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Monday, January 12, 2015

Roma Vacaciones pt1

For Christmas this year, the family present was a trip to Rome!  My parents did not have the opportunity to go when they lived in Germany many years ago, so I know they were excited at the chance to see one of the world´s most Historically rich cities.  That being said, it takes a lot of time and energy to plan, and accomplish, a trip in Rome.  There are so many sites, museums, art galleries, and restaurants to go too, that it can be a bit overwhelming!  This planning for this trip started months in advance, and it was nice to enjoy the long awaited trip.  

It was also exciting for everyone to meet my boyfriend, Nate, who they had only ever seen through Skype before.  A big trip for all of us, and I loved having them with me in the same city.  While Nate was with us, we went on a bus tour, to the Colosseum, and Pantheon.  

After he left, we carried on with our grueling pace, going to…The Palatine, Roman Forum, Museum Borghese and the Vatican/Vatican Museums.  I was fortunate to be able to go to Rome for Spring Break in 2014, so I appreciated that I got to see everything twice, and be able to marvel at the wonders before me.

This goofball...

Monday, December 15, 2014

Espiritu de Navidad

Last year at Christmas I was able to have the best Christmas present ever, seeing my family!  This year, I get to have the same wonderful present, which I have been looking forward to anxiously since I left for Madrid again!  The only thing about last Christmas, is it didn´t feel like a proper Christmas, it felt like an awesome vacation.  

So this Christmas I wanted to make it feel a bit more like the Holidays by doing a few things to get in the Holiday spirit!

  • Listening to Christmas music
  • Wrapping Presents
  • Making cookies
  • having a Christmas fiesta

  • German pickle I bought in Munich! 
    The tradition is, one of your parents hides the pickle somewhere on the tree,
    The first child to find it gets a little extra present from Santa!
    (We never did this in my house, but it was the one ornament
    specially saved for my Dad to put on the tree!)

    The apartment came with a little tree and lights!!

    Christmas cookies!  They came out pretty tasty, 
    but nothing like making them at home
    or the ones my Nana used to make...

    Saturday, December 6, 2014

    Dia de Accion de Gracia rnd II

    Last week I celebrated my second Thanksgiving abroad and hosted my first one!  My roommates and I decided after moving into our spacious apartment, that we had enough room to host dinner on the proper Thanksgiving day.  We enjoyed organizing and cooking for 25 people and everything turned out lovely!  I made my Grandma Larsen’s stuffing, took care of the gravy and helped with the 20 lb turkey we custom ordered for the event.  Well worth it.  

    Leaves Streamer I made!!  

    20 lb Turkey=leftovers for a week.  So yummy!

    Nate's second Thanksgiving

    Americanas in Madrid!  You know your an American abroad when there's a photoshoot with the Turkey....

    Hosting can definitely be a bit stressful, and trying to organize a potluck Thanksgiving and make sure you get all your favorites covered can be a lot of pressure too!  We had a great time and all took turns saying what we were thankful for…..

    A Few things I’m thankful for…
    -        -     My family, this goes without saying, extended and immediate.  It is hard to be away from everyone for so long and I appreciate that my immediate family is going to be here in 13 days!!!!!!!!  I am thankful they have the means to visit me. 

    -       -      My friends, for the friends back home, I am thankful that they are willing to put up with a “long distance relationship” and keep in touch with me.  I am thankful for the friends that I have made here and who help me navigate living in a foreign country and reminding me that there are still so many places to go

    -     -        The opportunity to be able to travel to live in Spain
    -  -   Being able to travel to other places while I’ve been here
    - -   Learning how to be independent 

    The Aftermath...

    Saturday, November 15, 2014

    La Rana

    This month of November has been pretty relaxed and full of enjoyable fall weather.  Last weekend I went on a day trip to a city called Salamanca with Laura, my German roommate.  Salamanca is about 2 hours away and is home to one of the best universities in Spain, and is a popular day trip for Madrileños   

    A popular tourist attraction it to find "Hidden Pictures" on the sides of various building walls.  The most popular one is to find "La Rana," or the Frog for good luck!  Can you see it?  (This is a very zoomed in picture...)

    School has been going well, and I've enjoyed working with my new Teachers and students.  We went to go see a play last Friday, which was put on by Spanish and English speaking people.  It's goal is to help the Spanish kids practice their English and have a cute cultural experience.  This year the play was about a reality show with 3 English people and 1 American trying to win a contest.  The American they portrayed was the most obnoxious version of a California girl I have ever seen, and it was embarrassing to watch.  At home I have made fun of these caricatures and know how many different types of Americans their are...and I know the students see me everyday and have a good example.  Still it was hard to watch and know that this is what most of the world think of (other than cowboys) when they hear about Americans...

    On top of that, when the winner of the contest was revealed as the old British lady, my students were disappointed.  One girl said word for word, "The girl should have won because she's pretty."   I shouldn't have been as surprised as I was, but I hated hearing her say that.  And she was just being honest!  A little heartbreaking that how much physical appearance has become a measure of value...

    I love teaching because I get to help students learn and grow in the way school was for me. So now added to my mission of enriching education, I'm going to stomp out these stereotypes and destructive, unhealthy view on looks! For at least a few students anyway...     

    Tuesday, October 28, 2014

    Ein Mas!

    My cousin Miranda and her husband Jody were celebrating their 10 year anniversary this past week and took a lovely trip to Germany!  They got to travel around and see some beautiful places in Bavaria and Austria as well.  How nice of them to invite me to tag along for a few days on their romantic getaway :D 

    Really though, it was so nice of them to invite me to check out Munich again and get to spend time with them.  Last time I was in Munich, I got very sick and did not have the best memories due to some bad food I ate.  Although I was a little wary to return to the city with the BMW museum and white sausages, the lure of getting to see some family, trumped my hesitations. 

    I am so glad I went back.  There were many things I missed out on when I went there the first time, that I got to do this round!  Vlad showed me the Modern aspect of Munich, whereas I got to see a few churches and historical aspects this time.  And also enjoy other fantastic German food and of course Beer.  And more beer.  With some café and kuchen thrown in the mix.  

    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…