Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tuesday observations

It's an ordinary Tuesday in the life of an auxiliar, and here's what's on my mind:

1. Spain really needs us here. I was teaching a cute little lesson involving my kids reading about people from various parts of the United States, and was really excited that their textbook actually included something outside of the UK. Until I turned the page and found this in the activity book:
Think they consulted an American for this?
Madre mia. Those two little blobs are supposed to be Nevada and New Mexico, and they didn't even try drawing the shape of New York state. I know that the exact shape of the states isn't the point of the lesson, but how hard would it have been to get it right? I could have drawn them by hand more accurately. (Trust me, my flatmate challenged me last year to draw a map of the US from memory, and I did pretty damn well)

2. I'm getting through books far too quickly for the good of my bank account. I've been back in Spain for just over three weeks and have finished four books, mostly due to not being able to put The Hunger Games series down. I love all the time on the train each day I have to read, but it's time to get back to the free, out of copyright material ------> Started Jane Austen's Persuasion today.

3. I've scored just about the sweetest private class deal ever. I spend two hours a day after work sitting in a sun room out on a terrace, helping two wonderful little boys with their homework, while looking out over this:
On a clear day we can see from El Palo in the east to past Fuengirola in the west, and sometimes even across to Morocco. But even in rainy weather it manages to be beautiful. The nine year-old I work with absolutely could not focus on his work until the rainbow had been sufficiently documented, so this picture was as much for him as it was for me.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Running in the rain

 When most Malagueños foreigners pretending to be Malagueños see the above weather forecast they are filled with one emotion: Despair. Mourning at the end of summer and loss of beach weather. Rain means you stay at home. You don't go out. It's just not something we're used to here, so we hide from it.

However, I looked up at the sky this morning and had one thought. These are calling my name:
Perfect cloud cover. Rain sprinkling on your face on and off. The sun occasionally peeking out, maintaining that perfect 20°C/68°F. It's about as good as running weather can get, so I grabbed my ipod and headed down here:
Disclaimer: picture taken on a sunnier day
My treasured Malagueta. I can't believe I ever wanted to leave you. I won't ever get tired of having the Mediterranean as the back drop to my afternoon runs.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Why being American sucks, sometimes

I love my life in Spain, don't get me wrong. But sometimes (okay, a lot), it can be a bit unwelcoming to foreigners, and especially to Americans. Let me give you two examples from this past week:
  • I went to go open a bank account. I go in, take a number, and wait my turn to talk to someone just like everyone else. I tell the lady I'd like to open an account, and tell her which kind specifically because I've read about them beforehand. Great! She's friendly, seems eager to gain a new client, all is going well. Until I start pulling out all my paperwork. She takes one look at my passport. Oh, you're American. I thought you were German (which I seem to get a lot here). That complicates things. You have this long list of hoops to jump through. Oh look! You're missing one little thing. Too bad. Sorry, but I can't help you.
  • This weekend I went to go chat with a lady about taking on some classes at a private academy. She was fantastic, incredibly organized, had an entire curriculum for me to follow, and it all sounded great. Then she tells me about pay. It will be X number of euros after deductions. Deductions? What? I sadly informed her that I'm here on a student visa because my job is technically a grant. Spain makes this differentiation for non-Europeans in this program because it's a hell of a lot easier getting a student visa than a work visa. This also means that technically I'm not authorized to work, meaning I can't be on the payroll for this very official academy. She and I are both shattered when we make this discovery. She wanted to hire me. I'm a native English speaker, and that's all she cares about. But one little word on some paperwork is preventing that.
Documents that send up red flags. Warning! American!
Some days I just want to grab someone by the shoulders and shake some sense into them. My fellow auxiliars and I are here to teach English. To encourage the exchange of ideas and cultures. To broaden children's horizons. These are all good things, so stop treating us like we're some kind of vermin responsible for the country's current crisis, as they love to talk about.

But then I remember that it's the middle of October and I just spent a whole weekend on the beach, sipping cervezas and eating at chiringuitos, and I love Spain. Then I remember that my first language being English (whether or not from Europe) is what makes my life possible, and being American isn't so bad either.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Taste of the season

Last year around Halloween, I suppose just like any other year, I really wanted some candy corn. There was just one problem: Spain doesn't have candy corn. I expressed this craving to my roommate. She had no idea what it was. If you're in the same boat, please read up here. I described it, showed her pictures, but they were no substitutes for the real thing. I went an entire year sans candy corn.

This year I came prepared. One of the benefits of having waited until the end of September to return was that Target's shelves were stocked with Halloween candy before I left. I flew half way across the world with a 50 pound suitcase (Okay, it was a little heavier than that, but there was a very nice man at the British Airways counter who didn't mind). One pound of that, 1/50 of all my possessions I decided were necessary to my life in Spain, was candy corn.
When I was unpacking I very excitedly stashed them in the cupboard and told my roommate he would get to try them come Halloween. Well, so much for that plan. I've been in Spain for ten days and I already broke in to them.
We'll see how long the bag lasts. When assembling them for the above picture, any that wouldn't stand up faced the ultimate sacrifice.

In other news, my blog got a facelift! I'm still toying with it, possibly adding more pages, but what do you think? The background picture is one I took of architecture detail in the Alhambra in Granada.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

It was like Christmas

Quick recap of the last five days:

Plane lands in Málaga Friday at 9pm after nearly 24 hours of traveling. Roommate is waiting for me at the airport and rolls my suitcase across the city for me. I'm sitting outside at a café in Plaza Merced with a caña and tapas within two hours. The weekend proceeds with wine, beach, and wonderfully familiar faces.
Guiri-fest en la Malagueta
So glad this chica is back for a second year too
Monday was the first day of work and I got to meet the niños and answer hundreds of questions like "Do you have a boyfriend?" "How old are you?" "Do you like pizza/chocolate/ice cream/chicken?" "Madrid or Barça?" "Do you like the Simpsons?"

Getting resettled in is going amazingly well. So well, in fact, that yesterday felt like Christmas. My roommate can attest to just how much I resembled a giddy child. All of the following things happened within a matter of hours.
  • I got my private classes started up again (a.k.a. travel money),
  • Internet and TV service were set up (we get CNN, BBC, MGM movies, and so much more I haven't explored yet)
  • Towels and sheets that had gone missing over the summer were returned
  • I finally got around to doing a real grocery shopping trip and properly stocked my kitchen
  • I got my bags back I had left here with a friend over the summer. Going through them was like opening presents because I'd forgotten what was in them.
Don't even try telling me that most of these things I'm so happy about are just my own things coming back, or things I'm paying for anyway. They made me happier than a pig in shit (to quote my favorite high school teacher), and life in Málaga is officially back.