I can’t believe November is coming to an end. With Thanksgiving this coming week, that means only one thing! The holiday season is finally upon us. 'Tis the season! If you have passed by Sol lately, the christmas tree is up, and so are the christmas decorations and market in Plaza Mayor. In about a month, I will be on a flight back to NYC to see my family and friends. While it would be great to spend Christmas and New Years abroad, I am looking forward to going home, spending time with family, and then shopping for things that I need to bring back with me to Spain in early January. Although December is already here, I would just like to take this time to reflect on this past month. November at DVD school has been normal, however one major difference will be the fact that it will be the first year I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Massachusetts with my family. Although I won’t be able to celebrate, I’ll see them in a month so I’m not bummed.
This month my school is trying a new disicpling approach. At recess there are student “monitors”, and then during classes, teachers are focusing on two objectives. Respecting peers and teachers, and then how to respect volume and raise your hands to speak. While it’s semi-successful, discipline in Madrid is much more lax compared to the United States. For the bilingual curriculum, in honor of Thanksgiving, the students will put on plays, read poems, sing songs, and discuss the Thanksgiving feast to celebrate Thanksgiving Day. I have already helped with the decorations, and have completed my Thanksgiving presentation. As soon as Thanksgiving is over, we will immediately switch our mind set to Christmas, and prepare for Navidad at our school. I think it's strange that we are celebrating Thanksgiving in school even though Spain and most of the world doesn't celebrate this holiday. Lastly, although we get out December 20th for Winter Break, I get to enjoy a few more days before my flight on the 24th.
The CIEE online course so far has been fine. I find it much easier to do while simultaneously being abroad. I like my small group of ten or so other students, and the professor is very knowledgeable and helpful. I think my biggest criticism thus far has been the course load. With already half the modules completed, it has been a ton of work and time put in each week. Each module is about five sections with ten subsections and on top of that there’s a make the grade assignment every week and a video conference. Now that I’ve made it halfway through, I feel like they are getting a little easier and more interesting, however it’s still a lot and I often forget about the peer reviewing. Personally I think the peer review isn't that great, I don’t think the feedback is as beneficial as it could be coming from just the teacher. I would much rather have the professors input, that way I wouldn’t have multiple grades and comments to read over.
In terms of budgeting, it has been okay. I have done the calculations and broken down my monthly spending. Since my housing is more than expected, it takes out half of my monthly earnings, however, aside from that, I am doing well with my food and traveling budget. Everything is a learning experience and it’s all getting much easier to manage. So far, aside from rent, my only recurring payments are the 20 euros for the abono joven metro card and then 15 euros for my monthly vodafone sim. Starting December, I am going to open a 6 month gym membership, because I can get a good one time deal, and the gym is also only a block away from my house. Hopefully, that will motivate me to stay active and then have a ripple effect so that I would also start to eat healthier again.
Finally, remember how I said the christmas tree and lights were up? Well, yesterday I went with two of my flatmates, and it was great but crazy crowded. Although nothing compares to New York at christmas time (yes I’m biased), it was a great sight to see and I’m glad I got to check out the market and take some memorable photos with some good friends.