Reception, End of Orientation, Beginning of Beginnings

9 09 2010

Munching breakfast goodies in the Colegio Mayor Mendel caf’.

The lovely catered reception Fulbright threw for us, complete with caviar and champagne (sometimes it pays to work for the government).

Post-champagne, however, it turns out getting Fulbrighters out of the reception hall is much like herding cats.

La voy pasando de maravilla.
“I am passing it like a marvel.”

Okay okay, so I am having a marvelous time! No qualifications, no reservations, no “if-onlys.” This city and I are deeply communing. Each time I pause to check the blocky lights of pisos on the skyline, the soft breeze tickling the trees sprouting everywhere out of the sidewalks, the plazas full of the smoke of sharply-dressed Spaniards, the distinct aromas winding their way out of each and every door (tortilla espanola! indian curry! comida cubana! lebanese pitas! doner kebabbb!!), I find myself filled with the joy of possibilities stretching themselves out before me in this gorgeous, vivacious place.

I realize deeper than ever before that you get out of life exactly what you put into it, both in terms of effort and love. You can work really hard at being angry! I’m in such an excellent place internally that I’m seeing opportunites for excitement and adventure everywhere I look – this year is already AMAZING.

Fulbright ETAs teach approximately 16 hours a week, which is spread out over four days. This leaves us with plenty of time each night to play with as we wish, plus a three-day weekend during which absolutely anything is possible. You can bet that yours truly is bubbling over with glee at the range of possibilities. I’m thinking writing for a local newspaper, picking up a class in German, beginning a mural project, slam poetry, volunteer work, tutoring for some spending money, starting up international cooking classes, visiting el País Vasco, starting work on my first book…

I begin my actual Fulbright work at José Luis Sampedro on the 15th – you can anticipate another outpouring of emotion then. I’ll be working with Global Classrooms, a Model UN program in Spain and beyond. During orientation, we were briefed on what it will end up looking like, and also informed that it will simultaneously be one of the most exhausting and rewarding experiences of our time here. The students apparently ADORE it, and my school should be well-versed in how it goes down since they’ve done it several times in previous years.

On Tuesday, we did a mock debate regarding landmines, complete with country placards and rules of decorum. My old speech-and-debate sensors fired all at once; I ate it up. Point of inquiry! Point of personal privilege! Motion to suspend debate! I am going to have a blast.

I also very briefly met my coordinator, Rachel, whose English has an impeccable British accent. She also looks uncannily like…… me. I am going to have to get a photo to prove it, I know, but I saw her across the room and did a double take, thinking at first that my aunt Janet had somehow snuck her way into my luggage. She even has the short dark hair going on – no fauxhawk, however.

Speaking of which, apparently dress code for teaching in Spain is incredibly informal. I won’t be out of place with a button-down shirt and slacks, but a blazer might be pushing it. I plan to push it! The flexibility will be wonderful, though.

Fulbrighters are slooowly dispersing across the city; I’d give a wild guess that perhaps half of us have found pisos already. I’m really glad I reserved the room at Colegio Mayor Mendel through the 11th; it’s not in a very useful area of town, but the convenience of not having to worry about moving my luggage is absolutely worth it.