On Friday I finished my first week of TESOL training and practice teaching. After only two days of class, we began to teach real students (i.e. they´re paying their hard-earned money for us to educate them). They´re hilarious. They know a LOT more than I expected but sometimes they come up with the craziest things. My class was brainstorming a list of vocab words that are associated with the countryside. They were things like flower, tree, field, etc. until one student suggested “outlaws.” I almost peed my pants.
Teaching is way more complicated than I expected. Not only are there lesson plans to create out of nowhere and ways of arranging the topics you need to cover, but you also have to pay attention to learning styles and cultural differences and even your own language. My brain usually hurts by the end of the day.
Our days are long, from 10 to at least 7 and sometimes later, so that Rachel and I go home tired on the Metro and stop for bread just in time to get home and make dinner. Luckily, Mae, our Mexican roommate, often feeds us with the creative dishes she comes up with. We drink a lot of beer.
Wine costs about $3 here so as a result, it is plentiful here. We subist on wine, cheese, and fresh bread, with a coffee or two thrown in for good measure.
It rained a few days last week and made me feel better. The sun, the heat, and the palm trees were getting oppressive. It’s hot in Chicago but I’m used to rain and clouds and the occasional breeze. I need variety, dammit!
Luckily, we finally had a break during the weekend, and because it’s the patron day of some saint or virgen or other (even the Spaniards can’t keep track of the holidays) we have a three day weekend. On Friday we wanted to celebrate our first week of class by going out for a Chinese dinner at a place just around the corner. When my chicken came, one of the pieces seemed unusually soft and pliable. When I cut it open, I realized it was completely raw. We sent our food back and watched as the waiter yelled at the cook. When the food came back, it still seemed a little less cooked than I prefer. I ended up with a plate of cut-open pieces all pushed to the side. Rachel found a hair in her tofu. We will not be going back there.
So instead we went downtown and sat at a bar, watching people go by and playing 123 He´s Yours. (awww gilmore girls!) We walked all the way home, which we estimated at half an hour but which really took an hour and fifteen minutes. Awesome.
We spent Saturday at the beach. Or rather, we tried to spend Saturday at the beach. We couldn’t find the right train and then the one we found was half an hour late and it wasn´t until we were on it that we realized that it wasn’t going to stop where we wanted it. We got off in Sitges, a nearby beach town known for its homosexual patrons, and spent a couple hours wandering around until we caught a train back to Garraf, another beach nearby but much prettier. Garraf was much less crowded and had a view of the mountains surrounding it. The water was perfect and the sand was soft. They had boats you could rent that were like large paddleboats with a slide on them, so you could paddle out into the Mediterranean and then just slide into the sea. We had fun for about twenty minutes until we spotted a giant jellyfish swimming by and then decided not to risk it anymore. We went home a little sunburned and smelling badly, but it was a welcome escape from crowded Barcelona.
Saturday night Rachel and I went on a search for salsa dancing. Unfortunately, everything I heard about Spain having a lot of Latin influence is not true. Everyone I talked to said, “Salsa? Oh, no…aqui no hay nada.” We wandered around for a little while and eventually found a place that played Shakira-esque salsa pop, but it soon turned to techno so we moved on. We got home at 6am. We’re truly Spaniards now. 🙂
So I guess my first weeks have passed successfully here, though I still feel homesick and don´t feel a connection to the city. Perhaps it is because there are so many tourists, or maybe it is because I know I will only be here a little while, but either way, I wish I could love it more.