I’ve been here for two weeks, and I can already say I’m definitely going to like it here in Sarasota. The first week I was here was Spring Break for my kiddos, which meant I was on Spring Break too. Having my first week in a new place where I knew no one didn’t really sound like a fun time to me, but it ended up being an awesome week! I really hit the jackpot with my host mom and her family! They’re all so welcoming and friendly. My second night there I wasn’t invited to family dinner at her son’s house and after 7 weeks of being away from home, it was so nice to be in a family environment, even if it wasn’t my own. My host mom (Chris) is also a teacher at the school I’m at so on the days I feel lazy and don’t want to bike to school, we can carpool. On another note, I went to a book signing with her and her family and met Stephen King!!! I’ve never read any of his books or seen any of the movies, but it was still really cool to meet someone that famous. Even though I’m not going on trips like I was in South Africa, I’m still finding all these little, entertaining things here (I guess it helps that I’m so easily amused). One of the grocery stores here has a separate escalator for your shopping cart, it took a lot of self control not to go down multiple times.
A friend from home took a road trip down to see old friends (and me of course) and brought me a suitcase full of clothes I wished I would have packed the entire time I was in South Africa (I already know I’m going to be doing laundry a lot less frequently here). She used to live here, so she took me to a ton of cool places! We spent a day at Clearwater Beach which was absolutely beautiful! I also got to hold some random snake on the beach, and I thought I wouldn’t see anymore cool animals after I left South Africa. We spent the next day at Busch Gardens and even though it didn’t have as many roller coasters as Cedar Point, it was still a really fun day. It was so comforting to be with someone from home who just gets me and gets where I’m from.
By random chance, another friend from home on leave from a Naval base in Italy ended up being in Sarasota for the week with her family. We grew up together and I haven’t seen her over a year so I was ecstatic to spend some time with her! Her family took me to the beach with them where I saw my first real Florida sunset.
Now onto the important part, why I’m here. School has been so amazing and I haven’t even been there for a full week yet! All of the staff has been so welcoming, especially my host mom, mentor teacher, and the rest of the kindergarten team. I’ve already started leading some classroom transitions, teaching a few lessons, and sat in on some meetings! Everyone has definitely been going out of their way to make me feel welcome. My mentor teacher invited me to the fair with her and her family to watch the Steer show her nephews were showing in this past week. I went a little overboard on fair food, but I felt so at home being at a fair, and seeing some Amish hanging out everywhere. Another teacher invited me to join her and her daughter at the Run or Dye race this weekend. I’m so thankful I was placed at a school that’s so amazing and has such a welcoming staff because it’s definitely helping to make my transition here so much better. I can’t wait to really get into teaching and become more of a part of the school. I still miss my South African students and think about them every day, but my new kiddos are growing on me and I think I might even like them ;)