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Published: December 2nd 2009
view from my bedroom winter yesterday morning
Yesterday it snowed in Guardo for the first time this winter! Everyone has told us that last year it started snowing in mid October and throughout the winter there were particularly heavy snowfalls, so the snow has arrived in Guardo quite late in comparison to last year. This fall in Guardo was unusually warm and sunny for the most part, so I'm still bracing myself for the colder weather yet to come. This past week the temperatures have stuck close to freezing throughout the days and nights so I haven't faced anything yet that I'm not used to. It's funny because people were trying to scare me when I first got here saying things like "Oh yeah it gets down to -15 here in the winter", which sounds pretty bad until you realize that in Fahrenheit this is 5 degrees ABOVE zero, which is cold but not THAT cold! I wouldn't consider that frighteningly cold at least, which for me would probably be something like temperatures below zero in F before even factoring in wind chill.
In other news, things are going well in Guardo. As I haven't really talked about my work much except for what
view from my bedroom window yesterday morning (la Plaza del Ayuntamiento, the main town square, is in the distance)
I was supposedly going to be doing in one of my first blog posts, here's the rundown:
I work in an instituto (Institute of Secondary Education, i.e. high school) as an English teaching assistant for about 9 hours a week. This does not include the time I spend outside of school planning activities for my classes which is usually about 2-3 hours a week. I work with 5 different teachers in a total of 9 class periods (50 minutes long) each week. I work with three English teachers, Beatriz, Ana and Carmen, each with one group of students for a total of 4 periods a week. I work with a geography/history teacher, Paz, for 3 periods a week, and with a music teacher, Celia, for 2 periods a week. By now I feel very comfortable in the classroom with the groups of students I work with (aged 12 to 15 years) and I really get along well with all the teachers I work with. In Spanish I would say they are "muy majas" (very cool, haha). Most of them are in their late 20s-early 30s and Paz is the oldest, the only mother of the teachers I work with. My
snowing heavily later in the day
students are well behaved for the most part, but of course there are always those days when the lesson isn't going too well or the students just aren't making much of an effort to participate or pay attention. On my good days I often think that I would be perfectly happy becoming a teacher in the future and on my bad days I think that I would be crazy for wanting to be a teacher, haha! Oh man, but that's how it goes. I'm still very unsure of what I'll be doing in the next few years and what kind of "real job" would make me truly happy...
Anyway, when the students have to take a test during the class period when I normally see them, I don't enter in class with the teacher and very rarely do I make up the hours I miss when this happens. When I do, it is because I mention that I could enter in another period to do a special activity and not because the teachers take the initiative to arrange for me to make up the time!
Outside of my work as a teaching assistant, I teach English privately about
with Melissa and Brooke in front of León´s cathedral
6 hours a week. I tutor a 13 year old boy named Javier (the cousin of one of the teachers at my school) for 2 hours a week who I get along with great. He's a super cute kid, and when the weather was warmer about 6 weeks ago, I actually even went to play tennis with him one day before I tutored him. His dad is a good tennis player and so is he, so it was fun! I also tutor a woman named Rebecca, who works at the hotel where I stayed in Guardo when I first arrived (and where I met her) for an hour a week, and Adolfo, a man that lives in my apartment building, for an hour a week. Finally, in mid October I started teaching 2 hours a week at a private academy in Guardo where all sorts of classes are taught, from English, to physics to courses for professional training. I tend to teach 2 brothers on Monday and Wednesday nights (Antonio and Enrique) who commute from a pueblo north of Guardo. They are total beginners with English so the class moves along pretty slowly but they are really nice guys so
on the most popular bench in León
I don't mind the work. The owner of the academy, Albino is also a super nice guy and after I finish teaching my class with the brothers at 9:30 pm we almost always all go out to a bar for a few "copas de vino"(glasses of wine) or "cortos" (glasses of beer that are smaller than your typical or "short", the literal translation).
The weekend before last I went to León, the largest city immediately to the west of Guardo (about 60 km away). It is a lively city in Castilla y León with a very famous cathedral, a university and some other monuments. I met up with two friends of mine, Brooke and Melissa, also English assistants in my program and with whom I went to Salamanca for Halloween. We had a really good time touring the city and enjoying the great night life and tapas. On Saturday night we were even able to meet up with Celia, the music teacher I work with who is from León (and tends to return on the weekends) to go out!
Here is the link to my photo album from León (you'll have to copy and paste because I haven't figured out how to make this a hyperlink, sorry): http://picasaweb.google.com/DSR1700/WeekendInLeonSpain?authkey=Gv1sRgCIuAopqG-dzrVA&feat=directlink
Finally, here is the link to my album with photos taken in Guardo this fall: http://picasaweb.google.com/DSR1700/LateFallInGuardoSpain?authkey=Gv1sRgCLSt2_-IlPnRNw&feat=directlink
Well, that's all for now!
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