Saturday, July 10, 2010

Bilbo: not just a hobbit anymore

I'm sure anyone who is reading this knows how badly I have been wanting to move to Basque Country, and probably also that the Spanish government contracted me to teach English over there this coming year. The program is "Auxiliares Norteamericanos" and basically we are like TAs, we come in and help out local teachers by providing an immersion experience and letting the students practice with a native speaker. My puesto is at IES Laudio BHI... all I know so far is it's secondary education so older than 7th grade.

Anyway so this blog is going to be about all my adventures and adjusting to life as a new Bilbaína!

I went to DC to the Spanish Embassy to get my visa application this week, then this morning I bought my TICKET!! It's a one-way into Madrid (I'll buy my return ticket later when they have availability and I know whether I'm coming back in June or July), where I'll stay with some friends, who are returning for a second year of the Madrid version of the program, for a couple days, then taking the train to Bilbao. I debated between doing that and flying straight into Bilbao but I'm glad I'm doing this because 1) it was cheaper and 2) I think it'll be a lot a lot easier to go and meet up with people I know first than to drop myself straight into Bilbao, where I know no one!

And now, a list of things that causing me a little stress:
1) Will I make local friends? I am so afraid I won't! It is my dream to have a cuadrilla (group of friends who do everything together)- usually cuadrillas are made up of people who grow up together but sometimes not, I want to have a bunch of Bilbaino friends who I love and spend tons of time with! I know it is some peoples' style to get into expat communities and don't get me wrong, I'm sure I will appreciate my American friends like crazy once I'm there, but I really do think it would be heartbreaking if I didn't have some close local friends.
2) How will I find an apartment? Will my roommates and I get along?
3) Will I be good at my job?
4) Will I find a church to go to?

...aaaand what if I don't do all those things? Right now the lead-up to my trip is a roller coaster of turbo excitement that I'm going and nervousness that I'm not going to adjust, that I won't make friends, etc etc. It's a real struggle to let go and trust God with everything (I'm at about a 1 out of 10 in effectiveness with that right now).

But mostly it's not stress, mostly it's just excited jitters. I probably will make friends. I'll get to see matches of Athletic Bilbao, my favorite soccer team, in their home city. Scratch that, in their home STADIUM. I'm working in a pretty mountain town. Basque food is cheap and delicious. Maybe I can pick up a little travel writing work? Anytime a weekend is unseasonably warm I can hop on a bus to Donosti and play on the beach all day.

And (I hope): EUSKALTEGI! Euskaltegis are adult basque language schools and they run about 60 euros a semester which means hello, improving my Basque from "Is this the bus to Donostia? One small beer please. Good morning!"

which brings me to something I hope will be a staple of this blog: Euskera of the day.


Donostiako autobusa hau da? Zurito bat, mesedez. Egun on!"
("Is this the bus to Donostia? One small beer please. Good morning!")

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