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Wow. It’s been quite the week. Never thought teaching could be so exhausting.

I began work this past Wednesday at my private, catholic school in the south of Madrid. After one transfer and a 40 minute metro ride from the city center, I arrive every day a little bit before 9AM. It’s strange having to get used to waking up before 10AM (or later) every day. This past week has taken a little getting used to. It’s like I’m back at Cheverus, except at the front of the classroom now – and not just to present an assignment. The dress code at my school is rather similar to my private, catholic high school where I spent four years of my life. Skirts / dresses to the knees, dress shoes, no low cut shirts, no jeans, no tank tops and no super tight clothing. I may have had to make a couple purchases this weekend to find proper pants to wear to school. Never thought I’d be back in a dress code – at least not for awhile.
My school days consist of me attending English, Science or Art classes with different teachers (whom the students call – TEACHER! TEACHER!). The classes have been quite hectic – whether it’s because I’m a new teacher or not, I don’t know. The teachers seem to have to constantly remind the children to “shut up” in order to get anything done in class.

It’s quite strange being thrown into this teaching situation. I have tutored children and adults in the past, but not in the same setting. I feel so unprepared for this coming year, but I’ll just take it day by day and see how it goes. The teachers have thrown me into teaching by giving me their workbooks and allowing me to lead the class. The children have to listen to my “proper” pronunciation of the English language and make sure they understand.

I have some keener’s in my classes who I have already taken a liking to; it’s hard not to chose favorites right from the start. My first day I was introduced to all the class levels: primarias to secondarias (ages 7-18). I spoke with the high school aged kids and got them to ask me questions after I told them about myself. It wasn’t as bad as I had thought it was going to be, but I still prefer the younger children. Some don’t care too much about speaking English, but others really want to learn – or at least know things about me.

When I was introduced to the class the children were told that I understand / speak no Spanish. Horrifying. I don’t know what it is, but when it comes to being known as an American I become very self conscious. The last thing I want to be known as is an ignorant American. Coming to Spain to teach English and being introduced as not knowing any of their native language KILLS ME. The children probably don’t think about it like that, but at the same time it’s too weird for me to pretend not to understand the children when they speak Spanish to me 😦

My favorite question two questions this past week were: How old are you? and Do you like the music of Justin Beiber? When I told the kids how old I am – their answer was priceless: Que jovennn! (How young!) Yep. Strange coming from 10 year olds.

Since I’m banned from speaking any Spanish at my school I have found this website: conversationexchange.com It’s been pretty cool since I’ve been able to meet some Spaniards and practice my poor Spanish compared to their “intermediate” English level which puts me to shame. I’m envious of everyone who has studied a second language since they were young. I really hope to feel extremely comfortable with the language (especially the Spanish accent) by the end of 2010. I’m still getting used to the Spanish here compared to the South American Spanish I’m so used to hearing.

I did have plenty of practice speaking with some locals last night when we went out on the town. My first real night experiencing the Spanish nightlife. A group of us adventured to find the bar, El Son – a salsa bar that was extremely packed. It’s amazing to see how many people are out in the center so late at night (and almost all the bars we passed by were full with lines out the door). This city is huge and I am in love with this culture. The music is magical and sexual all at the same time.

The weekend night life in this city (at least for our group of friends) usually starts off at a friends apartment with some drinks before heading out on the town. By the time we leave the apartment it’s usually around 2AM – and that’s just the beginning. The metro shuts down at 1:30AM and reopens at 6AM, therefore the nightlife continues till the wee hours of the morning waiting for the cheaper ride back home. This weekends adventures is to make it to 6AM so we can have “churros con chocolate” for breakfast at 6:30AM near Asya, Dan & Simon’s apartment. I should really start a check list of all the things we’ve accomplished (yes, this is an accomplishment) this coming year!
To say the least it’s going to be an interesting year in Madrid. I can’t wait to share more stories and more cultural experiences. And I guess we’ll just have to see where this year takes us . . . or better yet: vamos a ver donde nos lleva el año. Besitos y abrazos de Madrid!

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This entry was posted in: Travel

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I'm a native of Maine, currently living and working in Portland where I write about my favorite travels and new experiences. I have been published on various travel blogs as well as have collaborated on writing projects with companies such as the travel search engine Hipmunk and Spanish hotel chain Bahia Principe. When I'm not writing, I enjoy being on the ocean, sipping tasty wines, waking up to strong coffee, and sharing all these things with my friends. You can follow my writing at www.nativeofthenorth.me

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