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Posts Tagged ‘excitement’

I’m definitely getting more settled, and it’s a good feeling. Today was the first day of orientation. Basically I sat around and was overloaded with information. I learned a bit more about my responsibilities as a Fulbright TA and what to expect.

My school is in the south-eastern part of the city. I’m in la zona A, or main part of the city Metro system. Some people have to go more into the suburbs for their schools. They’ve opened something like 20 new bilingual schools this year, and I’m in one of the new ones. I think this accounts for my coordinator (boss) at my school changing something like 3 times since I’ve become a Fulbright. Oh well, it’s Spain. From what I’ve gathered, I am there to help make sure that English is used in the classrooms and that it is used correctly. I will be working with 6th graders, which is a little younger than I expected, but that’s ok. I have an allowance of 21 days to travel outside the country. I don’t have free Spanish healthcare. Instead I have to pay for everything up front and then go through an extensive reimbursement claim. The average doctor’s visit is something like 40-50 euro.

Also, since my school is a new one I don’t have to do “Global Classrooms,” or the Spanish equivalent of Model UN. This is something that I am half glad to be missing (as it has been described as one of the most frustrating things you’ll ever do) and half sad that I can’t do it because I was looking forward the challenge. Because the school is new to the bilingual program, they just want to make sure that everything goes well with the English part before they start the Global Classrooms. Instead, I’m thinking of implementing something similar to a language table or ESL for the teachers to help them improve their own confidence in English.

I met the coordinator of my school today! I didn’t even know I was going to, so I was wearing some random clothes and didn’t feel very together. I also had a beer in my hand. So how did that happen? Well apparently, after the last session of the day, there was a reception downstairs with refreshments. I must have missed that coordinators would be there: I just went to go get a snack (yes, mom, beer is a snack). Next thing I know, the Fulbright head I’ve been in contact with was like “Are you Samantha Hhheeenuur?” “uh… yes” “You’re coordinator is here! Come! Come!” I was so miffed I missed her name…. but I caught that it was different from the person whom I thought was my coordinator.

The poor woman is swamped. She just got put in the school, she hasn’t meet the staff, and doesn’t even know what type of student demographic I’ll be working with. I hope I made a good impression, I think we talked for 15 or 20 minutes. I liked her. She’s studied English and she has a very soft accent. I think that’ll be good when I just need something explained, but I’m hoping I’ll be able to speak more Spanish with her. She liked the idea of the language classes for the professors.

Orientation was exciting and nerve racking. There’s so much to do! I feel so unprepared. I still have to find an apartment and open a bank account. But luckily I went with a new friend, Janal, tonight and got a phone and an abono, or monthly Metro pass. So it was a busy day. Now I just need to get to some more serious issues. I have a yoigo phone which is the cheapest plan and cool phone (see pic!).

The weather in Madrid has been wonderful. The days are clear and bright, often with a breeze. Midday can be hot, but mornings and evenings are downright pleasant. My room at the orientation lodge is nice. A little stuffy, so I’ve been leaving my window open. The food they serve here is basic cafeteria stuff, but I can’t complain since it’s free.

I’m trying to keep updated with everything that’s going on, who I’m meeting, etc… but it’s almost 12am and I still need sleep! I will try to keep you updated! I am thinking of you!

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