By Andrew H. Auxiliar de Conversación in Murcia 2019/2020
Packing list for the School
When packing for Spain my advice would be to bring lots of pencils and markers for the classroom whiteboards and especially if you like art and are up for helping the school with Halloween and Christmas decorations.
Firstly, I made a drawing for Christmas. During a week in Christmas, at home after school, I worked on a drawing using a huge sheet of paper from the teacher’s office and whiteboard markers I bought in Spain rather than packing ones beforehand. The image was inspired by the people in the school and I drew the palace of Madrid to complement the Christmas themed elements. I drew three of my students as princesses using colouring pencils. Blue markers were used for the winter skyline and colouring pencils were used for the yellow cumulus clouds and the moon. I used my love of the Spanish Liga de fútbol to draw one of my most frequent students in Atlético de Madrid’s jersey.
Packing tips for the Weather
Contrary to popular belief, it does indeed get very chilly in the south of Spain from October to February so unlike I did, you should make absolutely sure to pack as many warm sweaters, or jumpers as you can on this journey.
When I arrived in Murcia city the sweltering heat was almost something out of pure fiction. I laughed at all the pairs of jeans I had packed and decided to go to Spanish class in shorts and shoes without socks, anything to reduce the weight of my clothing. A month later I would be wearing those jeans every day as winter rolled around and my shorts disappeared back into my suitcase. Unlike winter back home in Ireland though, the skies are clear, rarely does a single cloud abound and the sun shines down on you brightening up each day. Rain has accrued for only nine days in three and a half months, which is most pleasant indeed.
There’s only so much you can pack into suitcases without burdening yourself with too much luggage so I went shopping in Cartagena in Spain as the weather started to get colder and bought myself five to six stylish sweaters for school.
One was a nice wool knitted sweater, an American college cotton jacket and my favorite one is a university of Sevilla sweater obtained as we toured that region of Spain. Thus, my advice would be to buy some things when you are in the country itself rather than packing the world into your bags beforehand.
When my parents come over to Spain in February, I am going to give them some possessions to take back with them to lighten the load of my belongings here. An inevitability of being in Spain is that you are going to end up with more belongings than when you arrived, especially having gone on trips to places like Granada, Seville and Madrid. Souvenirs like necklaces, Moorish masonry, unicorn pencils for good students, a Cartagena peacock plushie, a flamenco poster, Spanish trading cards, photographs and football memorabilia are going to ever inflate the load of your new belongings so be sure to ask some visiting relatives for help and perhaps purchase an extra suitcase if you go a bit crazy with your new Spanish collection.
Packing list for my passion
Since design and drawing are a big part of my life, I brought my sketchbooks to show the children when introducing myself to each class in the first weekIt immediately communicated a lot about myself and my experiences and was a wise choice to pack so many pens and pencils for teaching and illustrating my ideas. During Halloween I drew a lot of images based on the kids’ favorite characters and cartoons. This was also another great way to celebrate Christmas with the kids because they love the movie Frozen, and Frozen 2 was just released in theatres. Therefore, when the teacher asked me to draw characters from the film to decorate the school, they were obsessed with my drawings of the heroine Elsa.
While teaching at the school, I was asked to draw Christmas stockings for the kids, leaving them in black and white.
I decided to make some based on video game characters, such as Sonic the Hedgehog and Mario, and the remaining one based on Rudolph, the red nosed reindeer. In addition, in Spain and in my school especially, FC Barcelona is very popular and with Spanish football being televised in so many cafes, bars and restaurants, it is Spain’s most prominent sport.
Keeping this in mind, I drew Leo Messi for the last stocking. These were then photocopied by the teacher and distributed in the meantime. I got to see these finished later and was blown away by the students’ enthusiasm and their talent in colouring. They were very familiar with Barcelona’s football stadium and the characters colour schemes. Packing extra pencils, different kinds of pens and many whiteboard markers are useful for so many different aspects of class lessons and drawings for activities with the class in the meantime.There are so many magnificent buildings, cathedrals, palaces and overall wonderful architecture across Murcia, Cartagena, Granada and Seville so I made sure to pack my best quality sketchbooks from Europe and many different types of pens and pencils to illustrate my favorites.
The first drawing I worked on when arriving to Spain was the town hall in Cartagena when it was warmer and easier to draw for hours outside without battling the cold. It was an interesting experience as I met a lot of different people from the city of Cartagena when drawing – Spanish people, German people, Dutch people and many from France. It was interesting having interactions with everyone and trying to speak to them due to their multiple languages as they were interested in what I was doing.
Over the Christmas holidays I stayed in Spain and took my pens and notebooks by bus from Cartagena city where I live to Murcia to draw the front face of the Murcia Cathedral. It started getting very cold especially during winter, so I was wearing the gloves and warm coat that I bought months earlier in Cartagena. Sitting still for so long without gloves would have been freezing for my hands so I would have quit drawing without them. If I had bought them before moving to Spain it would have been too difficult to fit them in my bags amongst all my other belongings.
Paking list for decongestion
The one thing I didn’t expect initially in the south of Spain was for the temperature to drop so much in winter as opposed to the first week when we arrived.
Don’t forget to bring medicines…
Not packing at all for the winter was an obvious oversight but the clothes I bought in the cities in Spain gave me all I needed for this time of year. I would also advise to pack medicine for a cold as I got one for a while before and during my time in Granada.
In Spain, I bought Frenadol capsules as they helped greatly with decongestion. These are one of the top brands in Spain and you take three capsules a day where they work on their own internally. Stores have unusual scarves in Spain that form an unbroken wool ring so you simply get one in a shop and pull it over your head to your neck to protect further from the cold. I also realized in school that a lot of the kids started getting a cold, so just be careful to avoid getting one yourself as well!