In an attempt to keep everyone up to date back home, I am holding strong with my weekly blog posts! Be proud. Throughout this past week, I have sometimes felt like I have been in Spain for a month, not just two weeks, and at other times, I have felt like it’s only been two days not two weeks. Either way, I am in love with my city and writing to you the day after enjoying all the festivities of the first day of San Mateo (so sorry to all my Snapchat followers…but it is infinitely better than all my dog snaps from this summer te prometo).
This past week has been a marathon, I moved into my beautiful apartment officially, met my Spanish roommate (who I’ve decided I like) and done two loads of laundry SUCCESSFULLY. Hold your applause for the end of the blog post, gracias.
During this marathon week, I had my first day of school. YAY. Now, I am not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but I am currently living in Logroño, but my school that I am teaching at is in Haro. Haro is the capital of La Rioja Alta, which is basically just the northern area of La Rioja. In a nutshell, it is thirty minutes outside of Logroño and even though every Spaniard I talked to said that it was cheap to commute, it’s not that cheap. But, I have come to terms with paying to commute and that’s ok. No pasa nada.
One thing that has fascinated me about teaching and truthfully, started countless drunken wine nights, is the stories of teachers. Teachers truly have some of the funniest and most heart-warming stories out there. I am blessed with a ton of stories after just one year of student teaching and I am quite excited to add more to my list of stories as I continue to teach. But before I get into my story, I want to explain my school just a tad to give a point of reference. This year I will be working with students at CEIP San Felices de Bilibio. My students will range from infantil (ages 3-5), and primaria (6-11) and at this current moment I have no idea what my schedule is going to look like. Typical Spain…I’m rolling with the punches…no pasa nada. Also, I need to mention that I have a partner in crime at my school! A fellow Fulbrighter and I are the two auxiliares (English Teaching Assistants) at the school. We commute together, vent together, and toma muchos cafes (have lots of coffee) together.
On our first day we were fortunate enough to meet Arancha, our bilingual coordinator and also, a super-hero disguised in business-casual. Arancha is in charge of the English teaching throughout the entire school, the substitute if there is any teacher missing, AND the all around supporter of every teacher. I’m telling you she’s amazing. That’s not to say the school is any less than what Arancha is bringing to the school environment. No, not even close. The school atmosphere radiates love for every student. With a small student body (only one class for every grade level) the students, teachers, and staff, all create a very warm and welcoming vibe. Needless to say, it checks off all the things I want in a school!
And did I mention that the kids are great? No? Well let me tell you. Besides the little babies (3-5 year olds) being adorable in their little smocks (they have to wear them in infantil) the older ones are hilarious and all around, just good kids (just like my beautiful student teaching class from the states!) Which is where today’s story begins!
As we were going through the classes on Day One, meeting the teachers, and observing how Arancha teaches her English classes, we were introducing ourselves to the students on the way. We started with the oldest 6th graders, and worked our way to the 1st graders. Our introductions were all quite similar across the classes. Side note: one thing that proved to be difficult was that we were not supposed to speak Spanish to the students. We were instructed by Fulbright to deny that we knew any Spanish to the students if they asked us. Easier said than done. After our sixth graders asked us, in Spanish, if we understood any Spanish and we pathetically lied and said “no” they immediately caught on that we did indeed know Spanish because yes, we understood them enough to answer them. Rookie mistake. SMH.
Anyway! Where my title for this post comes from lies with the lovely students in fifth grade. I do need to explain that the name Makenna, is not that common in the states, but it is even more uncommon in Spain. Try saying Makenna in a Spanish accent and you’ll understand, it doesn’t sound that great. However, I have learned from my study abroad experience that I have to say my name with a Spanish accent or else Spaniards sincerely will not be able to understand my name when I say it. But on my first day of school, as I was introducing myself to these lovely fifth graders, I think my mind forgot. I was so focused on not saying anything in Spanish that when I introduced myself, students immediately looked confused at my name. That’s when one student blurted out “Qué has dicho? Macarena?” (What did you say? Macarena?) Commence twenty students laughing like crazy and starting to dance. Besides feeling foolish for the second time that day (giving away my knowledge of Spanish so easily being the first) I had to laugh and show them that I indeed knew the dance too. After the giggles faded I was able to properly tell them my name, but honestly, I would’ve accepted them calling me Macarena. I mean, porque no? (why not?)
To sum up a very short post and story, I need to start thinking a little bit more about what I say and do with my students because they are insanely bright! Either way, I am blessed to have these new kids and staff members in my life and I cannot wait to hit the ground running! More posts to come, as soon as I have wifi (weefee, not wyfy, it’s Spanish and more fun to say it this way, trust me) in my apartment. I hope everyone is doing well back home. I do have an address now that I will be sending out to people who asked for it shortly I promise!
PS. I know it’s odd that I didn’t discuss my San Mateo fiesta experiences, but what happens during San Mateo STAYS at San Mateo…or on my Snapchat for 24 hours.