“Buen trabajo, y sed felices!” Work hard and be happy is what is said every morning after prayer to the children at the school where I teach English. I think it’s good advice, although I find that one doesn’t necessarily go with the other (for me).
Even so, I have decided to compile a list of goals for the next six months while I’m here in Spain. Many of them involve travel, which is trickier than you might think. I can’t just decide on a place and go…there has to be time, money, availability of flights/hotels, and hopefully someone willing to tag along.
Therefore, from now until July, on top of passing my Master’s classes, writing a thesis, having a personal life, and teaching the children of Spain to speak English, I will:
- Travel to Granada and see the Alhambra. I think I’ve talked about this before, but Granada is one of my must-sees while I’m here. Luckily, I’m going with a group of girls next weekend! All the tickets are bought and the reservations made, so there’s nothing left to do but go. We also recently wrote a paper on the Alhambra, so we won’t need a tour guide!
- Go to Italy. This is another one that I already have planned. My mom was nice enough to buy me a trip to Italy at the end of my program. It’s a week long tour with strangers and I will go to Rome, Venice, and Florence. I can’t wait!
- Go to Morocco. Right now you’re thinking Great goals, Julie. All stuff you already have planned! Well, this one is far from finalized. I really want to get to Morocco. My sister and I are tentatively planning for her to come visit me in June and for us to go together. However, let’s just say my sister tends to make lots of plans and sometimes doesn’t follow through. Cough, cough..sorry Megan. Anyway, I really hope it happens, and if for some reason she doesn’t come, I’ll have to figure something else out. Most of my friends have already been, and I don’t think it’s safe to travel there alone.
- Go to Greece. This one is the trickiest. I really want to go to Greece for Semana Santa (Easter week.) But everyone else has plans to go somewhere else. I think I’m fine going by myself, but it makes me slightly nervous! Plus, I really don’t even know where to go or what to do there, and I’m slightly worried about the language barrier. Sigh.
- See an opera. I wanted to do this last time I was in Madrid and never did. This time, I’m really going to! I know I have some friends who would be willing to come along if I planned it.
- See the sights in Madrid. Sometimes I get so caught up in my day to day life in Madrid, that I forget it is a city with tons of museums and culture to enjoy. I’ve already been to the Prado this time around, but there’s so much to see that I could always go back. I also really enjoy the Reina Sofía and Thyssen museums; I’d like to see them both again. There’s also other things I have never seen that this time of year are free on Sundays. I need to make more of an effort.
- Go topless one more time on the beach. C’mon! It’s something you can only do abroad, and it feels very liberating. The only trick is getting out of the center of this peninsula and to the beach (when it’s warmer)!
- Pass the D.E.L.E. Ok, this is my most challenging and serious goal. The D.E.L.E. is a highly respected, internationally recognized exam for people who speak Spanish as a second language. If you pass their (super hard) test they give you an official diploma that says you’re a bad-ass at Spanish! They only have the test four times a year, so the only time I could take it while I’m here would be in May. But that means that I literally start studying now. There is a reading, writing, listening, and oral section in the exam, and one of my professors said that if you don’t pass the oral section, they don’t even bother looking at the other sections. So I obviously need to practice speaking more. Clearly that means I need to go to more intercambios! Annie says the drunker we get, the harder we study. Not really. But, I will have to focus on speaking as often as I can. And the very little leisure time I allow myself to read in English or try and catch up on some shows on the internet will be even further diminished as I will need to be reading in Spanish, studying grammar, and bulking up my vocabulary. Really, these are things I should have been doing all along while living here. It’s just that sometimes my brain cries out for rest. Sigh. The D.E.L.E. costs 135 Euros to take, so it would be a huge bummer to fail (especially since I have publicly announced my desire to take said exam and would have to publicly announce my failure as well). I’m going through last year’s exam now to gauge the difficulty. But, of course I’ll pass it! I mean, my middle name is practically Spanish Correctness! (No really. My middle name is RAE which is the abbreviation for Royal Academia Española; the institution that gives the final word of what is and is not acceptable in the Spanish language.) Taking this exam is my destiny! Well we’ll see. I definitely won’t take this lightly. If I pass, it would be proof (to potential employers and myself) that I can speak Spanish. It also would give me the freedom to teach Spanish if I ever wanted to.
So anyway, it seems I have my work cut out for me. The last two weeks have been so busy with school, I can’t believe I’m taking on even more! But I believe it will be totally worth it, and I’ll be able to return to the U.S. knowing I did all I could while I was here.
In the meantime, work hard and be happy!