Once upon a time I found myself in Belgium.

By once upon a time I mean a few days ago.

With temperatures hovering at around 40 degrees F, I took at bus from Murcia to Alicante and shifted through airport security before sunrise. Half-Asleep, a Seal song could be heard echoing through the terminal and I didn’t know whether I should be scared or just continue walking.

This was the first official time that I had ever been to Belgium, and the purpose for the journey was to visit with a couple very close friends and meet their seven month old daughter.

Lieven and Claudia live in Ghent and invited me to stay in their guest room for a couple of days. I have a really bad tendency of not doing any research before visiting a new destination, and this weekend was a toast to personal tradition. Luckily Lieven, who is originally from a village outside of the city, already had a few ideas.

On Friday we strolled around Bruges, Saturday we took a train to the capital city (Brussels) and Sunday we took in some morning sites of Ghent before we bid farewell. The waffles in Belgium are inexpensive (one euro in some places), the fresh brews are delightful, Christmas markets with ice-skating rinks played Adele songs, and the fries were a pleasant start to whichever afternoon it was. Belgium is a very clean country with three official languages (French, Dutch, and German).  The people speak softly, everyone is fluent in English, and cars won’t hesitate to run you over. Lieven was a decent guide (jokes!) and seeing his family has been a major highlight since returning to Europe.

I want to say more about Belgium but it’s been a long time since updating this blog. Since leaving the United States there hasn’t been a single post about Spain and about what the heck is going on over here.

I truly apologize about that and will do my best to give an update in as few words as possible!

October 28th was my first day back in Murcia, Spain since last saying “see you later” to friends here back in February.

Coming back was surreal because inside I didn’t know why I was here again. Something deep down was saying that I simply needed to be here right now. With no real plan besides reconnecting with friends and revisiting the old schools where I once worked, I decided to enroll in a part-time Spanish course.

After one week I had a lot of free time on my hands, so for the first time ever I decided to promote my services as a native English teacher with hopes of making some extra money to buy cheap coffee. One thing has led to another and now I find myself working at an after-school English academy for children and filling in the gaps with conversation classes for students ranging from the ages of 10 to 50 years old. Four days a week I have been given the task of teaching groups of 6 and 4 year olds beginning level English. Despite feeling like each class has been a disaster, slowly each session has started to gel in it’s own vastly chaotic way. With my current salary and small list of vices (empanadas, ALSA bus tickets, Full House DVDs) I am earning enough money to break even here in Murcia.

Some people who have made this return special are Lola, Lucia, Zamai, David, Paco, Ascension, the students at Vicente Medina, Nuestra Senora de los Angeles, Lindsey, Gretchen, Rali, and a lot of others.

I left California in October not really knowing what I was going to do with myself. Right now I’m in Spain, not really knowing what I’m doing with myself.

In ten days I’ll be back in California for my Dad’s birthday, Christmas, and New Years. A few days after the start of 2017 I’ll be headed back to Spain until the end of the school year, which is mid June. The English academy hired me based on the promise that I’d stay the full term, and even though there are some visa issues that need to be sorted out, this is something that I want to accomplish. I also am going to continue studying at the Spanish academy, so that I can hopefully pass a DELE exam and have an internationally recognized level of fluency. We will see what happens 🙂

I feel fortunate to be back here, to see friends again, and to be working on something that feels meaningful. That being said, everyone from family to friends back home are all missed a lot.

Thank you for reading and for your time. To those in the Bay Area, let’s hang out when I’m back! Have a great day, I think you are really special. Brush your teeth and floss after dinner, ok? 😉

Love and abrazos,

Daniel Catena

4 thoughts on “Murcianish

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  1. Danny that is great about your job teaching English to all. In the United States they use to teach academic instructions in English only for those folks and then had a Spanish class for Spanish speaking students. The news said they are going to stop the double program and teach all in English. They said there will be a shortage of Spanish speaking teachers and have lots of openings so would need people who can teach in both languages or at least explain English instructions to them. You can take a test at Marin COunty Office of Education and get an emergency credential which allows you to get a job as a teacher.


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