My first few days in Spain

Authored by:
Julia T.

Julia T.

Oh wow, if I could give myself a list of things to do differently I would have. The first 48 hours in Spain have come and gone and the journey continues. There have been so many emotions during this time it is truly hard to pick which one is the most prevalent. However, this has been one of the best decisions I have ever made!

 So, my reader friend, I think it is best to start with a timeline to introduce myself so anyone who follows this blog can get an idea of me!

My name is Julia and I am from Grosse Pointe (Detroit), MI! I was born in Chicago but moved to Michigan when I was young. I have two sisters, my parents, and a lot of cousins! I graduated in December, 2021 from Michigan State. This was a semester early then my felloe peers and I studied Human Resources and have a background in public policy.

I decided to take part in this program for a few reasons..
1) Part of me has always wanted to be a teacher. I did not care for the education program at my university so I decided not to study it, but I enjoyed tutoring growing up and being a camp counselor.
2) I always thought it would be so neat to teach abroad and live in a foreign country to experience a completely new culture.
3) Due to Covid-19, I was never able to study abroad and because I finished University early, I decided this would be the best way to combine everything I have wanted to do into one place. I was over the whole “college” life and ready to do something different and truly life changing… I want to have more growth
So… here we are. I am currently sitting in “la Biblioteca Público Del Estado En Palencia” with no WiFi and probably about to use all of my data, but just more or less ready to have time to reflect.

First things first... time to look back! 

January 16th
I was in London with my Dad for a while for a little vacation/ trip. My Dad had left the day before so I spent the morning packing and then going to Heathrow for my flight to Madrid. Heathrow was very large and a bit intimidating. However, after finding my gate I was able to relax for a little bit and then boarded the flight. My plane was a normal 3x3 as I like to refer to them but there were only about 20 or so people on board. I read Harry Potter, had some charcuterie, and a drink to help the hour and a half go by quickly. Upon landing in Madrid I had to quickly start to pick up on some Spanish to get through the border and health check. The signs were there and because I am not a member of the EU I had to follow arrows on the floor to the passport check. This was the fastest part as no one else was in line at this time of night and they just swiped it and I pulled my mask down. After this was a quick train ride and some escalators to the health check where they scan your QR code, baggage claim, grab a taxi, and then I was off to the hotel! I was a little sad I got there right when the pool was closing but it was okay. I had some chicken for dinner, took a shower, and then watched some of my favorite Spanish show on Netflix, Elite. Then it was right into bed!
January 17th
Today was a quick morning: repack, shower, eat breakfast, get a taxi from the front of the hotel, and then off to the terminal at the airport to meet the group. It was a little hard to find everyone at first, but they were all there! We had a snack and then took the bus to Valladolid (about 3 hours with a stop in between) where we all stayed in a hotel. I was in a room with Katie and we went on a brief walk before meeting up with the rest of the group for a walking tour of the city. It was beautiful! We are in northern Spain so it was a bit cold but it was so much seeing a new place. After, we had dinner around 20:30 (very late for Americans) but the drink and tapas at 19:00 held us over. For dinner we had gazpacho and chicken wings (they wanted to give us American food) and then as we were all exhausted, it was off to bed.
January 18th
The big day! Easy breakfast at the hotel, packed up, and then we walked to a Junta de Castilla y León training center. The morning was filled with lessons on safety in Spain, a call with the embassy, meeting people from our respective towns that we would be in and a few lessons and classroom ideas. After, we had lunch with our town representatives and then off we went. I was picked up by Marta (department head for English at my school) and her husband. My town is about 45 minutes north of Valladolid and the drive was beautiful. My host family could not host me until Saturday due to Covid-19 so I am currently living with Sonia. She is a PE teacher and is wonderful! Marta took me to her apartment and it is right near an athletic center. I unpacked and then Sonia and I went across the street to play tennis for about two hours. It got a bit cold so we went back to shower and change, drove to the river to see more tennis courts, and then to Aldi! I love to cook so I made Sonia dinner and we ate around 23:00 and then went to bed.
January 19th
This was yesterday! My first day at secondary school. It was so overwhelming, but it was so worth it. I work with the bilingual students so I am doing four hours of English classes, four hours of History classes, four hours of PE, three hours of Spanish class (two of them are private), and on Thursdays I sit in on two “Bach” classes (older students… The US equivalent is junior and senior year) that are for English. It was hectic I won’t lie, but I now have a feel for the school which is helpful and have gotten a better idea on what I am going to need to prepare. Everyone is so nice and coffee helps a lot. School was done at 14:15 so I went back to Sonia’s apartment and had some lunch, called my mom, and relaxed for a bit. I started to work on my first English lesson for the first and second year students, and added on more parts for the older students. At 17:00 I walked to the school to meet Mar and her son and we drove up to the Christ statue which had an amazing view. After, we took her son to the park and we walked around the downton so I could get Euros and stamps. Back to Sonia’s after and I made dinner and we chatted but I went to bed much earlier.
January 20th
So it is the day I am on now. It has been a journey. The students look at me like I am crazy and whenever the “profes” ask if I have questions the answer is always no… just like the United States. Today I worked on lessons and sat in on two of the “Bach” English classes. After the coffee break (where I had the best tortilla), I walked to the library and started to work on this. I did get distracted, so I left and went around the main strip, and bought my current host a gift. I went home, played some tennis, and am now back again on Sonia’s couch finishing this up.
I know that I just gave a very straightforward first piece, but here are some of my upcoming ideas!
1) First week in Palenica
2) How I am crash learning Spanish
3) What to expect when you are a volunteer 
4) What my host family is like
5) What my lessons have been about
6) How to make friends abroad when you don’t speak the language 
7) What I am teaching 
8) How to meet up with the other volunteers
It has been a crazy and hectic few days, but I am so glad I am here and cannot wait to grow as a teacher, Spanish teacher, and person!


(ps- I hate proofreading so I do apologise if there is a typo) 

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