Okay, so today was the first day of school. I got up at 7 a.m. and first of all let me tell you it's super dark at 7 a.m. and I did not like it one bit. Luckily, daylight savings is coming soon, so it will be lighter for awhile in the morning, but then of course darker in the evening. :( You can't win. Anyway, I left my flat at 8:10 a.m. and walked to the nearby metro station and by nearby, I literally mean like a minute walk. Then, I had to get off at a stop that is two stops away and get on a train to Leganés, where my school is. The train took about around 20 minutes and the ride went really fast. I then had to walk to the school from the train station, which probably took 5ish minutes. Long story short, I planned to be there at 9:15 a.m., but because of all the cushion room that I gave myself, I arrived at 8:45 a.m. It was okay though, because the other auxiliar at my school was there already as well. Her name is Julia and she is from North Carolina. She graduated from UNC with a degree in medical anthropology and Spanish. She's really nice and I'm glad to be working with her this year.
We got a tour of the school, which is really nice. It is very new still, built in 2008, and this is their first year with the auxiliar program, so they are learning at the same time we are. We met our coordinator, the principal, many teachers, and other staff, also, and there is no way that I will remember all of their names tomorrow, but that's okay. I will get it eventually. We sat down with our coordinator, principal, and another woman (I don't know her role..whoops) and they gave us a rundown of the school and the program. We will be working with all first graders (6-7 year olds). There are six first grade classes total, so I will have three and Julia will take three. They had our schedules sketched out on a piece of paper, but it didn't seem finalized so we will get those tomorrow. We only work four days a week, so one of us will have Mondays off and one of us will have Fridays off, which is nice. After that meeting, we went and met four of the classes we will be working with and let me tell you, those first graders are interested in us, but also are loud, which I kind of remember from student teaching. The teachers told us it is very important that we only speak in English and they even told the student's that we don't know Spanish. This is good for the students because it means that they are forced to speak in English; however, it is also a bit difficult for us because it's hard to act like we don't know what they are saying. I accidentally responded a few times in Spanish, but I don't think they caught me. Also, it is very difficult because they know very very little English right now. They had English in kindergarten, but not very much. So most of what I heard today was, "My name is..." and "What's your name?"
This kind of brings me to my next point: the first impression of the differences because primary schools in the U.S. and Spain. First of all, all the teachers go by their first names and the students call them by their first name. I know that there are some schools in the U.S. where the students would say "Miss Andrea" or just "Andrea," but I also feel that our schools are a lot more formal. For example, here the teachers wear casual clothes (including jeans) everyday. I knew that before had, but I didn't realize to what extent and now I am wishing I would have just left the dress slacks at home and brought more jeans. Also, the schedule is quite different. The students go to school 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. with a half hour recess in between (11:30-12). Also, during recess, there is a free snack time for the teachers in the teacher's lounge. I don't know if that was just for today or if it's everyday. I'll let you know, but there was a lot of good food: food, muffins, bread, tortilla española, juice, etc. Anyway, the students then go home or stay at school for lunch, then return to school for classes 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. I think my schedule will work out where I stay for some afternoons and don't stay for others. I know there are more differences, but right now I can't recall any.
Anyway, after the break, Julia and I met the other two classes that we would be working with and they were very well behaved! They sat quietly (más o menos) and introduced themselves. Some students came up to us and practiced saying "Hello, my name is _____. What's your name?" It was so cute because we shook hands with them and said "It's nice to meet you." Other than that and numbers, I really don't know what else the students know, since we didn't actually observe them in English class. I am excited for the days to come, just to learn more about our roles in the classroom. After this we were allowed to leave for the day. Julia and I took the train back to the center and I went back to my flat.
When I got back, I started some laundry and made lunch. Unfortunately, something happened with my laundry that some of my items are no longer the color that they were before...whoops! At first I thought it was because of the detergent. I put the detergent straight into the washer, rather than into the little compartment thing, but after looking at my clothes, only specific sections are discolored..it's strange. for example my white camisole, it pretty discolored, but more specifically, the straps are now maroon. But not all of the straps are maroon. I really don't know how to explain it. It's just strange, but luckily I don't think it's necessary to replace anything. Nothing is too bad, except for maybe the white camisole..my socks I really don't care about. Mostly, I want to know how that happened, but I think it is forever a mystery.
Anyway, my roommates arrived home and we hung out and talked for a little bit. They are incredible and I'm so happy and grateful to be living with them. I have more bios on them now so here you go. Lucia is 18 and is from Seville. She is studying International Relations in college, which she thinks is boring (I agree...haha) and she plays the guitar and sings (She's really good). Herminia is 26 and from Murcia. She is doing her Master's and working for the post office. They both are awesome and we spoke for quite awhile and we had quite a discussion of what language to speak. Haha. We talked about me speaking only Spanish and them only in English, we discussed switching hours or days in all Spanish or all English. I don't think we really came to a conclusion or the best option, but so far it's been mostly me speaking Spanish and them English.
After hanging out for awhile, Karin and I planned to go on a run in Madrid Río (on the bike path through the park we love) and I invited Lucia and Herminia to go with...and they both said yes! It was fun! We all went on a run, I don't know how far it was, but it was fun. And Lucia is so fun-loving and down-to-earth that she made us stop halfway through to swing on the tire swings that we passed. It was really great and when we returned home, I made some dinner. While writing this blog, I sort of watch El Hormiguero, which is a very popular talk show in Spain--I only halfway paid attention, but even Herminia said it is a peculiar show, so I'll have to watch it again. Now I am watching la Anatomía de Grey reruns and it's awesome.
Well, there's one more thing I forgot to say before.. I absolutely love the area that my school is in. It feels more like a Chicago suburb..much more open than the city. It smells good and the air is fresh. There is also a nice park and apartments that look the same all lined up. That's what makes it seem like a Chicago suburb. I am happy to be in that refreshing place four times a week. It's goodbye for now though. I hope all is well with you. Hasta mañana.
P.S. If you want my new address e-mail me, message me, or ask my parents. :)