One month- Can you believe it?

It’s been one month since I hopped off the bus in Vitoria- Gasteiz and began painting a new canvas in my life. Can you believe it?

It’s all a little surreal. It feels like I’ve been here for months in some respects and others as if I’ve just arrived. 

Plaza Virgin

It’s amazing how much has changed in just one month. I know almost all the Language assistants (auxiliars, as we’re called)  in Vitoria. We’ve created some semi- routines-there’s trivia on Wednesday night and on Thursday night is pintxo pote– where many bars offer 1 Euro beers or wine with a small bite to eat to accompany your drink. It’s a great excuse to go out and hang out with all the other young folk in this town. Fridays and Saturday nights are typically nights we go out too.

My Spanish classes are going well. And I‘m speaking Spanish on the daily. I’m realizing how much I learned last year and I’m starting to grasp/remember more verb tenses but I still have more ground to cover. And Spanish, like most things in life, the more you learn, the more you feel like you don’t know. But poco a poco. It’s all about acknowledging the little things.  I almost forgot the trouble I had to endure to take this class. And be able to check it off my Goals list. 

My students are keeping me on my toes because their level of English is really low. I’m going to have to speak more in Spanish so they can understand basic questions like ” How was your weekend?” meanwhile their is pressure to to keep going in their workbook because they have exams in a few weeks. The truth is my students should be in lower levels but that’s not going to happen, the system seems set up for them to fail because they are not in the right level  and for what ever reason they can’t switch their classes. So the teachers and I will do the best we can knowing the system may just be against us. And I’m reminded of the same issues plaguing Education in California/USA- teaching to tests rather than teaching for comprehension  hat’s another story. Let’s just say, I’m going to learn even more patience and to simplify even more.

This year instead of having conversation classes of 8 and creating my own material, I plan with 5 different English teachers and teach from the various workbooks assigned to each class. The teachers sit amongst the students and I lead the class. So far, I’m enjoying the experience and having a different opportunity from last year.   I’ve now have seen almost all my students twice, between huelgas, strikes and fiestas, holidays I haven’t worked a whole lot. My schedule will remain at 9 hours a week and sometimes less with fiestas and such. They say they don’t want to give me more hours because it’s with lower level English classes and now, I understand what they mean when they say a low level of English. 

My high school in Vitoria- Gasteiz (not the best photo)

I’m enjoying the company of my flat mates  and having folks to talk to in the evenings. Some times we have impromptu meals and always fun and interesting conversations. And I SPEAK IN SPANISH.  For better or worse, my spanish is improving. I really enjoyed living alone last year and having the unexpected opportunity to have a piso, apartment to myself but I know living with flat mates this year is good choice for me (and it’s nearly impossible to have the same flat I had last year in Vitoria- heck I pay the same amount for a room this year as I did for a2 bedroom flat last year). I love how my English flat mate is often game for exploring the city or cooking together. Aside from eating and roaming the city, I already experienced another perk, a spontaneous road trip  with my Mexican flat mate, Sergio. We spent the weekend in Toulouse and checking out a medieval city an hour away by day and partying by night to celebrate a friend’s birthday. I can get used to spontaneous trips. 

I look forward to what tomorrow brings.

I’m happy for all that’s happened in the last month and I look forward to what next month brings. As curious as I am to know…. because I just  want to jump ahead in my book of life, I’m enjoying the experience.

Has your last month surprised you? Are your curious about how the next few months of the year will go?


22 thoughts on “One month- Can you believe it?

  1. The next few months are totally up in the air for me but I have started listening to Spanish podcasts again as I have a feeling I will be speaking Spanish fairly soon.

    • I’ve been trying to listen to more Spanish podcasts and watch TV. SO if you have any suggestions or favorites, let me know : )

  2. Its so great to hear that things are flowing along for you. My last month hasn’t been pleasant, unfortunately, In fact, it’s been down right tumultuous and nightmarish.

    But if there is anything I can take out of this past month, it would be going back to basics. It’s like everything that has happened to me thus far, happened to bring me back to reality… to remind me of what is important and what I really want… instead of just settling. I’m just keeping my eyes and ears out for opportunities at the moment.

  3. La suerte que tienes! Well, I think when I first arrived in Spain as a student in 1986 a lot less people spoke English there and in fact Americans were not very popular. It was a trial by fire and in about 3 months I was much improved. By the end of a year, comfortable (but then I had a boyfriend who didn’t speak English so that sped my learning along). It will come and as I’ve told you before, you have been given a wonderful gift to have this experience! I love to see how much you are enjoying it and taking advantage of it. Abrazos y cuidate!

    • I know if I keep speaking and practicing all be a lot better by the end of the year… and yes, having a boyfriend would help me improve fasters. Ya veremos…

  4. We’re at the 1.5 month mark, so we’re pretty close to you in terms of newness! I’m really impressed at your Spanish! We’re starting our French and Dutch lessons next week…fingers crossed! As for our first month here, we read all about the expat woes so that we would be prepared, and I think that’s helped us to appreciate things more, so it’s been fun! Good luck on the exams!

    • Thanks chica. Sometimes it’s hard to know how much I’ve improved and how far I have go go but patience and practice is key.
      You’re taking two new languages at the same time? Wow!
      Congrats on 1.5 months!

  5. Sounds great Lauren, your positive energy leaps off the screen! well done on your Spanish, it’s really scarey to use a new language so I think you’re doing great, and the rewards will be well worth it! 🙂

    • Ah thanks Sarah. I always love reading your comments.
      Some days I stop myself and remind myself of all the little things I’ve done in a day or a week… sometimes I just expect to much of myself.

  6. You went to Toulouse! I studied abroad there spring 2009. It is such a beautiful city. And I’m pretty sure the medieval city you visited was Carcassonne! I visited it as well.

    Enjoy the Basque Country! Never been to Vitoria but I did visit Bilbao and San Sebastian.

    • Toulouse was nice! Hoping to write about it soon! I did visit that town!

      I definitely will be enjoying my year here!

  7. My last month has been surprising because, even after five years, I’m still undergoing transitions! One month under my belt with a new set of students, four weeks of a master’s in Spanish, one month of testing out a new change of lifestyle. So far, all good!!

    • SOunds like you’re in for a busy year full of possibilities and newness.
      I think it’s great that after 5 years in a new place, you can still have new experiences and be in a transition.

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