Leaving the pattern

Friday last week I finally graduated from the English teacher course I talked about last time. For four weeks I had been stuck in Barcelona, practically having no time for anything else than sitting at “input sessions” in the morning, teaching practices in the early afternoon, guided lesson preparation before and after that for a few hours, and whatever waking time was left was normally spent on preparing various bureaucratic forms that had to be handed in before every lesson — supposedly to show that one has thought about possible questions students might come up with. However, in reality it was more about not leaving spaces anywhere in the forms. Initially, I filled the forms out by computer. Of course, that meant that large parts were left blank and my tutors pointed out that I should write more. I was too naive to understand that what they actually meant was: “Make the form somehow look filled out, it really doesn’t matter what you put there.” Some of my female co-students (we were 10 girls and two boys)were more openly cynical though, and sure enough, following their advice and filling out the forms by hand meant that my tutors henceforth would accept my forms. It was only one part, the so-called “MFP-sheet” (meaning, form, pronunciation), which I continued to hand in as a computer print out for a while longer, and just as long did they complain about it. Also, we had three different tutors, one after the other for 6-7 days each, and they all had their own personal way of filling out these forms. Of course, if you’d fill any form the way one of the other two tutors did it and had taught it to us all in an input session, it would be marked as wrong. Especially for the girls though, this seemed to be perfectly natural, and none of them were great revolutionaries. Somehow also I ended up surviving four weeks of that, and in two months time my Cambridge Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (Celta) should arrive at my parents by mail.

In Barcelona I had only had very little time though, so all the activism activity I attended was the 8th of March (world women’s day), an antiwar march on the 17th, and I visited an occupied house a Friday afternoon which I had bumped into while walking to the post office.

So when my time was up on Friday and I had to give up my room on Saturday, I finally got to book a flight back up north. Due to the excessive Easter celebrations all over Spain which are a great tourist attraction, I did not even try to find anything from Spain itself. Instead I found a flight from Marseille, in southern France. The only problem: It wouldn’t leave before Wednesday. From Barcelona to Marseille you can travel within just a few hours of TGV ride, so I had some extra time on my hand. Combining my memories of German national romantic tales, which usually included going to Italy to walk from village to village and become involved in the life of the locals, with my my fascinations for Eric Balir’s Homage to Catalonia and Down and Out in Paris and London, I decided to travel slow and by moving out of the pattern of normal ways of traveling.

My home the first night provided me shelter from the rain...
My home the first night provided me shelter from the rain…

This is my journal of a few days of shifting form the very structured environment I had experienced in Barcelona through a few others, some touristy, one activist, one Norwegian and everything between them very much out of the ordinary.

Continue reading Leaving the pattern