I just relaxed at the apartment, which is very nice. My only complaint is that they turn the heat off at night so when I wake up in the morning I am freezing. When I put my feet down on the tile its like stepping on ice. Hopefully this will change as winter comes otherwise I need to start wearing socks to sleep.
Speaking of the change of season, next week in classes we are doing Halloween! I am very excited about the lessons since I have to think of fun activities that all the levels will enjoy. I am always nervous before class but after the first 5 minutes I'm O.K.
On Tuesday I ran around trying to get all my paperwork done so that I can stay in the country legally. I thought everything was O.K. till I got back to the apartment and realized all the papers say 4th floor apartment while I am on the 3rd. Pedro says if the mailman is "listo" he will realize the typo and deliver the mail properly. We will see, I am not worried at all because this is a small tranquil town where almost everyone knows who I am. When I was going around to the different offices people left and right were saying "Hi Paige" and Pedro said "You know the whole town." Hopefully today I will have everything straightened out.
Needless to say everyone is extremely nice, I really can't say that enough. The teachers are especially wonderful. I was not worried about coming here but I had reservations about how I would be received because the reputation of Americans in general is not positive. In the orientation meeting for Americans that I mentioned earlier, they warned us that we had to overcome the negative stereotypes and be ambassadors for our country. But, all the people I have met here have been nothing but lovely to me, of course I try to be considerate to everyone as well. Hospitality is a huge part of the culture here and I have been taking full advantage and I feel terrible about it, as I wrote in my last post. I just can't express to them what it means to me that they are so kind.
After talking with the professors and students here and experiencing American culture while in Spain, I can understand the terrible stereotypes about Americans. The trashy movies, music and other things that are exported to other countries, that at home we dismiss as trash, does nothing to help our image. Unless a person has been to the United States they have only this trash to form an opinion about our culture and way of life. While I don't think the United States has a culture to idolize I don't think it is as bad as the movies and popular tv shows make it out to be.
Also, on Tuesday I lead my first English conversation class. On Tuesdays I talk with any Intermediate level students who want to come practice with me during the 45 minute break. The classes are designed to help the students prepare for their oral exam that comes at the end of the course. They have to speak for at least 3 minutes with correct pronunciation, grammar, and at a normal speed about a prompt given by the teacher. This is extremely hard, I said I would have a hard time doing it in English let alone if I were forced to do it in Spanish. There were 5 students in class this first week which I was told is a good turn-out. I asked the students how much they understand me and I was a little depressed to learn that they only understand about half of what I say. I think it is the difference in accent between British /American but I remember when I was living with my Jamaican roommate it took about 4 weeks but eventually I could understand her perfectly. On Wednesdays I have conversation class with the Advanced level students. There were only 2 students in the first class, but we had a good converstion which was encouraging. I am hopeful that as the year goes on I will have more students once people find out about how great I am ..... HAHAHA! (If I lose students since I might be crap and my classes are non-compulsory I won't be posting more about them!)
Next week I have the Halloween lesson plan Monday and Tuesday and on Wednesday and Thursday, I am going to Zaragoza to take a special course for language assistants. I am nervous because I am going bymyself, Ana, my tutor, wants to come with me but the course is scheduled 6-9 p.m. so it is not possible. It is strange to me that the government made it so that virtually none of the language assistants or tutors who work in official language schools are able to go to the course. In my opinion people who want to learn the most English at the best level go to language schools because they have the best program. But, since language schools are non-compulsory education they get over-looked. I got special permission to miss teaching on Wednesday with the condition I take very good notes and come back and tell them everything I learned. I am nervous because I think it is totally in Spanish, like the orientation. While my listening and speaking have improved, I still don't feel very confident. Though when I speak with people no one has outright laughed at me, so that is a good sign, though I think people are just being kind to the poor American girl.
Hopefully when I come back to Tarazona next Friday morning I will have internet and can do another blog entry, no promises though.
I am not sure if this blog is interesting enough. I think I am writing about interesting things but of course it is my blog. If there is anything that you want to ask message me so that I might answer it in the next post. And, to answer my mother, I can't take pictures of the professors, students, etc. without seeming creepy and weird. I will have occasion to take their picture in the 7 1/2 more months that I am here I hope, but I am not going to go from the nice American language assistant to the weirdo with the camera! By the way.... they really do think that I am nice and I said I need to record all the nice things they say about me so that my parents can hear!