Yesterday was a really interesting day, so I’m going to tell you about it.
I arrived at work at my usual time; 3 minutes before I had to be in front of a class teaching. I was scheduled to teach the dreaded five-year-olds. They are so fun to have a conversation with…but so difficult to control. Most of this week I just resorted to duck, duck, goose.
Anyway, as I’m putting on my white professor jacket (no, really) and grabbing my things in the teacher’s lounge, I casually glance up at the “Supplencias” board because everyone else is standing around staring at it. The “Supplencias” board is where they write which teachers are missing that day and who will be covering for them at what time. Yes, they only call a substitute teacher if someone is planning on being out of work for an extended period. Otherwise, they find other teachers who have a free hour and have them tag-team it all day. Obviously, my name is never on the board since I am strictly the English conversation teacher. I mean, obviously.
Except, yesterday. Yesterday, there it was.
Well, a version of my name, anyway. The director writes my name how she pronounces it: YULI. I can only assume that she’s too busy to take the time to learn how to spell my name, or she just doesn’t care. At any rate, when I see “Yuli” I know that means me. And everyone else does too. I gave them all an exasperated look (you know how I am with facial expressions) and they all giggled.
I was to be the stand-in teacher for a group of four-year-olds. I like them, but they’ve got a lot of energy. I headed to the classroom and found the other infantil (preschool) teachers standing in the hallway talking and I said, “Um…what do I do?” So they showed me the plan for the day and just said I needed to take attendance, talk about the date, talk about dlkjfadkjoijsadf (I didn’t understand what some things were, but I figured, they’re four, I’ll wing it) and then have them practice writing. No problem whatsoever.
I spoke to them mostly in Spanish but did the date and weather in English since they know all that stuff. Then, I had to take attendance. It was horrible. They all made fun of my accent when I said their names! So I turned to (as my dad would say) the Smart Alec kid next to me and said, “Hey. Do I make fun of you when you say things in English? If you want I can speak English the entire time and you won’t understand me. Do you want me to do that?” [A sheepish no.] “Or, if you want to keep talking you can stay in the hall until we finish.” That certainly shut them up. Then I told them to do writing and it was actually great because they did everything I said.
I’d be like “Your L is crooked. Do it again.” Or “Your paper is wrinkled. You have to start over.” Not really! But I did have to be a little picky since Spaniards are perfectionists for handwriting. (They’re four and they’re learning cursive.)
Today, I heard that a group from this class was talking to Nuria, the director of infantil and the doctor that works at our school. Evidently the doctor said, “Fatima yells a lot at you, right?” (The infantil teachers seriously yell ALL THE TIME) and Nuria said, “What about Julie? Did she yell at you?” And one of the kids said, “No, Julie never yells. But we can’t understand what she’s saying, so how could she possibly yell at us?”
Anyway, continuing on with yesterday. I finished up work at 1, and normally I would have had to go to four hours of class in the afternoon since it was Thursday. BUT I had made a doctor’s appointment because I’ve just been feeling kind of sluggish, and at times slightly dizzy. So I figured it wouldn’t hurt to head on over to the doctor and see what he had to say.
I’m so glad I did. Not just because I got to skip class with an excuse (attendance is mandatory, FYI) but I also got a glimpse inside the Spanish medical system. Not to say that I experience socialized medicine, because I didn’t. The school I work at pays for private insurance for me, so all the places I go are private clinics for people who also pay their own insurance.
However, going to this doctor’s office was a perfect example of my theory that Spain is 15 years behind the United States. I walked in, and the administrative assistant was sitting at her desk smoking. She had a clipboard and some books and nothing else [note: no computer]. I told her I had an appointment at four and she said, “Huleeeaaay?” (she meant Julie) and I said, “Si,” and she told me to go wait until he called me. I went to the waiting room and read a Spanish gossip magazine. It literally told me that David Bisbal was going to sing a duet with Miley Cyrus and the song is called “When I looking you.” Can someone tell me what it’s really called? Just one more example of why Spain is spending so much money to improve its English skills.
Anyway, after about 15 minutes, the doctor called me in. He is an older man with a goatee. Very kind and patient and doctor-y. He immediately pulled out a PIECE OF PAPER and did my PATIENT INTAKE INFORMATION HIMSELF. I know. Like, where’s your nurse Dr. Rafael? They make you do this yourself? (Jokes, people.)
He asked me all the usual questions. His office was very plain. A desk (no computer) an examining table. A stethoscope. Oh, and a little screen he unfolded and put by the door while he was examining me in case someone came in. And, I am not kidding you, there was NOTHING ELSE IN HIS OFFICE. Maybe a book. He took my insurance card by using one of those old credit card copier thingies and, I don’t have to pay a cent for anything.
He listened to my heart, pushed on my stomach, and gave me a back massage. He said my muscles were tight. He ordered some X-Rays and some blood tests. Now, here’s another great thing about Spain: I have to go get the X-Rays and blood tests done, then I have to go get the results when they’re ready, then I have to bring them to him. Then I don’t know what happens. I’m not even sure if I need to make another appointment to bring in the results(?).
I mean, seriously I have some X-Rays of my neck sitting at the foot of my bed right now. They look fine to me, but I’m not a doctor.
In some unrelated but very bad news, I haphazardly started reading the cereal box of the cereal I am in love with one day when I was bored. It’s a small box. Really quite tiny. I was glancing at the nutrition information when I noticed that the one tiny box is supposed to contain SIXTEEN SERVINGS. No, not six. SIXTEEN. I’m ashamed to admit I usually eat a box a weekend. But, in my defense, look at how puny the serving is when I measured it out in a bowl on my roommate’s scale:
Yes, that’s a normal sized bowl. And yes, I re-set the scale with the bowl on it so it would only weigh the cereal.
I just don’t know what this will do to our relationship.