So we’ve been drifting along in Spain as if it were a vacation. An extended summer vacation, with visits to architecturally significant buildings, gothic and not-so-goth cathedrals, old parks, bars, gelaterias and pigeon gatherings. But finally, that has all come to an end. A bracing return to real life.
We went to the open house for the new school last night. If nothing else it was a huge relief for me and Brook. The teachers were energetic and engaged; they offered reassurances; they’re from Spain, the UK, the Netherlands and elsewhere. Most of them spoke flawless English, but even those from the UK were willing to make a run at it and did pretty well. The school building itself, although very old and somewhat chaotic in its layout, is light and pleasant. And there are some other foreign students, which dampens the shock of being in a “Spanish” school at least a little bit.
And still, there were varying degrees of apprehension, anxiety and enthusiasm this morning. The photo below shows the departure from our apartment building to take Benji to his classes (Ibby and Mimi started later). Students in this picture may be less relaxed than they appear.
One issue we still had to sort out this morning was the “optional” activities for Ibby and Benji, as well as their additional language choices. Ibby finally elected French and theatre, which matches Mimi’s election. Benji chose chess and Arabic. His language choices were limited to German, Mandarin and Arabic. But why no French? Because his classes are taught in Spanish and English, and everyone studies French. His optional language will be his fourth. Hijole! But he’s been terrifically game. He greeted his teacher (who’s from the UK) with “Hola” and then a “Me llamo Benji.” He said only one girl in his class speaks English, which bodes well for his adoption of Spanish though it may frustrate him in the short term.
And although today was just a two-hour introductory day for Ibby and Mimi, the initial reports were positive. They met a few “people” who seemed nice and the first impression of their teachers in the classroom were . . . not totally boring or incomprehensible.
The school buildings are in a very narrow street, and the main entrance has heavy wooden doors and a tiled vestibule. The old courtyard in the central building is now the library for the primary school; it is shielded from the elements by a skylight pyramid. Some photos from the morning, below.
Brook and I dropped off Benji first, then Mimi, then Ibby. We did not stay to enjoy the coffee shop that has recently been added into the school, which was busy with parents catching up.
And then, in what seemed like no time, they were finished. Here’s the “after school” look for the three of them.
This was a super short day, because the regular day for all three will run from 8:45 to 1 PM and then — after a two hour lunch and siesta break — from 3 to 5 PM. After-school activities, such as judo for Benji, will run longer.
So far, so good. And just in case you’re thinking that Benji is not still a little monkey, here he is stealing Ibby’s and Mimi’s shoes while they’re climbing a magnolia tree near the university on Sunday.