Monday, November 2, 2015

NaBloPoMo: 30 Days of Blog Posts and Why I Like a Good Challenge

I discovered a blogging challenge called, "National Blog Posting Month," through the Blogher.com website. "National Write a Novel Month" is more common and well-known but the blogging version of the challenge appealed to me more since I already have a blog and want to post more on it. Though I'm posting this first blog post a day late, I do plan to write a short blog post everyday for the whole month of November. If you've been following this blog for a longer period of time, you know that I tend to be long-winded. Well, rejoice! I am striving to write no more than 750 words per post. It will force me to be more to the point with my thoughts, story lines or descriptions but you will benefit more by having access to a blog post that you can read in one sitting. Yay!

I don't have all of the topics planned out for this week let alone the whole month but I can give you a rough idea of what each blog post will consist of on any given day.. I'll be sharing some memorable stories, cultural observations, frustrations, linguistic struggles and successes (and curiosities) and a whole lot more. To read all of posts and not miss a single one, subscribe to my blog over on the righthand side of this page! And you can also visit Blogher.com and read others' stories throughout the month of November. Hope you will follow me on this mini-journey one day at a time! :-)

Today I'm writing about challenges. It seems fitting as I am embarking on a new challenge while keeping up with a couple others at the same time.


A new month, means a fresh start and a clean slate


I've loved a good challenge ever since I was a little girl. A little competition? Even better.

I am the youngest of two siblings in my family and the youngest cousin on one side of the family. Over the years, my brother and my cousins would outperform me or physically leave me behind and I didn't like the feeling of being second best. Not to mention I've always been a very ambitious and focused person always making goals and working hard to achieve them. I had a natural desire to be the best at everything I set my mind to and to always strive for excellence. I still have this desire. Now, I would let a challenge go if I would most likely endanger my life or health but most of the time I would face any other type of challenge head on. I'm also pretty competitive even though you wouldn't guess that upon first meeting me. And often times you won't see me lose my cool or express a strong emotional reaction. Don't worry, I'm feeling it on the inside and that emotional charge is powering me through the challenge, especially physical ones.

One of my biggest downfalls with challenges and goal-setting is that I often times take on more than I can handle. I was thinking of adding two extra challenges in addition to the blogging challenge and the ones I'm currently juggling but I would be up to almost 10 goals/challenges! I can't have a social life let alone travel at least once a month with all of those things weighing on my shoulders now can I?

So, I've limited myself to five for the month (and year). Every challenge but the blogging challenge will be things I am working on throughout the year or the next few years and I can go at whatever pace I feel is best. I'm trying not to put pressure on myself with a certain one on the list in particular as I already have enough to deal with as it is some days. I'll let you figure out which one that might be later on in the post.

Here are the other challenges I'll be working on this month:


Replace Spanish with "Portuguese" and there's my dilemma


1. Teach myself Portuguese.

If you've heard me answer the question, "How many languages do you speak?", lately, you'll know that my answer for the past couple years has been two and a half, haha. I have a strong desire to make that answer "three languages" but I have lacked the direction and discipline to make desire become a reality. Last week I came to the realization that I can devote at least 1-2 hours a week to studying Portuguese. I am working in Santiago de Compostela this year but I have kept a quarter of my private English classes in A Coruña - where I worked last year. That means I have about an hour commute (round trip) on the train consistently once a week (and then other free time spread across the week at home).

Though I'm losing a little bit of money commuting to and from, I decided to make the train ride worth my while and force myself to study. I don't have the advantage of going to a language class once or twice a week but I do have this studious environment that I sit in twice a week so why not use it to study? I also now have a textbook for intermediate Portuguese (and resources at Hacking Portuguese) so I finally have a bit of structure too. I've been using a combination of Duolingo and listening to the radio and both Portuguese and Brazilian artists which has been fine. It's no longer enough as I'm not getting anywhere when it comes to speaking the language. I'm also going to push to find a conversation partner who will [kindly] force me to speak it. Hopefully by the end of the month, I will have found a native speaker to help me! More on that as I continue my search...

My long-term goal is to be tri-lingual by age 30 and seeing as that's just shy over 3 years from now, I have my work cut out for me. Pursuing a third language doesn't mean I'm finished (or satisfied) with Spanish -and definitely not English-. It means that I have become confident enough in my second language to move onto a third one. I have been doing this for the past two years but now I'm ready to take things to the next level! Finally.

2. Balance work and free time.


There's always time for a little desayuno and cafelito, haha.

This one is pretty self-explanatory and will be on-going for perhaps the rest of my life but it's an important one this month. Balance. Ever since I moved abroad and six to nine hours ahead of my family in the States, staying in touch consistently has proved to be quite the challenge for me. I recently got a great tip on talking to family back home from a new friend and I'm going to try to integrate it into my current routine. The tip was this: at least two mealtimes in the US and Spain line up with each other and that's the perfect time to call someone. Granted you may have to get used to hearing extra sounds on the phone or sharing each bite with someone over the webcam on your computer, that time of connecting with a family member or friend back home will be worth it. At least this what I'm telling myself in order to force myself to do this.

Work is another story and while language assistants in Spain don't work a ton of hours in the schools, we still have to commute and prepare presentations or activities. And you have to prepare yourself both physically and mentally as no two days will be the same with your students. This is both a good and a bad thing.

I'm a habitually late person, through and through. I plan and dream of being early to events and meetings (and my flights or trains, haha) but I often arrive at the last minute or extremely late. I deny this habit at times but I'm owning up to it now. And this year, the ironic thing is that I live twice as close to my new school as I did to my old one yet I STILL barely arrive on time each day. It honestly has nothing to do with when I wake up (though I could wake up 30 minutes earlier to actually eat breakfast) but everything to do with how I start classes at 9AM sharp every day, 4 days a week. I only worked one 9AM day last year on Mondays but now this year every day feels like Monday! :-( I know, I know, it could be worse. However, you try dealing with a classroom over 20 students under the age of 12 each and every day first thing in the morning and get back to me, haha.

My goal for this month is to be more on time to work and find a better balance between my work and free time. And to also make sure I eat breakfast every morning before leaving my flat.

3. Trying to find a community in a new city and trying to meet someone special.


New city, new opportunities and a whole lot of adventures and unknowns...

When moving to a new city, state or country, finding a place where you fit in automatically comes with the territory. Though I lived in this autonomous region of Spain last year and have friends a train ride away, I need friends who within walking distance of me. And as this city is a university city oozing with youthful faces and cultural events, I want to get to know as many interesting people as possible. And what's more is Santiago de Compostela is the final destination for travelers from all over the world who come to complete the many paths of the Camino de Santiago. Just as no two days at the school will be the same, no two days or nights in this city as a whole will be the same. There is so much to learn and discover here and so far I have only scratched the surface after being here a mere six weeks.

As much as I need a community of friends (apart from the wonderful flatmates I managed to find here), I have a strong desire for companionship and I initially came to Spain last year looking for love. I'm still on this quest but I have never felt more hopeful about it this year compared to years past. Towards the beginning of summer, I felt an urgency to "get ready." A couple months prior to that urging, I reached a place of contentment in my singleness where I was simply happy with the woman I had become and I enjoyed being in my own presence. I stopped trying to grab the attention of all the guys I'd see in passing and focused on the ones who were actually having conversations with me. I honestly just stopped paying attention to guys but I started to pay more attention to myself and whether or not I liked how I looked or reacted to any given situation. This was a huge turning point in my mindset towards guys and relationships and I am glad I have come to this place in my life.

Nothing is guaranteed that I will meet a special someone here in Santiago but I will say that I believe I have a better shot here than almost any other city in Spain, maybe even Europe. And as discouragement creeps in from time to time, I will continue reminding me that God has my best interests at heart and He will lead me to the right person at the right time. I have to do my part, though, and be interacting with people and making myself go to all sorts of events and activities to increase my exposure to society.

Keep your fingers crossed for me this year!


4. Improving my photography skills and hopefully buying a more advanced camera later on.

This one is also pretty self-explanatory but it's a goal I have for this year and many years to come. I find daily inspiration from viewing Young Adventuress's Instagram photos and getting various ideas from all of her amazing high quality photo posts. I want to upgrade to a higher quality camera as I've been using my iPhone to take most of my photos but my budget hasn't allowed me one. I'll be able to save a bit more money each month so hopefully I can buy a new camera and maybe an attachable lens this coming year.

The words "Santiago" and "sunny" don't usually go together in the same sentence but I
love it when they do!


In the meantime, I will work on improving my skills this month as photography is a big passion of mine. Santiago is also a wonderfully photographic city and I want to capture it in its various moods. However, most of those moods oscillate between rainy and dreary without many sunny days in between the two. We've been quite fortunate to have more sunny than rainy days this fall so I hope the streak will continue a little bit!

Christmas vacation is almost around the corner which means more opportunities to travel and document everything I see and experience. I am anxious for the vacation time but still unsure of where to spend my holiday season this year. I should have all the plans firmed up by the end of this month so stay tuned for that.

Soooo...I didn't quite keep my promise with this first post and ended up typing a fairly long post! Hopefully you didn't mind and made it to the end of the page. If not, well, I'm not sorry - I had a lot to say!

Be sure to follow along this month as I stick to writing one short (I promise this time!) blog a day for the next 30 days. What's your challenge or goal for the month of November? Share it with me in the discussion thread below!

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