Observations After One Month

10 October 2017
  • According to longitudinal logic, we should be an hour earlier than we are. As such, sunrise happens at around 8:30 in the morning, and sunset happens at around 9:30 in the evening.

  • Buenos días is anytime before lunch, and lunch is at 3pm. So "2 in the morning” is actually 2pm, and if you want to talk about 2am, you have to say “2 in the madrugada.”

  • Everyone carpools everywhere. I am part of an elaborate carpool for going to school, a carpool that changes every day and includes people from several different towns. Additionally, I will carpool with complete strangers when I’m traveling. Gas is expensive. It makes a difference.

  • I rely on my able body to meet people: I usually will play fútbol, throw the disc, go on a run with others and get to know them by *doing things* with them. I’m unable to move much at the moment because I hurt my knee playing ultimate. Thus, I am working on new ways of meeting people: sharing food, going to a bar, language exchanges. It’s not as natural for me, but it’s a process and I’m getting better at it.

  • Tiny dogs are easily transportable. I was once in a car in which three of the five were carrying their teeny dogs in their lap.

  • People discuss emotions and mental health differently here, although I can’t quite put my finger on exactly how it’s different. Some examples:

    • "I’m going for a walk with my friend today. She’s very nervous, so she goes on walks a lot to calm down.”
    • "I’m doing pilates today. I really need it: it relaxes me.”
    • “How’d you sleep last night?”
      “Not great. I’m really worried about all the things I have to do.”
    • “How are you doing?”
      “I’m sad because my friend’s dad is sick.”
    • "Loud noises bother you?
      “Oh, is it because you have depression?”
      (I had to respond that, no, it’s not because I have depression, but the fact he asked it so openly and without judgment was astonishing to me.)
  • Being in a classroom where most students do not understand me means that I must be incredibly intentional about the words I use and my body language. It also means that seemingly simple activities can go very wrong. It also means that I am learning a lot.

  • The students in my school are very happy, and there are no discipline issues. To be fair, even the teachers are rather astonished. Tenemos mucha suerte, they say.

  • I have less patience for “cultural differences” than I used to. For example, people smoke here more than in the States. Five years ago, I would’ve seen the situation as a cultural difference that I should learn to accept. The five-years-ago me would look at my present-day me as a judgmental jerk with no open-mindedness towards different cultures. Am I just a grumpier, older white lady?

  • When someone walks their dog, the dog is often without a leash. Thus, the dog might come up to me to play, and the owner can’t do anything about it. I love it.

  • Offering to take photos of people is a great way to meet people, practice Spanish, and feel like you’ve done a good thing. Instant happiness.

  • In and around Santiago de Compostela, you see pilgrims doing the Camino everywhere. People will lament, De dónde salen?

  • The day I find a jalapeño pepper will be a great day.

  • I’ve stayed up late many nights here reading mathematical education blogs. For me, this observation is important because (a) I should be going to bed on time so that I’m patient with the children and (b) I am confirmed in what I think I want to do with my life. On the other hand, it is tough to grapple with why I decided *not* to teach math right now. More to unpack later, I suppose. Paciencia, Meg.

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