As I write this, I’m on a bus heading to a five-day festival in a town about an hour away from Granada called Jaén. Festivals are always a good time, and Lord knows that the Spanish don’t need much of an excuse to throw a party. While I’m excited to see the Spanish in full form, I’m also excited for the reason that there are about a dozen people from my 5-week program in Sevilla that are all converging in Jaén. The 12 of us are spreading out between only two apartments, so it’s going to be a bit of a squeeze, but in a good way. I brought a backpack of clothes and things, and then a suitcase that is completely full. “Full of what,” you may ask. One blanket, and one pillow. Bedding is bulky.
I just finished my first week of teaching. It was a pretty easy week. My schedule still isn’t fixed, but it’s getting there. This first week I just went to each class and introduced myself to everyone. There are five different levels I’m working with, so that keeps things interesting. For the two lowest levels I pass out a worksheet with really common phrases like, “how are you?”, “what do you do in your spare time?”, “how old are you?”, etc. After we go through a bunch of questions and the appropriate answers, I draw a star on the board and write a word or number or something at each point. The students have to ask me yes/no questions to figure out what each word means to me in my life. For example, I’ll write “Chris” and the students have to ask me questions like, “Is your sister’s name Chris?” “No.” “Is your mom’s name Chris?” “Yes!” It’s a good time.
For the more advanced classes, I did the star first, without the worksheet, then moved on to stereotypes. I always get the ball rolling by writing the word “Americans” on the board and then having them list a bunch of stereotypes they have about Americans. You never quite know what you’re going to get in response. The usual answers are “Americans are fat,” “Americans eat fast food,” or “Americans play baseball and basketball.” There were a few that I was rather surprised to get though. One was that Americans are rude. This is the first time that I’ve ever heard this from a European. It’s not that I don’t know that there are rude Americans; let’s be honest. But in general, one of the things I pride myself in the most about American culture is that we’re pretty talkative and smiley folks. I displayed my surprise on my face, wrote “rude” on the board, and then turned to the class and asked them if they all agreed with that. The vast majority didn’t agree. That made me feel rather good.
This weekend is what’s called “un Puente,” or “a bridge.” A lot of holidays in Spain are placed on a Tuesday so that everyone has an excuse to take the preceding Monday off as well. So this coming week, due to the fact that I have Fridays off, and owing to the fact that Monday and Tuesday are a holiday, plus my 2:15 pm appointment at the visa office on Thursday, means that I only have one day of school this week. What to do, what to do... Any suggestions?
Speaking of free time, you would think that with all this free time, I would have time to plan ahead for things like good friends’ birthdays, parents’ anniversaries, other important events and dates. While it’s true I have the time, I just don’t quite have the brain for it. This is just how I am. It doesn’t mean that I don’t care about someone, I just happen to be quite incapable of keeping these dates in my little head. Having dealt with this for a while, I’ve come to a bit of a compromise. It makes sense in my head. The way I see it, if I can mail something out at the very latest on the day of someone’s birthday, then it’s ok because it has the postage stamp with the important date on it. And that makes up for the fact that it’s late. It’s not my fault, after all, that the post office takes so many days to deliver a package internationally. Right?
And speaking of birthdays! One final thing I would like to say before I sign off is that this past week was the birthday week of my talented, hilarious, beautiful, and dear friend Sarah! Feliz cumpleaños, joyeux anniversaire, alles Gute zum Geburtstag, and Happee Birfday, Sarah! Check your mail in a few days, lol.