Happy birthday to me!

In 1998, I finished my amazing semester in England by flying home on my 21st birthday. I always thought it was funny that I had a 29-hour 21st birthday. I thought I had swindled the universe out of some extra time to enjoy such a big day.

Well, today, the universe finally got its time back.

On Saturday, 27 June, I embarked on my latest adventure, and, on my 37th birthday, I landed in Palma de Mallorca, Spain for yet another “semester” abroad. I will be spending the next five weeks taking courses for the TCNJ off-site graduate program in educational leadership. By the end of next summer, I will (hopefully) have earned a certificate in ed leadership, as well as my NJ principal’s certificate. Currently, I do not see myself becoming a principal, but I do want to develop my leadership skills and move ahead in my career in some way.

Anyway, Mallorca! Ahhh it’s beautiful! And hot! My flights were uneventful; I slept most of the way to Düsseldorf and did a skill-o-gram in my puzzle book on the connecting flight. I arrived at 2:30pm Mallorca time, but it took me a while before I left the airport because I couldn’t mind my luggage. Luckily, the woman at lost and found knew that it’d be on a separate carousel because it had gone through customs. Phew!

I went to the taxi line and got a cab to my apartment. My confidence about my Spanish skills was quickly destroyed when I had trouble understanding basically anything the driver said. He asked to see “el libro” where I had the address written down, and I thought he said to read it to him. But we eventually figured it out, and I arrived at the apartment in no time.

Here’s the view. Sorry in advance I can’t get the photos to be smaller. I’m using wordpress from my iPad app, and I don’t know the code to shrink them.

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Javier, my landlord, met me at the front door and showed me around. He pointed out how to get to the beach and to school, two places I’ll be frequenting in the upcoming days.

Once Javier left, I took an hour or so to unwind, text, and check Facebook (how did we ever have birthdays before Facebook and all those notifications?). I decided to go exploring since, well, I’m in Spain! Seems silly to just sit around all day. Plus, I was starving and wanted to find some tapas!

As it turns out, Palma is on a pretty hilly terrain, which is cool because the view of the Mediterranean from above is gorgeous! But. There are stairs. Lots of stairs. I’m so glad I’ve been doing boot camp for the past few weeks because I don’t think I would’ve gotten back to my apartment otherwise!

Check out how crazy they are:

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I walked around at the beach and put my feet in the water; it was warm and perfect! There were straw umbrellas and lounge chairs all over the beach, but I was scared to take one. I couldn’t tell if they belonged to the beachfront hotels or not. I should stop over thinking everything these days. Anyway, here’s the beach!

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After my stroll, I finally found a place that wasn’t too intimidating for me to grab dinner. To be honest, I got so nervous about speaking Spanish and sounding stupid that I almost came back to the apartment to cook. But then I thought of how I would never let my students wuss out like that, so I forced myself to just walk in sit down. I was so nervous and sweaty, but let’s just say that was from the heat. I picked a place that had the World Cup on so I could pretend to watch the game. I felt so European ordering tapas, watching the World Cup, and sipping on a cervesa!

My first interaction with my waiter (who I’m pretty sure was also my bartender and my cook) was somewhat disastrous. I started in Spanish, but then he spoke so fast that I got confused. I told him (in Spanish) that I speak Spanish but have trouble understanding. I told him I need practice. He was very patient. I felt like a failure after the first encounter, but I persevered. I successfully ordered my dinner (and later a second empanada) en español. Waiter/bartender/cook had switched to English, and he kept calling me “lady.” It was pretty hilarious, in my opinion.

I ordered patatas bravas, which I remembered loving when I came to Spain in 2007, plus an empanada. I ordered it “Cyrano” style, which at first I thought was some Mallorcan traditional thing, but then I realized it was just named after the restaurant. Still, it was delish, and I ordered a second one. I was so proud of myself because he finally switched back to Spanish! I think I showed tangible growth in a very short time. Yay language!

My birthday dinner:

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The biggest surprise so far is how much everyone here smokes! There are cigarette butts all over on those huge stairs I mentioned earlier, and everyone is just always smoking! Waiter/bartender/cook must have had six cigarettes in the time it took me to finish my meal. I don’t think I had realized how much smoking is NOT part of our culture in the US anymore (at least not for the people I hang out with most). Here, it’s just the thing to do, I guess. Don’t worry, Mom and Dad, I won’t start!

Well, that’s about it for day 1. This post got longer than I had originally planned; I will work on being concise for next time! It is now 3:38am, and I am not doing well adjusting to the time difference. I slept from 9pm-1am, and I hope I’ll pass out again after I post this. ¡Hasta luego!

Oh. And here’s a cat.

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10 thoughts on “Happy birthday to me!

  1. Uh-oh… did we just discover another degree of connection? I did my study abroad in England in Fall 1997, so we weren’t there at the same time, but… what school did you attend over there? I was at University of Northumbria at Newcastle (now Northumbria University).

  2. I loved your post…I look forward to reading them this summer so it won’t feel like you are so far away…that and so I can vicariously through you while you put your (glittery) toes in a beautiful (warmer) sea!! Love you lots!! Good luck!!

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