Tuesday, December 20, 2011

All Things "Cuatro Villas"

So here we go, post number 2. To restate: I am writing two blog posts in one day and so as not to overwhelm anybody, I separated them. Below is my Germany blog post. This is my Cuatro Villas School blog post!

Before leaving for Germany, two of my schools took a fieldtrip to the Casa de las ciencias – a science museum more or less. This was convenient for me because it was in Logroño, so no commuting was needed that day! The English teacher, David told me to meet the group at a bus stop close to my apartment.  When I got there, they had already arrived and the kids could see me from a distance; when they had confirmed it was me, they all ran at me screaming Estephanie!!! Estephanie!!!! It was the biggest hug I’ve probably ever received in my life. I was nearly knocked over, but it was probably the most adorable moment I have experienced to date. I hadn’t had coffee yet, but that was enough to wake me right up!

The science exhibit they were going to see was about the 5 senses. They took turns doing activities to learn more about the senses. The sense they mostly focused on was touch because the activities were more interesting. Most of the kids were blindfolded and had to grab items out of a bag and tell the museum employee what the object was. Another blindfolded activity was touching warm objects vs. cold objects. The kids loved it.

The first floor of the museum had ancient Roman artifacts and the entire time we walked around looking at all the items I had identical twins attached to both of my hands. They are so cute and they asked me questions in English they had learned in class. I was really impressed.  Our day at the museum was very fun.

Activities in all my schools are currently centered on Christmas, a topic that I love of course. We’ve been singing, “Jingle Bells” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” for about two weeks now. I haven’t gotten tired of it once.  Although, I made a huge contribution to Ribafrecha last week, I introduced them to Frosty the Snowman. It was a hit. Who doesn’t love a snowman that comes to life? I can’t think of anyone.

I had the fortunate opportunity to go to San Roman last Friday because the schedule was messed up since I am leaving on the 23rd.  I just absolutely love San Roman. It is so peaceful and the kids are so sweet. The kids had extra fun on Friday because Javier and I prepared a treasure hunt in English. They were so excited the entire time. The treasure hunt was useful in teaching them prepositions such as “next to”, “beside”, “on”, “in”, “behind” etc. Each student had their own set of clues and they searched individually while the class looked on. The student would have to read the clue out loud and then search for the treasure. At the end of each student’s treasure hunt was a letter. All of the letters combined made up a word in English that they should know. The first student to unscramble the letters and shout the word out won the treasure, which was a pencil container. It was fitting since the scrambled word was “pencil”. It was so much fun!

We had a spare 15 minutes at the end of the day so we walked a little around San Roman and we saw three donkeys just randomly eating grass on a hill. Of course, I was intrigued. I don’t know why I’m so fascinated by donkeys…maybe it’s their size? I have no clue, but thank goodness I always have my camera on me because the kids went crazy with the donkeys. I’m sure they see them all the time, but they were excited to pet the donkeys. Maybe seeing my camera motivated them also. Overall, Friday was just a very successful day.

After school, Javier and I drove to Sergio’s house for lunch! Sergio made salmon and a vegetable dish that was delicious. I swear if it weren’t for Sergio, I would never be trying anything new. I don’t trust my cooking. But, it was nice that Javier joined us. It made for intriguing conversation. After lunch with Sergio, his wife Elena and Javier I tutored Maria. We played a great game; I wrote simple words on pieces of paper and put them in a plastic bag. We would each chose a word and have to describe the word without saying the word until the other person guessed it. Along the same lines as “Taboo”, but without a time limit. She loved it!

That evening, we had a faculty dinner. I was really looking forward to it after experiencing the last one. We went to a restaurant more towards the outskirts of the city so it wasn’t very busy. According to many, a lot of schools have pre-Christmas faculty dinners the same weekend that they make reservations during the summer! Being in the center of the city wasn’t an option on Friday. We ordered a bunch of food and split dishes between 4 people.  My group ordered some delicious stuff. We found out fantastic news during the dinner, the secretary of the school, Carmen is pregnant! Ahh! So exciting!! She told us all at dinner. After the dinner, we ended up bopping from bar to bar. That was an adventure and I’m going to leave it at that. Haha.

This will be my last post for a while as I’m going home to the United States on the 23rd! No updates needed from the States. As nothing out of the ordinary happens there. Just kidding. So, UNTIL NEXT YEAR!! 
San Roman Donkey Squad

Some of my co-workers at the faculty dinner

Germany!

I am so behind in blogging that I’m going to have to make two separate posts. Worst part is I have nothing or no one to blame except myself. I will strategically separate the two posts. One will be about my incredible German vacation my roommates and I took at the beginning of December. (Yep, I went to Germany….forgot to mention that in my last blog post I believe) The second will be about SCHOOL SCHOOL SCHOOL! This one will be about Germany.

My roommates, Jamie and I decided semi-last minute to go to Germany for our December break. I especially felt strongly about going to Germany during this time because they have tons of Christmas markets in just about every city.  There is nothing remotely similar to these markets in the United States. Our destination: Düsseldorf. We chose it for two reasons…first and foremost, because it was the cheapest. Second, because my roommate Shana has friends that live only an hour from Düsseldorf in Münster.

After a long day of traveling, we got into Düsseldorf really late and absolutely passed out in the hotel. The next day, we decided to tour Düsseldorf a bit. It’s really an upbeat city! We of course stopped at the Christmas markets….and we stopped there for awhile. We drank glühwein, hot, mulled wine and potato pancakes. The potato pancakes were so delicious. To sum it up in a sentence: we basically engorged ourselves with German food at this Christmas market. What was really special was seeing the first snow of the season. While we were all drinking our glühwein and eating bratwurst, it began to snow and everyone at the market was thrilled! The German weather was a reality check…so much colder than Logroño. Good preparation for when I go back to the States in 2 days!

Later, we hopped on a train heading to Münster where we spent the majority of our trip. We stayed with Shana’s friends Felix and Sebastian. Let me start by saying these are two of the most hospitable men I have ever met in my life. Points for Germany! They showed us the city by night, and it was gorgeous because it was lit up. The next morning, they already had breakfast ready. Again – cannot emphasize enough how amazing they were. We walked around Münster which I believe is named “The City of Bikes” and if it isn’t, I’m naming it that right now.  BIKES WERE EVERYWHERE. Of course, I’d seen bike paths before, but there were so many bikes that it may have matched the number of cars that were on the road. Münster is definitely a University town; the population is so youthful.

We followed up our tour of Münster with a stop at their Christmas markets. They were just as amazing as Düsseldorf’s. Coincidentally, we saw Münster’s first snow while at the Christmas markets!!! We brought good luck I guess! That evening for dinner, Sebastian and Felix made a gourmet meal. First, they wouldn’t accept our help…so we sat, and watched them bustle around the kitchen. When it was time to eat, my jaw literally dropped open. I can’t even really describe the meal properly…it was salmon, baked in a flaky wrap, with a sauce inside the wrap….I don’t know what it was called, but it was amazing.

The following day, we toured the University a bit more and ate lunch at the student cafeteria. The lunch was actually fantastic. I had an incredible soup. That evening for dinner, Sebastian and Felix made another phenomenal dinner. It was pasta, with a sauce I’d never seen before…but MAN WAS IT GOOD. Later that night, we had the fortunate opportunity to attend a birthday party! Felix’s roommate was turning 22 and she was having many people over at the apartment. She was all dolled up and so happy. Of course, our conversation was limited since our proficiency in German doesn’t exist. Except for Shana, who thankfully spoke German for us the entire time.

Although, many conversations weren’t available for us to partake in, I did speak to Felix’s other roommate who wants to be a Spanish teacher! She spent two years in Spain and so of course her Spanish flawless, as was her English. (A MAJOR Ego-crusher) She was telling me that in order to become a teacher in Germany you had to be an expert in two subjects. Her two subjects: Spanish and Music. Basically, that means she could in theory also be a Music teacher. Germany does not make it easy, do they? After the birthday party, we went to “one of the best clubs” in Münster – and it was very good! We had a lot of fun.

Something worth mentioning about Germany is how perfect it is. I mean they are perfectly organized, everything is immaculately clean, and everything runs on time. Germany is a very well oiled machine. As much as I love Spain, things do not work that way in Spain. Although, I will say Logroño is one of the cleanest cities I have ever seen, they work around the clock to make sure it is spotless. However, the general atmosphere in Spain is very laid-back, which ironically enough sometimes stresses me out. I blame my Dad, he arrives late to everything (love you DAD!!) and so now, as a rule I hate being late and it stresses me out. Spain sometimes is late with certain things.

All in all, our German adventure was amazing and I cannot thank Sebastian and Felix enough for their hospitality. They went above and beyond. My roommates and I now have higher expectations from American men. Shana and I went from Germany to Madrid to celebrate our friend Adrian’s birthday. We stayed there for the night with our Spanish friends and watched the incredible Madrid vs. Barcelona fútbol match. I’m a big Barça fan, having lived in Mallorca for a year. So thankfully, they won….by a landslide. I almost felt bad for Madrid. All right! Time for post number 2!!

P.S. Münster cheese does not come from Münster, Germany. I was truly disappointed to find that I had been lied to for so many years. 
Apparently, it comes from the United States. How boring.