Blog time blog time! I went to Bilbao last weekend and still feeling a little tired. I had a super fun weekend, the Tour de France started from Bilbao this year and I decided to go. I used to watch the Tour with my dad every summer and it was super cool to see the start in person. I had a lot of fun exploring Bilbao over the weekend but I’m looking forward to a more restful weekend coming up. Spain has been incredibly hot so I’m planning on setting up shop next to the pool, reading my book, and having some much-deserved relaxation time. My job over the past few weeks has been incredibly draining. With the end of term in Spain, many of the kids coming into the center were extremely fidgety and unfocused because all they wanted to do was play and celebrate the beginning of summer. Along with that, we have a few more aggressive kids that come in and they all had really bad weeks last week. I thankfully emerged unscathed, but my boss has bruises up and down her arms and legs from a patient who did not want to leave his session and expressed his anger through kicking and punching. Today, the same patient came in and he exhibited the same, if not worse, level of violence which is difficult not only physically but also emotionally. Whenever difficult cases like his come in, I feel much more exhausted by the end of the day.
Some soft skills I have developed through my time in-country mostly include feeling more comfortable in uncomfortable positions. I have become more at ease with not doing something correctly at my first try and looking a little foolish in public. These all come with being immersed in new cultures and not fully understanding customs and norms. One that I’ve been struggling with is restaurant etiquette, especially at cafés. In the US, I am accustomed to getting a coffee at the counter from the barista and paying immediately. Here it is more common to sit down and wait for the server to come to you and pay when you are finished. I have most definitely almost left the café before paying a few times, but I always remember to flag down the server eventually. I think before this program, I would feel a lot more embarrassed if I made a mistake like this, but now since it has been happening more frequently, I am comfortable with the discomfort which has been helpful with my confidence.
A hard skill I have developed in my job has been resiliency and confidence in my abilities. My job is tough, and I end each week absolutely needing time to rest. I also have had a lot more responsibility in the past few weeks, so much so that my supervisor has been scheduling multiple kids into one timeslot so that she takes one and I take the other. Essentially, I have been working as a therapist and gaining all the skills that would come along with that. I have had to work on calming tantrums, developing teaching techniques, and quickly coming up with curriculum that would benefit each patient that I work with. I have also had to unlearn some norms from the United States while working at the center. My boss pulled me aside last week to critique me on how I deal with redirection. In the states, it is very frowned upon to physically move or redirect a child, at least in the settings that I have worked in (also, disclaimer, I have never worked with kids with developmental disorders before). She reminded me that these kids need physical redirection, so grabbing their shoulders and guiding them to the next destination or physically restraining them if they are exhibiting an unwanted behavior. Usually, I would verbally instruct kids through their activities and destinations, but here I must provide a physical example and guidance. This is a skill that I might have to unlearn again back in the states, depending on the type of job I work with kids in the future, but it has pushed me out of my comfort zone and I have learned a lot.