Monthly Archives: December 2011

Wrapping up the First Semester

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Wow was that fast. How does that happen? It makes me sad, but I’m also very grateful for the fact that I’ve been able to enjoy myself so much. It’s funny, I am extremely excited to come home for Christmas, but the notion of being in New Jersey is actually difficult to comprehend. Culture shock has come in waves for me in Spain, sometimes to quite a large extent, but I’ve tackled that barrier. Living here feels like the norm now. I’m actually bracing for American culture shock! How do you connect the dots between your two lives? It’s impossible!

I am blessed here with an excellent job. I love working with the kids so, so much. Every day they come in more and more excited to learn. My boss and I have created some awesome presentations and activities for them (in my humble opinion) and delivering them with him is a blast. He taps into a very peculiar, specific part of my humor that I haven’t had in years! The surrounding staff is also generally very spirited and alive and in love with their work. My first month or so was a little strange as my Spanish was horrible and there are many teachers without English. This situation resulted in a slight feeling of isolation but I am fortunate to be a sufficient Spanish speaker now. Phew. Language has made all the difference. We all ended up singing at a recent teacher/parent dinner night and that was hilarious.

I am blessed with good people in my life here. I’m supported by my family here 24/7 with so much love. My aunt and uncle are phenomenal individuals and my cousins are adorable. My flatmate has become one of my great friends and it’s fun touring around the country with him. It’s particularly fortunate because our personalities really seem to line up. His family has showered me with a warm, friendly welcome. Also, his friends are fantastic people and I would call them my own friends at this point. We have made friends with our neighbor from Colombia and she is a load of fun. We closed out our 2011 with a night of singing and dancing in our apartment with music from all over! Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Ireland, America…how fun. I’m really growing fond of everyone here. 

I suppose the conclusion here is that I am not the same person that arrived to Spain and this makes me very, very happy. Every day here throws me a curve ball and it’s keeping me so, so alive. I have been ‘born again’ and it’s time to try to take this guy back to the States for a few weeks. Merry Christmas everybody! I’ll be taking a break from this blog until the New Year.

 

PS: To fill in an unanswered question from a previous entry. Fall passed mostly inconspicuously. Although I did pass some of my Autumn in Retiro Park here. Fantastic! With a cerveza in your hand and a crisp, fresh feeling in the air…this could be my new Autumn. No, but I didn’t notice any particular Autumn traditions here like we have in the States. 

 

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What brought me here? …why?

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This question is so complex…I really don’t think that there’s an adequate answer, I don’t think I have one, I don’t think I’ll understand the meaning of any of this until I’m well back settled at home after my year. But hey, having been here for two months now, I want to construct a semi-answer and leave this  open as something to return to multiple times.

To begin, this job is the product of my past experiences with a summer English course in Granada. I worked with the project twice, in 2009 and 2010, and I had a blast. Seeing a small sliver of the country really woke me up to the reality of a bigger world existing outside of New Jersey. I struck up good friendships with some of the teachers, I got to know my family here that I had never met, and the job itself was interesting.

When the idea of coming here for a year arose, my yes really arose not so much out of why, but why not? A year is a long time to commit to a different country, but at 21 years of age…the question to really ask is…why not? It’s a teaching experience which is certainly in my arena of interest and possible future, it’s the opportunity to learn another language, it’s the chance to see a country and travel. It’s a test of my capabilities. Having one time on Earth my line of thought is to just get out, do stuff, see the world, and ask questions later. All of these things are wake-up calls for the soul and I’m convinced that it’s good to be a little bit uncomfortable. I’m teaching, but I am learning a lot.

It’s also funny to note that you learn so much about your own culture, country, and values when you have a distance from it. There are certain beautiful nuggets about America that I really continue to admire and look forward to in a few weeks!