I have been living here for fifteen weeks and today is my birthday so it's time for one of those "status update" posts. I spent my last birthday in Malaga with three great friends and we drank cava and toasted my future. I knew I would be in Spain for this birthday but at that stage I didn't know when, where and how I was going to do it. I knew that I wanted to try the training programme to become a Vaughan teacher and I knew that I wanted to take a sabbatical from RNIB and spend a winter in the sunshine. I went back to London with a determination that never waned but the task of sorting out when to come and what to do about my flat and all my belongings proved to be a big one and not one that was going to be easy during the winter months. In fact it was not until May 2009 that I finally started my sabbatical and by then I found the perfect person to live in my flat, had my training week booked and I was ready to go.
I came here on 13 June and started training on the Monday and within a few hours I knew that it was not going to work out. I was so glad I had my TEFL under my belt and some money in the bank as I was going to need it. I was lucky that I had somewhere to live with people that I liked - thanks, guys! By the end of the week of training, I was so relieved that I had tried it and that I was able to go my own way. I knew that my style of teaching was not the Vaughan way and I while I was scared, I was also excited at the prospect of seeing what else was out there.
A week of CV crafting and advert posting and I was soon teaching some teenage girls and loving it. It was the end of the school year and there was little work around but I was happy to have enough to cover my living costs while I settled in and adjusted to the heat. Summer in Madrid is an amazing experience as it really does get very hot and everything closes down little by little. I was glad not to be working though anxious about my swindling funds. Two weeks in London at the end of August was a great way to prepare for the start of the new teaching year and I came back to Madrid optimistic and more than a little homesick. It was no bad thing to realise how much I love and miss my city of London and friends and family. I now know that London will always be my "home" wherever else I might be in the world.
September has been a time of stress and anxiety as I realised that the promised teaching hours were not coming my way - or at least not straight away. The weather turned nasty here for a few days and I was cold, miserable and seriously thinking of going home. This was not how it was meant to be. Then I got active and started contacting everyone I could find who might give me teaching work. More interviews and more promises. If everyone I have registered with gave me work I would have a nice problem! Within a week I had students who wanted conversation classes and I had company classes coming my way. I had also done some proof reading and was feeling optimistic of finding more of that work.
I gave myself until the end of September to make a decision about my future. Should I stay or should I go? I am pleased to say that I am staying and the sun is shining on my birthday.
So as it is my birthday, I am going to say thank you to a few folk who I owe a lot.
To Emma for being there whenever I have needed you and for being such a great mate, to Francis for taking on my flat and for giving it some much needed TLC, to Louise for telling it how it is right from the first day I met you and for being such a generous friend with time and belongings, to Jane for being so supportive and excited about all that I do, to Yolanda for coming to spend a week with me in this hot and expensive city, to Raul for showing me a Madrid I would never have known and for being a true friend, to Pedro for the room in the strangest flat I have ever lived in, to Pilar for teaching me Spanish when I am meant to be teaching you English.