activities.

It was time I achieved something for myself.

When I told Marco about my plans, he couldn’t believe what I had just done. I argued that he should at least be happy for me, and that as for not having an income for a while, I told him that my savings should be enough to keep me going for a year, if I tightened my budget.

He was adamant until I finally told him that when I got back, we would be working together. My resignation was only temporary: Leaving Paris, breathing some fresh air and trying to see outside my little box for a change. Then coming back to my old life with a clear mind and a new experience.

Getting out of my comfort zone would be interesting. And it would be the first time I would try to achieve something for myself.

After some internet research, I got enrolled in a Spanish course in Barcelona, Spain.

In a year I would learn the language and come back having conquered everything I wanted: Independence, autonomy, new friends, and an improved CV. Besides, I would get to keep a job with Marco at the bank.

It didn’t take long for me to buy the tickets and arrange my stay in a shared apartment in Barcelona.

I was full of excitement and affected by the climate of the city. That would be a great start for my independent life.

Or so I expected.

Just as I arrived to my nice new apartment, I waited for a while for someone to answer the door. I was already prepared to call one of the numbers the landlord had provided me with when I heard the door click. And who answered was a huge guy.

Huge in every way, judging from the fact that he was completely naked, and it was impossible to look away, his massive form blocking everything else.

"Hallo guten tard!" Was what he said, extending his arms and smiling.

And I could hardly hide my own embarrassment for the situation, rethinking my motives for leaving my comfortable home with my parents and putting myself in this situation. Was this really the right apartment anyway? For a moment I wished I had gotten the wrong address.

The boy mumbled some things in Spanish with a heavy accent while dragging my trunk inside. I was still paralyzed and waiting for an explanation, or for him to put some clothes on.

A few minutes later a tall tanned girl appeared from the back of the house. She immediately figured out the situation and laughed loudly. By her side there was another girl, a short blond one with a daunting look on her face. The blonde girl yelled something in what I thought was probably German and the naked guy said something in Spanish to me, which I obviously didn’t understand, and left the room looking annoyed.

The brunette began speaking Spanish with me lively and trying to communicate, but she didn’t get very far. All the Spanish I knew I had picked up from a recently acquired travel book.

Behind me I heard someone open the door as a young man rose into the apartment. He locked the door behind him, listening to the situation and laughing, not in a particularly kind or understanding way, and finally spoke in French. He had a slight accent, but by then I couldn’t express how relieved I was to hear my beloved mother tongue.

"Are you serious? You come to live in Spain and you don’t know any Spanish?" The boy said in what I think was mockery, having fun at my expense. "You must be Jean, right? I’m Eren. Welcome to our lovely home, I guess. And yeah, Reiner does that every time. You’ll get used to it. The others speak English, so you should talk to them if you do. Otherwise you’re gonna have to wait for me to settle some stuff and take a shower. Then I’ll be your translator." He said, throwing his backpack on the couch.

I was disappointed to see him leave, as there was some things I needed to know and my English wasn’t any better than my Spanish.

But his attitude wasn’t that welcoming, or at least not enough to make me feel secure about calling him back, so I waited. And once again I started to feel tense about the situation that I had gotten myself into. Sighing, I pulled my trunk out of the way and sat on the couch.

If it was the beginning of my journey to adulthood...

So, be it.