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Hello From Madrid, Spain! How Different it is This Time!

Madrid has a gorgeous blend of modern and historic architecture!

Madrid has a gorgeous blend of modern and historic architecture.

Hello From Madrid, Spain, where I am on a wonderful, whirlwind Free Teacher Training Tour run by EF Tours!

On this 5-day trip, I am in training with a group of teachers who have flown in from around the United States to prepare as much as possible to lead a group of our students abroad. In my case, I will be leading 42 Boston students to Beijing, China in just 1.5 months!

So far, this Madrid trip has evoked powerful and important reactions in me because of my past and present.

First, the reaction because of my past: The time I previously visited Madrid was in 2010, and my reaction to this city was SO different then because of my different circumstances!

Madrid's giant, famous Plaza Mayor, decked out for the holidays.

Madrid’s giant, famous Plaza Mayor, decked out for the holidays.

In March of 2010 when I first arrived in this city, I was in month EIGHT of non-stop around-the-world travel, and I was not only getting a tad homesick (click here to read the description and see the photos), but I was also experiencing intense culture shock after being plopped into Europe after 5 months of Asia and 3 months in Ghana, West Africa.

Madrid’s overall effect on me in 2010 was to make me… sad! It reminded me achingly of Boston in an echoing, untouchable way, and I wanted nothing more than to start building a life for myself in one place again, after so many months on the move.

Today, however, it’s the end of 2011 and I now have a vibrant, full life in Boston. Because of my changed circumstances, I am now un-sick of travel and un-homesicked about Madrid. And thus the city now sparkles!

Our EF guide walking past a rainbow-colored wig store!

Our EF guide walking past a rainbow-colored wig store!

Madrid now seems romantic and historied in comparison Boston, and so exciting and European! Today we toured the Prado Museum, Plaza Mayor, and Plaza del Sol, and then had a lovely dinner and wander in la Latina neighborhood. I’d done all these things in 2010, but this time I felt the thrill!

Readers, I’d love for you to share in the comments section about times when YOU have experienced one place totally differently on two different visits because of your changed circumstances.

The other way this teacher training trip I’m on now in Madrid is powerful is because of my present. As you may know, in 2010 I started a second website, TeachingTraveling.com, which exists to inspire more teachers to travel and more travelers to teach, with the understanding that each one enhances the other, and together they enhance individuals as well as the world.

Our 40-person group of U.S. teachers being trained to lead student tours! In this photo we are gearing up to learn how to stuff our faces during large group dinners. An important tour skill!

Our 40-person group of U.S. teachers being trained to lead student tours! In this photo we are gearing up to learn how to stuff our faces during large group dinners. An important tour skill!

Well, through the past year of running TeachingTraveling.com, I have become increasingly in awe of my fellow teachers, and particularly teacher-travelers. What an amazing bunch teachers who travel are! This trip is particularly powerful because I get to really be with My People. We all belong to many communities in our lives, but this one is particularly key for me.

So now I must go to sleep because we did approximately one hundred hours of sightseeing on 2 choppy hours of Red-Eye-Flight sleep, and tomorrow holds a tour of Toledo as well as downtown Madrid, tapas, and a Flamenco show. This group tour thing is VERY different from the years of solo travel that I am used to, but it’s providing a whole new facet to world education!

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