It would happen that the first day I go to my IES to get an informal welcome to the school and meet the other teachers, including my to-be carpool from Granada, the entire region has been rained out. CM and I came across more than one roadblock on the way here, including a pretty serious-looking accident that backed up the oncoming traffic for several vehicles.
On the plus side, because half (or likely most) of the teachers are still stuck on the road, school is cancelled–in other words, there’s nothing for me to shadow today, so I am sitting in the teacher’s lounge and working on my statement of grant purpose, which is due to Pomona on Monday and to Fulbright in just over two weeks.
But the teachers who normally come from Granada aren’t here, obviously. So I can’t go home today. This puts a dent in my plans, for sure, but maybe it’s better because it’s probably raining in the city, too, so I wouldn’t be able to buy things for my piso, and this way I am in an academic atmosphere which usually helps me concentrate. (I’m only blogging to get my escritora-juices flowing, you see?)
My only option now is to take the morning bus to Granada tomorrow… I just wish it hadn’t turned out this way. I didn’t purchase a combined ida y vuelta ticket at the station yesterday evening, so I’ve essentially wasted 1.65€. That’s a tapa!
Speaking of tapas, the rained out carpool also means that I have to miss the Auxiliares’ tapas event in Granada tonight. For someone who isn’t sure how to go about meeting new people in a new city, organized mixers like this one are kind of a godsend. Wo de peng you zai na li?!
OH, JUST KIDDING.
CM found another teacher (O) who is going to Granada later today to finish moving out from Plaza de Toros. She’ll be in Iznájar for the year, which is the same thing that the government and school expect me to do, but come on: there’s nothing at all to do in the pueblo. But anyway, at least I’m going to be back in Granada later, because O graciously offered to give me a ride. I didn’t get much sleep last night, so I don’t know how social I am going to be for tapas anyway. Also, they are planning to go out on the side of town that is approximately a half hour’s walk from my piso. The rain will make the effort to go out tonight much more difficult, especially considering that I didn’t bring rain boots or an umbrella with me to Spain. I don’t even own a waterproof jacket.
I feel like I’m in a really weird situation, where, yes, this is a job and my transportation to work is my responsibility, but at the same time I’m the most important part of the bilingual program, so what are they going to do if one day I can’t make it, like if the carpool fails and there are no more buses? Even if there is a bus, it seems like it’d be sort of impossible to make it on time because of how slow they are. The teachers who would have taken me to Granada weren’t able to make it to the school today because of the rain, and they weren’t scolded… At least, from what I saw/heard, the general attitude was along the lines of, “meh, they’re not coming, shrug.” So why was I given such strict orders that I have to be at my lessons on time–as if I wasn’t going to honor that obligation?
It’s been difficult for me to navigate the customs here as to what is considered polite and what is within my rights to stand my ground as an employee. When I asked (quite respectfully and humbly, in my opinion) what would happen if I were late or could not make it at all, CM gave a curt, roundabout answer: my backup transportation was not her problem. I tried to specify that I was inquiring about any repercussions, but I don’t know if she understood what I was saying. Maybe I need to ask last year’s auxiliar about the policies. CM kept stressing that they’ve done so much to accommodate my choice to live in Granada, and that I should be extremely grateful and not… pushy. Basically, CM told me that if I could not make it to work the way I was expected to (not being late, not missing days), she would have to ask/(demand, really) me to move to Iznájar. Obviously, that’s not going to happen.
CM has been really helpful for a lot of things, letting me stay at her house for a few days and feeding me all the while and dropping hints about how to get settled in Spain, but she was very clear that she had nothing to do with my daily transportation and was frustrated that I was asking her about the carpool schedule. “This is their system. I do not know anything. You have to ask them, NOT ME.” Was it offensive that I don’t understand the way people organize timetables here? That I don’t know every single word in the Spanish language? I just wish somebody would tell me when I’m being rude, and when it would be okay to ask for help, and what exactly is okay to ask about. I would never, ever mean to offend anybody–honestly, why would I want to make enemies so soon? in a foreign country where I know nobody and am unfamiliar with the culture? She keeps saying that she is happy to help with whatever she can, but this carpool thing really set her off for some reason. It’s confusing to me because she says that she is happy that I found a place to stay in Granada, and, having studied there, she also loves Granada and thinks it’s a great city, yet at the same time, her tone and body language today would suggest otherwise.
As a side note, I was trying to work on my Fulbright essay since there was nothing to do, but CM intermittently kept asking to show me around the school and explain my position further. The problem is that I don’t being inefficient with my time, which is something the Spanish are, alternatively, very, very good at. CM stopped to socialize (mostly complaining about the rain and oh my goodness did you see the accident? etc.) with other teachers in between doing whatever she wanted to do with me, and in turn I ended up just standing there, wasting time. I felt that I was being taken advantage of, if just a little bit, since the program doesn’t officially start until October 1. And on top of today, I am supposed to come back to Iznájar on Monday even though I technically don’t have classes. Isn’t my contract 12 hours a week? What the fuck? She wants me to meet the teachers, but she won’t even be available to introduce us.
Okay I’m done complaining. I guess there’s not much I can do. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to help out with the school and put forth my best effort into teaching the kids (and teachers) English, but my Fulbright application is also VERY important to me, and I wish CM would have understood that I wasn’t just jacking around on my computer. It’s due on Monday, and yes, that means I have the weekend to work on it, but an essay as important as this doesn’t just happen over the weekend. I need all the time I can get. Not to mention, I also need this weekend to make my house a home. I take my work seriously, and I don’t like being patronized like I was.