Monday, April 28, 2014

Picasso and the Mediterranean Sea

This weekend was amazing! As I was sitting on the beach yesterday it suddenly hit me that I was sitting on a beach in Spain. No words can even describe how amazing that feeling was. Beaches in America are nice, but they do not even begin to compare to Spain.

On Friday, Carley and I decided to bravely make our way through La Ramblas to find the Columbus monument. La Ramblas is a street that is nothing but shops and is always full of people. We had been warned by many people that it is the worst place of pickpockets. (Don't worry. We are both very smart and resourceful.) While going to the monument we met some very interesting characters along the way.
If I could take him home with me I would.

 Then we finally reached the monument.

After seeing Christopher Columbus we met up with some of the other girls to go eat dinner at Rosa Negra. It was a very nice dinner, but we had to wait 50 minutes before being seated. The chances of me trying that again are very slim. By the time we finished dinner we had to make our way back home, but not before stopping for gelato. The gelato place had Ferrero Rocher flavor! My taste buds thought they had died and gone to heaven as I was eating this.

On Saturday I started the day by going to Park Guell with Carley, Cristina, Santi, and Blanca. Walking up to Park Guell was serious exercise. I did not realize it was nothing but hills along the way. My legs have been sore since we have been here from all the walking I am doing, and today they hurt even more due to these hills. What I was able to see of Park Guell was beautiful.

We were going to pay to get in to the monument area, but we were told the wait would be 1.5 hours. We all decided to just walk around the park instead. Carley and I are going to try to go back so that we can see the rest of it on a later date. After this event I was feeling a little disappointed. I felt that we had wasted most of our morning, but it all worked out. Once we left Park Guell, Carley and I went to the Picasso Museum while Cristina and the kids went shopping. The Picasso Museum was nice, but it was not what I imagined in would be. Although the museum had some beautiful paintings (and some not so beautiful ones) it did not have any of his most famous works. When we left the museum we met up with Cristina, Javier, Santi, Blanca, and Javi to go shopping and to walk the streets of the old part of the city. This part of the city is my favorite. It is beautiful and full of things to do.We saw many different shops that we want to try to find again. Cristina helped us find the Barcelona History Museum, Barcelona City Hall, Roman towers, and the Santa del Maria.
Barcelona City Hall

Roman Towers

Inside of Santa del Maria
After touring the city and meeting Cristina's cousin we went to Market Princessa to eat dinner. Carley and I both tried tiny fried fish, as well as eggs with mushrooms. It was definitely interesting. The food here is so different from America, but I am trying as much of it as I can.

On Sunday Cristina and Javier took Carley and me to the Torres Vineyard outside of Barcelona.

 We toured the outside.

And the inside.
This was the fist time I had been to a vineyard, and we went with three other families. It was definitely an interesting experience with all of the children there. After the vineyard we went to the beach in Sitges.

Carley and I braved the cold to put our feet in the Mediterranean Sea.
And we walked out on the port.

There were a few times the wind got so strong that I thought I was going to lose my phone. Luckily, we made it back without any accidents. We had a picnic on the beach with all of the families and we had a great time.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Cathedrals and Romans

Today was a normal day at school. We started with one class, but switched with another teacher. The teacher that I am with teaches the children English. The other teacher teaches in Catalan, which is the most used language in Barcelona. We sang our hello song with our first group and then worked with the second group. The class was divided into three groups. One group worked on Mother’s Day presents, another group worked on building with various shapes, and my group worked in their workbooks. We worked on tracing diamonds and finding matching shapes in a row. I was very surprised by this. This would have never happened in my classroom in America. We are not allowed to use workbooks in preschool. After we worked we had lunch. During lunch I tried a new kind of pasta and meatballs. Then we all walked around the city again. Today, we found a chocolate shop. This shop has some of the most delicious chocolate I have ever tasted. It reminds me of the chocolate I tried in London. It’s going to be very hard to stay away from there. 

After lunch we got our first group back and did the same activities with them. Once the activities were finished it was time to go home. Before the children leave we rub their faces with a feather while they have their heads on their tables. Tatiana (my teacher) calls this a massage to help them relax before going home. After school I was finally able to meet up with Carley and go exploring. We rode the metro to Pla├ža Catalunya which is the center of the city. This place is absolutely gorgeous. There are four fountains and giant statues right in the middle of the city. Next to the fountains is Corte Ingles which is a giant shopping center like Harrods. I plan on going in there one day, but I have not made it yet. 
Fountains at Placa Catalunya
Corte Ingles

Carley and I used my Barcelona book (thank you ladies of Academic Affairs) to find our way around this part of the city. We found the Cathedral of Barcelona without any problems and spent much of our afternoon there. In the cathedral there is the cloisters. This area has a pond with some fountains and geese. This is probably my favorite thing that I have seen so far. 

Cathedral of Barcelona

Once we left the cathedral we saw the Roman towers and stopped at a couple of souvenir shops before making our way back to the metro. 
The Roman Towers
 We made one last stop at the Church of Santa Anna before we left to return home. We are becoming experts with the metro and finding our way around the city. 

Church of Santa Anna
Once I arrived at the house I helped Santi with his spelling words and Blanca showed me pictures in different photo albums. For dinner we had vegetable cream soup and sausage with tomato sauce. After dinner Cristina sat down with me to help me figure out places to go in the city and how to get there. After just a few days I already feel much more comfortable here than I thought I would.

Dia de Sant Jordi

Yesterday was a great day to start student teaching in Barcelona. It was Dia de Sant Jordi (Saint George day). It is much like our Valentine’s Day. The tradition is for the girl’s to buy a book for the boys and the boys buy a rose for the girls. At school all of the girls in my classroom were dressed as princesses and the boys were dressed as knights or dragons. For those of you who do not know the story of Saint George I will explain it. Once upon a time, a dragon went to a small town that had a big castle. This dragon was very hungry so he ate many of the town’s animals. The townspeople begged him to stop so he did, but his price was he wanted to eat a girl. All of the girls in the town had to enter their names to be drawn. The name that was drawn was the princess'. All of the townspeople were sad, but the princess was brave and knew that she had to go.  Saint George arrived and told the people that he would save their princess. When he slayed the dragon roses began to grow. He gave one of the roses to the princess and they lived happily ever after. This is where the tradition comes from. While at school we went to the theatre to watch some of the teachers perform the story of Saint George. After the performance we set up our own market for the children to buy and sell items they had made. Our class sold dragon, knight, and princess masks. Other classes sold crowns, bookmarks, shields, and bracelets.

This took up a majority of the day and it was a lot of fun. The only problem is I cannot understand my students. They are in P4 so they are just now beginning to really learn English. They understand English, but they speak Spanish. Many times today they tried to talk to me, but I did not understand what they were saying. After school I took the metro by myself and found my way home on the first try. When Cristina arrived we took the motor bike to the city center, so that I could see what it was like on Saint George day. The street was closed so that people could walk. There were booths set up everywhere selling books and roses. It was almost impossible to walk.
(This is at the city center near La Ramblas)
After we left the center we went to visit her parents. I met her sister, brother, sister in-law, parents, grandmother, and nieces and nephews. Javier, Santi, and Blanca were also there. We ate snack there which consisted of hot chocolate and many sweets.

(These are some of the things we had yesterday that I found in a shop today. I cannot even begin to explain my excitement about this food.)
I feel like I haven’t stopped eating since I arrived. In Barcelona we eat five times: first breakfast, second breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner. Lunch and dinner are both two courses and a dessert. Yesterday morning we had toast for breakfast and breakfast again at school. For lunch I had chicken with potatoes and a salad. We had a two hour lunch break so some of us decided to explore. We found a place that sells Gelato, so of course we had to try some.
(Dulce de Leche es delicioso)

Hopefully, all of this walking I am doing will keep me from gaining weight while I am here. I have already fallen in love with this city and the people in it. Everyone I have met is really friendly and will try to help you with anything. I had a very nice surprise when we arrived at the house last night. Javier and Cristiana both got me a rose for Dia de Sant Jordi.

Technical Problems and Arrival

Sorry it has taken me so long to post!! I had the wrong converter for my laptop so I could not use it until I found one. I got one yesterday, but then I could not get connected to the internet. I think I finally have everything working now. Now I can get caught up with every thing.

On our way to Barcelona we stopped at the Newark Airport, This is just outside of Manhattan. I was able to see the Empire State building and The Statue of Liberty as we were landing. However I was not able to get any good pictures. We were stuck at the airport for four hours before we were finally able to make our final flight to Barcelona.
(This is a picture of Manhattan as we began to take off again.)

(Flying above the clouds on our way to Barcelona)

When we finally arrived in Barcelona we met our contact person at the airport and took a bus to the school.
 (This is a view of our school. It is actually much larger than this.)
Cristina met me at the school and we went to visit a friend of hers. We ate doughnuts while we were there, and then they drove me around the city to show me some of the different sights. After this Cristina made lunch before we had to be back at the school. We had salmon with cheese and rice with sausages. There was also a piece of cake that looked delicious, but I did not have time to eat it. At the school we had orientation. This was very hard to sit through with the jet lag that I was experiencing. We discussed the rules of the school and safety in Barcelona. We took a tour of the school after this and I soon realized I was going to get lost every day. After orientation we had a reception for student teachers where I finally met Javier (Javi), Blanca, and Santi for the first time. After the reception we returned home and I proceeded to unpack. Cristina had to leave to go to a meeting, but Javier arrived soon after she left. We all ate dinner together which was pasta, a meat patty, and french fries. After dinner in Spain they always eat a yogurt or fruit for dessert. Not long after eating dinner I went to sleep. I tried to stay awake to watch tv with the family, but found it impossible. My jet lagged body just couldn't do anymore.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

I leave tomorrow!!

And I think I am finally all set. After thinking about how I was going to arrange every thing in my luggage about a million times (thank you OCD) I finally have both suitcases ready to go. The only question now is am I ready? When I first signed up for this trip I thought it would never get here. Now, it is swiftly approaching. I have never been more excited and nervous about anything in my life. I'm still waiting for it to really sink in that I am about to get on a plane and be gone for three weeks. Three weeks sounds like such a short time and I know it will fly by, but I have never been away from everyone I know for that long. I've traveled across America and to England, but I have always had the comfort of having people I know with me. This time I will be alone in a new place living with people I barely know. Needless to say, I have lots of butterflies right now. I know this will be the experience of a lifetime and I will love my host family, but leaving my family is going to be hard. Honestly, I think I more nervous about the airport than anything else. The only time I have flown was when I went to London. Luckily, I had someone there to take care of everything for me. This time I have to figure it all out on my own. It's a scary thought. These are just all of the thoughts and worries I am experiencing right now as I should be sleeping. I know that once I finally make it Spain I will be fine. I'm looking forward to trying new things and keeping track of all of my adventures!