Twelve years after my first day of class in Chicago, I still get excited when I return to the University for the first day in the Fall semester that, oddly enough, or so thought this newcomer back then, starts in August. I still feel the butterflies in my stomach the same way I did twelve years ago, a 23 year old Spaniard standing outside a ginormous American university for the first time in her life, ready to learn and to teach, to face 23 students roughly my same age, to meet people, to make friends, to start a new chapter in my life, a chapter that I’d like to think I haven’t finished yet.
I am not a student anymore, just a lecturer, although I haven’t lost hope that one day I will go back and finish the PhD I left hanging when, for visa reasons, I had to take a very long hiatus while pregnant with my first.
I have come and gone, but I always return, and nowhere else do I get this feeling. I have seen plenty of TAs, some of them today, standing where I once did, transplants in the US themselves, with happy and hopeful faces, ready to live, to start their own adventures, their own journeys.
And as much as I love translating, and writing, and as much as I fantasize with a 9 to 5 editing job at a publishing house, one that involves high heels, meetings and business travel, I know that even though I always thought that I would hate it, I actually love to teach.
Most adjuncts do love it, otherwise they would never stay at a job that doesn’t pay well, involves 24 hour days, 7 days a weeks for ten months a year, often has no benefits, and little job security. As I write this, like many of my colleagues, I still don’t know whether I will have classes in the Winter or not.
I hope I will, because I want to feel again the rush of excitement while I try to pronounce properly the names on my student list, while I perform the comedy routine that is my introduction, so I can lure them into liking Spanish class, while I put my book back in my bag, and go back home much happier than I left.
With that grin of satisfaction that you only have when you do a job that you like.
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