Monday, March 31, 2014

Here we go again.

After spending a couple of years trying to figure out what's next in this strange journey we call life, I've met with the good fortune of having the opportunity to return to Spain for a few months this summer. As I pack up my suitcase and get the last of my things together, I can't help but reflect on my initial journey to Spain in 2011. How much can change in a span of only two years!

* At this point, I no longer face a seemingly-insurmountable language barrier. Before, I was hoping to improve upon a very basic linguistic foundation. I've since immersed myself in two different Hispanic countries and I've practiced with native speakers from all over. I've formally studied the language from a more technical perspective. Now it's possible for me to be focused on adding colloquial phrases and idioms to my repertoire.

* I now have a TEFL certification and a lot more teaching experience. I spent a year in a MA in Teaching program and did student teaching at the high school level. I then went to Costa Rica last summer and obtained my TEFL certification, allowing me to professionally teach English to people in other countries. If the me of today met up with the me of 2011, I'd have a lot of suggestions and ideas for myself that only experience has taught me.

* I've traveled to Central America! In addition to studying different dialects in the classroom, I've managed to live in another Hispanic country and pick up on their dialectal differences and compare them to those of Aragón. I hope to study more of those differences within Spain now that I have a firmer grasp of the language and a wider sample group.

* And perhaps one of the more exciting differences is that I'll have a travel partner along the way (Susan!), something that was severely lacking in some of my previous adventures. Traveling alone was something that I became accustomed to during my time in Spain. It was an experience that challenged me to learn more about myself and to do a lot of self-reflection. However, there is a sense of longing for someone else to share those experiences with when you're on the road alone. I look forward to Susan's good company and the new memories we will make together.

I'm excited to reunite with Susan and some of my old friends from Teruel. I can't wait to make new friends, either. Unfortunately, experience doesn't truly dull the pain of navigating airports and being sedentary for over eight hours at a time. It's a small price to pay, I suppose.

¡Adios de nuevo, Kentucky! Nos vemos dentro de poco.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

And so it ends...

My last week in Spain was spent teaching and going to goodbye dinners. There was little time for sleep, which, in conjunction with the intense heat outside, did little to help my mental and physical state. When I did try to squeeze in a siesta, I was interrupted by the sound of open windows being forced shut and open again by the wind. I couldn't lock them shut because then I'd be too hot to sleep. As a result, I was kind of zombie-like for a solid four days. I enjoyed the company of students and colleagues and friends, but by the end of the week, I was having extreme difficulty concentrating on half the things they were saying. And while I had absolutely nothing planned outside of a few relaxing hours of packing, I was convinced to go hiking on my last day in Teruel.

It was Friday and the weather was incredible. Unfortunately, it was incredibly hot too. I prepared by applying sunscreen to every exposed part of my skin except for the back of my neck. I would later regret that decision. I met up with my friends, Libby and Eva, and we went hiking to the ruins of a small Iberian village about two miles from Teruel. There were signs posted that informed interested passersby about the history of the site, but it was entirely too hot and I was too sleep deprived to focus on it. I did find various pieces of broken pottery and Eva lectured me on the differences between Iberian creations and Roman handiwork.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Belchite, Escucha, and Sarrión

Friday was my very last day in the primary school. The teachers all left for Turkey as part of their international project they're doing and won't be back until the day after I depart for home. It was depressing to have to say goodbye to them and then just kind of stick around. I don't feel nearly as integrated into the high school, and the teachers that I do feel more comfortable around are gone to Andalucia as part of a student project. I still have the language school, though, where my coworkers and students are always really friendly. Unfortunately, the last two weeks have been day after day of saying goodbye to each class of students, as each day is the last I'll be there with that particular group.

This weekend, I went to Zaragoza yet again and stayed with the other Italian teacher from the language school. I met her family, which was really entertaining, and we all set out on a busy day trip to Belchite and Escucha. She had been wanting to show me Belchite for quite some time, but due to various scheduling differences and whatnot, we hadn't been able to go. I'm glad that during my last weekend, I finally got to check it out.

Our first stop was seemingly in the middle of nowhere, somewhere in the countryside a decent distance from Belchite. There was a bunker of sorts and some trenches from the civil war. It was quite different from the other places I'd been to, so it was a welcome addition.