New Year’s Resolutions.

I’ve been back in Spain for over a week now and it has been nice to get back into the swing of things. I didn’t realize how much I actually missed teaching my students until I went back to work on Tuesday. The kids were a lot more enthusiastic about being back than I had anticipated. And it’s always nice when a group of 11-14 year olds are super excited to see you and are asking you all sorts of questions about your holidays. The only damper on my first week back to school was my terrible jet-lag. I was on Maryland time for the vast majority of the week, which meant that I was terribly sleepy at work and wide awake when I was trying to fall asleep at night. All of that’s over now, though, and I’m back on Spain time.

This past year has been a bit of a roller-coaster for me. I went from not knowing what in the heck I was going to do, to applying to be an auxiliar in Spain, waiting in limbo until I found out whether or not I would be accepted, and then prepping everything for my move to Spain. And in the spirit of this new year, I have decided to make some resolutions for the first time ever. Here are a few of my resolutions for 2013: More

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10 Things I Miss from the Good Old US of A.

I’ve been here in Madrid for a month and a half now and I think that’s plenty of time to realize certain things you miss from back home. Here is my list:

1.

Chipotle. I would give anything to be able to have a carnitas bowl with some guac.

2. Punctuality. It is very well-known here that Spaniards aren’t the best at being punctual. If a Spaniard tells you that they’ll meet you at a restaurant around 2 for lunch…expect them at 3. That’s just the way things are around here. I’m very big on being punctual, so this is a bit of an adjustment for me.

3. Eating Times. I miss having lunch at noon and dinner around 6. This whole lunch at 2 or 3 and then dinner around 9 (and that’s early) is rough for me.

4. Stores, restaurants, and banks being open the entire working day. I can’t get use to places closing here for the siesta. And banks closing at 2:30? What is up with that? Most people work here until around 4 or 5, so when do they have time to go to the bank? Thankfully, my bank is open late on Thursdays, so I know that’s the only day I can go to the bank.

5.

American TV. I really miss watching my TV shows as they air live. I enjoy things like sitting down on Thursdays at 9 to watch the latest episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Also, it’s very easy to get spoiled here since all of my friends have seen the episode before me. I have to be super cautious while browsing facebook in the morning so I don’t get spoiled.

6. Movies. Most films here get released much later than in the US and you have to really hunt for a place that will play them in English. I can’t deal with dubbed movies. It is not the same. I’m dying to see Perks of Being a Wallflower and there isn’t even a mention of when it’s going to be released here in Spain. Just to give you an idea of how much later movies come out here: Magic Mike came out over the summer in the USA and it just came out last weekend here.

7. American sports. I love the Yankees and I love the Steelers. Not being to watch a lot of the games/having to watch them by streaming them on my laptop is no fun. My Yankees are the in the playoffs right now and I’m generally sleeping when the games are being played  😦

8. Target and Kohl’s. Those are my two go-to stores in the US and they don’t have them here. I miss them so much…it’s really kinda pathetic. OH and I miss Bath&Body Works. I mainly miss the wall plug-ins/candles. I keep getting emails from them talking about candle sales for fall and they make me sad.

9. Kraft Mac and Cheese. I know that I can find it in places like Taste of America, but it’s ridiculously expensive! I miss being able to get a bulk pack at Costco for cheap. And there is no mac and cheese as good as the blue box.

10. Family (including dog) and Friends. This goes without saying. My family and friends are, by far, what I miss the most here in Spain. And the time difference can make it difficult to call/skype/facetime people. This is my current background on my laptop:

I miss my doggy 😦

Now, I will say that there are also many things that I prefer about Spain and wish we had in the US. However, that’s for a different post.

What things do you all find you miss from home while abroad?

Back to School. Back to School, to Prove to Dad That I’m Not a Fool.

That song from Billy Madison always gets stuck in my head for the first day of school and today was no different. Granted, this was my first day of school as an auxiliar de conversación, which is infinitely more exciting than being a student (at least in my opinion).

I woke up today at 6:15 and after getting ready and commuting, I arrived to my colegio around 9:00. The principal took me around the school and introduced me to the majority of the teachers (this took about 2 hours). Afterwards, I met with the director of primary levels and he gave me my schedule for the primary grades. And then, I met with the director of the secondary levels and he gave me my schedule for those grades. That’s right, I will be working with all of the grade levels. Ages 3-16. When I realized this, I was slightly taken aback, but it wasn’t until they told me that starting in October, the hour that I work with each grade is my time. As in, I will be responsible for coming up with a lesson plan that works in conjunction with what their teacher is teaching them and I will have to teach it to them. By myself. Alone. Without the teacher being present. My initial reaction was to panic, but I figure that if the past auxiliar could handle it and he is now a teacher at the school, it can’t be all that bad. And he said he’s more than willing to help me out and give me tips/ideas, which I really appreciate.

Oh and the course that I will be teaching in secondary grades is History/Geography. Of course, I have no idea what history they’re learning. If it’s the history of Spain, I know next to nothing so it will be a learning experience for all parties involved! And for the month of September, the school lets out around 1:50 so I won’t start working the full day until October. I like and dislike this at the same time. Obviously, I enjoy getting out of work early but that means I won’t be meeting some of my classes until October. One of those classes happens to be the infantil group, which makes me sad since I LOVE that age group. But it does allow me to slowly ease myself into the school and adjust to my job before having all of the grade levels, so it is very nice in that regard.

I’m off to go spend some time with my “adoptive” family here. I really do need to write a post talking about my experience living with the family here. It’s been nothing short of wonderful 🙂

I’ll be sure to keep you all updated on my experience at the colegio and I’m still planning to write a post this weekend about my trip to Segovia when my sister and brother in law were here.

¡Hablamos Pronto!

I Have Not Abandoned the Blog, I Promise!

I am so sorry for my lack of blogging the past 2 weeks!! I’ve been so busy getting all of my things together and settling into my room with my au pair family. Plus, my sister and brother-in-law were with me for the first 10 days and we did a lot of sight seeing. I was getting so many emails asking if I had abandoned the blog. I can assure you all that I will continue updating the blog…there will probably be longer gaps between posts though because I am way busier than I anticipated.

Here’s a quick update:

Basically, I am in love with Spain. Obviously, Madrid is incredible, but I absolutely loved going to Segovia, Ávila, and Toledo. I think I’m going to dedicate a post to each of the places I visited with my sister during the past week.

I survived orientation with BEDA on Wednesday…which was from 9 in the morning until 7 in the evening. Yes, hours and hours of orientation. Paperwork was the main theme for orientation. We filled out our contracts, our NIE forms, information forms, and other things that I can’t even remember anymore. We also received our insurance cards and our bank account! I was very happy that BEDA took care of that for us, all we have to do is visit the bank within the next 15 days so that they can scan our passport and for us to sign. The best part of orientation was getting to meet my fellow auxiliares. It was especially nice to finally meet the ones that I had been talking to online for the past few months in person. They all lived up to my expectations 🙂

Day 2 with BEDA was class…from 12-6:30. The topics were the history of the Spanish government and Sports (mainly sports in schools). I kinda died a little. I was not mentally prepared for sitting in lecture for hours. On both days, I came home, ate, drank some coffee, and went to sleep.

I thought I’d list out a couple of the things I’ve done the past few days so that I could update you all in a quick manner. So here are a few of the things I’ve done since arriving in Spain:

  • SIM card for my phone. Right now I’m using Orange and I like it, but I’m going to order a SIM card from Tuenti because they give me more data, which is what I use the most since I use whatsapp and viber a lot to communicate with friends and family.
  • Bought decorative things for my room at Ikea and Leroy Merlin (Spain’s version of Home Depot). The theme for my walls is cities of the world. One wall will be Paris, another London, and another New York City. It’s going to look amazing! I found my mirror and other little things a t Ikea in Alcorcón, so I would highly recommend going there if you want to buy things and get them cheaply.
  • Picked out the paint color for my room. My au pair family is awesome and told me that I get to pick the color for my room and they’re letting me decorate it all as I like. I can’t believe how lucky I’ve been with the family I found. They have truly been the best part of this Spain adventure for me.
  • I went on the bus, train, metro, and a taxi. I have pretty much taken all forms of public transit. I practiced the route to my colegio in Majadahonda and the route to class for BEDA.
  • In the same vein as the public transportation stuff, I purchased my abono at an estanco (tobacco shop). The abono is a pass that is good for the buses, metro, and trains here in Madrid. I paid about 70 euros for mine since I need it to be good for the B2 area, but I never have to worry about paying for transportation this month, which is super nice since I’ll be using it a lot. In the end, the abono is truly a life-saving thing to have if you don’t want to worry about paying for transportation every single time you need to use it, plus it really does save you a lot of money if you use public transportation often.
  • I have learned that, although I speak Spanish, I use a lot of words that Spaniards do not and that Spaniards use a lot of words that I do not. For example, I say gavetas (drawers) and españoles say cajones (NEVER to be confused with cojones…which is something VERY, very different). I say sombrilla for umbrella and españoles say paraguas. And the word I have heard the most since arriving here is, without a doubt, vale. Vale is the Spaniard version of “okay.” Puerto Ricans do not say that word at all, we just use ok. I have already started saying “vale” and I’ve only been here for 2 weeks. I like picking up new vocabulary, though. I think it’s one of the best parts of moving to a new place. There are several other words that I could mention that I’ve learned here or words that I say that are not used here, but I think I’ll leave that for a separate post another day.

That’s all for now. I have to get ready to go to the estanco again to see if I can fix an issue I’m having with my abono. Apparently, it’s common for the band on the back of the abono to stop working or get ruined in some way, which is a major issue when you go to get on the metro because when you put your abono through the machine, it starts beeping like mad and won’t let you through (I learned this the hard way). It’s not a problem on the buses because even though the machine will beep and say your card is invalid, you just show the bus driver that it’s an abono for the month, and he lets you sit anyway.

I shall update again soon with pictures from the places I visited last week. And on Monday, if I’m not too tired, I will post about my first day at my colegio.

¡Hablamos pronto!

Here’s a sneak peek at what’s to come in the next post:

Joelis and I at the aqueduct in Segovia.

All My Madrid Details.

I promised a longer post with more details, so here it is.

Yesterday, I received this email from the BEDA coordinator:

I am very pleased to inform you that you that you have been selected to take part as a Language & Culture Assistant in the BEDA Program with Escuelas Católicas Madrid and Universidad de Comillas in 2012/2013. Congratulations!

Further information will be communicated to you by email next week with dates for the course in September and details of your school and the hours.

Well, the next week part of the email turned out to mean the next day…I received another email this morning with my school information and the number of hours a week I’ll be working. I was assigned the maximum amount of hours (24) which makes me very happy because that means I get the maximum amount of pay (1040€)! My school is located in the city of Alcalá de Henares in the Madrid community. I looked up some of the things in the city and saw this:

Isn’t it beautiful?!

That is the Plaza de Cervantes in Alcalá de Henares. It’s only a few minutes from my school. Guess I know where I’ll be spending all my free time when it’s nice out!

Now I really need to get cracking on all my visa paperwork. The email they sent us stated that we must be in Spain by September 12th so that gives me a a few months to get everything in order. Then I have to think about all the oh so joyous things like apartment hunting, setting up a bank account, getting my NIE, and a phone. Fun times ahead.

IT’S OFFICIAL!!!

I received my acceptance e-mail from BEDA this morning!!! ¡ADIOS MARYLAND, HOLA MADRID!

This was me when I got the email:

Really, though. I started running around the kitchen like a crazy person while doing my happy dance.

I’ll post a longer, more descriptive post later!!!!!!

You Know How I Mentioned the Importance of Patience in the Application Process…

I’m having a really hard time with it. I was doing great until it was confirmed that placements for first time applicants wouldn’t be happening until May. I had the hope that at some point in April I would get my placement. I’m trying to keep my mind off of it, but my dreams lately are making it pretty apparent that it’s on my mind. Two days ago I dreamt that I’d gotten my placement and was assigned to San Sebastian…which isn’t even a region, it’s a city in the Basque Country. And it must be associated to the fact that my favorite band is La Oreja de Van Gogh and that’s where they’re from. Then, last night I dreamt that I was already in Spain and was frolicking about in Madrid.

Soon. That’s what I keep telling myself. In just a few months, I will actually be living in Spain. And that makes everything worth it.