Mission Accomplished: Time for a Fly By

November 27, 2008

Excuse the Top Gun reference, but I am done with my intensive course and thus, I feel like jumping for joy. It was a really long four weeks, but overall, a fantastic learning experience and now I am hopefully equipped with what it takes to take Barcelona (or any other city for that matter) by storm with my English teaching skills. The first week felt like five years and the remaining three went by incredibly fast. From lesson planning to evaluations to assignments, there was a lot to occupy our time, but I can proudly say job well done and off I go, be it illegally, into the land of now finding a job in Barcelona. But I will definitely give myself a few days off to enjoy the city, move into my new pad and sleep. Yes, the latter has been the one thing missing since I have arrived here, so I will certainly be catching up.

So on that note, Happy Thanksgiving to all! I was invited to a friend´s celebration tonight, so though the holiday isn´t celebrated here, we will indeed be celebrating. I have a lot to be thankful for…the most relevant one now is of course earning the CELTA! Cheers!


The One Month Marker!

November 26, 2008

I can hardly believe I have been away from SF for a month. It feels like years, but I think that’s a good thing when you move to a different country. While I did a one week recap of Barcelona a few weeks ago, I’ll now do a one month “what I miss” summary (in no particular order).
My friends and my family, plus Hunter!
Granola bars. I really miss those Smores Chewy granola bars. If anyone wants to send me some, I’ll love ya forever! Too bad Tuttimelon can’t be shipped…now that place is almost worth a plane ride back.
Unlimited use of my cell phone, though surprisingly not my iPhone. I’m fine with my basic phone, I just have to recharge my minutes every second, so I miss the free reign of…wait for it….the contract!
Driving. I won’t be doing that for a while! No way, no how in this city.
College and NFL football, though I surprisingly don’t miss regular TV at all. I’m trying to get into futbol here though…slowly, but surely.
Having an income instead of a hole through my wallet.
Chrissy Field.
My queen sized bed and sprawling out. These single beds are killin’ me!
Trader Joe’s. Unsulfered mangos, soy corn dogs and chicken enchiladas. Yum.

Spanish Check Up

November 24, 2008

And I mean in the literal sense. I have naturally been speaking a lot of Spanish and I think I have come a long way in a short time. That´s not to say I´m anywhere close to fluent, but I can tell that practice is starting to pay off. Last night, I conversed with a friend from Mexico in Spanish the whole night. Granted, I have already established that a Mexican accent is easier for me to understand and he talked very slowly, but progress is progress.

However, when there is background noise or I´m in a loud bar, forget about it. Back to square one. I have to go back to basics too when watching TV or listening to the radio. Point in case…I saw the Barcelona futbol team play on TV and the announcer didn´t even seem like he was speaking any form of a language to me. I kept thinking, “Really? He is speaking Spanish?!” I then lost concentration. He reminded me of the micro machine toy cars commercial where the guy spoke a mile a minute.

Also, sometimes my Spanish humor, if anyone can even call it that, gets lost in translation. I´ve had a few doosies that have left only me laughing, but hey, if you can´t laugh at yourself, who can? I´ll give another progress report in a month, but until then, I wish myself happy Spanish speaking and even better understanding!

Love is in the Air

November 23, 2008

People talk about how Paris is the most romantic city on earth and while that may be true in some respects, I think the Spaniards can find any occasion for romance, at least in Barcelona. Be it the metro, the plaza, a fast food restaurant or more mainstream, the beach or a park, it’s been really interesting to see how much affection there is in this city.

Wherever I go, it’s hard to not to notice the lovebirds because old or young, people are either kissing or more commonly, holding hands or hugging tightly. From 70 year olds to teenagers, I have to say it’s quite sweet to see such genuine affection last throughout the years.

I’ll leave my thoughts at that before I get even more sappy, but I had to share yet another observation from this land I’m living in many, many miles away 🙂

My New Digs

November 22, 2008

After seeing a lot of different “habitaciones,” as they say here, or rooms for rent, I finally found a great situation in the area I want to live! Hurray!

My search started a few weeks ago and the first place I saw was definitely no bueno. From there, the places improved, but not by much. So, with a little patience, persistence and continuing to cross the tired threshold, I found a nice room on Paseig de Sant Joan. I´m going to live with two chicas, one from Mexico and one from Germany, both 20-somethings. It will be nice for me to practice Spanish, but I also know that I can speak English if need be. The Mexican Spanish accent is so different than the Spain Spanish accent that last night, when I was talking with my new roomie, I felt I could be fluent! Ok, maybe that´s a stretch, a big stretch,  but it was easier to understand her than most people. I´m looking forward to having built in Spanish practice and hey, maybe I can practice my English teaching with them!

So all´s well that ends well in the game of apartment searching in a foreign city. I hope I didn´t jinx anything by writing that!!

Calling All Americans…

November 20, 2008

except for those Americans who are about 20 years older than me, with grey hair and who are, in fact, not actually American. Then you get the scene from last night at the American Society happy hour.
I decided that I needed to round out my group of international friends by making friends of my own nationality and so I took up someone’s recommendation to go to an event with the Barcelona American Society. Proud to venture out on my own, given that this event in theory was not appropriate for my British, Irish, Spanish or Australian friends, I took the metro, walked along quite a posh street and entered the bar/restaurant to find what appeared to be the event. However, uncertain it was the event since everyone was incredibly older than me and didn’t really seem to be American, I double checked with the host and sure enough, I was in the right place.
After sending a quick “HELP” text to my friend, I inserted myself into the conversation of two chicas who were clearly American. Shocking, I know. One was 35 and another was 40, but both nice people who I ended up chatting with for the 30 or so minutes I ended up staying. We exchanged info, I made a possible connection with someone who may know people who want to be taught English and back to the metro I went, never so happy to be back safe and sound in the company of Isabel and Enriq, well, sort of. A bit dramatic I know, but I definitely went outside my comfort zone. But in the end, nothing ventured, nothing gained (unless I do get a teaching gig with the guy I met), so all’s well that ends well. Phew.

A Typical Day at International House

November 18, 2008

In case anyone is curious about what exactly I am doing out here, I thought I would give a relatively brief rundown. Around 8 a.m., I stumble out of bed, freeze on my way to the bathroom, shower in a water like drizzle, then put on make up in a room that is not well lit. Maybe that´s why I always look so tired!

I walk about 5 buildings up to my school, get taught from 9 a.m. to Noon (with about 45 minutes of break within that period), have lunch from 1-2, then teach every other day, roughly, for 40 minutes between 2:00-4:30. Then there is a debrief with our tutor and then off to evaluate my lesson or write a lesson for the next day. Add general assignments as well to the mix and I´ve got myself quite an intensive month. I am enjoying it, but let´s just say the countdown to the finish line has begun.

I was teaching intermediate level the first two weeks and my group really bonded with that class. Now that we have moved on to beginners, the challenge has escalated even further. We have a new tutor, a new class and new lessons. My first will be tomorrow, starting off the teaching day, teaching about good and bad manners. Right, I´m sure the expert on that topic 🙂 I´m going to be adding some flava to my anecdote to start of the class, not necessarily true, but hey, hopefully they´ll learn.

So when all that is done, I have also been trying to find a permanent place to live OR my group and I go for a drink and eat tapas (our favorite tapas are patatas bravas and some pepper one). Apparently, in one dish of the peppers, there is a super spicy one, so it´s a bit of Russian Roulette as they say. I still haven´t come across the extra hot one, but tonight is a new night…