Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Hello there! You look lost. Did you mean to find my blog? Welcome!

Hello again, sweet friends!

The past week has been an absolute blur. 
I went on a shopping spree on Friday. 
I went sight seeing in Segovia on Saturday morning.


Segovia is not Genovia. This didn't stop me from singing the Genovian national anthem from The Princess Diaries all weekend. They sound very similar, so cut me some slack here.


A 2000 year old Roman aqueduct with a super cute, but totally goofy, tourist.

Here's a picture of me at the castle in Segovia. I have some serious castle photos, but this one is the most fun. "That's a CASTLE!!!"

After we left Segovia, we left for the fiestas in my host mom's pueblo. Spaniards love to celebrate life and friendship. They love celebrating where they come from. In this case, they celebrate everything in the town for 9 days. There's dancing in the streets, drinking, singing, bands, and general merriment. 

The young people party all day and night. My host mom's brother didn't return until 8 in the morning. I left at 1 in the morning. They literally sent me back home with grandpa. When I got back to the house, the grandma asked why I was home so early. I just said something about being exhausted and promptly fell asleep. 

This is Calimocho. It's half wine, half Coke. I tried it, but there was too much wine for my tastes. 

They kept insisting that I have a drink. It's fiestas! They asked what I like. I just went with Sprite and rum. Fun fact: they don't measure shots around here. You have to tell the bartender to stop pouring the alcohol. When in Spain... (Side note: you typically won't see a drunk Spaniard. They drink to celebrate, not to get drunk. The drunks you see in Spain are mostly tourists.)

Fiesta in the streets

Oh, there's also a part of the fiestas when people get chased by bulls. It's no biggie really. Except that it totally is. The entire pueblo came out at midnight on the first night of fiestas. The street was turned into a racetrack. Metal fences lined the streets to protect onlookers and homes. At the sound of the third firework, they released three or four bulls into the street behind a group of runners. The running of the bulls sounds a lot more exciting in theory. Everyone was pumped about it. My reaction was less than thrilled after seeing it in person. In my country, we watch people ride bulls. I guess I expected something more extreme.

I have a video of the events, but it's pretty shaky. I can post it if you don't mind potential motion sickness.

They did face the bulls face to face in a bull fighting ring later (no bulls were fought!!!). Each participant had to make the bulls run at him and turn his back less than a foot from the horns. I'm not sure why this was part of the race, but it was. The band played "Living on a Prayer" and "The Final Countdown" during this portion. I was highly amused. 

While staying with my host mom's family, I tried all kinds of new food. I tried a tasty soup (think chicken noodle), garbanzo beans, and roast beef with chorizo. That meal was amazing! Dinner that night was a new experience. We had, wait for it, fish pudding. Here's a sample of what I ate this weekend. 

I was very sad when that yellow thing wasn't cornbread. It's fish pudding (with ham in the foreground).

This is the sauce that was served with the fish pudding. This contains pureed tuna. 

My heart leapt with joy thinking perhaps I had found hushpuppies. My heart dropped when I realized they were filled with fish and some sort of creamy cheese/flour mixture.

This is a vegetable sandwich cake. I think it had peas, carrots, mayo, and bread. I don't mayo and I tried it anyways. Bad decisions, man...

Sunday's meal was a baked baby pig. I didn't take a picture. I felt bad seeing the cute little face of my food. The pig was less than a month old, and it was only fed its mother's milk. It was then baked with a bit of salt and water. Have you seen a royal feast in a movie where they have an entire pig with an apple in its mouth? It looked exactly like that, minus the apple. September 15, 2013 will forever be known as the day I almost became a vegetarian. Almost. I haven't eaten meat today, actually. Not yet. 

After the weekend, Monday came around....

Back to school at last!!!

I can't believe that I forgot how much I love being in front of a class. This week has been great! I do have a particular disdain for waking up at 5:45 in the morning (Spaniards are appalled when they find out how early I have to rise). What can you do when you have to be at school at 7:50 and you have an hour long commute on the metro? Answer: Wake up before the sun. Side note: the sun rises very late here. It's barely up when I get off the metro at 7:45 at my final stop. 

Despite the lack of sunlight, I got to my colegio (school). When I walked in, I was told that the class was all mine. I had no idea what to do with that. I had a PowerPoint prepared for my other school, but there wasn't a computer in the classroom. I just started rambling about myself. I did that for two class periods. The third hour, I was with a different teacher who had a structure for my first day. God bless that man. On Tuesday, a teacher suggested I play a game with the students on the chalk board to talk about myself and get them talking. I really need to thank her for suggesting a way to facilitate the classes. I was really tired of just talking about myself and asking random questions.

Tuesday evening, I started at the technical school. The students are all close to my age or older. I wasn't sure how that would work. However, I had a handy dandy PowerPoint. They were interested in what I had to say, and they asked a lot of relevant questions. It was a great experience!

Tomorrow, I'm only at the tech school. It's a later start that the past two days. I'm very excited to sleep in for an extra 45 minutes!

I taught every single class how to call the Hogs and howl like a RedWolf. By the end of the week, I have estimated that there will be 400 Spaniards who can cheer on Arkansas football teams!!

Most of the classes sang the Arkansas song from Big River. I made them sing it because they kept saying it like Kansas. AR-Kansas. I said if I hear them say I'm from Ar-Kansas, we will all sing the Arkansas song. Here's a performance of the whole song. We just sang the chorus.

After the Woo Pig Sooie, the Howling, and the folk songs, I'm pretty sure my students think I'm insane. I'm completely okay with that.

While I'm at school, I have to pretend that I don't speak Spanish at all. I was talking about all the olives that are in Spain (so, so many). The students didn't know that word. They said "Oh! Shrimp!" in Spanish. It was very difficult not to say, "No! No camarones, aceitunas!" In another class, a student said, "Hola" to me after I said I don't speak Spanish. I looked at him and said, "Dude, I know what 'hola' means. I've seen Dora the Explorer. I'm not that dumb."

Yay for school!!!

Let's wrap things up with a few interesting facts about my week.

A few fun facts:
1. Spanish computer keyboards are nearly impossible for me to use. There's extra keys, I don't know if a shift button exists. The enter button doesn't go in enough. The @ sign is under the 2. I messed with that for a good two minutes before someone had pity on me in one of my classes.
2. I successfully read in Spanish without my students noticing that I understood (setting up my presentation on the laptop)
3. I miss belting my favorite songs in my car. I can't exactly do that in the metro. 
4. I really enjoy being foreign. Everyone wants to talk to you in English. Yes, people stare at you like you're the Loch Ness Monster, but it's really fun to make funny faces at people when they stare at you! My go-to is a fish face or crossing one eye while tilting my head. Two can play at this game, Spaniards.
5. I drink over a gallon of water every morning here, and I still feel thirsty. Dadgum, Madrid, just a little bit of humidity would really help my throat/lungs.
6. I saw a ton of my students after school today on my way to the metro. I had to remind myself not to speak to passersby or shop owners in Spanish. I feel like an English superhero who must guard her deep dark secret: she speaks Spanish!
7. One class asked about my nickname today. I got to tell them about how I tell people that they can call me Kirt!
8. Only one student asked my age. I said, "older than you, younger than her (the teacher)."
9. The Madrid mayor doesn't speak English. She memorized the phrase "Enjoy a relaxing cup of café con leche in La Plaza Mayor." And said it a lot while making presentations for the 2020 Olympics. All of my students suggested that I do this while in Madrid. I had no idea what they all laughed afterward. Café con leche is brewed in Heaven and poured directly into my coffee mug. One gracious 11 year old finally explained why it's so funny.
10. Tomorrow is my Friday! I only have an occasional class on Fridays. Three day weekends for the win!
11. I may or may not be asleep in the first row in a publicity photo for Beda. Oops. In my defense, we weren't told that they were taking a picture... much less that it would be published in the news.

I recorded the sound of one of my classes calling the Hogs. If I get motivated enough, I'll figure out how to upload it to a blog entry.

So long for now. It's time for this quasi-Madrileña to go to sleep.


...but you can call me Kirt ♥

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