Thursday, October 7, 2010

What Time is it? My name is Mary.

Tonight I’m feeling very Spanish. I went over to Antonia’s house at 6:00pm for our first English lesson. We had a slight communication error. I went to Antonia’s house and she came to mine. Quickly 6:00pm turned into 9:00pm and 9:00pm into let’s go get a cervecita (beer.) I agreed and Antonia, Antonio (Antonia’s boyfriend) and I were off to a restaurant just down the street from my house. It was lovely. We sat outside and enjoyed the outdoors. A cervecita quickly turned into dinner. It’s now 11:45 and I’m just getting home. It was a fun night.

On Sunday Briana and I traversed the city, not entirely by choice. We were in search of El Mercadillo, an outdoor market Briana had gone to with her señora when we were studying abroad. It wasn’t exactly where she remembered, or perhaps it moved. We asked several people for directions when we thought we were getting close. Two women pointed us in the right direction and said it was at least a 20-minute walk from where we were. This was after already walking for an hour. After about an hour and a half we found the Mercadillo! It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. Scratch that. It wasn’t what I was expecting in the least. I was thinking along the lines of a Florida flea market. Boy was I off. Just to get there we literally walked through piles of garbage. Maybe we should have seen that as a sign.

I have never seen so much junk in my life. Picture the dirtiest place you’ve ever been and multiple the filth by 5. As we were walking in there was a man walking in the opposite direction carrying a tiny little puppy. I jokingly asked Briana if he bought it there. Turns out he did. The Mercadillo is set up like a flea market in the sense that there are booths with individual vendors. Booths may not be the appropriate word considering most of the vendors simply laid their belongings on the dirt floor. Items ranged from old, dirty tools to saddles to puppies to birds to antiques to used clothing. The list goes on and on. I completely understand why someone would want to buy something used, but there was absolutely nothing there that I could understand purchasing. The condition of the items were laughable. I brought my camera, but I was too nervous to take it out of my bag to take photos. This place was a dump.

Walking through only a small section of the Mercadillo was more than enough. After this little adventure we went to Antonia’s house for lunch. She taught us how to make soup. Delicioso! Now we just have to try it at home. Sunday was the first time I saw Antonio since I’ve been here. Let’s just say nothing has changed. He was still trying to tell me about Chicago’s history. Perhaps buying that book about Chicago for them was a bad idea. I’d have to give it a read myself, but I’m pretty sure he was getting some of the information wrong. We spent most of the afternoon there and returned home only when we couldn’t stay awake any longer and needed to take naps. It’s a tough life.

Tuesday was my first day of school. Por dios. I don’t know if it was just cause it was my first day or if the classes I have on Tuesdays are with the “troubled” kids, but when I left Tuesday I didn’t think I was going to make it through the week. I introduced myself to several of the teachers. I said I was from Chicago and one of them made a gun hand gesture and said, “bang, bang, bang.” After I realized what was going on and what she was referring to I laughed. It often takes me a little while to understand what’s going on. When someone speaks in Spanish I have to absorb and process it. When a Spaniard speaks in English I have to try and decode what they’re saying. I feel like I’m in a weird place between both languages. I find myself tripping up on simple sayings or words in English. Trying to process both languages at once proves to be challenging.

The day started out with a bit of rude awakening. A siren resembling a tornado siren sounded. I had no clue what to do. They have tornadoes in Sevilla? I thought to myself. I still don’t know the answer to that. Turns out the tornado siren was just the class bell. It might as well have been a tornado siren signaling the chaos that was about to begin in my classes.

Carmen has been telling me and Briana that education in Spain is “shit.” I now understand what she meant. From what I’ve seen, the blame isn’t completely on the teachers. I think it stems from the homes. These kids were out of control. It’s hard for me to remember back to elementary school, especially the early years, but I don’t remember any of my classes ever being similar to the chaos I experienced on Tuesday. The kids stood and talked the entire class. They wouldn’t listen to the teachers when they were told to sit down or be quiet. It was a shit show. Also, it is important to note that ADD and ADHD are not diagnosed conditions in Spain. The teachers explain the hyperactive kids as nervous. That seems to be how it’s explained everywhere. Briana said that the teachers in her school said the same thing. While every kid obviously does not have ADD/ADHD, those that do aren’t really getting help for it, or the learning disabilities that are often associated with it. I guess this school, or maybe even all of Spain, isn’t equip to deal with students with special needs. It’s really sad. Yesterday I left the school feeling defeated. Today, however, was much better. The kids were calm, sat down and listened most of the class. Hopefully it will get better day-by-day. As for now, I don’t think being a teacher is in my future.

So far the kids haven’t had any funny mistakes. There was one kid that said he was wearing pizza, but that’s the only slip up I’ve heard. Frankly, I’ve been a little surprised with the English skills, or lack thereof. Maybe they just need to get used to my accent. While I haven’t heard any slip ups from the kids, there is a TV show that demonstrated what I was expecting. The show is really popular with kids my age. In this particular episode 3 of the characters are learning English. One asked to be quizzed, so the guy she was talking to asked, “what time is it?” she replied with “my name is Mary.” Hopefully I’m not doing the same in Spanish!

Here’s another clip from the show.
This is kind of how my classes have been going so far.

Bueno, there’s hope for next week. Tuesday is a holiday so I don’t have to go in until Wednesday! Thank the lord for small favors.

Hasta pronto,

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