I am officially no longer homeless! Hooray!
I moved in to my new piso (apartment) on Sunday. It’s so wonderful! I mean, sure, the shower has no shower curtain. The kitchen has no sink, stove, or counter tops. But, really, who cares?
It will be done eventually. Honestly, the only thing I’ve wanted since I got here a month and a half ago (it seems like forever ago…but I guess it hasn’t been) is to put my clothes in a CLOSET. That doesn’t sound like too much to ask, does it? I will gladly eat cold, uncooked food and take baths so as to avoid spraying water all over the entire bathroom (it’s not a big sacrifice…there are jets in the tub! All my life I’ve wanted a jetted bathtub…what a strange time to get one) just let my clothes be out of the godforsaken suitcase!
My roommate speaks to me in Spanish, I walk to work, and when (if) the kitchen’s done, I’ll be able to study and eat lunch here during my 2 and a half hour lunch break. Life is good. Here are some photos:
You know how photos don’t really capture things? Well, it’s hard to get an angle to show you how truly awesome the room is. But anyway, this is my bed, my window (looking into a courtyard), and you can see my little desk and all my bookshelves on the right.
The flash is a little intense in this photo, but here you see the view from my bed of my wall of desk/bookshelves.
That’s the foot of my bed looking at my built-in closet.
And that, my friends, is the place where my clothes go so that they don’t have to be packed in suitcases anymore.
My bed is so cozy! It is really comfortable (brand new) and has a down comforter AND a quilt! I sleep so well in it! Also, since I live so close to work, I don’t really have to wake up until around 8:00am. I think it would feel later if it wasn’t still PITCH BLACK here at that time, but still. I’m so used to going to bed early (seriously, like you wouldn’t believe me if I told you…unless you’ve lived with me, or worked directly across from me and had to hear me talk about it incessantly) that I don’t know what to do with myself these days. I mean, I can stay up until 11 and still get 9 hours of sleep every night? Unreal. (Do I sound like a giant nerd? Just wondering.)
1. Julie, how long until your apartment is finished, do you think?
Great question, thanks for asking. I personally think the apartment will NEVER be finished. Perhaps I’m getting the wrong idea of Spaniards. I know that many are hardworking and reliable, but from my experience at the school I teach at, from this apartment, and some other things, no one is really in a hurry here, and no one really cares how well you do something. This can be good, like when you have to turn in a bunch of official documents and nothing happens if you’re late. Or, if you are doing a master’s here and don’t have time to do your homework.
However, when you are in a hurry for whatever reason, and something IS important, I don’t like being told to “tranquila” (calm down) nor do I like for people to take their sweet time doing it. I believe my roommate Ana feels the same way. The people who are working on the apartment do so when they please, and more often than not ruin something as soon as they fix something else.
I’m not sure why it’s like that here. Something new I’ve learned since coming to Spain this time is about government workers. People who work for the government get their jobs by taking a test. The people who apply for the job and have the best scores on the test, get the jobs. Then, they basically have tenure, that is to say, they can almost never be fired, even if they don’t do their jobs. I’m not sure if this attitude translates to those that work outside the government as well…but it is an interesting thought.
As of now, I am happily waiting patiently for the apartment to be finished. That may change in about 2 weeks.
2. Julie, how’s work?
Work probably requires its own post (with pictures…not sure if it would be weird for me to snap photos at work.) But things there are going really well. I really like the teachers I work with, and I’m starting to feel like I belong there.
What do I do? you ask. Well, I teach “English conversation” to children in a Catholic charter school. They range from three years old to third grade, and I also have one class of sixth graders. In most of the classes, I take half of the class to another room for a half an hour where the time passes really slowly and I try to keep them entertained, yet help them learn something. So far, we’ve got “My name is…” down pretty well. We play games and stuff.
Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s horrible. The kids can be awful. And I’m not supposed to ever speak to them in Spanish, so we have a huge language barrier going on. There have been so many times when I’ve had a game in mind, but trying to get 5 year olds to do what I want them to, after speaking to them in a foreign language (no matter how many times I act it out) just doesn’t work. One day, I did speak Spanish to a first grade class to help them understand that I was asking “How old are you?” (they kept saying “I’m fine thank you, and you?” or “My name is…”) And at the end of class, they walked through the hallways chanting in unison “She spoke in Spanish! She spoke in Spanish!” Ugh.
The three year olds are so confused, they don’t know what’s going on. They could care less which language I speak to them in, and they get really quiet when I speak in English (stark contrast from the other children.) There is one class of three-year-olds that I’m quite fond of. I spent a lot of time with them in my first few weeks when I wasn’t officially teaching. I drop in on them when I have free time and hang out. I like them a lot.
Also, all the teachers (including me) wear long, white professor jackets all day. So sophisticated, and convenient because they have tons of pockets to store things like pens, keys, and confiscated toys.
3. Julie, are you going to stay in Spain forever?
No. I like Spain, obviously, but it’s not as magical to me as it was before. I think because I’m so used to it now, and nothing compares to the excitement of living here as an illegal immigrant. There is a lot to love here, but going back and forth so much has made me appreciate many things about the United States. I heard that three-quarters of the students from the program last year are still here this year because they love Spain. A lot of the people in my program are making plans to stay, or to continue their travels abroad for next year in different countries. As for me, I’ll be excited to stay in one place for a while. That place will be Colorado, I believe. I think there’s no escaping the fact that I’ll always end up back in Colorado, no matter what I do. And, I’m excited because I think, after all this time, I’m getting an idea of what I want to be when I “grow up”. Very exciting for someone like me who has a lot of interests, but can’t commit to any of them.
For right now, however, I’m really happy to be exactly where I am doing exactly what I’m doing. I hope to enjoy it as much as possible, take advantage of it as much as possible, and get as much out of it as I can.
Any further questions (about anything, I know a lot) can be left in the form of comments. Thank you.