The morning of Tuesday began with me getting ready to obtain some clarity. I started my morning with breakfast where I had an extended chat with two of the french (a guy and a girl) housemates that happened to stay that week at Margarita’s house as well. They had been there for nearly a month trying to find an apartment. The competition in September was really fierce because all the Erasmus(Study Abroad) students and English teachers were returning to Madrid to look for apartments as well. Their situation made me scared as I couldn’t afford to stay as long as they did. I prayed in my mind that I would find a more permanent place sooner than later. The french guy Mateou started asking me about why I wear the hijab (headscarf) and if I am a practicing Muslim. At first he was hesitant to state his opinion for fear that I might be offended but I encouraged him to speak with me freely in hopes that maybe I could explain his misunderstandings about Islam. In another post I shall delve further into my experience being a Muslimah in Spain , but for now I’ll just be brief. After our intense conversation, we agreed to disagree on some certain things. “I hope my opinions haven’t made you dislike me”, he stated. “ No, it is how you have been brought up so I can’t expect you to think differently. Just as I can’t understand some of the things you do in your life style. It’s just important that we all respect our beliefs” I replied. After our heavy conversation on religion I changed it to lighter topics like music and travel. Finally we had something to agree on. After that I told them goodbye and good luck as they were moving to their new apartment that day.
In the afternoon, I had lunch at a nice restaurant in Lavapies with the friend, Alessandra, I made through the facebook page for Language Assistants. We both shared our frustration of not finding an apartment yet. Alessandra was also a little more stressed for not also having a job. Regardless of our stress we decided to enjoy our delicious Spanish lunch, for me this was my first authentic Spanish meal.
My hearty lunch was over, it was now time for me to embark on my mini journey. I had to go on the metro to get to the school. Mind you I am not really good with directions talk less about understanding the metro. I asked the workers at the metro what directions to take in order to reach my destination. They were very helpful. I had three different train lines to change to, each of which I asked every single Madrileño if I was on the right direction. I soon realized that with the metro map I had, the metro directions were actually very easy.
It took me about an hour to reach the college (In Europe, College means: kindergarten to Highschool).
“You have reached your final destination” the voice of a lady on Google maps said out loud. “Finally!” I said. But I couldn’t believe this was the school. It looked like a colorful giant cardboard building, something I wasn’t accustomed to seeing for a school. I saw the sign for the entrance and got into the building. I was a little nervous. When I walked in the secretaries looked at me in a puzzled manner and then one of them said “puedo ayudarle?. “um, um este es el colegio ****” I replied overly thinking if I said it right or not. “sí” the secretary said. I tried to explain in depth in English but they just looked at me like a zombie so I repeated it again with my broken Spanish. “Ah eres la profesora de Ingles, sí?!” Yes! I said finally relieved that it was confirmed I wasn’t an intruder. “un momento” the secretary said. At this point they were all smiling warmly at me. I waited and down came a man. He introduced himself and said he was the director for the Language Assistants in the school. He showed me around the school which was quite big. He then told me that his family lives in Toledo, Spain (I studied in Toledo,OH) and that he is from the same city in Louisiana that my family lives. The similarity between my background and his background was made him eager to have me in the school. There was also another teacher, Anita who was from that same city in Louisiana. I thought all these were wild coincidences. The director introduced me to Anita, who was very friendly. He left me with her to continue my tour of the school. Anita was so helpful. She showed me around the school. The school had a pool a big recess area for soccer and basketball, lunch room for both students and teachers, etc.
I was introduced to the other language assistants that came from various English speaking backgrounds. There was a girl from Wales, a British guy from Mallorca, a girl from the U.S. and then Anita. After my tour and introduction, Anita gave me a breakdown of the good and bad neighborhoods and advice on where to live. I stayed in the school for a little while and then decided to head home. I felt so comfortable with the school and its employees that I decided, I will accept the offer. I finally had the clarity I needed. I skipped back home singing my way through the metro. I had another obstacle to face… Apartment hunting