Sunday, September 12, 2010

Orientation in Madrid and first week

Funny Youtube about Andorra
Here I find myself, Sunday morning on my first weekend in Andorra. It is sunny and beautiful outside, having slept a wonderful nine hours and feeling much more rested. Wheww... Where to begin on catching you guys up.
Last Saturday (4th) we went to Madrid to have orientation with the Spanish fulbrights and it was a truly rewarding experience.It is truly humbling to meet this many people my ages who are doing/have done such impressive things: one is working in Spain's version of NASA, another in genetics, a ton who are teaching but who dream of doing a plethora of different things. Very impressive indeed. We got to Madrid on Saturday late morning, ate some food and then took the mandatory siesta. That evening we walked around in the area we were staying (Colegio Mayor) which is in the university town. It was the first week of school so we got the fortune of getting to watch spanish students getting hazed which they call Noveltat (spelling?). At every meal a few poor dudes would have to get up, sing or do something silly like that. Saturday night we went out dancing and I live in awe of the Spanish propensity for late nights and partying. Returning happy but tired at 5:15 the streets were alive and bustling with people continuing the party on. Whew... I gave my best attempt at Salsa-granted, not all that good... and a ton of other random dances. it was a good time. Sunday was pretty relaxing with a foray into town to explore the park and Placa de Sol again. Really, Monday and Tuesday followed suit so life was pretty good and relaxing. Most of the work sessions during the day were not terrifically helpful to us because they were about the Spanish teaching Assistant's experience which is very different from ours. They work 4 days a week, do not do any teaching themselves-just teaching aides and they teach all subjects. Quite different... I would lie was I to not say that I was a bit jealous but at the same time we of the Andorran delegation were very distinct and proud to be together. I really appreciate our group even more when I saw that all the other groups are so young and not experienced. I am so lucky to have good, experienced folks with me. Meeting everyone was great and I also found three other people who are Christian and are actively pursuing their faith. It is always encouraging to know that people who seek the same Christ are having a similar experience and have someone to share things with. Oh, also, I got to watch Flemenco dancing which was really neat
We came back from Madrid on Wednesday and basically ate and then went to sleep. Amanda started getting sick on Wednesday and has been down and out since. Unfortunately, both Antonio and I woke up this morning with sore throats so we are afraid that we are going down too... ugh. Thursday I went to school after going to the immigration office in the morning. Life started out exciting with a stolen wallet and I got to join two other teachers searching bags for the wallet. Luckily, we did indeed find it which was really good since it was a first year's (about 6th/7th grade) and it was his first year in this middle school. Then in the afternoon I worked on my first class lesson planning, organizing rules, figuring out how I want to arrange my classroom, testing out all the tech. equipment, and just basically settling into my classroom. Then to cap it off I went and got a cafe solo (black espresso) with a couple of the teachers. Between mangled attempts at Spanish with a few words of Catalan and French and English I usually get my thoughts across. I start Catalan classes on Monday though which will hopefully help me differentiate between Catalan words and Spanish words! Later today I also start with my first tutoring.
Right now I have five people who would like to be tutored... honestly I don't know if I can actually do that but I have got one signed on right now, and I'm going to call two others this week and look at times. Right now it's hard because everyone wants to be tutored in the evening but 3 times a week I teach till 5 so by the time I can get back into town it's 5:30 or so at least so I can only do so much. On Mondays I have Catalan lessons in the evening already so that's going to be hard to pack much more in on top of a busy 5 classes of teaching. Also, this first week and next week has been/will be challenging because we are looking for apartments which takes a lot of time. I spent about 4+ hours last week walking, talking to real estate people, looking in the newspapers, and finally visiting apartments. We were hoping to get an apartment with some other people but that seems like it's not going to happen. First of all, it's practically impossible to find apts which are looking for 2 people, secondly, it's hard to find people willing for us to live there for 9 months and finally we don't particularly want to live alone. That's the one bummer here, there are not the number of young people like bigger cities in Spain so it's hard to find people wanting roommates. While our apart-hotel is really nice, I am eager to move out and settle into an apartment which has shelves etc. that I can really unpack and feel a bit "at home". Anyway, once all that gets settled life will be a bit easier to handle and schedules will be a bit more sure. Oh, also, I almost forgot, this Tuesday I am trying out with a football club called Lusitanos. Believe it or not, there are actually two divisions of football in Andorra. To be honest, I'm not sure which one I'm trying out for. I believe all but two of the people who play for this team are Portuguese so... it will be an interesting spin on life in Andorra. Portuguese in Andorra are all immigrants who mostly came in for construction or other related work so they have a definite blue collar rough and tumble image. Anyway, we will see how that goes, if I make it and then if I do, when practices are. But I am hoping that by next weekend to have an idea of what my routines may be like.
Which reminds me, another exciting thing is happening this week. Shelly Slemp is going to come visit me, unfortunately only for a couple days but still very excited. She comes into Andorra late Thursday and will only be able to stay until Sunday night but, heck, I'm still super pumped! :-) I dunno what we'll do yet, we may go to Barcelona Sunday to the Sagrada Familia or something other like that. Really, I have no idea! haha, there much to explore in Andorra because I really haven't done anything so we may just stick here. we'll see what's most desired. But, super pumped. Okay, I need to go now and eat before meeting the 1st person that I am going to tutor. I appreciate your thoughts this week as Monday I start with 1 of 5 classes at 8:30 am which just means that I have to get the kids and do some extra paperwork so increases the chances of me being flustered.
Peace and Love from the Principality

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