Thursday, September 2, 2010

In the Principality

Hello everyone,
I made it! I got the last boarding call in Chicago, but still made it just fine to Zurich which is a delightful airport. The flight to Barcelona occurred without incident, I got to Barcelona at 2 o'clock, then got the Novatel bus direct to Andorra. This bus held about 20 people, and was about 1/3 full. The nice thing about this bus service is that they drop you at your hotel if you ask them, which is nice, especially when you have luggage. The bag that Jane gave me was super handy because it meant that I could carry two bags on me and just have one to drag along. Anyone who has seen me travel knows that there are always shoes and random things hanging off my bag so, reducing the awkwardness is nice! I walked into my 502 room of El Serch Hotel and was greeted by all four of my fellow fulbrighters which was super nice. Antonio Mendez is my roomate, heralding from NYC from Dominican stock, he went to Colby, then did one year of Teach For America before working for a non-profit called the Posse Foundation. He's the closest in age to me! So far, we are proving to be good roommates. Thongdam is the next, her parents were/are Laotian and she is from the San Francisco Bay area. She went to Berkley, then taught in Oakland for a couple years before working for some sort of academic counseling type thing-I think through her university and most recently a masters in Education from Michigan. Frieda is the next, Frieda is from southern California and also a Berkley grad, did some teaching and then to be honest, I can't remember if she has told me what she did after that... I will have to ask! Amanda is the final member of our cohort. She is from southwestern New York, super out-going which is great because she already knew people by the time we arrived cause she got here early.
Almost immediately, we went to the apartment of some people she had met, an Italian, an Irish dude, a Cuban girl, a guy from Barcelona, a girl from Barcelona and later a guy from Andorra (rare to meet them!) joined us. We went to a lovely dinner-I had a pizza with a tasty crust for 7.50. with extremely sweet sangria and some sort of liquor shots gracies a al casa. The liquor was like anis-liquorice from france but with almost a mint flavor to them. After dinner, we went to a Caribbean club and I attempted to dance despite a) being bad at dancing and b) being super tired! It was fun despite my feeble attempts. Antonio is an impressive dancer so maybe he'll give me some pointers and also... my first impression of cubans was that they are unbelievable dancers-at least if Illena is any example! It was definitely a good time but going to sleep at 2:30 was pretty rough after flying and a summer of getting used to earlier bedtimes. Wow! Spanish... portuguese, French, efforts at Catalan, everything was coming out! haha, the people we met laughed because I just put everything I knew together and hoped. Antonio, Amanda, Frieda, and Thongdam all speak perfect Spanish. When I arrived at the hotel, they were all speaking in Spanish and I was like... oh wow! I'm going to definitely learn some spanish. I feel so lucky because we seem to all get along and are all really excited for this next year.
Okay, this is getting longer than I was planning to write but so far: what have we done? we have gotten lots of paperwork done, started other processes, siestad, and gotten to talk to Jordi Llombart who was/is the contact most directly involved with out lives. We toured around Andorra la Vella and Escaldes-Engordany (really the same town), visited a gym which I think I'll join-95 euros for the whole year! which has a super nice pool, work-out facility and most awesome, a jacuzzi! I also went on a lovely walk around the parish, went to mass where I understood next to nothing but did enjoy a chance to pray and chill.
Jordi is super great, friendly and just a real blessing. Today we learned a bit more about our school and tomorrow we are going to our schools to meet our principals and teachers. We learned that we actually start teaching next Thursday, the day we get back from Madrid, so I may be doing some lesson planning on the train there and back! yikes! I was glad to hear from Jordi that the teachers at my school are overall young, excited, and friendly-plus helpful. This is exciting as it sounds like my students are definitely challenging, ages 13-16 and likely to definitely test limits it sounds like. I am up for a challenge though and I have some great resource people to fall back on. Nothing so far on apartments, we are still looking around, looking for apartments and people who need roommates. we'll see what happens but I trust it will be good. right now we are leaning to try to live 2 or 3 of us together. We'll see what happens, location will definitely play a part as will the places we can find of course. Okay, I'm going to go to bed super early tonight in an attempt to counteract nights of bad sleep. I may try to read a bit, I am wading into the Confessions of St. Augustine which should be a great time. Oh, one other thing, today we got to meet the Foreign minister, secretary of state and director of national affairs (or something like that). Anyway, thought I'd put the link up here in case anyone wants to test their Catalan! Apparently we will be on tv and in the newspaper tomorrow but, I think I'll probably miss the tv thing at least cause I don't really watch it.
Tomorrow will be a high of 75 degrees, low tonight of 45, sunny skies, lots of traffic like always, stores everywhere, gorgeous mountains towering us, foreign languages-but especially spanish and catalan swirling around in the air, first experience with school and teacher, maybe a trip to the resource center, hopefully a trip to the Football Federation of Andorra to inquire about soccer opportunities, and at 6:30 a friendly soccer game between Andorra and Russia at the stadium. Here in Andorra, rugby and basketball are more popular then football but, I'm still excited to watch and hopefully get involved. Saturday morning at 6 am, we depart for Madrid for orientation with the Spanish students so if anyone knows someone going there holler at me! :-)

Peace and love!

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