So, to be honest, I have not been counting down the days to Christmas. I’m not even exactly sure what day Christmas is. I have been counting down the days until I go HOME for Christmas! How many days is it now? Oh…THREE.
My joy was temporarily put on hold when I heard about a potential British Airways strike that would have started on the very day I am scheduled to fly to Denver. My head filled with thoughts of spending Christmas alone here in Madrid, and that just wouldn’t have been OK. (Luckily the strike was declared illegal by the courts.)
I’m not sure if it’s because I work in a Catholic school with tons of tiny children who are really excited about Christmas, or if it’s because I get to go home for Christmas for 3 weeks, but it really FEELS like Christmas this year, you know? Some years it takes you until Christmas to get into the Christmas spirit and then it’s just…over. This whole week I’ve been wandering around Madrid listening to Josh Groban’s Christmas CD and it’s really put me in the Christmas spirit.
Is it a bad sign that I’m soooo excited to go home? I mean, do I hate it here, or what? Let me first point out that the other people in my program who are lucky enough to go home for Christmas feel the same way as I do. And it’s not that we don’t like it here (although I think it will be hard to come back) it’s just that it’s exhausting!
Our jobs take a lot of energy and mental toughness. Most of us have no interest in being teachers, we are just doing a free master’s program. Then they make us teach classrooms full of obnoxious (not always) kids and expect us to not only teach them, but to do it in a language they don’t understand. Talk about draining. Then, on top of that we have to work extra hours teaching private classes to make ends meet, and go to classes, do homework, etc. It’s also extremely mentally draining to try and communicate in a foreign language which I do with my coworkers, my roommate, and people on the street and in stores/restaurants.
I’m seriously lucky though. I’m so lucky that I don’t spend a big chunk of my day commuting. I’m lucky that I live in the nicest apartment EVER with the nicest roommate of ALL TIME. I’m lucky our apartment is really warm and cozy all the time. I’m lucky that my school is really nice to me (some schools aren’t) and lately I’ve been feeling very appreciated and like part of the team.
Here are some great moments from this week:
- There was a teacher strike, so on Thursday morning I had to be an actual teacher of four-year-olds instead of just the stand-in English teacher. All the parents dropped their kids off and told me long stories about so-and-so’s runny nose, or so-and-so can’t find her babi (this bib they wear over their clothes aaaallll day), or so-and-so’s mom is coming to pick her up at 11 to go to the doctor, etc. I nodded and tried to mentally record (while understanding what they were saying). It was fun though. We played with play-dough, that unfortunately smelled like diarrhea.
- One of my five-year-old classes (the worst age for behavior, but a really sweet age to hang out with) all told me that I was the best teacher, that I was the prettiest woman in the world, and that they loved me. At the end of class, I have to decide if they get a smiley face or a sad face on their hand (so their parents see how they behaved) and even though they all ran around like lunatics the entire half hour I had them, how can you NOT give them a smiley face as they tell you how pretty you are?
- In two of my classes, I mentioned that it was going to be the last time we saw each other before Christmas, and in both classes this caused all the children to come up and hug me.
So my job’s not that bad ALL the time. I’m getting better at it, I think.
Anyway, I wish you the merriest of Christmases, and if you live in Colorado, I WANT TO SEE YOU over Christmas break. I’ll be there for almost three weeks starting on Tuesday the 22nd.