Since I last wrote I am happy to say I FINALLY got my missing bag. It took two days for it to be safely returned to me, but I am still filing a claim to get reimbursed for my shopping the day before at Primark. It turns out my bag never left JFK airport. Regardless of someone messing up, all is good again. The first day of orientation was tough. The jetlag game was strong, and we had to get up at like 7:30AM for a free breakfast. Word of advice, don't miss the breakfast, it's really good and you only have it paid for by the program for the first four days of orientation. Additionally, if you don't eat during the breakfast time, you will not be eating again for like 4-5 hours.
The orientation did a lot of things right but there was a lot that I found repetitive and unproductive. Since CIEE is also a study abroad and semester abroad company, it was very obvious that us post graduates were getting the how to not be stupid americans lecture about the night life scene. We are all over 21... while it was good to state, it was said multiple times within the same day, and it was time that could have been spent doing other things that I felt weren't really emphasized. For example, we discussed a lot about safety at bars, when I felt we could have spent more time on the T.I.E. and Metro Abono Joven appointments.
Within the four days of orientation, I was on top of my shit for the most part. First day in, I set up my Vodaphone simcard and created a Spanish number for myself. When you do this, make sure your WhatsApp number is still your american number. While it doesn't really matter if you change it, it's easier when communicating home. If it wasn't already obvious, parents these days are notoriously bad at technology so make sure you set up WhatsApp for them and give them the tutorial before you leave. Let's be real, no one really "skypes" anymore. Why skype when there are so many other applications providing the same video and voice chat services.
After setting up my phone, the rest of the day was dedicated to Health & Safety guest talks. All of them were pretty self explanatory but the iNext Insurance talk was very important, as it helped me with my claim for lost luggage. Pay attention to the health benefits and how you will be filing your claims abroad. Remember certain things that are preventative aren't covered. After that, there was a guest speaker for mental health, basically the equivalent of a suicidal prevention service that is available to us to get therapy if needed. While these were all important I found the representative from the U.S. Embassy my favorite. She not only had my dream job, but she was the best speaker in my opinion. She was the one you would go to see in emergency scenarios like lost passports, and other important documents. To top off the evening of the first night, we went to Sol, learned how to buy metro passes, and then saw a Flamenco show while drinking Sangria. Following the show, my orientation group went to the top of El Corte Inglés for a 360 rooftop view of Madrid, and then to the classic El Tigre for tapas.
The following day was a lot of time spent with our Orientation Groups. Shoutout to Group 12 for being amazing these past few day. This day was all about our role as Cultural Language Assistants and a representative from Banco Sabadell discussed how to open an account. It ended pretty early, and then we had some free time until a walking tour later that evening of your prefered barrio. The day after that, Thursday, the last day, we discussed our teaching aids, and what the schools are like for different grade levels. I found out we have 4 sick days, no paid leave, and we have to make up the days we miss before the school year ends.
That evening we had the final dinner to end orientation, however I never went. I skipped it to make my debut playing 7V7 Women's Soccer with La Liga Feminina Fulanita de Tal. While I scored two goals, and loved playing soccer again, I loved the team and the team dynamics. I deff think I made a new group of friends and can't wait to continue to play with them. I look forward to the season which is September to May. From practices once a week at El Parque La Elipa to playing games at Madrid Rio, I can't wait for the season to begin!
NEXT POST: HOUSE HUNTING, T.I.E. PREPARATION, & LIFE ON YOUR OWN AFTER ORIENTATION