Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The End of The Journey

This is it. Tomorrow I will step foot on American soil. Although I have only been gone for one month, I am so excited to get back to my "normal" life. I am a creature of habit, so this trip was definitely out of my comfort zone haha. I want to use this post to share with you guys what I have been doing recently and what I look forward to upon my return.

Emily and I have spent the last week visiting local places before we leave. It has been a very relaxing time! May 1st was a holiday, so we did not have school. A few of us spent the day together. We went to Las Ramblas (a popular touristy shopping street), visited the Barcelona Cathedral, saw the statue of Christopher Columbus pointing to America, and visited a castle. It was a fun day with beautiful weather! Barcelona's soccer team had a match that night so the other team's fans were in town. Because this was a national holiday, no one had to work. This meant that there were a ton of fans from the other team. They had their own parade marching down the street with police escorts...we hid inside a KFC as they passed haha. Speaking of KFC, they are everywhere. I honestly can't believe how common the restaurant is here! We kept accidentally running into the parade of fans as we walked around. We also managed to find a rally of people demonstrating their support for Catalonia's independence. Catalonia is the province of Spain where Barcelona is located and they are trying to become a separate country from Spain.....we have heard a lot about it from our host families. Anyways, Wednesday was fun even though we kept running into masses of shouting people haha.

The weekend was also relaxing. I have access to the roof at my apartment, so a few friends came over on Saturday. We took snacks to the roof and just soaked up some sun while enjoying each others company and conversation. Saturday night, Emily and I traveled to a famous fountain. This fountain only performs shows on Saturday nights...it plays music and the water and lights are synchronized to each song. We arrived early so that we could find a place to sit. After waiting for over an hour, the first show of the night finally started. It was amazing!! And then it started to sprinkle rain. And then it started pouring rain. We had checked the weather earlier and there was a ZERO percent chance of rain. I happened to have on a light jacket with a hood but Emily did not. We were only able to watch about 7 minutes of the show before making a bee-line to the metro. I wish we would have taken a picture of ourselves that night. We were drenched. I think the score for this trip is now Mother Nature 14, Kristen and Emily 0.

On Sunday, I went with my host family to the beach. The weather was perfect and I spent my time working word search puzzles. I had forgotten how much I enjoy those things! I am thankful that I was able to return to the beach before I leave; it is such a relaxing place..except for the topless people...that still throws me off. Other than that factor, it is a pretty lovely place.

Monday was my last day at the school where I have been teaching. I was looking forward to an easy day where I might play games with my different classes all day as I said goodbye. I went to the office where I meet my teacher every morning and waited for her arrival. To my complete surprise, another teacher came into the office and informed me that Zoe would not be here today. Ohhh okay....I started to get nervous because I know that they do not have substitute teachers at this school. I asked if everything was okay, and the teacher told me that she would not be back the rest of the year! Woahhhhhh baby, what?!?! My teacher had quit! I was not able to say goodbye or thank you, and now I was here without a teacher! They sent another American student teacher with me and told us to teach the first class. Wow. Now if you read my last post, you are somewhat familiar with how these students act. As I walked into the classroom, I tried not to let these wild animals smell my fear. I had to tell them that their teacher would not be there today and that we would be teaching the class. What a hilarious experience. This was a true test of co-teaching. We worked together to get the students to complete the worksheet. The students actually behaved quite well for me. Even by using the simplest classrooms management strategies, I could tell a huge difference in their behavior. It worked!! I was so excited that we were able to make it through a lesson without anyone walking out of the classroom (although they tried me), cursing at each other, or simply not listening. Yayyyyyyy!!! For the rest of the school day, they were able to have other teachers use their planning period to cover my teachers classes. What an odd day. Nothing has gone as I have expected so far, so I don't know why I expected my last day at the school to be any different. I would say that it was a successful day overall....haha.

We have Tuesday to do anything that we want to do. Emily and I are going to eat at a pizza place and then hopefully get a little sun while napping on the roof (haha). It will be a very nice day. Oh and I have to pack. I somehow have to fit everything back into my suitcases.....it should be fun (not).

Since I am returning to the USA tomorrow, I wanted to share what I am looking forward to....
***Note: these are not the most important things that I am looking forward to (such as friends and family) but just a list of petty things that I miss :)
-Cheeseburger. We have a really long layover in the Miami airport. When we returned from the Dominican Republic last year, we went to a TGIFriday's in the airport and totally demolished a cheeseburger and fries. I have told a few friends on this trip about it and they want to join in. We will return to the restaurant when we arrive in Miami and we expect to eat like cavemen. What a glorious experience it will be.
-Shower. I don't remember if I told you all about my shower situation here. At my host house, I have a hose that sprays water. I have to kneel in a bathtub, hold the hose with one hand, and take my shower like this. I am looking forward to a nice standing shower with really hard water pressure. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!
-Barefeet. I'm not talking about going to the mall without shoes, but I want to be able to walk around barefoot somewhere. Anywhere. It is considered rude to go barefoot inside a house here, so I always have to wear shoes. I just want to frolick around in my barefeet.
-Front Porch Swing. One of my favorite places when the weather is nice. I love to sit on the swing and read a book while listening to the sounds of summer!
-Big Cups. I look forward to getting a big cup to drink out of. I'm tired of getting embarrassed when I have to refill my cup 8 times at dinner because it is so tiny. Haha!
-Proper Summertime Attire. I want to wear shorts and flip flops without getting strange looks. If its hot, I want to wear shorts and flip flops-not a sweater and jeans. I found out that people here only wear flip flops if they are going to the beach (and many actually wear tennis shoes) and that it is unacceptable to wear them in the city. Oops. Learned that one the hard way.

While those things are minor and silly, I am so excited about them! There are plenty of other changes that I will have to adjust back to when I return. Thank you all for the loving support throughout my journey. It was amazing experience and I grew a lot as a person. Pray for our safety tomorrow as we embark on our journey home. Home. Such a sweet sweet word.

I will try to upload my pictures to Facebook as soon as I can. I'm not real sure when I will wake up after my return...haha. As long as I wake up before my graduation on Saturday, I'm good. What a crazy transition in life!! I also want you all to pray for my job placement as I begin applying for jobs. It is time for me to return back to the real-world and be a big girl. Ohhhh man what an exciting/nerve wracking time!!!!

Once again, thank you for everything! God Bless!!!

Thursday, May 2, 2013


Let me begin by telling you all that I had an amazing group of students at Greenwood High School earlier this semester while I was in the USA. The students that I have now in Spain are very different from what I am used to. For any of you with experience in education, I want you to imagine one of your least favorite students. Imagine a student who shows up late, talks whenever they want to, does not do homework, curses, talks back to the teacher, cheats off of others, and any other annoying things that they may do. Now imagine a classroom full of that type of student, all day, every day. It truly is amazing what the teachers try to deal with here. Most teachers just end up yelling at the students because they do not know what else to do.

The classroom management has been nothing less than shocking to witness. I came here hoping to learn some new strategies or activities. Instead, I have learned how vital classroom management is. You MUST establish rules and procedures AND enforce them! I feel as if the students do not have this, and that is why they act the way that they do. I am learning how important everything that I have been taught about teaching at WKU is in the classroom. Students go crazy without structure! And then that will make the teacher crazy (crazier)! Thankfully, I have been able to take a few students out of the classroom at a time and tutor them. That might be all that I can handle haha!

My supervising teacher gave me the opportunity to teach a business lesson for a few days instead of tutoring students in English. I organized an business research activity for the students to complete where they had to use the computer lab, create posters, present their information in English, and perform a small skit. They usually sit in the classroom and go through the book...so this was a very different experience for them. I was so impressed at how well they worked. I guess I was expecting them to be off-task during the project work time. I think they were excited to be out of the classroom and they wanted to do a good job for the American....haha. Each group presented their project to the class, and they all did an excellent job! Anddddd their classroom now has some pretty posters hanging up :)

They really are sweet kids, and I do not blame them for acting the way that they do. I thoroughly enjoy having conversations with them. I have to continuously remind myself that I am in a different culture which means there are a lot of differences. I have been treated with respect for the most part (this leads to another story for another time). I have grown as a teacher and as a person. I have a deeper appreciation for American schools and the American culture. I am also reminded of how much I care about my students back in the US. And maybe WKU just has a really awesome teacher education program that sets the bar very high for teachers? I came here expecting to learn, and I have, but I did not learn what I was expecting. I am appreciative for my experience and how it will carry over to my own classroom. I can't wait to visit my old students and tell them how awesome they are (and hopefully their heads won't get too big)!

I'll be home soon!