Wednesday, September 19, 2012

No Such Thing as a Weekday

I was waiting for my first full 2 weeks to be complete before updating again, but I realized that I've been doing a lot and the longer I wait, the longer this post has to be and the less motivated I will be to write it.  And I cannot have that!

I don't think it should be shocking to anyone that I got my "weekend" started early and went out Thursday night with Meagan, a fellow assistant, despite the fact that we had our first day of BEDA program training on Friday from 9am - 7pm.  Just like college - Up all night, Class all day.  No, no just exaggerating; we were quite responsible and only drank a couple shots, one VERY expensive drink (never again), and went back to my place at around 2:30am.  And trust me, 2:30 am is equivalent to the Brat Thirty of Eau Claire: The party is just getting started.

Friday - Our first day with the rest of the language assistants (at least groups 6 and 7 since there are about 300 of us in total).  What a terribly unorganized mess.  I will sum it up like this: About 40+ English speakers from everywhere and anywhere in the world, maybe only a quarter of them able to understand advanced Spanish, given directions on how to fill out legal documents and important immigration paperwork ALL. IN. SPANISH.  Half of them members of the European Union, some of them US citizens, some Canadian... all with different legal forms yet trying to understand and follow the same directions with no translator.  Oh, wait I'm sorry. There was a translator. She yelled "SILENCE!" and couple times and also kept telling us to get our papers out of our "carpets" (aka folders).  It was a mess.  And then after lunch we had to take an unexpected Spanish test.  I guess we also get a Spanish class while we are here so it was to figure out what level people are at.  However, all of that on 4 hours of sleep was not an ideal situation.

Saturday - Two other assistants, Meagan and Gabriela, and I met up Saturday afternoon to celebrate Mexico's Independence Day. I realized how cutely ironic it was to celebrate the independence of Mexico from Spain. But c'est la vie!  We drank some coronas at a hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant and then went over to a celebration organized by the Mexican embassy. Free Corona, cheap tacos mexicanos, and a mariachi band plus tons of people everywhere loving all things México! It was awesome.  We went out again for some more Madrid nightlife, but we planned poorly and ended up having to pay a ridiculous cover fee to get into the club and then were unable to buy drinks inside because, as Meagan and I learned on Thursday, they are too damn expensive for us and our peasant wages.

Monday - BEDA 'training' Day 2. Oy vey. Again, same amount of people not able to speak or understand Spanish. But no worries, we will just make you all sit here for 2 hours while some guy explains the history of Spain, its constitution, the economy, oh and don't forget - the taxes you will be paying while you are here - ALL. IN. SPANISH! Perfect!  And then when those 2 hours are over, you have a break, and then 2 more hours of a different guy explaining all about sports in Spain, how important they are, how you can make a difference as a sportsperson at your school, etc, etc... ALL. IN. SPANISH!  It was really unbearable, even for a person that has a pretty good grasp on the language.  After that torture, we really needed some drinks. Meagan and I went with British Dan to Retiro Park with Sangria in hand. 4 hours later, the Sangria had done its job. We ended up joining a pub crawl that one of Dan's roommates works for and got in free and enjoyed an open bar.  Open bars have a funny way of making the time fly and soon we were leaving.  After 2 hours of sleep on the floor of Dan's apartment, we headed to catch the metro when it opened back up at 6am.  Can I remind you that this was on a MONDAY.  Maybe it's because work life here hasn't really got rolling yet, but every day feels like the weekend.

Tuesday - After sleeping virtually half the day away (although not a Spanish day, since I feel like they don't even technically start until at least 11 here), I went to help Meagan move.  Poor girl ended up in an awful and awkward situation with the host family she was aupairing for. When things were clear that they wouldn't be working out (tantrum-throwing 11 year olds and a passive-aggressive mother) she told them she would be moving out but that she would stay through the month, as they had made a sort of verbal agreement of her September schedule already. Well, Passive-Aggressive Madre decided that she needed to leave the following day.  How nice.  I went to their place to help her move her 3 suitcases (and know how us girls are). I would not wish it on anyone. We had to drag the two bags to a bus stop, then from the bus stop all around the metro, from all around the metro to her friend's apartment in the city. Such a terrible situation and the family barely acknowledged us as we were leaving, clearly struggling with the bags as we went. 

Today was my first day in the school! More details on that to come. Tomorrow night I am going to a 'Rock the Vote Madrid' event for American expats and I am so excited! I have actually just been counting down the days to it. I'm going to get registered and have my absentee ballot sent for the November election.  Couldn't be happier to exercise my rights whilst so far away :) 


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Here we are again! Blog time! Cannot even believe that I am writing yet again from Madrid, Spain.  A quick update to anyone who reads this and has no idea why on earth I am in Spain:
I applied on a whim to a job posting I saw on Idealist back in late March for English Language and Culture Assistants. I didn't hear a thing and actually I had even forgotten that I applied until June when I got an e-mail saying I had been hired.  I thought it was a little fishy at first, but after talking on the phone with one of the recruiters I decided that this is my life and the opportunity I had more or less been looking for so, why not!  And if I got there and it wasn't real..well then I would just travel around for a month or two or so..and then come back home.  Rough.

Three months later (and not without a few bumps in the road) I have arrived to Madrid! And I am NOT LIVING WITH A FAMILY!! If anyone remembers anything about my posts last summer, you will remember that by the end I was quite decided that I was done with host families.  I am so, so excited to finally be on my own in another country.  It's going to be a totally new experience.

Here on the end of my second day (almost the start of my third) I'm just amazed at how the mind works.  I am not going to lie that the whole week leading up to my departure I became more and more nervous and started to second guess my decision. I even felt like I didn't want to leave when the morning came to get on the plane. Not to mention the fact that I was going a little crazy thinking about all the things that could go wrong between the airport and attempting to get to my apartment all alone.  But, everything worked itself out beautifully - one of the other assistants in the program met me at the airport. We managed the taxi together (and the luggage) and I was able to get into my apartment no problema.  And already today I feel absolutely no jetlag (well...I guess it is 2:30am..and I am wide awake...I guess I'll get back to you on that tomorrow), I've already re-established myself with the metro system, and I feel completely at home. No worries. No second guessing.  Now we just have to wait and see AFTER classes start! :)  But it's truly amazing how we can psych ourselves out over things unknown. Deep down I think I knew I would be fine once I got here, but the waiting is truly the worst part because up until the point when you actually ARE fine, you can really go crazy convincing yourself that everything and anything will go wrong.

Also, I was able to meet up with my friend Camila tonight. She was in my very first group of international students when I was a Peer Guide and now she is living in Spain studying and doing an internship in Madrid for a few more weeks.  It makes me so happy to be able to see people who I have not seen in years (3 in this case) and still feel like not all that much has changed.  And I am so thankful for these opportunities because I have said "We'll see each other again.." way too many times and although in my heart I know it's true, it's so hard knowing that that could mean months or it could be years.

All in all I am very content and antsy to get out and meet people and do things. 

Hasta la próxima!