A Year in Review

This is impossible to do….as I sat on the beach one evening with some friends (at 10pm and it was still light!), we were discussing the things we were going to miss and the others that we were happy to leave. It is quite difficult! You’ll see that many of mine are on both lists, indicated with ** and an explanation at the bottom when necessary.

Also, let me mention that this is a list of the insignificant things. I obviously am going to miss all of the people here that have made this experience what it has been. It’s weird saying goodbye to my students for the last time, knowing I literally will never see them again. (Though I thoroughly enjoyed having them sign a Galician flag…some of the messages are hysterical, some are inappropriate, some make no sense, some are chants for sports teams or celebrities, and they cover four different language: English, Spanish, Galician, and Chinese from one girl…it’s awesome). It was even weirder to say goodbye to the teachers, though I DO hope to see some of them again someday. Pobra do Caramiñal has become my home this year. It wasn’t only a temporary thing like in Ireland, where the end was always in sight. This has occupied a special place in my heart and taken a year of my life…I’ll never forget it.

Things I Will Miss:

  • Pimientos de Padrón
  • Buying my produce at the weekly market or little local fruit shops
  • Hanging my clothes out to dry**
  • The friends I’ve made
  • Going to the only Chinese restaurant in 50 km with other English-speakers and having the owner pull out 3 extra bottles of wine to chill when we walk in (no joke. She did this last time we went….probably because the previous time we accidentally went through 4 bottles between 3 of us….)
  • Cheap, good quality wine
  • Free tapas with every drink
  • Speaking Spanish**
  • The teachers I’ve become close to
  • Seeing my students around town every single day**
  • The proximity to the beach
  • The beautiful view and walk to school every morning**
  • Walking everywhere**
  • Greeting people with a double kiss on the cheeks…seems so much friendlier than a handshake
  • Baby Café’s con leche
  • Nutella being cheap**
  • My private lessons and watching them grow
  • Learning how to be patient and help people communicate, celebrating when we finally succeed
  • Being forced to speak slowly (I think you’ll all be interested to see that I DO speak more slowly now…Hillary noticed it when she came to visit, even when I was speaking with just her…a necessary change for me, the ole ‘Motor Mouth’ as my family used to call me when I was little J)
  • Looking out the window of some of the classrooms at school and seeing cows, mountains, the port, and water
  • Going for a run up to the mountain and visiting my dog friends I’ve made
  • Children and people running around the centre and sitting outside of all the café’s just soaking up the atmosphere
  • The laidback-ness of Spanish culture** (sometimes it made me frustrated)
  • My beautiful apartment with huge windows, hearing kids outside playing in the street, and constantly having them open to let in fresh air and sunshine**

Things I Won’t Miss:

  • Rain and humidity…all winter, I never felt completely dry.
  • Awful Internet
  • The lack of peanut butter and hummus
  • Hanging my clothes out to dry**
  • Speaking Spanish when I can’t communicate exactly what I want**
  • Being unable to wear yoga pants or Nike shorts around town without getting looked at strangely
  • Seeing my students around town every single day**
  • Walking to school every morning**
  • All the shops being closed on Sunday and every single day from about 2-4
  • Eating bread with every meal (not so good for the figure, but it’s a staple here…you even use it like a utensil to help you eat)
  • Walking everywhere**
  • Spanish public transportation
  • Listening to American music from last year and being behind on new hits
  • Nutella being cheap**
  • The laidback Spanish style**
  • My apartment with no heat

** — I enjoy hanging my clothes out to dry when it’s a beautiful sunny day and I’m not in a hurry. I do NOT enjoy hanging my clothes out to dry when it’s a shit day (more common), especially since it’s my only option, and I end up with clothes hanging all around my room for the next 3 days waiting to dry.

** — I realized I love speaking Spanish around town…it makes me feel accomplished and it’s more exciting when it’s a challenge! I know I’m going to miss having to use it everywhere I go. With that being said, it will be nice not to have to try so hard to understand everything and to get looked at like a fool when I pronounce something wrong.

** — At first, I hated seeing my students everywhere I went since it’s a small town, nowhere for them to go except the centre, and we all walk everywhere. But after awhile, it can be fun to embarrass them and say hi if they don’t say anything, or just to have groups of kids saying hi to you everywhere you go.

** — Some days I loved walking to school along the water…other days, when it’s windy and rainy and I feel like Mary Poppins about to get blown away while my shoes are getting soaked….not so fun.

** — I’m going to miss walking everywhere because it can be nice…sometimes…other times, I just wish I had my car! Especially so I could have explored more and not relied on our awful buses!

** — Nutella: My waistline is going to thank me for returning to normal eating habits again after a year and a half of traveling and a summer of working in a restaurant all day, every day. Intense summer diet, here I come!

** — I love how relaxed the Spanish are…it’s a “Don’t worry, be happy” type of culture. However, there are some days when it is more than a little frustrating when there isn’t consistency or nothing gets accomplished (this isn’t near as bad as it is in the south of Spain, from what I’m told…I can’t even imagine now how I would have reacted down there!)

 

Ultimately, this year has been a 9 month long roller coaster. I’ve had times where I felt lower than ever before and times when I’ve felt higher than ever before. In the end, the ride has ended at the top of a hill….I’m getting all sentimental and am now sad to leave. I hate goodbyes, but got through them, though if I’m being honest, as I reread some cards from teachers and my students messages on the flag, I did cry a bit. Now it’s time for the next chapter….

Anyways, I made this list about a week ago and meant to keep adding to it and editing it, but now I’ve run out of time!!! I’m waiting in my apartment all packed up and everything cleaned, waiting for a phone call from my teacher to go to her house. I’m spending the night at her place and my flight leaves tomorrow at 9am! (Saturday)…I go from Santiago to Barcelona, Barcelona to Vienna. Once I find the hostel and everything, I’ll go wait at the train station for my mom and grandma to arrive and then begins the tri-generational Eurotrip 2012. I’m sure it’ll be a great time, even though it’s bound to be a completely different experience from backpacking last year! I will try to update my Facebook status and post pictures off my iPod from time to time throughout the trip, so stay posted. 🙂

 

Dear USA, we meet again for good on June 23rd. Get ready! Love, Courtney