Long time no blog post! Time really flies when you’re in Spain, but it’s strange. While the days are passing by very slowly, two of the nine months I’ll be here have already flown by. I can’t believe it’s already November? Being in Spain is feeling a lot like a semester away at Uni. Come late December, I will be on a flight back home to New York to see family and friends for the holidays.
Since my last post, I have experienced a whole month as an Auxiliar at DVD in Valdezarza. First, I would like to give a shoutout to my bilingual coordinator, the other faculty members, the other auxiliary assistant, and the new friends that I’ve made here in Madrid. Without an established support system, I feel that my short time in Spain could have been much more difficult in terms of my mental state of mind. I'm so glad that I get along with the other aux, we even went to our first La Liga matches together. We watched Real Madrid play Legánes, and destroy them 5-0... but that's to be expected when a top seed plays the last place team.
Secondly, I would like to share some words of wisdom, and advice. While the first month has been amazing, the education system here is quite different. So far the kids are great, and while they are eager to learn, after a month you really start to understand how underappreciated and paid teachers are in society. The amount of work they do, teaching, discipling, and leading… it requires real patience and flexibility especially with students with disabilities. I think the biggest challenge I've come across in this first month has been how to discipline universally and not call out individual students. It’s very obvious who the trouble makers and class clowns are. The way discipline in Spanish schools work is far more relaxed than in the United States. For example, there's a lot more “play fighting”, and students are very loud and nosy when it comes to grading. They often aren't afraid to share their grades, and while in the US we keep our grades to ourselves most of the time, it's obvious to everyone who are the unfortunate kids doing poorly in school, since no one keeps their business to themselves.
Simultaneously, while I’m teaching, tutoring, traveling, and playing sports, I've enrolled in CIEE's Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Course. While it's a ton of work, and a lot has been repetitive, I think this is definitely the right time for me to take it, however I am still questioning if it'll all be worth it in the end. Sometimes I wonder if it will be a waste of money and time... irregardless, I am going to finish what I have started, but I hope it will all be a rewarding experience in the end.
Thirdly, this past Thursday was Halloween. All of last week I presented to all the grades on Halloween, and how it differs from Día de Los Muertos in México. I showed clips from Coco, and age appropriate Halloween themed kids movies and songs. Even though most of Spain doesn’t celebrate Halloween, I liked that the school had a haunted house and party where the kids could all dress up and get candy. The event reminded me of the Halloween fairs my old middle school would have for us.
Lastly, because Halloween fell on a Thursday, we had a four day weekend. With a few extra days off, I decided to book a solo day trip to the cities of Toledo and Segovia. While I had been to Toledo 8 years ago, it truly was a pleasure to go back. However, the biggest highlight for me was Segovia, since I had never been, and I wanted to see the famous aqueduct in person. It was so amazing, and I am very glad that I did it. One of my regrets when I studied abroad in Italy, was the fact that I didn’t do as much domestic traveling. So, now that I have more time in Spain, I definitely have started a list so I can see as much as Spain as I can. Currently, my bucket list consists of Asturias, Málaga, País Vasco-Bilbao, Valencia, and Alicante. If I have to make those trips alone, so be it, because in the end it'll be worth it.