¿The End? (Galicia and Beyond)


Ladies & Gentlemen, faithful friends and followers of my sporadic posts on this blog, the end has come. It is time to say goodbye. The electric has been cut off at the house and every minute it is a little more vacant. Students have all left for summer holidays. Books are being packed away at the school. There is such an excitement in the city these days with the ongoing EuroCup and Spain’s advancement into the Finals. To see them win it all would be such a buzztrip. We shall see…..

So, in accordance with what I decided a little while back, this entry shall conclude the blog series as my first year at Andel has effectively come to a close. We will have a party this afternoon and then go our seperate ways until the next course in September. Unreal. It is over! The time has come and flown like the blink of an eye. I hope that I can put my last words here to good use. Where to begin when you are trying to capture the end. Let’s take a look at where I was, where I have been, and where I might be going. What have I learned?

I immediately think about who I was before moving into this country to work:

I think I was extremely naiive, ignorant in some ways (very simplistic view of things)…a giddy laughaholic who was always ready to use exagerrated gestures just trying to have fun and experience things. Of course I also had a very serious, hardworking side that sometimes entered into uptight territory. I would say that aspects of this personality have carried with me, but I definitely feel that I have shaked off a lot of innocence and badly formed thinking. Human nature is just so darn complex and continues to surprise every day. It never fails to bemuse me. I try to avoid too many concrete conclusions about just anything yet because I still feel that there is a life time and eternity ahead of me for learning…

My first months here in the country leading up to Christmas were magical. The only sensation that comes to my memory is a real excitement, a complete bewilderment and eagerness to know the country. I was meeting so many people, reading a lot, working on personal projects, putting work into a bigger project, and seeing all the sites and scenery for the absolute first time. My memories are just fantastic. I remember ending out the school year in Andel with so much celebration, so much joy, so many jokes and lots of laughter. There is a funny picture of a few of us teachers singing together that I will try to upload. Lots of spontaneous Spanish learning as well. That was really exciting. All illusion and imaginings for absolute bliss (certainly has been at times).

I left for the United States with a sadness to depart from Spain. Things went out on such a wonderful note in 2011. I had started to get into a groove at the school, we were celebrating Christmas a whole heck of a lot, I have memories of the color Christmas Blue and some great Christmas tunes in my ears, and the projects completed by the students (A Christmas Carol for example!) in the lead-up to the holidays. Magical. Christmas time in Rockaway though, is as good as it gets. For sure.

I came back to the school with every ounce of determination to work my butt off and take advantages of all my capacities. I was very eager, I wrote down a whole list of fairly ambitious New Year’s pledges, and I really did rock for my first month. I completely maximized all my tutoring hours so that I was effectively doing 8:00 to 9:30 days. It was fine, but also very limiting and it turned me from a free-spirit to a mindless worker. That is never good, especially in education! I love the job and was devoted to doing as much as I could, but it must be remembered that it is also exhausting. It is very important to get downtime and I really wasn’t doing that.

My February trip to Paris was one of my favorite experiences during these last few months. I met such a nice group people that I really enjoy and will be staying in touch with through the years. There was something very movie-like, script-ready, cliches-come-true about it. It also completely broadened by perspectives on the South American world and opened me up to a whole new reality. I grew a lot and had so much fun. The city scenery was also breathtaking and, as I said in my Paris entry, I will have to return.

Then we had a new Assistant Teacher join the staff which was really interesting and different. He brought a different spirit to the job in many ways and was a funny guy. We had a series of two English Weeks in the school which was fabulous and fun! One week filled with different games, competitions, dramas, songs, cultural presentations, and even an Andel News & Weather in English. I feel that my boss is a very creative, imaginative, smart guy and he really knows how to put together an event. He has taught me a lot.

Then a string of visitors! My sister’s, Becca, Nick Fillippis during Holy Week. It was a pretty rocking period of time as well because it really got me out doing touristy things. We saw a lot of the country and had fun. I was balancing this with the working week which was a little hectic, haha, but exhilirating. Reconnecting with your friends and family abroad is pretty incredible. It cuts you free from the previous context of your friendship and you can learn a lot more about each other. Some ´real´ encounters.

When all of that ended I was kind of left wondering for a period of time where the party had went. Haha. We lived really well with the visitors so it was kinda strange when it all ended. That’s when I decided that it was time to get ready for the center and that change was my best decision here. More friends, more life, more culture…better in every sense of the word. I am living and happy.

The Internet is soon going to be shut off, I still have to pack, and I must finalize details for the English Course…all of the goodbyes have begun and it’s amazing watching the evolution of the meaning of a goodbye as you get older. For me, it is now still sad, but something really beautiful as you watch people go down their own paths to pursue what they want. People come and go, but there are always a lot of precious memories to hold onto.

There are so many stories, so many more memories, so many details and tidbits…this blog may receive an occasional Appendix from me as memories are ready to exit from my fingertips. I have also been reading Ernest Hemingway…I am starting to get on a roll with his stuff, and have now read more of him in Spanish than English. I feel a little bad about that, but it is as it is. His life and writings have been inspiring me. Anyway, I will be posting chronicles in here when my inspiration arrives.

Goodbye for now everybody! It has been such a pleasure to write this blog and it has been an immense honor to have been followed by so many dear friends. I have been thinking about you all and it’s going to be great to hang out Jersey-style summer time side! See you soon. I go to Galicia now. We’ll talk later.

Un abrazo,

Conor Joseph Byrne


About conorjbyrne3

I have started up this blog in anticipation of my upcoming year-long teaching position in Spain. I want to be able to record the highlights of the experience so that I can share with everyone back home!

5 responses »

  1. Hey Conor! Just wanted to say that i always loved reading your blog and how much I appreciate your insights. It sounds like you had an amaaaazing year and I’m so glad!!

  2. We will miss your blog! Great insights.

    Go Spain! We will include Spain in our prayers for the Euro Cup finals on Sunday. We can — and we will — defeat Italy! Tonight we’re going to sip some Guinness in Thatcher Magee’s pub in Denville.

  3. Hey Conor,

    Good idea with this blog post. It’s a much better way to update everyone than trying to write a million e-mails. And it was great for me, since I haven’t really contacted you in this whole year’s time :X

    Sounds like you had a great time. Spending a some time abroad is a brilliant opportunity of growth for any person. It helps us throw away our own assumptions (both personal and cultural) and understand the human person so much better.

    I’m sorry I missed this blog…I didn’t realize you were writing one. Or maybe I didn’t see an e-mail you sent? Kind of a bummer either way. 😦

    As for me, I am just sitting in this New Jersey summer heat, enjoying the sound of birds filtering through my windows from my sort-of jungle-ish backyard…I got attached to the Indian climate, but ultimately I think you can’t beat the four seasons of good ol’ temperate America. 😀

    God Bless!

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