Saturday, January 15, 2011

Emails from October


It's Saturday! And for me today is a day to catch up. The last few weeks have brought a lot of change, and I have been rather busy. But it's all been really good. Still, I've been running around so much this week that today must be about laundry, catch up emails, cleaning my room, and lesson planning.

First of all, I finished my TEFL course! So, now I'm out in the "real world" finding work. I have been running around to interviews, and new teaching hours - my schedule is still no where near being concrete. This is probably the most stressful thing that's going on. I managed to get a job the day after I graduated. It's for three hours a week teaching 4 and 5 year old children. These children do not speak English, are very rambunctious, and i have very few materials to teach them... it's been interesting. I've been pulling things out of thin air to entertain them. (acting like different animals, I made a basic puppet, the hokey poky is golden). I get a work book the week after next, so hopefully that will sort itself out.

Then I also somehow I managed to land a job teaching drama in English to adorable bilingual Spanish children. (or at least some of them are bilingual). The class is twice a week. So far I taught it once, and it went really well. The group seems really great. But teaching drama to students who don't speak the language well? Talk about a challenge! And my boss is counting on me to make the class successful, so if I don't deliver.... I'll feel really bad. It's built in motivation! And I need it, if the stakes weren't high I wouldn't be pushing myself as hard as i am now, and not taking advantage of this opportunity. Like, part of me is really excited about this class, and grateful! Part of me is less than sure, less than excited, (and has a few minor doubts about the job situation, but whatevs). I took it, and I'm glad. It will be good for me. It will tell me if I like doing this teaching drama thing or not, and maybe I'll really really like it! I don't know. But it should help me figure out a couple of things, so, like I said, I'm grateful. What sucks is that this drama job is really far away. It's 20 euros an hour. I teach for an hour and a half, and travel for an hour and a half there and back to get there.... maybe an hour. I'm still figuring out the best way to travel.

Then another academy has hired me for a couple of hours - next week in particular I'm substituting for one of their teachers and will be working at this academy for about 8 hours. Usually, I'll only have two to four hours of my own there. This academy is also about an hour away from where I live... which is difficult.

I have another private class too. And the possibility of a few other private classes. If everything happens, I'll be up to 14 hours a week of teaching. But so far, i have 10. Which isn't bad! It covers my rent, and more... but I want more. It's been definitely stressful getting this schedule thing together. This freelance teaching thing is kind of first come first serve. A company calls me, i go for an interview, They offer me hours. and if the hours fit into my schedule, I take them. And it's a gamble, because a company might offer me better hours tomorrow, or I'm waiting for private classes to pan out... and they might not, but in the meantime I refuse an offer from another company that will conflict. And the travel time! I have to factor that in too, and I didn't, so I had to cancel a job that I got because I found one that is closer. It's no good to spend 3 hours on public transport everyday, which I think is what I'll be doing on Tuesdays at least. The time I spend traveling, is time I could potentially be making money if a company or a private class offers me other hours. I'm trying to make the best decisions i can. But making decisions without weighing all the options isn't something that comes easily for me. And whatever my schedule is, I'm stuck with it until at least December. The drama class I have committed to for the entire year (provided that funding stays and enrollment goes up... sigh. There are so many IFS!)

So that's the work situation. I just have to trust everything is going to be fine. I'm going to let this week do what it does, see if any of these private classes come through, and if not.. I'll send out my resume again and see if I can fill some of the holes in my schedule.

The other big change in my life is that I moved apartments! I'm now living with two awesomely nice, gregarious Spanish girls. They are both fluent in English, which is very convenient. Eventually i'll have them speak more Spanish to me, but for now it's nice to get settled and get to know them. Living with people from the country was a great move. I feel really lucky to have gotten this apartment. Not only do I not have to worry about furniture, internet set up, tv set up, dishes, and all those tiny obnoxious things, but I also get to experience the Spanish culture more! The things they cook, the expressions they use, the history of some places/traditions... it's good stuff. My roommates are a really good fit for me. We are all laid back, caring, mostly clean, (dishes left in the sink is not a problem like it was in my last apartment), and like to have fun. They sometimes like to break out into Spanish song, which is hilarious. And they claim to have a "peter pan" complex... and you know I do as well =) The first day after I moved in, they sat me down and made it very clear that they want this apartment to feel like a second home to me, and that we are like family because none of us have family that lives near by. Aw. I'm so much happier here than I was living with a Chilean stranger.

and seriously, this city kicks ass! It's like a Spanish, a bit more accessible, a bit more friendly, New York City. The amount of bars and Tapas outfits lining the streets! I know at least one part of the city where there are pedestrian street lined with wall to wall restaurants. I made some new friends with more Spaniards, and this one rad girl from Sacramento who has been here for a year already. Oh, and this awesome English bloke too. All of my new friends took me to some of their favorite places in the city. There are so many cool things to do and see here! And to eat and drink! Two of these new friends are intercambio partners (meaning we meet to exchange conversation in English and spanish).

Last Saturday night, I went out with only Spanish and French people. I was the only native English speaker, and my roommate Rene the only one who could speak Enough English to be conversational. We all went out - I wasn't even supposed to go out. Next thing i know I'm in the VIP area of this posh club (the french/spanish b-day boy shelled out 300 euro to go there) Basically open bar. And everyone is chatting in Spanish around me. It was like, the social world i'd know as well as the one i do know had I grown up in Spain! It had a very different vibe. And it was really really exciting. I'm really excited to get to know this place better, and to be able to speak spanish fluently enough to understand everything! (everyone says I'm gunna reach that point in like two months. Already I can go to the store or ask for directions without embarrassing myself.) I'm working hard to learn what i can and reach conversation level. (I spend like, two hours in public trans a day, so learn spanish podcasts are awesome and daily in my life). So yeah, my Spanish is coming along. I'm improving, though the going is slow. The intercambios are fun. I'm currently trying to get a grip on using the past tense... one of them. I still have to teach myself the others. I don't think i'm going to take a course. Maybe a night course? I'll figure it out once my schedule gets more concrete. Hopefully in just a few more months I'll be able to actually hold a conversation and be able to understand what people are saying. It's very exciting. I'm so glad my TEFL course is over. My life was only that and only in English. I feel like in just the last two weeks have I really gotten a taste of what living in Spain is really like.

Overall, everything is really good. This new life of mine is exciting, fun, challenging, and new... but also the same in many ways. I think I was telling someone the other day that when you are living the dream you've been dreaming.... there's a lot more down time than when you are just dreaming about it.

I don't know if I like teaching at all. But I guess that's what this is for? It's going to be hard, and scary teaching so much, and teaching drama long term. But I need this experience - to figure out what the hell else I want to do with my life.

So yeah, stuffs good. A lot of things are aligning here in such beautiful ways.I'm happy here. And with the exception of my ipod touch getting lost last weekend, I've been having rather good luck. And I'm just doing what I can to keep my thoughts positive and attract even more of it.

HOW ARE YOU ALL DOING? It's been so long since an update (sort of my fault, and also how time flies.... I learned how to say that in Spanish today "how time flies"... but I don't remember.)

Last night I had a dream that I was back on Maui for a short time. My mom and my room was really real. I dreamed I had to go back to Spain, and I was not very happy about how long of a journey it was going to be. But I was going to be able to get some of my drama books and costumes (which I really wish I had now!) And I was excited about that.

Oh, and I'm def in Madrid till June. Visa or no. =)

Love to you all!

*kiss* *kiss* (as the Spanish do)


ps. my new address is

Rebecca Narrowe
C/ Vilaamil 10'D
Madrid Spain 28039

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