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7 posts categorized "Bethany Malzman"

Lessons

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As I’m about to enter my last full week of teaching abroad I am still at a lost for words as to what I should say about my time so far. Obviously, spending three months immersed in a entirely different culture has felt as if I just stepped out of my life for a little bit with the hopes that whatever happens would help me discover more about myself. Although expected, I have experienced challenges every day working as as an English teacher, ranging from controlling a class of 20+ 13-year-olds who don’t speak the same language as me to understanding the dynamics among teachers and students. With the latter I am referring to the culture shock of a rural school where there is such a familiarity among students and teachers to the point where, to me, the way students behave can come off as openly disrespectful. However, I have been learning these past couple of months that, instead of judging everything that is different, I need to contextualize that yes, I am in a new culture that I can’t reconcile everything. Sometimes you have to use what’s new as tools for better understanding where you come from and how you can apply these differences to future experiences. Therefore I think it is best to reflect on what I have learned from my time in rural Spain in a holistic context. With that I mean considering all my experiences, not just teaching, because inevitably they all have and continue to shape me. So here I go…

Take time for yourself (aka siestas are good for you). Yes, I am taking advantage of the afternoon “break time” embedded in Spanish culture. This essentially means that in the afternoons it is common for people to not work, go home and relax (sometimes nap) for a few hours and then go back to work at night. This is perfect to avoid over-working and to keep yourself grounded instead of feeling exhausted all day, especially as I go back to being a Dartmouth student.

Time and money don’t mean everything - never stare at your watch and never base your priorities in life solely on money. At the end it’s the people and places who you surround yourself with that matter more because they are still there for you when money isn’t.

Don’t ever be afraid to open your mind and go somewhere new. I have had many opportunities to travel, whether that be to large cities or even smaller villages than the one I am living in now and am glad I didn’t just chose to stick with what I know but to see new places and new ways of life. I think it is important for all of us to make an effort to do that in our lives because if we don’t we are just going to let our bubble of familiarity mark the rest of our lives.

Always go for dessert and that extra glass of wine. The way Spaniards eat here is a little different than in the U.S., with the main difference being that eating is very social to the point where people very rarely eat alone and that large meals can last more than 3 hours. People here eat and drink to enjoy life and those around them rather than counting calories. The concept of just going out to a bar or cafe to “tomar algo” with someone also signifies the importance placed on the people in life rather than things.

Words cannot describe the beauty in nature and we should always take time away from the busyness of life to appreciate tranquility. I am still not a nature person (partially thanks to being raised by parents from NYC) but having had the opportunity to live amongst the mountains and go on a few hikes and just think, I don’t believe there’s another way to feel at peace with the world, no matter what is going on in your life.

Always listen to kids. Not only do they have a lot to say but a lot of questions and insight into the world. I have enjoyed working with the kids in my high school and have actually learned so much from just taking the time to talk to them.

There is much more to communicating than by just with words. Being that my main struggle here has been with the language, I’ve learned to read people’s faces better and that tones and expressions sometimes matter more when talking to someone and that you should always be conscious of that.

The importance of community in one’s life, whether that be your family, close friends, people you work with and interact with everyday or those that make time for you (so make time for them too)

What it means to truly love

For this post, I tried writing a Spanish version on my own so please bear with the errors :)

Mientras estoy empezando mi última semana entera de ser profesora en el extranjero, todavía no sé las palabras que debo decir sobre mi tiempo aquí. Obviamente, porque estoy pasando tres meses metiéndome en lleno en una cultura distinta, sentí como si hubiera salido de mi vida por un rato con la esperanza de lo que pasaría me ayudaría descubrir más sobre quién soy. Aunque me los figuraba, experimentaba retos cada día trabajando de profesora de inglés, como manejando un clase de 20+ alumnos de la edad 13, quienes no hablan el mismo idioma que yo, y entendiendo los dinámicos entre profesores y alumnos. Con el último me refiero al choque cultural de un instituto rural donde hay tanta familiaridad entre alumnos y profesores hasta el punto que, en mi opinión, el comportamiento de los alumnos puede mostrar una falta de respeto. Sin embargo, en estos meses estoy aprendiendo que, en vez de juzgar a todo que me parece diferente, necesito contextualizar que si, estoy en una nueva cultura y por eso, no puedo reconciliar todo. A veces tienes que utilizar lo que es nuevo como herramientas para entender mejor a dónde eres y cómo puedes aplicar esas diferencias a tus experiencias en el futuro. Entonces, creo que es mejor reflejar en lo que he aprendido de mi tiempo en Espana rural a través de un contexto holístico. Es decir que voy a considerar todas de mis experiencias, no solo las de enseñar, porque inevitablemente todas me han moldeado y continúan a moldearme. Así que aquí voy...

Dedica tiempo para ti (siestas son buenos). Si, estoy aprovechando de las horas de descanso por las tardes que son un gran parte de la cultura española. Fundamentalmente significa que en las tardes, es común no trabajar, ir a casa y relajar (a veces dormir la siestas) por algunas horas y después volver a trabajar por la noche. Es perfecto para evitar trabajando demasiado duro y para basar tu vida en ti en vez de estar cansado todo el día, lo que será importante para mi cuando vuelva a ser estudiante de Dartmouth.

El tiempo y el dinero no son todos - nunca mires tu reloj todo el día y nunca bases tus prioridades de la vida solamente en el dinero. Al final la gente y los lugares que están en tu alrededor son los que te importan más porque todavía están allí para ti cuando el dinero no está.

Nunca tengas miedo de abrir la mente y ir a un sitio nuevo. He tenido muchas oportunidades para viajar, ya sea a las ciudades grandes o pueblos más pequeños que mi pueblo y me alegro que yo no solo quedara con lo familiar sino experimentar nuevos lugares y maneras de vivir. Creo que es importante para intentar hacerlo en nuestras vidas porque si no lo hacemos, lo que es familiar marcará el resto de nuestras vidas.

Siempre come el postre y bebe la copa extra de vino. La manera en que los españoles comen aquí es un poco diferente que hay los Estados Unidos, con la diferencia principal siendo que a comer es más social hasta al punto donde rara vez se come solo y que comidas grandes pueden durar más de 3 horas. Ellos comen y beben para gozar la vida y hablar con otros en vez de comer para contar las calorías. El concepto de ir a un bar o café para tomar algo con alguien también significa la importancia de las personas que existen en tu vida sobre las cosas materiales.

Las palabras no pueden describir la belleza en la naturaleza y siempre debemos dedicar tiempo fuera de la vida ocupada para apreciar la tranquilidad. Todavía no soy una persona de la naturaleza (gracias a mis padres de la ciudad de Nueva York) pero haber tenido la oportunidad de vivir entre las montañas y dar algunos paseos y pensar, no creo que haya otra manera donde se puede estar en paz con el mundo a pesar de lo que está pasando en tu vida.

Siempre escucha a los niños. No solo tienen mucho para decir pero también tienen muchas preguntas y percepciones del mundo. Fue un placer conocer a los alumnos en mi instituto y de verdad y he aprendido mucho porque he dedicado tiempo para hablar con ellos.

Hay mucho más para comunicarse que no son en las palabras. Porque mi dificultad principal aquí ha sido el idioma, he aprendido leer las caras mejor y que los tonos y expresiones a veces valen más cuando se habla con alguien y que siempre debes estar consciente de eso.

La importancia de la comunidad en la vida, ya sea tu familia, amigos cercanos, la gente que trabaja contigo, ellos que se relacionan contigo cada día o ellos que dedican el tiempo para ti (entonces, dedica tiempo para ellos también)

Lo que significa amar de verdad

Un abrazo,

Beth

The Uncomfortable Life

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I’ve always lived by the quote that goes something like “life begins when you step out of your comfort zone.” This means that I like to keep the perspective that once you’re settled and feel comfortable with where you’re at in life, something ought to change. I’m aware that many people would not agree with this view and would question what kind of person would choose to get rid of the peace that she has right now in her life, namely who would choose discomfort over comfort? I am not underrating the happiness that comes with comfort - I mean, who doesn’t enjoy those lazy Sunday mornings in bed where you can allow the sound of the TV and coffeemaker to consume your world, where you can feel both physically and mentally comfortable with yourself. I am however emphasizing what I find as important when it comes to making life meaningful and interesting - and that involves opening doors that we have always imagined as being forever shut and treating each day as a new opportunity to learn and make mistakes. It’s understanding that you’ll never do anything perfect but at the same time there’s no loss in trying. It’s accepting that you’ll make many mistakes and that you never want to wake up one day thinking “I should have..” or “I wish I had…” because that would just be a waste of time. It’s instead being brave enough to let go of the normal and easy and bracing the challenge and foreign. In this sense I do not imply that latter invokes a negative outlook on life but rather makes the unfamiliar now familiar. But even if the negative comes to fruition and dominates the positive, so be it. At least I will always know I tried.

Now, what does all this abstractness have to do with teaching abroad at 20? It explains exactly why I decided to embark on this experience in the first place and to be honest, I must say that it has been uncomfortable and challenging (and it’s still not over!) and that yes, I could have done something more comfortable and easier with my time off. This past weekend my Spanish family took me climbing up a mountain with four large dogs in the cold snow. Many of you reading this know that I am not a fan of heights nor hiking nor snow but I went anyway, imagining it would be short and that I might actually enjoy it. Unfortunately, I’m not mentioning this to bring you a happy story; on the contrary I hated the hike and felt that with every step I was going to slip and fall to my doom and I wouldn’t even have cell service my last moments. Of course, four plus hours later I made it back and survived another week teaching English. 

My Spanish sister, Mónica, kept reminding me (in Spanish, of course) that I needed to trust her and there was no point in being scared of something that you have not tried yet. She told me that I needed to look at this as a new experience and that you can’t live in fear of something foreign to you. Being my stubborn self I responded by saying that I will never do something like this for the rest of my life (a promise I still plan on keeping today, says the Floridian in me). However, Mónica is 100% right. You should never choose to not put yourself out there for the sake of failure and disappointment, no matter where you are in life. Because my time here in Spain is teaching me how to live without expectations (frankly, Spaniards still surprise me everyday) I plan on continuing to incorporate this new fearlessness into every aspect of my life, from relationships to work to the knowledge I take in every day. I guess this is what is characterizing my hiatus, understanding how to change the feeling of being out of place to one of knowing you had the courage to leave your comfort zone and be there.

Un abrazo,

Beth

p.s. for those wondering, I will be returning to the U.S. in exactly 20 days :0 

Where Do I Go From Here

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There is something strange and scary about getting used to a new place while at the same time feeling so out of place. I learned it takes strength and courage to find comfort in the uncomfortable and contentment in the challenge. It also takes a certain type of person to take the leap so early in their lives to leave what they call home for a change that they knew would not be easy. Being here in Spain definitely places me in this category, especially knowing that my hiatus here would not be equivalent to a vacation nor a continuance of my 2017. For instance, what would qualify as a challenge in my American life (i.e. a 30-page research paper) does not necessarily define what a challenge means here. I am learning what it means to be challenged with basic everyday interactions and yes, the language barrier plays the most important role in making socializing a bit hard for someone outgoing like me. However, what actually takes precedence are the cultural differences, which despite being on the less extreme side, are still pronounced in my everyday life.

You walk into a bar (which yes, people do very often here) and it's awkward to decide who's going to pay for the drinks. Spain has the custom of paying in rounds, which means that one person would pay for the entire group while someone else would pay the next time - something inherently agreed upon. The American ideal of individualism is lost here because it is considered rude to pay for oneself, a concept that I am slowly beginning to accept. Growing up in an individualistic society, I am grateful for the shift to having a not so you’re-on-your-own mindset and knowing that there’s more important things in life than your own pleasure.

It is also a whole spectacle to say goodbye or end some sort of event here. The concept of saying “Bye, I have to go, see you later” does not fly by here. You are indebted to wait for everyone to mutually agree to leave or to begin the process of leaving the group 20 minutes or so before you actually need to leave. People also very rarely spend time alone, which shows the priority of community over all things. It began to make sense to me why Spanish people do not stop talking (what even is silence...?). Perhaps the idea of loneliness scares them as it does to almost anyone or that its so ingrained in the lifestyle that they cling onto the idea of family and socializing to avoid the uncomfortable.

Every day at school, all the teachers go out to the bar across the street to talk and drink coffee during the recess period, no matter how much work they have to do they stop and head out. It’s easy to question why they don’t just drink coffee while doing work during the break period, a classic example of efficiency and good time management. But you see, the point is not to caffeinate but to catch up, to socialize, to do your part in upholding to the community that, in my perspective, makes the society I’m living in now run smoothly.

Now - where do I go from here? Do I go back to the U.S. and casually assimilate back into my home culture and forget how my time in Spain has and continues to change me? It seems like then I would be calling my time here a waste, which it is not. I finally understand what it’s like to live in a place where one lives for others rather than for oneself. At Dartmouth (and away from there too) it can feel as if everyone is on their own, looking out for their own best interests which has always perplexed me. Now I understand what it means to live for the coffee breaks and bar hopping, for who matters most to you (and here’s a hint - it’s not yourself). Therefore from here I go with that in mind, never taking for granted the little things people do for you and living in a world beyond myself.

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Un abrazo,

Beth <3 




What it means to experience

As I am starting to write this blog, I am realizing that I have just passed my first month here in Spain. Sounds like I’m counting down a pregnancy, but it’s nice to know I made it ⅓ of the way without messing up (too much) or feeling as if I made a mistake coming here. Now, when I think about, I don’t want March to come so soon - I don’t mind the superfluous time I have to myself away from the academic rigor of Dartmouth. Most of my weekdays are spent at the high school or in my little town, and the kids are beginning to grow on me. Especially the younger ones (and by younger I mean 8th and 9th grade, still young). Although there are many norms about the education system here that still seem a mystery to me, such as why skipping school seems to have zero consequences and how some days buses just decide not to run, I find that I am enjoying my life as a teacher and can maybe see myself doing this full-time.

If I decide to pursue a career as a teacher, people might speculate why risk my Ivy League education for a not-so-high-paying job? But what I find more curious to question is why not? Why not dedicate your life to not only something you love to do but something that makes an impact? Living in a country where money is not number-one on people’s mental lists of priorities, I’m beginning to understand through experience that there’s so much more to life than your paycheck. Its sounds very cheesy to say, but something I always knew as a kid was that whatever I would be doing in my life, I don’t ever want to wake up one morning dreading going to work. Although teaching English is not easy, especially at a rural high school where many kids know very few English words, I am finding that I am learning along with them by simple interactions. This week, for instance, I discussed with some of students American versus Spanish symbols, or icons that represent culture, and loved the passion these kids had for jamón (for those that don’t know, jamón is a Spanish ham and is very typical to eat here). And of course I used the timing of the Super Bowl last Sunday to talk about U.S. v. Spanish football - which pretty much excited everyone in the room to explain to me, the naive American girl, what is real football.

Recognizing my the ephemeralness of my time here comes with thinking more about what I am taking back with me to the U.S. (besides more clothes and a Cultural Leonesa beer bottle). That’s when the phrase “collect moments not things” starts to make more sense - here I am striving to make memories of each day, of each of my traveling adventures, who I meet and what I do that opens my mind to different ways to thinking and being. I came into this experience forgoing the hope of expectations and choosing instead to live with what comes my way, which is a choice I am proud of and encourage anyone searching for a change in their lives to consider. I hope to return with not just a greater appreciation for different cultures but with a newfound perspective on what it means to live for experience. Not a concept well taken by many Americans, but nonetheless something I find important for understanding your place in this world.

Hasta luego,
Beth

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También escribí en español y por favor, tenga paciencia - todavía estoy aprendiendo el idioma :) 

Estoy dándome cuenta de que pasé un mes aquí en España mientras escribo este blog. Suena como si estuviera contando un embarazo, pero es bueno saber que cumplí ⅓ de mi tiempo aquí sin fallar o sentir que todo fue un error  No quiero que marzo venga tan pronto - me encanta el tiempo para mi mismo y estar fuera del rigor académico de Dartmouth. Paso la mayoría de mis días en el instituto o en mi pueblo y por eso, me estoy cayendo bien los alumnos, específicamente los menores (de las edades 13, 14, y 15). Aunque hay cosas de la sistema educativa de aquí que me parecen raras, como la normalidad de faltar a clase y que los autobuses no funcionan todos los días, estoy contenta con mi vida de profesora de inglés y quizás puedo perseguir esta carrera.

Si decido perseguir esa carrera, la gente pensará ¿por qué estoy tirando mi educación del Ivy League por un trabajo que no se paga mucho? ¿Pero por qué no? Por qué no dedicarte a una vida donde haces que lo quieras y lo que significa algo importante? Vivo ahora mismo en una sociedad donde no le importa mucho el dinero y, por mi experiencia, pienso que hay más en la vida que el sueldo. De niña, siempre sabía que nunca iba a despertarme y sentir que no quería ir al trabajo. Aunque el trabajo de profesora de inglés no es tan fácil, específicamente en un instituto rural donde no saben muchas palabras en inglés, estamos aprendiendo juntos cada día. La semana pasada, por ejemplo, hablamos sobre símbolos de los Estados Unidos y de España y me gustó la pasión de los alumnos por el jamón. Y también, por la casualidad del Super Bowl este mes, discutimos las diferencias entre futból americano y el futból que juegan los españoles. Se alegraron mucho cuando me explicaron el futból.

Cuando me daba cuenta de mi tiempo aquí no durará para siempre, también pensaba en cómo cambiaría mi vida cuando vuelva a los EEUU (además de tener más ropa y la cerveza de la Cultural Leonesa). Ahora viene la frase “recoger los momentos no las cosas” - cada día intento de hacer recuerdos de cada aventura del viaje, conocer gente, experimentar cosas que abren la mente a diferentes formas de pensar. Llegué aquí sin esperanzas y decidí que iba a vivir en el momento, y ahora estoy orgullosa de esa decisión y digo que si estés buscando por un cambio en tu vida, considéralo. Espero que vuelva a mi país con una apreciación por diferentes culturas y con una perspectiva nueva de lo significa vivir por la experiencia. A pesar de que muchos americanos no adoptan esa cosa, me parece muy importante para entender tu propósito en nuestro mundo.

Hasta luego,
Beth

Time Is (Maybe) An Illusion

It’s a curious thing, time here in Spain - it seems to follow the speed of light while still lingering around the so-called ticking time clock that we all at least once in our lives watched with fury, waiting for something else to begin. My days at my Spanish high school are starting to become a routine as well as the names of people there (I wonder if it’s a coincidence that I can only remember those of the English-speaking teachers…). This grudgingly brings me to my struggle with reconciling my pre(or mis)conception that I had at least somewhat of a hold of the Spanish language and culture. In reality, I have found the lack of English to be the bane of my existence here as ironic as that seems being that I am an English teacher. Now, I know I am exaggerating, but I can say for certain that I understand what it’s like to feel different, even alone at times but still part of a larger community and family. And surprisingly I have found ease knowing I may never fully assimilate into this community even though it will always be there.

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Looking back on these past few weeks, I am able to focus on my two non-exclusive reasons for being here: (1) to teach english and leave a mark on this small town and (2) to explore the beautiful country of Spain and take advantage of my time off from Dartmouth. And thus my desire to travel led me to the heart of Madrid for a weekend where, for the first time not only was I able to hold multiple English conversations and get to know others teaching abroad with this program, but finally stepped into a big city that I could perhaps call home one day. Madrid has taught me the value of relationships, beauty in nature and architecture, and the liveliness of a cosmopolitan but yet tranquil city. Being with my host family in Ponferrada or Salamanca for a little getaway or spending an afternoon in León (the closest city to my little
pueblo), I am slowing beginning to realize the beauty of life in Spain. With that I can say I made the right choice (few of you know about my internal conflict of whether or not I should come here, but rest assured that I wouldn't have changed a thing).

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There are many things that defined life in the United States that I have always taken for granted (one being peanut butter) and hardships that come with living within a culture that’s not yours. Little things people do (or don’t do) help you better understand your own roots and open your mind to change. At Dartmouth I could never imagine spending an hour in a bar just sipping coffee and talking to people - there’s so much I could have done in that hour - but here I cherish it. And that’s where this whole time perception comes into play. It’s hard for many Americans to simply let go of time and live in the present rather than planning out every day to ensure top-notch productivity. Ask the average Dartmouth student. Taking hour-long paseos and stopping at a bar or cafe to tomar algo seems like a surrender to time but instead is more of a gift from the latter. And a gift I'm fortunate to accept. 

Yesterday at lunch with my Spanish family, they explained to me why people burn receipts. Actually burn receipts from places such as the grocery store. Because if these tiny pieces of paper fall in the wrong hands, things can get messy (i.e. your neighbor will find out you’ve been buying just too many bottles of whiskey and share the news of your newfound "alcoholism" to your other neighbors and family). Small town woes, as I’d like to think. This helped add more context to the strength of relationships and meaning of time here. It's interesting to live in a place where people know and care about everyone else, which is something I picked up very quickly at my school, to the point where personal shopping habits become a target of gossip. Instead of telling myself to make every moment count I find it better to tell myself instead to just breathe and watch what happens. Carpe Diem and cheers to more 6am adventures! 

Un abrazo,

Bethany

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Esperen por una versión en español. 

A New Perspective

 

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Week one - done. I can’t help but say it feels good to have made it through my first week here in Spain and have never felt more relaxed about my life. Of course certain worries and fears don’t just fade away with a plane ride across the Atlantic. Mainly I question (a) what am I going to do with such an overwhelming amount of free time and (b) how am I going to survive (or thrive) when I can’t completely understand people when they talk. My job here is to assist with classes that involve English at the local high school (which is actually a combined middle and high school). However, to my inner over-achiever dismay, this is not a full-time job being that I only work for around half the day four days a week. Seems like more of a vacation to me since I am used to working multiple jobs on top of being a full-time student at the Ivy League. But what I hope to better appreciate is a sense of enjoyment for the little things in life and an ease to let go of the time and live in the moment. I have always felt that my days at Dartmouth resemble a ticking time clock whereby I am constantly plagued with the idea that there so many things to do with such little time to do them. Papers are due, tests are coming up, the number of pages to read seem to increase exponentially with time. But this life doesn’t exist here and I am forever grateful for that.

What I have learned so far from working with Spanish secondary students, alumnos as they say in español, is that they don’t seem to take things too seriously. My 17-year-old host sister - if you’re reading this Monica thank you for being such a good friend to me - is definitely not as stressed about school as I was, in a good way. Especially because the school I am working in has around 80 students for both the middle and high school level, I have come to somewhat grasp the role of community within a school - try to imagine a school where about every teacher knows every students’ name. Crazy. At least it was to me when it seemed that every teacher knew who my host sister was. Although I can’t surmise whether a more relaxed approach is actually more conducive to actual learning, all I can say is there are very obvious differences among American and Spanish public schools and educational systems (look forward to a future blog about this!). Despite this, I am still approaching this experience with an open mind and with hope of being someone that these kids can look up and feel comfortable around.

Even though I still have the same 24 hours in a day that I had in the states, time does not feel as pressing. I remember the more laid back approach to time when I lived in Santander but, because I was taking Dartmouth-level courses and participated in multiple excursions weekly on top of my schoolwork, I never had too much time to myself. Now without these responsibilities I can truly appreciate the Spanish conception of time. Only time can tell what these next couple of months will bring and I can only sit back and think to myself how lucky and grateful I am to be here and for the opportunity to take this little hiatus in my life. 

Un abrazo,

Bethany

Español versión - please keep in mind I am still learning the language (gracias Mónica por la ayuda) :) 

La primera semana  - terminó. No puedo dejar de decir que me siento bien que yo haya cumplido mi primera semana aquí en España y nunca me he sentido tanta relajada en mi vida. Claro las preocupaciones y los miedos ciertos no simplemente se desvanecen con un vuelto a través del océano atlántico. Principalmente, me pregunto (a) que voy a hacer con una cantidad abrumadoramente de tiempo libre y (b) cómo voy a sobrevivir (o medrar) cuando no entiendo completamente que dice la gente. Mi trabajo aquí es ayudar con las clases que involucran inglés en el instituto secundario (que verdaderamente es una mezcla de la escuela media y secundaria). Sin embargo, a la consternación de mi persona interior que rinde más de lo normal, este no es un trabajo del tiempo completo porque yo solamente trabajo por sobre el medio del día por cuatro días de la semana. A mi me parece más como los vacaciones desde estoy acostumbrada a trabajar varios trabajos encima de ser una estudiante del tiempo completo del Ivy League. Pero lo qué espero apreciar mejor es el sentido del placer por las cosa pequeñas en la vida y la facilidad de dejar ir el tiempo y vivo en el momento. Siempre me he sentido que mis días en Dartmouth parecen un reloj que hace tictac por el cual estoy constantemente atormentada con la idea de que hay muchas cosas para hacer con tan poco tiempo para hacerlas. Los ensayos son debidos, vienen los examenes, y los números de paginas para leer parecen aumentar exponencialmente con el tiempo. Sin embargo esta vida no existe aquí y por eso estoy agradecida para siempre.  


Lo qué he aprendido hasta hoy de trabajar con los alumnos  de secundaria españoles, alumnos como se dice en español, es que ellos no se paran a mirar las  cosas muy seriamente. Mi hermana española de 17 años - si estas leyendo esto Mónica gracias por ser una amiga tan buena - definitivamente no está tan estresada sobre la educación que yo estuve, de lo mejor. Especialmente porque el instituto, en cual yo trabajo, tiene más o menos 80 alumnos para ambos el medio y secundaria niveles, he llegado a comprender un poco el papel de la comunidad entre un instituto - intente de imaginar una escuela donde todos los maestros saben el nombre de todos los estudiantes. Loco. Al menos era loco para mi cuando me pareció que cada profesor sabía el nombre de mi hermana española. Aunque no puedo conjeturar si un enfoque más relajado verdaderamente es más conductivo para el aprendizaje, todo que puedo decir es que hay diferencias muy obvias entre escuelas públicas y sistemas educativas en los Estados Unidos y España. A pesar de estos, todavía me aproximo a  esta experiencia con una mente abierta y con la esperanza de ser alguien para los alumnos admirar y sentirse cómodos conmigo.

Aunque todavía tengo las mismas 24 horas en una día que tenía en los estados,  con el tiempo no me  siento tan urgente. Recuerdo el enfoque más enfocada al tiempo cuando viví en Santander pero, porque estuve teniendo clases de la nivel de Dartmouth y participé en muchas excursiones cada semana encima de mi tarea, nunca tenía tanto tiempo para mi mismo. Ahora sin esas responsabilidades, puedo realmente apreciar la concepción del tiempo español. Sólo el tiempo puede decir que los meses siguientes llevarán y solamente puedo sentarme y pensar en mi misma ,de la suerte tengo y que tan agradecida estoy para estar aquí y  para la oportunidad de tomar esta interrupción pequeña en mi vida.

Un abrazo,

Bethany 

 

Why Me?

Why Me?

That’s the question I have asked and continue to ask myself when I think about what I’m doing in just a few weeks - putting my life on hold to move to Boñar, Spain to teach English for a few months. I’m not just asking myself what made me the type of person to do this, but more than that: what do I hope to get out of this experience? More specifically, what made me jump upon reading the first word in my inbox that indicated I was accepted to teach abroad and nearly frighten my roommate (sorry Barbara, you’re the best though). It was like this feeling of certainty and comfort came over me as I knew what exactly I would be doing with my time off of school and that I might enjoy a much less cold winter this year.

Let’s back up a second. I go to a college on a quarter system where students have three “off” terms during their four years of working towards a bachelor’s degree. To save you from the boredom of explicitly explaining this nuance of Dartmouth College, I have my third-year winter term (i.e. January to March 2018) off. Thus I needed something to do that would be, as people from my college would wholeheartedly say, “enriching to my undergraduate experience.” While most students pursue top-notch internships with top companies, I knew this wasn’t for me because, essentially, that is not who I am. Instead, while I was living in Santander, Spain this past summer, I couldn’t help but think about the upcoming winter and how I might just want to spend it there, in Spain. Crazy idea - I have no close friends or family in Spain, cannot speak the language perfectly (pero aprendo más cada día), and had no idea what I could do for just three months. But again, that little voice inside of you, who seems to come out at the most opportune times in life, made its presence known and is leading me to where I (hopefully) should be.

Today, as I am thinking about what led me to teach abroad, two things stand out - one being my love for education (especially languages) and working with children, and secondly my desire to step out of my comfort zone and do a little of bit of soul-searching in my life. Almost one year before graduation, I still have no idea what career path I see for myself, and frankly, who I am. Sounds cheesy for a twenty-year old to say, but it haunts me everyday. What I do know, however, is that it’s time to face life head-on, to forgo leaving room for second-guessing and to let go of those “I wish I hads” and silenced dreams and instead turn them into adventures. I don’t expect this experience to be easy or convenient and anticipate making many mistakes but at least I’ll learn little more about myself. To everyone reading this, thanks for staying with me, and keep chasing your dreams no matter where you are at this moment - life is too short to cut corners.

Un abrazo,

Bethany

I have also decided to include a Spanish translation but please keep in mind that I am still learning the language - muchas gracias Barbara Olachea y Anaqhelly Cisneros por su ayuda. 

¿Por qué yo?

Esa es la pregunta que me he preguntado y sigo preguntándome cuando pienso en lo que haré en unas semanas - poner mi vida en espera y mudarme a Boñar, España para enseñar inglés por unos meses. No solamente me estoy preguntando qué fue lo que me convirtió en este tipo de persona sino que también me pregunto ¿qué es lo que espero aprender de esta experiencia? Más específicamente, qué fue lo que me hizo saltar de la emoción cuando leí la primera palabra en mi correo electrónico que indicaba que fui aceptada para ser maestra en el extranjero y que casi asusté a mi compañera de cuarto cuando exalté de la emoción (perdóname Barbara, todavía eres la mejor). Fue como sentir que la certeza y el alivio me invadieran ya que ya sabía exactamente lo qué haría con mi descanso escolar y que en serio disfrutaría el invierno este año. 

Permíteme pausar un momento para explicar la estructura académica de mi universidad. Estudio en una universidad en un sistema trimestral donde estudiantes tienen tres trimestres de “descanso” durante sus cuatro años de trabajar hacia una licenciatura. Para salvarte del aburrimiento de explicarte explícitamente este matiz de Dartmouth College, tengo el invierno de mi tercer año (enero hasta marzo de 2018) en descanso. Entonces, necesitaba algo que hacer que sería, según la gente de mi universidad dice incondicionalmente, “un enriquecimiento para mi experiencia estudiantil.” Mientras la mayoría de estudiantes persiguen interinatos de primera categoría en compañías prestigiosas, supe que eso no era para mí ya que eso no representa quien soy. Mientras vivía en Santander, España este verano pasado, no podía evitar pensar que tal vez podía pasar mi próximo invierno allí, en España. Era una idea arriesgada ya que no tengo amigos ni familia cercanos en España, ni puedo hablar el idioma perfectamente (pero aprendo más cada día), y no tuve ninguna idea en que ocuparía mi tiempo por esos tres meses. Pero esa voz pequeñita dentro de uno que aparece en los tiempos más oportunos de la vida, hizo su presencia conocida y me guío hacia dónde debería (con suerte) estar.

Hoy, mientras pienso en los factores importantes que me llevaron a decidir enseñar en el extranjero, dos cosas sobresalen - uno siendo mi amor por la educación (especialmente idiomas),  y trabajar con niños, otro es mi deseo de vivir incómoda para poder reflexionar sobre mi vida. Faltando un año para graduarme de la universidad, todavía no tengo ninguna idea sobre cuál carrera es para mí, ni francamente, sé quien soy. Suena cursi para una chica de veinte años, pero me preocupa todos los días. Yo sé que, sin embargo, es la hora de enfrentar la vida y renunciar a todas las dudas, no vivir “en el hubiera” y no silenciar los sueños sino convertirlos en aventuras. No espero que esta experiencia sea tan fácil o conveniente y anticipo cometer errores pero al menos aprenderé más de mi misma. Para todos los que están leyendo esto, gracias por acompañarme en este viaje, y sigan persiguiendo sus sueños, no importa donde estén en este momento- la vida es demasiada corta para obstruir sus acontecimientos.   

Un abrazo,

Bethany

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