News from Back Home

Being so far from home is a bit of a double-edged sword: I am not sucked into the drama (and my family has a lot of drama; we’re a large and stubborn lot) but at the same time, when something happens, I am too far away to actually be of any use. It both keeps me free of the craziness but also makes me feel guilty that I am not shouldering my fair share of any burdens or sharing in any of the joy.

Case in point: my little brother called a little while ago and told me that he and his girlfriend are expecting! I didn’t even know what to say. I love his girlfriend, she’s great, but a) they fight a lot and b) I can’t tell if he’s excited about it. If we were face to face, I could probably have figured it out but just hearing his voice on the other end of the phone made it difficult to figure out. And because of the time difference, I was in a restaurant eating dinner, so I couldn’t even hear his voice all that well. It seemed awkward and a little rude to my dinner companions to ask my brother to switch to FaceTime, so I just said that it was wonderful news and that I thought they would make great parents. He kind of snickered at that—bad sign, I know—and then changed the subject. I followed his lead, and soon we were talking about Dad’s latest girlfriend.

I love what I am doing here and the language immersion has done amazing things for my vocabulary and accent.However, it is times like this that I wished that I owned my own jet or something.Then I could go home as often as I felt like, because I know none of them are going to fly here. It’s weird: I am not what I would call homesick. I don’t even miss speaking English all that much—I guess I get my quota of that teaching class—and I can’t say that I miss living in the United States at this point (although that could be sour grapes because I couldn’t find a job therendsince I had no money, needed to move back in with my folks before I got the job here). I am sure if I saw my brother on a regular basis, we’d fight like we typically do, and I certainly don’t miss that. Sometimes I am actually glad there’s an ocean between me and my entire family, which might be a terrible thing to admit. Good thing I haven’t told them about this blog, I guess, haha! I guess the thing that I miss is the idea of my family, the fictional scenario where we all get along and everything is super.

Well, writing this post has certainly helped put things in perspective and given me an idea. I am going to video call him later and see if I can gauge his reaction. At the very least, I will ask for the due date and offer to fly home, and see what he says from there. Wish me luck!

Teaching in Reverse

Technically, this job has me teaching in reverse. My ideal job is teaching Spanish, not English. I couldn’t find any jobs like that near me. Even when I expanded how far I was willing to commute, I came up empty. There was some translating work, and I looked into that because it could have been interesting, but nothing came from those interviews.

I managed to find a few Spanish to English teaching jobs but English is so much harder to teach. It is not that I don’t like English;it’s that there are so many rules and I don’t understand them all. For example, the word isn’t funner, it is more fun. There’s a reason behind that and I just don’t know it. I know the right answer because I know what sounds better, not because I understand a bunch of grammar rules that I probably last went over in elementary school. Then there are words that we just can’t agree on how to pronounce. Like pecan. I know half of you read that as pea-can and the rest as puh-cahn. Other languages have accent marks specifically to make things like that less ambiguous. You could argue that now I’m talking about dialects, and that happens just about everywhere, and you might be right. All I’m saying is that English doesn’t give you a lot of guidance.

Then I found this job. It’s only a year of teaching Spanish to English, mostly so you get the experience of living in Spain and expanding your vocabulary so that you can reach a native speaker level of fluency. It also sounds impressive to the parents on school nights. It is a win-win for both me and the company I work for: I get to live in Spain for a year and get paid to do it, teaching a language that I already know while getting experience in the thing I want to do professionally (teach and speak Spanish all day long). Then I go back to their school in the U.S. and teach the students there to speak Spanish.

When I originally did the interview, I honestly didn’t think I was going to get a callback. This job just seemed way too good to be true. Then I did get a callback and a second interview. It was amazing. The language department head and I really hit it off, and before I knew it, she had offered me the job. What!?! Me, working for a high-caliber private school that when I was younger, I wouldn’t even have had the grades to get into? That seems funny to me.

I keep thinking that I am dreaming. I close my eyes in my flat that I share with another teacher, and expect to wake up at home in my childhood bedroom at my parents’ house. So far that hasn’t happened, but I haven’t been able to stop thinking it at night!