I’ve officially been in Spain for a little over one week. I can honestly say that I am more in love with this place than I have ever been in my life. Those of you who know me best knows that is a lot of love! I finally feel settled into life here because I have moved into my apartment and started my job at the school. Things have really fell into place for me and I can’t imagine life not living here.
First thing is first, I love my job here already! I only work Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays for about four hours each day, super relaxed schedule (and a four day weekend ;). The teachers have been very nice and welcoming. I work with four teachers. Two of them, are considered English teachers at the school. The other two, are considered Arts and Crafts teachers. However, the two art teachers both speak a decent amount of English. I help with English classes and Arts and Crafts because Arts and Crafts is taught in English because it is a creative way of helping the kids learn, which I absolutely love because it makes it fun for everyone. The kids are so awesome, cute, and funny. My first few days of work consisted of me answering questions like” “How old are you?” “What’s your favorite color?” and my personal favorites, “Are you married?” and “Do you have kids?” I got to describe Kansas and disappoint them that I do not live close to “Nueva York” and answer many questions about the U.S. The school has such a relaxed and fun environment. At the beginning of school, during recess, and at the end of the day, the office plays music through the speakers! The kids really love it and they dance coming into school and leaving. It’s so much different than school in the United States.
During recess on Friday, one of the English teachers named Ana asked me to go surfing with her and her boyfriend. At first, I didn’t really know how to react because I have never been surfing before and I didn’t know her that well. I thought about it for five minutes and decided that an evening on the beach sounded better than sitting in my apartment. And I am really glad that I went. I got to know Ana and her boyfriend really well. She speaks very good English because she worked in England for one year and she is trying to get her boyfriend to learn so I got to help him in the process. We went a beach close to Vigo, Spain called Playa de Patos. ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL!! I now know what people mean when they say that Spain has the best beaches. I took many photos but they don’t even do the scenery justice. Surfing was interesting. I obviously did not have a wetsuit or board like Ana and her boyfriend but we found a place where I could rent them and it was only 10 Euros. Very cheap! It was a great experience, and surprisingly surfing wasn’t as scary as I had anticipated it to be. I wasn’t anywhere near to standing up on the board but I finally started to get the hang of swimming out on the board and getting past the waves crashing on the shore. I am going to try and go more throughout the winter because the beach is less busy and it will give me something to work towards and keep me busy, a new hobby.
This week I have also spent a lot of time getting to know my roommate, Marta. She is awesome and I love her. I am happy that I decided to live her because we like and dislike a lot of the same things. Throughout the week, we have spent time to ask one another questions and get to know each other better. Sometimes communicating is hard, because my Spanish needs a lot of work, but I am slowly getting there. Over the past year, I can definitely tell how much vocabulary and verb forms I have forgotten since my classes have ended. I have a lot of trouble with the Gallego language because it is Spanish and Portuguese mixed together. Nonetheless, Marta is very, very patient with me and I appreciate her for it. She encourages me to watch TV with her because it will help me to listen to the movies and TV shows. This week we watched “Gran Hermano” which is Spain’s “Big Brother.” It was very dramatic, but I enjoyed it!
Yesterday was hard for me and I don’t really know how to explain it. It just hit me that I am very far from home and things are so different here as far as schedules and obviously the language barrier. I am still trying to get adjusted to the idea that I am going to be here for awhile. Not in a bad way. I am still in a vacation mode type of mindset and I still have government paperwork to be working on since I am considered an “extrañjero.” I plan on getting that done this week so that I don’t have to worry about it anymore. However, Marta could tell that I was not feeling well and talked to me about it. She even brought me chocolate home when she got off work!
Today she took me with her and her friends hiking in a place called “Pozas de Melón.” It was like a fairytale. There was beautiful, green moss on all the rocks, the clearest water I have ever seen, and tall trees everywhere. It is a 16km hike which is about 9.5 miles, more or less. It was a great way to unwind after a long and busy week. I got to meet Marta’s friends who were all very welcoming of me in their friend group and I got to practice and listen to Spanish all day which was good for me. Marta is determined to give me a real Gallego experience while living here and I can already tell that this is happening.
Many people that I have met sometimes cringe when I tell them that I am living in small town Salvaterra, but I honestly wouldn’t want it any other way. I am afraid that if I was to live in a city and commute everyday that I would not be living out of my comfort zone, because in the cities many people speak English. Here, I am forced to speak Spanish and to push myself into situations that I would not in the city. I have already met so many locals by just going to the bars and having a coke or glass of wine in the evenings. I get to talk with locals and meet the bartenders and ask them about life in Galicia. I was so frightened before I came here because I didn’t know if I would like it but Salvaterra really has become home for me. I get sad just even thinking about having to go back to the U.S. I love the way of life, the people, the kids, and the places because they are all very beautiful. I know that coming here was the best decision I could have made instead of going to graduate school right away. In one week, I have already been able to learn more and more about myself and I look forward to the personal growth that is coming in the future.
Love and miss you all!