I have always been stressed and worried about something in life. Either I’ve been worried about what others think about me or how an action I choose will effect me in the future. I am a chronic worrier and have a bad case of anxiety. I have taken on the Spanish philosophy on life. In Spanish, mañana means “tomorrow.” Everything will come together, but you still need to be proactive about getting stuff done. I am relaxed and easy going because of my new home.
In Spain, life is slower and easy going. Spaniards look at getting something done when they get around to the task. Spanish philosophy is looking at a task with ease. If the task is not completed today, there is always tomorrow. This slower approach to life has made me slow down and not stress at an unnecessary level of stress. Yes!!! I’ve been stressed out about different things, but I’ve been able to manage my stress.
- Finding my way to a new place
- Speaking sad Spanish to communicate to with a Spaniard
- Opening a bank account
- Getting a residential card
- Finding a piso (apartment)
- Dealing with awful landlord who doesn’t care about his tenants
- Making new friends
- Affairs back in the USA
I am in Spain where siestas, 2 hour long lunches, and philosophy of enjoying life as it comes are number one. I’ve adopted Spanish philosophy into my life and have noticed a change in my stress and worry levels. In the end of the day, everything works out. I’ve been through a lot the last 30 days, but I wouldn’t want my life any other way. I love my life here. I am in love with Spanish philosophy on life. I am proud of how I am finally not worrying so much about elements in my life I don’t have control over. There are issues in the US I have no control over. Being in Spain does not mean that I don’t care about affairs back home. I’ve just put those worries on the back burner. Mañana! I am going to live my life and enjoy my time in Spain. I am not going to dwell on things I don’t have control on or that are not my fault. I am in BLOODLY SPAIN!!! I am going to enjoy my new city and life as it comes. I am not going to worry what others think of me. I am going to love life and take it as comes.
I plan on traveling and living abroad for awhile. I want to live in Madrid, Spain, for the next 2-3 years. I want to get my TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification somewhere in Europe. The different programs I am looking at will take as little as a month to complete. After Spain, I have my heart set on Poland or Italy for 1-2 years. Maybe South Korea? Then, I want to get into the Peace Corps and teach ESL in a Spanish speaking country in South America for 2 years. After the Peace Corps, I want to go back to school and get a Ph. D. in some kind of ESL/ English speciality program. I want to teach college students and inspire them to achieve their dreams and goals.
Toledo, Spain, is a wonderful little town south of Madrid by 70 km. It is located in the province of Castilla La Mancha. Toledo was the capital of the Spanish empire until the mid 1500’s when the royal court moved to Madrid. It’s a great and cheap day trip from Madrid by train. A round trip to Toledo on the train will cost € 20ish Euros! The ride from Madrid’s Atocha Station will only take 30 minutes. Toledo is a must day trip for anyone staying or visiting Madrid.
The winding, cobbled streets of the old town are often crowded with both locals and tourists. Don’t miss the 13th century cathedral or the Alcázar, which sits atop the town. The old district is built on a hill and there is an escalator and lifts people can take up to the top. The old district has medieval city walls that surround this part of old Toledo. Get lost. Take some time to lose yourself in Toledo’s medieval streets. The city is surrounded by the River Tajo on three sides and two medieval walls on the fourth side. The old city is relatively small and can be crossed in 45 minutes, so you are never too far from the center.
People visit Toledo for different reasons such as ancient history, religious history and famous metal work. The Romans left their mark too on Toledo. There are ruins of a Roman circus that are still visible just outside the walls of the city. The metal-working industry has historically been Toledo’s economic base, with a great tradition in the manufacturing of swords and knives and a significant production of razor blades, medical devices and electrical products. Lord of the Rings had their armorer and swords make in this city. Three different religions have ruled over Toledo: Judaism, Christianity, and Muslim. All three of these religions have left their mark on the town through the different buildings and neighborhoods (Jewish Quarter). Toledo has some of the best sunsets. It is a must to stay till the last train leaves the train station. It is amazing to see the town light up when the sun goes down.
Top Ten Things to do in Toledo
I make an honest amount of money between working part time a Language Assistant and an English tutor. I work in a bilingual high school with children between the ages of 12 and 18. I love my job as a Language Assistant; however, there are social and cultural differences between Spanish and American schools. Frist, the kids are wild and get away with things that US teachers wouldn’t put up with in a classroom. For example, cheating is looked down on and punished in America, but in Spain teachers look the other way and continue with lecture. There’s a noticeable difference between Spanish and American education. Second, children in Spanish schools are polar opposite of American children in the way they behave at school. Spanish children have not as strict rules compared to American children. For example, it is normal for Spanish children to run down the hall and scream at the top of their lungs. Spanish teachers do not correct this behavior; however, in America this behavior would not be tolerated. The way Spanish children behave would, also, suggest there is no structure in the classroom.
In Spain, teachers move to different classrooms. Each grade level is assigned a home classroom where they stay for all their classes. This classroom style is different in the United States. Teachers have an assigned classroom, but students move to different classrooms for class. I see pros and cons to these two styles.
- Students are already in a classroom less moving around= already in their designated spot
- Teachers have to move from class to class with all their material = can create hassle
- Teachers have a set base classroom for teaching = less hassle of moving around
- Students have to move to different rooms = creates problems moving students to different parts of a school
I find having the students assigned to a room to be best choice for who has the classroom. There are more students than teachers and moving children around is a hassle. Teachers have to watch and make sure they don’t lose children in route to another classroom. If a student gets lost in route to a different classroom, this creates trouble for the teacher. The best answer is to have the students assigned to one classroom. The students are contained to a room!!!
Another difference between these two countries is break time and time spent teaching.
- Classes run an hour long
- Depending on the schools there’s a 2 hour long lunch break or short 20 minute break
- Less play and more class
- School starts at 8:20 a.m. and runs to 2:00 p.m.
- Lunchtime about 45-60 minutes long
- School starts at 8:00 a.m. and ends about 4:15ish p.m.
- More time spend learning
- 2 more hours spent at school
I wanted to give my readers a lens into what a Spanish high looked liked and operated. In a future post, I will go into more detail about what a bilingual high school in Spain is and the different programs a school like this offers for children in Spain.
People romanticize that living abroad is this fabulous/ glamorous living experience where you go on trips every weekend to Paris or wherever, don’t have hardships, and just like the movies. Living abroad is an experience everyone should get to do, but it’s not glamorous! By living aboard, you are giving up the familiar for a new and strange place. Living aboard will open many new and exciting possibilities for you. Plus, you can learn/ improve language skills. During the past month, I’ve had to find a flat (apartment), open a bank account, navigate through a new city, and communicate daily in broken Spanish. Plus, go to the ER and see a Spanish speaking doctor!!!! Also, I’ve had to battle anxiety, homesickness, and loneness. I don’t regret moving overseas to Madrid. This experience has allowed me to become a stronger and more independent woman who is living her goals and dreams abroad.
My job has made me get over my fears and become a role model for my kids. I work Tuesday- Friday at school and tutor on the side to make extra money. I have rent and bills to pay. I am not going out every night partying till the sun comes up. I am busy planning stuff for work or tutoring sessions. I am a citizen of Madrid not a tourist!
During the last 30 days, I’ve been pushed to the point of an anxiety attack. I’ve not had one because Spain has reminded me, more than once, everything will come together and I need to take things in life one step at time. Spanish Government is a messy system to work with because there’s not set standard on how things are to be done and the idea that if something is not done today there’s always tomorrow. My anxiety has been reduced because there are things in this country that I can’t stress and worry over. For example, getting a piso or applying for my residential card. Spain has made me more of risk taker. I now enjoy getting lost in neighborhoods and checking out new things in my current home. The past 30 days I have socialized with new people, gone to lunch by myself, explored Madrid on my own, practiced and improved my Spanish, and allowed myself to be comfortable in my own skin without others judging me. I moved 5,000 miles away from home, but this was the right choice for me. I am so happy here and have so much joy for where my life is heading.
There’s a price you pay for living abroad which is changing relationships with family and friends. 5,000 miles has placed a communication block, time zone difference, and changed how close I am with friends. I knew that my choice of living overseas would change my relationships with family and friends forever, but I am willing to pay the price to live overseas and chase my dreams. Over the last month it’s become clear to me who really matters in my life. People who were bad news in my life have dropped out of my life. I am allowed to reinvent myself and not worry about others judging me harshly. Moving abroad has giving me rebirth and sanctuary from everything that I needed to remove myself from.