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.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

mi casa!

i finally found a place to live!! i had been staying with my friend sarmite in her apartment, and i was super ready to get my own place. it was really annoying having to live out of my suitcases. on wednesday, one of the teachers i work with helped me make a ton of phone calls, which really means that he just called while i sat there, because talking on the phone in spanish is a very difficult task. one of the numbers we called was this lady who rents out rooms in her house. so i went to look at it and it was soo nice and it was the cheapest thing we had found, so i moved in! so far it has been great and i am so glad that i have that taken care of because it makes me feel more settled here. i made a little video so that you can see where i live. hope you enjoy!

Sunday, October 12, 2008


I can't believe i have already been here for two weeks. My first week here in barbastro was really great.. i love being in the classroom, the kids are so cute and funny, and i found a great place to live (more on that in another post) It has been way way better than i expected at the beginning.

Barbastro is in the region of Aragon, and the capital of the region is Zaragoza. For the past week and half the whole city/region has been celebrating the Festival of Pilar. I'm not really sure what exactly they are celebrating, but i know it has something to do with catholicism and an appearance of the Virgin Mary. on second thought, here is the excerpt from wikipedia about it-
" According to legend, the Virgin Mary appeared miraculously to Saint James the Great in the 1st century, standing on a pillar. This legend is commemorated by a famous Catholic basilica called Nuestra Señora del Pilar ("Our Lady of the Pillar").

The event, called "Las Fiestas del Pilar", is celebrated on October 12, which is a major festival day in Zaragoza. Since it coincided in 1492 with the discovery of the Americas by Christopher Columbus, that day is also celebrated as El Día de la Hispanidad (Columbus Day, literally Hispanic Day) by Spanish-speaking people worldwide.

"El Pilar" lasts for nine days, with all kinds of acts: from the massively attended Pregon (opening speech) to the final fireworks display over the Ebro, there are bands, dances, procession of gigantes y cabezudos (carnival figures made of papier mache), concerts, exhibitions, the famous "vaquillas" bulls and the bull festival. Some of the most important features are the Ofrenda de Flores (Flower offering) to the virgin on the 12th, when an enormous cloak is made of the flowers"

So Sarmite and I, along with another girl, Amanda, who lives about an hour away in Huesca, decided to go check it out. We got there and had no idea where we were going, but this nice spanish lady helped us find the Basilica, which we figured was the center of all the activity. We looked around the Basilica and then met up with another girl i met at orientation, Anne Marie, who lives in Zaragoza. She showed us around a little bit, but mostly everything was closed, bc of the siesta. They take that very seriously here and its nice to have break during the day, but its also kinda annoying when you need to get something done, like say buy a cell phone, and all the stores are closed for three hours. We ended up going to this store called El Corte Ingles, which is like nothing we have at home. It's like Dillards, Target, Borders and HEB all in one giant store. We only went so Sarmite could put more money on her phone, but when Anne Marie found out there was a grocery store downstairs, she decided to take advantage of the fact that she had three friends who could help her carry her groceries back to her apt . I think this might be kind of strange but i really love going to grocery stores in other countries. I like to see what is the same and what is different and its one of the first things i did when i got to barbastro. So, i was perfectly happy to be in this huge grocery store, and i found a couple of things i really wanted to get. For example, they had taco seasoning, tortillas, and peanut butter, all of which i have not seen in barbastro. i decided to hold off on buying them bc i've only been here two weeks and i think i should wait until i am more homesick or desperate for something familiar. in two months, im sure i will be soo happy to eat some tacos, but for now im still enjoying trying all the new stuff. after the grocery store, we went back to anne marie's apt to wait for stuff to start happening. in spain, people dont eat until nine or later so we went about eight just to walk around some more and see if anything was happening. the streets were completely full of people and it was really fun just to see all the different people who were there. we saw two different groups of drummers performing in the streets, and also this group of breakdancers and i swear one of them was this guy i saw breakdancing in barcelona two years ago. at nine there was a fireworks show, and i LOVE fireworks, so that was really exciting for me. finally around ten we decided to go eat at this italian place and it was really good. i've been attempting to try any food that is offered to me and not ask questions, bc normally i am pretty picky and im trying to get over that. also i want to fully experience the spanish culture, and of course the food is a huge part of that. at this restaurant they put out a bowl of green olives, which i have never tried before because i always thought they smelled bad. but, i tried them and discovered that i really like them! so far my adventures in trying new foods have all worked out pretty well for me. by the time we finished dinner it was almost 12:00, and we were all super tired and our legs hurt, so we went back to the apt. and crashed. most of the people in the city were probably out until atleast 3 or 4, and i know that some people probably didnt sleep at all. we wanted to see the offering of flowers to the Virging Mary before we left, so we headed out this morning and it was insane!! there were sooo many people, all dressed in the traditional dress of Zaragoza carrying bouquets of flowers to put on the altar. I don't really know if they call it an altar, but thats what im calling it. there were so many precious, precious little kids and i kept trying to take pictures of all of them, and i probably looked like such a creeper. but little kids in costumes are just so cute. we got to the basilica and there were already a ton of flowers on the altar, but by the end of the day there would be soo many more.
Now i'm on my way back to barbastro (i'm writing this on my ipod, and i'll email it to myself, then post it. Thanks Dad!) I have the day off tomorrow for some national holiday but i can't really figure out what its for. Thanks for reading this long post, and i promise there are more on the way.
mucho amor y hasta pronto.

Monday, October 06, 2008


i've only been here for four days, but it already feels like a lot longer. i arrived on thursday night, spent friday meeting my teachers and trying to get some things taken care of. those first two days were not so great. meeting the teachers was great. i got to sit in on one class and everyone i met was so nice, but like i said in my last post i'm not the kind of person who needs a lot of alone time, and in reality i tend to avoid it. so spending most of the day walking around these narrow windy streets... alone... then thinking about the prospect of having to eat dinner... alone... and then thinking about what i would do for the rest of the weekend...alone... was a little too much for me to handle on friday night. i had a little bit of a breakdown when i talked to my dad for the first time, and he later told me that he was fighting the urge to jump on a plane and come over here to help. haha. anyways, i tell you all that to say that things are much, much better now. everyone that i talked to on friday said they were praying for me, and God definitely answered their prayers. saturday morning i met up with a girl named Sarmite ( sar-mee- tay). she is from latvia, and she's teaching english in a catholic school here in barbastro. we spent about five hours walking around town and talking about life in latvia and the states, and the weird things here in spain. we met up with a teacher from her school for coffee, and then got an invite to go out with them later that night.we spent the whole day together, and i can´t even describe how thankful i was to have a friend that day. she even offered to let me stay in her apartment until i find one so that i dont have to keep paying for the hotel. and then she came and helped me move all my stuff over to her place. i am very blessed to have met her and have her for a friend for this next year. i'm still looking for a place and i have a few leads, so hopefully something will work out very soon. im grateful to be staying with sarmite, but i would much rather have my own place.
on a different note, i had my first classes today! i already know i am going to love it. the kids and their accents are so cute. for my first day, i told them about myself, and showed them the USA, Texas and Boerne on different maps, and then passed around a few pictures of friends and family. then they each had to stand up and introduce themselves and say how old they are and how many brothers and sisters they have. some of them had no idea what the were saying, they would just repeat what the person before them had said. i loved it. the teacher, Isabel, had them draw a picture of me and copy down a sentence about me. some of the pictures were pretty funny, but some of them were actually pretty good. i still have one more class today, but right now i'm about to go eat lunch with some of the teachers in the cafeteria.
¡hasta luego y mucho amor!