Friday, 5 March 2010

The Chocolate Croissant - a TEFL trainees first day

On the way to my first day of my TEFL course 3 and a half long years ago, I started a new tradition which would become my favorite part of Barcelona for the first month living here: the morning chocolate croissant. Having just spent the previous 2 years of my life driving to work, I always missed out on the morning stop to the corner bakery and the ensuing sugar rush. So armed, I stepped onto the uncomplicated metro at Poble Nou and headed confidently towards Trinitat Nova on the yellow line to my school at the corner of Rambla de Catalunya and Carrer d’Aragó and my new life as a TEFL trainee.

After a short ride, luckily without transfers or pick-pocketing incident, I got off at Passeig de Gràcia, remembering that it was the same as Paseo de Gracia, the Spanish name for the stop as it was written on my map. I had done some recon during the week before the course and knew exactly how to get there: follow the exit signs, see the Gaudi house, Casa Batlló on the right, sigh in awe, and proceed one block down Aragó. Only this time something went terribly, terribly wrong. There was no Gaudi house to greet me as I excited the metro, no Carrer d’Aragó to reassure me that I was on the right track, and obviously no sigh of relief or awe.
For someone who has had ample opportunities to get accustomed to using a map, I still have never mastered it; on this occasion, now with 10 minutes to get to class, my first class, the most important first impression I would make in Spain, sweat making its presence known in the June heat and overwhelmed by the sameness of the Eixample streets, I showed my ineptitude by running a block in every direction, hoping to random ly come across something that would remind me of how to get to school. I remember thinking Could they at least throw us newbies a bone by labeling the streets in some identifiable way? The plaques on the sides of under-construction buildings were not helping my mission.

Eventually, my unsystematic scheme did work and I caught sight of an interesting store next to the school (Note to self: check that out after class). As I raced up the stairs, barely managing to breathe a bon dia to the portero at the door, I thought today I’ve earned that chocolate croissant breakfast and maybe even one more for lunch.

Jen Whelan