Lively conversation on the flight over, a beautiful small Spanish village, and the nicest family in all of Castilla and Leon. This has been my experience so far in my first week of the Castilla y León CIEE Volunteer program, and I’d like to tell you about it.
I flew into Madrid on a red-eye flight from JKF, New York. Although I did not rest much on that flight, I chatted up the person sitting next to me and we talked for almost the entire flight. I was very happy to have been able to practice my Spanish before I even got to Spain, and I remember thinking “I must be doing something right if I’m having this much fun before I even get to Spain!”
That initial excitement would prove to be short-lived, though, as my energy levels dwindled upon arriving in Madrid. After meeting the other 12 CIEE volunteers, we all gathered on a bus and drove from Madrid to Valladolid, the capital of the autonomous community of Castilla y León. The director of the primary school where I would be teaching picked me up in Valladolid and drove me through the beautiful countryside of Castilla y León. We passed by farms, wind turbines, solar farms, and the biggest electricity plant in all of Spain. As someone who is passionate about sustainability, I was very happy to see Spain taking advantage of its renewable resources.
As we pulled into the village of Valderas, which looked like a medieval village out of a picture book, my first thought was “wow! How am I going to fit in here?” I’ve never lived somewhere so rural because I’ve always lived somewhere urban. However, any initial worries were soon dispelled by the warm welcome that my host family gave me.
Even though I had texted with the host mother before arriving and she had told me that she had never done anything like this before, she seemed like a pro. She and her husband welcomed me with open arms and helped me unpack. They seemed to sense that I was tired from so much traveling, so they left me alone for the next few hours until dinner time. I am someone who needs and values alone time, so I was very happy and grateful for that. The rest I got that night was much needed too, as the next day I would be introduced to everyone in the school.
As I was meeting everyone in the school, I was overwhelmed with kindness and hospitality. Everyone, from the teachers to the students, was expecting me. All the teachers and faculty helped me find my classes and would check in on me often to make sure that I was where I was supposed to be.
All in all, my first week here in the small village of Valderas has been more than successful. The food is, of course, phenomenal, and you gotta love the tradition of siesta. If I feel like I did not get enough sleep the night before, a siesta is the perfect way to make up for it.
That's all for now. Thank you for reading my blog, and I will be back here in the coming weeks to describe how my private English tutoring is going.