The Monthversary

6 Oct

It has officially been a little over a month since I set foot in Spain. I can’t imagine how much you all must miss me. Not to worry, I’ll be making a quick trip to the U.S. in a few months.

This week was pretty uneventful. I am finally settling into a rhythm of work, fun, volunteering and sleeping. I am really enjoying my adult classes. I was (and still am to an extent) nervous about working with adults. After all, I have to keep the class fun and interesting so that they don’t get up and leave and/or stop coming. But the students have been great so far! They are all so genuinely interested in improving their English. For instance, the other day, I used the phrase “switching gears” to say that we were changing topics in class. They were so fascinated by the phrase and had me explain what it meant and help them come up with examples of how they could use it in their daily lives. It was so fun to see their excitement at learning a new phrase that I didn’t even think twice about using!

I started volunteering with an organization that helps prep Spanish students for applying for and attending college in the United States. I was all ready to attend my first meeting and observe to get a better understanding of how the club works. Well, I was informed shortly before the meeting that I would be running part of the meeting. LOL. When I introduced myself to the students, it was pretty much like “Hi, I’m Rebecca and I’ll be running the meeting today. Oh, and by the way, it’s my first meeting.” Not to worry, it went well. These kids were so impressive. You should have seen the spreadsheets with their college lists. So organized and thorough. I wasn’t even methodical when applying to law schools last year.

Some exciting events this week! First, I finally found oatmeal in Madrid. It was a dream come true. I never thought I would get so attached to a breakfast food typically branded as bland and cholesterol-reducing, but I did, and I was feeling really out of sorts without it. But, as of last Wednesday, I fixed that. I can’t even describe how excited I was. Not to worry, I managed to balance out my healthy breakfasts with a hearty slice of chocolate cake from a cafe. It was really cute; the waiter gave me two spoons because he thought I was going to share the slice with my friend. HA no. I don’t even want to think about the calories, but it was totally worth it.

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Just some Super-Chocolate Cake living up to its name

I also opened a library card (another thing I was way too enthusiastic about). I even found a very healthy Nicholas Sparks section. Talk about living large. And yes, I took one out. Would it even be a trip to the library if I didn’t take out some sort of romance novel? Last Thursday turned out to be a great day. I found out that my former study abroad program was going to be in town and I had the pleasure of meeting up with both of the program staff as well as Rebecca, who was one of the students I oriented back in 2014. After a long week I was so thankful to see a familiar face and we enjoyed some lovely drinks and tapas while bonding over orientation, Spain, and the massive presence of jamón (ham) in our daily lives.

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A very healthy Nicholas Sparks section

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Finally featured on the GRIIS Instagram (one life goal achieved)

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Rebeccas take Madrid

On Sunday, I visited Ávila, which is a small city that has intact medieval walls. I was able to walk around the walls, walk on top of the walls, and take my picture in front of the walls (clearly the most important thing). I also visited some museums and learned a bit about the history of Ávila. I think that the most profound moment for me was seeing maps of the city from the 1500s, which depicted the walls and turrets, and realizing that I walked on those same walls some 500 years later. It is incredible when you think of how certain artifacts can remain for hundreds of years.

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So many wall pics, I know

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The walled city

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I also toured a museum dedicated to St. Teresa of Ávila who apparently was a pretty big deal in Catholicism. At one of the churches in the city, they have even preserved her birthplace. I can only hope that hundreds of years from now, there is a similar museum in a certain house in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey.

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I have such a thing for ornate ceilings

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Only one of us might be canonized, but I can assure you that we are both saints

So that was it for my week. My days are slowly falling into a pattern, which, as a Type-A person, I like, but it also means that my life is significantly less interesting on a day to day basis.

So, to liven up the post a bit, I’ll share some things that I have learned in the past month.

  1. Being an adult is tough. Wow. No one tells you about all of the decisions that you have to make every day, especially when your schedule is open to fluctuation. What time do I want to wake up? Should I eat another piece of chocolate? What do I want to buy from the grocery store? Do I have to be the one to take out the trash this time? Do I really need to go running today? Shout out to all of the people who have making these decisions for years.
  2. There is such a thing as eating too much bread…. I may or may not be speaking from personal experience.
  3. You lose language skills very quickly if you do not use them frequently. I strolled out of Spain three years ago thinking I was such a master of the Spanish language. But, when I arrived in September, I could barely ask the guy at the hotel if I could check in. So now, I am working hard to improve my level of Spanish by learning five new words a day, reading Spanish books (they may be translations of Nicholas Sparks, but hey, it’s still Spanish), attempting to speak in Spanish whenever I can, and trying to think in Spanish. Aka when I walk down the street and am just thinking about random things, I try to turn my inner monologue to Spanish. I’m not crazy, I promise! But to all you kids out there who are learning a language, practice! Otherwise you will lose all of those skills and feel immensely inadequate in foreign countries.
  4. It’s all about the little things in life. One of the most exciting moments of my week was when I found oatmeal in the grocery store. It is all about appreciating the little things that make you smile, especially when times are rough.
  5. No matter where I am in the world, a part of my heart will always be at home with my family and amigos. It sounds cheesy, but it’s so true. I do have to say, I am doing a much better job this time around of not talking too much about how I miss certain parts of life in the US, but the feelings are still there. Sometimes all that I want is to be home in NJ sitting in front of Survivor while eating a hot, fresh slice of pizza. But, it will make it taste all the better when I get to do this in December. Technology definitely helps too. Last time I was in Spain, very few people in my family had iPhones. Now, all of us have hit the 21st Century and the “The Jaegermeisters” group chat often offers me a daily dose of laughs and dog pictures/videos.
  6. I don’t think the surreal feeling goes away. I’ve been here for a month and I still have moments when this whole experience feels surreal. I am so grateful for the opportunities that I have had in the past few months and I look forward to what the next eight will bring.

Thanks for sticking around for the last month! I can only hope that you enjoy reading my musings as much as I enjoy writing them (and believe me, I enjoy writing them way too much).

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2 Responses to “The Monthversary”

  1. Alexandra Nau October 6, 2016 at 11:00 pm #

    Love the fact that you are reading Nicholas Sparks! And PS I totally agree that being an adult is SO tough! Miss you girly and so proud of you!! 😊😊❤️

  2. Margaret M.Turner October 6, 2016 at 11:54 pm #

    Oh Rebecca… You have a way with words. I love your voice in your story telling, you are quite the character. Please post more pictures, you gave me some ideas for paintings. I loved how you gave us a feel of your first month in Spain.
    Your favorite neighbor
    Maggie

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