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.

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