Hiatus

•March 29, 2014 • 4 Comments

For several reasons, I’m taking an indefinite hiatus from this blog.

Overall, things are okay for the most part. I spend most of any given day working, either at the elementary school, outside of school giving classes to Spanish professionals, developing my freelance writing career (which is where I devote the majority of my access-to-wifi time — working on my website, spending time on a freelance writers community, attempt to market and network, etc). Currently, I am also taking a couple Spanish classes, including one in advanced Spanish pronunciation/phonetics, hoping to get a pass to a local gym so I can attend dance classes occasionally, and trying to build something resembling a social life, support system, network of friendly acquaintances, whathaveyou.

Next week I’m going to start working a bit more. I officially have a job for the summer, a well-paid au pair/English teaching position, so starting in April I’ll be working with the children a few hours a week so they can get used to me. I’ve met them already, they seem like sweet kids. The oldest supposedly hates English, but I have fun websites, games, and wear pretty scarfs and skirts, so I’m adequately armed.

Spring has sprung here…and then un-sprung a bit so I’m currently a bit sick. And apparently February 2014 had the lowest amount of sunny days in 20 years, plus constant rain (Compared to Chicago’s winter though…I hate to admit how often the line, “Well, I could be in Chicago,” was used to brighten my mood the past few months). That being said, for the most part the beginning of 2014 has been muuuuch better than the beginning of the previous year. Gotta take our victories where we can.

“Happy” 2014

•January 1, 2014 • 3 Comments

On New Year’s Day 2013, a student of mine from Seville sent me the following greeting. It was definitely one of the most…genuine well-wishes I’ve ever received, especially given my year and life in general:

“my wife and I wish you and your family a very happy New Year. We hope all your dreams come true, or at least, some of them :)”

So I suppose that, indeed, some of my dreams possibly came to fruition in some way, shape, or form, in 2013.

May we all continue on such an upward trend.

Navidad en Sevilla

•December 24, 2013 • 2 Comments

I’m currently in Seville for the holidays. From the 26th – 29th I’ll be in Granada, this will my first time going, then I’ll be back in Seville until midnight on the 8th. This vacation was just what I needed, and Seville was definitely the perfect place for me to go. I needed to get away from Madrid and my health is better for it, even just to see the sun much more often and have access to fresh air. Since I used to live here and still have friends here, I’m able to actually relax on this vacation instead of feeling pressured to constantly be on the go. Furthermore, since I’m staying in a place on airbnb, I’m able to cook my meals as I’d like, so I can save that much more money.

On Sunday I went to the church I attended while here.  It was great to see them and they were happy to see me, it was nice.  Yesterday I hung out with a good friend of mine and tonight I’m having dinner with his family. Christmas Eve is a bigger deal than Christmas Day in Spain and in the Spanish-speaking world in general from what I’ve gathered, so I hope the dinner is pretty good. Regardless, it should be nice, and definitely better than what I was planning on doing tonight.

Last Thursday, we had our Christmas concerts at the school. In the morning, the infantil students (preschool, ages 3 – 5) had their concert, of which I saw about half, and in the afternoon the primaria students performed (elementary school, 1st – 6th grade). They performed songs in English and Spanish, and the 6th graders also did a skit in English (Peter Pan), and a poem in Spanish.

All of the first graders performed together, I work with them (as well as the 3rd and 4th graders). The English song and dance they did was a version of “Do Re Mi” from the Sound of Music, the “flash mob” version (song was the same, dance was slightly different). Personally I thought 6 minutes was a bit long for a song for 6-year-olds, but they did a good job.

The Spanish song they sang was “Hi hei ho ho ho” from Los Pitufos, which is The Smurfs in Spanish. Reading the YouTube comments this is a really old song, and a nice bit of nostalgia for the people who commented. Also, the Spanish in general seem to really like The Smurfs for some reason, there’s some Smurf amusement park here.

One of the 3rd grade classes performed a rock version of “Hoy es Navidad,” which is to the melody of Jingle Bells. I couldn’t find a rock version on YouTube, sadly, so here is the typical version. 

The other 3rd grade class sang the Justin Bieber version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” If you really want to hear Bieber sing, feel free to google it lol.

Some class sang this song, honestly not sure who since I don’t have a program of the concert with me. “Campana sobre campana”

Another class sang this, “Navidad rock,” which is “Jingle Bell Rock”

Enjoy the holidays everyone, que tengáis unas fiestas felices!

Esperando a los Reyes Magos

•December 17, 2013 • 5 Comments

I’m still waiting for my new cell phone [EDIT: I received an email about an hour ago saying that said phone is no longer available, back to square one] and for wi-fi to be set up in my new place. Admittedly this makes me feel pretty isolated at times, but aside from that I’m getting settled into my new studio well.  I feel more relaxed, my health has improved, I’ve lost some weight, and my hair is softer for some reason.  And as I imagine that one of my former roommates’ friends took my old room — as the landlord hadn’t shown it to anyone yet managed to rent it well before I left, and I flat out told her “They need to just live with their friends.  No one else is going to tolerate this” — this is best for everyone.  

I still need to buy some appliances for the kitchen. There’s no oven (which is pretty common in Spain, especially in apartments), no microwave, and as I lovingly refer to it, a “better than nothing” stove.  I’m looking for used appliances (in segundamano stores), on Amazon, and I’m going to check out the “rebajas” that take place after the holidays to see if I can get a good deal. It’s hard enough to be motivated to cook at times with fully functioning appliances, so these are a must buy. At least the stove.

Friday morning I head down to Seville for winter break.  I’m also going to Granada for a few days after Christmas.  Since “Día de los Reyes” is on a Monday this year, school doesn’t start back up again until the following Wednesday, so we get a good break this year. Part of me is really excited to go back to Seville.  I still have friends there and I’m excited to have a vacation during which I don’t *have* to do anything.  Not to mention the weather is much nicer than Madrid and Chicago.  On the other hand, I’m a little worried I’ll be disappointed, that something will go wrong, etc.  And I technically don’t have any set plans with anyone yet.  And I might end up spending Christmas at a McDonald’s, I ended up at one here on Thanksgiving (Most of my American expats friends either didn´t have any money for a Thanksgiving dinner and/or didn’t have an oven (see above). If nothing else, it’ll be memorable. And hopefully relatively warm.

Good news.

•November 25, 2013 • 5 Comments

Finally, after blood, sweat, and tears, and being this close to murdering the fools who live with me, I’m happy to announce that I have a new apartment. A studio in the Universidad (Malasaña) neighborhood, near Gran Via. It actually fulfilled all of my requirements, wishes, and more…price even.

Miracles can indeed happen, keep the faith.

Tomorrow I’m going to bring my documentation (passport, NIE) and my “reserva” of 100 euros. On Friday I sign the contract and bring my paystub and the rest of the money, and on December 1st I officially move in.

In spite of the constant BS, I’m happier than I seem….

•November 24, 2013 • Leave a Comment

One of the many, many, many, many reasons that I’m moving out and looking for a studio (my goal was to find a new place by the end of the month, but the month is almost over, so we’ll see). I messaged this to my sister early this morning:

so, i have no clue wth is going on in this apartment right now
it’s 6:30a
my roommates got home about 10ish minutes ago
at least one of them is wasted
so they come in, stumbling, open my door and immediately try to close it
i said “wtf”
so i locked it
eventually someone comes back to try to re-open it, banging it
one of them was ‘whispering’ obscenities to me from outside my door
then slips some packet of paper under it
i take a look at these papers
they’re notes from their master’s program
they’re ridiculously loud right now (given that it’s 6:30 in the morning), one of them is trying to tell his girlfriend to go home (now he thinks she needs to leave, right)

I messaged the above to a friend:

Friend
shit D:
7:05
Me
exactly, and they act like i’m unfair for not liking them
i’m tempted to rip up this packet and sprinkle the pieces outside their doors
7:06
Friend
or you could just “lose” them
7:07
Me
i will throw them out at the very least
…………………………………………………………………..
7:29
Me
I ripped up that packet and threw it away
7:29
Friend
you have enforced the Fuck This Shit Act of 2013
well done
7:29
Me
Thank you, A for effort

……………………………………………………………………
17:42
Me
they wrote me a note to apologize. i ripped that up and put that letter plus that ripped up packet on the kitchen counter

Image

Good things do happen here in Madrid too, in case anyone was curious. My closest Spanish/Sevillian friend was wondering that too. A few weeks ago he asked me, “Are you happy here?” At the time I said that in general I am, but moving overseas is always challenging with tons of problems. 

It’s definitely been a struggle, and in some unexpected ways. On Friday a friend and I were talking about how the things we expected to be difficult are going really well, it’s everything else that seems to be a struggle. Spanish bureaucracy and my appointment to get my foreigner’s ID card? Easier than the DMV, more like waiting in a long line at the mall or the library. My job, the kids, their level of English? As draining as teaching can be, and although one of my classes has the most difficult kids in the school behavior-wise (objectively, it’s known throughout the school), I’ve yet to enjoy a job this much. That either says a lot about me, or a lot about the jobs I’ve had…especially since I know I couldn’t do work like this forever.

For me, struggling here compared to struggling back at home, or struggling this past year with all the drama and chaos that was thrown my way, has been very different. I feel like my future here has much more potential, at least regarding the more-or-less immediate future. My problems here have very feasible solutions…especially without the toxicity of my life in Chicago weighing me down and clouding my mind, making me physically ill from stress.  And that aside, I didn’t come to Madrid with romantic notions of expat life, especially since this is not my first time living in Spain (although I did envision less BS than what I’ve had to deal with, I’ll admit that much).  Living here long-term has been a goal of mine for a while.

Almost nothing worth having comes easily.

 

Well, I suppose it was just a matter of time…

•November 21, 2013 • 3 Comments

So…on Saturday my purse got stolen.  

Thanks to my upbringing, previous time spent abroad, and eternal cynicism, I knew not to have my passport on me and I only carry one U.S. credit/bank card and my Spanish bank card at any given time.  And no more than 20 euros more than what I think I’ll need to spend in cash. Not losing my passport was an especially good thing because my TIE appointment is tomorrow (to apply for my foreigner ID card).  So that’s good.  But my phone, iPod, keys, health insurance card, etc. are gone.  By the grace of God, I had backed up my main flashdrive earlier that afternoon.  17 GB of info, much of which would have been irretrievable.

When I mention this to people, expats and Spaniards alike:

“That happened to me a few months ago.” 

“I had my wallet stolen earlier this year, I kept everything in there.”

“My friend’s wallet was stolen just yesterday on the metro.”

“I was right outside my apartment building and my phone was snatched right out of my hand.”

“My friend’s purse was stolen and they went to her house and robbed her.”

“My housemate was robbed at knifepoint.  He had just been paid, his boss insists on paying him in cash.” (Honestly, this sounded like an inside job to me, idk)

“His phone was stolen, it was in the inside pocket of his coat.”

“Pick-pocketing is an art form here.”

♪♪  You are not alonnnnnne.  ♪♪

Considering that I’m almost 30 (ugh), have spent most of my life in the Chicagoland area, and this is the first time I’ve ever been a direct victim of a crime, I guess I’m not doing too bad.  I definitely have my parents to thank for that.

 

 
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