Monday, September 30, 2013

One Week in the Books!

Phew, I've survived week one in Madrid. Hooray! There's been a lot of adjusting to the city, and getting rid of my jet-lag, but overall is has gone pretty smoothly.  My biggest challenge thus far has been doing my best to not compare everything about my experience this year to last year.  I had such a great year in Almería, that I struggle to not always fall back on that experience. However, I knew that by choosing Madrid I wanted a big change from Almería, and I got it. There are some big differences (good and bad) I've noticed very quickly.  The obvious things are that Madrid is much more expensive from housing to the price of a tapa, the amount of people, the diversity, the unavoidable influence of tourism, and of course the size of the city.  Even though Madrid is 10 times the size of Almería, it's much easier to get around.  In fact, today I just got my "abono" card which will give me unlimited rides on the metro, buses, and light rail for about 50 euros a month. Pretty pricey but an absolutely necessity for me as I'll be taking the metro minimum twice a day (to and from work).

I had a few big things that were on my to-do list that I accomplished this week.  The first was attending the mandatory meeting for auxiliares (language assistants) the day after I arrived. Most of it was just review from last year, and it was long and tedious, but I met a few nice people so it was worth it.  The following day and new friend and I went and set up our appointments for our TIE card, which will be our ID here in Spain. It's a long process, so we wanted to get our dates set up as soon as possible.  Our appointments are scheduled for late October, and we'll receive the cards 40 days after that, so until then, I'll have to rely on my old TIE card from last year and a copy of my passport for my form of identification.  On Friday I went to visit my school.  I didn't go inside because I didn't want to interrupt the school day, but I got to practice my commute and met the four other auxiliares I'll be working with this year.  They seem like a good bunch! Four Americans and one British girl, all of us have at least one year of teaching experience; two worked at the same school last year, one girl used to be in a pueblo outside of Cordoba and the other was in South Korea.  I'm looking forward to getting to know all of them!

The weekend was fun.  On Friday one of my roommates, Tamara, invited me to her boyfriend's concert and let me bring two of the new girls I met.  We had a blast! It was a small concert venue, but afterwards we hung out with the band who were all nice guys, and we had a good time.  Saturday I went out with some other friends I had met earlier in the week. The three of them live right around the corner from me so it will be nice having some friends living close to me! Tonight there will be some roommate bonding time as the three of us will be making dinner together (veggie tacos, fruit salad and a surprise dessert!). Tomorrow is the first day of school.  Excited and nervous just like most students on their first day.  Crossing my fingers for good hours, friendly teachers and nice students. A girl can dream can't she?

(I apologize for the lack of pictures. I promise the next post will have plenty!)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Pre-Flight Jitters!

Wow, I can't believe the summers over and I'm headed back to Spain tomorrow! My time at home has been absolutely perfect.  It included weddings, cabin weekends, a twins game, Wicked, Basilica Block Party, a trip to CSB-SJU, a trip to Chicago, the state fair, family time and countless nights in Uptown with friends.  I've enjoyed indulging in my favorite American goodies such as brownies, apple crisp, chocolate chip cookies, banana bread, mac n' cheese, pizza (Spanish pizza is not the same), Mexican, Indian, kale chips, pancakes, and all the other stuff I can't get in Spain.  This past week I've gotten to share some special moments with friends and family, which makes leaving even harder. But the bottom line is that while I'm in the US, I still kinda feel like a kid. I live with my parents (which I don't mind because the cooking is great), work my old summer job, and borrow the family cars to get around.  In Spain I have my own apartment, find my own ways to get around, and live an adult life.  I'm ready to go back to Spain and feel like I'm putting my college degree to use!

You'd think that after packing for multiple long-term trips before, that it would be a breeze for me.  I'll admit, I've gotten better at it, especially after figuring out that rolling your clothes rather than folding them not only saves room but prevents wrinkles as well. Also, I've gotten better about not packing so heavy.  It's always good to have space so that when you come back you'll have room for souvenirs, etc.  However, all of this improvement still can't help the constant overwhelming feeling like I've forgotten something. All the checklists and double/triple checking in the world won't get this weight off my shoulders. It makes me so nervous that I can't fall asleep at 1am the night before my flight (now). But nervousness hasn't been the only emotion I've been feeling this week. I find the entire week leading up to my departures from anywhere are just a hodgepodge of emotions: excitement, anxiousness, sadness, uneasiness, worry and happiness. Another strange thing that I feel about a week before I leave is guilt.  Let me explain.  Guilt comes in because I want to spend as much time as I can with EVERYONE, which obviously isn't possible. I feel guilty for spending too much or too little time with family, friends, etc.  Or I feel guilty that I'm not spending my last few days the right way or being productive enough. I'm hoping that my 7.5 hour plan ride will give me some time to chill out and relax a bit before I arrive in Madrid!

I've had to say so many goodbyes this past week. Did I mention I HATE goodbyes? I feel like it just amplifies the sadness I already feel. If I didn't have to say goodbye so much, then all the sadness/separation emotions wouldn't surface so much. I wish it was socially acceptable to skip goodbyes.  But they are inevitable, so I find the best way to say goodbye is to be as casual and quick as possible. Drawing them out definitely won't help my situation. And I always remind myself that it's not forever, and the time will pass quickly and I'll be back before I even know it! But I must say that the best part about goodbyes is that it means something NEW is coming! New friends, new places, new school, new city new roommates new EVERYTHING. I'm sure it will only take a few hours in Madrid to remember why I keep leaving my beloved family and friends from my favorite place anywhere (MN <3 ). I'm an adrenaline junky, and in more ways than one. I thrive off of the excitement and uncertainty of new life experiences, and this is my next one! So goodbye family and friends, I'm sad to say goodbye even if I don't show it. Hola Madrid! Can't wait to see what it has in store for me :)