As my time here is coming to an end, I’ve been thinking: what have I learned about this experience? What will I miss most about Spain? What will I not miss? Or will I miss this at all? Undoubtedly, I will. Some of it, at least.
But first, what have I learned?
Apart from having gained amazing experience in teaching, one of the things I’ve learned is that no matter where the world takes you, no matter the culture, education gets you ahead. It is the same everywhere in the sense that it is encouraged, it is vital, it is a very powerful tool. The yearning for learning is very much alive in these children (maybe they’re just a bit lazier and not pushed hard enough by their parents, but they’ve been really good kids). My experience has been unique because I was thrown at it with no formal training at all — it’s been very raw — and I have had to learn some things on my own because most of these teachers for some reason thought that I was already a teacher. Yeah, that’s part of the charm of Spain: disorganization.
Still, I keep learning. I have learned so much more about the Spanish culture; having visited about 20 regions—and counting—you may feel like you already know Spain like the palm of your hand. Working with Spaniards has made this whole experience a lot better and more Spanish (compared to the first time I lived here). Also, the time I’ve been living here, I always wanted to be surrounded by locals. I always wanted to go where the locals went. What is the point of mingling with tourists from my country? I mean, sometimes it is fun. But I came here for a reason. I wanted to emerge in the culture as much as possible, and it has paid off.
The history of Spain still fascinates me. I work with people who are full of knowledge…although most of them haven’t been to as many regions as I—a non-Spaniard—have, but they are knowledgeable of their country’s history (and may I add, very patriotic) and they have passed along some of that knowledge to me. The principal assistant, with whom I carpool, has been like the “Spain Bible” to me; she knows absolutely everything, from wine to places visit, to history of the smallest towns. I’ve learned a lot from her.
I’ve learned about the country’s geography and its climate. For example, I can tell you that the south will be an inferno in the summer. How do I know that? Because it’s only May and Ciudad Real, which is not even deep in the south, is hot as hell right now, at almost 2AM! Geographically, I love Spain because most of its boundaries are the ocean. It is a giant piece of land on water. (I’m really trying to keep this elementary.) You can find a beach in Spain in any of the cardinal points and of course they have the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean and Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean. That’s pretty cool for its citizens—there’s always that option to easily move to an island to escape la rutina.
Those are some of the things I’ve learned. Now on to what I will miss the most. Or should I list what I will not miss first? Yes, here it goes.
I will not miss:
- Ciudad Real
- Banco Santander
- Spain’s customer service system
- La bendita Siesta Time!
- Mercadona’s theme song
- Talking and watching Fútbol (soccer) 24 hours a day
- The neighbors slamming their door, day in and day out
- The apartment’s paper-thin walls
- My Flintstones’ mattress
- The bathroom faucets
- My cell phone company, Vodafone
- The washer
- Carpooling (too tight of a ride!)
- Not being able to take the trash down until past 7PM
And now what I will miss:
- Living abroad
- My students
- The good times spent here
- Spain’s tipping system
- The plentiful and cheap good wines
- The easy cheaper weekend travels
- Mercadona’s cheap, good-quality groceries
- The restaurants and tapas bars!
- Madrid’s nightlife, Sevilla, and the Mediterranean Sea
- Shopping at Sfera and all the chic inexpensive lines
- The mostly-quick Renfe rides
- Transportation punctuality and efficiency
- The relatively pleasant weather
- Leaving work at 2PM
- The crazy amount of holidays and days off!
I’m sure more will be added to these lists as I continue my life here, because I’m not done yet! 😉