Friday, June 26, 2015

My Internship Begins!

Soooooo I bet you are all wondering about the whole reason I´m here....MY INTERNSHIP!!! Let me tell you, it was not an easy road that lead me here but in the end it was truly worth it.  Though I love taking pictures and sharing everything with all of you, I am not allowed to take any with the students so you will just have to use your imagination.

Third Time´s the Charm

So it took a few tries but the wonderful people of CEA were with me every step of the way and helped to place me in a perfect school.  The first school had finished all of their lessons for the most part, so my day there was spent watching preschoolers as they watched educational youtube videos in English or played outside. Not exactly what I had in mind for my internship.  Now I was not going to be picky about the age group but I was told that I would be helping to teach English in the classroom....not be a glorified babysitter.  So needless to say as soon as I told the wonderful people of CEA I was placed in another school.

The second school I went to said that they too were done with teaching and that they were only going to be doing fun activities with the students until the last day.  No point in me being there for that.  

In that same day however, we went to what would be my perfect match school.  This school (or el colegio as they are called here) has a bilingual program as part of their curriculum where I could help in almost any class.  Here the teachers went from class to class instead of the students and a class period was an hour each.  So for three hours a day I had two or three different classes, with the third hour being a recess time on the days I had two classes.  

My Classes and Students

One day a week I worked with the preschoolers again.  Though they are adorable, little kids I can now confidently say that I am not meant to teach preschoolers.  Their adorableness factor can only count for so much, and when they come to me crying because someone is sitting next to their best friend and they want to sit there, or another child smashed their snack and juicy?  Let´s just say I cannot picture myself doing that every day for the rest of my life.  Though I give huge props to the teacher I worked with who was always smiling no matter what as well as any and everyone who works with or wants to work with preschoolers. You are all awesome!

Besides the one day a week I was with the preschoolers, I was almost always shadowing the school´s English teacher.  I could not have been luckier because she is truly a wonderful woman and I learned so very much from her.  I was not simply standing in the shadows as she taught her classes, I played an active part each and every time.

Some classes I helped the students work on their end of the year projects making sure they were using proper English.  The hardest part of that was explaining to them that idioms and sayings do not translate well at all.  They had to speak literally in order for their meanings to translate into English correctly.  Similarly I could not use sayings when explaining or talking to the students. I knew that this would be a problem however I never considered how much of one it would cause, and English is chock-full of them.

Though when the classes finished their projects we played games (all in English) to pass the time.  Not to worry they were learning as they played.  One example would be 20 questions, where someone would think of an animal and the students had twenty questions to figure out what it was, only catch all talking had to be in English.  For all the games I would start it off and the winners would follow suit, unless someone who already went won again, they had to pick someone else to go or I would go again.  

For the most part this system worked, except one day one little boy decided he did not get a long enough turn (another student guessed early on) and so he should be allowed to go again.  I told him no but he can be first in the next game.  Instead he put his head down and would not talk to me or anyone for the rest of the period, though he was fine at recess.  You will always have that one student no matter what and though I was sad he was upset we kept playing the games without him and everyone else had fun while learning.  As the saying goes, you can please some of the people some of the time but never all of the people all of the time.

A Rap-up and Reflection

I had gotten rather close with a lot of the students in my different classes and could not be happier with my overall placement and activity in that wonderful school. I know now that I am meant to be a teacher and I am on the right path for my life.  I was so very happy every day that I got to see their smiling faces, every morning I was greeted with a "Buenas Dias Senora" or "Good morning teacher" depending on how well the child spoke English. I was excited to start my day with them and always sad when it was time to leave, and when you have a day like that every day, you know its where you are suppose to be, doing what you are supposed to do.

It is hard to explain the feeling I got while working there: excitement to be given the opportunity to teach and help the different students in different ways, satisfaction as I saw how they were learning and having fun all at once, and this deep sense of belonging as I worked with the students.  The hardest thing to explain is how doing this made me feel more secure with my decisions and path.  Everyone has doubts as they try to figure out what they want to be when they grow up and I was no exception to that.  Would I be able to manage a classroom? Will I like helping the difficult students? Will I wake up with a smile as I get ready to go to work each day? Though I will never know what the future may hold for me, thanks to this internship and the amazing people I met along the way I feel optimistic for my future as a teacher and excited to start it all.   

Everyday was a different adventure and I could not be more excited to continue them back home, because this is  what I am supposed to be doing in life, and nothing is better than knowing that deep in your bones.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me to get to this point, and a special shout out to my amazing family who have always supported my decisions and helped me through my doubts, my family here at CEA who have stuck with me through the ups and downs of this crazy process and made sure I knew it would all work out no matter what, and my family at Stockton University's School of Education who have all been more than amazing every step of my college way and I know I can always count on if I become confused or unsure.  Thank you to everyone who show support by reading this blog and simply being there for me, I am truly one lucky and blessed girl.

And until next time lovely's

~Little Red

Extended Weekend: Corpus Cristi

Hello All!!

So I had my first class, which than had to get changed because it was the wrong class and my internship was supposed to start this week (The week of June 1st mind you, its been pretty crazy).  However I had gotten very sick Tuesday to Thursday, meaning I missed two days of school and my internship.  Apparently it is very common virus for Spain in the spring time.  However a quick trip to the doctors, a shot, and a bunch of medicine (and I thought Americans loved their medications...sheesh!) I was all but perfect come Saturday.  Thank goodness too seeing as this was the extended Weekend festival for Corpus Cristi (which is why I only missed two days of school).

Though this is a religious holiday it is treated as a big party here in Spain.  My host mom Eva was surprised to here that we did not celebrate anything like this in the States, seeing as it is a religious holiday not a national one.  However, everyone is welcome and encouraged to celebrate at "la feria" which was a huge fair (very similar to the ones back home) for the extended weekend.

So when I finally felt better (and it felt like a miracle when I finally did) some of my friends took me to la feria so I could experience some of the craziness.  We did not stay for all of it seeing as the parties in Spain don't really start until 2 in the morning and that is past my bedtime, and honestly I was not up for any type of craziness anyway.

Here I am ready to go!

All of Granada got in on the Spirit of it with the streets light up in colors and decorations such as the one pictured below.

One of the crazy rides my friends went on. Eventually I went on some too but I was content holding the bags for this one, no need to re-upset my tummy!

Here we can see some of the traditional dresses here in Spain. Many women and little girls were dressed up in similar attires, it was fun to see them all.

A little video of all the different things at la feria (I hope it works once this is published... :O )

For my final picture of la feria here is me and my beautiful friend Elyssia who waited with me while the other two went on all those crazy rides, she is pretty awesome!

The next day we decided to relax on the beautiful beach of Nerja (pronounced nair-ha) in Malaga. It is about two hours away from Granada but it was easy enough to sleep the time away.  Plus we were the last stop so we didn't have to worry too much about sleeping through our stop.

Below are some views from the bus of the beauty that is Spain as we drove through a small portion of it:

I loved being able to see the mountains wherever we went! They are amazing and made everything feel so connected and stable to me. They were a constant even though I felt like every day things were changing, so of course I had to get a few more pictures of them.

Above we can see a city of white tucked away in the mountains down this street, and below that same city up close. It was crazy, I have never seen a city like that: so beautiful.

Now, what you have all been waiting for, the pictures of this beautiful beach! Nerja is actually a small town made up of one huge beach, one medium, and about five small beaches such as the one pictured below.  One of the reasons we made the almost two hour ride to Nerja instead of a closer beach is because of this, how the mountains surround it making for an amazing view in every direction.  It was an amazing sight to see, not to mention the water was so clear you could still see your feet with water up to your chest. It is a memory I will cherish for the rest of my life, floating out in the beautiful ocean look back to the mountains right there, such an amazing sight.  

It was a beautiful and relaxing day, well worth the bus trip.  When it came to an end, as all things do, I found myself waiting for my bus at this little bus stop food spot. It made me think of the ones you would see on TV when someone was trying to leave a quiet little town for the big city. It was a little surreal to me but funny all the same. 

It even had a mini soda and arcade game spot, as simple as it may seem to some of you it was all pretty new to me, so of course I had to document and share it with you all!

As we finally climbed back on the bus for our long trek back home I was able to score the last seat and get this beautiful view as we left the city and beach. Despite getting over being sick it was an amazing and wonderful second weekend here in Spain.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer so far and is enjoying taking this journey with me. Thank you all for reading! 

Until next time!

~Little Red

My weekend at Cordoba and Sevilla

This  weekend (May 30th to the 31) my CEA Study Abroad Summer Program went to Cordoba and Sevilla for the weekend to explore the history and culture of this ever changing country.

(photo courtesy of google images)

Groggy and sleep deprived we set off at 8 am sharp for Cordoba and our first adventure of the weekend....after a three hour snooze worthy ride.  Unfortunately I was only able to doze slightly here and there, being motion sick does not always enable one to sleep in a moving vehicle.

However when you can't sleep you can get some pretty cool pictures here and there, such as this little field and mountain shot taken and edited by yours truly:


Or of these amazing fields of sunflowers stretching out as far as the eyes could see all over the country side as we drove on:


After the long (and tummy turning) trip we finally made it to the beautiful city of Cordoba. Below you can see a picture as we come up to the city taken by Anna Barshinger (seeing as my phone decided to stop working the pictures from this on in Cordoba were all taken by her).

Our first stop was at the Mezquita aka the Mosque of Cordoba.  This amazing and beautiful infrastructure held the religious practices for the Muslims for hundreds of years and later to the Christians and Jewish practices as well.  There was even a time when the three religions were able to peacefully practice together in this amazing space (unfortunately such peaceful existences never last for long).

Above is a quick peek inside this beautiful structure where we can see the first section of it and the very specific type of arches. These were the typical design of Islamic architecture of the time era (beginning in 786 and enlarging over the next few centuries).


As the mosque was enlarged over the years the people added more elaborate decorations and symbolic images to depict their beliefs in their holy place, such as the addition pictured above.


When the Christians regained control over Cordoba they converted the mosque into a cathedral adding more elaborate pieces to the building such as this piece, covered in gold depicted the angles and christian kingdom.

The rich history and amazing archeture in this building left many awe-struck.  The ability to see the changes as different reigns of people and religion took over inside the structure was watching history come to life in so many ways.

After our tour we proceeded outside where we went on a walking tour of the Jewish Quarter which surrounds the Cathedral.  Every building was white (much like most of Spain) but with the added colors of windowsill flowers and decorative flags and tapestries throughout it all. However the streets were narrow and the tourist where plentiful (us included of course) which made it hard to see and appreciate all that was offered to us.  However Anna did get an awesome picture of some houses with a classic statue of Spain's Torro in the middle of them:


After our tours we split off into groups for free time to relax and eat as we enjoyed the sites and waited for our bus to return.  We saw many parties dressed up in all sorts of get ups as men and women celebrated their bachelor/ette parties in traditional manners throughout the city.

With so much excitment I quickly passed out on the bus as we drove to Sevilla where we checked into our hotel and later had dinner.  Though I tried to stay up with some friends as we watched a movie in Spanish I soon knocked out and did not wake up again until morning!  (though apparently I contributed a few grunts to the conversations my friends were having throughout the evening lol)

The next day was another full one starting off with a buffet style breakfast (if only the coffee was better) and a quick pack up and check out as we loaded onto the bus to begin again.

We started off at the Plaza de Espana which was built in 1928 as a free public and open library, unfortunately all the books are now gone, even though the township tried to restock a few months ago.

These first few pictures is where all the books were kept. There is a seat for every province in Spain, here we have on example.  Each was decorated to represent the province within the color choice, the picture depicted in the back, along with the flowers and animals throughout the seat.

A close up of where the books were held.

Our tour guide for the day posing for me. She was wonderful I have to say!

Here is me standing outside of the entire building

Some wonderful ladies that I have been blessed enough to meet 

Above and below are close ups of the building and fountain in the middle of it all.  

We were even able to go inside where we saw more of the amazing architecture that Spain has to offer us. In this panoramic picture we can see all of the flags that represent each province (much like the seats outside) as well as our guide talking with our wonderful CEA adviser Jorge. 

A close up of the flags and architecture.

As we were leaving I was able to even get a picture of it's front entrance, this place was beautiful.

Next we have the Reales Alcazares which is a Royal Palace where the royal family of Spain does in fact stay for a few months out of the year. The fact that we were walking through someone's house made the tour even more surreal.  The different architecture from the different time eras and styles can be seen throughout the entire palace.  It was really amazing when we were able to identify different styles within it from our past tours.  But than again it is always awesome to see your knowledge used in your life somewhere, somehow.  Below are some pictures of this magnificent structure.

Here we have the entrance to the patio of the Palace (not the actual entrance itself) with the royal symbol above the door to signify who lives there  and their religion. 

Above is a picture of the entrance into the palace with our lovely tour guide leading the way (seriously this woman was awesome!) while below we have the entrance from the other side looking back out onto the street.

Though there are people in the way here are two pictures of the actual entrance into the "house" itself as we began our tour.  Take note of the intricate design surrounding the doorway itself, though it all looks like it was chiseled from rock, most of it was either carved wood painted, or plaster.  HOwever on the top you can also see tile but it was fun to look at it all and know for myself that it was not just all tile or marble (the more you know).

Here we have the interior patio (a side note, the bigger the water feature the more important and the wealthier the family who lives there).  A closer look at the massive amounts of detail in the arches in the picture below.  And below that one is the original detail in the sides of the walls close up.

 Above we have the adorable Elyssia next to the tiled walls.  Though they appear to be just another geometric design they are also representative of the Islamic religion with the different colors and patterns all representing different laws and ways of life for their people.

Here we have a view into the beautiful gardens that surround and are found throughout the palace.  They pictures do not do themj justice, but when all you have is an o0ld smart phone what do you expect?

At the end of the tour we were allowed to walk around a bit before leaving, here I found a small (well smaller) water feature tucked away in the corner of one of the many gardens. Everything about this palace was beautiful and I am blessed that I got to see and learn so much about it, it´s history and the history of some of the Spanish people.  And to think, this is all someone´s house!

After our visit to the palace we went on a walking tour of Santa Cruz (the city that surrounds this magnificent palace) as well as climb to the top of the Cathedral Tower, this Cathedral is the third biggest Catholic Cathedral in the world and the biggest Gothic Cathedral.  We were able to climb to the top of it's tallest tower where we got the most amazing view of Sevilla! 

These next pictures were all taken by the fabulous Jasmine Fanning who always has my back when my phone dies!

Our view from the top 

Inside the Cathedral was amazing.  The grandiose aspect of every fine detail was mind blowing.  Everything was either coated in or made from solid gold.  And though I was amazed by it all, I could not help but think how at the time most of this was built the people of Spain were going through hardships and religious wars.  Yet all of this was still possible, to me it left a bitter after taste as I stood there in awe 

By the end of the day my feet were swollen and I was ready to call it quits in my bed for a nice long snooze.  Though I was locked out for about ten minutes (there are different ways to lock and unlock doors here in Granada and I did not know that) I was able to take a nice hot shower and do just that!

Until next time!

-Little Red