Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Spanish Thanksgiving

Hola! Hello!

It's been a while since I posted last. Oops! I am so busy here all the time. Between exploring the city and playing with my host family, I completely forgot it had been so long.

Last weekend we stayed in Barcelona. On Saturday we took a Gaudi tour around the city to see many of his works of art! Wow! He was an amazing architect. The tour ended at La Sagrada Familia which I had been dying to see. It was breathtaking! We didn't go inside because the line was so long, but decide we would get tickets to come back. After the tour, Sarah and I visited Montjuic- an old castle way on top of a hill on the outside of the city. We rode cable cars to the top that were really neat. The view from the top was amazing. We would see sooo much. It's so neat how Barcelona is in the middle, with the ocean on one side and the mountains on the other. It definitely makes for pretty views from everywhere. On Sunday we went back to La Sagrada Familia and went inside. The inside is even more beautiful then the outside. The whole church is full of stained glass windows that were so pretty with the sun shining through. We walked around for a long time. There was so much to see and I feel like we still probably missed something. After leaving La Sagrada Familia we went to Park Guell, a park full of more Gaudi work. It is all made from bright color tiles placed together. I'll post pictures so you can see how pretty it was! For dinner we visited a place near the top of another mountain known for it's awesome views. We got to the restaurant right before sunset, so we got to see a beautiful sunset over the city. I know I keep saying everything is so pretty, but it really is! Especially the sunsets!

Last week at school was wild and crazy like always!  I love my kindergarteners, but they sure do wear me out! We started working on some Christmas projects. I helped them make snowflakes from popsicle sticks and then we painted and covered them with glitter. Glitter and paint are always fun with 5 year olds :) They loved making the snowflakes, so it was well worth it. We've also been working on their Christmas play, which has parts in all 3 languages they learn at the school. I've gotten to help a lot with the English part and it's been so great to hear the kids finally speaking full sentences in English. Throughout the day, the only English I usually hear is either "May I go to the toilet?" or "HEYY sexy lady" as they're singing the Gangham style song. Very entertaining! But at the same time it has been very challenging to be in a classroom all day with kids that don't hardly speak English. This week we are continuing to work on the Christmas play and making salt dough Christmas ornaments.

On Wednesday last week we visited Casa Batllo, another Gaudi house. My host dad got us free tickets because his family now owns the house. It was very nice of him! The house was so neat inside and we all really enjoyed it. Thursday was Thanksgiving. My first Thanksgiving away from my family, but I have to say, the people at the school and our hosts families all did a great job of making sure we felt at home for this holiday. The school cooked us turkey for Thanksgiving lunch and all the teachers made sure to tell us Happy Thanksgiving. This holiday is not celebrated in Spain, so it was very nice of them to put forth so much effort to celebrate it with us. After school my host mom was so worried about me being with another "American teacher" and having a good Thanksgiving, so she asked Ane if I could join them for their Thanksgiving meal. Ane is the host mom of my good friend Amanda. I went to their flat and we had a fantastic dinner together. She cooked many traditional Thanksgiving foods and even a pumpkin pie.  The two kids of Amanda's host family broke the wishbone and we taught them all about that tradition. It was the best possible Thanksgiving I could have ever had here in Barcelona. That night I also FaceTimed all my family back home :)

Finally, last weekend we visited PARIS! It was wonderful! We flew out Friday night and got into Paris late. We were exhausted so we just went to our hotel and called it a night. Saturday morning we got up early and headed to explore the city. Our first stop was Notre Dame. We got lucky and got right in without having to wait. It is beautiful inside!! After Notre Dame we went on a tour around the city. We saw the lock bridge which I was so excited about. I couldn't believe how many locks of all shapes and sizes were on it. I mean that thing was packed. It was hard to find a place for my lock, but I finally did. After the tour we headed to the Eiffel Tour!! The line for the elevator that takes you to the top was sooooo long, so I talked Sarah and Amanda into taking the steps. Laws have mercy we about died on the hike up those steps, but we finally made it! The number on the last step was 669, but supposedly it's actually over 1000 steps. Regardless, it was a lot of steps and I felt VERY accomplished after doing it! The view from the top was amazing and definitely made it worth climbing all those steps. We stayed at the Eiffel Tower until it got dark and they turned on all the lights. I was truly in awe by how beautiful it was all lit up! After the Eiffel Tower we went to the Arc de Triomphe and then did a little shopping. It was a jammed packed day full of sightseeing :) Sunday morning we got up early again and went to the Louvre. We were there before it opened so we luckily got right in. We got to see the Mona Lisa and many other famous paintings and sculptures. After the Louvre we had to head to the airport to catch our flight back to Barcelona. We had a great weekend in Paris and I was SO happy I got to go! It was another thing I got to check off my bucket list!

This is our last week at the school. I can't believe how fast it has gone!  I am going to Rome this weekend, so I will definitely post again with lots of exciting stories :)

Mary Bruce
La Sagrada Familia

View of Barcelona from Montjuic

Park Guell

Park Guell

Happy Thanksgiving from Kindergarten!

All the American teachers on Thanksgiving

Jordi with the turkey

Our Thanksgiving supper. Yummy!

Even pumpkin pie!

The lock bridge in Paris

The Louvre

Red Towel Picture!

Lovin'  Paris

Monday, November 18, 2013

Making the Most of a Rainy Weekend!

Rain, Rain, Go Away! Come again another day! (or another month!)

We've had a very exciting, but rainy weekend here in Barcelona. Friday was Santa Isabel day at school! It was the final celebration of the week. The older kids played games against each other all week, but kindergarten just had fun! In the morning we went to a puppet show, then went to the auditorium for a clown show. The kids LOVED it! Of course it was all in Spanish, but it was still fun. After the show we went to lunch. The school provided a nice meal in the courtyard for all the teachers. It was another great chance to try some typical Spanish foods. The teachers were all telling us what they liked and I actually liked some of the stuff I tried. After lunch we watched a movie, once again in Spanish, but it was a nice break. When the movie was over it was time to go home. After school, some "American teachers" as they call us, rode the metro down to the city center. When we got off we were walking around a found a great doughnut shop! They had a few different choices of homemade doughnuts. Of course we had to try one. It was so yummy! If you know me, you know I love doughnuts so I was very happy! For the rest of the night we just walked around the streets downtown. We enjoyed the "high end" shops such as Prada and Gucci. We also got to see our first Gaudi buildings. His architecture is very famous in Barcelona and also very beautiful! We finished the night off with a wonderful supper at an Italian restaurant. The pasta I had was amazing! 

Saturday morning brought on the rain that hasn't stopped since. Rain and cold weather don't go well together, but we have to make the most of our time here! So, we set out to explore the city more. About 7 of us explored all over the center of Barcelona. We went to an indoor food market that was so neat. There were tons of vendors selling all sorts of different foods. Fruits, meats, candy.. pretty much anything you could want. There was a man in the market making crepes. Sara, Amanda, and I shared one filled with Nutella and bananas. It was delicious!! As I'm sure you figured out by now, I have enjoyed the food here so far :) After the market we walked to the port where we got to see the statue of Christopher Columbus and also the Mediterranean Sea. It was pretty to see, even in the rain. To finish off our adventure we went to Les Arenas. It's an old bull fighting stadium that has been renovated into a shopping mall.  The view from the very top was beautiful and we could see a lot of the city.  After Les Arenas we all headed home to have supper with our host families. I played games with Lucia and Sophia and we all watched a movie together. It was a great day!

Sunday the rain continued! But that was okay, because we had already planned for Lucia's birthday to be inside. 7-10 girls invaded our flat around 11:30 and stayed until 2. They played Just Dance on the Wii and it really made me miss home! My host dad danced with the girls and it was almost as funny as when my mom does! I was thankful for the good laugh. I taught all the girls how to make paper roses and we made bracelets together. Lucia got a pair of Converses for her birthday and she was so excited! I was happy I got to be a part of her birthday party. That afternoon we just relaxed around the flat and then their grandparents came over. They loved talking to me and listening to me speak English. It's funny to me how everyone here is so fascinated by listening to us talk. That night I went with my host family to their Catholic church. It was my first time ever going to a Catholic church and we sat on the front row haha. It was a short service and I enjoyed it. I was glad I got to experience it with them. We came home from church and ate super around 9:30. I've definitely had to adjust to eating supper so late.

Today has been a pretty normal day. It rained again, so the kids were stuck inside the classroom all day. Of course they were wild, but I'm starting to get used to it. That is one huge difference of the culture here from ours back home. After school a few girls and I walked to a shopping area and looked around. I got a nice warm scarf because it's getting so cold here!! I'm hoping the rain will stop tomorrow!

It was a great first weekend in Spain :)

Mary Bruce

One of my sweet students. Go Green Team!

Santa Isabel celebration


A priceless reaction! Lucia loves her new Converse shoes!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

My first few days in Barcelona

Hello everybody!

Im really behind on my blog so I'm going to try and catch up. Things have been SO busy here in Barcelona since we got here, but that is definitely a good thing. We got into Barcelona Monday morning at 7am, after leaving Nashville at noon on Sunday. Needless to say it was a long day and we were all exhausted. Our host families picked us up at the school once we got into town.The school is Catholic and goes from preschool- high school.  Afterwards, went back to their "flat" and I unpacked my bags and got settled in my room. My family is so so nice! I was worried about living with a host family, but it has definitely been a great experience so far. Later that day we went back to the school to meet the kids in our family and also our teachers. My teacher forgot about the meeting haha. After we went back to our flat and had supper. We had a typical spanish meal, which was like an omelet with potatoes in it. It was very good. Monday was also the oldest girl, Lucia's, birthday. We had a birthday cake that night to celebrate. It was a great start to my trip. After supper the parents and I had some champagne to celebrate the start of my stay with them. It made me feel very loved even if I don't like champagne. 

Tuesday morning all the "American teachers", as they call us, met at the school. We had an orientation and then got a tour. After lunch I finally got to meet my teacher. I am placed in a Kindergarten class of 21 students. I thought Kindergarten in the states was wild, but boy I was wrong. I just had to sit back and take it all in. My students are so cute and sweet, but very rowdy! School here is from 9-4:45, with a 2 hour lunch break from 1-3.  On our lunch some of us walked around the area around the school. We found all sorts of cute shops and cafes. After school me, Sarah, and Amanda walked to a mall area and did some shopping. We found an H&M and even a store selling Carhartt. It made me feel right at home :) That night we ate at a Cafe and I had some yummy pizza!

Wednesday was the craziest day at school. This week is Santa Isabel week, the saint the school is named after. Each class has a color (green, red, yellow, or blue). The whole school is competing against the other colors. Our class is green and Wednesday was our day. All the green classes wore green instead of their uniforms and there were green decorations everywhere!! It was neat to see so much school pride over here. ALL day we did activities relating to that and marched around yelling "GREEN is our team!" Of course my students were WILD! It was a fun day! I ate supper at home that night with my 3 host kids. The parents went to a meeting in our building, so the kids and I just ate together. We had these little things that I thought looked like fried apple pies. I was sure wrong. They were stuffed with tuna, tomato sauce, and olives. I won't make any more comments..... While we were eating, the kids tried to teach me some spanish words and I was having lots of trouble rolling my r's and l's. It was absolutely hilarious. We laughed and laughed. It was so much fun and really made me feel happy inside.

Today was a little bit calmer day. I got to see instruction in my classroom, even if some of it was in Spanish. The language barrier has been a lot more difficult then I had expected. My teacher and my host family speak pretty good English, but others around the town do not. A lady from the school told us to try and not stick out as Americans. As I'm sure you can guess, that is very difficult for me! After school I tutored Jorge, my host brother, in English. He is so silly! Then I went back to the mall area with some other girls. It's nice to have so many girls here that I'm close to. It definitely makes this experience more enjoyable! 

I'm hoping for an exciting weekend here in Barcelona! Hopefully we'll get to see more of the city.

Mary Bruce

My adorable host family kids
Dining room and there is a deck to the right
Living Room

Part of the kitchen
My bedroom. Thankful to have a comfy bed!
This was beside my bed when I arrived at the flat :)