On Wednesday night a bunch of us met at Montadito's aka my Wednesday night home for the next too many weeks to count. This bar/tapas place is all over the city but the one we went to was in Plaza Santa Ana, and it's things like this - the plaza, the dinner that stretches for four hours, the wine with friends on a weekday night - that people (me?) think of when they think of Europe. We were talking about this as we sipped (ok chugged, sangria tastes like juice) our drinks, and comparing how different it is in the States. Hmm.. Things are different here for sure, but we're also a very privileged bunch who got to come over here, get our Master's degree paid for, and receive a monthly stipend just because we happened to have been born in an English-speaking country. In an earlier post I mentioned that unemployment among people my age-group is enormously high, and it's tough not feeling somewhat guilty that it's so easy for us while other people are really struggling. And as much as I love travel and living abroad, I'm really reluctant to idealize life in a foreign country (or a domestic one, just sayin'). I think it can be really irresponsible for people to drop in on a place, take the best of what the country has to offer, and ignore the fact that theirs isn't a typical experience. That's how a lot of travel is, though. Maybe we ignore it when we're abroad because once we go back to our real lives it's right there staring us in the face.
The next morning I read in a new series on the job situation in Spain, that one particular woman my age had studied English, German and Spanish Language Education, but was unable to find employment. She'd applied for a number of scholarship programs much like the one I'm in and was denied acceptance to all. Take note: I am very very much of the opinion that the simple fact of being born outside a certain country should not preclude you from the opportunity of employment in that country (I'm talking to you, Border Patrol), however, something seems off in the fact that it's so difficult for qualified Spaniards to get available work. http://www.elpais.com/articulo/espana/Igual/Lost/serie/elpepuesp/20100922elpepunac_24/Tes
I'm working on a Powerpoint presentation for when I start at Colegio and have the first class to introduce myself and where I'm from - don't worry, I include Goldie Gopher in the Minnesota slide. I have pictures from the other places I've lived, and it's going to be fun explaining how I was in Quito for four months but "the only Spanish I know is 'hola,' 'buenos días,' y 'adiós'." This is what the English professor at the Colegio told me to say if the kids ask, so they don't try to speak Spanish with me. "Party peeps, it's very important that you all learn Spanish. It's so important that I only speak English and know only four words outside of my language." In our grad classes we're learning ways to avoid using Spanish with the students if they don't understand a word. For example, if they don't know the word 'apple,' you can say it's red and it's a fruit, and then hopefully they'll be able to understand you're talking about a manzana. I heard from another girl that she was explaining this technique to her students and had turned it into a game by coming up with words for her students to describe to another student, so she could try to guess based on the description. The first hint the class gave was "It's brown." The student didn't know. The second hint: "It's the perfect substitute for sex."