Monday, September 26, 2011

2 year Spanish report card

As I mentioned earlier, I have just celebrated my 2 year anniversary with Spain. In thinking what was an adequate way to pay tribute to this great country and how its changed me. So I decided to gauge some of the progress I have made in these last 2 years. I have taken time for some serious introspect and reflection. Ha. Here are the criteria and my grades. 

Espeeeeeaking the espaniiiiiiish: A

Although I still have many times where I am frustrated with my Spanish abilities, I have to say I am proud of how much I have improved. I can't remember how good or bad my Spanish was when I first arrived but I know I have improved by miles. Mostly thanks to the best, most patient teacher ever, this guy: 
Isn't  he cute?
I have to give lots of thanks to Alberto for helping me to improve because its mostly thanks to him that I feel confident speaking Spanish. Learning a langauge is really hard and I have more to learn but I think it is one of the areas in which I have seen the most improvement.

Starting a life in a foreign country: B

In this aspect I think I have had both successes and failures. Right now I feel like my life is much more in Spain than it is in the US. Its kind of a strange feeling but I am really happy with my life here. However, I still feel like I have no close Spanish friends. I have my friends on the frisbee team who have become like a family for me but I still feel like there is no one I relate to like I do my American best friends. I can't decide if this is something cultural or if I am not as extroverted in Spanish. 

Traveling: A+

Yay travel!
One of the best things about living abroad is that I can travel easily and cheaply throughout Europe. I have been doing my best to get to know different parts of Spain and Europe. In the past couple years I have been to London, Paris, Italy, Amsterdam, Germany, and the Czech Republic. Ok, I'll stop making you jealous. I'm hoping to add more to my list this year! 

Work: B-

Carnavales with my little monsters
One of the both nice and frustrating things about living in Spain is the surplus of people that want to learn to speak English. On one hand its great, because there are always job opportunities. On the other, it is frustrating to be limited to ONE job. Fortunately, I do enjoy teaching and I think I am pretty decent at it. I had a great two years as an auxiliar and was looking for more responsibility this year in starting a new job. However, it is frustrating that after 2 years of teaching I am still having to share a classroom with a teacher that has no experience at all. But asi es la vida and at least I have some responsability this year and get to lead some classes. Got to see the silver lining right?

Love: A+

I have to say with all the challenges that come with a bilingual and bicultural relationship, I have found a really great boyfriend here(and guide to Spain).  I probably should write about him more but sometimes its hard to put it all out there on the internet. He has been a big part of my time here and Spain and I have done tons of Spanish-y things that I would have never done without him. Gracias cari!

Food: A

Looking waaaaaaay too happy about eating a snail.
I love, love, love food and although I try to eat healthily for the most part I have to try anything new. One of the best things about travel is experiencing the food of each place you visit. I think in the last 2 years, I have tried most every part of a pig's body and snails! I also love to cook so I've been trying to make some delish Spanish recipes at home. My biggest successes have been lentil soup and gazpacho...yum!

I tried not too be too hard on myself haha. But, I think I have done pretty well in the last 2 years and hope to continue this year as well. I love Spain and I think it loves me back!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My life with a dying computer

I'm still here! However, my poor poor computer is going in and out. After 6 years of aguantaring me and all the pictures and music that I have put on it. Unfortunately, I am realizing how much time I spend with my dear Thinkpad and how important my computer is when trying to contact people back home. It also makes keeping this blog up much more difficult. 

In the past couple weeks I have had a lot important things happening. The first thing that has been a big change has been starting my new job. I am in charge of giving an oral English class for 3 year olds to 10 year olds as well as being support in class. Although its been hard work I have been enjoying having control over some classes. And then being annoyed when I have to take the back seat while being "support to other teachers. I am trying to figure out the school and each teacher's teaching style which can be frustrating, but I think it will come with time. However, everyone has been very friendly and welcoming so I hope it will be a good year. 

Second, my 2 year Spain-aversary on September 10 and I can't believe its been 2 years. In many ways I feel like the same person but I know that in so many little and big ways that Spain has changed me. Hopefully I can write another post on that one...come on Thinkpad! Until then, here's to 2 amazing years Spain. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11: Remembering ten years later

As for almost all Americans, September 11th is still a clear image in my head. I can remember where I was (Mr. Binns 9th grade science class), what I was doing, and what I was wearing. I remember watching in horror the news all day, forcing myself to believe what I was seeing was real. Thinking about the attacks today still brings a chill to my skin and tears to my eyes.

One of the things that living abroad has taught me has been the way the rest of the world sees America in a post-9/11 world. I have learned that America and Americans are both adored and detested around the world. For the most part, Spanish people are welcoming and friendly but I still have had experiences that shake my sense of security as an expat. Just recently I was with friends in the metro when a man came up and told us that America was the worst country in the world and we were a country of killers. It was a frightening experience but one that reminds me of the changes in a post 9/11 world. Although it comes with many stereotypes both good and bad, I am proud of my country and its values. Today I remember all those who lost their lives on such a tragic and monumental day in history.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

New Beginnings

I had found an apartment and gotten all of my things ready to move in. It wasn't til the last bag was heaved up the stairs that it hit me. That this year was going to be totally different. I felt like I was getting dropped off by my parents to start my freshman year of college. I felt the tears well up from out of nowhere. But why? I have been here for almost 2 years now and am feeling comfortable, so what's the difference? Well my job, my apartment, people coming and going and more responsibilities. And a nice but terrifying feeling that I am settling into life in Spain. 

This year I will also be starting a new job...yikes! I am both excited and nervious to be responsible for a 3 year old childs' English education. I am also pretty frustrated that for the 3rd day in a row I feel pretty helpless because I can't even enter my classroom. The whole school is still under construction and we start Friday. Le sigh

So here is to a new year and fresh slate. I can't wait to see what's in store.