Puerto Rico Trip: 2020 A Memorable Year

Writer and Dreams Abroad founder Leesa Truesdell during her Puerto Rico tripLeesa Truesdell’s beloved grandma, Tata, is a continuing influence on her travels, inspiring her to fall in love with adventures abroad from an early age. While teaching English in Madrid, Tata passed away. Since then, Leesa has developed in ways her grandmother would be proud of. After taking an emotion-packed trip to Puerto Rico in December 2019, Leesa was able to honor her grandmother’s memory. Now, at the close of 2020, she takes time to remember the one and only Tata and all that she learned from her.

2020: A Memorable Year

It’s 2020. When I wrote my last piece about Tata, I did not realize how much would change and how fast it would happen. This year has been tough for all of us. It is times like these when we must remember to tell people what they mean to us often, live with conviction and purpose, and remember that every person you meet has a story, so listen. Listen up and listen hard. 

Last year, I was in Puerto Rico. Letting go has never been easy for me, nor has saying goodbye. When I returned from Spain, I worked and did not stop working. It is almost as if I did not give myself a chance to fully let go of the sadness that would creep up every time I heard a song or was reminded of her. I realized I needed to take a break from overdrive and go back to the place where all of my traveling began. So that is exactly what I did.

Feelings on Arrival

When I landed, I didn’t feel the usual buzz of anticipation when you get off and exit the aircraft. This was probably because I knew this trip had a purpose external to my personal destiny. I was there for Christmas Eve (my grandma’s favorite holiday) but also, to let go. For much of my adult life, “letting go” meant backing away from being right in a conversation. Or, letting family members have the last cookie at a holiday party.

This trip just had that feeling… yeah. It could have been a subconscious all-in-your-head feeling. But, I still did not feel that that let-me-jump-for-the-luggage-carousel-to-find-my-bag-so-I-could-explore vibe. This had a different feeling altogether. However, it was up to me as to how I chose to live in the moment. Since Tata no longer was there for me to tell her how much I loved her, it was time to set her free. After her passing in 2017, it was about time.

As I drove to the other side of the island, memories of her stories and Puerto Rico flashbacks bounced into my mind. Years of listening to her stories filled my heart. They came out right when I needed them most. It was as if those memories armed me with what I was about to encounter next. 

She would talk about Puerto Rico and her sisters over and over again. In the end, I felt like I was the adult and loving grandparent she had been to me for thirty years prior to that moment. These moments made me realize how much people have to tell if you listen.”

— Leesa Truesdell

A photo of Leesa and her grand mother, Tata. Leesa reflected on her grandmother's life and the messages she carries with her today during her Puerto Rico trip

Why Am I Really Here

When Tata passed while I was in Madrid, my father had a small portion of her ashes encased into a ceramic heart. The purpose of this heart was so that I could have her with me at all times. Truth be told, she had been in my heart since the moment she took her last breath. Although we were separated and on two different continents, I knew when she passed. Time stood still. 

So, while the sentiment was thoughtful and sweet, Tata needed to return home. She had been locked in a tiny heart for years. This was not how she would have wanted to have been remembered. I believe with conviction that she needed to be set free. She lived her life traveling the world, yet was not afforded the opportunity to go home one more time before she passed. 

She talked about Mayagüez many times over the years — as long as I knew her, which was my entire life. But, she never returned. Puerto Rico was not calling during her life until the end. That was why it was my responsibility, down to me and nobody else, to release her and to let her go. Over the years, I heard her stories and when dementia set in, she spoke of the island even more. I listened. I listened hard.

Leesa looking at a picture on a camera while at the beach in early 2020 during her Puerto Rico trip

Ashes to Ashes

The location and personal ceremony I had with Tata one last time before she physically left my hands and rejoined the earth was an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life… I will never be able to put it into words. I had so many things I wanted to tell her. And, so I did. I let go. We let go together. 

William Parrish : It’s hard to let go, isn’t it?
Joe Black : Yes it is, Bill.
William Parrish : What can I tell you? That’s life.”

Quote: Meet Joe Black

Life and Legacy Beyond 2020

What things are you doing or working towards now that are helping to shape the legacy you want to leave? How are you moving past 2020?

I ask each of you to join us as we begin our life and legacy chapter of Dreams Abroad. We want to make this a space where parents, students, teachers, doctors, executives, healthcare professionals, military service members, police officers, and more can come to speak about their lives. Our goal is to not leave our loved ones behind. We want you to share a note, a phone call, or an online greeting to let them know that you care. Please join our team as we reach out with information about how you can help us stay connected.

My Biggest Inspiration: María Dolores González

by Carlos Balbuena

Carlos-Balbuena María Dolores GonzálezMy name is Carlos Balbuena González. I’m from México City and I want you to meet my mom: María Dolores González Aguilar. She was the most amazing person I’ve ever met and I had the privilege of having her as a mother. Being her son is the best thing that ever happened to me because of what she taught me.

Importance of Family

My mother taught me the importance of family and the value of sacrifice. She was an incredibly hard-working person. When her mother died, she cared for her father, who had Alzheimer’s. It was a challenging task and she did everything and even a little bit more for him. I admire her dearly because, at the same time she was taking care of him, she was also able to manage a business, take care of the house, and take care of me and our three dogs. She did everything to provide and educate us. She did it all for her family. 

My mother always encouraged me to be myself and this taught me to be my authentic self. Maria Dolores Gonzalez was not a regular mom. She always talked to me upfront about everything and she always inspired me to pursue my dreams. I vividly remember her saying that I should study something that made me happy rather than something profitable. She constantly encouraged me to do the things that I liked rather than the things I dreaded. She taught me I must be myself and never try to shape myself to be likable. My mom shaped my world and my vision of it. 

She Always Listened

Carlos Balbuena and mother

She taught me that you don’t need someone’s validation or a title to prove your worth. Mom was everyone’s person to go to when they felt sad or they needed advice. She always listened to you without judging, and her advice was always pure gold. My mom was really smart and she could’ve done anything she wanted. Unfortunately, my grand-dad had the notion that women should not study since they were just going to be supported by a husband. She had to quit school soon after high school. Nonetheless, she excelled in all the jobs she had and became a fundamental part of them. When she died, the company where we worked together went down and it’s now sinking. She was the only one who was able to properly manage the business.

 

Besides being incredibly smart, she was also an incredibly giving person. My mom always worried about everyone else instead of herself. As we say here in México, she was the kind of person who would take the bread out of her mouth to give it to you. She died on February 19th of 2019. With her passing my world turned upside down. 

I’m very sad about her passing, but I’m really happy that I was able to meet her. There’s no day I don’t think about her. I carry a few her ashes near my chest in a necklace. Whenever the day gets too rough or I’m feeling down, I grab my necklace and think about what would she say or the advice she would give to me to make me feel better, and then, the pain fades away. 

 

María Dolores González Is My Inspiration

María Dolores González is not here anymore, but she’s still my biggest inspiration to move forward. I want to make her proud going forward and I know for sure she felt proud of me before she passed. She said it sometimes, but I want to succeed in life so I can be exactly what she wanted me to be: a good, decent, loving person, who is independent and self-sufficient. She shapes and will shape my world.

My mother knew I loved her with all my heart because we used to tell each other “I love you” often. So please, you can never be short on the “I love you’s.” If you love someone, let them know how much they mean to you. If you live with your mom, go to her room and give her a big hug for me. If you live by yourself, call your mom. It’s a good time to say to her that you love her and that you’re grateful for everything she’s done for you.

María Dolores González 2

 

Remembering the Woman with a Heart of Gold: Micaela Colon

Micaela Colon

Pleased to make your acquaintance. My name is Leesa Truesdell and I am from Coral Springs, Florida. As I get older, I realize that life means more. What do I mean by “more?” Well, it means three little things which add up to a large sum: tell people what they mean to you often, live with purpose and do what you can often, and finally, remember that every person you meet has a story, so listen carefully as they might only tell you once.

Micaela Colon: The woman with the best laugh, softest smile, and a heart of gold. 

I have made my fair share of mistakes over the course of my life. Nonetheless, it is these mistakes that have made me who I am. It sounds cliché, but let me explain. My grandmother, my beloved Tata, is no longer alive to write about how she would want to be remembered. However, I have a soul full of love and a mind full of memories that still feel so raw and real. Micaela Colon passed on January 11, 2017. Yet, I can still hear her voice and see her smile. Those are the memories that will never fade and are tucked in my heart forever. 

The love my grandmother showed me as a child was the kind of love a child could only dream of. I can still see the red swing that I would run and jump on when she took me to the park by her house. We went to the arcade for hours over the summer. One of my fondest memories is going to the cinema with her and sharing popcorn. We used to go to the cinema a few times a summer. Two movies that remind me of her are Chances Are and Xanadu. Tata enjoyed a movie with a good soundtrack. She played the piano and was passionate about a variety of music.

playing piano with my grandmother

Be Mindful

I am telling you about my memories that live on in my mind because as she got older, I remembered her love and I never forgot her. When I got older and was able to drive, I took her out to lunch. Eventually, when I was in college, I called her on all of her birthdays. When we went to lunch, she usually ordered the soup of the day and a half-sandwich combo at Rob’s Bageland near her house. It was one of her favorite places. After she passed, I remembered the things that I did with her as a child and as an adult when it was my turn to care for her. There was no eradication of the sadness but it helped me through it. 

Let me emphasize this — tell people what they mean to you while they are in your life. They will never forget it and neither will you. When I got home from Madrid and saw my mom for the first time after Tata had passed, she handed me a box with things from my grandma. In the box were cards that I had mailed her over the years. She kept all of them. At the time, I did not realize how much a card meant to her, but clearly, it meant everything and more.

Embrace Being Abroad

My grandparents traveled across the world throughout their lives because my grandfather was an aeronautical engineer. His job meant that he needed to live in different countries for years at a time. My grandparents embraced this part of their lives. They did what they wanted and they lived with purpose. They adapted to environments that did not accept them and taught in places that embraced them with open arms. For example, my grandmother taught English in Kinshasa, Africa in the 1970s while my grandfather made friends at work. He attended Rumble in the Jungle. This is something I was not aware of until my late twenties.

Take Time

What Tata wanted most during the older years of her life after Papa passed was attention. Our roles reversed and towards the last few years of her life, I found myself sitting and listening to her about her childhood in Puerto Rico. When her dementia started to progress, she kept her long-term memory and continued to recall her childhood in Puerto Rico. She just couldn’t remember what she had just eaten. It was important for me to sit and just listen to her during these stages of her life. Unfortunately, with Lewy body dementia, the person knows what is happening to them while it is happening.

Shared Moments

I felt at times helpless that she would fail to remember I was there because her short-term memory would not last. She would talk about Puerto Rico and her sisters over and over again. In the end, I felt like I was the adult and loving grandparent she had been to me for thirty years prior to that moment. These moments made me realize how much people have to tell if you listen. Some might not want to share, but those that do might need a friend or, in my case, their granddaughter, to sit and listen to the same story over and over again. As I look back, it only took a few minutes here and there, but collectively these minutes are some of the best moments I have ever spent.

Remembering Micaela Colon

The legacy Tata left me changed my life. It has made me a more mindful person. I tell people what they mean to me more often, I live with purpose, and listen to others regularly. When I got back from Madrid, I became an international student advisor and my sole role was to listen during this job. I also started Dreams Abroad to help others achieve their goals in life. No matter what I am doing in this life, I am always remembering her and using the love she gave me as a guide in my day-to-day actions. Micaela Colon is sincerely missed and never to be forgotten. 

Her legacy lives on through Dreams Abroad and its impact.

by Leesa Truesdell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

St. Augustine, Florida: an Excursion to Remember

What is a memory? A series of intertwined images revolving around in an electricity typhoon? The main pillar of (cognitive) knowledge? Echoes of a distant time resonating through your thoughts? Without it we could not remember how to get to work or how to dress; without it, we could not be who we are, because we could not remember our past. We would not be able to know that karma is almost scientific: every action has a reaction. Or maybe it is all of this and more, all at once.

Today I find myself remembering a lot of things. The thing is, when you vividly remember something, it is almost as if you could taste it. Do you know that feeling? Have you ever missed something you barely knew? I miss how I felt when I was in St. Augustine, Florida.

Let us be clear, before every memory lies a thin veil of uncertainty. This doesn’t necessarily make memories unreliable but this is a subtle warning that everything might be or might be not as you thought it was. Remembering is a cognitive process related to imagination. It’s impossible to have any control over the human imagination. Nonetheless, this process only embellishes our memories. I had nothing but a good time in St. Augustine. As I look back on my time there, I sense the sweet taste endemic of those great, indelible, fierce memories that stand tall in the fight against oblivion. Those memories are the thing known as the time of your life.

bridge of lions xcursion

My First Impression of St. Augustine

The first thing I noticed was the architecture. I felt like I was home. This part of the US was “inhabited” by the Spaniards initially, and it’s noticeable in the architecture. The characteristic Spanish architecture is exactly the kind of architecture I would see in my own country. Regardless of its origins, it’s a themed town I would say.

It looks like it stepped out of the 16th century or so, you know? It recalls a time back to when the Atlantic was swarmed with all kinds of greedy Jack Sparrow types and the American continent was still a dream and a new opportunity — a ripe, juicy fruit for everyone and anyone to take. I even saw some pirates while I was there, actually. We were near the fort, Castillo de San Marcos, so that’s what probably sparked my imagination. Water was everywhere you looked, with the Matanzas River spilling into the ocean. A cool breeze swept through the harbor, swirling around the peaceful boats bobbing beneath the bridge. I was fascinated, honestly. This was the kind of place I love to visit.

castillo de san marcos st augustine

Seeing the City on Foot

By foot is the only way to truly see this city. We parked and got going without direction, just putting one foot in front of the other, as they will. There were lots of stores. Each shop and restaurant has a unique décor that’s coherent with the idea of the town. We saw all kinds of stuff: amazing souvenirs, clothes, toys, board games, and jewelry. You name it, it was there. A single tour of just one street took us more than half an hour. It was impossible not to stop at every single store display to stare at something. We got lost from the group once or twice because everyone was interested in something different, of course.

All in all, we had a great time just walking around. The main attraction is the Castillo de San Marcos. Castillo de San Marcos, known simply as “the Fort” by locals, is the crowned jewel of St. Augustine. It’s a great construction whose rich history is embedded into the fabric of St. Augustine itself. Speaking of great buildings: we all agreed that the city’s university almost looked like it was straight out of Hogwarts. And it really was! Flagler College sits across from the Lightner Museum, which I found out sometime later.

Florida historic

After a while, it was time to get a room. We still had some time to find a fairly priced accommodation before nighttime. After only a little bit of looking, we rented a room in a tiny, cozy hotel just beyond the bridge. The price was fair and the location was pretty decent, seeing how close we were to downtown.

St. Augustine at Night

We couldn’t leave without visiting the St. Augustine beach. Even though we went at night, there were still lots of people. There was a pier off the beach with lots of stores and food. Even though it was so dark you couldn’t see the people on the beach, the pier was alive with light. Nonetheless, we went down to the beach to swim for a little bit. Even though it might have been unwise, we stayed close to the beach.

 

I even made friends with a couple while we were at the beach. They were in their 50s and were foreigners in America, just like me. We talked a lot before he invited me for a beer. I introduced my friends when they got out of the ocean. It had been a really nice day, but after a while, it got pretty late. The beach started to run empty and we decided it was time to call it a night and went back to the car. By that time, we were experts in cleaning sand off of our shoes and feet without getting the rental car dirty. We rinsed off with the showers on the beach before returning to the hotel to get ready for the rest of the evening.

The night is where the real magic happens. The town has an eerie, mystical vibe to it. It’s only accentuated by the dark. One of the more popular things to do there is to take a haunted tour of the lighthouse. It’s said that it’s really actually haunted, but that can’t be on the tour, surely.

St. Augustine is Incredibly Charming

I really loved the journey to and from the hotel. Everything was shiny and beautiful. Even though we had a really good time, we had to go the next day. I remember how beautiful it was that night in the hotel because the moon was huge. I felt it right above me and the hotel. I’ve always had a tendency to go to sleep late, so I snuck outside to see the stars. I had a wonderful night chilling outside while my friends slept.

There are no possible words that could give St. Augustine justice. It is an incredibly charming little city. I would love to live there. I can’t wait to return someday.

Check out Carlos’s last post about his experience while studying abroad.

Castillo de San Marcos Fort st augustine

 

A Few of My Favorite Things 2018

Christmas Holiday Traditions

I can remember a few of my favorite things when I was when I was a young girl. I always thought of Christmas as the time when my Tata would cook her infamous bacalao fritters and paella. My grandmother’s favorite holiday pastime was to sit around the piano and play music for all. Tata loved to entertain and spread holiday cheer that would bounce from wall to wall. Christmas was her favorite holiday for many reasons. She always cooked her signature dishes from Puerto Rico and loved to be with her family. Tata adored her family, sharing gifts, and spreading holiday magic with all of us.

favorite things 2018 my family

Last year I asked the Dreams Abroad team to share some of their favorite things. It turned out to be a great post because each person had such a different response. This is what we all had to say: HERE

A Few of My Favorite Things 2018

This year will be the second Christmas and New Years since she passed, and for some reason, it hit me harder this year. I spent a good amount of time writing my resilience abroad pieces and haven’t really reflected too much on the passing of time. I also haven’t reflected on my emotions of her passing since I completed the series. Perhaps, the combination of working hard, not reflecting, and not traveling outside the US as much this year could all be reasons why her being gone this year hit me hard and fast. I knew toward the end of our time together how precious it was. When she had her memory and life was good, we made the most of our time together. These are the times I remember and cherish deeply.

traveling abroadIt took me thirty years to get to Puerto Rico to visit her hometown. She spoke about this town for all of my life and now, I can’t stop traveling. She is with me always in my heart and through my actions. My Tata taught me to be considerate, thoughtful, and strong.

Take Each Day as it Comes

“‘Cause you never think the last time’s going to be the last time- you think there will be more. You think you have forever but you don’t.” A quote that I always try to keep in the back of my mind to remind me how precious each friendship and each moment of each day truly is.

Tata always shared her love for travel. If not for her, I wouldn’t have been introduced to the wonders of the world and the joys of travel as I know it today. Remember to tell all the people in your life how much they mean to you because you just don’t know what tomorrow brings. So, make today awesome and share your love.

With that, here are a few of my favorite quotes and travel memories from this past year:

“Life is all about how you handle plan B” – Anonymous

quote grateful heart

” If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it. Nobody said it would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it.” – Grey’s Anatomy

My Big Brother

My favorite memory from spring 2018 was being able to spend time with my big brother and go to our first concert together in a while. We went to see Blue October perform in Orlando, Florida. We met the band before the show and it was epic! I had seen them play in London in 2017 and wanted my brother to see them live. A definite favorite!

brad & leesa truesdell traveling

blue october orlando florida

My Trip to San Francisco

My favorite memory from summer 2018 was my trip to San Francisco when I linked up with my best friend Luis. Whenever we have an adventure planned — we adventure! This trip was too short, but then again, I always feel like our trips are too short. We have way too much fun! Fourth of July in California with Luis was certainly not like the first Fourth of July that we spent together (see my Travel Tale about Medellin) but it is a favorite memory of 2018 for sure.

fourth of july best friend luis

Castle in Burgundy, France

My favorite memory from fall 2018 was walking through a castle in Burgundy, France. Although I had many wonderful memories from Paris, taking the train to Dijon and driving to Burgundy in the fall was absolutely magnificent. The castle was built in the 1500s and reminded me of the castle from Beauty and the Beast. It was undoubtedly breathtaking. I felt timeless. The gardens had fresh flowers in every color and the roses were beautiful.

smelling rose in garden

“Take time to smell the roses” – Leesa Truesdell, a lesson learned from Burgundy, France

Birthday in Madrid

Another favorite memory of 2018 is the dinner I shared on my birthday with some of my Dreams Abroad family. Despite how close we’ve come from working together, it was the first time some of them had met. This marked the third year I spent my birthday in Madrid, and it was certainly such a special way to celebrate.

madrid trip abroad for birthday

Stay tuned for more articles from me and the rest of the Dreams Abroad team in 2019! We always look forward to sharing more with you. Thank you for being a part of our community.

Happy New Year,

Leesa

by Leesa Truesdell

Grieving Far From Home: Month One

I would like to start off by saying that not all people grieve the same way and that this article is a reflection of how I coped with my feelings of loss while I lived abroad. I am in no way discrediting any other methods of grief management. Rather, I am sharing my method of healing as a way to provide insight for those who might one day be living abroad and feel similar. Some people might feel that returning to their home country is the best option and others may not have that option. Everyone is different and there is no right or wrong way to mourn. Time takes its course and it’s up to us to keep that person’s memory alive in our heart.

Grieving Abroad

This soul-searching series showcases my grieving process over the course of the most harrowing and heartbreaking six months of my life. It offers a window into how I worked through the processes of loss and resiliency after the passing of my beloved grandmother. Perhaps it will be of benefit to you if you are struggling to cope with a similar situation.

Month One: Numb

The very worst part about pain is that the minute you think you’ve past it, it starts all over again.” – Meredith Grey

Grieving Abroad: For the Love of Music

The first month after my beloved grandmother, Tata, passed was probably the most difficult that I had while abroad. It was one of the hardest times in my adult life to date. The night she passed away I received a call from my father. Leading up to that call, I received updates by the hour from family members with her. I finally received “the text,” the one that said “…she passed away.” It was the one you never want to get. I remember feeling as if everything suddenly went still.

After I got it, I paused and mumbled “no.” Looking back, there was an eerie stillness because it was as if I felt her leave the earth. It felt as if our souls touched one more time. I have never experienced death or grief like this in the States or abroad. Maybe it was better for me that I was away… or maybe it wasn’t. It all felt so surreal.

Leading up to that text, I didn’t believe anyone in my family who told me that she was that ill. It was because I didn’t WANT to believe that she was that ill. I had just seen her about two weeks before for Christmas Eve. She was singing and smiling. All I could think was, “no, not Tata.” I couldn’t process what was happening. During the first month, I felt numb to everything. In a sense, I walked through each day, simply going through the motions. It was all I could do to press on.

Music Is The Answer

What helped that first month after my grandma died was forcing myself to go out and, interestingly, listening to music. Music was my way of escape. Now, it’s how I remember her. Sometimes we may not know what to do until we take the first step. For me, my first step was meeting a friend at a musical we had planned on months before my grandmother’s death. At that moment, all I needed was to see a friend and feel a hug.

It had been ten days since I had real human contact. I had talked on the phone and seen colleagues at work a few days after her passing. But, there was nothing like seeing a close friend, and hearing a very familiar American-themed musical that I grew up knowing and loving. My soul felt better after the show. I slowly became able to start accepting and not denying her passing.

Building the Essential Checklist

Here are some helpful tips that I developed as I dealt with the grieving process abroad:

  1. Go out and talk to friends, coworkers, and even acquaintances. Try to maintain as normal of a daily/weekly routine as possible. You don’t have to talk to them about your grief, but it does help to go out and make new memories while you are trying to let the pain subside.
  2. Cry when it hurts, but don’t let it consume you. Don’t suppress your feelings. It only results in delayed and sometimes worse outcomes. Cry when you need to. Let out the sadness you feel, it’s normal. However, sadness should not stop you from seeing friends or going to work.
  3. Seek professional help or counseling if you feel like you can’t do your normal routine and things aren’t getting better after more than a few weeks.

by Leesa Truesdell

Live For Now and Embrace the Spanish Culture

by Leesa Truesdell

Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory Dr. Seuss“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” – Dr. Seuss

As each week passes, our “foreigner shells” crack open piece by piece. Each piece that breaks off, allows us to let go of old preconceived thoughts about the unknown, or doubts of Spain. The more we embrace the Spanish culture by exploring the unknown it becomes our new known.

There are cultural and societal norms that take place by tradition, which means they exist and they are the standard for Spain. For example, part of the Spanish culture and tradition is not to live in the past or the future but to live for the now. This aspect of their culture is a trait that I am looking forward to practicing.

Don’t Let Past Performances Impact Future Relationships

Personally, I believe as a North American I tend to worry too much about how past performances can impact future relationships with regards to employers. For example, I know for many of us, “what if” statements can cause unwarranted stress and serious spiraling into unnecessary places. Does this sound familiar, “If I do X now will it bring me the results I need for Y later?” Really? What if X explodes and Y is nothing more than an anomaly? What then? This is an exaggerated example of spiraling. We tend to overburden ourselves by focusing on what could be or could have been. Living for now is a novel concept that I believe will make all of us healthier happier people while living here.

Live For Now

In Spain, teachers generally are openly affectionate with their students. They hug and kiss their students. Whereas in the United States, it is prohibited to engage in similar conduct with students. For American teachers, this will be an adjustment.

In general, Spanish people are more hands-on culture. For example, they greet with a kiss on both cheeks. Whereas in the United States a greeting is a handshake and maybe a hug. It will be interesting to hear the perspectives of CIEE teachers that we will be following in Madrid. Hearing their cultural observations and experiences at their schools will help everyone understand Spanish culture. For example, if we live in the mindset of thinking for now then there is a lot that can be accomplished over one school year with – our students and our CIEE teachers — today.

Live For Now Including Teaching Experiences

Grand Parents sitting at a park

Seven new CIEE teachers (two of which were a couple traveling together) and one veteran teacher spoke about their teaching and other experiences in Madrid this school year. Tune in for our upcoming We Teach to read about our veteran teacher, Lynnette’s experiences. She will be touching on Spanish culture in and outside the classroom. She will also share her love for Spain and why she can’t bear to leave.