Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Abono to pick with you

The honeymoon is over. My feet are on the ground. No more feeling like I'm in a whirlwind that won't settle down. I've now finished my orientation into my job and things are starting to get real. But that is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I'd go as far as to say it's a great thing. During "the whirlwind", as I decided to call it in that third sentence, I think I was experiencing a weird mentality. I mean, I haven't had any kind of responsibilities until now so I felt almost like a tourist which was bad because I'm realizing now that I actually live here and there will be no end to the expensive lifestyle. So unless I'm making money, I need to stop spending it. Not that I've been going out every night to eat or anything like that, quite the opposite really. (As I've told about before, I've mostly been hanging out with the Colombians.) But I think I could have been being a little bit more conscious of money. Here is an example:

Hugo has a son, David, who is 21 years old. When I arrived Hugo told me that David wanted to help me find a phone. So I was in my room one time and David came in and asked me what I was looking for in a phone. I told him I just need to be able to make phone calls and send text messages. Well, he showed up a day or two later with a pretty nice phone. Now, I was going along with this whole thing because I was under the impression that it would be cheaper to get a hand-me-down phone from David. So when he handed me the phone I thought it looked a little bit too nice. So when I asked him how much it was he told me that he would only charge me 50 Euros. I didn't want to be rude so I was said OK but on the inside I was thinking "umm.. WHAT!" 50 Euros is about 75 dollars for you people who don't know. Oh! I should explain that these phones are prepaid so you aren't paying for any kind of plan or anything. What you have to do after that is buy a SIM card to put in the phone, which for me cost about 24 more Euros, which put about 12 Euros towards minutes. So I spent a grand total of 74 Euros on a phone that does things that I will never use it for, like play music and take pictures. At this point it was early on. Ya know, during "the whirlwind", so it wasn't quite hitting me how bad of a deal I was getting. Until I found out that my friends in the program all bought phones that came with cards for 20 Euros. 20 Euros!!!! Once I found out about that and the money woes started to hit, I decided I needed to say something to Hugo. I talked to him last night and at first he wasn't understanding what I was saying but eventually he figured it out. He kept swearing to me that the 20 Euro price was a gimmick they were using to reel you into a contract but I showed him online how that wasn't the case. He said he would talk to David and see if he can work out getting me the money back in exchange for the phone. It's still a little uncomfortable for me because I don't want to piss of David, but I can't afford to spend that much money on a phone. That has honestly been one of my biggest challenges so far. I guess that's not so bad.

So as I have mentioned in the past, the school where I will be teaching is in the town ofMajadahonda, which is a good distance out of the city. What is really awesome about this (to be read with a sarcastic tone), is that when you work that far out of the city the transportation costs are made to reflect the distance that you're traveling. Isn't that nice of them? Anyway, in order to have unlimited access to all of the transportation between the city andMajadahonda, I must pay 60 Euros a month to get an abono for zone B2. The zone thing works based on how far out you are going. B2 just so happens to be the most expensive one that they offer. Yay! These are the kinds of things that are constantly coming at me and are making me realize that I have to be extremely careful this next month until we get our first paychecks.

While I'm thinking about it, I'm going to go back and make all my Spanish words bigger and in bold print so they will be like key words and you guys can pretend you're learning something. Haha.

Here's some more Spanish for you: jornada de formaciĆ³n. That's what they called our orientation. I had some mixed feelings about the whole thing. I think it definitely gave me a great sense of what this whole thing is about and why we are here. Spain, and the rest of Europe really, are being very aggressive about teaching their young children English. They are putting a lot of money into bringing us here and it's a very intense bilingual program that they have here. The downside of orientation was that there was a ton of boring information and then they would try and slip in some pedagogical skills on the fly which I just don't see as being very realistic. I mean, I liked having examples of what we can do with the kids, but you aren't going to be able to make us all certified elementary school teachers in two hours. The great thing about it has been hanging out with some of my new friends. Now, I'm trying not to only surround myself with Americans, but I feel like since I'll only be speaking Spanish at home, that gives me some leeway with who I hang out with. Things are going to change once we all start working, but I think I've met some pretty awesome people so far and I'm hoping that we all hang out regularly.

In other news, I have been unable to shake this stupid cold that I've had for the last few days. I think it has been my funky sleep schedule since I arrived, plus the slight change in climate. My hope is that I can at least feel normal by the time I start work on Thursday. Tomorrow is a day off so I'll be able to rest, but then it all gets started! The great thing is that more than likely I'll have every Friday off so I will probably do one day of work Thursday and then head into a long weekend. Woo hoo!

Although this post has pretty much been dominated by all the challenges I've been facing, I hope I'm not giving the impression that I'm unhappy. There are a few things that I can think of that I know God has provided in order to keep me safe. For example, I literally think I would have already run out of money if it hadn't been for the fact that I ended up in an apartment with people who were cooking meals everyday. Otherwise I probably would have already given up on cooking at home all the time and I would have been spending more on meals out in the city. Well, that's all for now! Thanks for reading everyone.


*Pictures: 1) This is how I spent most of my time in orientation. I had 2 friends with me, one from Kansas and the other from southern California. I decided to draw their homes. 2) Then I tried to draw Maryland from memory so they could more or less see where things are situated. Not bad, right? 3) That is at the end of orientation when they called us up one at a time to make sure our documents were in order so that we can get our residency cards. 4) This is my abono . The most important part is the little ticket that says "Oct 09". I have to take that out and pass it through the machines on all the busses and metros. If I lose it, I have to pay another 60 Euros.

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