Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The adventure begins...

Hello friends and family! Bienvenidos a mi blog. The past month has been a whirlwind, but I am finally settled in and ready to start sharing with you some of the things that are going on in my new vida Madrileña!

Where to begin?

After three amazing weeks of travel with Liam to New York, London, and the south of Spain, I arrived in Madrid in early September to begin my 10 months as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant. I am proud to say that I am the only New Mexican Fulbrighter in Spain this year, and the first New Mexican that many of my colleagues had ever met! Of course I was able to make all kinds of interesting connections with people in my program. One girl has a father who grew up in the tiny village of Mora, New Mexico where my grandmother and her family lived (chances are that we're distant cousins). Another girl has a boyfriend who went to South Salem High School in Oregon and had my Uncle Chuck as his IB History teacher. I also met a fellow Oxy alum who will be spending the year teaching English in Santander. Small world you know!

Horse race in San Lucar, Andalucia, September 2011

After a few days of orientation, we were sent out into the big city with nothing but a preliminary check and a phone number to call in case of emergencies. Although I was pretty nervous about being alone in an unfamiliar place, it was also surprisingly liberating. In those first days I stayed in a hostel by myself for the first time, ate dinner alone at a restaurant for the first time, went apartment hunting all over Madrid, and opened a Spanish bank account. I really impressed myself!

Me in front of the Catedral in Toledo, September 2011

After a few mishaps, or should I say, important learning moments (that may or may not have included packing up my life and escaping from an apartment in the wee hours of the morning) I was able to move in to a lovely apartment in the heart of Madrid in an area called La Latina. For those of you who have been here you will know that La Latina is known for long winding cobblestone streets, tapas bars, and great night life. It's da bomb! Conveniently located a short walk from two metro stops, a Doner Kebap place and the Plaza Mayor, I am living in a spacious yet cozy piso with a lovely girl from Paris/the Ivory Coast and a friendly Canadian girl. There is still one empty room if anyone is interested?

Liam at the Plaza de Espana in Sevilla, September 2011

After all of this background information you may have forgotten why I am in Spain in the first place! (I know I did after a week and a half of free time in Madrid:) I am actually here to teach English in a pubic middle-high school called el Instituto Bilingue Jose Saramago. This special little school is located about 16 km outside of the city, but still falls within the Comunidad de Madrid school district. I have been there for a week now and am so happy and excited to be spending the year at IES Jose Saramago. Although the school year got off to a bumpy start with city wide teacher strikes over pay cuts and increased hours, I was welcomed to IES Jose Saramago with open arms by teachers and students alike. I am working closely with four Spanish teachers in the bilingual program who teach their classes completely in English. I have mad respect for these peeps! My schedule is split between P.E., natural sciences, social studies, and of course English. The students are very cute, energetic, and many speak English as well as I speak Spanish. I am having so much fun spending my days with twelve years-olds and participating in lots of different classes! It kind of feels like I am in middle school again minus the crazy pre-teen drama and with the much appreciated addition of a paycheck at the end of the month. In summary, I love my school so far and am excited to share more stories with you throughout the year!

My school, IES Jose Saramago, Majadahonda, Madrid, September 2011

Well that is my first update. Stay tuned for more soon which may include information on subjects such as the best tapas in La Latina, nightlife in Madrid, Spanish dance moves or lack thereof, napolitanas (aka chocolate croissants but better), Real Madrid soccer games, farming with Liam in Andalucia, travel to interesting places, and the elusive Fulbright side project!

Love to you all! Un besito.

Me at the Puente de San Martin in Toledo, September 2011