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A Week's Vacation in Three Parts: Asturias

The trip started, as most do, with a car, a contract, and a discussion on whether or not we should pay for a prepaid tank of gas.  But I’ll fast forward through those nitty-gritties. On the road we went. Destination? Oviedo. Asturias would be our first stop.

The way there felt like we were rolling through that ride at Disney where you pass through different movie sets, except we rolled through seasons.  One second we were winding between snow-covered mountains, the next we were among the greenest hills I’d ever seen. Probably one of my favorite observations from the trip was that you’ll be on the highway and the speed limit will be 120 km/h, then it’ll be 90 km/h, eventually getting to 30 km/h when you go through a town.  These towns consist of a 1 to 2-minute stretch of highway (one lane, each direction) and on the mountain side of the road there’s a pharmacy, a bar, and laundry hanging out the window of homes. The other side is a drop down (I didn’t look). Before you know it, the town name is on a rectangular white sign with a diagonal red line through it signaling “you are now leaving” whatever town it was.  The speed limit jumps back up. We’d do this dance many times along the way.

We made only one stop on the way, to purchase jamón chips, of course, so we got to Oviedo just when the sun was setting around 8:30pm.  I’d picked this particular place to stay because it had beautiful views of the city. I’ve learned that if a place has beautiful views, that usually means the drive to get to it requires going up steep hills often with twisties.  Also picked it for the breakfast the next day. The room had a view and it was breathtaking. At night we could see the town lit up like the reflection of stars in a tiny pond between the mountains.

By 10:15pm we were seated at Tierra de Astur, recommended to us by the hotel and a popular spot on Calle Gascona--the street of cider.  This is where the major sidrerias are. Once you order your 3€ bottle of cider, the waiter will perform the pour. Proper pour position is: bottle is lifted above head, arm straight up in the air, eyes looking straight ahead, not up at bottle, glass is held in other hand below waist, that arm is pointing downward, commence pour.  Beware of some drizzle on your ankles! No one says that, but now I’ve told you.

Along with our yummy cider, we wanted to have fabada--the special Asturian stew of fava beans and Spanish meats.  They were out of it! So we had a similar stew instead, with cabbage. It was delish. The chorizo was amazing and having the bread to sop up every last bit was a life-saver.  Oh my goodness, I skipped perhaps the best part of the meal. We started with a wonderful cheese--Rey Silo. It arrived beautifully laid out on a block of wood with some quince (sweet) paste and apple slices.  I loved the cheese so much, I wrote down its name in my phone. It forced me to create a memo on my phone devoted to “Cheeses We Like.”

We finished off the meal with what the waiter suggested as a typical Asturian dessert: leche frita (fried milk).  It came cinnamon-sugared-up in a bed of tasty creamy yellow liquid.  Inside the fried exterior was a soft milky interior. All of this for 25€ people, get going!

The next morning we had breakfast in a room with windows for walls showing the beautiful views of the city.  At times it felt like we were looking at a green screen. It was hard to yank ourselves away, but we managed to do so and headed out to see some of Oviedo in the daytime.  We had to hustle because our next stop for the night was in Pembes--about 112 miles away. And we needed to stop in Gijón, Covadonga, and somewhere in the Cabrales region for a cheese tasting.  

We made a point of looking for Mafalda in Oviedo and we found her on a bench in a park!  After a solid photoshoot, we walked around. There were Botero statues, rainbow-painted benches, and a long line outside of Starbucks because they were handing out cups for a free drink.  We purchased 2 disposable cameras and headed for Gijón.

In Gijón we walked along the beach for a bit, took some pics with the established photo-op--Gijón in red letters on the waterfront--and got back in the car to go to Covadonga.  Along the way we pulled over for souvenirs. How could I not stop, it was a giant building filled with souvenirs. I left without a purchase and regret.

In Covadonga we circled around and around the same small area ready to pounce on a parking spot.  A giant waterfall jutting out of an imposing mountain cascaded into a tiny reservoir. People were walking up the side of it to go into a cave that housed a chapel and shelves of candles.  We would do the same.

If this post sounds a little packed, I’d like to tell you that the trip was more than a little packed, to the point where it’s hard to recall what was done on which day.  I’m getting stressed just writing about it. But I’m also grateful.

After Covadonga, we called a cheese factory to see if they were open for tours.  Luckily they were. I haven’t been that close to real cows perhaps ever. We even watched them get milked by a machine!  And we saw a baby calf. The tour finished with some samples. Queso de cabrales is not for the faint of heart, I’ll leave it at that.  

Leaving the cheese factory, I was struck by how peaceful it felt to be standing in the middle of fields and mountains.  My city-self is not always at ease in the midst of wide open spaces. But here, I breathed it in. And how wonderful it was.  Asturias.

Stepping Out of the Book!

So, I have spent the school year living with Raquel - possibly the coolest teacher ever.  She is funny and brilliant and inspiring... This year Raquel is teaching 1st grade at the school I am at and, even though I do not have the chance to be in her classroom, I have gotten the chance to witness her ideas in action as I work with the other 1st grade class and see the various projects that the students get to take home every couple of weeks.   

You see, the 1st graders don’t have books for their subjects.  Instead, the teachers create worksheets, arts and crafts, and the like that are turned into lapbooks.  These lapbooks include all the information that the students would find in their books (if they had them) but present the information in a much more engaging and hands-on manner.  

After seeing how great the lapbooks always seem to look and the pride the 1st grade students take in the work that they completed, I decided to take some initiative and see if it might be possible to try a similar idea with the 2nd graders.  Therefore, after returning from Semana Santa, I talked with the teacher I work with, I borrowed the Teacher’s edition of the 2nd grade Natural Science book and began looking through the unit that we were beginning - all about "How my body moves".  I went through the various pages, looking at the sections of our body, the bones in our body, the way our muscles work, our joints, and how we care for and protect our body.

It took a couple hours to find all the things I wanted in order to include all the information and present it in a fun way but, in the end, I am happy with how it turned out!  While I may not always be able to take the time to prepare lapbooks for every subject and every unit, I hope that the students will benefit from the break from the book.  I know that I have!

-Stephanie
(Ex 33:14)

  

 

A Spain I Call Home

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“Ellen, guapa! Qué tal? Cómo fue tu viaje?”

Walking through the front door to CEIP San Fernando the first day back from Semana Santa, I was instantly greeted by these welcoming words and kisses on both cheeks from Rosa, the physical education teacher. A spirited woman and just about the friendliest person on the planet, Rosa is part of the reason I feel like I can call Spain a home.

When I made the decision to move to Madrid for Teach Abroad, I was extremely grateful and excited beyond measure. Two of my lifelong dreams have always been to 1) live in a foreign country and 2) become fluent in Spanish. So basically, this was the best decision I could ever make.

My first couple of months in Madrid were indeed a dream come true. I spent my spare time wandering down cobblestone streets, admiring gorgeous architecture, meandering through parks, visiting ancient ruins, and pinching myself to make sure that everything was real.

As incredibly happy as I was, however, it didn’t take long to feel just how far away I was from my amazing network of friends and family. Having moved to a new continent on my own, I hadn’t yet developed a new network of people, and so there were many moments when I missed the simple things: movie nights, family dinners, and just having people to sit around and do nothing with.

Don’t get me wrong, there was not a single instant when I regretted my decision to move. From the moment I arrived in Spain I felt perfectly comfortable, but being so far from my support system in the U.S. made me realize that for Spain to truly be a home, I needed to establish deeper roots.

Oddly enough, giving private English classes ended up providing me with a major sense of belonging. I happily agreed when two of the teachers at my school, Rosa and Laura, asked me to give joint private lessons to their fifteen-year-old daughters, thinking that the extra cash would be great. Little did I know, the personal relationships I would develop with those two teachers was the best form of payment.

Rosa and Laura take turns driving me to one of their houses, feeding me snacks, and kindly bringing me to the train station after the lessons are over. It has been incredible seeing how close the two families are and getting a direct glimpse into Spanish culture. It has been even more amazing how they’ve so effortlessly invited into their world to experience it for myself.

Rosa and Laura stay up to date on my life, always asking me about my travel plans and checking in with me whenever I’ve been sick. Their warmth and caring always brightens up my day and has helped integrate me into the community of the other teachers at my school. Not to mention, my Spanish has improved tremendously throughout all my conversations with them.

Now being seven months into the program, I’ve built up my much-needed support system of friends from both the U.S. and all over the world. But it’s Rosa and Laura that make me feel to connected to Spain and its wonderful culture, and for that I am so grateful.




#20

MY 20th POST!!!!!  As my blog-journey turns 20 posts old, my teaching journey turns just over 6 months old/young.  Half a year! If I had one of those photo albums dedicated to “my new baby” (teaching baby, that is), well, the thing would be filled and I’d have to buy a new one.  I’m pretty sure I’ve taken at least 3,000 photos since arriving. At least. And I gotta say, I feel more confident as a teacher than ever.

This one class that I used to dread going to has been such a learning experience.  I realized that I was imagining the students to be worse than they actually are. They’re 1º ESO for cryin’ out loud!  Babies! If I go to class already feeling resistant to it, then it’s not gonna go well for anybody. Instead I’ve loosened up, and it’s felt much better.  I have fun with them and take advantage of my position as an assistant, dabbling in discipline when I feel it’s extremely necessary.

This week a teacher prepared an activity for me to lead in that class.  I read through pages of a textbook while the students listened and tried to fill in sentences with words missing.  I took the opportunity to practice public speaking: projecting, standing still, enunciating, taking my time. As someone who’s always had stage fright, I felt strong.  Like I said to my older students the other day, if you’re a shy speaker or a bit soft around the edges, boy, will middle-schoolers whip you into SHAPE. If they smell the slightest bit of weakness on you, you’re done for.  They’re like sharks: one whiff of blood… Unlike sharks (culturally speaking), they can be sweet and they’re still in such an in-between period of life. They may very well be obnoxious sometimes, but that can be molded. Thankfully they’re not already cynical adults stuck in their ways.

Speaking of public speaking, I’m coaching a team of five 1º Bachillerato students for a debate competition in June.  I had an epiphany the other day that a lot of the work I’ve done with writing is applicable to speaking debate-style.  I was given a handout that explains the organization of the debate (introduction, rebuttals, etc.) and realized that the emphasis on how to structure spoken arguments is not that different from structuring written ones.  When introducing a point, it helps to illustrate it with examples from real life--just like backing up a claim with evidence in an essay.

I thought of the debate training, though, because it is yet another chance for me to work on speaking skills--confident speaking skills.  When I explained to the students that they’ll need to pay attention to their body language, tone, volume, eye contact, clarity, I was practicing all of those techniques myself.  I whispered and shouted, raised my voice at one point and lowered it at another, stared at a student (to show what not to do)... One of my favorite things to do in classes is perform body language that is ineffective: leaning against the wall, playing with hair, laughing at a co-presenter.  After this, they really get the picture (for the most part...undoubtedly some students will continue these habits).

If you’re reading this, future auxiliar, just know that there’s a plethora of opportunities to learn and grow beyond how to be teacherly.  Whatever profession you end up in, these skills will be of the essence. You’ll need them at the very least for job interviews! The other stuff, like letting go of a resistance you may have based upon something imagined, applies to everything.  

Packing for Winter in Madrid

When I made the decision to move across the Atlantic ocean to Spain, there were some things I knew I would miss, like large breakfasts, bagels, and Target. But there were also a lot of things I was looking forward to leaving behind, such as rain, snow and freezing temperatures.

Unfortunately, it turns out my perception of Spain as a sunny vacation destination was slightly exaggerated. While summer may be swelteringly hot, it does not last all year and its residents are not exempt from braving through other kinds of weather conditions.

Not only have I been caught out in the rain more times than I’d like, but there have been a couple of occasions when I simply stared up at the sky in shock as white, fluffy flakes of snow came falling down. I’ve woken up on countless December, January, and February mornings to freezing temperatures, and spent a lot of time next to a radiator trying to warm up by numb fingers and toes.

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So, if you’re planning on living in Spain anytime from November through March, here’s a list of essentials to bring:

  • Umbrella
  • Rain jacket
  • Rain boots (or waterproof shoes)
  • Winter jacket
  • Earmuffs, scarf, and/or hat
  • Thick socks
  • Long-sleeve shirts
  • Sweaters/cardigans

Of course, don’t let my melodrama scare you away! A Spanish winter is still one million times better than a New England one. There’s no need for heavy snow boots and on average temperatures are much, much warmer. I’d take that over being buried in several inches of snow any day of the year.

Jamón Chips

We need to talk about jamón chips.  Jamón potato chips. Jamón-flavored potato chips.  They are heavenly. They are so weird, but you don’t even think about that because they are so delicious.  They are salty, but not too salty (while you’re eating them) to the point where you’re wondering why they’re so salty and what preservatives and flavoring methods have been used.  No. No, no, no. Ruffles jamón chips are deliciousness in a purplish-maroon bag.

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Image from https://www.pepsico.es/brands/information/products/ruffles/08410199008329

Everyone here eats them.  Well, maybe not everyone, but at least some people in every sociologically-determined group eats jamón chips.  My point is that they’re just not local fanfare for tourists. Everyone here knows jamón is a big deal. You can have it serrano-style, ibérico-style, York-style, the list goes on.  You can have it on sandwiches, in crepes, on eggs, on a box, on a fox, in a house, with green eggs and ham, I say! It’s one of the symbols of the city/country. Museo del Jamón is a temple for locals and tourists alike; cheap bocadillos of jamón (and other specialty meats) abound along with cañas of beer.  If you haven’t seen legs of jamón hanging from some type of surface, you may as well erase Madrid from your list of “Cities I’ve Visited.”  BUT, if you have tried a jamón chips, feel free to write that one back in.

Crunchy, crispy, jamón chips can be purchased in bags of all sizes.  For as little as 60-cents for a small “individual-sized” bag—do not be fooled, these are not sufficient for one person—and as much as probably no more than €1.50 for a “large” bag.  That large one may satisfy two people, but I’d buy another just to be prepared. And buy some more for your trip home! And some more for your family members anxiously awaiting souvenirs!  And then maybe some for your coworkers! And heck, why not a lifetime supply to always snack on!

I’ve never seen them in the U.S, and this concerns me.  I’m sure I will deeply miss jamón chips. They satisfy a savory craving unlike any other.  For now, I will focus on the fact that they are right at my fingertips (and then lingering on them until the ceremonial hand-washing occurs—this would ideally take place after the ceremonial hand-licking, and yes, your entire hand, because crumbs will accumulate all over as you reach in for these treasures).  

Just be sure to have a glass of water nearby when you decide to indulge.

Spain-glish

For this week’s post I’m just going to briefly touch on something I’ve been thinking about for a while here:  the omnipresence of English. No, no, I don’t mean tourists or expats speaking in English. I mean the integration of the language into daily Spanish life.  Every week I pass yet another advertisement or sign of some sort that uses English.

What strikes me the most is the fact that the opposite does not seem to occur in New York.  In some neighborhoods it does. For example, in Washington Heights there are ads translated into Spanish because the predominant community there speaks Spanish.  One of my favorites is a New York Lottery ad at a bus stop that I cannot find a picture of, unfortunately.


But what’s different is that these ads exist in English and are translated to specifically target Spanish-speaking communities.  Here, neighborhood differences don’t seem to determine whether or not there’s an ad in English or with an English word. Check out how in this ad for an upcoming production of Young Frankenstein the whole thing is in Spanish except for that word “casting” thrown in there.  It’s located near the Royal Palace.

 

 

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Or how in the window of this glasses shop they’re advertising “New Sun Collection” -- and this one’s not even close to the city-center.

 

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This is one of my favorites.  It doesn’t really count because it’s the name of a store, but I have to share it.  Reader, meet Aristocrazy.

 

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This use of English is the kind that has a match in the States.  One widespread use of Spanish in the U.S. is Rafael Nadal’s Nike/clothing line.  “Vamos, Rafa” is on hats, t-shirts, etc. But here, “Ready?” is at the bottom of advertisements for major internet-provider and phone network Vodafone.  These ads extend beyond the city of Madrid into the outer-cities of the province of Madrid. They are on billboards and bus stops.


So many English words have been adopted into Spanish, and this brings me to the next major area of English-incorporation:  speaking. Often you can hear native Spanish-speakers refer to “un show” or “un text” or “un email,” “un brunch,” etc.  Sometimes English words have been translated into a similar Spanish version.  “To troll” is trolear, “to Google” is googlear, but often one will hear English words as they are.

Moral of the story?  I’m not quite sure. The dominance of English sparks a lot of thought.  I’m fascinated when I witness two people from different European countries here communicating in English; it’s the go-to, default language.  It’s clear that I’m lucky to have it as my native tongue. Funny, though, how I wish I had experienced Spanish from a young age the way people here experience English.  

Uno, Dos, Tres: Stepping into Salsa

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Uno, dos, tres; cinco, seis, siete….

They say that it’s good to try new things, but that’s just not something I’ve ever been good at. I am a creature of habit who loves routine and hates change.

So when I think about it, it’s actually very strange that I have a passion for travel. Going to new places where everything - culture, language, food, you name it - is different inherently catapults me into the realm of change and trying new things.

Lucky for me, living abroad has made me less afraid to embrace change. Wanting to truly feel like a part of another country inspires me to break out of my comfort zone. I’ve now reached a point where I’m not only accepting new things, I’m seeking them out.

Salsa dancing has always been on my list of things I wish I could do, but something has always stopped me from trying it. From not having time for lessons to not being coordinated enough, I expertly pushed off going for it with excuse after excuse.

That is, until I moved to Spain. My new adventurous spirit took over and signed me up for Salsa Cubana classes.

My heart was pounding at the start of my first lesson, but as the rhythmic steps gave me something to focus on, my nerves were completely forgotten. Uno, dos, tres, I was whirling across the dance floor, spinning and turning with pure joy; cinco, seis, siete, my whole mind, heart, body, and soul were connected and living in this happy moment. I was salsa dancing!

I’ve walked out of each class with cheeks glowing from the warmth of exercise and heart glowing with a sense of pride and accomplishment. While I may only know very basic salsa steps as of now, I’ve taken a giant step in the direction of personal growth. I can confirm that it’s true what they say - trying new things is a very good thing. So go for it!

Lessons

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As I’m about to enter my last full week of teaching abroad I am still at a lost for words as to what I should say about my time so far. Obviously, spending three months immersed in a entirely different culture has felt as if I just stepped out of my life for a little bit with the hopes that whatever happens would help me discover more about myself. Although expected, I have experienced challenges every day working as as an English teacher, ranging from controlling a class of 20+ 13-year-olds who don’t speak the same language as me to understanding the dynamics among teachers and students. With the latter I am referring to the culture shock of a rural school where there is such a familiarity among students and teachers to the point where, to me, the way students behave can come off as openly disrespectful. However, I have been learning these past couple of months that, instead of judging everything that is different, I need to contextualize that yes, I am in a new culture that I can’t reconcile everything. Sometimes you have to use what’s new as tools for better understanding where you come from and how you can apply these differences to future experiences. Therefore I think it is best to reflect on what I have learned from my time in rural Spain in a holistic context. With that I mean considering all my experiences, not just teaching, because inevitably they all have and continue to shape me. So here I go…

Take time for yourself (aka siestas are good for you). Yes, I am taking advantage of the afternoon “break time” embedded in Spanish culture. This essentially means that in the afternoons it is common for people to not work, go home and relax (sometimes nap) for a few hours and then go back to work at night. This is perfect to avoid over-working and to keep yourself grounded instead of feeling exhausted all day, especially as I go back to being a Dartmouth student.

Time and money don’t mean everything - never stare at your watch and never base your priorities in life solely on money. At the end it’s the people and places who you surround yourself with that matter more because they are still there for you when money isn’t.

Don’t ever be afraid to open your mind and go somewhere new. I have had many opportunities to travel, whether that be to large cities or even smaller villages than the one I am living in now and am glad I didn’t just chose to stick with what I know but to see new places and new ways of life. I think it is important for all of us to make an effort to do that in our lives because if we don’t we are just going to let our bubble of familiarity mark the rest of our lives.

Always go for dessert and that extra glass of wine. The way Spaniards eat here is a little different than in the U.S., with the main difference being that eating is very social to the point where people very rarely eat alone and that large meals can last more than 3 hours. People here eat and drink to enjoy life and those around them rather than counting calories. The concept of just going out to a bar or cafe to “tomar algo” with someone also signifies the importance placed on the people in life rather than things.

Words cannot describe the beauty in nature and we should always take time away from the busyness of life to appreciate tranquility. I am still not a nature person (partially thanks to being raised by parents from NYC) but having had the opportunity to live amongst the mountains and go on a few hikes and just think, I don’t believe there’s another way to feel at peace with the world, no matter what is going on in your life.

Always listen to kids. Not only do they have a lot to say but a lot of questions and insight into the world. I have enjoyed working with the kids in my high school and have actually learned so much from just taking the time to talk to them.

There is much more to communicating than by just with words. Being that my main struggle here has been with the language, I’ve learned to read people’s faces better and that tones and expressions sometimes matter more when talking to someone and that you should always be conscious of that.

The importance of community in one’s life, whether that be your family, close friends, people you work with and interact with everyday or those that make time for you (so make time for them too)

What it means to truly love

For this post, I tried writing a Spanish version on my own so please bear with the errors :)

Mientras estoy empezando mi última semana entera de ser profesora en el extranjero, todavía no sé las palabras que debo decir sobre mi tiempo aquí. Obviamente, porque estoy pasando tres meses metiéndome en lleno en una cultura distinta, sentí como si hubiera salido de mi vida por un rato con la esperanza de lo que pasaría me ayudaría descubrir más sobre quién soy. Aunque me los figuraba, experimentaba retos cada día trabajando de profesora de inglés, como manejando un clase de 20+ alumnos de la edad 13, quienes no hablan el mismo idioma que yo, y entendiendo los dinámicos entre profesores y alumnos. Con el último me refiero al choque cultural de un instituto rural donde hay tanta familiaridad entre alumnos y profesores hasta el punto que, en mi opinión, el comportamiento de los alumnos puede mostrar una falta de respeto. Sin embargo, en estos meses estoy aprendiendo que, en vez de juzgar a todo que me parece diferente, necesito contextualizar que si, estoy en una nueva cultura y por eso, no puedo reconciliar todo. A veces tienes que utilizar lo que es nuevo como herramientas para entender mejor a dónde eres y cómo puedes aplicar esas diferencias a tus experiencias en el futuro. Entonces, creo que es mejor reflejar en lo que he aprendido de mi tiempo en Espana rural a través de un contexto holístico. Es decir que voy a considerar todas de mis experiencias, no solo las de enseñar, porque inevitablemente todas me han moldeado y continúan a moldearme. Así que aquí voy...

Dedica tiempo para ti (siestas son buenos). Si, estoy aprovechando de las horas de descanso por las tardes que son un gran parte de la cultura española. Fundamentalmente significa que en las tardes, es común no trabajar, ir a casa y relajar (a veces dormir la siestas) por algunas horas y después volver a trabajar por la noche. Es perfecto para evitar trabajando demasiado duro y para basar tu vida en ti en vez de estar cansado todo el día, lo que será importante para mi cuando vuelva a ser estudiante de Dartmouth.

El tiempo y el dinero no son todos - nunca mires tu reloj todo el día y nunca bases tus prioridades de la vida solamente en el dinero. Al final la gente y los lugares que están en tu alrededor son los que te importan más porque todavía están allí para ti cuando el dinero no está.

Nunca tengas miedo de abrir la mente y ir a un sitio nuevo. He tenido muchas oportunidades para viajar, ya sea a las ciudades grandes o pueblos más pequeños que mi pueblo y me alegro que yo no solo quedara con lo familiar sino experimentar nuevos lugares y maneras de vivir. Creo que es importante para intentar hacerlo en nuestras vidas porque si no lo hacemos, lo que es familiar marcará el resto de nuestras vidas.

Siempre come el postre y bebe la copa extra de vino. La manera en que los españoles comen aquí es un poco diferente que hay los Estados Unidos, con la diferencia principal siendo que a comer es más social hasta al punto donde rara vez se come solo y que comidas grandes pueden durar más de 3 horas. Ellos comen y beben para gozar la vida y hablar con otros en vez de comer para contar las calorías. El concepto de ir a un bar o café para tomar algo con alguien también significa la importancia de las personas que existen en tu vida sobre las cosas materiales.

Las palabras no pueden describir la belleza en la naturaleza y siempre debemos dedicar tiempo fuera de la vida ocupada para apreciar la tranquilidad. Todavía no soy una persona de la naturaleza (gracias a mis padres de la ciudad de Nueva York) pero haber tenido la oportunidad de vivir entre las montañas y dar algunos paseos y pensar, no creo que haya otra manera donde se puede estar en paz con el mundo a pesar de lo que está pasando en tu vida.

Siempre escucha a los niños. No solo tienen mucho para decir pero también tienen muchas preguntas y percepciones del mundo. Fue un placer conocer a los alumnos en mi instituto y de verdad y he aprendido mucho porque he dedicado tiempo para hablar con ellos.

Hay mucho más para comunicarse que no son en las palabras. Porque mi dificultad principal aquí ha sido el idioma, he aprendido leer las caras mejor y que los tonos y expresiones a veces valen más cuando se habla con alguien y que siempre debes estar consciente de eso.

La importancia de la comunidad en la vida, ya sea tu familia, amigos cercanos, la gente que trabaja contigo, ellos que se relacionan contigo cada día o ellos que dedican el tiempo para ti (entonces, dedica tiempo para ellos también)

Lo que significa amar de verdad

Un abrazo,

Beth

Same Adventure, Different Day

I love working as an auxiliar! AND I am really excited to continue my journey abroad... BUT I also want to be honest and, honestly, sometimes I get sucked into a routine and end up feeling stuck.  

Maybe you know the feeling?

When you first arrive in a new country or a new place (whether it is a physical place or a mental place - a new city, a new relationship, a new job...) it usually feels exciting and exhilarating.  There is so much to learn and things seem great!  Slowly, you start to settle into a routine.  You get comfortable and you start to feel less overwhelmed as you begin to look around and realize that time is passing by! 

As an auxiliar it is easy to jump in with a feeling of adventure - you may start out thinking that you are going to be the person that makes the difference in teaching the students to love English and they are going to all be fluent by the time you finish the year.  Then, one morning, you might wake up and see that, you´re tired and you aren't really feeling as enthusiastic as you started out.  The students are still antsy during morning routines and some of them still can't seem to get the difference between "yes, they are" and "no, they aren't"... You get up to the board and begin going through the activities in the book and maybe you feel a little "deja vu" of having done the same thing yesterday.  You´ve fallen into a monotonous routine and you know you can't keep living that way!

So what do you do? When life has become monotonous, how do you break that feeling that you’re living in your own personal version of "Groundhog Day"?

image from goo.gl

  1. Switch it up!  
    Talk to your teacher(s) and see if they would be willing to let you change the routine - try a different activity - play a new game.  Sometimes you need a change as much as your students do.  I think this can be said for any monotonous situation... sometimes changing the routine can bring back some of the excitement that you started with.
  2. Plan ahead...
    You know that the feeling of monotony is going to happen at some point.  The year may start out easily enough - your presence alone in the classroom is exciting, but eventually that’s not going to be enough.  The students will become accustomed to seeing you and you will lose some of the mystery that you walked in the door with.  So, plan for that.  Keep things exciting by finding or creating vocabulary games that can be adapted to the various units.
  3. Talk through it.
    Sometimes you just need someone to commiserate with - to share your frustrations and doubts after a long, repetitive, week.  But don’t get too comfortable in the complaining stage or you’ll never get to the most important step... 
  4. Be inspired :)
    Whether it’s that vent-session that leads to some new thoughts of things you can change or add in the classroom, or taking some time to intentionally evaluate how students are improving (and recogninzing that you’re playing a role in that!), or even just reflecting on what your goal(s) for your time as an auxiliar where/are; let yourself be inspired to be the best language assistant that you can be and to do the best good that you can.  

 

-Stephanie Moss
(1 Cor. 15:58)

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