Thursday, October 27, 2011

This week...end!

Here is a quick summary of my week:

I called in sick to work on Tuesday and finally went to the doctor; I couldn't swallow without wincing in pain. I wasn't sure that the doctor understood me well, but she sent me to the pharmacy for two different medicines. Wednesday morning I was significantly improved. Wahoo!

This week I handled the gym classes on my own (the classroom teacher accompanied me) because the regular gym teacher is out on paternity leave (in Spain, when a woman gives birth, the father has one month leave as well! Nice!). We played Halloween-themed games, and I gained popularity (at least that's what I tell myself. Maybe they are secretly laughing at me) for wearing a witch's hat...

I also started two private lessons with children of different teachers. One class is a group of 2 three year old and 2 five year old cuties. They are a handful, but absolutely adorable! The other class is with a second year university student who wants conversation practice; the opposite end of the spectrum from the little ones! I also have a few other classes in the works.

Right now I am taking a break (one of many...) from packing. Tomorrow afternoon I will be in Rome with Analise, Doug, and William! I am SO excited. Soooooooo excited. I will be sure to take lots of pictures and soak up the luxury of family time.

Here are a few pictures from this past week (nothing like Rome), just to keep things interesting:

I am curious about the history of this building. So interesting!

I am ready for school: I have my bag, my lunch, my purse, and my hat.

Spain's (quite literal) version of RedBull.

I have no idea how this car is parked here. If you look closely, there is a post behind it, which means the driver must have backed down this narrow street:

I don't understand.

Un abrazo. Y ciao!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Un mes ya se fue!

One month ago today I said my tearful goodbyes and boarded the plane...ten hours later I made my way through Madrid to Toledo to begin this wonderful adventure! It is difficult to believe that it has already been a month! Sometimes, it feels like I have been here for quite awhile, but mostly it feels like I just arrived. I think one thing is certain: my year here will fly.

While organizing my pictures (look to the right for a link!) I perused an album from Spain, 2010, aptly (and wittily?) titled: Holy Toledo. I laughed as I looked at pictures of places that are now familiar sights. During that day trip, and for months to follow, I never once thought I would be living in Toledo in two short years. Or Spain, for that matter. It is funny, how life works.

Stumbling across inspirational quotes seems to be a habit of late; here is another that I found recently, which reminded me that no matter how carefully I plan my life, God has created something much grander for me, if I would only take part:

"We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us."
-Joseph Campbell

I suppose it is fitting that on my one month "anniversary" with Spain it rained. It was a dark, rainy morning and it continued to pour throughout the day. Thankfully, by the time I had to walk through Sonseca and later through Toledo, the sun had returned.

And, the rain made for very pretty skies this evening:

So blue!

Ah, Toledo (and think, the really beautiful vista is behind me!).

It kind of resembles a tornado. Thankfully, it is just a cloud.

I love the river.

And I like this roof!

Un abrazo.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Please, don't panic...

I wrote my last post in both Spanish AND English. I write in Spanish first so that I avoid merely translating from English to Spanish; I prefer to force myself just to think in Spanish...So scroll down and enjoy!

Here is a quote I found recently on a friend's blog. I like it and want to share it with you:

"We get one story, you and I, and one story alone. God has established the elements, the setting, the climax and the resolution. It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn't it?" -D. Miller

Have a blessed, happy week!

Las fotos

(En español)
Por fin, he organizado mis fotos. Tuve que hacer una página nueva.
La direción está abajo.

Fue un fin de semana muy tranquilo. El viernes hice algunos recados por la mañana y por la tarde descansaba un poquito. Jessica y yo hemos intendado de encontrar una fábrica de cerveza local pero no tuvimos éxito. En fin, fuimos con otra amiga a una tetería. Comé una crepe maravillosa con leche consensada y caramelo. ¡Increíble! Bebí té del chai delicioso. Yum!

El sábado teníamos una misión comprar mantas. Solo teníamos sábanas. ¿Y el tiempo de yo estaba alardeando? Se va esta semana. Por eso, fuimos al centro comercial, Luz del Tajo. Hay autobuses que van allí, pero para coger el autobús siempre es una aventura. Llegamos y buscamos y disfrutamos el tiempo. Y encontramos las mantas en un supermercado que tiene toooooodo.

Por la noche, caminamos por la ciudad para hacer fotos. La catedral está iluminosa por las noches de los fines. Y es maganifica.

Bueno, está semana hago cosas muy sencillas para celebrar Halloween! Y el viernes estaré en Roma con Ana, Doug, and William!

(In English)
I have finally organized my photos. I had to create a new page for this year's collection. The address is below.

I had a very quiet weekend. Friday I ran some errands in the morning (which means around 11:30) and relaxed a bit in the afternoon. Jessica and I tried to find a local brewery, but did not succeed. So we met another friend and went to a tea place (one of the leftover influences of the Moors are the Arabic-themed "teterías"). I had an AMAZING crepe with condensed milk and caramel. It was incredible. I also had delicious chai tea. Yum!

One heavenly crepe.

Yummy mint and chai teas.

My roommate, Jessica, and me.

Saturday we had a mission: to buy blankets. We only had sheets until now. And that wonderful, warm weather about which I was bragging? It is leaving this week. In fact, right now we are waiting for rain...I can't believe it. Typing that word feels wrong! In any event, the temperature is inevitably going to drop, and we need blankets. We went to the shopping mall, Luz del Tajo (Light of the Tajo-the river around the city). There are buses that go there, but it is always an adventure to catch the right line. We evenutally found the mall and wandered around and enjoyed the afternoon. And we found blankets, at a reasonable price and of reasonable quality. They were in a supermarket that has everything; similar to a Wal-Mart but on a smaller scale. And without the logical organization of American stores.

We took a walk last night to take pictures. The cathedral is illuminated on weekend nights, and it is beautiful (don't worry, the pictures are posted!).

Well, this week I am doing simple things to celebrate Halloween with the students. Although, I was unable to find a huge bag of candy to share, and what is Halloween without candy? I did buy a witch's hat and plan on wearing all black...obviously I could have spared a bit more creativity...

Here is the link for pictures:

(For future reference, if you look on the right hand side of the page, you will see a link to the pictures).


Un abrazo.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Thank goodness it's Friday!

Yes, I know it is Thursday, but thankfully it is the start of my weekend!

This week was fine; I am slowly adjusting to the routine. Being sick took a lot out of me, and I am still debating whether or not a trip to the doctor is in order for tomorrow.

I really enjoy working with the 3rd and 4th grades. The younger classes are still...bumpy. I only started there last week, and am still meeting teachers and trying to figure out what, exactly, I am supposed to do. I will figure it out soon, I'm sure.

This weekend I am planning Halloween activities for next week! Tuesday, November 1 (All Saints Day) is a holiday in Spain, and so we have what is called a "puente" (bridge): both Monday, October 31 and Tuesday off of school! This works out really well because I am going to Rome to visit Ana, Doug, and William (sister, brother-in-law, and favorite nephew), who will be there starting tomorrow for vacation! I cannot wait to see familiar (and some of my favorite) faces.

I don't have too much to say this evening. I went for a short walk earlier and took some pictures (on my phone, so not great quality).

I will write more tomorrow!

Un abrazo.

Another pretty Spanish street:

I love this part of the Cathedral:

Plaza Zocodover in early evening:

Dusk settling on the city:

Monday, October 17, 2011

Simple Smiles

One of my favorite ways to unwind at night is to think of what made me smile that day; you know, really smile. It is nicest when I find someone to tell them to. (And Jarrod is usually that person).

I know my blog posts have been sparse and all over the place lately. I have, amid the craziness, managed to create a list (rather, a collection of paper-like substances with hastily scribbled notes) of many such things I have encountered over the past few weeks. (Speaking of which, it is so hard to believe I have already been in Spain for three weeks + one day!).

Without further ado, and in no particular order, here are the simple things that made me smile:

A sweet student who excitedly, and hopefully, asked me if I know his aunt: "She wears glasses, she is very nice, and she lives in the United States, too!"

The t-shirt a student wore last week that said "Atlanta".

Hearing one of my favorite Amos Lee songs playing on a restaurant patio.

Seeing the classic green of a John Deere tractor in Sonseca.

The rooster crowing while I walked to school, in an area which does not seem rooster friendly. (Although on second thought, I just mentioned seeing a tractor, so maybe I am the crazy one?).

The Siamese cat that befriended me while I was eating tapas outside one afternoon. He looked just like my dear Eddy!
"We are Siamese if you please...we are Siamese if you don't please...We are former residents of Siam...There is no finer cat than I am!" (I know my sisters will understand the reference!)

Spending the evenings outside, sipping wine, nibbling on tapas, and feeling like there isn't a care in the world. These moments have a knack for making graduate school and a "real job" fall to the back of my mind for a bit.

The emotion that the students put into gym class; blood, sweat, and tears (thankfully I have not seen any blood-yet). I really do laugh out loud sometimes!

The notes my parents and sister Elizabeth tucked away in my luggage. Thank you.

Seeing the children's faces light up when the gym teacher and I enter the room. Today, I taught the classes solo because Fernando, the gym teacher, was out. The children had been told that there would be no gym class, so imagine the sweet surprise when they heard P.E. was ON! One class was taking an exam when I entered, so the joy was heightened. I even received hugs from a couple of boys!

The substitute teacher with whom I ride to and from Sonseca put in a Keith Urban CD once. I felt like I was back home in the good ol' midwest!

Though waking up early to catch the bus to Sonseca is not my ideal situation (and I do my fair share of grumbling when I hear my alarm go off, all four times before I finally get up), getting to see the city like this, lit up and quiet, makes me smile.

Being around children, thought they can be tiring (read: exhausting. Parents and teachers, I have a greater appreciation for you!), they really do bring joy to my day! They are full of humor and life.

I saw Paco the other day (he is the kind owner of the hostel, who took me under his wing my first week). He is so sweet and kind, and genuinely concerned with how I am adjusting. I owe them a visit, soon.

Hearing students greet me with a cheerful: "Hello, teacher!" (Unfortunately you cannot hear the cute little accent they have).

The architecture here. I loved it before, and I love it now. When I stop to appreciate the beautiful buildings, I can hardly believe I am here again.

Emails, Skypes and notes from people back home-yes, you! Thank you for giving me reasons to smile.

The sunshine here. It. Is. Amazing.

The fact that I live reallly close to "Calle de Toledo de Ohio" (See the post below for proof).

Well, as you now know, in spite of my homesickness, I have been smiling plenty! I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to be here. Life is sweet, and God is good.

Un abrazo y un beso.

P.s. If I keep up this rate of posting (three posts in four days!), will I have to apologize for writing too much?!

P.p.s. Less words, more pictures. Soon. I promise.

P.p.p.s. (Annoying, I know) Quiero dar un saludo muuuy especial a la clase de español 4, la hora cinco, de Señora Marciano, y a mi hermana (pequeña) preferida.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A picture is worth 1,000 about a few thousand?

I spent a quiet weekend trying to get rid of this bothersome cough. Even though my "tos" (cough) does not directly affect my writing abilities, it does deplete my energy level, which thus negatively impacts my blog output. Tragic, I know. So, in place of my usual verbose post, here are a few pictures to enjoy. You may or may not consider this a lucky change of pace.

Happy week, everyone!

And, as promised, a much deserved "shout-out" (I think I am too old to use that term, but oh well):

A los alumnos de la clase de Señora Marciano en Bishop Luers High School, ¡gracias por su atención! No sabía que tengo tantos seguidores. Estoy pensando en palabras muy profundas (jaja) para vosotros...Esperad un poquito, leed más y ¡prestad atención a Señora Marciano!

Un abrazo muy fuerte.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Hello, hello, hello

Well, I'm not going to take up time apologizing, because I am sure that is getting old. I'm just going to get to the details of my week:

Sunday-I went to La iglesia de Santo Tomé, where there is a famous painting by El Greco. It is a beautiful painting, with an interesting story to go along with it.

(If you're intrigued, read more here! And yes, I know it's Wikipedia...sorry. )

Jessica and I wandered around that area for a bit. There is still much of Toledo I need to see! It is much bigger than I remember. Good thing I have eight months here!

I spent my first day actually "working" instead of just shadowing. And by working, I mean this:
Period 1-English; the 4th graders asked me questions in English about myself, and I answered, slowly.
Periods 2,3,4,5, and 6-Physical Education; I explained the games to the 3rd and 4th grade students in English. At the end I gave a lesson on directional/spacial words (I don't know the technical grammatical term) such as: in front, behind, left, right, inside, outside... I forgot how intense gym class is for young kids. I saw pushing, shoving, yelling, crying, name calling, and lots of celebrating (in the event of a win). I was even called a liar when I told someone he was out! Yikes! I quickly made clear that as the teacher I will not be called a liar...In any event, it was a fun day! I was outside, in the sun, I can't complain! I did, however, wake up on Tuesday with a hoarse voice and sore throat-I'm still recovering.
AND, we finally had internet set up in our apartment! Yaaaaaay. It feels great to finally be connected again! To celebrate, Jessica, Evan and I ate (our own version of tapas-olives, potato chips and wine) across the plaza on the steps of the university so we could soak up some of the beautiful weather.

I spent Tuesday with the little ones! San Juan Evangelista (my school) is divided into two buildings: one building with preschool (ages 3, 4, and 5) and 1st and 2nd grades (ages 6 and 7), the other building has 3,4,5,6 grades (ages 8,9,10,11, respectively). Tuesdays I will spend most of the day with the little ones ("infantiles"). I only have 20 minutes in each class, and the only instructions I have been given is to speak English and get them moving a bit. My plan is to teach a lot of songs. That is what I did on Tuesday. I collected leaves from parks on my way to school (Yeah, I was that strange person picking up leaves from the ground at 8:30 and putting them in a plastic bag...) and taught the kids a charming little song about the leaves in autumn, to the tune of "Do You Know The Muffin Man?" (I don't find that tune so charming, after 12 rounds). The kids are so cute, though! I have some stories I will share later. And I only had one disastrous (okay, that's extreme) class, but that was on Thursday...I finished my Tuesday back outside for one more P.E. class.

It was a fiesta! It was "el dia de Hispanidad," essentially a National Holiday. I did not notice much fanfare, though. I think people just enjoy the day off of work. I certainly did! It was a lazy day, and I didn't mind.

Since I don't have to work on Fridays (Yay!), Thurday was the start of my weekend! I spent the day at the "little" school, again. But this time I only did 4 lessons with the preschoolers, and a few others with the 1st and 2nd graders. In order to encourage the students to only speak to me in English, the teachers tell them that I don't speak any Spanish. The kids get a big kick out of discovering that I really do...but I still play dumb, which likely insults their intelligence...

I woke up early (Ha, at 8:00am) because I needed to turn in some paperwork in order to extend my visa, so I can return after Christmas. After that, I had a "cafe con leche" and a delicious "napolitana" (chocolate stuffed pastry, yummm) at the cafe/bar below my apartment. And then I spent a few hours relaxing-I still have a mean cough and sore throat, which I am treating with medicine, lots of fluids, and lots of rest. I did, however, venture out with Jessica this afternoon. We went to Museo de Santa Cruz-it is a small art museum in a beautiful old building that was originally a hospital. And, it's free! After that, we went to the library. I got a card and checked out two books, two DVDs, and one CD. The library is huge, and in the Alcazar-one of the most famous sights in Toledo. It was originally a Roman palace in the 3rd century (!) and was restored in the 15th century. It is the highest point in the city, and I was able to catch a few nice views from the windows!

And now, here I am, sitting on my sofa typing this long over-due post, and feeling guilty for not posting any pictures to make it more interesting...there is always tomorrow!

Un abrazo.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

My apologies

As always, I am sorry for writing so little lately. It has been quite a week, and as I am still without internet access in my apartment, my computer time is limited (and, I'm using the Wifi at the local McDonald's, so I try to keep my visits here as short as possible-case in point: this afternoon the place is currently full of shrieking children).

I started working this week! I have only been shadowing Maria Jose, the director of the bilingual program at my school, San Juan Evangelista. Once I have my own schedule, I will be assisting the P.E. and Science teachers with their lessons, of 3rd and 4th graders. My instruction is all in English (when possible). In fact, when Maria Jose introduced me to the first class, she said I don't understand any Spanish. The children find that hard to believe, and picked up on the fact that I do know at least some words. Even if they address me in Spanish, I always respond in English, and usually ask them to speak English.

The kids are great. I walked into a class today, and their faces lit up! I know I am still a novelty, a foreign one at that, but I plan on soaking up their admiration until my shine wears off. And I gladly accept the hugs I get in the hallways!

The teachers at the school are all wonderful, very patient and kind with me. I am excited to settle into a routine, and start to feel at home (all in time, though).

The weather here is beautiful! The mornings are starting to be chilly, but I have had 12 days full of sunshine, and today is my 12th day in Spain. I think I will cry the first day that it is rainy, or even just cloudy! However, I packed mostly fall-ish clothes, so I can't say I'm not looking forward to "boot" weather, at least.

Once I have internet in my apartment, I plan to start writing in both Spanish and English. I think there is a value to "self-immersion" which would involve writing and thinking in Spanish. But, the point of this blog is to keep my family and friends up-to-date on my life here, and I know few of you speak Spanish.

Anyway, the smell of french fries is getting to me, and the view of the pretty plaza outside the window is particularly attractive.

I promise to post more regularly-hopefully you still believe me when I say that!

I still miss home very, very much, and I would love to hear from anyone and everyone!

Un abrazo.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A quick update

Hi! I have moved into my apartment! Whew. It was QUITE intimidating signing the contract and understanding all those important details-in Spanish (our landlord is a little...rough around the edges, which didn't calm my nerves!). But I just asked questions until I grasped it all. The place is charming. I think I will be very happy here. We still don't have internet, but hopefully that will be set up soon. That way, I can get into a regular habit of updating this blog! And Skyping!

Here are a few pictures of the place:
(My room)

(The living/dining/kitchen area)

More to follow, hopefully with more decorations!

Un abrazo.