I think it’s about time for an update! I apologize, but this is going to be a VERY long post.
Wednesday night, I officially booked a round trip for LONDON! Yayyyy, this will be the first trip I’ve planned all by myself without help from friends/parents/ANYONE. I am going to be traveling there on October 31st and I’ll get back to Santiago on November 4th. I’m super excited for my first solo trip to another country 🙂 Plus, I have a friend who lives in England (he was actually the previous auxiliar at the school I’m teaching at) and he is going to come visit me Friday through Sunday (I am there Thursday to Monday). So, I’ll have a friend/tour guide to hang out with… i.e. I won’t be completely alone in England! Also, I completely forgot that one of my friends from school, also coincidentally named Allison, is doing a semester abroad in London so I will most likely get to hang out with her while I’m there!
There is so much I want to see and so much to do, and I’m excited to plan out my trip and figure out most of the logistics all by myself. Because that’s what adults do, right? Step by step, I’m becoming more independent and more like an adult 🙂
I’m pretty sure I’m going to couchsurf instead of stay in a hostel, because hostels are damn expensive in London! For those of you who don’t know (I didn’t know before this summer), couchsurfing is something a lot of people around the world do, and there is a website specifically dedicated to couchsurfing. Basically you set up a profile on this website and you can host people, find people to host you, or do both so that you can meet people from other countries. Since I’d rather spend my money on doing touristy activities and enterainment/food, I decided I’d much rather sleep on a stranger’s couch than in a hostel. Plus, you can see from someone’s profile how many people they’ve hosted and people write reviews and can recommend hosts that were really good. So, it’s not like a creepy Craigslist ad. I’ll have an idea of what the people are like and it’s pretty safe.
And it won’t be quite like this, but it would be cool if it were:
SECOND THING: Updates on school!
This was my second week at IES Campo de San Alberto and so far, everything has been wonderful. I’ve gotten to know many of the teachers over the past two weeks and they are all so friendly and open and there are several who are really looking out for me and making sure I’m having a good experience 🙂 For example, several teachers have gone out of their way to find me rides to and from school so that I don’t have to spend money on a bus to and from Santiago. The coordinator for the auxiliares program at my school basically told me he understands my salary is “shit” so he even told me that he and others would try to find me private classes for students at the school so that I can make some extra cash on the side. I’ve already posted an ad on a website called “tusclasesparticulares.com” to try to find students, but so far haven’t had much luck. But, hopefully with the help of Vicente (my coordinator), I’ll be able to find some students eager to take private English classes.
So far, the teacher I love the most is Matías. We jokingly call him my Spanish dad (“papá español”) and I am his American daughter (“hija americana”). He treats me just like a dad would. He’ll take me out for a coffee and once when I started getting my money out to pay, he said “Oh noo, my kids don’t pay” 🙂 He also introduced me to this amazing pastry which he calls a “doblado” which is filled with yummy cream. He also gave me a tour of Noia my first or second day there and taught me about “berberechos” (a type of shellfish a lot of people dig for in Noia (he grew up in the town and still lives there). On Wednesday, he even helped me set up a Spanish bank account. AND, I was supposed to go on a nature hike with the 16-17 year-olds on Thursday, but couldn’t find a ride to school, so I let him know that I wouldn’t be able to come. Four hours later, he called me from his home phone to tell me that he’d spoken with some teachers and found me a ride so that I’d be able to go on the hike with everyone. So sweet of him! Oh, and I also found out that he has a 24-year old son living in Santiago, so some teachers and I were joking with him that he could be my father-in-law (“suegro”) if his son converts to Judaism :-p Here’s a pic of Matías!
Another thing related to school is the school planned a “welcome lunch” for the new teachers, which I went to on Friday. I tried pulpo (octopus) for the first time and it actually wasn’t half bad — I didn’t even make a disgusted face when I started chewing on it! I also tried shrimp for the first time (not a fan). Here’s everything that was on the menu:
- Ibéricos (jamón cocido (ham), chorizo (sausage), salchichón (salami), queso (cheese))
- Empanadas de Zorza (empanadas stuffed with a pork, paprika and garlic mix)
- Brocheta de pulpo con langostinos (OCTOPUS, shrimp, and peppers on a skewer)
- Jarrete Estofado de Ternera OR Merluza en Salsa Verde (I had the latter, which is hake — a type of fish I’ve never tried)
- Chupitos de Licor (Shots of typical Galician liquor: 1) Herbal Liquor, 2) Coffee Liquor, 3) Crema de Orujo)
As for the nature hike that I mentioned before, it was a lot of fun, but also a lot of work. I neeeeed to get in better shape! We walked somewhere between 12 and 16 kilometers on a trail in a place called Lousame. We stopped about half way to check out As Minas de San Finx de Lousame (mines that were extremely important and generated a lot of money during the Spanish Civil War, as well as World War II). From what I could understand/what Matías told me, It was the first Wolfram mine in Spain, and Wolfram was an important mineral used to make such things as filaments for light bulbs and other things during the wars. The Germans also got people to basically break into the mines for them and sell minerals to the Germans on the black market, so the Germans benefited from the mine even though it was an English company that owned it.
Anyway, during the 2nd half of the hike, I talked to a few students (in English, of course) and got to know a few of them a bit better. There were a lot of students on the trip, all grouped off into their little cliques, so I mostly hung out with the teachers. It’s weird, because I’m not a student but I also don’t feel like a teacher, so I don’t really know where I fit in. OH, and even though the students aren’t supposed to hear me speak Spanish, I guess they did when I was in the back talking to one of the phys ed teachers, Fran. Woops. Only two weeks in and several of them already know I speak Spanish. I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep the secret for long, but damnnnn, I could have done better than 2 weeks! I’m mostly worried about Vicente getting mad at me for letting them hear me… I’m sure everything will be okay, though.
Some students actually already have a pretty good idea that I know Spanish because on Tuesday night, Vicente made me prepare a Powerpoint presentation on my life in the US and on cultural differences between Massachusetts/the US and Galicia. WHen I came in Wednesday morning, apparently Vicente had “overslept”… (what a LIE), so I had to lead the class all by myself. With teenagers. And it was first period, so of course they didn’t want to be there. Anyway, I went to open my gmail account so that I could download the Powerpoint presentation, and the projector was on at that point, and some of the students were able to see snip-its of some of my e-mails and some of them were sent to Vicente in Spanish. Woops….. I just told them “Nope, I don’t speak Spanish”, but there’s no real way of pretending I don’t speak Spanish after they saw that I’d sent e-mails in Spanish. OH WELL. I plan on only speaking to them in English, so even if they know I speak Spanish, it’ll only be English when we talk!
THIRD THING: Social stuff!
Thursday night, I went to a birthday dinner for a new friend/acquaintance named Carlos, who is from Mexico. About 15 people went (I’d already met about 10 of them — and two of them were my roommates, Marion and Maria). We ate sooooo much. Tortilla española (made with eggs, potatoes, and probably some other ingredients that aren’t as visible), small empanadas filled with something that tasted really good, mozzarella sticks, bread, calamari, costillas de vaca (cow ribs) and salchicha (sausage — I had a bite but didn’t like it), a chocolate cake and chocolate fudge, and at the end, shots of coffee liquor and crema de orujo (although I just sipped on some of the crema de orujo)
The night was fun! But, I was exhausted from the nature walk earlier in the day, so I left at about 12:30 (the dinner started at 10 pm… typical Spanish dinner time!) I don’t know how these crazy kids stay out until 7 a.m on the weekend. I’m such a grandma.
Until next time,