I am finally official, with rights!

What an eventful two weeks! I have visited two more countries, contracted a very contagious virus, had my first visit to a Spanish hospital and emergency room, finally obtained my work authorization, and, of course, booked my next trip!

Vatican City and Rome were absolutely beautiful.  Words cannot describe the feeling admiring the breathtaking paintings of the Sistine Chapel, standing inside the colosseum looking up at the stands from the where the Emperor’s box would have been and looking down at the labyrinth that lied beneath the colosseum floor, walking on the same stones of the Via Sacra that Augustus walked on thousands of years ago, marveling at the perfect symmetry of the Pantheon, and listening to the Pope’s Angelus Prayer and Blessing in St. Peter’s Square.  Unfortunately, again, tourism has taken its toll on these remarkable cities.  We were only able to walk somewhat quickly through the Sistine Chapel, in which you are literally shoulder to shoulder with people, bumping into each other while the workers usher you out and the food was quite expensive and disappointing.  Also, on the last day of the trip, I started to feel very ill with a fever mixed with alternating sweats and chills.  But with all of that said, it is definitely worth a trip.  Check out my photography here from my trip.

Since my work authorization was finally approved, first thing Monday morning, I headed to the social security office to obtain my social security number and become an official worker in Spain with rights to paid vacation and healthcare. Afterwards, I continued on with my typical crazy day of lesson planning and running from class to class.  As I was teaching in my last class of the day, I noticed a sore on my finger and then another on my other hand.  I rushed home and looked at my feet, in which I had sores on both feet.  I realized that I had gotten hand, foot, and mouth virus. After much research and talking with friends, I learned that you are contagious for 5-7 days.  The next morning, I alerted my boss and began the run around of trying to obtain a doctor’s note required to request time off of work. As I did not have a primary care doctor, I followed the advice of my boss and went to a nearby private hospital.  After doing my best to communicate in Spanish and being sent to three different wings of the hospital, I ended up at the emergency room; where the hospital worker suggested I try the public hospital as the emergency room visit could have costed me 300-500 euros.  As I did not know if my travel insurance would have covered it, could not call the 800 number on my phone to check, and did not want to pay hundreds of euros for a doctor’s note, I decided to endure the process of the public hospital.  After a couple hours, I finally obtained a doctor’s note that confirmed my self-diagnosis.  Relieved I finally got the note, I sent it over to my boss and headed home to rest.  However, the response from my boss was, “looks that all is fine and stable,” which was certainly not the case.  After some more text exchanges, he gave me the rest of the day off.  Although probably still contagious, I worked a full day the next day.  Apparently, I looked very worn out and was not my energetic self, my boss decided to reduce my schedule for the rest of the week so I could rest. What an experience.

Starting next week, everything “should be” back to normal. I should have my “set” schedule of about 25 hours of teaching a week (which is full time for a teacher), except that there is a holiday next week.  Unfortunately, I have decided to put Spanish on hold yet again. With my current schedule, if I kept Spanish, I would be busy from first thing in the morning until 9-10 pm Monday through Thursday and working 7 hours on Friday (a normal teaching day is about 4-5 hours).  I have decided I am not going to kill myself this semester.  Again, making a living comes first.  Fortunately, my Spanish classes do not expire so I will pick them up again when I have the time.  So, taking advantage of the long weekend next week, my friend and I will be traveling to the beautiful city of Bilbao.  I am very excited to finally see northern Spain!