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Saturday, October 11, 2014

Primera Semana de Clases (Round 2)

     On my first day, I met my new teachers and am excited to work with most of them!  I have my own "bilingual coordinator" who is in charge of making sure I show up in time/I can go to if I have problems.  I have a few classes with him and he is verrryyyy organized.  Which is pretty nice because most things dealing with the Spanish are not… His name is Diego, and he seems very nice.  I also work with two teachers close to my age (about 27) and this is their first year teaching.  They seem to be happy that I have a little experience with these students and are open to any suggestion I bring up.        

     My students from last year were very excited to see me, which was a great feeling!  The first day I was back they all came running up to give me a hug and ask if I was in their classes.  This year I have more students and get to work with 2 ESO and 1 ESO, the equivalent of 6th and 7th graders in the United States.  This is how school levels work…

United States
Infantil (3-4)
1st of ESO (Obligatory Secondary Education)
2nd  ESO
3rd   ESO
4th   ESO
1st of Bachillerato
2nd of Bachillerato

Bachillerato is a two year program where you pick what field you would like to start studying, between, Arts, Sciences and Technology, Humanities, and Social Sciences.  Pretty cool! 

     I am getting a lot of Spanish listening and talking in because my teachers all speak Spanish around me.  They speak to me as well, and we carry on little conversations.  It’s great practice for me, but of course the students have started to pick up on this, the students I have from last year get lazy and speak in Spanish to me.  The new students are baffled and say “Can you say (insert easiest Spanish word that anyone who has taken Spanish 101 would know)?” 

     This year, my goal is to really get out there and speak more!  It’s been a whole lot easier than it was last year.  I know where I need to go, I know what I need to say, but it’s time to get out of my comfort zone and delve a little deeper into the experiences Madrid, Spain and Europe have to offer…

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Niece in Nice

I went to Nice this past weekend and saw my Uncle George and Aunt Sheryl.  It was great to see them and spend some one on one time that I don't always get to have with my Aunts and Uncles! They've traveled all over France for the month and told me about their favorite sites and activities.  We went to two Art museums, the beach, and walked around the old part of town.  The ocean was extremely blue, and the beach was covered with rocks.  Not exactly what I was expecting, but still very serene.  It was very European and it was funny talking to them about their observations on the French and other customs.

We also got to go to Monaco for the day, and see how the other half lives.  Monaco is a principality located where the mountains meet the Mediterranean on the coast of France.  The location is beautiful and I can see why it would attract the rich and famous (the low taxes might have something to do with it as well).  I don’t think I’ve ever seen more expensive cars or boats in my life.  Every other car was an Audi, Porsche or Ferrari and the yachts were enormous!  We visited the famous casino the “Monte-Carlo” which I had only seen in movies and it was neat to see in person.  The palace where the Prince and his family live was also a cool site to check out.  We only got to see one wing of it, but there was a lot of history and ornate decorations.      

It was a lovely excuse to visit France again and see family who hadn’t been to Europe since they were visiting me and my family 20 years ago.  What a coincidence that I would be the person to see them again on their second European excursion… 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Back at it...

Here I am in the JFK airport again getting ready to start my second year in Madrid.  After a long goodbye with the family, I am starting to get excited again, and remember why I gave myself this much stress and craziness in the first place. 
This go-around is way different.  I have an apartment to go to immediately upon arrival and friends there waiting for me.  I suppose having my boyfriend waiting for me there is a plus as well  :D  I enjoyed my time at home, but now I've got the travel bug back, and I’m ready to go to my next destination! 

Which I already have planned.  My Uncle George and Aunt Sheryl are traveling around France for their anniversary.  They kindly invited me to tag along for a little bit and I’ll be meeting then in Nice for a few days.  I’m looking forward to it!  I didn't get the chance to see them during the summer so I look forward to catching up with them. 
Before I came home, I got to go to England and visit London for a few days.  My boyfriend’s brother got married this past June and I got to go to the wedding outside of Manchester.  It was beautiful and the ceremony and reception was in a gorgeous English Manor.  Very pretty.  Very excited that I got to take part in the celebration and see how other families do weddings.  It was very similar to an American one.   So I’ll include a few pictures of that. 

Once I got home I spent the summer visiting my family, spending time with my friends, and working at my lifeguard job.  It was my last summer working at the Cameron Woods pool, which I worked at every summer all through college.  It was bittersweet to end my time there, but like everything else, it’s time to move forward and we’ll see what I end up doing next summer…

I am all moved into my new apartment and have enjoyed being back and getting to know my new roommates!  One girl is Megan, who I went to Rome with and reached out over the summer to see if I wanted to live together near the same place as last year.  She found a great 3 bedroom apartment with an awesome kitchen (THERE'S A DISHWASHER!!!!), 1.5 bathroom, and a great living room!  My other roommate is Laura, and she is from Germany.  Something we have in common is my brother was born in Germany, and her brother was born in America.  We both lived in each other’s countries around the same age for about the same length of time.  She’s very nice and I’m sure we’ll get along just fine!  Tomorrow we’re heading to Ikea, so we’ll bond over shopping…

Saturday, June 14, 2014

iFeliz Cumpleaños a Mi!

Another long hiatus of writing….

         Things have been winding down at school and I’ve been preparing to move out of my apartment for the summer.  Thankfully I have people to leave my things with for two months, so I don’t have to take a whole lot back with me.  My apartment came furnished this year, but as everyone knows, stuff accumulates…I have enjoyed living in this apartment (Flat/Piso) and have great roommates! My landlord is trying to sell it over the summer, otherwise I would try and live here again next September. 

         I got to celebrate my birthday!  It is my second birthday in Spain, and only my second birthday not being with my parents…*sniff sniff* However the friends I made here made sure it was special and I was sent some beautiful flowers to remind me that I get to see my family SOON!!!!

          I went out one night with my girlfriends, and on the day of, had brunch!  Later Nate and I went on a fun cable car ride, walk, and skyped my family.  Then he took me out to a really nice Italian restaurant in Madrid, where I got the best pizza I’ve had yet.  And a cannoli :D I’m pretty reasonable when it comes to birthday expectations…

 Sunday Bruch with the roommates and Nate! 

Teleferico ride on my Birthday

The river I am always walking around...
I live in the first orange apartment complex 
on the left

The train I take to work everyday!  

The lovely Italian Restaurant I got to go to for Dinner!  

My students!

Danica, Tracy and Me at 
the Oldest Restaurant in the World!

(According to the Guinness Book of World Records, it was established in 1725)

Keep seeing cool rainbows after some crazy storms!

I had extra flour and sugar from this year and to use it up, 
I made batches and batches of cookies to give to my teachers and students!  
Double win.  

17 days, 20 hours and 46 minutes

Friday, May 23, 2014

El lluvia en España queda mas o menos en el llanura

"The rain in Spain stays mainly in the Plain" or "The rain in Spain stays more or less in the plain" The title is a bit lost in Translation...

I haven’t written in a while!  I can’t say I’ve done anything too exciting except been outside enjoying the Madrid sunshine.  Today has been a gray rainy day, so I have my cup of coffee, window open, and thought I’d do a brief catch up.

Part of my time outside has been rock climbing with Danica (friend who grew up in the same neighborhood, went to the same high school, and we had no idea until we saw each other on a street here) worked at the White Water Rafting center and is a climbing instructor.  We’ve gone around to some of Madrid’s free rock climbing walls and spent the afternoon trying to “boulder.”  She still does pretty well, I on the hand, need to step up my game.  I try!  But climbing is all about strength, and if you haven’t built up those arm muscles, you will feel it the next day.  I enjoy it though!  A little bit of much needed exercise to my life.

Another new activity I have done in the past few weeks is camping.  I had never been camping (girl scouts doesn’t count…) with my family before because most of our vacations transpired in the cozy houses of my grandparents.  In college I never went camping either, just being in Boone, North Carolina felt wilderness-y enough for me.  So I went with a few friends to the outskirts of Madrid to have my first camping experience. 
On this trip, I realized just how much like my parents I am.  This may seem like an obvious statement, naturally I am like my parents since they raised me.  However, when it came to packing, I knew what I needed to make myself comfortable and able to bear the elements.  I brought so many “just in case,” items, “emergency food,” and took charge of meals for the group because no one likes a hungry-Jamie, or a hungry-anyone for that matter.  All in all, I would do it again!  I did end up bringing too much food because the campsite was fully equipped with a grill and little food shop.  Now I know that going camping does not necessarily mean a 3 day trek into the wilderness with no connection to civilization…

The school year is winding down, and my students are starting to prepare for their cumulative exams.  Some auxiliaries are choosing to take a paycut, and leave a month early for various reasons.  Unfortunately two of my very good friends, Tracy and Danica, are doing the same thing.  So this week has been full of “last minute” Madrid things, mainly being food.  They also took me out for an early birthday celebration as they won’t be here on the actual day, but let’s face it, nobody likes you when you’re 23…

At this point in time, I have 40 days, and 44 minutes until I arrive in Charlotte to be home for the summer!!!   I can’t wait.  I have definitely been homesick recently and can’t wait to be back. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014


For Holy Week, my friends and I went to the Eternal City, Rome.  Like everyone in Western civilization, we have been taught about Roman history and its influences in our culture today.  So we took the opportunity to finally go and see the places I’d only seen as pictures in my history books.  It didn’t disappoint.  In the 3 days I was there, I got to see the Roman Forum, Palatine, Coliseum, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Spanish steps, and Vatican City.  
Before getting into Rome, my friends and I memorized a few phrases in Italian to help us communicate.  The only words I knew in Italian before consisted of food, capiche, and a swear word so learning how to say “Do you speak English or Spanish?” Parle Inglese o Spangnolo was much more helpful.  Waiters and clerks would address us in Italian, we’d ask them if they spoke English, and they usually would.  They would repeat the question, and then we would accidentally answer in Spanish and the waiter would be confused.  More than once we received a raised eyebrow and a “Where are you from?”  Still can’t spit Spanish out in Spain fast enough, but go to a foreign country where you don’t know the language?  All sorts of mental confusion.

Rome was also a little overbearing as well.  Because with a list of places to see, came a list of food to eat…… quote once of my friends, “If you go to Rome and don’t gain 5 pounds, you did it wrong.”  I did manage to cross off my food goals as well.  I had ravioli, brick-oven pizza, gelato every day, and a canoli.  Canoli’s are apparently Sicilian, which I did not know…

As I look back at my travels, I’m dedicating my trip to Rome to my Grandpa Larsen.  His birthday was April 20th, he loved history as much as I did and we enjoyed talking about it.  So here’s to you Grandpa, for looking out for me and my travels.  

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Islas Canarias

Islas Canarias.....................
     A few weeks ago, my roommate Tracy was having the winter season blues and said “I just need some sunshine.”  It was only a matter of minutes before we decided to plan a trip to the beach, more specifically, Tenerife.  But this was more than just a girls beach trip, we decided to go to a Volcanic island, with black sand, and check out the largest active (the term active is used here loosely, active just means its has the ability to produce lava, not explode at any second) Volcano in Europe. 

     So Tracy, Danica and I went to Tenerife for three days and got to enjoy the beach, sunshine and check out Mount Teide!  We flew in Thursday night and almost immediately fell asleep at the hostel.  Woke up on Friday morning to hippy haven...more than the normal amount you usually encounter at hostels (or so I am told). 

     Friday we tried to layout in the sun, but it was too chilly in the morning with the cloud cover, so we hiked a dried lava hill instead!  Cool view, and strange red rocks, the terrain was dry and sparse and probably looked like the south west of the United States. 

     Finally the sun came out and we got to soak it in!!  However, with the glorious sunshine came the naked Germans..........fine, they want to tan everything?  We’re in Europe, it’s a cultural norm, Ill get over my American prudish ways.  Do they stay on their towels where people can choose to look away from them?  No, the 75 year old men were very much on parade walking or jogging along the coastline with no qualms whatsoever to the cold, wind, water, or innocent bystanders.  I'm still a little scarred…

     Saturday was another great day on the beach, and we met up with Danica's two friends who stayed at the hostel with us.  All 5 of us went out a dusk and found some of the Volcanic caves and watched the sunset from the lava beds.  Her friend could drive a stick shift, so we all decided to rent a car on Sunday and drive from one end of the island to the airport on the other side, to catch our flight home.

The island isn’t very big, and if you rent a car, you can drive up the Volcano!!!  It was huge, and had windy roads cutting through the small towns on the South, and North side of the island.  The south side had a dry, sparse, landscape, whereas the North side became a dense jungle of different looking trees and fruit farms.  The Canary Islands are closer to the coast of Africa than they are to Europe, which made everything about the Island unique and very different from being in a Spanish city.  A very cool trip and a great excuse to get out of the city!  

     Now that I am back at school, its been a crazy week  because we have been setting up displays of my students art work.  We have a cultural week before Easter, where the students all research a topic and create posters, or pictures about our theme, which is world events in the 1800s.  I've been using my Art Ed skills to help the students with their projects and my teachers have given me full reign with the displays!
     Lots to do before Easter, and I have my friend, Leah, coming to stay with me!  I haven’t seen her since she helped me move into my apartment here and I’m looking forward to visiting a friend from college…Hope everyone is doing well too!  Can’t wait to visit this summer!!!