Saturday, October 29, 2011

London Sightseeing

I am really glad that I had my handheld GPS with me in London. Not only has it provided a storage to remind me of places to see, but without it I don’t think I would have found my hotel. I spent three hours just trying to figure out how to get here. And after I found the train and got to Brentford, I didn’t know how to get to the hotel. That is where the GPS came in.

The train from the airport brought me to Liverpool street in downtown London. It was a little strange because outside of the station on some of the streets there were not really a lot of people. I began walking toward St. Paul’s Cathedral. I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived there. I know it is a famous site so I wanted to take some pictures, but I also know that because of the global “Occupy Wall Street” movement it was closed for a while.

St. Paul's Cathedral as seen while approaching from the direction of Liverpool Street.
Protesters have been occupying the area for several weeks.
After finding the Cathedral I hopped on a bus which took me to Waterloo. From there I had a distant view of Big Ben, and the Eye of London. I took some photos and then went on the metro, eventually finding my way to Kings Cross Station. Unfortunately the station was very large so I ended up missing the Hogwarts Express. I haven’t found the Ministry of Magic yet.

When I went to platform 9 and asked an employee if there was a marker for nine and three quarters he looked at me and said, "You're from America aren't you."

Phone booths are more common in Europe. This one made me think of the Ministry of Magic.
I took a bus from Kings Cross back to Liverpool Street station and then walked a little bit until I found the Tower Bridge. I actually hadn’t really planned on seeing this but I am glad I did. There was an old fortress by it, although I did not pay to go inside. I ended up buying postcards and a keychain there. 

I continued walking on the Thames Riverside and crossed at London Bridge. For your information, it didn’t appear that it will fall anytime soon. I found the crowd here. There was some kind of market down along the river and it was full of people. But eventually I fought through the crowd and found Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Once again, I did not pay four a tour. The pound is very expensive. I brought 300 euros with me and the 250 I traded in only bout about 150 pounds.

By this time I was extremely tired. I had been walking all day and sight-seeing for about four to five hours. My back hurt and I hadn’t eaten. It was about 2:30 in the afternoon so I knew I would be able to get in my hotel when I found it. As I said, it took me another three hours. The metro system here is very large and confusing. It is the most difficult system I have been on. Luckily when I had to walk, there was some writing on the street, when it is not there I don't know which way to look for traffic. (Remember they drive on the left side of the road in England.)

In New York City there may be multiple routes for a specific color but they are at least labeled. Here they cross each other and twist and split. But there are no numbers on the map to specify which train you need. The only way to know is to know the destinations. Unfortunately there are so many places in London so that is almost impossible for me.

I ended up in Westminster. As soon as I came up out of the underground I was greeted by Big Ben. Not far behind was Westminster Abbey. I found both of them by accident, even though I had planned on visiting both of them.  I decided since that only left two more locations in the same general area I would go ahead and see the rest. So I ended up at the gates of Buckingham Palace to see the guards. There was no changing of the guards ceremony until 11:30 tomorrow morning so I may or may not get to see that. I have two options tomorrow: sleep in and then go back to London. Or get up early and go to Stonehenge tomorrow. It is a tough decision. I may set an alarm and see how I feel tomorrow.

I ended up missing my final destination which is fine with me. It leaves me something to do on my extra day in London. I don’t leave until November 1. I went back to Waterloo Station via bus and train. Then I went to the national rail after asking someone about getting to Brentford. I found an information booth and asked. They showed me the location on a rail map and I figured it was it because it was between the city and Heathrow Airport. (I need to find out soon how to get to Heathrow airport from my hotel. I don’t know if I have to go into London to get there by train or not.)
I tried a little geocaching by my hotel but was unsuccessful. I didn’t like the area I was in, and it was so dark I gave up. I may check again in the daylight tomorrow or Monday. When I got back to the hotel, I went to the in-hotel bar/restaurant. For about 14 pounds I had a soda, 3 lamb chops, a large salad and “chips,” as they call them but better known to me as “French Fries.”
Once again in the words of the English: Cheers. (Try to imagine a heavy British accent.)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Sevilla Airport

After work today I rode with a few colleagues to Sevilla. I have to say, the city is just as great as I remember. I even saw a few of the same places as when I came in 2006. Unfortunately, this is my first time in the Seville Airport so in order to make sure I did not miss my flight, I arrived early. Much earlier than necessary apparently. I got to the airport about 6:15 p.m. The gate closes at 8:45 p.m. Getting my passport checked and through security went by rapidly, which is great. But now I am stuck in the airport for another hour and a half with nothing to do.

I am flying to London via RyanAir. They have some weird polices such as having to print your own ticket before you arrive. As if the ticket is not expensive enough, if you fail to bring your boarding pass already printed, they will charge you another 40 euros. You are also only allowed one carry-on back. On every other airline I have flown with, a person is allowed one carry-on and one personal item. Not with Ryan Air. To be safe I managed to consolidate my suitcase into one backpack. After I change hotels I will probably wash a few clothes in the bathtub (as I did when I first arrived in Spain), and hang them in the closet to dry.

Unfortunately there is no free internet in the airport at Sevilla (not that I expected there to be). So I am writing this blog by using a word processor. Luckily, blogger allows me to edit the timestamp on posts. At least in the future I will know that I can spend a little more time walking around Sevilla. 

--- 1:30 a.m. in London UPDATE---

The plane left 30 minutes late and we arrived 30 minutes late to Stansted airport. It took about 20 minutes to get through customs/border patrol. They don't seem to like visitors too much. At the airport almost everyone was speaking Spanish and when we got on the airplane there was almost no Spanish. It feels a little strange to be speaking English and I am just waiting to blurt something out in Spanish by accident--that isn't such a bad thing.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


There are so many things that are different in cultures. I have been blogging about many of those differences that I have noticed between Spain and the southern United States. Student life is another one of those differences I have seen. 

When I first arrived, I expected the system to be much better than our own. I expected students to be better behaved. After looking at the schedule I thought the students had to be more committed to their education. But some things transcend cultural boundaries.  Students here try to find ways to delay tests (or parts of a test). Students like to talk to each other. Honestly, what I have seen turns out to be even more lax than in the United States.

On Thursday, the local police came to give a presentation to level one and two students. It was in the gym so the level four class I was with that hour also attended. There were not enough chairs for everyone so some students sat in the floor in the back, others stood along the edges of the gym. Many of those students were talking to each other ignoring the police. Others were rolling around in the floor.
Something else we have noticed is how the students address the teachers. In the United States we refer to our teachers (and elders) as Mr. or Ms. (last name). Here that is not the case. Students call teachers by their first names. The first time I heard it I wasn’t sure if I had heard correctly. But later I realized I did.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hours of Spanish Conversation

Today has been a long day. But it has been one of those good, long days. I left the appartment about 7:50 a.m. I arrived at the office to apply for my N.I.E about 8:10 and stood in line (if you call having one person in front of you a line). A huge wave of relief hit me when I made it past the front desk this time. They gave me a number instead of an appointment. While waiting for my number, I talked to two other auxiliares-- one from Massachusetts and another from England. When my number came up I was able to get everything done, including having to copy another page of my passport and have photos taken.

The entire process, including waiting, lasted about four hours. I stopped by the market on my way back to my room and grabed a few things, including sugar, which I have been searching for during the last three or four visits. When I got back to my room I worked on some math that I will be helping with tomorrow. I honestly work more than required, trying to prepare lessons, etc. I will soon start science.

After about an hour half of math, skype and youtube, the pastor and his wife invited me to their house for lunch. We talked over lunch for a while and then he showed me where the church will be starting in November. It will be much larger and will be able to serve better in the community. He told me about some of the plans for classrooms, a place for missionarys to stay, a gameroom, the kitchen, and the temple. We also discussed the possibility of me doing english classes or an english small-group at the church as another way to reach out. I look forward to seeing what God does in this.

After leaving from the church, I began walking back to the piso. I passed by a pharmacy and decided to stop by real fast to see what they carried. I asked if they had "jabón antibacterial" which is how I thought to say "antibacterial soap." Unfortunately they didn't understand me. The man showed me what they had, a shower gel. I told him that wasn't what I was looking for and tried to say I was looking for bar soap. After stumbling through, he asked, in Spanish if I spoke English. I said yes and he went and got another employ. I tried explaining the same thing in Spanish before trying English. Eventually I said hard (in Spanish) and they still didn't really understand me. Finally they grabbed a bar of soap off a shelf and I said yes. But it wasn't what I was looking for. Eventually I told them I had been searching for it here in Spain but only have been able to find it in the USA. They told me I could get them the name/brand and they could order it-- although it may be a different brand. The biggest thing out of this was laughing at my inability. For once, rather than freaking out and being discouraged (wow, that took an entire minute to think of the word in English!), I laughed. I hope the three or four employees found it as amusing as I did.

A few other notes... Electronic dictionaries are no help. I carried one with me in hopes of being able to better communicate. FAIL! The hard words weren't in there. Oh, and could someone remind me of the word for the fruit that is purple, commonly eaten around Thanksgiving and comes in a can? (Its not beats, its not yams...Its...)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Una Cuenta - A Bank Account

Me sorpresa la facilidad para abrir una cuenta aquí en España. Porque tuve mucho miedo de hacer las tareas importantes, después de fallar la solicitud de mi N.I.E en septiembre, la decidí que yo pueda esperar por unas semanas para solicitar una cuenta en un banco.

Los trabajadores en UniCaja, el banco más cercano del piso donde vivo, fueron muy amables. Parece que tenían paciencia. Todavía no tengo mi N.I.E (Numero de Identidad de Extranjeros) y tuve que abrirla con mi pasaporte. La verdad es que fue más fácil que comprar un móvil.

Mañana por la mañana tengo que solicitar mi N.I.E. Solo puedo esperar que es mejor que el primer tiempo.

It surprised me how easily I was able to open a bank account here in Spain. Because I was so afraid of doing important tasks, after failing my first attempt to get my NIE in September, I decided that opening a bank account could wait for a few weeks.

The workers a UniCaja, the bank nearest the piso where I live, were very friendly. It seems they had a lot of patience. I still do not have my N.I.E. (Foreign Identification Number) and I had to open it with my passport. The turth is that it was easier than buying my cell phone.

Tomorrow morning I have to go and try again, applying for my N.I.E. I can only hope that it is goes better than the first time.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


One thing is for sure, I have not suffered any lack of exercise while being in Spain. Today I forced myself to go walking. I had to get myself out of the appartment; staying in the entire weekend last week had me pretty down. So I went to some stores on the edge of town that we pass each day going to and from work. I made it in the sports store, the other store was closed. I didn't look around because they had one of the stupid bag policies and I wasn't about to pay money just to look around a store. My biggest reason for walking though was to see how to walk back from work.

There is bridge from Huelva to Corrales that has a sidewalk and bike path. I knew it was there and knew how to access it from Huelva but not from Corrales. I tried getting there on Thursday but ran out of sidewalk. So I knew I needed to walk it from the other side in order to figure out how to access it from the other side. It is about a three mile walk from one side of the bridge to the school. The good thing is, the bike path leads to a dirt road that ends up right behind the school.
This bridge has a divided section for bikes and pedestrians. It also provided an interesting walk through history with the graffiti.

I walked up the road a little to what I think may be a museum; it is the old Estacion de Ferrocaril. Then I made the journey back to Huelva. When I had first gotten on the bridge I began timing myself; I stopped the timer when I arrived at the school. And when I got to the end of the bridge I started the timer again and headed back to the appartment. In total the walk will take about an hour. The hour it took me this afternoon including stopping for photos a few times. And for the journey back to the apartment I was more tired than I will be on the first trip. The weather was nice and it was a good walk.

A few hours later, after taking a break I went out again. It was about 8:15 or so which is when the city really comes to life. I haven't spent a lot of time out at night yet. I set off toward La Plaza de Monjas, which is one of my favorite areas here in Huelva just because of the atmosphere. The streets aren't made of asphault, there are a lot of stores (even if they don't interest me), a fountain and restaurants. On the way it was dusk and I happend to notice a great photo opportunity.
Iglesia de San Pedro / St. Peter Church
 Before continuing to the Plaza I stopped to take some photos. Once I got into the plaza area I ended up walking around the block. It worked, I ended up at the other side of the plaza at a restaurant I would have otherwise missed. I had fish, fries, salad and bread for dinner. (I have been here a month and not had hard bread yet.) The cost was under 10 euros including my drink (Cola).
Fish, fries and salad

 After dinner I headed back toward the apartment, but not before stopping at the nearby bar about a block and a half away from the apartment, for a beer. I tried the local beer that everyone talks about, CruzCampo. To me, beer is beer is beer. It all tastes the same to me and it isn't good. But that being said, I can go in to a bar, order a beer and sit there for an hour drinking it.

For a beer, a cola and dinner I paid about 8 euros.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Video Blog 1

Shorter version in English:

Vídeo en español:


Today has probably been one of my better days in Spain. I understood about half of what was said during a meeting in Spanish. I got to talk to several people in Spanish at school. And after school I had Spanish food for lunch-- Gazpacho.

Yesterday I had passed the restaraunt/cafe by and hoped they would be serving it again another day. Today at school I was talking to another teacher and he asked if I had tried Gazpacho yet. He went further and explained a little bit about how to make it using tomato, salt, garlic and a few other steps and/or ingredients I did not quite understand.

Sure enough the restauraunt still was serving it. So I went in and ordered it and a coke. And of course bread always comes along. The cost: 2.50 Euros. Not too bad! Unfortunately, I didn't carry my camera with me today or I would add a picture to this post. I didn't care a whole lot for it, but at least there was no sick feeling. To me it was just too sour and salty. If I order it again though, I will definately order it in a cup instead of a bowl. I have never had V8, but I imagine they are similar.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


I still consider myself a student, although I am actually doing a little teaching now. I am learning Spanish by living in Spain. I am a language assistant in Corrales, Huelva, Andalucia, Spain. It has been a major flip-flop, or role reversal for me.

For the past 22 years of my life, I was sitting at the desk, listening to the teacher and taking notes. Now I am in front of the class, hoping they are listening and understanding me. Now I am asking questions. Now I am trying to get them to talk.

Each class is a little different. In math and science, I have presented some lessons in English. The teachers then explain in Spanish that which is not clear. Today I was in the first English class. Today I was given a sheet of paper with questions about why they study english, what they want to use it for, etc. I used these and improvised some of my own questions as well.

The problem was, out of 30 or 40 students, the same students were answering the questions. Tomorrow will include a lot of the same activities-- asking the questions. But I really want to get the students talking more in a conversation form rather than question and answers from a sheet of paper. Rather than me asking "Have you been to an English-speaking country," and them answering, "Yes, England," or something like this a detailed answer would be better. And if that answer could naturally lead to another question, either from me to the students or from the students to me. That may be a step to take tomorrow-- just let them know that if they want to ask me a similar question at some point, they can. Hopefully pictures might help as well.

But right now it is a little awkward. I may ask a question and get a no. And then there is no where to go from there. I am not a great conversationalist yet. I'm not a great public speaker. Hopefully that also will improve with time. But for now, conversation helps a lot. Otherwise I feel like I am standing in front of the class, stuttering and rambling. It is a little awkward in those gaps when I am trying to come up with something to ask, especially when the questions do not always flow.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Names and Respect

A student who calls a teacher by his or her first name in the United States would probably have a quick trip to the principals office after a warning or two. It is considered disrespectful. Instead students refer to their teachers as Mr. or Ms. (last name).

The past three weeks though, I have heard just that. Students call teachers by their first names, no Mr. or Ms. attached to even that. It caught me by surprise at first. As I think about it, I have realized I don't even know a lot of the teacher's last names. The ones I do know are because of email addresses.

Another thing I have noticed is while walking in town people will cut you off or sometimes just stand in large groups blocking the sidewalks. On more than one occasion I have had to walk out into traffic to get around groups of people. Again, in the United States (at least the South) this would be considered rude. But even when getting off a bus, people don't even expect you to let them out, much less stop and tell them go ahead. It sometimes gets funny looks because it is unexpected.

In other news, I really need to get a bus card and figure out the LOCAL bus system. That may be one of my weekend tasks coming up.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Empezando - Getting Started

Hoy fue el primer día que ayudé en una clase. Por la semana anterior estudié los matemáticas y ciencias para ayudar en las clases esta semana. Hoy fue el clase de matemáticas, nivel cuatro. Los raíces fueron el tema. También hablamos de exponentes y animales.

Mañana tengo una presentación de diapositivas para la clase de biología y después,  más matemática. Cuando me da la oportunidad a enseñar un deporte en educación física, creo que voy a enseñar el juego, Ultimate Frisbee. No se que vamos a hacer en las clases de ingles ahora que ha regresado la maestra. Jueves será mi primer día en esta clase. 

Today was my first day helping in a class. For the past week I studied math and science in order to help in the classes this week. Today was the first class, level four math. Roots and powers were the subject. We also covered a few animals.

Tomorrow I have a slideshow for the Biology class and later, more math. When I am given the opportunity to teach a sport in PE I will probably teach Ultimate Frisbee. I don't know what we will do in the English classes now that the teacher has retuned. Thursday will be my first day in that class.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Traveling Solo

I love traveling. I have traveled since I was pretty young. I've been on cruises with my family. I've been to different parts of the United States with family. I went on a ski trip with my church group and a mission trip as well. In 2006 I went to Spain with a school group. And now I am in in Spain again.

When I came here at the end of September I had visions of seeing Europe. During weekends and/or holidays I was planning on going to England, Germany, Italy and France. My plan was to spend Christmas break in Germany. However, all the festivities wrap up around the 23rd of December. So I was thinking about just traveling Europe over break. But something is different this time. Every time before when I have traveled, I was with friends or family. This time I am all alone.

Spain has been very boring. Part of it I think may be my location-- I am in the Southwest part in a small city. I am an hour west of Seville. I am four hours by train (80 euros) or eight hours by bus (25 euros) from Madrid. Here, there isn't a whole lot to see. Without friends, life is generally boring. I actually don't look forward to the weekends; they generally consist of days like today:

Go to bed at 11ish on Friday, sleep until 12 pm on Saturday. Get up and watch a little television and eat lunch. Go to bed for another two hours. Watch a little TV, play on the computer, eat dinner, be bored.

I am still planning on going to England for a long weekend that is coming up. Hopefully I will get to see Stonehenge and some other sights there. But I am reconsidering the traveling during the holidays...well Europe that is.

Vacation starts at 2 p.m. Friday, December 23. It ends on January 6 (but that is a Friday). So if I leave on Friday and return on Friday the 6th, it could get pretty expensive. If I were able to find a hotel in each location I stayed for 50 euros per night, i would spend 700 euros ($960). That does not include transportation to/from destinations or food.

When I looked for round-trip tickets to Arkansas leaving on the 24th and returning on the 6th, it costs about 800 dollars before taxes (so about 1,000 after taxes). If the airline charges a fee I can carry my smaller carry on suitcase and bring back some clothing and items I don't need (saving on the expensive mailing procedures). All that said, I have to make a decision here soon whether I want to stay here in Europe bored for the holiday or just come back to the USA for two weeks.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Lots of Walking

One thing is for sure, I have done a lot of walking here! To go to and from church I walk five miles. I may be making the walk up to three times each week.

I have created a map that shows a lot of the places I regularly go, including the appartment.

View Huelva Area in a larger map


About a week ago I went to the store to buy a few items. On that list were notebooks. I brought one notebook with me to Spain which I intend to use for journaling and vocabulary. So I needed more for school and random notes.

I had been to the store before and seen the paper. So I quickly found it when I went in. I picked up a spiral notebook and a legal pad. Both were graph paper. Eventually there was another customer on the same isle and I asked her, "If you want to write a letter to your friend, is this what you would use?"

She told me she would use that or solid white paper. So I went ahead and bought the graph paper. That is another difference here. To me, using graph paper as lined paper is a little strange but it is normal here. However, I guess I know now why in some of my Spanish classes at Arkansas State the teachers gave us printer paper to write essays on.

As I move further into the job I am realizing I probably should have bought folders and solid white paper and I probably will soon.

A few other notes and updates:
  • I found a website online used for studying called Quizlett. I took a test on 501 Spanish verbs and got a 70%. I don't think I ever made that low on a Spanish test in school before. It is amazing how much I have forgotten in those four months, but hope to regain it plus more soon.
  • I brought my laptop charger into the living room of the appartment and got it back down to 1/3 with the converters. I may be able to start carying it with me to school so that I can work more efficiently during my prep periods. I have some programs the school doesn't and know the keyboard shortcuts in English.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Iglesia - Church

Después de dos semanas, he encontrado una iglesia! No pensaba que pudiera encontrar una iglesia protestante en esta ciudad. Pero, una vez mas, Dios me ha bendigo. Para llegar en España, tuve que luchar mucho. Y ahora yo sé que los obstáculos eran del diablo. Después de estar aquí por cuatro días, casi regresé a los Estados Unidos pero Dios tenia otros planos. Todavía estoy en Huelva. Y encontré una iglesia Bautista.

Caminé por 45 minutos a la iglesia esta tarde. Caminé 45 minutes para regresar al piso. Casi es cinco miles. Los miembros son muy amables. Espero que puedo regresar en miércoles a las 6:30 por la tarde. Y no puedo esperar a ver que Dios hará.

After two weeks I have found a church! I didn't think that I would be able to find a protestant church in this city. But, once again, God has blessed me. In order to arrive in Spain, I had to fight a lot. Now I know those obstacles were from the devil. After being here for four days, I almost returned to the United States but God had other plans. I am still in Huelva. And I found a Baptist Church.

I walked for 45 minutes each way. It is about five miles round trip. I hope I am able to return for the 6:30 p.m. service on Wednesday. And I can't wait to see what God is going to do.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


The first week of class is behind me. I am pretty excited. I already have a couple of ideas for some of the classes. Hopefully they work out and fit within the lesson plans.

Everyone at the school is very nice. Thursday I was leaving at the same time as another teacher who offered to give me a ride. Friday I was waiting at the bus stop and another one of the teachers saw me sitting there and gave me a ride back to Huelva. During breaks the language is pretty much Spanish. There are some who speak English, but the majority do not. It gives me an opportunity to practice my Spanish.

I have been doing some work this weekend which has helped fill in some of those times of boredom. It also catches me back up on some of the hours I missed this past week. I just finished making a pdf file for the bulletin board. I am still able to put my journalism background to use, even if not in the typical way.

In about two weeks I will have to go through the dreaded immigration process to get my NIE. My colleague went through it this past week and already warned me it is no fun. It took her the entire day to do what should be a relatively simple task. She gave me a few pointers though so hopefully it will be a little smoother when I go.

On another note, I was browsing for protestant churches earlier and I found a Baptist church in Huelva. It is on the other side of town from here, but the service is at 11:30. If I leave here at 10, I should be able to make it in plenty of time. I requested some information and will hopefully attend next week. I probably won't understand most of it, but maybe I will be surprised. And maybe I will be able to make friends there as well.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Juegos - Games

Hoy, fui a la clase de Educación físico. Para empezar la clase, el maestro enseñó algunas cosas. Entonces los estudiantes prepararon para los ejercicios. La segunda parte de esta preparación fue para tocar alguien. Se a ti tocan, tienes que dejar, hasta alguien puede gatear dentro las piernas.

El juego es muy similar a un juego en los Estados Unidos se llamada, Freeze Tag. En Freeze Tag, alguien tiene que correr y tocar los otros jugadores. Cuando le toca, tienen que dejar. Cuando alguien no esta el uno, puede tocar la persona dejada y esta libre otra vez. Despues de tres dejadas, esa persona es el uno.

Today I was in the P.E. class. To start the class the instructor taught a few things. Then the students prepared for the exercises. The second part of the warm up was a type of tag. If any of the three people who were "it" touched you, you had to stop with your arms in the air until someone could crawl through your legs and then you were free again.

The game was very similar to a game in the United States, what we call Freeze Tag. In Freeze Tag, someone has to run and tag the other players. When the person who is "it" tags you, you must stop where you are until another player touches you to unfreeze you. After you are frozen three times you are it.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Baby Steps

I have found one thing out for sure, I definately do not have the money to spend a lot of time at the bars. Things are gradually getting better but the important things are still difficult. I am trying to simply remember "Don't worry about tomorrow for today holds enough troubles."

I am doing my best not to stress about language barriers or my lack of experience. My appointment with the government is Oct. 25, 2011 at 8:30 a.m. I will get there at 8 a.m. In the meantime I need to make copies and will be lucky enough to have someone else to talk to about the process. She is going for her appointment tomorrow.

Each day is better than the previous. I enjoy it more as I get to know my colleagues and their different styles. I have been in two math classes and a science class so far. I will be working with the P.E. teacher tomorrow and an English class.

This semester I am working with 3rd and 4th grade. Another difference in cultures. Here 4th grade is the equivalent of about 10th grade in the United States. And 3rd grade is about like 8th grade in the United States. Those comparisons are based on age, not material.

I have been having to relearn the material myself and expect to be doing homework fairly often, refreshing my own memory in different topics, especially math and science. My first day on the job was just a math class and it was a little awkward talking about only geography. So last night after the five-hour meeting I came home and worked some more. I was able to work in some math-related topics during my introduction such as unit conversions and currency conversion.

Although I am a little nervous right now, I really look forward to being able to work with the students and teachers. It will be a learning experience for all of us.

Monday, October 3, 2011


As I have said several times now, studying a culture and living in it are two very different things. In the United States a handshake suffices when meeting anyone, male or female, friend or acquaintance. In Spain greetings are just a little different.

Guys greet pretty much the same with a handshake of some kind. But two girls or a guy and a girl greet with a kiss on each cheek. It is something I knew they did but I have to say I am still learning. I more often than not forget this little cultural greeting and think I may have offended some people.

It isn't just the well known friends, its on the first greeting. Today was the first day going to the school where I will work. Of course, I forgot it and had to be told twice. The other assistant even said she didn't know whether we, both as Americans, were supposed to greet that way.

Poco a poco.