Hogar Dule Hogar…?

I’m sitting in my unmade bed with my dad’s laptop, an unmade bed covered in articles from the last two years of my life: grammar textbooks, maps of cities around Europe, notes and quotes for flights back to Spain. It’s amazing to think that two years ago I was purchasing my round-trip flight to Iberia with little more than high expectations and a stomach full of nerves (not to mention thousands more in the bank!).

Things have certainly changed drastically in those two years. I guess I’ve kind of come full circle. With the break-up and the now uncertainty of what I’m going to do at the end of this year, I’m back to the beginning, the high expectations and stomach full of nerves.

The end of camp was great. Despite the swine flu thing and having half of my class leave, I’m going to remember the fun I had with the other teachers and monitors and how I felt that same feeling of togetherness I always felt at summer camp as a kid. Camp Lone Oak was something I always looked forward to as a kid – late nights talking in the bunk, crappy camp food, looking up to older people and meeting todo el mundo. The same went for camp this year, and I’ll be going back to Spain with a lot of new contacts, ideas and friends.

I spent two nights in Madrid staying with one of the other teachers, doing what I love: wandering, drinking, enjoying the sun. I made a really rash decision not to come back to Spain for the 09-10 school year. I feel like Spain is where I’m supposed to be at this stage of my life, and I made a committment to my school. I’ve been in a relationship nearly all of my Spanish life, so it’s time to enjoy being single and travel and visit friends and have fun. Not that being with Kike wasn’t, but it’s going to be different.

It’s always weird coming home. I feel very European in my thinking and my way of life, and America just seems so…I don’t know…blah. I’m not interested in making a million bucks, I’m not interested in driving cars, I’m not interested in things that are important to Americans anymore. I believe in hard work, yes, but I also think life and money are for enjoying. It’s hard coming home and feeling so out of my element. Everyone around me is different, has a career or kids or a minivan, and I’m stuck in the middle of everyone moving about in their own lives. I feel so awkward when people come into Banana Republic and I’m folding clothes, making $9 an hour to pay for my flight back to Spain and having to make excuses for being there. I know what I’m doing at this point is totally my own doing and what I feel like I need to be doing, but it’s weird.

So the plan is this: work in Sevilla for another year at IES Heliche and really be dedicated. No more late nights just so I can go home with Kike and get up early to get back home. Traveling a bit, but Spain has drained me of money and a tolerance, so as long as I hit my 25 by August 15th, 2010, I’m square (Me faltan dos). Then I think my mom and a friend are going to come for a few weeks so I can travel and maybe go to camp again in July, then do the Camino de Santiago, a religious pilgrimage across northern Spain in August and hopefully start grad school elsewhere in Spain or come home and start saving to move to Chile and teach in early 2011.

All I know is that the US is not an option for me right now. Suggestions?

UPDATE: I’m looking into a few different masters’ programs, such as Middlebury’s MA in Spanish in Madrid, an international PR masters in Cardiff Wales, or an international education one in the states. woo, possibilities! Kike wants me to write a book. I don’t think I have the discipline…

Something fishy…I mean swiney

As the midway point of camp arrived, all of my students were getting lethargic. During the day, they have absolutely free time to rest or realx…it´s class, lunch, buses to activities, showers, dinner, parties, bed. But of course sending kids to bed at 11pm doesn´t mean they won´t stay up late talking to their friends or texting their boyfriends. Every morning this week, the kids have looked more tired and more bored with class.

For this reason, I devised a gigantic camp newspaper project to keep them interested. We had to study reported speech and expressing opinions on the grammar side with a study of headlines and oral news reading, so I split the kids into groups according to interests and we devised a masthead (Forenews) and article ideas, identified sources and wrote questions, and then I tracked down all the sources and they came to my class (some with a translator so the kids would be forced to speak in English!) In reading over the transcripts, I was impressed with their enthusiasm and great questions, and was looking forward to reading the investigative piece about who wrote on a bus seat and seeing the pictures my students took at various parties.

Then, the biggest story of camp broke: SWINE FLU CONFIRMED AT LANGUAGE CAMP. Yes, my friends, all those sick kids were coming down with nasty colds and coughs and flus and there has been at least one case of swine flu. The sickest children were contained and isolated, all the kids have been tested and monitored, and we, as teachers, are responsible for reminding them to wash their hands and not be smooching all over the place. The press is stalking, waiting at the bottom of the driveway and parents have been coming for their kids from all over Spain – resulting in a mass exodus from the camp. Yesterday I had 15 students, today 12 and Monday I´ll have just four. I understand the parent concern of so many kids with such a strange disease that has been fatal, but I think the camp is doing the best it can to continue classes and meet super high health standards. I had a monitor test my temperature and got a good report, and I´ve just been tired from going out and not sleeping so much.

I’ve got just a few more days in A Coruña. Tomorrow is parents day, so were recommended to not go out I don´t want to be tired anymore, so we´re ordering pizza and the monitors are hosting a Feria de Sevilla night for the kids. I´ve been told I have to come help teach Sevillanas to the kids, and they’re going to make me a traje de flamenco. Hope it will be fun…then off to Santiago de Compostela for the day mañana!

I can´t believe I´ll be back stateside in a week…Eleven months is a loooong, long time! Hasta la pastaaaaa. I´ll post pics of camp and my kids and los teachers soon! maybe once my computer isn´t broken…oh life.

Summer Camp

This post may be a little preliminary, seeing as I don´t officially start teaching until Monday, but I´m preoccupied with a few things and need to just disconnect from my brain a bit.

Today has been awful. I had to wake up at 4:45 to catch a 7am flight to A Coruña after not sleeping much the past few days. When I arrived to the airport, I was informed by the lady at the check-in counter that the information listed on my printed boarding pass regarding luggage was erroneous – I had a limit of 23 kilos (about 50lbs) between both bags, not 23 in each. I was at 39 kilos, so I had to chuck a whole ton of stuff away. Out went some souvenirs (paper stuff, really), two pairs of shoes, some old pictures, a book, half of my markers, two sweaters that I likely won´t wear and half of my shampoo and conditioner. So sad, but the lady was impressed with my esfuerzo and ignored that I only had 25 kilos, so I didn´t have to pay 180€ for the extra weight. To think if I were going home, I wouldn´t even need most of it because it´s all teaching crap!!

I got on the flight and to the site without a problem. 75 degrees was a welcome change from 110 in Sevilla, and I still marvel at the fact that grass exists in some places in Spain. There was another girl there, so we had breakfast together and went to the city center to get snacks for our rooms. We´re staying in a residence high in the hills over the bay in doubles. It´s just like being back in Burge, but with a burner and a bathroom. The bus with most of the others didn´t arrive until 6pm, so it wasn´t until then that I met other people and my roommate for the next three weeks, Jessica. We had a general meeting in which we went over the rules and the campgrounds, found our classrooms and prepared for the exam tomorrow. Our director seems really great, and most people have worked under her before, so it makes me feel better knowing that the camp here runs smoothly and a lot of people return to work again. Tomorrow we do the placement exam and start planning classes with the other teachers assigned to our level. I think it will all work out fine, even with our makeshift classrooms and little chulos running around – I think there´s like 600 kids!!!

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