It is hard to remember when I last wrote on the Baucebeat. The internet connection at my home in Madrid not only lost me hours of precious email reading and Facebook time, it also lost me the chance to speak with all of you. For that, I am deeply sorry. The nights I would spend trying to load Google or thinking that a photo would load after my toast finished in the oven make me greatful for fast Internet connection. It also showed me how me (and all of my roommates too) depend so greatly on this connection to the World Wide Web…But now, I am back. With internet stronger than ever.
Since my last post, I have done some personal reflection and I believe that I have entered a new phase of cultural assimilation. With regards to teaching, I feel completely natural. When I enter a class, I feel comfortable speaking in front of thirty or forty kids. I have embraced lesson planning and understand the importance of handing back papers in a timely fashion. My attempts to read students´handwriting seems like a punishment for my poor penmanship at a young age. In regards to the Spanish language, I feel like I have hit a slight roadblock. I can communicate normaly with other people and understand. This new interest in learning new words and understanding better has hit me. Because of this, I will sign up for Spanish lessons, paid for by the Fulbright program, three hours a week. Living has been the biggest challenge. Being in a new city is tough. After three months here, I have grown content with exploring less. When I first came here, every day involved ravish outings that ended with a full blog post. I am trying to fight that and get back on track. I have also found that cultural isolation is a possiblity that I must avoid. Here, in Spain, I have found some friends from America and some from other European countries. I have also many Spanish acquitances or friends of friends. But I have found that the next phase of cultural assimilation requires meeting Spaniards. This is something that is not only requires that I leave my comfort zone but it also requires that I find places with people with similar interests. There lies my plans for the weekend.
November has been a fantastic month. It has been a month of great gains and a little homesickness. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays of the year. As I told my dad last week, this was the first Thanksgiving away from my friends and family. I am so lucky to have had not one, not two, but THREE celebrations of the holiday. The first was with complete strangers, all of whom were teaching assistants in Madrid, for a Vegetarian Thanksgiving. It was great and fun to meet new people. My second was with some of my Fulbright friends and their roommates. Whereas my first celebration, everyone had celebrated Thanksgiving before, this second one was a first Thanksgiving for many. It made it really special. My third celebration was at the house of my friend Dan. A couple Fulbrighters and many of Dan and Juan´s friends from their camp in Maine attended. It was awesome since it was the only of the three where Spaniards outnumbered Americans. For that reason, it may have been one of my favorite. I had the opportunity to celebrate and experience of my favorite holidays away from home with new people who had never had this day of giving thanks. I had some great conversations over great food with fantastic people.
Today was a big day in Global Classrooms (my model UN class). We gave our sixteen kids their country assignments and partners. To my utter surprise, every student was happy with their pairs. Seeing them work together on the matching country exercise was phenomenal. And two of the kids who have more problems with English were the first to finish the exercise with all correct answers (yes, they knew that people in Mozambique speak Portuguese!). My talk about plaigirism and how important it is to write things in your own words prompted one of my students to ask me for my email in case he had questions about what plaigirsm was. A very satisfying class.
This weekend holds a few festivities. My roommate heads off to Moscow, while I prepare for my trip to Barcelona on Thursday. I will write soon! I hope you appreciate the brevity of November since December is coming fast!