November Update

Again, it’s been a while.  Here’s the latest!

I transferred this fall to the University of Massachusetts as an English major.  The semester is almost over.  Wow, that’s hard to believe.  It’s been good overall.  And I started working as an American Reads Tutor at a local elementary school, which has, overall, also been good, but it sorta depends on the day!

I moved into an apartment in Amherst, MA, with a very easy-going roommate.  So that’s been stress – free.

I’m working hard to achieve my goal of graduating.  Then, hopefully I’ll be doing some more English teaching abroad in the future!  Thinkin maybe South Korea or Colombia.  Two very different locations, but there are reasons to go to both.  Who knows?  Maybe I will hit them BOTH up in my lifetime!

Still no driver’s license (THAT’S a frustrating tale) but I’m working on it!  And yes, I did get braces.  I believe all around I’m headed in the right direction, after my vagabond days.  Going to DC in a couple of days for Thanksgiving, which hopefully will be fun and not too stressful.

 

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What I’m up to

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  So, what have I been up to?  Well, the biggest thing is that I’ve started working at this summer camp in Huntington, Massachusetts, for eight weeks.  More news is that YAAY, I got into UMASS!  And more YAAY news is that I’m very close to signing a lease on an apartment for the fall!  And more YAAY news is that I’ve made incredible strides towards my drivers license!  And I’m getting braces on in September!  So that’s a lot of YAAY’s.  YAAAAY!!!

To wrap up the celebratory cheers, here is a pic from a bike trip I went on with my dad along the Great Alleghany Passage in Pennsylvania.

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New(est) plan

So, my newest plan is to leave here to England the end of this month, so in about three weeks.  From there, fly to Boston in the beginning of April, like the first week.  When I get home, I will have 2 MAIN GOALS which will be:

  1. Find a job
  2. Begin taking driving lessons

Additonally, I will have two less-time-eminent-goals

  1. Get braces
  2. Exercise daily
  3. Find a place to live before I (hopefully) start UMASS.

This plan seemes the most appealing to me, which means soon I´ll have the difficult task of breaking the news to the family I´m staying with that I will NOT, in fact, be staying until May as originally stated.  Ultimately, though, I feel like this is the best decision for me.

I´m supposed to begin volunteering in a classroom next week, which will mean I will only have two weeks of volunteering before I leave.

Should I stay or should I go?

I got overwhelmed while writing the last post and never completed it.  It does feel too exausting to get into too much detail, so I´ll just summarize:

  • family in Arganda Del Rey didn´t work out because the mother was basically evil.
  • It became evident I had to get out ASAP.  Booked a flight back to England to stay with my aunt and uncle.
  • Was contacted by a cousin who told me her uncle lived in Spain and I could stay with him if I wanted to.
  • Took her up on the offer, cancelled my ticket for full refund, stayed with him and his wife for a week.  They were incredibly nice and welcoming.  So grateful.
  • Decided to book a much cheaper flight to England, but the day I booked it, was introduced to another Spanish family who seemed really nice.  Basically they managed to convince me to stay and give it a try with them for a few weeks so I wouldn´t leave with a bad impression of Spain.
  • Cancelled my ticket a second time to England!
  • Moved in with second family day before yesterday.

So how´s it going with family 2?  I sincerely wish I could say it was 100 percent wonderful, but then again, nothing in this life is 100 percent positive, at least not in MY life.  Trying  to live in the present, take it day by day, but to be honest, I might leave this situation as well…I guess I feel lonely?  And bored.  And tired at the same time.  And sometimes I fee like my time would be better spent getting a job, a drivers license, and a place to live back in MA before I (hopefully) start at the University of Massachusetts.

What this whole trip has made me realize is how social isolation is not something I need in my life at the moment.  And I need to be ACTIVE.

This whole trip, from the very beginning, has been wrought with difficulty.  First, my flight was cancelled because of the very first blizzard.  When I finally got to England, there were some other familial related stresses (like some big ones) which for privacy sake, I won´t get into right now.  Then, after getting through that, I made it to Spain, where I initially struggled with feelings of isolation and ¨What the hell am I doing here??”  I thought I had that figured out when I discovered how to navigate the buses, and an inexpensive language school in the center of Madrid.  Then, however, the new hurtle arrived, which is to say, I realized the mother was crazy.  Then the stress of leaving that situation in a hurry, and the not-knowing of what would come next…

Which brings us up to date with the current struggle of still not knowing if this is going to work, still feeling lost, confused, alone, and to a certain extent, TIRED of everything.  Apatheic, I guess.  Not sure if  I can summon up the energy to make this situation work for two plus more months.  Being all alone in a foreign country is hard, and for some reason, this time around it feels 10x more difficult than my central american experience.  Probably because meeting people felt so much easier than it does now.

Where am I? Written on Feb 26 2016

So for the first two weeks I was in Spain, I was au-pairing for a family in a small town called Arganda Del Rey, about 40 minutes south of Madrid.  There were a lot of problems with this situation, mainly to do with lack of communication and personality clashes.  All one has to do is Google “au pair horror stories” to see how often these situations don’t work out and how horribly wrong they can go.  My own “horror story” of sorts was nowhere near as horrific as many – I was not exploited, expected to clean 20 hour days, nor did I experience discomfort from male members of the household as many au pairs report.   The children didn’t summon me via whistle or anything like that.  But it was still pretty bad.  Especially towards the end, when the mother, who was the main source of the problem, started to act as if I didn’t exist, thereby encouraging the rest of her family to do the same.  A thoroughly horrible feeling in all aspects.

 

 

 

What a contrast…

This is something I wrote on Wednesday, February 17 but forgot to post here:

I find myself living the polar opposite of where I was living a couple of months ago. In Nicaragua, I was living in a colonial style house with an open roof where you could watch the rain pour down into the garden, which was in the middle of the house. Everything I needed was in walking distance or a cheap taxi ride away. When I took the bus, it was to the beach and it was always jam packed.  Here, in the suburbs, I find myself quite literally living inside a box, on a street with rows and rows and rows of other boxes all connected. For the first couple of days, I kept thinking about that “little boxes” song, except here, all the boxes are white. I can’t walk to much of anything easily, and so every day I’ve taken the bus into Madrid. The bus is never packed — at times, I’ve found I’m the only one on it, always guaranteed a nicely upholstered seat, whereas on the chicken bus, a seat was never a given unless you got on early and sat baking in the sun. Which brings me to yet another contrast – whereas in Nicaragua I was constantly sweating, here I have succumbed once again to the battle of getting out from under the covers in the morning because it’s so friggen cold.   And lastly, whereas in Leon I was around other people my own age, here most of my social interactions are with a six year old and her parents.  I realize a lot of this has a negative ring to it, which believe it or not, isn’t my intention.  If someone told me,  “you’re going back to Nicaragua tomorrow” I’m pretty sure I would decline.  But I still have moments of disbelief at the contrast in my surroundings.

Even though it’s been less than a week since I wrote this, my thoughts have changed some more.  Well, a lot has changed since then, including my living situation.  Will have to give a full update soon!  Until then, here’s some photos of Madrid.

 

 

How am I?

Hard to say, really.  I’ve been in Spain for exactly a week and it’s been extremely difficult.  A week has felt like a month.  Every day has had its challenges — every day feels like a battle, if I’m going to be honest.  I don’t know if I really want to write about it much, since it’s already so much a part of my daily experience.  No, I don’t want to, I’ve decided.  But I will say this — I didn’t anticipate the difficulties of living in the suburbs, when all the houses are identical and getting to Madrid is farther away than I originally thought.

I just really, really, REALLY want to go back to school.  Which I guess can be seen as a good thing, but right now it doesn’t feel so great since I have 6 months to go until then, IF I’ve even been admitted.

Also, I have no plan for when I go back in three months, and to make matters worse, my laptop is broken, which really complicates things in terms of applications for jobs. Probably one of the biggest sources of stress for me right now.   If I knew I was going back to school in the fall AND I had a job set up for the summer, I’d feel 70% better.

At times like these, I struggle to understand why so many people look back on their younger years with fondness.  I feel some must blot out the negative bits. Or maybe I just hate not knowing what I’m doing next.  Maybe it’s a personality thing, but I eagerly await the day when I’m confident in what I’m doing, when I’m no longer wandering aimlessly in search of the answer.  Perhaps I’ll always be wandering in search of it, but not like this I hope.

Not all who wander are lost, said JRR Tolkein, but boy do I feel lost now.


Self-esteem and self-acceptance

I’m working on feeling better about myself.  Not everyone knows this about me, but I suffer from extremely intense, and at times, debilitating, low self-esteem.  I frequently have thoughts like, “You’re stupid. You’re lazy.  You’re a horrible excuse for a human being.  Why were you even born?”  It’s mentally exhausting to walk around with these thoughts, like a heavy load you can never put down. I’m aware these thoughts are irrational, damaging and ultimately untrue, but being aware of this doesn’t stop them from sneaking their way into my psyche.

I’m trying to think more positively about my personality, which can be difficult because I am an introverted person and extroversion is usually valued more.  Everyone likes the life of the party personality type, and it’s hard for people like me to be ok with NOT being this way.   I’ve done a lot of mental work trying to be more accepting of myself and my introversion, but it’s an ongoing process and I can’t say I’ve “overcome” the feeling of inadequacy.  It’s a work in progress, I guess!

Different Paths

I find myself calculating how ‘behind’ I will be when I finally return to college.  (That is, if I’m accepted.   It’s no longer in my hands!) I realize this is a ridiculous way of thinking, as if taking this time off has somehow cost me the race.  Part of it, I think, has something to do with having an older sister so close in age to me.  I feel like I’m constantly competing with her, and I guess it’s been that way for a long time.  I can’t help but think, sometimes, even if it’s petty, that if I’d stayed in school, I’d  almost be DONE with it by now, which would mean I’d have ‘beat’ my sister to the finish line.  Stupid.  There is no race.  Because even if it’s corny, everyone DOES have a different path, and my path has taken me to Indiana, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and now, Spain.  Eventually, the path may lead me back to Massachusetts, but who knows?  My sister, of course, has an entirely different path, and one is no better than the other.  Just different, which is what makes it interesting.

 

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Was it all a dream?

It certainly feels that way at times.  Living in Nicaragua has taken on this dream-like quality in my head.  It already feels so long ago and separate from my life here.  Two completely different lives.  Overall, though, I feel like I have re acclimated into “large family life.”  Living with six other people can be a challenge but I’ve adjusted for the most part!

I’ve been thinking a lot about going back to school in the fall, specifically University of Massachusetts.  I’m getting excited about it!  And tonight, I booked my ticket to Europe, so that’s one step closer!

All for now.