The saying "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade" is a phrase that should definitely be taken to heart before any abroad experience. It's inevitable to run into challenges and inconveniences during a year away from the U.S., but instead of complaining (which I must admit that I do sometimes) it's better to find the silver lining of the situation. Here are some prime examples from my first month in Madrid:
1. Long Commute- In reality, my commute isn't bad at all: 10 minute walk to the metro station, 15-20 minutes metro ride (depending on the day) and 8 minute walk from the metro station to school. Some auxiliares have the luxury of having a short commute, but I enjoy the journey. Not only does the walking wake me up in the morning, the metro ride gives me a chance to catch up on my reading (currently in the second book of the Game of Thrones series and loving it). Also, on occasion I run into fellow teachers from my school on the metro and that is always a good opportunity to speak Spanish and bond with them a little bit. So yeah, my 35-40 minute commute is no biggie :)
2. My TWO HOUR lunch break- In my opinion, a two hours is an unnecessarily long lunch break especially when it's smack-dab in the middle of a 4.5 hour school day. Ugh. But I decided to be as productive as possible with it, so I joined a gym that's a short 5 minute walk from the school. Now, instead of having two hours for lunch, I spend an hour at the gym, plus walking there and back, changing, showering etc, which leaves me 30 minutes for lunch, plenty for me! Now, I have a workout planned into my work-day which has been pretty nice I must say.
3. Having Monday instead of Friday off at work- Okay, I'll say it, I'd definitely rather have Fridays off BUT I must admit that there are a lot of benefits to having Mondays off. Last year I had Fridays off, which I loved because Thursday was always a lively night out with tons of local University students filling every bar and pub in Almería. However, since I usually found myself going out on Thursdays, that meant I usually slept that day away on Fridays. I.E., I got NOTHING productive done. And on Sundays when I wanted to be productive, everything was closed, whomp. Now, I have Saturdays or Sundays to waste away and on Monday I can go grocery shopping, run errands and plan a fun day activity. Also, since I'm awake and alert I've been cooking (something I dearly miss) for my roommates on Mondays. I love trying out new recipes so that's been fun. Which leads me to the other bonus of Mondays. I have made a friend here named Catherine (Cat for short) and she is my only other friend with Mondays off of work. So we've deemed Mondays to be "Monday Funday" and plan on doing something fun with our days off.
4. Sick this week- This week I came down with a little cold. Nothing to severe just your general sore throat, mild fever, runny-nose, etc. But my 6th graders ironically were learning about "Health and Illness" right now in science. So, I was able to use myself as an example. (Quote of the week: One of my students asked me "Teacher, are you sick?" and I said "Yes, I have a cold" and he responded with "But teacher, it's sunny outside." Language barriers can be comical).
5. Madrid is EXPENSIVE- Yes, Madrid is a pricey city to live in, but that just forces you to explore more of the city and find the cheapest (sometimes even free) events that are going on. http://madridfree.com/ has proved to be an extremely useful resource for me this year. I've been trying out new bars, restaurants, and neighborhoods each week to find where the best deals and promotions are and it's been a fun adventure so far.
6. Lice- This week we found out multiple students at my school carry lice..... can't really find a silver lining to that situation. I'll let you know if I do ;)
Something else that is unrelated to the theme of the week that happened this week was the "Holi Run," Spain's version of the Color Run. I participated in the Color Run this summer in St. Paul, and new I had to do it again! The run consists of 5 kilometers of running or walking and at each kilometer mark, there is a different color that you are painted with. The paint is a eco-friendly powder that (for the most part) won't stain. The biggest differences I noticed between the Color Run in the US and the Holi Run here is that it is MUCH cheaper here (Only 10€ as opposed to $35) and that in the US there are volunteers that thrown paint on you where as here, you have full access to the paint and throw it on yourself. The self-painting was fun, but a little brutal. Some people would steal full buckets of paint and run off with them, and some people would lay and make snow-angels in the powder (hazardous). But we had a blast at the race and I'm looking forward to the next time I have an opportunity to do it :)