San Antonio Sabbatical

The Week in Review

Posted on: September 18, 2010

I’ve officially lived in San Antonio for one month.  Only three months left to go.  So far, so good.  I’m slowly venturing out to new areas.  This is a lot easier with my car, although I’ve gotten lost a few times on the huge Texas highways.  Getting lost is not uncommon for me since I have a poor sense of direction.  Thankfully, there are lots of labeled “turnarounds” for U-turns so I’ve always been able to find my way back home.

My OLLU classes are going well.  I like Classroom Professor and Clinic Team Supervisor, and am learning interesting things about Hispanic/Latino cultures.  Prior to Monday evening’s class, I settled my bill (my tuition discount had finally been applied) and got my vehicle tag so that I can park my car on campus.  I tried to get my student identification card but was told that the machine was out of ink, so I will try again the next time I’m on campus.  Then, right before class, one of my classmates invited me to join her group for drinks on the River Walk over the weekend.  Although I politely postponed my involvement for another time, I thanked her for inviting me.  It felt good to be included and I look forward to getting to know my classmates better.

I accomplished a few assorted tasks this past week such as:

  • (1)  Opening a savings account at a Texas bank in order to make it easier to get cash.
  • (2)  Trying a new restaurant.  I ordered a Chinese takeout lunch from Mencius’ Gourmet Hunan Restaurant located in the Medical Center area where I live.  Chinese food is not my favorite, but I enjoyed my meal of Lemon Chicken, fried rice, and an egg roll.  This restaurant was a lucky find for me.  I just happened to be in that shopping plaza and stopped in (it was crowded with diners); only later did I read their great food reviews online.
  • (3)  Attending the Thursday Book Club meeting (Sept. 16th from 12:00-2:00 p.m.) at the Cody Library of the San Antonio Public Library (which has 27 branches).  I had applied for and received a library card a week ago.  I learned that the Thursday Book Club would be discussing House Rules (a book about a boy with Asperger’s syndrome) by Jodi Picoult so I read the book and went to the meeting.  The group’s leader (Susan) introduced me to the group of about 20 bibliophiles (several of them are former teachers and librarians) and handed me a list of titles that will be discussed at future meetings of the Thursday Book Club.  We had a good discussion about House Rules.  Opinions about the book varied (I really liked this book).  I plan to return for next month’s meeting.
  • (4)  Watching Thursday evening’s season premiere of The Apprentice.  I enjoy television and this is one of my favorite shows.  (I wrote an award-winning poem about it a few years ago).  For this season, Donald Trump has selected victims of our bad economy to compete for a job with his company.  I really like this timely theme.
  • (5)  Turning in my first assignment for Jennifer Lawler’s six-week Write Your Book Proposal E-Course which started on September 13th.  I’m working on writing a self-help book and have heard many great things about Jennifer’s course.  Also on the topic of writing:  Last month I participated in a free teleclass offered by “Renegade WriterLinda Formichelli with featured speaker Kelly James-Enger talking about Six-Figure Freelancing.  I’m so happy to be able to spend more time on my writing this semester and to have found some wonderful role models.
  • (6)  Signing up for 20 hours of private Spanish lessons with a relatively new (2006) local language school — Spanish, English and Foreign Languages for America, Inc. (SEFLA).  The longer I’m here in Texas, the more I’m realizing I need additional practice with conversational Spanish and that taking a separate supplemental class — in addition to my two OLLU courses — would be helpful.  I found SEFLA online, did some research, and called and spoke with the director, Clara Pérez Peláez, on Thursday afternoon.  She invited me to come observe a 1½-hour class on Friday morning (This particular class is part of a special 4-week intensive course for military personnel).  So, yesterday I observed the class (this portion focused on reading — lectura) from 10:00-11:30 a.m. and I really liked it.  I liked the teacher (Elvia), her teaching style, and the written materials/texts used.  Afterwards, I took the written placement exam (40 multiple-choice questions) plus an oral exam administered by the director herself.  My score placed me at the advanced level (my problems were with the conditional and subjunctive verb tenses) and there were no group classes at this level being formed at the current time, so I was offered the more expensive, yet flexible, option of private lessons — which I accepted.  Even with the 10% discount I received, the cost is more than I wanted to spend.  But, it’s an investment in my professional development and I really need the lessons.  Someone will contact me once a teacher and time have been arranged (I put in a request for Elvia for Monday or Wednesday mornings so that I can keep the latter part of my week free).  It seems like I will be able to begin my lessons next week.  While at SEFLA, I purchased a copy of one of the paperback texts I saw being used in the classroom.  It’s called Streetwise Spanish: Speak and Understand Everyday Spanish (with Audio CD) by Mary McVey Gill and Brenda Wegmann and published by McGraw-Hill.

As you can see, I’ve had a busy few days.  I still have to do my reading homework for my class on Monday.

(Slightly Off Topic) — Congratulations to Spain’s top tennis player, Rafael Nadal.  On Monday, September 13th, Nadal won the U.S. Open, completing a rare career Grand Slam.  What an accomplishment!

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