It’s an interesting time to be working in the public school system of Spain. All of the schools are facing budget cuts, forcing the teachers to have two more contact hours a week and reducing the time they can devote to other menial tasks like grading papers, preparing lesson plans, etc. It also bans the temporary hiring of teachers which certainly does not help the staggering 21 percent unemployment rate that Spain currently touts. In light of all this, there have been many demonstrations throughout the city center, one of which took place last Friday. According to my school, coming to work that day was optional for all teachers and only one did not show up. Even so, only about half of the students came meaning class was not really in session and instead, lots of time was spent on the playground, watching movies, and any other activity to keep the kids occupied until 4:30. While walking home from the bus later that afternoon, I was met by the sound of whistles and yelling and then saw this: There were SO many teachers, students, and families alike parading the streets in protest of the cuts. On Saturday, there was an even bigger demonstration with tens of thousands of people involved. Through it all, the government seems pretty resistant towards change so it will be interesting to see how everything pans out.
In the meantime, this past week I gave my first afterschool class to a group of six students which is definitely a different experience than attempting to command the attention of a larger class. I am going to start giving these classes Monday and Tuesday which means I get home later but it’s also a good way to make extra money while also helping out the kids. So far, this four day weekend has been spent eating delicious food, watching the Real Madrid and UM games, hitting up Kapital (Madrid’s seven story nightclub) for the first time, and catching up with some friends.
I also partook in my first official Intercambio Friday afternoon with a 27 year old girl. For those who may not know, an intercambio (in my case) involves sitting down with someone who wants to improve their English and talking in half-English and half-Spanish. While it’s probably in my head, I feel like since I’ve gotten here my Spanish has not gotten any better so I feel meetings like this will be the best way to help me improve my speaking! We met at Starbucks and talked for about an hour and it was fun and also put me at ease about having more meetings like this! In fact, I am planning on having another one tomorrow with a 23 year old girl. If anything, it’s a great way to meet Spanish people which I made one of my top priorities this time around!
Today, me and the roomies took the time to walk around the city center (to be honest, we stuffed ourselves at brunch and needed to walk around to aide digestion but the first sentence sounds better). Sometimes living here you forget all the deep history and awesome sights there are to see so I’ve now promised myself to refresh myself on the city’s history. If anything, it’s a better excuse for you to come visit me soon… You won’t even need to hire a tour guide!