Saying Goodbye to Santa Isabel

What a bittersweet morning it was as I woke up, ate breakfast, and walked to school for the last time with the boys. As I walked up to the two first grade classes on the patio, I was bombarded with hugs, handmade cards and stickers. One of my favorite aspects of this culture is their expression of affection and emotion, and I was showered with it all day. Walking to our room with one girl wrapped around my leg and two more holding on to my hands could have been annoying but today I wanted to soak it all up. Miss. Mary warned me that she was going to have me take girls into the hallway individually so they could make a surprise. When I walked inside at the end of the class, they gave me a collection of paper circles, one from each girl, bound together to look like a Christmas ornament. I fawned over the gift and told the girls how all my friends and family would want to know where I got the beautiful ornament. It really was a sweet idea, and I will always think of my time here when I hang it on my tree. We had a few spare minutes before going to our 5th grade class, so we stopped in the staff room and I exchanged gifts with Miss. Mary. I gave her a bottle of honeysuckle scented lotion from a local shop in Bowling Green. She was fascinated by the concept of honeysuckle. I also gave her three children’s books to add to her collection. One from three of my favorite series: Little Critter, the Berenstain Bears, and Amelia Bedelia. She gave me a caca tio, a Catalan Christmas tradition, that I could share with my future class. Also, a beautiful pair of earrings, candy, and a kind note. I have really lucked out with all the cooperating teachers that I have worked with during my undergraduate career. Miss. Mary’s creativity, patience, and kindness made her such a joy to work with, and I will miss her very much!

20131205-181737.jpg

Next class was with the 5th graders and Miss. Mary surprised me again with cookies for us all to share. She even decorated the box of cookies! Since I only have these girls for one class, I gave them my gifts of a penny and a Kentucky pencil. I think they were excited to receive a present, and I hope the gifts will help them remember me. After working on the five themes of geography, we took a class picture, and I said goodbye. The next class was the other first grade class, so it was a repeat of working with the girls in the hall and exclaiming over the ornament. My last class before lunch was my final session with the first class, so I gave them their presents and reviewed the different textures we can feel. I made sure to get a class photo with them as well.

20131205-181747.jpg                20131205-181754.jpg

After an hour break before lunch, Miss. Mary and I headed down to the library for our farewell lunch. The laughter and comfortable conversations among the Spanish and American teachers filled the room. We enjoyed a pizza party Spanish style with eggplant and sausage 20131205-181803.jpgpizza, Coca Cola and lemon meringue pie for dessert. Next, one of the directors thanked us for our time and recognized us individually with a gift bag including a yearbook, school magazine, and tshirt. We took a few pictures then headed to the patio to collect our students. We had the other first grade class for the rest of the afternoon, so we taught them the science lesson, I read them a book, then gave them their surprises and took a class photo. As we walked out of the school to where the parents pick up the children, I really started to get sentimental. I hugged and kissed as many of the girls as I could and held it together pretty well until I saw Kira! I think it was a little bit more sad saying goodbye here than in the U.S. because we know that we will most likely never see these students again. Kira’s words were so true when she said, “I just love kids. It doesn’t matter what country I’m in.” As sad as it was, it was a lovely reminder that I find a great deal of satisfaction in my future profession. It really hit me when I came home to my host family this afternoon how little time I have left. Tonight, all the WKU students are going ice skating and out to dinner to celebrate our last day of student teaching. Tomorrow I’m visiting a small beach village, Coasta Brava, with my host family. Saturday morning I leave for Rome, return to Barcelona on Monday morning and fly home Tuesday morning! I’ll be home before I know it, but for today, I will just enjoy the moments and be thankful for this life-changing experience.

20131205-181811.jpg

Weekend #3

 

 

 

 

 

After an eventful week with Thanksgiving, I was really looking forward to staying in Barcelona, getting to explore more of the city, and meeting up with an old friend from home.  We wanted to make the most of our time, so Kira, Brittany, Miranda, and I made plans to trek up to Tibidaboe, an area on top of one of the mountains surrounding Barcelona. We rode the metro to where we thought we could access a tram and lift up the mountain only to find out that the lift was closed. Cold and tired from the week, we headed home unsuccessful. Brittany had also made plans for us to eat dinner with a group of the Santa Isabel teachers that she works with. Kira and Miranda were worn out, so Brittany and I ended up being the only ones to join them. The teachers wanted to take us to an American restaurant named Peggy Sue’s, so we met up around 10pm. It still blows my mind that Spanish people eat so late. I’ve adjusted to the meal times surprisingly well. Especially when I used to be in bed by 10!

358

Enjoying American food with our new Spanish friends.

The 50’s themed diner was adorable with its pink and mint green decor. There was a mini juke box at each table and a menu ranging from nachos to chicken fingers to hot dogs to burgers and fries. I had to stick to the classics though and ordered a cheeseburger, fries, and a coke. The food was pretty good, but getting to know the Spanish girls was even better. All four teachers were 25 or younger and teach in the pre-school department at Santa Isabel. It was nice to hang out with girls our age as we talked about their jobs, places they had traveled to, and the American TV shows they watch. I literally shrieked when they mentioned Gossip Girl, and we went into a detailed discussion of all the characters. We shared a delicious brownie with cookies and cream ice cream and didn’t leave the restaurant until after midnight.

 

I woke up Saturday morning eager to meet up with one of my oldest friends from Bowling Green, Megan, who has been studying at Harlaxton College in England this semester. A group of her friends were visiting Barcelona for the weekend, and we made plans to spend Saturday together. I had made reservations for a walking tour of the famous buildings designed by Catalan architect Antonio Gaudi. Catalonia is the state-like area of Spain that Barcelona is located in, and most Barcelonians are very proud of any and everything Catalan. I had never heard of Gaudi before arriving in Spain, but I have come to really enjoy his designs and architecture in general. Never thought I would say that. The morning started off a little rushed, and we had a little mishap with the tour reservations, but despite the craziness, it was so good to see Megan and meet her friend Mallory. Our tour guide was a cute little woman who made the history of the buildings entertaining to listen to. Our first stop was Palau Guell which was probably the least impressive, at least from the outside.

380

Megan and I in front of Casa Mila on our tour.

We didn’t get to go inside any of the buildings, but I had gotten the opportunity to tour Casa Batllo for free earlier that week and really enjoyed it. Our next stops included Casa Batllo,  Casa Mila, and Sagrada Familia. I had seen all of them in passing, but I really did enjoy hearing more about each. It was also kind of fun to know the answers to some of the tour guide’s questions. The best part of the tour though was the company. Talking to our fellow WKU students about our different travels, where we were staying, what we did during the week, and our opinions on life in Europe was so refreshing! My mom and Megan’s mom have been friends for a very long time. They both have a tendency to take as many pictures as possible and they used to scrapbook together. We joked about how both of our mom’s had reminded us to take lots of pictures and that we did.

384

Sagrada Familia.

Our tour finished at Sagrada Familia, and we talked about going inside but the line was too long. The cathedral was awe-inspiring despite the fact that it is 20-30 years away from completion. Scenes from the nativity, crucifixion, and resurrection are found all over the facades, and the bell towers are overwhelmingly tall. Our guide had given us direction to Park Guell which had been on the top of my list to experience. Megan and Mallory were meeting their other friends in two hours, so we decided to go explore the famous park. I was so glad it didn’t disappoint! Months before I came to Spain, I had a countdown on my phone with a picture from Park Guell as the background, and I ended up taking almost the exact same picture. We also figured out that part of the Disney Channel movie, Cheetah Girls 2, was filmed there. Sadly, that may have contributed to our excitement. The curvy benches with colorful mosaics overlooking Barcelona were so pretty and unique. After taking our fair share of pictures and posing like the Cheetah Girls, we went down to a different part of the park where I found out later was the site of the final fashion show of America’s Next Top Model Cycle 7. We also saw the famous entrance with the mosaic lizard. When we finished, we found our way back to the metro and parted ways. I’m so glad Megan and I got to meet up!

397

Channeling our inner Cheetah Girl.

406

The walkway where America’s Next Top Model was filmed.

Next, Kira and I decided to check out a neighborhood that I had visited with my host mom on my first day in Barcelona. We had a hard time finding something to eat, but we did happen to come upon the one store I wanted to return to. I love being able to navigate and find my way around these big cities. I think it’s part of my competitiveness because I see it as a puzzle I have to figure out. The shop had lots of knick knacks, soaps, scarves, jewelry, and books. I bought a mandala book which is made up of pictures with circular symmetry and symbolism. I thought it would be neat to make copies of the pictures and have them available for my future classes to color during down time because I remember loving to color similar pictures when I was young. The book I bought was inspired by the Sagrada Familia and written by a friend of Brittany’s host mom, so I thought it would be a practical but meaningful souvenir for myself. After running a few more errands in Placa Catalunya, I headed back home. Patricia’s best friend, husband, and 4 month old baby girl came over for dinner, and I got to hold Emma for quite a while. They had been living in Boston for two years, so it was fun to talk to them about the U.S. For dinner, we had finger foods like tomato bread with different sauces and meats, olives, artichokes, and small sausages. After dinner, we had truffles, wafer-like tubes, and drinks. WKU’s last football game started at 10 pm my time, so I had the live feed updating on my Sports Center app. We were up by a touchdown when I fell asleep at halftime and dreamed of bowl games. Not really, but when I woke up on Sunday, the first thing I looked at was my phone to check the football score. Thankfully I saw good news from several texts saying that we scored with 10 seconds left to finish the season 8-4. Getting to sleep in until 10 and waking up to that news started my Sunday off right! I ate breakfast with the family, and they shared the plans for the day. Patricia had a meeting later in the day and needed a

036

A perfect day to walk along the Mediterranean.

couple of hours to prepare. So, Alejandra stayed with her, and the rest of us went to the beach. This city seriously has everything! We really lucked out because it was one of the warmest days since I’ve been here. It was about 60 degrees and sunny, so I was comfortable in a t-shirt, fleece jacket, and jeans. We also lucked out on a parking spot near the sea and walked down a pier with restaurants to the beach. There were a ton of sailboats docked and quite a few people playing volleyball in the sand. The waves were huge! Much taller than Florida, and we even saw some surfers. We had a pleasant walk along the sea then headed home for lunch. We had to stop and get the staples…bread and Fanta too. I had another delicious meal of noodles and shrimp, bread, and olives with the family and Patricia’s sister. Throughout the afternoon, I worked on uploading, organizing, and posting my pictures.

412

The boys and I

I also helped Alejandra complete a 3D globe puzzle. After the family went to mass, I Facetimed my family. I wanted the two families to meet, so I sat in the living room. It was hilarious to hear my mom say, “hola” in her southern accent, and Patricia said she couldn’t understand anything my Dad said. They all seemed to have a hard time understanding each other, but I was just glad they got to meet. Hopefully one day it will be face to face! The weekend was filled with so many moments that I know will be fond memories when I return home. I finish out my time at Santa Isabel with a four-day week because Friday is Constitution Day. Saturday I leave for Rome, and Tuesday I will be back in the Bluegrass!

 

 

My Spanglish Thanksgiving

What a strange feeling to wake up and go about a normal day when you know everyone is celebrating in the U.S. The people of Santa Isabel were so kind and thoughtful to make our day special though. All classes started the day with a special Thanksgiving prayer, and some classes devoted entire periods to learning about the holiday.

My first class was with the first grade girls, so I just briefly shared how I celebrate, but the fifth grade girls were so sweet! They had decorated the chalkboard with hearts and wrote, “happy thanks giving” haha! They all shouted it when I came in and were really well-behaved while I taught. I had printed some fill-in-the-blank worksheets on the first Thanksgiving and how we celebrate today. The day before, I had taped the different answers to the bottoms of their chairs, so I had them find their slip of paper. We worked through the history sheet first and they seemed to be paying attention. I think it helped keep them engaged because they were checking to see if their word fit. Before the 2nd worksheet, we watched a clip of last year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving parade I found online and ate popcorn that the homeroom teacher brought as an American treat. The girls seemed pretty fascinated, so we discussed more about how I celebrate the holiday and worked through the second worksheet. As our final activity, I gave them a paper with a Thanksgiving themed border, so they could write down what they were thankful for. Miss. Mary and I shared some examples of what we would say and a couple of the girls wrote down some really nice thoughts. I really enjoyed that class!

Then it was lunchtime and bless the chef’s heart…he tried to give us a taste of Thanksgiving. We had turkey (the first I’ve seen since I’ve been in Europe), sliced potatoes, a vegetable casserole kind of dish, interesting looking gravy, squid rings (tricky little things because they look like onion rings), and rice pudding. The teachers were so kind to us and they really tried. It kind of made me miss home more, so I was a little down after lunch. The sweet 1st graders cheered me up with their hugs and antics though.

I tried to avoid social media as much a I could so that I wouldn’t get too homesick, but after school, I talked to a few friends and checked in with my family. It truly does make you appreciate something so much more when you are away than when it’s right in front of you. My sweet host family had made plans to have dinner with two other families that were hosting WKU students, so I also spent the afternoon watching Patricia prepare the dishes she was bringing. She made one of my favorites which is beef tenderloin with an olive oil and onion sauce, so I was already looking forward to dinner.

The host moms really outdid themselves! I walked into the house to a crowded kitchen of familiar faces and into the living room where I sat down with the other Americans to snack on chips and olives before dinner. There was an adult table and a kid table both set with beautiful dishes and crafted napkin holders. The family had already decorated for Christmas and everything was so homey that I really did feel like I was at a Thanksgiving celebration. I was just with a different set of family and friends.

As we sat down for dinner, the parents asked if we said anything or prayed anything special. Sarah explained how some families go around the table and say what they are thankful for. They liked the idea, so the kids and Americans all shared. It was nice to have the opportunity to thank our hosts families for everything, and I think they enjoyed learning about our holiday. It might not have been a southern Thanksgiving meal with all the fixins, but it was the best substitute I could ask for. The table was full of dishes including shrimp cocktail, a Spanish omelet, salad, a tuna and tomato bread appetizer, a fig and bread appetizer, quiche lorraine, herb potatoes, and beef tenderloin. The conversations, food, and laughter were so heartwarming. It truly has been one of my favorite nights so far. We finished up the dinner with a delicious brownie cake and expresso.

We also got a small taste of Black Friday as the main shopping streets were having a late shopping night. It wasn’t the crazy rush for deals like in the U.S. But the stores did stay they open until 2 or 3am. The moms offered to take us out, so we headed to Passeig de Gracia. The atmosphere was very lively with lots of music and young people milling around. It seemed more like a party than a shopping event, so we kind of just took it all in and looked in a few stores. We were worn out from a full day of school, so we headed home around 1. This Thanksgiving was like none other and I am surprisingly grateful for that. I got to share the holiday with a new set of friends and family, and it only intensified my thankfulness for everything I have back home. Thank God from whom all blessings flow!

20131129-204813.jpg    20131129-211224.jpg

20131129-210724.jpg

Weekend #2

At 4:45am on Saturday morning, it was pretty surreal to wake up and know I would be in Paris soon. When the cab called at 5:20 to say he was downstairs, Kira and I had to book it, but we made it to the airport, through security, and to our gate smoothly with time to spare. I’m not going to lie, we were pretty proud of ourselves for making it that far! The Paris airport was a little different. I had directions to the hotel but we definitely needed some guidance. Luckily we found a nice worker that spoke English, and he showed us exactly what to do. When we got off the metro closest to our hotel, we got a little turned around but finally made it to our hotel and checked in. We went to a cafe down the street while our room was being prepared, and I had my first official Persian breakfast of a croissant, hot chocolate, and fresh orange juice.

20131127-224513.jpgAfter getting settled in our hotel, we headed to meet our friends at the Place de St. Michel for our walking tour. There was some miscommunication, and we never got to meet up with them though. Our tour led by Nancy, a British girl, consisted of us walking all over Paris for three and a half hours. Yes, it was long and cold but well worth it. We were able to see the highlights of Paris and hear what made them so special without having to navigate the city on our own.

First, we walked to the Seine River where we saw Notre Dame in the distance. We didn’t get a chance to go in, but I would like to if I ever come back to visit. We continued down the river and saw an old palace that was turned into a prison where Marie Antionette was detained. There were a few statues I can´t remember, and then we came to the lock bridge. It is said to bring good luck and eternal love to those who write their names on a lock, hook it on the bridge, kiss, and throw the key into the river. Unfortunately, the bridge was not made for this, so every 6-9 months the authorities chop some of the locks off and make room for more. It was a really cute bridge though and so interesting to see the variety of locks.

20131127-225433.jpgAs we continued on our tour, we stopped outside of the Louvre with the famous pyramid entrances. I would also like to go inside there one day. We walked through the gardens that are behind the Louvre and got to see a view of the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe. We finished our tour in that area, and Nancy pointed out a fountain that was featured in the movie “The Devil Wears Prada”. At this poin,t I started talking to a pair of Brazilian boys about American football and Peyton Manning, and I can’t tell you how happy it made me! Silly, I know, but actually talking to someone about football and not futbol was worth getting excited about.
Nancy also told us her Top 6 things she would do in Paris if she only had a weekend. One of them was a riverboat cruise which she conveniently had discounted tickets for. We liked the idea, so we bought them from her and headed to the port. We didn’t have time to eat dinner before so we picked up some drinks, Oreos, and chocolate that Kira recognized from her childhood in Germany for the ride. We were worn out and walked for almost an hour to find the port. Needless to say, I was so happy I could almost cry when we made it and had an amazing view of the Eiffel Tower. We managed to get good seats and enjoyed taking pictures as we ate our snacks. It was really neat to see some of the same buildings from the river and the bridges were beautiful. Getting to sit down wasn´t so bad either!

20131127-225520.jpg 20131127-225721.jpg   20131127-225545.jpg

As our cruise ended, we began talking to a group of German boys who told us about a Christmas market on the Champs Elysees. Kira had been telling me about these since we were in class together last semester, so we had to visit. The boys offered to show us where it was, so we decided to go and finally get some dinner there. It was so neat and surprisingly a sweet taste of back home. There were lights, lots of vendors, and American Christmas music. It made my heart so happy to hear Bing Crosby´s voice floating through the air! We walked around for awhile, tried Gluhwin (a mulled wine from Germany) and ate some french fries. Before we headed back to the hotel, we stopped to sit at a bus stop bench right across from the Arc de Triomphe. It was a perfect ending to our one night in Paris.

Sunday, Kira and I both woke up with terrible colds. I guess that´s what you get when you stay up for almost 24 hours and roam Paris all day in the cold. Oh well, it was worth it. Our big plans for the day were to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower, but first we stopped for breakfast. The three things I wanted to eat in Paris where a croissant, french fries, and a crepe, so to round out my trio, I had a delicious nutella and bananna crepe. As we walked leisurely to the Eiffel Tower, we bought postcards and took pictures. I´m trying to buy postcards for all the important places I visit to include in the scrapbook my mom and I are going to make of this experience. Tickets had been sold out online, but we lucked out and only had to wait an hour in line to go up in the tower. I got a little jittery as our elevator kept climbing and climbing up the sky. Once we got out onto the top floor though, I was awe-struck. I could see so far that it felt like I was looking out of an airplane. The craziest thing to think about was that it was built to be a temporary structure. We took our obligatory pictures with the Red Towel and of the landscape then headed back down.

     20131127-225647.jpg     20131127-225753.jpg

Our final plans for the day were to spend time shopping and eating lunch in the Montemarte district. We had been told that this area was quieter and had more of a village feel and that it did. We didn´t have any recommendations other than the district, so I picked a metro spot that looked close to some of the featured buildings. We didn´t feel very comfortable there, so we took the next one on the line and found a quaint little square that was much more what we had envisioned. We found a cute and cheap bakery/cafe where I got a tomato and cheese stuffed bread and Kira got a baguette sandwich. As we sat on a bench eating lunch, we noticed a lot of people going into a courtyard across from us, so we wandered inside. There we found a wall where the phrase, “I love you” was written in hundreds of lanugages. It was a cute little surprise for us, and afterwards, we just roamed the streets and browsed some of the shops. I wanted to buy something unique and special from Paris for myself and my sister, but nothing really jumped out at me. More money to spend in Barcelona I guess!

After a full day and a half in Paris it was time to say, “Au revoir Paris”. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to see Paris, and I really enjoyed my short time there. However, I was incredibly happy to back in Barcelona and to see the Toscas. I´m so very thankful that I am so comfortable here, and I am really hoping to make the most of the 12 days I have left!

Here’s a quick look at what I see every day teaching at Santa Isabel. This is one of the first grade classrooms I am working in. It is typical of the other primary grade classes and pretty similar to our classrooms in the US. However, there are some key differences.

102104105

 

 

 

 

 

The pictures below show some of the biggest differences between American classrooms and Spanish classrooms. First, the students keep their backpacks on their chairs and hang their coats and smocks on their hook. Smocks are the little blue pinstriped jackets that the girls wear while at school so they don’t get their uniforms as dirty. Another difference would be that each student has a pencil case where they keep their own set of pencils, erasers, glue, scissors, pencil sharpeners, colored pencils or crayons. The teacher only has 2-3 spares if a student forgets their pencil case. On Friday, the students are expected to take their pencil case home and sharpen the pencils or replace any of the supplies. The use of a blackboard, small whiteboard, and overhead projector is also different from America where most classrooms have smart boards. The use of technology in the classroom is minimal with only one or two computers in each room. Student use of technology is also infrequent because one computer lab is shared by the 1st-6th grades.

IMG_2367 photo (4)

Similar to our recess, the students get a snack and time to play outside on the patio each day for thirty minutes. One or two teachers monitor the area while the students eat, play soccer, jump rope, play hand games, draw, color, and sit and talk.

IMG_2362     IMG_2363

And this is the wonderful teacher that I am working alongside, Miss Mary. We have been studying healthy and unhealthy habits in science the past two weeks, so we all made self-portraits of ourselves doing a healthy activity. I am so thankful to have the opportunity to teach and collaborate in her classroom. She is so patient and kind with the girls. It is very evident how much she cares for her students with the creative lessons she plans and the kindness she show towards them. These are the qualities that a good teacher in any country possesses and the qualities that I want my students to see in me.

IMG_2379

Weekend #1

20131121-200036.jpg    20131121-195944.jpg

Despite the rain, my first weekend in Barcelona was full of sightseeing. Santa Isabel day was very exciting but exhausting, so I spent most of Friday night relaxing. I did go with Nacho and Inaki to watch Guillermo’s futbol game which was fun to see him in action. Some of us girls had big plans to go on a walking tour of Gaudi’s (a famous modernist architect) buildings and explore Las Ramblas, but we woke up to a nice thunderstorm. So, we decided against the tour, but we did not want to waste a free Saturday in Barcelona. The seven of us decided to brave the rain anyway, and it turned out to be a great day. Our first stop was the well-known La Boqueria which is a beautiful fresh air market with any and every food you could think of. Fresh produce, meat, candy, nuts, spices, crepes, and natural juices were yours for the choosing. I bought a cup of all natural blackberry and raspberry juice for 1 euro and it was delicious! Three of the girls bought a nutella and banana crepe, but I’m waiting for Paris to get my share of crepes.

Next, we happened upon Placa Reial which is a lovely square with a fountain in the middle. We stopped for cheap postcards then found a restaurant that one of the host Mom’s had recommended. Bosc de les Fades was a neat café with a nature-like décor. Artificial trees, wood, and dark lighting gave the restaurant a different ambiance. After lunch, we made out way to the Port where we took pictures by the boats and the Christopher Columbus statue. From there we took the metro to Les Arenas, an old bullfighting stadium that was renovated into a shopping mall. The roof was accessible to the public and had a nice view. I came home to a dinner of pizza (I passed on the pizza with anchovies) and Coke Zero. A Saturday night of pizza and TV didn’t seem too different from home.

Luckily, the rain let up some on Sunday. I slept in until almost 10am, and Patricia made plans with another family that my friend, Brittany, is staying with. All 8 of us piled into the van and drove to the Montjuic mountain area. The Olympic Games were held in Barcelona in 1992, so we stopped at the Olympic park and Guille and I took a picture inside the stadium. It wasn’t as big as I expected, but of course, anything to do with sports is interesting to me. Next, we drove to the top of the mountain walked to Castell de Montjuic. The castle was built in the 1700s for defense against sea attacks. From the castle, you can see the Mediterranean to the east and the entire city of Barcelona. It was breathtaking! The city seemed enormous from up there.

We got some good pictures then headed back home for lunch. We had a wonderful steak dish with onions and rice. My goal is to be able to make at least one of their traditional dishes when I get home. We talked about how different the diets of people in Spain and the US are. I will probably be on a health kick when I get home! Later that night, the boys minus Pablo and I went to Nacho’s sister’s house to celebrate his nephew’s 16th birthday. The family was wonderfully welcoming and you would think Americans lived in their apartment the way it was decorated. Also, my family’s clothes are not that different from home. I was offered cake which I graciously accepted. The yellow cake with chocolate ganache between the layers and sprinkles on top was mouth-watering. When I left, one of the older family members kissed me on the cheek like all Europeans do and told me I was guapa haha! I really enjoyed spending time there even if I couldn’t understand everything that was said. It reminded me of being at my grandparents’ house. The weekend was a perfect balance of tourism and the local lifestyle. Saturday, I’m off to Paris!

20131121-195924.jpg    20131121-200007.jpg

Field Trips: Barcelona, Spain vs. Bowling Green, Kentucky

When I met Miss. Mary for the first time at the welcome reception, she told me that all of the first grade classes would be taking a field trip. Of course, I was excited to hear that, and she explained that it would be a very simple outing where the kids would take a snack to a local park. I was able to go on three different field trips during my student teaching in the United States, so I was looking forward to comparing the experiences. They were definitely different experiences.

1. Transportation:

Barcelona – Approximately 120 1st graders and 8 teachers walked half a mile through a metropolitan city.

Bowling Green – Students and teachers rode buses through a suburban city.

2. Chaperones:

Barcelona – Teachers only

Bowling Green – Teachers and parents

3. Snacks:  

Barcelona – Each student brought a large portion of a healthy snack such as figs, nuts, strawberries, kiwi, sweet potatoes, grapes, etc. When we arrived at the park the students were instructed to sit in a circle and start eating their snack. Five minutes later they were told to stand up , walk around, and offer their snack to the other students. They were told to “be generous”. For about 15-20 minutes the students walked around and shared snacks with each other and many offered for me to try theirs, which I did.

Bowling Green – When I went to Jackson’s Orchard with the kindergarten class, we gave each student one sugar cookie and an apple slush. The students were told not to touch anyone else’s food. We sat at a picnic table with napkins, and the students were not allowed to get up until most of the them had finished.

4. Activities:

Barcelona – The students only ate a snack and played in the park.

Bowling Green – On the kindergarten field trip we went to Jackson’s Orchard where the students picked pumpkins, went on a hay ride, picked out apples, watched a video about how apple cider is made, and played in the play area at the orchard. They also ate lunch and played at a local park.

Image

The first graders enjoying their free play time at the park.

5. Rules at the Park:

Barcelona – The students were simply told to stay within a defined area.

Bowling Green – Students were reminded to follow the same rules for the school playground. Some of those rules were don’t throw mulch, don’t climb up the slide, only one person goes down the slide at a time, and do not push or hit the other students.

I would say the biggest difference between the two different cultures was the teacher’s expectations of the students while on the field trip. In America, we are very concerned with communicating how we want the students to behave. We try to address any issues that could arise before they happen. In Spain, it is pretty much the complete opposite. They accept that the children will be loud and energetic. They don’t try to suppress the children and basically deal with the class behaving however they want to. It is really interesting to see the different philosophies of classroom management and how the two cultures handle the same activities or issues differently. I can definitely see how understanding these differences could help me teach students from other cultures in America.

Image

Walking through the park to head back to school.