Un día en mi vida española

What does the life of an Auxiliar de Conversación look like? Please, allow me to explain.

6:50 a.m.— wakey, wakey, eggs and bakey!

7:40 a.m.— walk to the metro, climb 12,435 stairs to get to my train, sweat profusely in my winter wear

That’s only an exaggeration by about 1,203 stairs. 

7:50 a.m.—  take the metro to the bus station, try to get the sweat situation under control

Seriously, what is wrong with me and why am I the only one sweating like I just ate 10 ghost peppers?

8:10 a.m.— catch the bus to my village

Thankfully, the buses are very nice and comfortable… more like charter buses than inner city buses.

This is when I pray no one tries to sit next to me and comfortably fall back asleep. Don’t worry, I keep my bag gripped tightly in my lap… Not looking to experience the Spanish version of my Malaysian incident

8:50 a.m.— arrive at school, wade through a noisy and overwhelming sea of “Hello, Air-ee-ka!!!!!!!!” as the kids tackle me

9:00 a.m.— class begins (either English or Science, depending on the day) and changes every 45 minutes

10:30 a.m.–breakfast/playground time

This is provided to the teachers… fruit, yogurt, sandwiches, bread, tea, coffee, cake. It’s really quite nice!

11:00 a.m.–more classes

12:30 p.m.–recess for the kids, computer time for me

Here I have essentially two hours to do nothing.

1:45 p.m.— lunch time–usually a variety of fish or soup or other things I’ve never seen before, and therefore do not try.

I told the kids that I can remember eating lunch at 10:50 a.m. when I was in school and one student fainted from pure shock. I told him not to be embarrassed because the same thing happened to me when I found out lunch begins at TWO O’CLOCK P.M. here.

2:30 p.m.— more classes

My duties in class vary. Sometimes I take kids one on one and talk with them and work on grammar, sometimes I give presentations to the class, sometimes we play games that I make up and other times I don’t really do anything other than correct the teacher’s pronunciation as she gives a lesson.

4:00 p.m.— bus back to Madrid… sleep the entire way again.

Still haven’t figured out this timing…

5:00 p.m.— arrive back home and run or fart around on the computer, usually scanning the web for deals on flights and more information on travel hacking

9:00 p.m.— watch Spencer prepare a marvelous dinner (okay, sometimes I hand him spices and pour the wine) and eat while watching Modern Family

I would have eaten my fist by this time in the States, but it’s actually starting to feel normal! Oh, and on the weekends, an early dinner is 10 p.m. That’s what time our reservation is for tomorrow. Ayy yi yi.

9:45 p.m.— shower BEFORE dishes… because we are on a very limited supply of hot water here and it took several cold showers to figure out this was a better way of doing things. Some people learn faster than others, okay?

10:00 p.m.–dishes

10:30 p.m.— buenas noches, mis amigos.

Wanderlust Wednesday: Singapore, Singapore

Our Malaysian tour ended in Kuala Lumpur, but I had just one more stop before I headed home.

My plan was to take a bus from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore, the route lasting around 4 hours…

BUT, who would have known! Asia has an airline similar to Europe’s low-cost carriers, and I found a direct, one hour flight for just $24 with Air Asia—booked the night before and everything!

I arrived first thing in the morning, and met up with Gajen and his girlfriend, Pretty, again. We only had one day to explore the cosmopolitan city, and it was beginning to rain, so we settled on a city bus tour. I hate doing these sorts of things, but when you’re limited on time, and if it’s raining, sometimes it’s just the best and least stressful way to cram it all in.

The tour started from the Singapore Flyer (below) and took us to all the main sites.

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As we hopped on and off the bus, I couldn’t help but notice how immaculately clean and safe the city was. I don’t recall seeing trash ANYWHERE. In an effort to keep the city clean, chewing gum was banned in 2004 and it isn’t sold anywhere across the country.

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Here, the rain began to come down a bit heavier, so we hopped off the bus and hopped into the shopping mall.

Please note: maxi skirts are not good a good choice to wear on rainy days & maxi skirts are also not good choice to wear on escalators.

As we took the escalator up to the mall, I felt something tugging at my skirt. I looked down and there was my skirt… slowly succumbing to the hungry escalator. BUT LUCKILY, I didn’t have to finish the city tour in my underwear. Gajen was able to tear my skirt out of the mechanics and it survived with just a few small tears and grease stains.

CRISIS AVERTED.

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When the rain started to give up in the afternoon, we ditched the bus and walked around on our own.

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In the heart of the city is the beautiful and iconic Marina Bay Sands Resort.

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The innovative hotel overlooks the entire city, including Singapore’s ArtScience museum (below), the Singapore Flyer and amphitheater.

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I opted to pay about $20 to have access to the roof of the hotel. I wasn’t sure if it would be worth it or not, but I am SO thankful I did. If you find yourself in Singapore… DO IT, DO IT!

How many people can say they have watched the sunset over Singapore from almost 700 feet in the air? Totally worth it.

Singapore skyline

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Singapore skyline

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If you can really afford to splurge on your Singapore stay… opt to stay at the Marina Bay and you can watch the sunset from this infinity pool. This area is obviously for hotel guests only, but wow, wow, wow.

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What it’s like to follow your heart to Madrid

I’ve been a resident of Spain for almost three weeks! And to be quite honest, it feels like I’ve been here for months.

People tend to love the laid back feeling of this easy-going country… the siestas, and the tapas, and the late meals. Even the stores “take siestas” from 2-5 p.m. Yes, it’s all very charming, isn’t it?

BUT GOOD LORD, WHEN YOU HAVE BUSINESS TO TAKE CARE OF, I HAVE NEVER EXPERIENCED ANYTHING MORE FRUSTRATING IN MY LIFE!

The first week and a half was a battle. It was exhausting.  I was a little bit grumpy. A detailed outline on how to become a resident of Spain doesn’t seem to exist and no one can really explain it to you, either.

First, we figured we would need a place to live and with our sad, sad Spanish 6 skills (thanks for nothing), this was a massive struggle.

But after a desperate call to an acquaintance, we finally had an apartment after about five days of searching.

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71 stairs and no elevator to our “piso.” Hello, calves!

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Kitchen… Notice the lack of an oven, dryer, dishwasher, freezer and microwave?

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Oh, and here’s our dining room!

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And THE most uncomfortable couch in all of Spain. (But if you want to visit and crash here, I’m sure you’d love it!)

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Our pantry.

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Our bedroom.

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We didn’t pick that shower curtain, okay?

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Next, a cell phone provider seemed necessary. But to get a cell phone, we needed a bank account. But to get a bank account, we needed a residency card. But to get a residency card, we needed an appointment at the police station (which we were told might take until December).

And so the impossible scavenger hunt went on and on with many important clues likely lost in translation.

Eventually we found a bank that let us open an account with just a passport (NO, YOU DON’T NEED TO BUY LIFE INSURANCE FROM THEM! DON’T FALL FOR IT!)

And then we found cell phone providers, and finally got WIFI–no more walking to McDonalds to stay in touch with the world!

And, alas, here we are today… almost official Madridleños, loving our life in Spain, just waiting for a residency card.

(If you feel as though you need more details on this awful process of establishing yourself here, you can hop on over to Spencer’s blog, where he makes it sound much less terrible than it really is.)

Anyway, the first days were definitely tougher than what I was expecting, but every day since has been one hundred percent worth it.

After such a torturous summer of trying to make a decision, I already feel so much happiness and can’t imagine my life in any other way. My heart is so fulfilled and if anyone reading this is wondering whether or not they should follow their heart, STOP DOUBTING YOURSELF RIGHT THIS MINUTE AND JUST DO IT… DO IT! 

After all, when your neighborhood looks like this…

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Beautiful church just a stone’s throw away from our piso.IMG_3807

Estadio Santiago Bernabeu where Real Madrid plays! This is where Spencer and I jog to.

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Wandering the streets near Plaza Mayor.

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The quirky “cuevas.”

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A classy market.

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Plaza de España area.

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The Royal Palace.

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Retiro Park.

More to come on my school and teaching (so. much. fun), our quirky neighbors and an upcoming trip to Portugal!

Oh, and start planning your trip to Madrid now! We have a full itinerary waiting for you.