Friday, December 6, 2013

My Final Week at RMSI

Well it's the final week y'all and it has been an amazing one! It felt just like yesterday I was flying into Barcelona, meeting my family, and starting my first day at RMSI. This whole week was jammed pack with things to do in and out of school. 
Monday, we spent the day reviewing for the science exam--which is in English. The science exam was over jobs and transportation. Some of the jobs discussed were arable farmers, factory workers, retail jobs, doctors etc. The students had to do projects, worksheets, take notes etc. throughout this unit. They had to know why each job was important and how it helped everyday living. For example, a dairy farmer helps feed us by giving us milk and dairy products. The students visited a yogurt factory which the factory got the milk from the dairy farmer to make yogurt. They really get to do a lot of hands on activities and experince real world situations. This tied into transportation. So for the review, we played an alphabet game where each letter of the alphabet was a question and the answer to that question started with that letter. The class was broke up into two teams and they scored points. They really enjoyed this game and I think it helped. We did this for both boys and girls and of course the boys went crazy with this game. 
That night, Amanda and I went to Place Catalyuna and did some shopping. We also, skimmed the Christmas market and got some ice cream from Farggi. Literally the best ice cream of my life. Needless to say, the Christmas market was absolutely beautiful so I went back 3 days in a row. This is also my 5th day in a row of having ice cream. Call me crazy, but I will never get this kind in America. My favorite is hazelnut :).
On Tuesday, my students took their science exam and they did so well! The boys did better than the girls this time. The girls averaged an 8 as a class and the boys averaged an 8.5! I'm so proud of them and I think it's amazing they can take a science exam in English, receiving high scores, and they are only in 3rd grade! During recess, I started playing soccer with some of the girls and I had a blast! It made me miss my days playing soccer! The girls loved that I played with them and the boys were shocked. Usually girls don't play soccer--but everything is surrounded by soccer! I absolutely love it! 
Tuesday night, Amanda and I went back to Place Catalyuna and shopped some more! She is definitely my shopping buddy! Guess what we got? That's right, ice cream!!!!! From Farggi! I tried different flavors this time, but I still had my hazelnut.
On Wednesday, we started our big science project that the whole 3rd grade completes. It has to do with the units they study throughout the semester. We got to make our own yogurt!! I was really impressed with how this science experiment went because it was very similar to the way Dr. West taught us. The students guided the experiment and they explained their thinking whether it was right or wrong. They came up with their own hypothesis and they came up with ideas of how to make yogurt using milk. They have studied about bacteria, milking processes etc. We actually did the experiment. We used milk, natural yogurt, and heat. The milk transformed into a solid just like yogurt! 
On Wednesday night, most of us went to the Christmas market at Place Catalyuna in front of the cathedral. It was so nice to have several girls together getting into the holiday spirit! We spent almost 2 hours at the Christmas market and guess what we got??? That's right more ice cream! I'm telling you, we all cannot get enough of it! 
Yesterday was a really hard day for me and crying was a big part of my day. I knew I would have to say goodbye and I didn't want to! Yesterday was all about me and the kids. I just got to spend time with them and they wrote me letters etc. They had to stand up and read what they wrote about me. I laughed and cried, laughed and cried. It was so nice to hear all the things they thought about me in just a short period of time I had with them. My favorite comment I received from a boy was, "I like her nails of plastic." I died. They have never seen someone with their nails done and that was the their number one thing they loved about. I couldn't believe it! I received so many letters, pictures, hugs and kisses from all of my students! Yes I said kisses!!! I love that they we can kiss each other on the cheek and tell each other "I love you". These kids are so affectionate and loving that kissing is a part of showing they care for you. Of course, it's nothing extreme, but that's just something teachers in America don't receive and I adored it! At lunch, the amazing staff at RMSI put on a farewell lunch for us at the school! They made us homemade pizza! We also toasted with wine (which is also looked down upon in America). At the end of our lunch we all received gifts from our teachers. We got a yearbook and a T-shirt. After lunch, I had one more class to go and I knew it would be over. I just sat there and thought about my whole experience at this school. I started out kind of nervous and shocked at the way the students acted to not wanting to leave. When that bell rang and I saw my kids for the very last time. The tears started flowing and I had to put on my sunglasses. I seriously don't want to leave these people thousands of miles away. Everyone at RMSI has been nothing but perfect to us and I am so glad I have established relationships with such great people. 
After all my crying and getting myself together, all of us except 3, went ice skating at Place Catalyuna!!!! We definitely needed something filled with happiness. We had a blast!!! Mary Bruce cracked me up. The whole day she kept saying she didn't know how to ice skate and she was so nervous. Well it's true she can't really ice skate. We had to place her in the kid section with penguin walkers. It was the funniest thing I had ever seen. She loved it so much and she had a blast; that's all that matters! There was music and crazy colored lights. It was the perfect group day we have had! After ice skating, Brittany heard about a tapas restaraunt. Tapas is a Spanish meal. It is small portions of everything you can imagine. Some places charge you for the toothpicks and some places just have bars set up and you get what you want from each bar. We went to Mercat Tapas and it was so good! I potatoes and eggs which is famous here in Spain. They way they cook it is perfecto! After that guess what we got? Ice cream!! Haha! 
By this time, it was about 11 at night and some girls went home and some of us stayed out to enjoy some nightlife. Brittany, Ashley, Faith, and I had the best time ever!! The nightlife is totally different than America's nightlife. Most people take a siesta, or a nap, and then go back out. The people here usually don't go out until 1 am and come home at 6. Well that didn't happen for us! We just hung out and had a wonderful time to celebrate our last night in Barcelona!
Today was another great day! My family took me to the port by the sea and we ate at one of Joaquin's favorite restaurants. I loved this place because it was strictly local and no tourists were around. It was called Barceloneta. Everything was so exquisite--white table cloths, wine glasses, the sea in the background. Talk about perfect. It was a 5 course meal; I tried some new things that I wouldn't try at home like raw tuna, squid, some shrimp looking thing with eyes I don't even know and guess what I had at the end....ice cream!! 
I am so sad that this week is coming to an end, but I have another adventure to look forward to at 3 am....I am heading to Rome!!!! I cannot wait to be there and get Italian ice cream!!!! Ahhhhhh!! Well I have to start packing and get some rest! Audios Amigos---when in Rome?
Elena working on things for our yogurt project!
Hanging out with some goofballs !
My boys can't sit still for one second...not even for a picture. This is one of the reasons why I love them.
Group picture with the girls. A 360 from working with a class full of boys.
Shopping at the Christmas market.
I love my Nacho! (His nickname---so cute)
All my letters and gifts from the last day! 
The awesome staff at RMSI! I will miss them! 
Doing a little ice skating!!
Some sea food with eyeballs, but it was good!!
Victoria and I at the sea!













Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving and More

My third week is complete! I cannot believe I only have one more week in Europe; however, I still have tons to do! I definitely need at least 6 months to experience everything I want to. This third week has been wonderful for a lot of different reasons! First let's talk about school!
This third week started the exams for the semester. The first exam was English! I was curious to see how every student did individually and compare the two groups--boys and girls. The first part of the exam the students had to use is and are according to the nouns. For example, Paul and Jenny ____ from Brazil. The students had to put are in the blank because it was more than one person. They also had to ask it in a question; _____ Paul and Jenny from Brazil? And then they would have to answer it with yes or no according to the pictures. The exam also consisted of a matching section, using can or can't, vocabulary, and a listening part. I graded both girls and boys and I was rather impressed! The grading system is really different. They grade on presentation, spelling, content, and overall. The score is added up out of 100, but the actual score is out of 10. For example, if a student received an 85, the score would be 8.5. Needless to say, the girls average was only 3 tenths higher than the boys! Mrs. Marsia and I were so excited that both classes did so well. The highest score was a 9.9--a girl--and the lowest was a 5.4--also a girl. We were a bit worried about the boys because of their behavior as a whole, but they still averaged an 8.0! No one failed the English exam so that made me super excited! Also during this school week it was a very important holiday to the American teachers--Thanksgiving!!! I planned an activity and a discussion. The discussion was on the day of Thanksgiving. We talked about the history of Thanksgiving, what it means, and why it is important. I used pictures, stories, and a short comic that was designed for ESL students. On Friday, we did the actual activity. We created a "I am Thankful Book". I used templates and the students had to give a reason why they were thankful to each template. For example, the first template said, "I am thankful for my family because..." And they would have to give a reason in English and draw a picture. There were 6 templates and the last template they had to come up with something on their own. It was so neat to see their reasons as to why they were thankful. My favorite template was, "I am thankful for my teacher because..." I got really nice reasons for that one :). On Friday we had a substitute and I was a little nervous taking over the boys class because of how rowdy they are, but I managed! Not to brag, but this was the first time they were in their seats and quiet the whole time! I have a video and I can't wait to show Mrs. Marsia, she isn't going to believe it! One thing that really stuck out to me this week was the compliment Mrs. Marsia gave to me. She told me during her parent teacher conferences, majority of the Spanish families have complimented me. Mrs. Marsia said that the parents said their children talk about me and that they love me! I was speechless. She said my relationship with the kids is unexplainable and that I have a way with them. It makes me feel so good and it reassures me that I'm doing the right thing! I know if I can manage and have a relationship with children who cannot communicate at all times with me, I can do anything! 
Onto Thanksgiving!!!! I woke up that morning with a different feeling that I haven't felt the whole time I've been here. Maybe I was sad, maybe I was distant, maybe I was missing my family; all I know is I didn't feel the same. However, with the kids, the great staff, my host family, and the other American teachers Thanksgiving felt like home after all. The school prepared us a Thanksgiving meal for lunch and yes, we had turkey!! It was pretty darn good considering they never cook turkey!!! All of the teachers and students wished us a Happy Thanksgiving and it was heart felt. When I got home that night I got to FaceTime with my family and that made me feel better. I know they had a great Thanksgiving!!! That night, my host family's cousin invited me for a Thanksgiving dinner at her house. They too host an American, but he is from Boston on a gap year! When I went over there, I was treated as if I lived there !!! I was greeted with a cold beer and American football--I'll take it! There were 5 Americans--one from D.C. that was married to a British man, 4 boys studying Spanish all from the New England area, and a girl from Virginia. It was really nice to meet Americans in a different country. Sofia and Pablo made this wonderful Thanksgiving dinner for us. We sat down, Matt said grace, and we all said what we were thankful for. This was Pablo and Sofia's first Thanksgiving and they loved it so much they want to continue the tradition! We had turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, gravy, sweet potatoe soup, rolls, and home made pumpkin pie! It was delicious. I didn't eat that much and yet I was so full I couldn't breath! We didn't get done eating until midnight--which is totally fine here in Spain! 
Overall my Thanksgiving holiday was just as good as if I were home! It is all about caring people, being thankful, and having a great time--I definitely cannot complain.
This is my first weekend here in the city part of Barcelona and I stayed home alone! My host family went back to their cabin--which I am sad, but I had plans to do touristy things here in Barcelona. Faith and I booked a Gaudi tour for Saturday and we met up with some WKU students who are studying a semester in England. Megan and her friend flew to Barcelona because Megan and Faith grew up together! It was cool to have them around!! We went on the Gaudi tour that showed us some magnificent buildings. We saw the House of Bones--which we got to visit at the beginning of the week. Mary Bruce's host family got us free tickets to the inside and it was amazing!!! I cannot believe he designed and built this house. Anyway, we learned a lot about Gaudi and it was really interesting. We ended at La Sagrada Familia and I honestly have no words for this building. It is breathtaking. Even though it isn't finished, it is still mind blowing to look at and think how on Earth did Gaudi come up with it. It isn't finished yet because it is solely based on donations. The expected finish date is 2026, but they aren't even sure if it'll be finished by then. We didn't end up going inside--which the inside is completely finished, but we are booking the inside for a later date. After the tour, Faith, Megan, Mallory, and I went to Park Guell. This park is also designed by Gaudi and it is where he lived. The park was really neat. The best part about the park is when we all acted like the Cheetah Girls!!! Yes!! The Cheetah Girls. The movie was filmed in Barcelona and we were so excited because we remembered the benches from Park Guell!! I watched the music video when I got home haha. When we left Park Guell Faith and I parted with Megan and Mallory and headed back to the center. Faith took me to a famous market in Barcelona and it was insane. This market was the first market and has been around for hundreds of years. I really wanted to buy something, but when I saw and heard the prices I nearly had a heart attack. I wanted some chocolate and it was 72 Euros for 1 kilo...........let that sink in. So after that let down, I wanted to get ice cream. I had been craving ice cream all day long because at every stop we would see ice cream shops. Faith said we would get some at our favorite little cafe, at the city center, we went to just a few days ago. Well I walked in and I couldn't wait to have the best homemade ice cream there was in Barcelona and bam! No ice cream. It was all gone. Faith died laughing and I was so sad. I waited all day long. Let's just say I ended up with ice cream, but it wasn't the same. 
Today, I went to the beach!!!! It was 60 degrees out and it was beautiful!!! I definitely want to try out a Mediterranean cruise. The sea was so blue and it was literally perfect. I wanted to layout. People were actually swimming. I also wasn't aware that it was okay to be naked so I kind of had a little culture shock today. No big deal--I'll leave it at that. 
Well I hear my crazy ninas coming through the door!! It's been a long two days without them!! One more week and I have tons of memories to make still!!!
Taking the English exams!!
This pretty girl and I at recess. She is amazing at Soccer.
Making our "I am Thankful" books.
My Spanglish Thanksgiving dinner.
La Sagrada Familia.
Gaudi's House of Bones.
A little Park Guell action.
Famous supermarket in Barcelona and the most expensive!
Hanging out at the beach.














Monday, November 25, 2013

Half Way!

So today marks the day that I'm half way finished with my stay here in Barcelona. I love it here, but I'm ready to see my family and have some Taco Bell!! With the holidays coming up, it really makes me miss home, but I'm so grateful to be here! Last weeks school week was a wild one along with a crazy time in PARIS for my second weekend! 
Last week, a lot of things started to happen because it is almost time for finals!! Yes, they have finals and they have 6 of them: English, Catalan, Religion, Math, Science, and Spanish!!! That seems like a college finals week to me! They are only 3rd graders! I have been so impressed with language that these students have to learn. They HAVE to learn Spanish, Catalan (another form of Spanish) and English. They study three languages during heir whole school career. It is sad that in America we get 2 years in highschool of a language that we choose. It really opens my eyes and it makes me want to learn another language! 
We have been preparing for their finals in Science and English. Their English final is over using the gerund -ing, "I can, you can't" sentences, asking questions etc. In Science, they are learning and studying about jobs (anything prior to this unit). For example, arable farming, livestock farming, craftsmen etc. I really enjoyed this weeks science because the students had the chance to be play roles of these "jobs". The boys got to design a car and the girls got to design clothes. They took a filed trip to a dairy farm/factory and we are going to make our own yogurt and cheese! They also got to make their own clay pottery! We had so much fun last week with the hands on activities. Along with the hands on activities, they worked in groups on vocabulary, worksheets, matching etc. For a 45 minute window I feel like the students do get a great sense of what is going on. It is really student centered which I love and it is all in English! 
Along with studying for finals and wrapping up the units, I had the opportunity last week to conduct an interview setting with each boy and girl in my 3rd grade classes. The interview took about 8 minutes and the student had to present their self to me in English. It took a couple of days to get through all of the students because it is only a 45 minute instruction block! The girls did really well. I had to score them on a scale of 1-10 and take notes of what they had trouble on! The girls did outstanding; majority of the, scored around a 7. The most common mistakes they made were sentences being very translated, past tense, and nouns were all called "she". For example, "We go to the house of my brother." I feel like this is very common because in English it is switched; "We went to my brother's house." The boys were a different story, I hardly understood majority of them. They really did try, but I don't think they practice as much as the girls. Most of the boys scored around a 4. A lot of their weak points were naturally mixing Spanish with their English--they need to build their vocabulary. During this whole interview, only 2 girls and one boy started off the interview with, "My name is..." I had to correct everyone else. Mrs. Marsia loved that I did this because in 4th grade they have a huge English speaking exam through Cambridge--which is equivalent to our testing state tests. 
On top of studying for finals and wrapping up the English and Science units, my 3rd graders (and the whole school) have to learn Christmas or religious songs for the holidays. They will put on a performance in front of their parents in three weeks. The songs they are learning are in all 3 languages!!! They have to learn English songs, Catalan songs, and Spanish songs!!!! �� That takes talent and hard work for an 8 year old!!!
At home I have been studying with Marian and Victoria. Marian and I work on spelling, sentences, and vocabulary. Marian does so well with English! In return, she teaches me Spanish sentences. We also read together! I brought a picture book that has English and Spanish mixed together; Marian loves it! Victoria on the other hand is a hoot! She loves to sing songs, so that is what we do! Her new favorite, to get into the holiday spirit, is Jingle Bells. She has her own bells and she runs around the house dancing, jingling, and singing jingle bells a gazillion times! It is too cute! I also like to play a game with her that we started the other night. She has a box that she puts items in and I have to guess what they are. I will ask her questions in English to figure out what is in the box! We have so much fun playing this game--her items are so unique. 
On Wednesday, we all went to the famous Barce Futbol Stadium! Barcelona is one of the best teams! I was so excited to see the stadium, but I also wanted to cry! I've been wanting to go to an European Soccer Game my whole life, but I went to Paris instead! I know I will be able to come back one day and watch one! 
Thursday was special day here at the Molins house because Victoria lost her first tooth! She was so excited; she ran to me first thing that morning to show me! She was so excited to lose a tooth, she stuck it in her pocket to take it to school with her. We didn't know until she came home with it taped in her agenda ��. Victoria got great gifts from the tooth fairy that night! I think she can't wait to lose another one! Also on Thursday, Sarah, Amanda, Mary Bruce, Shannon, and I went to Place de Catalyuna and we walked the streets of the city center to the Picasso museum. That was pretty interesting! I loved seeing some of his earlier works!
Well, well, well...my weekend in Paris was a pretty good one! I have been there before so it was exciting to go back after 12 years to see if I could remember everything and see if anything changed. I did notice the people have changed. It definitely is a mix of people then it was 12 years ago. Anyway, Faith and I left Saturday morning at 5:30. We flew to Paris to meet 2 of our friends, but we never saw them! We don't know what happened there?! We got to our hotel and we were generally pleased with it. We were just excited that we found it in our own! After our hotel, Faith booked a walking tour so that is what we did. We met at Sant Michael's fountain and went from there. It was a general tour so we didn't go into anything, but we saw all the major Paris musts with a little bit of history behind them. I really enjoyed the tour, except the fact it felt below zero and we walked for 3 hours. My feet were frozen! After the tour, we got tickets for a boat ride on the Seine River--this was my favorite part of the trip! We did get a little stressed finding the place because Paris is so spread out; it took us about an hour and a half to find it! It was definitely worth the trouble of finding it. We rode the Seine at night with all the buildings lit up and it was magical! The Eiffel Tower sparkled (literally) and Notre Dame was gorgeous! During our boat ride, we met all kinds of people. We talked to Germans for a while and we all went to the Christmas market! The Christmas market was on Champs Élysées and it was next to the Arc de Triumph. It was beautiful! Vendors lined the streets, Christmas music was playing (in English ha), everything was lit up, and the smells were amazing. We ate at the Christmas market and walked the streets of Champs Élysées for a while. We even tried Gluewein; which is German for hot wine! It tastes like hot cider, but in different flavors! After being up for almost 24 hours we had to call it a night!
The next day was just as amazing! We waited in line for the Eiffel Tower and we met people from Chicago! It was nice to hear a familiar sound! We waited in line for about an hour and Faith and I made our way to the tip top of the Eiffel Tower. Faith's face was priceless! It was also much colder up at the top so we rushed that part! However, the views were breathtaking! I could see for miles! It sure hasn't changed from 12 years ago! After the Eiffel Tower, we took the metro to Montemarte which is more of a village scene. I was not a big fan of Montemarte; I didn't feel comfortable being there, but it was still an amazing experience! Faith and I are pretty proud of ourselves for navigating Paris just the two of us! We feel like we can do anything after that! I was so wore out and slept the whole plane ride home! I was so excited to see Victoria and Marian!!!! I couldn't wait to be back in Barcelona where it was 15 degrees warmer! 
Overall, the second week has been amazing and I can't wait to see what my last two weeks bring me!!
Victoria is dying for me to play with her so Audios Amigos! 
One of my 5th grade boy's pencil drawing on perspective!!!! Pretty amazing!!
Ines and Andrea at recess--I love these girls! 
My 3rd grade boys singing and learning Holly Jolly Christmas!
Victoria losing her first tooth!!!
Bonjour Paris! 
Locks of love bridge. Fun fact: every so often, the city has to come clip locks off and throw them away because it weighs down the bridge!!!! Yes, so your love lock is not forever on the Locks of Love bridge!!! 
At the Louvre with Faith!
Our boat ride on the Seine!!! My favorite part!!
The Arc de Triumph.
At the Christmas Market on Champs Élysées !!
Enjoying the view at the top of the Eiffel Tower!












Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Pictures!

I have been slacking on posting pictures so here are several from the first week at RMSI and my first weekend in Barcelona!
Arriving in Barcelona! November 11, 2013
View from my window!!!

My first day at RMSI!!
Yes, they have a pool in their school!!! ��
Working on projects for Santa Isabel week! (5th grade boys)
First metro ride, with my dear friend Faith, to the city center! 
Cathedral in the city center! 
Some of my third grade girls! I love them! 
My awesome host family! The last day of Santa Isabel--we all had to represent different colors for our grades! Look at Victoria with her Big Red ��

Making homemade butter cookies for the last day of Santa Isabel! 
My wonderful host teacher Mrs. Marsia and I eating tapas in the courtyard at school!
My host family's cabin, Mas La Roca, in the mountains!!! It was built in the 1500s. They also rent it out �� hint hint 
My view from my bedroom at the cabin. There is an abandoned church (Sant Andreu) in the background. Mass is held once a year and that is it! Check out the roses and it's November!
An Priest joined us on Saturday. After living in Argentina for 30 years, he decided to move back to Spain and this farm is where he grew up. He cooked us a traditional Argentinian dish, Asados, which is a rack of beef slowly cooked over a fire.
It was delicious !!!!!
This little fellow wanted to join us too. He actually is not that little! I have never seen such a creature. 

Went hiking in the mountains! We went to Castillo de Popa; an abandoned castle at the top of the mountain and Sant Andreu's church. The views were incredible!
The castle we hiked to. It is built on top of a rock that sits on top of the mountain. It was built in the 10th century!!!! 
The view from the castle!!! I never wanted to leave! 
This is the rock that the castle is built on. It was impressive! To think that people hauled rock and stone up to this mountain and then on top of a rock to build a castle and live in it, is mind blowing!

Well, these are just some of the many great photos from my first week in Barcelona! I have tons more! I had to start deleting pictures because I ran out of room and I have three weeks left! I don't know what I am going to do! I am sorry it took me so long to post pictures! I hope y'all enjoy!