As my friend Parker so wisely said in her last blog post, when it comes down to it, we are all really exchange students, meaning that school takes up a fair amount of our time and brain-space. Given this, I thought I might share a couple of thoughts included in that space.
First of all, a small disclaimer: I love school. I know, that sounds weird, but I really do. I always have. We took an aptitude test today to judge how prepared we are for Bachillerato (the next step in the Spanish school system), and I scored a 9.6 out of 10. I still don't completely understand what that number means, but judging solely by my friends' responses, it means that I love school. If you aren't a person who feels the same way, definitely take what I'm about to say with a grain of salt.
School here is fantastic! I hate it in the way that everyone does, the "I really don't want to get out of bed today" way, but I usually end up being pretty happy once I get there. Why? I fit in well with my class, I get good grades, and I understand what is going on. I realize that that's an incredibly broad statement, so I'll break down each of those three reasons.
1. I fit in well with my class:
This may be in part due to the fact that my school is really small (there are less than 60 kids in my grade!), but I've been lucky enough to develop relationships with almost everyone I meet. My friends and I tease and annoy each other just like in the US, and I no longer feel embarrassed to ask stupid questions, kindly ask someone to repeat what they just said because I have no idea, or make mistakes with my Spanish. I feel welcome in pretty much every social group, and I frequently change seats in class (when they aren't assigned) to sit next to someone new. People say hi to me in the hallways, even people I don't know (Sidenote: A boy said hi to me today in school and called me by my name and I had no idea who he was, which was a little unexpected).
2. I get good grades
I would attribute this to a combination of a good work ethic and that love for school and learning that I mentioned earlier. I really do work hard in school, and that's become even more important now that I'm no longer in the US, and in a school where the teachers cut me no slack. School is inevitably more fun when you are less preoccupied with how you do on every test, which is what started to happen to me after the first couple of months, when I started to really understand and feel confident in Spanish. This of course leads in perfectly (yes, that was planned), to my final reason.
3. I understand what's going on
This took me awhile, a lot longer than I had expected or hoped, but I can finally say that I kind of, sort of understand Spanish. I still beat myself up over little mistakes and when my responses are long they take me a little while, but I always know what my teachers are saying, and with my friends I only tend to miss the less common slag words. Not only that, but my brain doesn't feel like it weighs a million pounds by the end of the day from spending all of my energy trying to translate every word. Once that stopped happening, school became much easier and much more enjoyable. It's frustrating to know that I'm still not where I want to be with my language skills (and I don't have much longer to improve them), but when I think back to how exhausted and confused I was on my first day of school, I have to say that I'm proud of how far I've come.
I don't know if it's because of the type of person I am or if I just somehow managed to get super lucky, but I really love my school here in Spain. I always feel comfortable and welcome when I'm there, and it has introduced my to my closest friends here, as well as some of my closest friends from both the US and Spain. I'm already sure that my last day is going to be a hard one, and I almost wish that we didn't have break just so that I could spend more time there (that's a lie; I super excited for Christmas break and have been counting down the days of school we have left for the last two weeks).