The last two weeks have been eventful, as I’ve juggled full-time Spanish study, illness, and lots of social events. With only a week left until my End of Training (EOT) test, it has certainly come down to the wire!
I am vacillating between feeling very ready to be done with Spanish class, and feeling very not ready to leave the bubble! The jump between a 2+ and a 3 has been different than I thought, and I have struggled with organizing my thoughts during presentations and retaining vocabulary that I should know by now.
During the past two weeks of class I have been sick a couple of times too, sleeping a lot, and feeling either dizzy, sick to my stomach, or managing back pain and sciatica. Frankly, since my trip to Ecuador last December my arthritis has been really flared up and I have just been coping the best I can. Not knowing what kind of day it’s going to be until I wake up sucks, and isn’t totally conducive to being as on the ball as I need to be right now.
I also have been feeling super fatigued. I have been asking myself if it is normal to come home from work at 16:00 and crash into a deep sleep for three hours. I think if you start at 07:40, and work through your lunch, all in your fourth language, YES, it is normal to feel drained, fuzzy, and exhausted every single day. But I am making progress, and spending this three-day weekend working on my reading, interview questions, and presentation talking points. (And of course, going to the gym! I have lost 14 lbs so far in 2020 and that is making me feel stronger and overall better.)
When I test at the end of this coming week, it will be the end of week 24 – the final week – and time will tell if I have achieved the requisite amount of speaking and reading or not. The worst thing that can happen is being extended for a few more weeks for extra training and retesting, which would only push our timeline for getting to post further into May, so I really don’t think it’s a big deal. We shall see. I have been on track or ahead throughout this whole program so far, so am hoping to demonstrate what is required to pass. I know I can do it – I just have to do it on the day.
Over the past couple of weeks, despite the study burden, I have made an effort to spend time with other people. We attended a Macedonian name day (именден) celebration for the young son of dear friends K and G, who I’ve known since 2003 and 2005, respectively. I also met my former Russian teacher S and classmate R for drinks in Rosslyn, had dinner in Old Town Alexandria with two sorority sisters L and J who relocated here from San Diego years ago, and went to brunch in Reston with my friend and bridesmaid T, who is posted to U.S. Embassy Kabul but blew through DC in a whirlwind. All of these things boosted my spirits and were a welcome relief from the daily grind. You gotta eat anyway, right?
I also celebrated Valentine’s Day with V, and we attended a Washington Caps hockey game on Super Bowl Sunday morning, which was awesome and filled with good energy even though the Caps lost. It was one of my Christmas presents to him and our seats in the 11th row were spectacular!! I have been to a couple Caps and Wizards games in Verizon Center but never have I been so close to the action. It was nice and cold being near the ice, and I would definitely go back.
As I write this, my hand is a little tired from holding my heavy new phone. Since 2017 or so, I have been drafting the majority of my blog posts on my iPhone via the WordPress app rather than on my laptop. It has been so easy to hold in my hand and do. When I post about a long trip with lots of photos that I need to edit, it is easier to work from my laptop, but typically I am more motivated to blog from my phone while laying around. I already spend enough time upright in front of a computer!
I am also in the habit, about twice a month, of uploading all photos on my phone to my laptop and running backups. Some of it is space related – my iPhone is only 64 GB, and a competing priority is room for music and podcasts. The other thing is that the phone is four years old, and not totally trustworthy. I would hate for it to crash and lose my photos. Thus, I get blog posts out more quickly than in the past to avoid photos being already off my phone by the time I’m ready to blog.
But phone space is no longer an issue! Last week, I finally got the iPhone 11 Pro Max! With 256 GB of hard drive space, I will really have to make an effort not to let too many photos accumulate on the phone. However, one downside of this awesome new device I noticed right away is that it is heavy, and big to manage without both hands. Maybe my blog posts will get shorter, or I will have to enable dictation?! Just kidding – writing for me is an internal process, not a speaking aloud process. So maybe it’s time to upgrade my laptop, which I purchased in 2014 and still has all the Russian keyboard stickers attached… (grin)
As the final week of Spanish looms, I find myself asking the same question I was asking five years ago at the end of Russian – – is that light at the end of the tunnel I see a train?