A Travellerspoint blog

A crossroads

and a decision

25 °C

Hey everyone

As most of you know I have been toiling with the idea of whether or not to come home for sometime now. At first it was just homesickness and missing my family and friends, that in itself, I don't think was enough cause for me to come home and I was willing to try and hack it out.

Lately, however, job interviews and offers have me thinking maybe I should come home for another reason. Let me start by stating my goals when I first decided to come to Spain. One was to take a break from school, second was to live a spanish lifestyle, and thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, was to travel. Now the job offers I've gotten have been for little pay and long hours, that is to say with the money I make off the offers I could either live here, or travel, but not both. On top of it I'm afraid that as time goes on for me here in Madrid I will be forced to draw on my savings moreso then I had initially hoped. The result of these three things (low pay, long hours and not-yet-but-soon-to-be dwindling savings) is that I've come to a crossroads. Do I stay here and live in Madrid and achieve the goal of living a spanish lifestyle, or do I go and travel, while I have money and savings and can afford to tool around Europe for a while.

I wrestled with this question for a while and I began to think to myself that I have, for the most part, already achieved my goal of living here in Spain. Granted its not for as long as I had wanted it to be originally, but like it or not, I have lived here and become accustomed to Spanish food, music and the Spanish language. So in light of that I believe that my decision becomes much clearer. I've achieved all of my objectives except one, and that one won't be able to be achieved for much longer. I figure I have to travel and come home early. I don't believe this is a decision I'll in anyway regret and on top of it I might have regretted staying here and not being able to travel.

Now I won't lie, homesickness played a role in this somewhat. Most of you know that I had seriously considered coming home for a while before when I was sick and lonely. I have no doubt that if I wanted to I could stay in Madrid, live and travel limitedly (maybe France, if I was lucky Italy), but I want to see more of Europe than that. In addition I was unimpressed with the work conditions english teachers have to deal with here in Spain. Directors seemed pushy and edgy and made you feel very expendible. Lessons could go as long aos 2.5 to 5 hours at a time. These certainly wasn't what I was told when I made the decision to come here to Spain. I spoke to the EBC director of studies and he said he'd gotten a lot of complaints like that this year; there are just more english teachers in spain than ever before and thus people are in a position to demand long hours for little pay.

Anyway my decision stands to come home at the end of the month. But John, you say, what about in the mean time. Well how about this in the mean time:

Berlin
Budapest
Vienna
Geneva
Rome
Venice
Paris
and Barcelona.

Not too bad all things considered. I'll have a place to stay in Berlin and Paris for the nights I will be there, outside of that i will be staying in Hostels. I will get to internet cafes as much as possible and update about my travels. I am planning on making my return to the States on Sept 30th.

Thank you all very much for your support and advice in helping me make my decisions; it was not an easy one to come to, but ultimatley, I have to believe, the right one.

So while I won't be here for as long as I planned, I will be doing more travelling in the next 15 days than I ever thought possible.

God bless you all and God bless America.

Posted by JohnnyPing 08:09 Archived in Spain

The hunt for a job

So a French person, a german, and an american are walking down the street in Madrid...

Well guys the hunt goes on for a job. Thus far I've had 3 interviews with 2 people offering me a job. One of them needed to know by today if I'd be able to teach. They didn't offer very much pay, though they did offer me fairly regular work. In the end, since I had to decide so soon, I decided it would be best to turn it down and keep the hunt going.

The interviews are quite stressful becuase my spanish has gotten to the point that its better than most language directors english and as soon as they realize that they almost absolutley prefer to conduct the interview in Spanish. Thats not neccesarily a bad thing becuase I understand their spanish better than their english a lot of the time. So while it is pretty neat that i can speak spanish so well, its sort of hard to sell yourself in another language. None the less, I have another job interview tomorrow at 11 that hopefully offers me a better wage.

Times are rough here in Spain, although I had a better day today than before. After turning down the job offer, which is a dificult thing to do, I went out with some of my aptmates, a german and a french and we walked up to a diferent neighborhood in Madrid and had a coffee. It was there that they convinced me that it would be ok to speak english so they could practice. It was there that finally politics were discussed. The french girl wasn't very good at politics so she listened more than spoke, but the german was eager to discuss what was going on in the world, and I was happy to oblige.

The poor kid didn't know what he was up against.

Anyway time will tell how this job situation pans out and what my future plans are. I hope all of you are well back in the States

Peace out mah people

Posted by JohnnyPing 10:31 Archived in Spain

PICTURES

PICTURES!!

I bought a USB cable here in Spain that worked for my camera and have uploaded pictures!!!

They go from most recent to least, so start on page two and go forwards...the two from the other camera are hopelessly out of order, so ignore them.

Once again, the site is:

http://www.travellerspoint.com/photos/gallery/users/JohnnyPing/

This is only about 1/3 of all the pics I have, but a pretty fair sampling.

Enjoy!!

Posted by JohnnyPing 11:00 Archived in Spain

The end of the Course

The job hunt begins.

Hello there everyone, time for another update.

So this week was sort of a closing week. We had pretty much learned everything we were going to learn the weeks before. We were done reviewing grammar by Wed and everything else was more or less about how to present yourself at a job interview and how to conduct yourself at a job interview.

In any event the certificates were printed by friday, and I'm happy to say I passed, though not with distinction. They told me I would have been a strong canidate for that except that I was sick and missed four days during the course (the course was only 4 weeks long...20 days, and I missed a fifth of them). Thats fine though, my marks were very good in the class and my resume was sent out to about 200 sister companies on friday. I've recieved two emails in response so far of people looking for me to come in and interview, so I have those coming up next week. I'm also going to post online and hopefully make some connections that way (it was after all how I got my apt). Next week will be interview week, and after that--work.

Getting back to yesterday though, my teacher in the class was an american who was very anti-american. He had been taking potshots at America and certain beliefs...specifically those of not socialists... for a long time. Yesterday, funnilly enough, two of us had pretty much had it, and since the degrees had already been printed and we'd all ready been reviewed I think we both felt it was ok to speak up. The comment that push myself and Trip, a georgia boy who is about 25, a little bit over the edge came on the heals of a story about a german in someone's apartment apologizing for the actions of her country sixty years ago. The comment was "well the way we're going, our kids and grandkids will have to apologize for our countries actions too." Think about that...pretty much comparing the US now to nazi germany. Well needless to say that sparked a pretty heavy debate, and I think he was more stunned than anything, he had assumed that we wouldn't react cause we hadn't for the entire course. The conversation turned to wallmart and whether those were a good thing for a local economy or not, and while he maintained it was a naive position to think it was beneficial, he couldn't offer one bit of evidence on how it was detrimental...other than the closing of local buisnesses that provided goods and services at a higher price (and I volunteered that as a negative, not him).

So it was an interesting friday. That afternoon I taught a bunch of intermediates and had some advanced dumped in there too...very diferent levels, but I think I managed to make it work. It was a great class to end on.

Last night the teachers got together and had a celebration at a local restaurant with the meal provided for by EBC. It was a good time with Spanish food. I have some great pictures from the restaurant... its a shame I still can't download them. Afterwords we went to one bar and had a few drinks and danced a little before going to an outside bar where we had a few more drinks and some of our students met up with us! That was fun becuase the tables had turned a little and we all were speaking spanish to them rather than they speaking english to us, but we had a good laugh.

The tentative alliance between Trip and I, though, was crushed in a discussion that we had with one of the spaniards about which state was better. Despite being in a foreign country, we felt comfortable enough to joke about a little sectionalism and he talked about how much better and more homely Georgia was. I told him, great you have a warm ocean and more homely people down in Georgia...New York has everything else and we all laughed. Then the spaniard said in Spanish, well isn't New York the better state because Georgia was a rebel state and they lost. I looked at trip and we both laughed and I was like, "ohh hell, I didn't say it" It was pretty funny in any event.

Later we all went to Capital which is the biggest dance club in Spain, 7 floors and very expensive. Again it was a pretty good time, we ended up being out till about 5:30. I wanted to leave earlier, but the students were telling me thats not how you party in Madrid, you have to stay out all night long. In any event it was a good time and things are going well here.

Katrina and other political thoughts (liberals turn back now)

I'd like to just mention a few things about Katrina and whats going on in New Orleans as well. You all know I always have an opinion about everything and you would all know it if I were there. I would like to think I have a unique perspective on things because I'm a little more removed from the situation and am seeing it as a Spaniard sees the event, but in actuality I get most of my information from cnn.com and other american news sources. Spaniards for the most part seem surprisingly unaffected or unmoved by the events in New Orleans.

In fact I was reading "El Mundo" a leftist newspaper here in Spain and their view was very unsympathetic. In the op-ed part of the paper they had two cartoons. One as Bush with an EEUU (USA) label on his shirt, dressed like God and meddling in world affairs. The next one had him, still dressed like that, running away from a huge storm. Another one had a picture of a large woman called mother nature taking a huge bite out of the south of the United States.

I don't know, I was pretty disgusted by images like this. You certainly didn't see sort of thing when the tsunami hit souteast asia and cartoons and editorials like this are politically motivated. I had half a mind to write a scorching letter to the editor, but I figured I wouldn't give them the time of day. There is a reason they aren't the biggest newspaper in Spain. I just felt disgusted...

As disgusted as I felt when I saw the images and read the articles of the mayham that New Orleans has fallen into. For starters these people had 72 hours to evacuate. They were BEGGING people to get on busses to get out of the city and people refused to leave. They are singing quite a diferent tune now. CNN did a great job of showing a video of someone refusing to leave before the hurricane and begging to be evacuated afterwords. What really sickens me were the reports yesterday of looting of not just food (again, wallmart was wondeful, in addition to donating millions of dollars of aid, they opened their doors to all their stores in New Orleans and said to take what they had) but jewlrey and electronics as well. Police were holed up in their police stations fighting off armed gangs. People were being attacked and raped walking on the streets and there were even stories of rapes inside the superdome. I'm just sickened and saddened by this turn of events. I would have liked to have thought that Americans and people struck by a disaster such as this would have unified in the face of such an event (like New Yorkers during 9-11 and the black out) but it really is mayhem down there.

I also noticed it hasn't taken long for the anti-americans to start criticizing bush's handling of the situation. Again, it would seem to me that people should pull together to deal with this problem and then talk about how it was or wasn't handled afterwords. It seems though, every event that happens now adays is an oppurtunity to attack bush and his policies...even when we should be unified in such a disaster. No question of race had yet been brought up in Spain, but already it has been raised in CNN.com. I suppose I should be amazed that we managed to make it this long before some of the elites noticed that the majority of the people in the pictures are black. CNN has also mentioned how many warning signs were ignored before the hurricane and how Bush should have seen something like this coming... It just saddens me I suppose that its come to this in the States... and it saddens me that the stories of heroism are overshaddowed by those of looters. I just wonder what the response would have been if Clinton had been president over an event like this. (The liberal response would be, "it wouldn't have happened if he had been president." Wrap your brain around that one for a while. )

Also has anyone noticed how large some of these people in these pictures are? It seems to me maybe a few of them ought to go a few days without eating.

Ok ok, that last one was a little mean and maybe uncalled for, but slightly true. I was just surprised at how large some of these people are in the pictures I've been seeing.

Thats enough for now I think. I just thought I'd share some of my thoughts on whats going on in New Orleans right now. They as well as the rest of you continue to be in my thoughts and my prayers. Please drop me an email and let me know how you all are doing.

Saludos

Posted by JohnnyPing 07:07 Archived in Spain

Picture Information

New Pictures!

OK, so while updating the picture of Joe and I, I was sent this other picture from a bar about two weeks ago.

In the picture are Linette, Amanda, Dina, and myself

Enjoy

The site is:

http://www.travellerspoint.com/photos/gallery/users/JohnnyPing/

Posted by JohnnyPing 10:59 Archived in Spain

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