Friday, May 8, 2009

France Blog

I'm now blogging from France!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Time change, bed, and fragrant shower

1. On the plane from Madrid to Chicago, I sit next to a girl who's been studying in Sevilla for six months. Even though I'm tired, we have an easy conversation about our time in Spain and how we're excited to go home. As we're descending, we get a clear view of Chicago's skyline which looks like a toy model of a city. The flight attendant announces the time which is seven hours earlier than in Spain and the girl next to me says, "I'll change my watch when I'm ready, but I don't feel ready yet." I think this is an appropriate statement and symbolizes re-adjusting to home after you've been away for a while, even if it means having an extremely distorted sense of time.

2. I try to unpack, but as I fall asleep as I'm walking from the bathroom to my room, I collapse into bed and don't wake up for a long time. There's really nothing like a good, deep sleep.

3. Washing the dirt of traveling the whole day and being out the whole night before in the shower is like cleansing my soul. To make it even better, my mom has set out fragrant new shampoos and soaps complete with a white robe and slippers.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hasta Luego Valladolid

Today is my last day in Valladolid, Spain, so I decided to go for one last stroll around the city and take some pictures...
"Mother Goose" in Campo Grande, Valladolid

Peacock in Campo Grande, Valladolid

Fountain in Campo Grande, Valladolid

Vacant plaza in Valladolid during siesta

Plaza Espana, Valladolid

View of the cathedral, Valladolid

Plaza Espana Market, Valladolid

This'll be my last post from Spain, but not my last post as a blogger abroad. I'll be continuing a new blog in France in the autumn for my fourth year as an English teacher overseas. But for now, I say good-bye to Spain...

On my last day in Spain, I love...

siestas, because I can walk down winding streets where the sun catches some windows and misses others and not see a single soul. The city is mine and I can walk as slowly as I want, swinging my arms as high as I want.

an old lady who is admiring a sparkly gown in a shop window. She's in a moment and I smile, thinking about how she may be much older than I, but a lovely gown continues to grip her attention. We're all different, yet the same.

menu del dias. I don't stop to eat one, but the idea is perfect for the Spanish anatomy of a lunch.

the park, because the sky is blue, the trees are green, the birds are chirping, and my favourite white geese immediately walk up to me when I go to pay them a last visit. I don't have any food, so they cease honking, yet they continue to nest beside me. I stare at one duck and realize he's staring back at me. I wonder what he's thinking. As I walk away, I like to imagine he winked at me.

the weather, because it seems appropriately Spanish. Everything is perfect in the city I've lived in for the last nine months today. It's entirely called for, seeing as tomorrow, I will leave.

Shakira on the radio in Spanish.

my favourite shops, because they have clothes that seem to jump out at me and into a bag. I'm sucked into a shopping hole where a few hours disappear, hours that should be spent packing, but I'm content to indulge, because it is my last day and I'm content to flutter around town alone in and out of shops.

that my eyes get a little teary while walking past certain places that reincarnate memories of the early months spent on these streets.

that I will miss Valladolid, even if just a little bit.

that I survived this year.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The slide of La Concha, musical lunch, and high school reunion

1. Even though the weather was a tad misty, cloudy, and cool, John and I still went for a swim in la Playa de la Concha in San Sebastian. We swam out to a platform with a slide. From afar, the slide looks like a child's blue and plastic toy, but John seems a bit terrified at the top and screams all the way down. When it's my turn, I feel like I'm suddenly nine years old again and hours at the playground as a child flash before my eyes. I'm delighted that the simple things still continue to exhilarate. When we meet up with Maggie again, John comments that we swam around the whole bay and there's an air of pride in his tone.

2. After a long walk along the beach promenade, Maggie and I go for lunch in a funky restaurant that's playing 80's music. I pair my spaghetti ali-oli with two glasses of white wine and so does Maggie. We chatter non-stop and pause only to punctuate an easy flowing conversation with the name of the song or band we hear playing around us.

3. I meet up with a friend from high school who's in San Sebastian at the same time. We meet in a plaza that has been converted from a bull ring (still sporting numbers under each window). In the middle of the square, a group of Basque dancers in traditional costume skip around in a circle as it starts to rain, lightning, and thunder. We sit at a table of five sipping drinks and I'm happy to coincidentally meet up with so many people on holiday.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sandy sights, clearing my desk, neighborhood shots

1. As I step off the bus after another day at work singed with drama and tension, I feel myself relax. I walk out into the center of Valladolid and into Plaza Mayor where people are out for a slow paseo. The sandcastle pieces look finished, so instead of rushing home, I pitter around the square with my camera. The details of some pieces are so minute that they cannot be captured on film, so I pause to see them in the warmth of what feels like a real summer's night in Plaza Mayor.

2. As my last Wednesday class leaves for the day, a weight (mainly of paper) is lifted. All the tests, flashcards, reports, worksheets, and handouts can be recycled, handed back, or passed on to someone else. What's important is that I'm freeing myself from a paper prison and I feel like a bird who is about to take off to different skies.

3. I'm taking photos of my neighborhood so that my mom and dad can see what it's like around where I've lived for the past three months. I've always appreciated the intricate architecture that lines Calle Gamazo, but tonight, the sun hits the buildings perfectly bathing them in a warm glow.

Monday, June 16, 2008

El ultimo lunes, video class, and gettin' in a run

1. Today was my last Monday of teaching at IH Valladolid. Whoa, never thought it would feel so good.

2. Combining my teenage class with Lauriane's to watch "Death At A Funeral." Seeing the kids laugh and be so into a film was a nice change from their usual stone-cold bored faces.

3. I got in a morning run by the river and made it home before the sky exploded with rain for the rest of the day.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Miss and no miss...

...this is what my English has come to after months of teaching eight year old Spanish children and stubborn adults how to speak English. Hahaha....hopefully this summer, someone will be willing to engage in a conversation where I can use words from my university English compositions or better yet, just audible, logical sentences where I don't have to concept check every few minutes.

On that note, I was thinking of a few things that will pull at my heart upon departure and things that I'd have gladly waved off a long time ago.

Things I will NOT miss when I leave Spain:

* The god-forsaken cigarette SMOKE! Along with the bull, the cigarette should be a symbol of Spain. I'm tired of walking into clouds of hovering smoke on the streets of Valladolid and not being able to find anyone smoking. I'd rather walk the streets of America and inhale Krispy Kreme doughnuts and fried hamburger. At least my hair will smell tasty and not reek of the bar when I go outside.

* Distinguishing between the preterito perfecto and the indefinido past tenses. There's a point when too much becomes too much and I just can't be a part of the interchangeable Spanish past tense world.

* Uh, the messes my roommates leave in the kitchen whenever they make food. Oh, did I mention the sour milk drip on my food?

* Old Spanish women elbowing me out of the way when I happen to walk in their designated path.

* People staring at me when I speak English.

* People looking at me as if I'm a three headed mythical beast when I try to ask for something in Spanish.

* The never-ending RAIN. When will it STOP? This is supposed to be SPAIN!

Things I will miss when I leave Spain:

* The friends I've made here. They know who they are.

* The following phrases: VALE, claro, creo que si, todavia no, entonces, pues, estas seguro?, tu tranquila...

* The extremely cheap price of medication at pharmacies.

* Hikes in the mountains.

* Zapatillo cookies and sweet wine at Penicilino

* The fact that even though I get up late in the morning on the weekend, or even during the week, the shops are still not open until later. Because everyone's relaxing, I feel more relaxed. This can also prove to be a pain in the ass sometimes.

* Cafe teas, coffees, Cokes, sangrias.

* Spanish classes with Kathrin.

* Chats with Maggie.

* Segovia, Sevilla, Puerto de Santa Maria, Madrid, Barcelona.

* Tortilla

* The Sunday evening paseo

* My students

* The peacocks and white geese in Campo Grande

* Discovering expositions or random parades and festivities occuring around the city. It's almost as if there's always something going on. (Today's sandcastle competition with artists from around the world- for example.)

I'm sure there are things I've left out, but this is what I've come up with for now...