Saturday, November 26, 2011

Learning the Language

The English language, that is. Last week I had a few funny/interesting moments when asked about English.

Cristina, a second grade teacher, called me into a debate with Miguel, a student teacher (with whom I have an English conversation class). Earlier that week, when Cristina asked Miguel "How are you?", he responded: "I'm good." She promptly corrected him, saying that "I am well" is the appropriate response. He challenged her. This is where I stepped in, and said that, though "well" is the correct usage, "good" is commonly (if not more commonly) used as a response. However, as a true student would, I just now looked up the difference, and found this interesting explanation:

I am teaching a unit on Healthy Habits to 1st and 2nd graders. I explained the difference between one tooth and many teeth, but then felt silly when I said: "We use a tooth brush and tooth paste when we brush our teeth." Luckily, no one called me out on the peculiarity of that sentence.

A friend in the university has a few qualms with the English language, including our penchant to "make up" words. He used "to google" as an example. I would argue that this occurs in every language, to some extent.

During one of my private conversation classes, I had to explain "shopping spree" to someone. It was an interesting thought process, and there is not a direct translation into Spanish. (I started with: "It is every woman's dream..." Kidding; I ended with that line).

Another idea difficult to translate? Thanksgiving. The name translates into "Día de Acción de Gracias" but the meaning is a challenge to convey well. The history isn't such a beautiful thing to explain, but the celebration into which it has evolved? I absolutely love.

I had a lovely celebration on Thursday with Jessica, a friend Alex, another American and two Spaniards. We did our best at recreating our favorite dishes, and it turned out quite well! Nothing like home, but it certainly brought a sense of comfort. I have another dinner on Sunday with a group of people from my program. Pictures will follow!

I hope you all enjoyed a lovely holiday with your families, and took time to give thanks for all the blessings, both big and small.

Un abrazo.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful Thoughts

Happy, happy Thanksgiving!

I will admit, it is strange, and quite sad, to be anywhere but home with my family this time of the year.

However, in the true spirit of the day, I am focusing on all for which I am thankful. And it is quite a list!

This family:

This sweet, sweet boy:

This boy (also very sweet!):

These friends (there are many, many more!):

This beautiful city I am able to call "home":

Among other things:
*My faith; I appreciate more than ever my relationship with God, and feel particularly blessed to be able to so openly practice my faith.
*My education, and the opportunities made available to me; especially my thesis work last spring.
*My health, and the health of my family members. I am grateful we do not have to struggle daily with life-threatening diseases.

Though I am very homesick today, I appreciate the reminder of all my blessings. I hope you all enjoy the day, and find and appreciate all the wonderful blessings in your life!

And remember:

"It is not the happy who are thankful, it is the thankful who are happy."

Much love today, and always.


Friday, November 18, 2011


I am almost shaking in excitement because I am about to leave for the train station; I am going to Madrid to pick up Mary, a dear friend from Bellarmine. She is spending the semester in Sweden, and is flying in for the weekend! I can't wait to see a familiar face and catch up with her!

Un abrazo.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

El colegio

Hello, I know my blog posts have been sparse lately, and I apologize. Life is busy, but going well, overall. I am still missing home like crazy. And the weather is turning cold! And rainy. The time has come to purchase a winter coat. And buy an umbrella (I lost the one I brought from home, at an inopportune time).

It is tough being away from home at this time of year. My sweet nephew celebrated his first birthday yesterday. His beautiful mother, my wonderful older sister, has a birthday next week (but for my sake, I won't post her age!). And of course, there is Thanksgiving soon-it hurts to miss that day.

On the bright side (I keep trying to focus on the bright side), I will be in the states on December 22! So soon! I need to keep that in mind. I am looking forward to the time with my family so very much.

Anyway, I have been wanting to write this post for awhile. I am going to explain a little bit about the educational system in Spain, as there are a few differences.

Infantíl (Preschool): three levels for ages three, four, and five years.

Primaria (Elementary, primary school): there are six levels, starting with the 1st at age six, until age 11 in level six.

Secundaria (Middle school): there are two cycles of compulsory secondary education, the 1st (ages 12-14) and the 2nd (ages 14-16). This is the end of the obligatory education. Students may now leave school to seek employment, continue to vocational training, or complete secondary education to prepare for university.

Bachillerato (non-obligatory high school): at this level, students complete a core curriculum and choose certain concentrations based upon personal interests. At this point, students complete an exam in order to enter the university.

My job:
I teach at a public preschool and primary school, CEIP (Colegio de educación infantil y primaria) San Juan Evangelista. This is one of two primary schools in Sonseca. There is one large secondary school in Sonseca as well. My campus is actually divided into two buildings, one with preschool and levels one and two. The other building houses levels three, four, five, and six. There are three-four classes for each group, each with at least 20-25 students.

I work with students from age three to age nine. Per my program guidelines, I do not have my own classroom. Instead, I move from class to class and assist the teachers with their lessons. My purpose is to provide a native accent for the students to hear.

Science and Physical Education are partially taught in English, and these are the classes I work with the most (except for the preschoolers), Science and PE. Essentially, I explain the lessons to the students. I speak slowly and use lots of gestures. Their English level is impressive, but not near perfect. There are certain classes that have better English comprehension skills than others. The students who understand less often get frustrated with me, and often give me sass. The teachers of the upper levels are very helpful, and I rarely have to do much disciplining.

So, there is a little bit about my days! Below are a few pictures (I took them on my iPhone, while walking and trying to not look creepy. I apologize for the quality).

Un abrazo.

P.s. My short getaway to Madrid was great! It was a beautiful, sunny day-maybe the last of the warmth we will have this year...I enjoyed just walking around the city (and some Thai food!). A blog post is coming, and hopefully before I'm home for Christmas, hah!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Sweet Escape


Lo siento que no he escrito esta semana; fue muy ocupada y dificil. Y por eso, esta mañana voy a Madrid con dos amigas. Nos quedamos allí por la noche y regresaremos mañana. Un pequeño escape!

Hasta mañana.


I am sorry I haven't written this week; it was a very busy and tough week. And so, this morning I am going to Madrid with two friends. We will stay the night and come back tomorrow. A little escape!

Until tomorrow!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Great Hearts

"Great hearts, my dear master, should be patient in misfortune as well as joyful in prosperity."
-Miguel Cervantes, Don Quixote (Chapter LXVI of the Second Part)

I will confess, I have not read Cervantes' great work. Soon, perhaps. I found this phrase on the internet, and I liked it. So here we are.

Though I haven't read the book, I did visit Consuegra, the city with the windmills which inspired the scene in Don Quixote. It is a charming little pueblo about one hour south of Toledo. We (Jessica, my roommate, and Allyson, a friend from the program, and I) took a bus and enjoyed abundant sunshine (which was quite a treat considering the rain we had here last week) while we walked along the quiet path connecting the windmills.

There is also a castle along the path; unfortunately we could not go inside because we arrived just as it was closing for siesta...

It started raining as we were waiting for our bus, so we were very thankful we had sunshine for our climb, because it was very windy at the top of the hill.

Make sure you look at my album for more pictures and anecdotes!

Un abrazo.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Rome, Sweet Rome

I had the most lovely of weekends in Rome. The best part? Being with my family. Ana, Doug, William and I had a quiet weekend which we filled walking throughout the city and enjoying delicious coffee in small cafes and parks. Ana and Doug had already taken in much of the sights, and I visited Rome in 2010. Therefore, we didn't feel pressure to rush around taking in all there is to see (and there is certainly a lot to see!).

How the Italians flocked to little William! And he is quite the charmer, and ate up the attention.

Young Italian men blaring the bass from their itty, bitty Smart cars.

The weather was beautiful! Warm and sunny everyday. It could not have been better.

Speaking Spanish to a sweet nun in The Church of the Sacred Heart. She was able to tell me the story of St. Raphaela, who was born in Spain and founded this nun's order. I was able to translate for Ana and Doug. William wasn't interested.

Seeing William crawl! It is so hard being away from him; I know he will change so much in the stretch from January-July!

Just hanging out with my sister and best friend.

The pizza!

It was so refreshing and relaxing to spend time with people I know, not to mention three people I love so dearly. It was just the pick-me-up I needed!

I know this isn't the most informative blog post; but, honestly, this trip was more about spending time with my dear family than it was about seeing the city! Not to say that we didn't soak up Rome-we did! I have a fully detailed posting about my trip last year here:

Here are a few pictures, but I am currently uploading an album to my Picasa page-be sure to check it out!

I haven't been to work since last Thursday-I miss my students! Today I had an appointment to extend my visa/secure my identity card. By the time that meeting ended, I didn't have enough time to make it out to Sonseca for more than one class. I will work tomorrow and then start my weekend again...I am actually looking forward to a normal week!

Un abrazo.