Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Last Week in Spain!

Last week They only had school on Wed. and Friday because of a holiday.  And even then, I was informed that many students don't come on Wednesday.  But I was excited to get to teach in 1st o ESO (7th grade) some and to do some whole brain teaching strategies with 2nd o ESO (13yrs olds).  I taught them CLass- YES and they really seemed to enjoy it! Even though procedures like this work best when used consistently, the students enjoyed mimicking how I said class.

This week I have prepared english lessons for 1st o ESO and 3rd o ESO.  The students in 1st o ESO are fun to teach, while they do get chatty sometimes, many of them are eager to participate! I had several technical difficulties with the SmartBoard, so I had to improvise a little,but it still worked out well.  I found it difficult sometimes because they would start talking in Catalan among each other and i wasn't sure if they were talking about something relevant to the lesson, in which case I want them to continue, or if they were off task.  Later though Paul told me that they were talking about the activity they were working on. :)

Tomorrow will be my last school day here at SEK! I have to admit, when I first found out I would be with secondary students I was very apprehensive about my time here.  However, I am glad to say it has been absolutely wonderful, and I have a new appreciation for middle and high school students. Although I am sad to say goodbye to Spain, I am looking forward to graduating, seeing my friends and family, Christmas, and American food!!!!  I will definitely miss the nice weather, students, and teachers.

Now if only I can fit everything back into my suitcase! wish me luck! 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Bonjour! Hola. ... ah Espanol? oh sorry no English.

Getting to Paris

Before coming to Spain,  we were advised that if we were going to travel on the weekends it would be far cheaper to go ahead and book tickets and such before leaving the states.  Jordan and I got together to make travel plans and booked a flight  to Paris for Friday morning at 8 am, thinking we were only about 20 minutes away from Barcelona.  
As our departure date approached we tried to organize a way to the airport.  We asked around here and thought that Jesus would be able to give us a ride, however we were informed that no one would be around that early.  We were then told the best way to get there would be to catch the night bus in La Garriga.  
walk to la Garriga
Catch the night bus
Get on the aerobus
get on the plane to Paris
Catch a shuttle from the airport to the actual city of Paris 

sounds easy enough right? 
We decide to try and catch the 4 am night bus.  When the alarm went off at 3 am, we hit snooze for about 15 minutes.  We finally rolled out of bed to get ready for the cold 25 minute walk to town.  We rush to get ready and left the flat. 
We head to the lobby of the other building, which is where we have to exit since we don't have a key to the first large fence around the play area.  However, when we get there, both doors to the staircases are locked!! We try both keys that we have and nothing works.  We head back outside to try and find a way around the 10 foot fence.  Already running late, I am preparing to try and scale the flimsy looking fence, when Jordan finds a gap at the bottom and suggest we go under it instead.  We both shimmy under through the 1 foot gap and take off running down the hill to town.  
We make good time, and are there in time for the scheduled bus. However, the 4am bus never comes.  We are on the right street, but nothing comes.  We decide to wait for the 5am bus.  Thinking we are very near missing our flight, it takes an hour by bus to get into Barcelona, and our plane leaves in 3 hours.  We hide in a little nook to try and stay out of the freezing wind and wait an hour for the next bus. 
5 am rolls along and still no bus.  
We figure our next available mode of transportation to Barcelona is the 5:45 train.  Which is the first train of the day.   We then rush all the way across town to the train station. 
Once on the train we feel a little better, but still have to get to the airport and actually to the gate on time. 
We arrive in Barcelona around 6:30am. rush out of the station and jump on the Aerobus.  We get out at Terminal 1 and look at the departures , by this time it is about 7:10.  Our flight starts boarding at 7:35.  We see none for Ryanair... and then someone tells us that ryanair flies into Terminal 2.  oh. so we think it is in walking distance. nope. We have to get on an airport shuttle that takes about 10 minutes to get to T2. 
Run through the check in and security and make it to our gate by 7:30ish.  whew. 

From there the trip was much smoother than that. Luckily Jordan and I tend to take things very lightly so we were laughing the whole time as we sprinted through towns and airports.  

Made it to Paris! 
We finally make it to Paris! and the shuttle from the airport dropped us off right next to a mall!! very expensive though.  After grabbing a snack, we start walking.  The streets and buildings are absolutely Gorgeous!!!!  We walk towards the Arc De Triumphe...

We then make our way to the Eiffel tower, which is where we are supposed to be meeting up with Angie and Peter.  

first view of the tower. Beautiful!
We found the Eiffel tower!! I have some trouble with the go-phone i have for spain and can't figure out how to get a hold of Angie.  I end up having to call my parents and they acted as a mediator since they were able to get Ang on the phone.  They informed me that she was about 25 minutes away.  
We waited under the Eiffel tower for a while and then I finally find my little sister, who  I haven't seen in 4 months! 

lots of people excited to see the tower!

We were able to catch up over lunch and I met her boyfriend Peter.  I got to hear lots about Germany and her friends and school.  

Jordan and i had forgotten that it was December and were consequently freezing in the gear we had on. We managed to buy scarfs and hats from a street vendor to help keep us warm. 

We woke up saturday to a cold rainy morning.  Not ideal, but it wasn't so bad once we started walking.  We walked through a Christmas market and then made our way to the Metro to head to the Lourve! 

We wait in the long line to enter the Lourve, thankfully the line moved pretty quickly. 

Gorgeous Ceilings everywhere!!

After exploring the variety of sculptures, paintings and murals, we decided it was time to grab lunch.  Being at a restaurant in paris definitely makes me appreciate the service in the states! we would wait probably 15-20 minutes just for someone to take our drink order! Since it is not really customary to leave tips, they are in no hurry to offer quick service.  
Paris is extremely expensive! But we were able to find some fun gifts and such to bring home to friends and family!  
We made our way to Notre-Dame and then to the Eiffel tower to wait in line for a chance to ride all the way to the top! 

Notre-Dame was huge!

Freezing at the very top of the tower!

So very windy at the very top!

Overall a very exciting and fun trip to Paris.  Loved just walking around the city and taking in the sites and culture!  Very happy to back in the warmer Barcelona weather though! next time we'll be sure to google the weather before packing! 


Thursday, December 1, 2011

xx xxx xxxx BARCA

After hearing how good the FC Barcelona team is, we decided that we couldn't leave Spain without having seen them play.  So, Jordan and I were on a mission to do the following:
  1. Get to Barcelona on time Tuesday night after school
  2. Find the large futbol stadium
  3. Get tickets to the game at 9 that night
  4. Find our seats
  5. Find our way back to La Garriga.... without having to wait for the 6am train 
So after school, Jordan's teacher showed us which school bus we could get on to get into Barcelona.  After about an hour on the bus, it came to it's last stop.  The student getting off here pointed us in the right direction and told us to turn left when we see the big Juan Carlos hotel.  He was shocked that we were going to walk because apparently it would be easier and faster to take an above ground train, but we assured him we were much better off walking than trying to figure out another public transportation system.  We stopped at a Starbucks because we were both pretty drowsy from the long school day and bus ride and then continued walking.  We walked through the University area, where we observed lots of college aged students and lots of PDA.
We walked for about an hour before finding the large Hotel.  We had to ask to make sure we didn't pass it.  All the directions we kept getting were pretty vague such as : "just follow all the people in the jerseys" So somehow we walked around the other side of the hotel but found a little old man who led us to the stadium. 
Find the stadium. check.

just walk towards those lights and then follow all the people.
Now to get tickets.  We weren't really sure where we needed to go for this.  I guess we must have looked like we needed tickets, because another little old man approached us and asked if we wanted to buy tickets.  At first we said no, but then he showed us where they were and kept saying that they were really good tickets.  Jordan need more Euros so he pointed us to an ATM.  After we watched someone else use it, we figured it out and how to get it in English.  Even little things like an ATM are surprisingly confusing in another language.  So we paid him for the tickets, and he gave us his card in case we ever needed tickets again. ha
Tickets. check.

we made it in the stadium!
 Then looked at the Barca merchandise before entering the stadium.  I was very excited to get a Messi jersey, since being here I have watched several games and he is the best (so my students say).

Me sporting my new jersey as the players warm up 

We watched the game and attempted to follow along with the cheers, we got the clapping part down but some of the words not so much. Only when they say BARCA did we fit in.  It was exciting to see the game and how everyone one was so into it, from little kids to elderly, everyone was cheering on the best team in the world.
At half time, Jordan and I realized we missed the note to put a sandwich in our purse.  Looking around EVERYONE just whipped out a sandwich to snack on!

After our neighbor finished his sandwich, I asked him if he could tell us how to get to Rhonda St. Pere
(where we needed to be for the night bus).  He instructed us to follow all the people in jerseys to get to the metro Maria Christina and get on the green line to Placa de Catalunya.

We followed all the people.. which is tricky when they disperse.. we would just choose the larger group of people. Managed to find the Metro and find our way back to Placa de Catalunya.  We had about 2 hours to kill before the first night bus arrived... luckily we stumbled upon a Hard Rock Cafe! and they had English menus!!!
Finally got on the night bus. was thrown around on there for an hour on our way back to La Garriga. Then walked though town back to the school.
Yayy we didn't get mugged!

Off to Paris tomorrow to meet up with Angie and Peter!! sooo excited to see her!!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Font De Canaletes

Bon Dia! what an eventful weekend in Barcelona! I am so glad I have the opportunity to spend a month here in Spain! I truly feel that it takes at least a week to get comfortable with the new environment.  Friday night, Jordan and I had made plans to meet Alana, one of the UK students to head into Barcelona for a night on the town.  The three of us were meeting up with a few other friends that were already in the city.  Luckily, the 2 boys spoke Spanish. whew.  And we didn't look like a bunch of girl tourist. We met up by the Font de Canaletes, which is a famous fountain in Las Ramblas, and legend has it that whoever drinks water from the fountain will surely return to the city.  So of course, we drank some water :)  
Alana, Jordan, and me next to the fountain
 We then headed to Bar Marsella, which is said to be the 1st bar in Barcelona and Picasso and Hemingway were once regulars here! The outside is a little sketchy but it was fun and historical!

We rushed to catch the train to meet up with some of the girls from 2nd Bacc. (so like high school seniors) from some of Jordan's classes to shop in Barcelona.  We literally ran and ended up being to late for the train we had intended to catch. oops. So, as the time approaches for the next train, we see two girls running on the other side of the tracks... the girls we were meeting up with were rushing to catch this train too! Everyone is on Spanish time here. 
The girls are so fun to talk to! they love hearing about the US, just as much as we enjoy hearing about Spain.  And they were able to show us around! They took us to this really cute little restaurant for lunch, which we never would have found on our own! it was so good!

The girls and us after enjoying a delicious meal!

They also showed us the Market which is full of fresh food such as fruit, veggies, meat, fish, and nuts.  My parents would absolutely LOVE it! a nutritarian's dream. 

There were aisles and aisles of fresh food!
The girls and us outside the Market
We then made our way back to La Garriga after a full day of shopping.  Jordan and I were exhausted, so we rested with a movie her teacher let her borrow and tried to go to sleep early.. not very successful though!
So we slept in a little on Sunday before attempting to bike into town.  Our bike ride probably would have been much more fun if we had realized the tires were pretty flat before we got all the way down the steep hill. Coasting down hill on flat tires is not too hard, but once on flat ground or trying to go up hill... yea it's a beast. 
Then shared some of our large quantities of weekend food with the UK students and prepared for the start of the school week. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving! .... ehh. ok?

Needless to say, people were not too enthused about Thanksgiving.  In fact, when we went to the butcher's and asked for a whole turkey they looked at us like we were crazy! Alejandro, one of the gap year students also from the states, went to town with us to find supplies for a thanksgiving meal.  None of the others had ever celebrated Thanksgiving before, so we were excited to prepare a meal for everyone!  This was before we realized that the markets in La Garriga gave us very limited resources... especially for the types of food we were craving.  They don't sell a whole lot of canned foods.  So we did the best we could to come up with a variety of somewhat thanksgivingy foods to make.  We were unable to find a turkey, but did find already prepared frozen chickens, which was cheap and yummy!
3 little chickens
We were able to pull together a pretty good dinner! much better than what we expected after not being able to find ingredients for some of the more traditional American foods.

Appetizers (including a cheeseball... getting ready for cheesefest :) )

chicken, green beans, corn, broccoli, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes. Yum! 

We went around the table and everyone shared what they were thankful for.  After dinner we then decided to share some dance moves.. work off some of the calories we had just eaten! We had a great time sharing some of our popular dances with the Brits! and getting to hear some of theirs! overall a very festive Thanksgiving Celebration!

started off with the wobble.. somehow got to cotton-eyed joe ha

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

you don't speak spanish? you'll be fine! you'll be able to fine lots of people who speak English!.... um. wrong.

Jordan and I made our first adventure to Barcelona on Sunday. and wow. i definitely wish i knew some spanish.  Our first mission is to buy a train pass in the village, La garriga.  We get off to a pretty good start, we are there a little early so have about 10 minutes to wait. We see a cute little family and have them take our picture.  This is where we went wrong. ... we figured we would just follow this trio and do what they did to get on the train.  so as soon as the train comes they start walking and we follow.... they don't get on... the we hear beepbeepbeepbeeep. and the doors shut. uhhh. they ask us where we were going and we say barcelona.. they then point to the train that is speeding by.

so we had about 45 minutes to wait for the next train. good thing it wasn't raining.
After we finally make it on a train, we arrive in Barcelona about 40 minutes later, with no real intentions except to explore the city.  Off we went in a random direction to see what we could find.  We had thought about trying to find the english speaking movie theater at some point to see Twilight.  This, however, turned out to be much more difficult than we anticipated.  On our walk, we stumbled upon the Catedral de Barcelona, which is an absolutely gorgeous unfinished cathedral.  We spent about an hour or so walking around and admiring the architecture and artwork, and even got a sip of water..

however after looking at some of the pictures the other girls took the day before.... I think Jordan and I may have missed some of it :S oops.
We got to see lots of fun street performers break dancing and playing instruments and singing.  after walking in several different directions for about 2 hours we gave up on finding the movie.  We asked directions from several different people but they all seemed to point in different directions :s so we resolved to find our way back and find somewhere to get Tapas!
Tapas Buffet!! 

Ordering off a menu is surprisingly hard, especially when it's not even in Spanish, but in Catalan, the more common language in Catalonia.  We were excited to find a restaurant where you see the food and can pick which ones you want and then pay by how many toothpicks there are! it was delicious! a lot of variety! ... a lot of fish... and uncooked fish.. i stayed away from those. bleh.
Made it back to the train station. hoped on the wrong train. hoped off the wrong train. waited for 20minutes for the right train. Hoped on the train to la garriga (hopefully). hoped off at La Garriga....maybe..... relieved to see that we actually got off at the right stop.  needless to say, i am not a huge fan of public transportation. especially in another language.

Clocks? not needed.

I think I have seen a total of 3 clocks in the entire school. and 1 of those doesn't even work! The teachers here don't seem to be too concerned with starting class right on time or being early, as long as they get there at some point it's ok.  Which seems to work pretty well, seeing as most of the students are fairly fluent in 3 languages. 
Paul, my mentor teacher from London, is very friendly and fun to talk to! I have been helping him do a blog for the school as well! even though all the computers are in Spanish ... even google. Buscar con Google
 bethany and me with some of the students in 1st o ESO. which is basically 7th grade.
the teachers and students have a different schedule everyday! however they all seem to know where they are expected to be and when.
It is interesting to see students this age.. they seem to be similar to american students in many ways, besides that they are already pretty much fluent in 3 languages,  Braces and acne dominate the classrooms, as well as gender segregation in some of the younger ones (like 11, 12 - boys sit next to boys, girls sit next to girls)
No one seems to straighten their hair, they all either braid it, messy bun, or leave it naturally wavy. Which is great because i planned on not brushing my hair for the entire month! .. and my hair can be curly or straight so its not too bad. i'll fit right in.
When asked about the uniforms, most of the students seemed to like them because they don't have to worry about what to wear... i think many American students would feel differently. I especially enjoy seeing the primary students in the uniforms! very cute!
students leaving the classroom... door and walls made of glass.

this week is exams for pretty much all of the secondary students, so normal classes won't really resume until after thanksgiving.. which they don't celebrate at all.