Category: tutoring

It’s the simple things…

So, I must apologize to you guys. I lied in my last blog – my next update is not about Morocco. The only thing that I can say about Morocco is that I´m a little nervous about being a christian female in a muslim country – you can be imprisoned in Morocco for wearing the wrong clothing or taking pictures of the wrong buildings or prostletizing. But God´s got it under control, I´ll be fine :). Also, I get the feeling that you will excuse my slight fib in my last message; I like to think that most people won´t mind to read one extra blog :).

This has been a cool week. It´s the little things that have stuck with me the most. I had a tutoring session with my kids on Monday – after we were done, they asked if I could stay and have a snack with them. Now that my dance class is over, I don´t have to run around like a chicken with my head cut off, so I said yes. So we snuggled up next to the space heater, eating chocolate rice krispy cereal and doing card tricks for each other. I know a grand total of 1 card trick, but it´s pretty cool; my kids were rather impressed :D. That was a wonderful way to spend my rainy Monday afternoon. I´m also seriously considering teaching ESL after graduation…

Speaking of kids, I saw the cutest demonstration this week. My school not only gives classes to English-speakers in Spanish, but they also teach English to Spanish-speakers. Yesterday while I was in the computer room waiting for class, one of the English teachers came in with her 4 students (they couldn´t have been older than 5), and asked if they could sing to us what they had learned. So they sang a little Christmas song in English, complete with hands sign and everything. It was adorable :D. That same day I went down and helped decorate the school for Christmas. I was giddy. I loveeee Christmas, and decorating for it has always been one of my favorite things to do. Check out the tree that I decorated. It´s not very elaborate, but I didn´t have much to work with, lol. Also, they had the most elaborate nativity scene that I´ve ever seen…it was incredible!!! Christmas is in 3 1/2 weeks, and I´ll be home in 2!!

But anyway, I digress. Monday night, I went to a bar to watch THE game – Futbol Club Barcelona vs. Real Madrid, the 2 top ranked soccer teams in the world at the moment. Madrid was ranked #1, but I was rooting for Barçe – I really liked Barcelona when I went there, and I really DON´T like Madrid after my experience in the Madrid airport. The game was interesting to watch, although not exactly a nail-biter – Barcelona trounced Madrid, 5-0. The more interesting part to me was watching the other people in the bar. It is no exaggeration to say that soccer in Spain is LIFE. The bar was packed hours before the game started – when we got there and hour before it started, it was already standing room only. The entire room pulsed with energy – when someone scored, they all stood up and cheered as one; when someone had a penalty, the entire room hissed with disapproval. Remember way back in the summer when I talked about the Culture of Braves when I went tot he baseball game in Atlanta? Well, there´s definitely an entire culture of soccer, too. It was pretty cool to watch in action, although I was glad to finally get out in the fresh air – the cloud of cigarette smoke was pretty suffocating by the end of the night.

Wednesday night I finally made it to Cine Cervantes!! I´ve been trying to go there literally ever since Jon sent me there the first week of September. I finally conviced Rodrigo to go with me last night to see Entrelobos, a Spanish film based on a true story, about a boy who grew up by himself with only the wolves and a ferret for company – rather Jungle Book-ish… The only time we could both go to was the late showing, at 10:20, but we decided to go anyway. I´m so glad we did. The movie was quite interesting, very well done (although it felt a bit like a documentary at times; there were a few too many random shots of soaring birds and rushing rivers for my taste, lol), but the real thrill of the movie was the theater itself. Cine Cervantes is one of the only historic theaters, if not the only one, still in existence in Seville. The experience starts outside, with the antique sign lit by a single flickering neon light that without a doubt used to be far more impressive. Tickets are bought outside the theater, through a tiny 1×1 foot hole in the wall. Once inside, you have to climb up a creaky set of stairs, the wood groaning every step with age and history, to get to the theater. The huge theater, with a faded red curtain and seats that were obviously plush and luxurious in their time, remind you of the theater´s heyday. The impression is accentuated by the box seats for the super rich, now standing vacant, that line the walls of the theater in 3 different levels. Every detail of the theater is that of a grandeur now mostly lost. It was a very unique experience – far different from the normal super-commercialized and modern movie theaters that we´ve all become accustomed to.

So there you go, those were the simple things that made my week so special. Not only did you get to share them with me, but it wasn´t nearly as long as my last post!! See all my pictures from decorating the school here. As I´m leaving for Morocco tonight, I PROMISE that my next update will be about Morocco.

La Huelga!!

Pop quiz! What major event happened in Spain on Wednesday, September 29, 2010? If you do not know the answer, you need to either read more news, learn Spanish (the answer is the title of this post), or both :). Mom, James, and Tyler have already passed the test…how did the rest of y’all do?

Anyway, yesterday there was a nation-wide strike in Spain. It was crazyyyyy. I’ve never seen anything like it in my entire life. The entire country simply shut down. In Seville, the vast majority of the shops were closed. There was no fresh fruit or vegetables or meat in the entire city. Thousands of people milled the streets with banners and stickers and signs – they estimated that over 70% of the Spanish labor force did not show up to work yesterday. Picketers blocked universities, refusing to let the teachers and students who wanted to be there enter. Public transportation was operating on a skeletal system, providing only the most basic services. The only talk on everyone’s mouths was that of “la huelga”. Although my school had class, nobody learned anything. Everyone wanted to go outside and watch the protests that were happening all over the city. I recognize that the United States government has its issues; but yesterday made me very grateful to live in such a relatively peaceful society and functioning government as I have grown up in.

Although this week started out almost as bad as the last one, it has ended quite splendiferously. I FINALLY got all of my applications submitted that I had been killing myself to get in on time – those to the Marshall Scholarship, Rhodes Scholarship, and Fulbright Teaching Assistantship. You have NO idea how much of a relief it is to not have to worry about that anymore. Whether I get accepted or not is no longer any of my concern; I’ve done my part, and can now move onto other things. Another source of stress is the fact that my class schedule has also been a mess, and I’ve been trying to work with my professors back home to get that straightened out. It’s not ideal, but it works, so that’s another thing that I don’t have to worry about. I’m just glad to have one less stress.

I had another tutoring session today. It went soooo much better than Monday. In my (super limited) spare time, I had spent the last few days looking for games and pertinent activities that I could play with my kids. I found some (and also made some up) that that made them think, and that also taught them things they needed to know. So I tried out several of those games today…they loved them! They were well-behaved and interested and involved, and I just had a grand time.

After tutoring I went and found an internet café and talked to Rachel for a while. It was great to catch up with her :). We also started discussing plans to go to a West Coast Swing workshop for New Years’ Eve / my birthday! It’s rather expensive, but it’s looking like it might actually happen…I’m excited!! I also got to talk to James for a few minutes on Skype, too. He was at work and my battery was dying, so we couldn’t talk long, but it was good to talk to him for at least a little bit – we haven’t really talked at all since I’ve gotten here.

Well, after all of that it was around 6:30. I was about to head home, but then I remembered that they had said something about a Bible study on Thursday at church on Sunday. I messaged Sarah asking her about it. Luckily she answered – even though she was in class – and told me that they were having it at 7:30. I’m sooo grateful that she answered – if she hadn’t, I would have missed an incredible evening. But anyway, I had no idea where it was, so I went back to school so I could walk with her. When we got there, there were about 10 people there, from incredibly varied backgrounds. Most were study abroad students, but studying all different things and in all different universities. There was one PhD student there doing an internship on the outskirts of the city. One woman has been serving as a missionary in Spain for 3 years. A Nigerian man who has been living in Spain for 5 years also showed up. We did ice-breakers and get-to-know-you activities (this was the first meeting of the semester), and then broke up after into small groups to pray. When I started praying, I was so overcome with emotion that I started crying. It was kinda awkward, crying in front of all these people that I had literally just met…but I was just so overcome by God’s goodness, I couldn’t help it. Me finding that group came about by such a bizarre train of circumstances that never should have happened. I originally never even planned to be here this semester – my original plan was to go the Spring of my junior year. If I had gone then, I would have never met Sarah, who would have never introduced me to this church. Sarah, too, only found out about it through a highly improbably set of circumstances. Also, I was originally in a class that was scheduled at the same time as the Bible study. I really wanted to take that class, and almost stayed in it…but I’m soooo glad I didn’t. This group is such a strong group of Christians. I can not wait until next Thursday. I’m already planning out my weeks to make sure that I’m always free on Thursday nights.

So all in all, I had an excellent day. My back is angry at me, because I spent all day lugging around my computer and massive Spanish-English dictionary around (I brought it with me to tutor; it made things much easier). But other than that, I can’t complain. Also, today (although technically Thursday) is my Friday – thus begins the semester of 3-day weekends! I’m super excited :). Going on a 2-day trip with some students tomorrow, and then I’ll have Sunday to go to church and relax. I’m quite psyched about that.

One month

Today marks the one-month anniversary of my arrival in Seville. I thought now would be a good time to tell you all of the stories that I have wanted to talk about, but haven’t had the time or forgotten or lo que sea…enjoy!

Story number 1: I went on a boat tour of the city one day last week. There’s a river that runs through the middle of the city, and we went on an hour-ish long boat ride that showed me the aquatic view of the landmarks that have become so familiar to me these past 4 weeks. I went with several other students…it was great fun. I love boats so much :D. On that note, one of the girls here, Virginia, lives about 30 minutes away from Berry College, and she lives on a lake and has a boat and jet skies and everything. You know where I’ll be spending my weekends this spring… 🙂

Story 2: Last Thursday I went to Itálica, the oldest Roman colonized city in the world. It was here (so they say) that the great Roman empire began. I got to see the great Colosseum, that used to hold 25,000 people at a time during the gladiator fights; the underground tunnels where the Gladiators lived; the subterranean cages where they kept the animals; the gardens surrounding the city; and the ruins of old Roman houses of the nobility. It was way cool :).

Story 3: Also last week (I told you last week was busy!) I went to see a “corrida de toros” (a bullfight). I’m glad I went – it was definitely an experience. But I will never go again. I don’t think I realized that they killed every bull that competes, nor did I realize the extent of the cruelty that they inflict on it before they kill it :(. Everyone assured me that it was ok, because the bulls lead great lives before they are killed, but I still think it’s wrong. And I don’t even like animals! I can’t imagine what the vegetarians thought, lol. Seville (and I suppose Spain, in general) is a very interesting city. On the one hand, it’s super liberal and progressive – homosexual marriage is legal and normal, most women work outside if the home, and topless or nudist beaches are the norm, not the exception. But it also is full of ancient traditions and antiquated customs, such as the bullfight. It creates a dynamic that’s very interesting to observe…

Story 4: I have also started a job tutoring 3 kids in English. They are 11, 9, and 7, and I go twice a week and help them with their homework for an hour. The problem is that the don’t need 2 hours of help a week, they have a lot of energy, and they’re learning anatomy. I barely know what those things mean in English….forget about Spanish!! So I’ve been spending a lot of time preparing for that. I found a game to play with them that they really liked, but I can already tell they’re going to get bored with that really quickly. Another problem is that they’re all at different levels and studying different things, I haven’t figured out yet how to clone myself. Teaching them all at once is proving to be quite challenging :(. But I figure hey, if I can do this, I can do anything! Plus, it’ll look really good on my application for the Fulbright teaching assistantship. If any of you guys have any suggestions for me, however, I am more than open to ideas :).

Oh, here’s another exciting story. Mom probably won’t like it, but I’m still alive, so it’s all good, right? Anyway, I went out with Justo again last night, just to walk around and have a drink; as we were leaving the bar, I got hit by a car! Don’t worry, it barely nicked me – I hardly felt it. But it sounds exciting to say that I got hit by a car, lol ;). I’ve almost gotten hit several times – the streets here are sooo narrow, and the people drive with reckless abandon. But I’ve learned the safer paths to take, and don’t walk with headphone on so I can be more aware of my surroundings. But this time we were in a super narrow alley and a car was coming. I flattened myself against the wall, but his rear-view mirror hit me. It didn’t hurt, just moved his mirror a little bit. Justo laughed at me :(. He does that a lot – I ordered hot tea at the bar (actually I just ordered tea, expecting cold tea, but since I didn’t specify, they gave me hot), and he said that I was weird – in both of our mutual languages. He also speaks French and Italian, and occasionally shows off, much to my chagrin :D. I told my professor today that I went out with my intercambio last night, and the FIRST thing he asked me was if he was cute – which now makes…5 people who have asked me that. I never know how to answer that! If I say no, then it’s an insult, but if I say yes, then it’s assumed that I like him! I can’t win… 🙁

Anyway, I gotta go for now – gotta figure out what the heck I’m going to do with my kids next time I see them! I’ve posted pictures of all of my stories from this update here.