Six weeks. That’s how long I have been living here. Four weeks. That’s how long I have been teaching. The amount of life that has been packed into a month and a half leaves me in desperate need to step back, slow down, and reflect.
I know that I have learned so much about life here already, but I am only a beginner. You may be asking how my progress as a Spanish language learner is coming. For the most part I can order at a restaurant, although I’m not normally certain that I know what I’m ordering. I can greet people and ask how they are doing, then nod my head and smile as I pretend to know what is being said past “Bien.” I’m getting better at knowing how much things cost when making a purchase at the grocery store, panaderia, or farmer’s market. I’m getting lots of practice communicating non-verbally. If all else fails, smiles and laughter communicate volumes.
In the classroom, I’m discovering that I cannot do it all. As a look back over these four weeks, I know that it is His strength that sustains me. I can work until my brain turns into a pile of mush, and I still don’t feel like I have it all together. I began this past week completely burnt out. I reminded that sometimes the better thing is to be still, as humbling as it may be. Sometimes we have to let go of the need to do. We have to ask ourselves what we a trying to prove with all of our striving. For me, I am afraid of not being enough. I have this need to prove that I can be enough and that I can do it all.
We can get so caught in the mentality of more work equates better performance. I know that I work better when I have time to be refreshed and inspired. I am still trying to find balance in my life here. What I do know is that, today, balance means taking the time to do exactly what I am doing now. Lesson plans and to-do lists are pressing, but shouldn’t dictate the quality of life.
Some days are harder than others, but there are also days that are filled with blessed contentment. These days are the ones that leave you thankful for the little things. Here are just a few of my “little things:”
- Meals that turns out good because, in truth, I feel like I’m learning to cook all over again
- Empanadas, arepas, and plátanos (I do love the food here.)
- Being able to buy fresh fruits and vegetables at the farmer’s market without assistance
- Community that involves lots of laughter and a little bit of ridiculousness
- Evenings spent sitting outside listening to the sounds of the city
- Learning to find my way around at least a small part of the city
- Getting to see this side of the ocean for the first time (Okay, this one is a big thing.)
“When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.” – Clifton Fadiman