Friday, October 15, 2010

Under the weather

Unfortunately I still don't have internet en mi casa, and probably won't for another couple weeks. My roommate and I ordered our router and internet package over a week ago, but we're in Spain: mañana mañana.

I promise to blog about all the wonderful details of my two jobs and 200+ students, who have already been kind enough to share their germs with me and give me a cold. But for now I don't feel up to it. I'm using borrowed internet, have no voice, and will unfortunately not be going to Granada this weekend as planned. When you're sick the last thing you want to do is pack a bag, get on a bus, and sleep in some place besides your own bed.

For all of these reasons I'm feeling a little bit pouty and feel like sharing a list of things that I miss from the States. Don't get me wrong, life is beautiful here, but if I could have the following things it would be even better:

  • Carpet (tile is hard and will be very cold in the winter)
  • Beer served in a size that takes me more than two gulps to finish
  • Mexican food
  • Not having to watch for dog shit every where I walk
  • People who appreciate the flow of foot traffic on sidewalks and don't stop with their granny carts in the middle of a three-foot-wide path to chat, forcing you to squeeze by them, only for them to give you a bizarre look and wonder why you could possibly have wanted to pass them anyway
  • My pets
Megatron and Dudley
Missing from the pictures is my running buddy, Duke, a handsome, hopelessly stupid, but endlessly sweet, German Shepherd.

Last night I woke up in the middle of the night (probably because I can't breathe through my nose very well) and rolled over. Instinctively, I was very careful to not kick the bottom left corner of my bed because that's where my cat, Dudley (the larger brown one), sleeps. But then I remembered that I am in Spain, and he is not, and I got very sad. But I talked to my mom today and all pets are accounted for and doing well.

On a final note, today is my mom's birthday. I tried convincing her that she should go see Jackass 3D for her birthday; I know my brothers would gladly accompany her. But she insists that she would rather go feed carrots to my uncle's horses. Regardless, happy birthday, Mom! I love you!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

I'm the luckiest girl in the world

It was a fun five weeks in Sevilla, but all good things must come to an end. Last Saturday I said goodbye to Isa, thanked her for everything, and rolled my way to the train station a couple blocks away. I’m still darn proud of myself for only bringing one suitcase, and even more for resisting the urge to shop while in Sevilla so that I could still fit everything into the one suitcase. It was a short two-hour train ride with three other girls from my program. We parted ways after arriving in Málaga as they went to the hotel the program had booked for us to stay in while searching for an apartment.

I was lucky enough to have my apartment already and took a taxi straight there where the (English speaking!) landlord was waiting for me with my keys and contract. A friend of mine lived here last year and put me in touch with the landlord. I have had my living situation arranged since before I even came to Spain, but I didn’t fully appreciate just how fortunate this was until this past week. All of my new friends have been desperately searching for a place to live, becoming more frustrated each day as the prepaid nights in a hotel draw to a close. Some have looked at as many as fifteen apartments, trying to find a place they’re comfortable with, roommates they can communicate with, and a price they can afford. I got to completely skip this step and move into my home for the next year while others were just beginning their search.
My beautiful new home

I did have one task to complete as soon as possible: I needed to find a roommate. Within 24 hours of being in the apartment I had accomplished this. Go me. I had been talking to a few people via various housing websites and one of them came to look at the place the same evening I arrived. By the next afternoon we had both agreed that we seemed a good fit, and as easy as that, mission accomplished.

To further add to my good fortune, and my list of accomplishments for the week, I have a second job already. Not ten minutes after I had signed the contract, gotten my keys, and the landlord had left, he called me and said “I forgot to mention, I have a friend who runs an English school and he’s looking for a teacher. Can I give him your phone number?” After picking my jaw up off the floor I muttered every response in my English vocabulary (and some in Spanish) signaling an affirmative response. Not only did I get an amazing apartment dropped in my lap, but it also came with a job! The very next day my landlord’s friend called me, asked if I could meet him that evening to go tour the school, and start teaching classes the following day. I got a job offer based on the fact that I speak English fluently and call myself an English teacher. It was by no means an interview. It was more like “Here are the classrooms, here are the materials, this is what I’ll pay you, want to start tomorrow?” It all seemed organized and trustworthy (by Spanish standards), so my response was a resounding yes.

I am still completely in shock that so much happened so fast. To recap:

2:30pm – Arrive in Málaga, go straight to apartment, get keys, sign contract
7:00pm – Potential roommate comes to look at apartment

Late morning – Potential roommate calls, living situation confirmed
Afternoon – Director of school calls, offers job
Evening – Meet director, visit school, accept job

5:00pm – Begin teaching

And so my life in Málaga has begun. The rest of the past week has been filled with wandering around my new city, getting lost, unpacking, and filling the kitchen with food and apartment with life. My other notable accomplishment was getting my NIE, which is my ID number as a foreigner residing in Spain. It involved paperwork, photographs, and waiting in lines, but I’m now a legal resident of Spain. I also went to the elementary school I’ll be teaching at during the day, introduced myself, and was told to come back on Monday to start work. I still don’t know what my schedule will be like but I’m crossing my fingers for Fridays off.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Let's do that again: Lagos, Portugal

Boy do I have a lot to catch up on. It’s only been a couple weeks since I last wrote but my life now is 100% different (still in Spain, trying to learn Spanish, but that’s about it). Before I get started on all the excitement that my life is currently characterized by I have to back track to two weekends ago to one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in the world: Lagos, Portugal; a short three hour bus ride from Sevilla.

A huge group of us went to Lagos for a weekend of sun, sand, and sangria. When I say huge that’s exactly what I mean. We quite literally took over the beach, hotel, bar, whatever we came across. I think an appropriate title for the weekend would have been “America Invades Portugal.” To be accurate there were two Swedes in the group, but they blended in quite nicely. We arrived at each beach, American music blaring thanks to some ipod speakers, and promptly set up camp, laying out enough towels to cover a basketball court (That’s only a slight exaggeration).

Lagos was like a European spring break, in September. We spent three days on three different beaches, drinking beer and boxed wine, absorbing as much sun as humanly possible, and enjoying the refreshing Atlantic Ocean. All the necessary beach activities were accounted for: Frisbee, soccer, volleyball, skim board, and surfing. Oh, and of course tanning. I tried surfing for the first time (managed to do so without paying for the 35€ lesson), and although not a huge success I wouldn’t call my attempt a failure. I got the hang of “catching a wave” and was able to stand up, although only for a second or two. I will absolutely be trying that again sometime in the future. Unfortunately Málaga doesn’t have waves, so I’ll have to venture elsewhere.

On the second day we went on a sangria sailboat cruise. Sangria. Sailboat. Cruise. Those three words should be enough to demonstrate how fantastic this afternoon was, but really only pictures can do it justice. We had unlimited sangria (which did not run out as we feared it might on a boat), got to jump off the boat and swim, and got a tour of Lagos’ gorgeous seaside grottoes. Being in the smaller boat, cruising through such picturesque caves, I was reminded of Disneyland rides, but kept having to remind myself that it was all real and there were no tracks beneath my boat.

Our evenings were filled with fantastic food, more beer, and discotecas, in true American spring break style. We stumbled back to the hotel in the wee hours of the morning, some of us on more stable feet than others.
Black lights and white teeth

Speaking of the hotel, did I mention how beautiful it was? Despite having such amazing beaches a short walk away I did find time to go swimming here too.

All in all, it was a fantastic weekend, and it was timed perfectly. There are 30 of us who arrived in Sevilla together and spent the last month taking Spanish classes, and beginning our Spanish adventure together before we split up all over Andalucía to teach. Lagos was our last weekend together, and I couldn’t be happier to have spent it with the people that I did.