Another Week in the Life

2 Nov

Another day, another dawn. Another week of teaching. My first class is on Monday nights and starts at 6pm. So, I am in the room and all set up by then. (Side note: I always used to roll my eyes at teachers who couldn’t figure out the technology, but now that I am on the other side, I definitely understand their pain. I mean, what are you supposed to do when you can’t get something to work and there are 10 sets of eyes following your every move?) But, technology issues aside, I was simply waiting for my students to show up.

6pm- no one. 6:02- no one and I’m starting to sweat a little. 6:05- no one and I triple check that I am in the right room at the right time. 6:07-no one and all that is running through my mind is “Oh my goodness. How terrible of a job did I do last week to drive all of my students away?” 6:08pm- no one and I’m starting to pace the room wondering how I am going to explain this to the language center director and live this down when I tell my family. 6:09- the day is saved when two students finally showed up. I could almost hear the choir of angels singing.

While I was worried that my teaching skills were not yet up to par, I had a surprisingly enjoyable time having such a small class. After all, since it is a conversation class, we can just drift from subject to subject, because as long as they are talking, they are getting what they want out of the class. So, the three of us covered a range of topics from dark chocolate to fancy restaurants to Jagermeister. It was a lovely and spirited conversation! I did learn  (again) that humor can be very challenging across cultures. We were talking about the merits of peanut butter (something that Spaniards don’t appreciate as much as Americans) and I was talking about how my brother is allergic, but since I love peanut butter so much, that I told my parents that they should get rid of him so that we could consume more peanut products in our house. I was met with some blank stares so I quickly had to clarify that I do love my brother and I didn’t actually want to get rid of him in exchange for peanut butter. Oh well. I will continue on my quest to be funny in Spain.

Since arriving over eight weeks ago, I have managed to be funny once in Spanish. It will be a moment that I cherish forever. I was at the Immigration Office doing the required paperwork to get a residency card and having a nice, casual conversation with the government worker covering things from my stay in Spain to international terrorism. He then asked about my Spanish and I told him that I still needed to practice. He told me that the best way to get better at Spanish is to get a Spanish boyfriend. And I simply responded that my Mother had already told me that. And, HE LAUGHED. OUT LOUD. And no, it wasn’t like an awkward pity chuckle either. This was a huge deal for me and I imagine that day will live in infamy.

In addition to teaching my two classes this week, I finally had the chance to meet with some students. They were so nice and receptive to my help, which is always the best. On the commute to work, I was so excited that I would actually be meeting with students, because that is what I came here for. There is just something I really love about helping people become better writers. The students, though, question my age. One girl I met with asked me if I was a student at the University or at a different University before I told her that I had already graduated. She looked at with with surprise and told me that I look really young. Believe me, I’ve heard it sister. And then, some of the students address me as Mrs. Jaeger over email. Nope. I made sure to correct that really quickly. But, my office hours for the next few weeks are slowly filling up and I can’t wait to get to meet more of the students and have nice conversations about their theses, bibliographies, and everything in between.

This weekend I took a trip to Salamanca, Spain with some amigas. We spent a lot of time wandering about the city and getting to see the historic sites. One building that we spent a lot of time in/on/around was the Cathedral of Salamanca.  I took more pictures of that building than I ever have of any other monument. We saw it from the river, from the street, from the towers, and from the inside. So much time spent finding the best angle to capture it. It is very cool because you can climb up into the towers and have amazing views of the city. Some of the stairs are so winding and narrow that they only allow you to climb up and down during certain times. I will share with you some of my favorites.

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Not pictured: the excessive amount of tries it took to get this picture

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From the street

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Views from the top

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Another angle

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Looking out over Salamanca

I promise that I did see more of Salamanca than just the Cathedral, although it was one of the highlights. We also stopped by some art museums, the old Roman bridge, and a very interesting monastery. One of the monks from the monastery actually traveled with Christopher Columbus on his voyage to the “New World.” Another one of the major sites in Salamanca is the Universidad de Salamanca, which is the oldest university in Spain (founded in 1218). One of the things that you are supposed to see in Salamanca is the facade of the original building and find the frog that is hidden in the art. So, we were all excited to go see this, but to our surprise, it is under construction until 2018. Let me tell you, they did a fantastic job of covering up the entire thing. So, I saw a very detailed canvas of what the face of the university should look like, but I guess I’ll have to plan a trip back to Salamanca to see it in person!

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Bridge pics are clearly my favorite

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Part of Spain’s oldest university

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The chillest bishop I have ever seen

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That moment when you’re the best looking art in the museum

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Interior patio of the monastery

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Check out this intricate church ceiling (yes, they are faces)

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An attempted artsy shot of the ornate church altar

So let’s talk about a first that I had in Salamanca. It involves Tinder and members of the Spanish Air Force. One of my friends made contact with a Spanish guy (who happened to be in the Air Force) and they planned a meet up for us and for his group of friends. Don’t worry, we met up in a very public place with lots of light. The whole group of us decided to go to a bar to chat. One important thing that I learned was that I am immensely worse at small talk in Spanish than I am at small talk in English. I didn’t even think that was possible.

Let’s just say that at one point we were talking about things that there are a lot of in Spain, particularly wine. So, I was trying to make some general comment about how there is a lot of ham here (which there is because Spaniards love their jamón). To contribute to this discussion in a meaningful way, I said, “Hay mucho jamón, too.” (which means ‘there’s a lot of ham, too). And, you will notice that the sentence starts in Spanish, and ends in English. Now this would have been perfectly acceptable if I was attempting to cutely navigate between languages. But no, I was attempting to speak in Spanish and didn’t even realize that I changed to English halfway through. Doing a great job, clearly. So, no, I did not meet my future Spanish boyfriend on Saturday night.

We also attempted to experience the nightlife in Salamanca. As a university city, it is apparently pretty well-known for having a plethora of things to do at night. I must admit, that it really is not my scene at all, but for the sake of living it up Spanish style, I decided to be a good sport and give it a go. Nope. Not worth it. I guess I just really don’t like loud music and being surrounded by tons of people. In the place we went to to dance, all I could think about was that if there was a fire, there was no way that I would possible get out alive. It would have been like the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory disaster.

So, I know, you are probably thinking that this is getting repetitive, and I know that it is. Yes, I am Rebecca and I do not like going out at night. But, I wanted to establish that I have been trying to give the nightlife many chances and have been attempting to be social, but I think it is time that I start saying no. So from now on, expect stories about casual bars and being home early enough on the weekends to get a good night sleep and enjoy some American tv before bed. (The only thing I will likely make an exception for is a trip to Kapital, which is a famed Madrid discoteca. That experience will be one I will choose to partake in because I don’t think it would be right to spend a year living in Madrid and not experience that cultural excursion).

But, I really enjoyed being able to spend so much time in Salamanca. I walked the city so many times that I left feeling like I really knew the city. On Sunday, I frequented some museums and archives (aka I was in heaven). The Archives for the Spanish Civil War are in Salamanca, so that was great.We also went to a very interesting art museum. While I often find myself a bit perplexed at some things that are considered fine art, this museum made sense to me. The artifacts included stunning decorative vases, fans, some paintings, and figurines made of porcelain and brass. It was very cool to see art through the years via more cultural items rather than more typical paintings. The most unique exhibit was one that featured dolls. Hundreds of dolls. I am not kidding when I say that it was a solid three rooms of different porcelain dolls. Kind of interesting, but also kind of creepy. I only wish I had a picture to show you.

Overall, the trip to Salamanca was a success! Saw many historical things and had  great culinary experiences as well (including churros/chocolate, gelato, and “young eel”).

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Said gelato. Practicing my food photography (and enjoying some well-deserved gelato after walking over 35,000 steps)

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Made a new friend in Salamanca

Until next time!

 

 

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One Response to “Another Week in the Life”

  1. Maggie Turner November 2, 2016 at 3:49 pm #

    Rebecca…Your story keeps so amused. You truly have a gift. If you question what some call art, try taking a trip into NYC to MOMA. I thought never again.

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