Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Welcome to Tuesday

Tuesdays are my Mondays because Spain thinks I should have a three-day weekend every weekend.  I can't say I disagree.

That said, every Tuesday I spend a total of four hours with three year olds.  If you know any three year olds (or, if you know me), you must realize this window is about three and a half hours too long.  Don't get me wrong, they're cute, and I have been pleasantly surprised with my ability to recognize their cuteness... BUT:

They're babies.  It's true.

During my urban fieldwork for elementary education, I observed and helped in a kindergarten classroom for seven weeks.  That was nothing.

Every Tuesday without fail there is pants-peeing, milk spilling, classmate pushing, and snack dropping.  All of these scholarly activities are accompanied by plenty of crying and whining.  Additionally, we have the weekly trauma of paper cuts, stubbed toes, and grazed knees.  Clearly we keep busy in the three year old wing.

Knowing my students only get older as the week progresses is the light of my work tunnel.

I really appreciate my middle and high schoolers.  I never thought I'd be saying that.  They're awkward and a little bit intimidating, but after my first couple of weeks, I'm past that and they are so much fun.  We listen to Michael Jackson and High School Musical songs and try to guess the lyrics.  And next on the agenda is staging a restaurant and practicing ordering from an American menu.  They get to bring snacks; it's pretty exciting!

Work is more stressful than I thought it would be.  Right now I'm working on balance because while I am a teacher and am here to teach English, I am also here to experience Spain.  And Europe.  So I'm working on doing--and enjoying--both.  I'm getting there.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

He out-bopped the buzzard and the oriole

It's been a "Rockin' Robin" kind of day. While waiting on a bench before teaching restaurant-based English to a group of fifth and sixth graders, I found Bobby Day's version of the song on my iPod--and proceeded to listen to it twice in a row. As I listened and smiled at all my favorite parts, it just seemed fitting all things considered...

Today was my appointment at the Foreigners' Office which served to extend my legal status in Spain. My program and others who have been in my shoes assured me this process would be a nightmare. From myriad descriptions, I had established a mental picture: long lines, a cramped and stuffy office full of hardly-working box fans, a horde of confused foreigners, and a handful of disgruntled and smoking government employees. With that in mind, I did everything in my power to be over-prepared for my visit. I copied anything and everything that had to do with my job, my residency, my existence.

And then the morning came. Kate (flatmate), Carlos (Kate's boyfriend), and I set out for the office. Twenty minutes later, we were there. Easy. Right outside the office there was a photo booth (think Amelie) and I took and printed the passport photos I needed with my forms. Also easy. I entered the building: big, sanitary, air conditioned. It was a well-oiled machine. The only kink was my failure to take a form to and pay a bank for the application process before my appointment--easily fixed with a two-block walk to Cajamar. I returned to this huge DMV-esque place and when my appointment number was called, I proceeded to Table 33 where a lovely Spanish woman sifted through my documents and gathered what she needed. She took my fingerprints, gave me a receipt, told me to come back in 40 days for my residency card, and that was that.

I was floored. Needless to say my expectations were low and easily surpassed, but all in all it was a pretty painless deal. Impressed.

After that, many mundane details followed the day's trend: I skipped work and slept in a little in order to allow time for what could have been a whole-day process. Then, because of the promptness of the Foreigners' Office, I had time for a grocery run, a Kebob lunch from MacDoe's (divine), a quick nap, and an episode of "The Office" -- all before heading to teach English for a grand total of one hour this evening.

It was also one of those days where you get to the bus stop and somehow the exact bus you need appears from nowhere, ready to take you wherever you're headed. And the weather was perfect, to boot.

And now I'm home with the flatmates watching Spain beat Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Things are looking up over here in Spain. :-)