Sunday, November 30, 2008

montaña rusa

i hope you are all reading this still full of turkey and feeling good from a weekend with family. for me, it's a good thing that thanksgiving is over, because last week was pretty tough. this whole spain experience has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster, with a whole week being the really exciting part where you shoot out of the tunnel and the next day i feel like i'm stuck in the upside down/backwards part of the ride or the part where you feel like you literally may fall out of your seat. overall, it really has been a great experience so far, and i would say 85 percent of the time i am perfectly happy being here, but this week was the upside down/backward/fall out of your seat loop on the rollercoaster. i just had a hard time knowing that i was here and my family was in boerne, all together, having fun and eating delicious food. i never realized before how much i really love thanksgiving. so, i am thankful that i get to come home for christmas because after this week, i know that i would be an absolute basket case if i wasn't. i wanted to say that little bit about how hard this week was for me, because i also wanted to post this quote from donald miller's book through painted deserts (not so you all feel sorry for me). i found it on someone else's blog and it's encouraging to me, because even though sometimes it's hard being away from home, i know that it's a good thing for me.

"Life cannot be understood flat on a page. It has to be lived; a person has to get out of his head, has to fall in love, has to memorize poems, has to jump off bridges into rivers, has to stand in an empty desert and whisper sonnets under his breath:

It's a living book, this life; it folds out in a million settings, cast with a billion beautiful characters, and it is almost over for you. It doesn't matter how old you are; it is coming to a close quickly, and soon the credits will roll and all your friends will fold out of your funeral and drive back to their homes in the cold and stil and silence. And they will make a fire and pour some wine and think about how you once were… and feel a kind of sickness at the idea you never again will be.

So soon you will be in that part of the book where you are holding the bulk of the pages in your left hand, and only a thin wisp in your right. You will know by the page count, not by the narrative, that the Author is wrapping things up. You begin to mourn its ending, and want to pace yourself slowly toward its closure, knowing the last lines will speak of something beautiful, of the end of something long and earned, and you hope the thing closes out like last breaths, like whispers about how much and who the characters have come to love, and how authentic the sentiments feel when they have earned a hundred pages of qualification.

And so my prayer is that your story will have involved some leaving and some coming home, some summer and some winter, some roses blooming out like children to play. My hope is your story will be about changing, and getting something beautiful born inside of you, about learning to love a woman or a man, about learning to love a child, about moving your self around water, around mountains, around friends, about learning to love others more than we love ourselves, about learning oneness as a way of understanding God. 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?

It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change, to shine out.

I want to repeat one word for you:


Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It is a beautiful word, isn't it? So strong and forceful, the way you have always wanted to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don't worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed."

here are a few photos of my spanish thanksgiving. instead of buying a whole turkey, we just got five turkey legs, which made me feel like i was going to a fair. i let the spaniards take care of the turkey, bc i haven't the slightest idea of how to cook turkey, and it turned out really, really tasty. i made dressing, but it wasn't as good as my grandma's and i'm going to blame that on the ingredients, not on my abilities in the kitchen. we also had sweet potatoes, salad and a kind of spanish tapa(kind of like appetizers) called croquetes. the whole meal was really good and a lot of fun.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

estoy agradecido para...

this week in my classes we have been talking about thanksgiving. i told them the history of the tradition, how we celebrate it today and i told them a little bit about how we watch football and the macy's parade. then i showed them on the board how to trace their hand and draw a turkey, and even though i had just finished telling them how we eat turkey at thanksgiving, they all thought my hand turkey was a pigeon. they also had to think of two things they were thankful for and write them on their paper. i don't really know if they understood why we celebrate thanksgiving... probably not, but at least they know that it exists, and if need be they can draw a turkey using their hand. i took some pictures in one class of the kids and their turkeys. happy thanksgiving!

this was my favorite turkey out of all of them. check out those large talons!

Monday, November 24, 2008

dia de accion de gracias en oxford

i got to spend the last 4 days in one of my favorite places in the world with one of my favorite people in the world. i went to oxford to visit my friend dre and i also got to partake in the thanksgiving dinner at the acu house where i studied abroad two years ago. for those of you who have been faithful readers since the beginning, dre should be a familiar face bc she was probably in most of the pictures and stories that i put up from my first european experience. she is back in oxford this year getting her masters in english at oxford brookes university. she lives in a house with two other ACU and Siggie alums, Lindsay and Johnna, and it was great to get to see them as well. the weekend was amazing and i loved every minute i spent there. the city is beautiful and the weather even cooperated pretty well, meaning that it didn't pour rain the entire time i was there. actually it only started raining when i was leaving on sunday. dre and i visited most of the places we used to go all the time but we also went to some new places that she has discovered since living there. the best thing about the whole weekend though was being with someone that knows me so well and who gets my jokes and knows what i'm talking about even when i don't really make sense. i think that is definitely the hardest part about living in spain, that i am away from the people that i love. i knew coming into this year that it would be the hardest thing for me and i was right. the culture and the weather and the language are nothing compared to not having my friends and family just a phone call or a short drive away at any time. so i guess what i am trying to say is that i am extremely thankful for you guys and i hope you all know that i love you all a lot. a lot, a lot.

wow. enough sap, here are some photos from the weekend.


dre and i visited primark, a store with ridiculously cheap prices. sometimes it also has ridiculous items, such as this braided headband. we later found out that lindsay, dre's housemate, bought one and wore it to work. she said it was just as a joke, but im not too sure.


magdalen college.


dre and i and on the hoof. the bacon, turkey and cream cheese panini was JUST as good as i remembered.


our contribution was delicious but simple sweet potatoes, served on a foil regal platter. that's right, the label says regal, and you better believe we threw that word around as much as possible.


dre, johnna, lindsay and i at the thanksgiving dinner.


me and dre.


someone brought some "corn".


janine and i. it was so great to get to spend some time with her and ron, and i wish he had been around to be in this picture.


seek through christ.


on saturday dre and i went to peppers burgers, a place we frequently visited before. it had been shut down for a little while, but it is so much nicer now than it used to be and you can actually sit inside! it's great. i weawy, weawy wuv peppas burgas. please ignore that if you didn't study abroad with me.


i finally made it to port meadow, this huge meadow in oxford that basically hasn't been touched since 1086. nothing has ever been built or grown on it, and its supposed to stay that way forever. somehow i never went while i was there before, so we decided that it was at the top of the list. we went with janine and ron and walked through the meadow to the trout, an old restaurant where we sat outside and had coffee and tea. it was suuuper cold on the way out there because there was nothing to block the wind.


he looked at me, he loves me.


dre and i at the trout.

this week i am teaching the kids about thanksgiving and they are drawing hand turkeys and writing things they are thankful for. i'll try to take some pictures tomorrow and post them later. hasta luego. eat a lot of turkey and dressing for me on thursday.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

excursion a huesca

last thursday i got to go on a field trip with the 6th graders at Pedro Primero. we went to the nearby town of huesca and saw a gothic cathedral, a roman church and a museum exhibit about a bunch of pre human skeletons that were found in a cave nearby. these two sixth grade classes are probably my favorite out of all of my classes, so it was a lot of fun to get to spend more time with them outside of class. I spent most of the day with Pili, one of the 6th grade teachers, and she was super sweet. She started to get motion sickness on the bus on the way there, and i really thought she was going to throw up in the seat next to me. then later on when we were at the museum another girl started to feel sick and almost passed out, so Pili stayed with the girl and I had to take the whole class back down the street to meet up with the other group. I did not feel old enough to be leading twenty 11 years olds down a crowded street. Hopefully they couldn't tell what i was thinking, but i kinda think some of them knew I wasn't too confident. haha. it was a fun day and i really enjoyed seeing the two churches because in oxford we talked a lot about the differences between gothic and roman architecture.

tomorrow morning at 6:50 i'm getting on a bus to barcelona and at 10:05 tomorrow night i will arrive in oxford!! i am suuuuper excited and even though its going to be a long day of traveling i know it will be worth it. i'll post pictures when i get back!

Monday, November 10, 2008

las montañas.

ever since i got here i have been hearing about this town called ainsa (ine-suh) and i how it was one of the places i definitely had to go see. so, this past sunday, susana, sarmite and i went on a little day trip up to ainsa. it's a really old town, i think it was built in the 1100's. it's almost in los pirineos (the pyrenees), but not quite. we walked around for while, got some coffee, then drove a little further north to stop at a hotel and eat lunch. the drive was incredible!! we got into the mountains and the view was just breathtaking. the trees are all changing, and you can snow on the tops of the mountains and sometimes we would pass little waterfalls. i was in awe the whole time. lunch was great, i ate lamb for the first time, and i liked it a lot. i really like how when you sit down for a big meal here it takes a long time. they do the multi-course thing here and i think we should adopt it back home. it lets you really enjoy the food and the company. so after our long lunch, we kept driving north through the mountains and got almost to france(all we had to do was drive through a little tunnel. so lainers, i guess you could say i was in spance?) when we turned to the west and drove to the national park of monte perdido and ordesa. it was GORGEOUS. the pictures dont do it justice at all. there was snow everywhere and it was one of those moments that i couldn't believe what an awesome life God has blessed me with.

the pirineos in the distance.

one of the towers in ainsa.

monte something, i cant remember the name

Thursday, November 06, 2008


last weekend i went to barcelona with 4 girls- 3 spanish and 1 latvian. we were going to see Mamma Mia in a theater, and at first i thought it would be in english bc its a musical and i didn't figure they translate those. but apparently they do, even the songs. the singers were all pretty good so it was entertaining and kinda funny to hear the more famous songs in spanish. i found out afterwards that abba released a lot of music in spanish. if you would like to hear some abba classics in spanish, here's a "killer mix of the worlds greatest group in the wonderful language Espanol! :)" that's a direct quote from the youtube page.

just in case you opted not to listen to the entire 7 minute sample of abba in spanish, i will just tell you that sometimes they leave a few words in english so that the song will still flow, for example they still say "super trooper" and "dancing queen". in some of the songs though, they would change the lyrics so it said something completely different, but still sounded similar to the original. the funniest one to me was the song "take a chance on me", which they changed to say "chico, ven aqui", which means "come here boy". so you know the part where they say the "ch" sound a lot of times back to back? well in the spanish version they are saying chico instead of chance,and for some reason that one made me laugh a lot. it also made me think of kojie sing song which was a little unpleasant.

during the day we walked all over the place and went to see a lot of the places i had already seen when i was in barcelona before. but it was still cool and we had a lot of fun. the musical didnt start until 10:00, so before we headed over to that we went to a manga expo, which was maybe the single weirdest experience of my life. manga is a japanese cartoon that is really popular all over the world and apparently really big here in spain. the girl we were staying with was working at a booth, so we went to see her and ended up staying at this places for atleast two hours. it was insane. people were dressed up like cartoon characters ALL OVER THE PLACE. and i dont mean like mickey mouse or daffy duck. these are weird anime characters that i couldnt even begin to descibe to you. so lucky for you, i took pictures.

mas fotos.

here are the rest of the pictures of one of my classes.

Isabel, the teacher, is the second from the left. She is great and i really really enjoy working with her. This monday i accidently slept through my first class and when i showed up for the second she was so nice about it and kept telling me not to worry. but i felt really really bad.

here are some of the projects the kids have done. they had to make some posters about the USA, and then for Halloween last week, i told them about what we do in the states, and then they had to follow instructions like, draw a yellow moon in a black sky, or draw a jack o lantern in the bottom right corner, and then they got to color the houses.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

unas fotos de mis niños

i finally remembered to take some photos in class today. this is one of my 6th grade classes, and they were working on posters about the USA. in all the rest of my classes we talked about Halloween and did different art projects about that. i'll take some pictures next week. i am in love with some of these kids, and i already know i will want to bring them back with me in may. sidenote- i took more pictures, but blogger is being really slow right now, so im only putting these two. ill add more next week.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

vamos a coger setas.

i've officially been in spain a month today!! it's absolutely crazy how time flies.

today i went on a little excursion that made me feel like a hobbit. i went with three other girls, all spanish, to pick mushrooms! usually people go early in the morning, but we left barbastro at 11:30, so that put us at our destination around 12:30. there were pretty much no mushrooms. actually we found three. haha. i didn't really mind though bc i'm not a huge mushroom eater, and i just enjoyed walking around and pretending like i knew what i was looking for. then we drove a little further on to this little pueblo that is a world famous site for mountain climbing. we walked around the town for a while and saw the places where people climb the cliffs. then we went and ate at a restaurant of a friend of one of the girls. we had some "typical spanish food" and it was all really good. then we spent a few hours lying on the ground in the sun in the middle of this little pueblo. it was a great day. tomorrow i have my first private english lesson! so prayers for some confidence would be greatly appreciated around 8:00 my time tomorrow.

mis clases

The whole reason that I even came to Spain was to teach, and I haven’t written anything about that so far. So, that is the subject of today’s post.
I’m working at two different schools and at each school there are two English teachers. One school is Pedro Primero (Pedro 1), with Luis and Isabel, and the other is Alto Aragón, with Inma and Lorenzo. I have two classes of 4th, 5th and 6th grade at each school, so all in all I have 12 classes.
Here’s my schedule, so you can know what I am doing while you are still sleeping/starting your day. Monday I have class from 10:00 to 1:00, then from 3:00 to 4:00. Tuesday I go from 11:00 to 1:00 then 3:00 to 5:00. Wednesday is 12:00 to 1:00 then 3:00 to 4:00 and Thursday is 10:00-12:00. So it’s a pretty sweet schedule and I didn’t even ask for it, that’s just what they gave me. There is a two hour break for lunch everyday. A lot of kids go home to eat, but some of them stay in the cafeteria. Their cafeteria food is SOOO much better than ours back home. It’s actually real food that is cooked right before it’s served. Teachers eat at 2:15 in the cafeteria and they eat the same food as the kids. Most days there’s bread and salad, and then a first course, which so far has been pasta, mashed potatoes or soup, and then there is the second course, which is some kind of meat. Then they have fruit and yogurt. Also, for the teachers they serve wine! That was kind of a shock seeing wine on the table at school, but here it’s completely normal. So far, all the food I’ve eaten at the school has been really good, but some of the times I haven’t been too sure of what I was eating.
OK, enough about cafeteria food. I really, really like being in the classroom. Most of the kids are really cute and for the most part well behaved. In most of the classes they talk a lot, but I think that’s normal in any country. A few of them are little punks, though and I find myself really wanting to chew them out in English but of course they won’t understand me and that’s not really my job. The 5th graders are definitely the worst behaved at both schools, so I don’t enjoy those classes as much as the 4th and 6th. Funny stuff happens on a daily basis. There is one boy who wears glasses but I don’t think they are strong enough so every time I look at him he is squinting, like he can barely seen anything, and it makes me laugh every time, especially when I am up at the front talking, and he is just squinting at me. One kid told me he likes to break dance and so he showed me a few of his moves after class, and another girl in the same class asked me for my autograph. I don’t know all their names yet, and it kills me because I really want to, but I only see them for one hour a week so it’s kinda hard. When I was in school, I always thought that was a weak excuse for teachers not knowing kid’s names, but now I can understand.
Even though I am having a lot of fun in the classroom, I am SO glad I chose speech pathology as my major and not education. I would much rather be working with all these kids in a one-on-one setting and I still don’t really like talking in front of the whole class, even though these kids are ten years younger than me. At this point I can’t really tell if they are going to improve their English with me here, because we have mostly just been doing introductory kind of stuff. The curriculum they use here is a lot different than what I expected. I was thinking it would be like our Spanish 1 classes in the states where you start learning basic vocabulary first, then start with present tense verbs. Here they have this crazy book that I can’t even explain to you. I don’t feel like it really helps them learn English and they definitely don’t know basic vocabulary, like parts of the body, seasons, weather, family or the months of the year. I tried to play a game during the second week where they had to draw a word and describe it in English to their team without saying the word, like catchphrase. It didn’t really work out so well because a lot of times they didn’t know the word that they drew. Then when I or the other teacher would tell them the word in Spanish, they didn’t know enough other words to be able to describe it. Some of the classes were way worse than others, and it was almost painful for me to sit there while they were trying to describe the word tree or winter. Especially because I love catchphrase and I was thinking of a million different ways to tell them how to describe it, but they just didn’t understand. So I think we will not be playing that game again for a long time. Ok this is getting to be too long and no one is going to want to read it. I am going to try to post every week from now on what we are doing in class, and then post pictures if I have any at the end of the week. Thanks for reading!
Mucho amor y hasta pronto!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

por favor, no hueles mi ropa.

I had a really weird experience yesterday, and it might be one of those “you had to be there” moments, but I’m going to write about it anyways.

I came home for lunch and when I walked in the gate, I saw that my windows were open, and I knew immediately that meant the cleaning lady had come. I think I mentioned in the post about my house that there is a cleaning lady who comes once a week. Last week, Mary Carmen (the owner of the house) told me she was coming so I was prepared, and I cleaned my room before she came. Well this time I didn’t know she was coming, so my room was not so clean. Those of you who have lived with me before know that I am not the most organized and neat person. Even if you haven’t lived with me you probably know that. Here in Spain, I don’t have that many clothes so it’s not too hard for me to hang them back up, or put them in my laundry hamper. And I don’t have any of my craft supplies so I can’t start a project and then leave it in the middle of the floor for weeks. So compared to my normal standards of messiness, my room has actually been pretty neat. Yesterday though, I had stuff on my bed and several pairs of shoes on the floor and who knows what else was lying around. But when I came in my room, I found that Mary Carmen had put it all away for me. She also gave me some containers for pens and stuff on my desk, and a few little baskets and a tray to put my jewelry and other stuff that I had out on top of my shoe closet. So that was all great and of course I appreciated that. Then she started telling me that I needed to wash my sheets and pillowcases, which was probably true, but seriously, I don’t need her to tell me when to do that kind of stuff. Then she saw that I had thrown my north face jacket up on one of the shelves, and she was like, oh no that doesn’t fit there. So she pulled it down, and this is the weirdest part, she SMELLED MY JACKET! She smelled it and told me that I needed to wash it! I promise you that jacket does not smell bad! I have worn it one time since I have been here and in no way does it smell bad. I didn’t really know what to do with myself, and then she started rattling off in Spanish about zipping all the zippers on all my clothes before I wash them (while she is doing this to all the zippers on the jacket) and who knows what else, because I was still thinking about how she smelled my jacket. After she left my room, I smelled it myself, then threw it back up on the shelf where it was. Take that Mary Carmen. Just kidding, she is really nice and I think it’s just one of those cultural things that I am going to have to get used to. At the very least, from now on I will make sure my room is clean on Wednesdays.

here is my the offending jacket in its place in the closet.

and here is my reenactment of mary carmen smelling it. but she didn't really make a face like that.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


in one of my other posts i said that i was attempting to eat like the spanish do, at the same weird times and all the same strange foods. today my goal was put to the test. one of my housemates told me that he was going to make a paella and asked if i would like to learn how and then eat with him and the other housemate. so of course i said yes, bc i want to learn how to cook spanish food, and especially paella bc i've had it before and i really liked it. just in case you dont know, paella is a rice dish that originated in valencia, and its pronounced like pie-ay-uh. so he asks me, "do you like fish?" and i say yes, though in reality there are only certain kinds of fish that i like, and they usually aren't too fishy. but then he said "and sardines?" and then i got nervous. sardines. they just sound gross. so i said, "well i've never had them, but i'll try them". so at two thirty today, he started cooking. lunch. at two thirty. he pulls the sardines out and thank goodness, they had already been beheaded and deboned and did not look like what i was imagining.

after another hour of cooking the paella was finally done. it was really good, sardines and all. i think i would rather make it with chicken, but at least now i know i can eat sardines if i have to.