Published: October 12th 2010October 3rd 2010
On my friend's porch, mine is even bigger!
¡Saludos desde España!
The blog is back up and ready to go for my newest adventure-SPAIN! I arrived September 20th and have been sucked into a whirlwind of new sights, sounds and experiences. My first week was all orientation, in Sevilla, which was completely overwhelming, as most orientations are. Gobs information crammed into 3 days- they definitely could have spread it out over at least 5. So, orientation was full of presentations and speakers about housing, banking, cell phones, internet, cultural norms, traveling, teaching our English classes and a WHOLE lot of other topics. Although orientation itself was a drag, we did go to a flamenco show, which was absolutely incredible! Flamenco is Spain's traditional dance and has a deep roots in the culture. It has an amazing history but I won't start on that, this isn't a history lesson!
Our program, CIEE, prepared us to go out into the world and explore Spanish life and culture with a plethora of useful information. CIEE was the program I used to study abroad in the Dominican Republic, they also have opportunities to volunteer abroad. It is a great organization, I would recommend this program to anyone who is looking
Beautiful Old Cathedral
to study, teach or volunteer abroad, (they offer programs in about 40 countries and something like 100 cities). This year, CIEE has about 300 participants in their Spain program, so we were broken down into groups- each group arriving in Sevilla each week of late August and September. My group had all the participants in the areas of Málaga, Cadiz, Granada and Sevilla- these are just four of the many areas a participant could be placed in in Andalucía is the most southern region of Spain. Most "Teach in Spain" programs work with the education system of Andulucía, "Junta de Andalucía" they have been implenting English programs in as many schools as they can. This year, there are 1, 157 "Teach in Spain" participants in Andalucía alone. Andalucía is the southern- most of sixteen autonomous communities in Spain.
Week two- CIEE provided 5 nights of accommodations in each of the four provinces just listed. Most participants chose to live in their teaching cities but some did not- like me! I was placed in a school in Vélez-Málaga, about an hour east of the large city of Málaga. As much as I would love to be in the city,
the commute would have been too expensive and time consuming. Vélez is quaint and adorable, with an older Spanish feel, but I wanted to be closer to Málaga- closer to the action! Málaga is a gorgeous city and is a little bigger to the size of Minneapolis, in terms of population. With the decision pending on living in a quiet town where I work, or living in the city where I would have constant sources of entertainment, I chose to live in Rincon de la Victoria. Rincon a fun little beach town right in the middle of Málaga and Vélez- it was the perfect happy medium! (thanks Marshall) :)
Our second week was entirely dedicated to the apartment hunt! After four days of looking at different towns, apartments and comparing prices and bus schedules, I finally landed on a two-bedroom, fully-furnished, with an ocean-view balcony!(Hard decision, right?) It's wonderful, I have very few complaints. The journey to get this place was not easy though, I had to call about 25 landlords to achieve my goal of the perfect nest! To rent an apartment in Spain, you walk around the area you wish to live in and call the signs
Pretty Little Street
on the apartments that say "For Rent". If you are lucky, the landlord will come out and show you the place immediately. So, since I called so many people and not everyone answered, I have had what has felt like half the country of Spain returning those calls for the past week. It's been pretty entertaining though, a good way to practice spanish over the phone, which is surprisingly MUCH more difficult than in the person.
My roommates name is Natasha, she is a friend from studying in the Dominican Republic, she is originally from Brooklyn, NY. We have 3 friends who live in a similar style apartment (I should be saying piso, which means flat, rather than apartment), which is a 10 minute walk down the beach. It's nice to know some other people here, even though our goal is to meet Spaniards!
Rincon is a busy little beach town, full of both young and old and so many babies! As you all know, this is a dream come true for me. People are always pushing their babies up and down the boardwalk along the beach. There are a lot of couples and the entire area
In a really old castle!
is very family-friendly. From what I've seen, Spain as a whole is extremely family-friendly/family oriented. Though, this is true for all the places I've traveled- what is wrong with US?? Just yesterday, I was at a restaurant with Natasha and there was a little boy with his parents and uncle, and the bartender at the restaurant changed the channel to a cartoon, rather than leaving it on the game! This was shocking, as Spain is completely obsessed with soccer, or fútbol. Walking along the beach you will find restaurants and several boutiques. Rincon is basically one street along the coast, with most of the residents living up and behind the businesses, on a hill in white houses. Towns like these are called pueblos blancos, (white towns). White paint was chosen years and years ago to repel the coast's extreme heat. All along the Spain's southern coast, one can find pueblos blancos and hilly areas that are fantastic for an afternoon drive.
Week Three- We started teaching! After a week of orientation and piso hunting, getting into our routine could not feel any better! Unfortunately, my school preferred that I officially start teaching this week, and today we have a
holiday! That being said, I will not have experienced a normal week until next thursday. I am teaching in an Official Language School, which means that my students range from about 18 to 65. Almost everyone in the Teach in Spain program is working with children, so I feel very privileged to have this opportunity. I loved teaching summer school, after-school programs and tutoring elementary age children in Minnesota, but I couldn't be happier to have a break from bad behavior and to really focus on educating my students!
My official title is "Language and Culture Assistant". That being said, I do not have to teach full classes independently. The teacher is still in the classroom at all times and I am there to assist in with conversation and topics on US culture. For example, yesterday I did three presentations introducing myself and talking about Minnesota and various US topics. I talked about childhood obesity and Michelle Obama's program and US family structure. I passed around photos of my friends and family and they asked me all kinds of questions. In my first class, I was explaining that hockey is popular in Minnesota, and I asked the class if they knew what hockey was. They responded by looking at each other and repeatedly chirping "Hockey? Hockey?" like a group of little birds. It was the most hilarious yet adorable sight I'd seen in awhile. Keep in mind, this is a group of adults, most of them in their forties, seeing a group of people around my parents age so curious and interested in my words is a very new, but wonderful experience. Some students asked me about racism, others asked about shopping, another asked about Michelle Obama, some asked about raising children in the US but all in all, they were interested in what I had to say! Keeping their attention was not a struggle, how it is with kindergartners. Thus far, I love my job! We shall see how the normal routine and schedule treats me after a couple weeks...
So, this was just a dry introduction with the 5 W's of this new place I will call home until June. Now that we have all the logistics out of the way, we can move onto juicy and interesting adventures! Stay tuned!
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