I don’t know if those are the correct lyrics to the song, nor do I know why that title came to me but one thing is for sure and that is that Grease is not my favorite movie.
The last day of school came. And it went. The ‘inspector’ came to school today and whenever he comes everyone is in a jumble. He works for the Junta de Andalucia as the guy who ensures the teachers are doing their jobs and the school is running properly. That being said, today was not as slow and emotional as I thought it was going to be, which is neither a good nor a bad thing. Said goodbye to all the teachers, gave them hugs and wished the children the best in the future. As I walked to the door of each class, kids were trying to quickly complete drawings of houses, trees or basketballs to give me as a gift. One kid pulled out of his pocket a striped red/yellow bouncy ball with a black bull on it. Was this gift something he had planned in advanced? I don’t know but it was a great gift.
Being around the goofball children for 10 months is something I will definitely miss. I will miss the kinder-kids using half a bottle of soap to wash their hands and 15 paper towels to dry them, kids pretending to not understand me when I speak spanish (maybe they don’t..), little girls telling me I have many girlfriends, and above all, eating salami and artisan loaves of bread everyday for lunch. Unfortunately, I don’t have enough time to write about all the goofy things they did.
Heading to Granada today to finally see the Alhambra with my French friend Rafael that I met in Cadiz. It is the most visited monument in Spain - and I almost missed it? #cmooonguy
Que tal va todo, 3 weeks have past at a rate slower than 24 hours per day. May has lasted a long time and it is exactly what I needed. I am more than happy to come home in June, but don’t let that fool you. Wrapping up my time here has not been fun because I know I will miss walking 10 feet out my apartment door to go watch a La Liga soccer game with 10 other 40-year-old men dressed in Barcelona/Real Madrid sweatsuits accordingly.
3 weeks ago, I played in my second frisbee HAT tournament. A HAT tournament is played with teams that are chosen at random. Two full days of running around on a astro-turf field in upper 80/lower 90 temperatures. Water was consumed and the shade was utilized. I had the privilege of working, yet again, with this dude named Jeff. A native Oregonian living in Sevilla. He played ultimate frisbee for the Ducks. We won the tournament again haha…This guy plaaaaaays. Two tourneys down!
Returned from Granada that week to continue working with the nin~os (see above)
Being an elementary school teacher is like being a boss. The only difference is a boss never has to beg his/her employees to stop repeating him even when the ‘repeat the english word’ game is over. (Yes, that’s the only difference). I’ll miss these goofs - tomorrow is my last day and so far this week I have received 3 presents. A shirt that says — ‘Siempre con el rojo’ - ‘always with the red’ — a Spanish national soccer team shirt, a red/yellow bracelet with a small metal plaque with ‘Cambil’ etched into it and…a bouncy ball. I don’t think the gifts can get any better but we will see.
Ok so after Granada, the power-draining heat continued. 14:00 May 15th, 2012 Jaen reached 37 Celcius. That’s 96.6 F which doesn’t sound too bad, but the sun in Andalucia has an incomparable presence to the sun in Seattle (yes, we each have our own sun). When Maria Eugenia drops me off 300 meters from my apartment after school, I literally run from shady area to shady area hoping to reach my apt without allowing ‘el sol’ to set foot on my skin. It’s like the eye of sarumon in a way - you’re pretty much done if within vision. Waking up at 4am as sweaty as a boxer was standard that week.
That next weekend I found myself in Malaga - the 2nd largest city in terms of size and population in Andalucia. Malaga is known for its luxurious location on the Costa del Sol. Many Germans and English set up shop in Malaga because of its beauty, beach access and weather so as I ventured a bit out of the capital city of Malaga, I heard a bit more english. My first day in the city, came across a free outdoor concert where a 14 year old was beeeeelting, little kids were showing off their flamenco skills and a group of women impressed the crowd with their singing and dancing skills. Stayed at the hostel 2 nights - the guy I shared the bunkbed with was an 18 year old from France who has already been to Wenatchee and Spokane..What was he, a world traveler making his rounds in the USA, doing in these locations?..Even he didn’t really know but he said he had a good time which was all that mattered. Beautiful view from the top of a hill that ran parallel to the Malaga Gibralfaro - an old Phoenician site turned fortress, turned castle, turned residence for Fernando II - some Spanish king of Arago’n. So this view from a path showed me more than I would have imagined —
— I’ll put some more pictures up. As I was climbing this mountain, every 30 meters had a place to stop and check out the view and each time I stopped, the view got that much better. This is a panoramic shot and so although it lacks in detail, I thought the view of 3 pictures worth of the width of the city was pretty coo.
Ok and this last weekend I went to Cadiz, the oldest city in western Europe. Some interesting things that happened/I learned
-Learned that the green on the Andalusian flag is representative of Islam and the dude on the flag is Hercules
-Went to the beach that Halle Berry strutted out of in the James Bond Film ‘Die Another Day.’
-Buried packaged pasta in the sand with a friend from the hostel so that we could go back the next day, dig it up in front of a lot of people and appear amazed.
-Saw a dude playing basketball outside (2nd time in last 10 months), asked if I could join, climbed through a hole in the fence 10 ft up and shot around for a bit until I realized I didn’t put sunscreen on
-Went to visit my friend Auxy who played on my recent ultimate frisbee team in Algeciras (across the bay from Gibraltar).
-Went to Gibraltar, took a few pics outside the border, tried to enter and realized my NIE (Spanish ID) wasn’t enough identification to enter….oy, where was my passport when I needed it..We laughed and zoomed outta there so I could catch my bus.
Tyler sent me a message today for the birfday and I wanted to share it. He gave me permission to share it.
Ryan, happy birthday! This is little bro Tyler, and I hope that you will celebrate your birthday like a king, and will enjoy your presents coming in the mail… My birthday present to you is my (the) top 23 most favored players in the NBA. From least-to-greatest, they are: 1. Ray Allen, 2. Kevin Durant, 3. Kevin Garnett, 4. Rajon Rondo, 5. Shaqueol O’neol (retired), 6. Russell Westbrook, 7. Nate Robinson, 8. Brian Skalibrini, 9. Brandon Roy (retired?), 10. Isaih Thomas, 11. Dirk Novitzki, 12. Chris Paul, 13. Kendrick Perkins, 14. Derik Fisher, 15. Camello Anthony, 16. Dwight Howard, 17. Pau Gasol; I’m realizing that 23 players is a lot for me, haha, so I am just going to say: 18. Larry Bird, 19. Michael Jordan, 19. Magic Johnson, 20. Tony Wrotten, 21. Steve Nash, 22. Derrick Rose (not true!!!), and the final magic 23: the white cigar (Brendan Sherrer). I hoped you enjoyed my portion of this letter because I accidentally deleted my first one when I almost finished typing it; so… HAPPY GOLDEN BIRTHDAY RYAN!!!! Can’t wait for you to get home!
On Friday, I was sitting at home wondering how I would take advantage of this 4 day weekend. The initial plan was to head to Málaga, but things turned unfortunate when the Saturday, Sunday and Monday weather report predicted rain and cold. My friend Tyson and I thought it better not to embark to the beach-town during bad weather. So on Friday I was talking to a friend that I had met with my parents on the train to Sevilla during mid-April when they were visiting. He invited me over to spend a night at his home and go to the Fería de Abril. (A Fería is like a festival..more or less each city in Andalucia has a week devoted to such an occasion. I think the best tway to describe it would be a suuuuper-spanish version of the Puyallup Fair with a lot less attractions/concerts/animals and more hanging out in tents). Because it would probably be the last time I saw Juanma (the guy who guided my parents and I around Sevilla for 7 hours, taking us to shops and restaurants with great food that were owned by his friends) and also because the Fería de Abril is considered the most famous in Spain, I took the 4.30pm train to Sevilla the next day.
When I arrived, it was raining pretty hard. It was the last full day of the Fería and so normally, Juanma told me, it would be full full full of people but the rain made it not so. We walked 5 minutes from the train station to his house (You’re more or less walking distance from everything in Andalucía). I thought I was dressed well (I certainly was relative to how I normally dress)- nicer jeans, a sweater-type top and all black sambas. It turns out guys wear suit and tie to the Fería de Abril. At first, he lightly suggested I wear a jacket or something over my sweater, then he suggested I wear a pair of some of his nicer shoes..Next thing I know, I was wearing suit and tie with dress socks haha….None of it fit me that well, but once I arrived to the fairgrounds, I was glad I changed. The majority of the girls were wearing Flamenco dresses and all of Juanma’s friends were dressed as if we were at a wedding.
Unlike the Feria de Jaen, the majority of Sevilla’s caseta’s (tents) are private. In Jaen, I entered and left tents as I pleased (there were about 20 total tents during the Jaen feria where as in Sevilla, there were over 1000) but in Sevilla, you pretty much had to know somebody to enter into the tent. The tents were divided into two parts. The first room had tables/chairs off to the sides and space in the middle for people to dance to flamenco music. The second part of the tent was a bar that served food and drinks. Juanma’s friends intermittently started dancing around the bar and often tried to get me involved. Since this is the only dance move I feel comfortable pulling off, I tried the flamenco for a quick second, then kinda got out from the middle of the circle.
Got home, went to sleep and took the train home the next day!
Digiorno - I think we all classify eating Digiorno pizza (not so much Digiorno pizza and cookies) as satisfactory gastronomical moments. Today my roommate has informed me that Digiorno is an Italian word and it means —- ‘In the morning.’ —- Cool? I also showed her a picture of Olive Garden’s dish; the Sicilian Scampo. Perplexed, she wrote it off. Apparently it’s not so popular of a dish there. I thought it necessary to show her this because she is from Sicily, the island south of mainland Italy.
Milo and Otis , the great journey by cat and dog, was actually a Japanese film.
-Just booked tickets with Bojie to go back up to San Sebastian for a few days in June before I head back home to Seattle on the 11th
Was hanging with some 2nd graders during PE and all of a sudden they were told they had to go get some shots. Tristeza began. Some of the girls started crying while the boys were already pulling the collars of their shirts down past their shoulders albeit not being anywhere near the nurse’s office.
We arrived to the nurse’s office and they started lining up by number. You can tell that this is never fun for teachers because the kids try to sneak their way up to the front because clearly it is the coolest place to be. On top of the screaming and disorganized line, 4th graders were entering/leaving the hallway to go check out the book-fair that was taking place. 4th graders are cooler than 2nd graders via elementary school law and so the 2nd graders pretty much believe anything they say. I think we know what happens next. One of the 4th graders walked by the line and just HAD to share his thoughts on the amount of pain the should would bring to them. Thankfully, the teacher realized what was happening, shoo’d away Julio the 4th grader and assured to all nothing was going to give them pain.
Important things to note:
-All of the boys had ruined the collars of their shirts. Where is MJ when we need him..
-The girl who had the most fear of receiving the shot ended up not taking it because her mom didn’t sign the paper or something
I was planning to go to Málaga this weekend but it has been said that it will rain in all of Andalucia and so I may be in Jaén for the 3rd weekend in a row. Going through beach withdrawals
I don’t have time right now to update so this is just a quick memory from my time in San Sebastian . While my parents were out eating dinner, I went to a small restaurant near our place of stay. There was an older man around 70 sitting at one side of the small L-shaped bar and I was on the other. The bartender was around 45 years old and was behind the bar.
The older man would not stop talking. The bartender did a good job of pretending to listen to him while looking at his newspaper. It was around 10pm so nobody else was there aside from us. The bartender managed to slip away from that side of the bar towards the other side in hopes of ending the ‘conversation.’
I was the next victim. Nobody was talking at first, the 3 of us were just chillin’ you could say. The silence bothered me so I asked the older man, ‘De aqui, cuantos kilometros hasta Francia?’ which means - how far away is France -. The old man proceeded to tell me the amount of time it would take depending on what cars we were driving. With his car 45 minutes, with a lamborghini 20 minutes, with a spaceship 5 minutes, walking 4 hours..He laughed after everything he said, great guy. We spoke in ‘english’ for a moment but I understood nothing. The bartender loved it.
He had been drinking, not much, but a little..as it was difficult to understand him. He went outside to smoke, then quickly came back in and informed me of the time it would take to get to France in another car. Clearly, this was an important subject (asignatura) to him haha..He was a really funny dude, 30 minutes well spent in my opinion.
As I was walking out, he said ‘Segunda bebida, este chico,’ which basically means - Another drink for this guy - ..This was as I was walking out the door, so I turned around and looked at the bartender. He was looking at me too and we laughed. I asked the old man if he was sure he wanted to buy me another drink. He changed his mind..
Watching a spanish game show on words. Compañero is a word that means companion or partner. Me gusta tirar ruedas en la basura con mis compañeros de clase - I like to throw tires into the garbage with my classmates. — example
If we break down the word - compañero - we see that:
'com' comes from the spanish word 'compartir' which means SHARE
'pan' means 'bread'
The word ‘Compañero’ comes from combining the spanish words for ‘share’ and ‘bread.’ Whoa?
-Parents on their flight to Spain at this moment. Pray for a safe flight.
-We will stay 2 nights in Jaen, 2 nights in Sevilla, 2 nights in San Sebastian and 2 nights in Madrid. I will try to keep this updated better than normal so you guys can stay updated.
So begins March Madness in Spain as well as in the United States. I will just have to wait 6-9 hours later than normal to watch the games. In honor of the best sporting event in the world (opinion), I have brought the locura to Cambil - small town where I teach - and the classes are filling out their brackets faster than the footsteps of the flamenco. Each class from 1st grade to 8th grade filled out a bracket with me based on the names of the mascots. I know it’s not that creative as it has been done plenty before, but it has been interesting filling it out with kids who don’t speak the language.
I wanted to share with you guys some peculiar choices by the little niños.
- 16 seed Mississippi Valley State over 1 seed Kentucky? Yes. I think we all would want a team called ‘The Hilltoppers’ to advance too.
-Every class has chosen the Florida ‘Crocodiles’ to advance past the 1st round. The Montana Grizzlies are also a hot item mostly only because I describe them as ‘el oso mas grande del mundo’ - ‘the biggest bear in the world.’
-I thought the South Dakota St. Jack-Rabbits would be an across-the-board pick to the Sweet 16 because the only animals anybody knows by heart are the rabbit, the cat and the dog. Only two classes have them advancing past the first round.
-The Georgetown Hoyas were loved. I didn’t realize until my 4th bracket with the classes that ‘jolla’ means ‘jewelry’ in Spanish. ‘Hoya’ and ‘Jolla’ are pernounced exactly the same and so these kids think they are choosing ‘The Jewelries’ to advance.
-I have a good time describing to the kids who the Purdue Boilermakers are — Those who make hot water. Not a hot choice but we’ll get a few laughs.
-EVERYBODY loves the Golden Eagles - One of my final 4 teams shh. (Not only Marquette but Southern Mississippi also has the Golden Eagle as their mascot).
-The ‘toro’ - ‘bull’ is one of the most important animals of Spain. When I describe the Texas Longhorns, they usually get excited. Only one class didn’t advance them to the Sweet 16 (2nd graders).
-Of all the brackets that have been completed by the classes, there has not been one unanimous decision with regards to teams in the Sweet 16.
-Just looked again to see if there were any unanimous decisions at all..turns out there are only 2 (only 2!) - the Davidson Wildcats and the Xavier Musketeers
I am working as a teacher and as of last week I am working as a musclebuilder. Gym etiquette at the IMA in the United States was something I did not have or understand..wasn’t really sure what I was ever doing in there unless I went with my pals. Over the last two weeks though, those problems have dimished.
Fortunately, if the people who work out at my gym in Spain were to go to the IMA, we’d fall in the same category. I don’t feel as goofy here; walking around and choosing at random the machines to use seems to be a common occurrence by all.
Not too interesting to note on this front aside from:
-The water fountain is not good
-I sat at the treadmill for 2 minutes trying to figure out how to increase the speed
-When we’re out of hot water at my apartment, I now have a place to go to shower en vez de congelar en mio.
Man man man..Huskies lost to Oregon State in the 2nd round of the Pac-12 tournament. Apparently this loss basically ousted us from being a shoe-in into the tournament. We were in the bubble which basically means we either going to be one of the last teams in or one of the first few out. Turns out, we were not one of the last teams in (Iona, South Florida, Cal and BYU).
We’re a 1 seed in the NIT and we play tomorrow (Tuesday) at UW, not sure what time. I will be watching from www.firstrowsportseu.eu the site that has saved me from a bad attitude multiple times.
-Alex Schrempf - Detlef Schrempf’s son - is transferring to UW but it is not yet known whether he will walk-on or not
2 weekends ago on a Friday, I was hoping to go out at night with my Italian roommate and a Turkish friend. Unfortunately they both decided that tonight was not going to be the best night to go out. It had been a while since I have hung out in Jaén because the last weekend I was travelling and when my roommates go out on the weekdays, I can’t because I have to wake up early to get to work.
So instead of calling it a night, I went out to a bar called Moet 10 minutes from my place. I walked in around 12:30 and sat at the bar, right next to the laptop that controlled the music (no, the story doesn’t involve me changing the music) and in front of the door to the kitchen/wash-room. It was 12:30 so not that many people were at the bar yet. I was sitting next to a guy who had his motorcycle helmet placed on the bar and his drink in hand. I ordered a beer and kinda just sat there and people watched for about 20 minutes. I was watching the guy who controlled the music and asked him what program he was using..it looked similar to what i used in 8th grade . We found it it was not. Interesting…So to make this clear, I just asked about the program and that was about it. I ordered another 2 beers over the next hour sitting in the same place, not saying anything apart from asking for a new drink. After I finished and paid for my third at 2:00, the waitress put another beer in front of me. I certainly didn’t ask for it nor pay for it. I asked her why she was giving this to me and she said, “Porque eres simpatico,” which means - because you’re nice -.. I then said, “Pero no he dicho nada,” which means - but I haven’t said anything - while laughing and she responded with, ‘Exactly.”
Certainly didn’t deserve the beer for being ‘nice.’ I thought that was funny. And then after that she poured 3 smaller drinks - one for her, for another girl and for me. I was getting the royal respect I didn’t deserve! I’m tempted to go back to see what happens the next time and don’t plan to speak to anybody haha..
Inconsistent posting has got me into some trouble with a few of my followers so in an attempt to heal those relationships, I will post.
Not last weekend, but the weekend before that (18th of Feb?) I went to Cadiz, Spain with Pieter Hoolboom and Ryan Anderson (almost ring a bell?). Pieter and I went to high school together and Ryan and I were in the fraternity together for a year. It was the weekend of Carnaval in Cadiz, supposedly one of the best places in Europe to celebrate.
We had the option of paying 70 euros for a bus ride there, a night in a hotel and a bus ride back later on the 2nd day OR the option of paying 20 euros for a bus ride there at 5pm (arrive at 9pm) and then a bus ride back at 5 in the morning.
We chose the 2nd option because there were some time restraints involved with the first option that would have forced us to leave Cadiz the first night at a certain time to catch the bus that would have taken us back to the hotel. It was decided that we could see parts of Cadiz and partake in the festivities in the 8 hour window we had with the 2nd option.
At Carnaval, everybody dresses like we do for Halloween except the costumes in Cadiz were much more creative. People dress up in groups more than individually. We saw a group of 5 people, each a different element to a sandwich - piece of bread, tomato, meat, cheese and another piece of bread. When people asked to take a picture of them, they smashed together and formed ‘el sandwich.’ There were scuba divers, goofy reporters and a large can of tuna - my personal favorite.
I was a ninja chef and loved it. Piet was a sultan and Ryan Anderson was himself with a goofy scarf. I took advantage of my ingenuity by dual-wielding a spatula and a wooden spoon. People were unphased. Although when engaging in battle I did not back down. I brought a couple candy canes with me to give out to people as the night progressed. The majority went to little kids, but every once in a while, I would bow in front of a random person and gift them one. I think the highlight of my night was when I saw a group of people with frying pans. I went up to them and started to pretend I was cooking some eggs with my spatula. Definitely thought I was clever.
The last 3 weeks have been filled with thought of whats going to happen to me after my time in Spain. I am in the process of looking for a job for the year ahead and what I have been lead to is the work of university ministries. I am applying to be an intern at either The Inn in Seattle, The House in Chattanooga, TN or at Malibu Pres in Malibu, CA.
My hopes of becoming fluent in spanish were crushed during these 3 weeks.Instead of actively seeking spanish conversation and taking note of my encounters, the majority of my free time is spent thinking about how I’m going to answer the questions on the applications. As I write about my experience as a student leader in high school, I am reminded of how memorable that senior year was and also how great of a time I had working with dustin, tim, haley and ms box. I didn’t take a position of any type during my time in the fraternity and sometimes wonder why. The 4 years before my time at UW were filled with meetings and gatherings related to my extracurrics. The change to not being tied down with activities was strange. Even this year in Spain, it has been tough to become involved, especially in a smaller city. So thankful I found the basketball team, but aside from that, I have not found many ways to put myself out there in the community. Hoping this will all change when the weather changes for the better. I’ve only heard good things about the coming of Spring and the activities that come with it.
So at this point, I am happy to be applying for these positions…and I know if I am chosen, good times of involvement will return after a 5 year delay
-Going to Cadiz next weekend with Pieter Hoolboom to celebrate Carnaval
-My first home basketball game today (5 weeks in a row away game…)
-Hoping to head to Almeria during the 4day weekend two weekends from now.
Remember in Billy Madison when Billy and Eric were competing in a jeopardy-like contest during the final stages of their competition to become the owner of the Hotel company? Remember how dangerously that competition ended? It ended with a gunshot. Well, today in class, we had a similar competition that may not have ended dangerously nor with a gunshot but to say the least, it was overly competitive.
I divided the 7th graders into 3 teams and told them a word in english for them to translate to me in spanish. If a team correctly translated the word, they received a point. I attempted to give each team equal words in terms of difficulty - attempted. Nothing very substantial happened but by the end of the match, the competitiveness got a little too high and one student suggested, ‘How about we tell you words in spanish and you translate them to english.’
Never again will we be having competitions in the classroom.
“Brazilians can’t speak spanish - they just speak portuguese in a spanish accent”—Brazilian in Jaen. I told her that because Brazil was surrounded by spanish countries, I would think the people would be able to speak it pretty well. She disagreed and was honest about it.
“Hey Ryan, a question. Is it common when u ask for a beer that they later give u food? I ordered a beer then they gave me a pizza, then I ordered another beer and then I got a burger and fries.”—Pieter Hoolboom —
Pieter, a friend of mine from Highline High School, is now in Spain (zeeeeaaam!) I died laughing when I read this. In Granada and Jae’n (as you all should know), the restaurants give sides of food with your ordered drinks and they’re called ‘tapas.’ Granada (where Pieter is), is supposedly the best city in Spain for tapas and so I think it would not have taken him long to learn this. I was driving home from school when 2 teachers when Pieter send me this text — I translated it for them and they also died laughing. Piete now you know
On Thursday I had basketball practice. We play in a middle school gym on Thursday. The floors are dustier than Fenway Park’s 2nd base — horrible place to play
Friday I had another basketball practice 9:30 - 11
Saturday we had a game - traveled by car 1.5 hours to Cazorla, a tiny city surrounded by olive trees - similar to just about every city we play our away games at. My coach speaks fluent english but never speaks it, unless he really wants me or Diop to remember/understand something. In the middle of the game, he asked/yelled, “Ryan do you want to F***ing play??” I wasn’t doing something right so he took me out. Quite confused though. OK so yeah I had a game today
Sunday played in a 3v3 tournament at Torreldelcampo, a small town 10 minutes from Jae’n. We played 7 or 8 15:00 games and if you’ve played 3v3 before, its a tiring game. We won the tournament! We got a cheap trophy and the guys I played with told me I should take it as a way to remember the day and also because I was the guest - nice guys.
Monday was La Noche de San Anton - The Night of San Anton. There was a ‘carerra’ which directly translate to ‘marathon,’ but in terms of distance it wasn’t a marathon (26.2 miles) — it was a 10K (about 6.2 miles). After that, i was done…Fell asleep in the car to school the next day and also during my 1 hour break - neither of which have happened before.
Everyday at 8:20 in the morning, I open the door to my directors office and the first thing he says to me everyday is ‘Ryancito!’ pernounced ‘Ryanthito’ meaning ’ little Ryan.’
His neighbor found a puppy on the street one day and so my director suggested that he named the dog Ryancito in honor of yours truly. Apparently, it is normal for Spanish people to give human names to their dogs and so since the day of the rescue, the puppys name has become my own.
Teaching is not easy - especially when your class age is between 13 and 15. This experience has taught me a lot about what I can see myself doing in the future — though I still find myself far from pin-pointing that one awesome career. Up ‘til now, teaching is something I just dont think I should do.
There are a few kids in the class that like to learn - they pay attention, they ask questions, they try (which is huge) and they do their homework. Other kids take 3 minutes to copy a 7 word sentence just to waste time, talk back to the teacher, laugh when the teacher yells at them for not doing their homework and try to text on the phone when we’re not looking (I cannot articulate in words how easy it is to recognize when someone is on their phone! All past teachers I’ve had, please forgive me for trying!). I have a really hard time functioning as a teacher when I’m up preaching about ecosystems in english and kids are not paying attention. If one kid doesn’t hear something I say, he won’t know the answer to a later question and if he/she doesn’t know the answer to a later question, he/she will ask me what the answer is or their neighbor or someone across the room. I know this all seems obvious and you probably already have had this thought…but my perspective is now different after having been the person it burdens.
That is all happening when I’m up front of the class will all the students ' listening.’ Another part of my job consists of me taking the students 1 by 1 to another room and just conversing with them, teaching them new vocabulary or going over math problems. During this time outside the full classroom, I function a lot better b/c I am able to act like Ryan instead of having to put on a no-nonsense mask - doing all that I can to ensure I don’t look like a goof in front of the kids. Chris Teeny, a guy who I lived with in Pi Kapps, is also teaching this year, in Detroit. In November, he told me about how hard it was for him to discipline kids. There is a magical way to do it, but he didn’t know how to at the time. There are levels of disciplining the kid. If the consequence doesn’t fit the crime every time you discipline a kid, there is going to be problems. And this is something I feel comes with experience..something that Chris and I don’t have.Obviously, I’m not good at it. Fortunately, there is usually a teacher in the room with me who does the dirty deed. But the few times I’ve been alone in the class teaching, I’m trooouuubled.
The good things may not necessarily outweigh the bad in my teaching experience so far, but its almost 50/50. The younger kids are always a delight. One kid in a 4th grade class has decided he’s going to make me feel awkward as much as he can. No, this is not a bad, this is a good. No matter WHAT I say to him in spanish, he responds “Eso, que es?” - which literally translates to - “That? What’s that?” I’ll repeat 3 or 4 times until some other little child in the class tells him what I was saying. Right after, I’ll look at him in the ‘cmon now…really??’ facial expression and he’ll laugh..good times.
So maybe its the school I’m at, maybe its the fact that none of the kids can carry a conversation past - ‘I’m fine, and you?’ - or maybe its the fact that I don’t get to spend enough time to develop a relationship with 1 class of 23 kids (maximum, i’m with 1 class for 3 hours in a week, other than that just 1 hour each class). Who knows…But now I understand the difficulty that is teaching.
"Those who can’t do, teach. And those who can’t teach, teach gym." — Jack Black in School of Rock.. Validity questionable
“Maestro, como se traduce Super Bowl?”—Today a 7th grader asked this question which means - teacher, how do you translate ‘Super Bowl’ to spanish? For a moment I cringed because ‘El Super Cuenco’ would have been so sad to hear. Spaniards translate a lot of things, some of which should just be left in the english form. For example, when Kyle and I went to watch the Lion King in Barcelona, ‘Can you feel the love tonight’ and ‘Acuuna Matatah’ were completely translated. The majority of American movie titles are also translated. Movie discussions with spaniards always end with us saying’ Man I wish you guys didn’t translate the movie titles..because then we could actually have a discussion about movies! Sad times, so I was happy today when the teacher dismissed the question and told the students to say Superbowl instead of Super Cuenco.
Don’t be alarmed, but Ryan told me that I should write a blog instead of him. Let’s get on with it!
Today’s my 7th day in Spain, 2nd in Barcelona, after 4.5 days in Jaèn and 0.5 in Granada. I must say that Spain is way better than I expected (of course I expected great, this is just me saying it’s amazing!).
While in Jaén, Ryan served as a great tour guide. He knew the names of all the parks, squares, and centers, as well as the worst and best places to eat and hang out. At first I pictured Jaén to be a dirt road town, but instead I now describe it as the Vancouver of Spain. The first night in Spain, I slept for a total of 17.5 hours, which was a life saver because I had no idea Ryan’s basketball coach was going to allow me to scrimmage with them (would have never guessed I would shoot 3 for 3). Ryan was always good at stocking up on food at safeway while without parents or the house chef, and this ability was definitely apparent. Typical snack/pre-meal was jamón and turkey on a baguette, with a Napolitana for dessert. Something I didn’t see coming was Ryan’s newly acquired obsession for desserts.
During the days in Jaén, I tagged along with Ryan to his work. All of the teachers there have so much personality, and they serve as one of the countless reasons for why I want to learn more Spanish. Pepe, the director, is crazy hilarious. There wasn’t a time upon running into him when he wouldn’t yell his trademark “Ryjahn!” or when you think he’s telling you to shush when he’s just saying yes. This brings up the southern Spanish accent. So great, but tough to understand. If you leave out most all the S’s and change C’s and Z’s to “th”, talk super fast, and then switch out a few syllables for mumbles here and there, then you have it. I bet the Barcelona population thinks I’m a friki (geek) for attempting to talk to them in my southern Spanish accent.
Ryan seemed really popular while we were in Jaén. We ran into so many people who knew him in obscure places, including Diop a few times. We ran into another man named Eduardo that we saw after the Cathedral light/firework Christmas show on Thursday, who was an experienced missionary. Eddy told us amazing stories while at what he said was the “only cafe open this late,” and we believed him (his stories, and the fact about the coffee place).
All in all, Jaén could be talked about for much longer, but we’re late and we need to run (reason for the poor editing). Merry Christmas!
Yesterday, for the first time in a while, I found myself sitting in my room with 2 hours of free time. No basketball practice, no intercambio, already made and ate dinner and dessert — (these are polvorónes, a popular Christmas-time sweet. Sandra, the teacher who picks me up for school 2 days a week gave me a box of about 30 different polvorones of which 8 found the path to their destined home. Eating sweets has become a problem for me as Dia, the grociery store in Jaén, has what I like the call the golden section of dreams where one is able to purchase fresh-made sweets for 1 euro..wow, pics to come) —, posted a couple tweets and ya está…it felt good. I took advantage of this time by reading a 5th grade level spanish book, the title of which has escaped my mind.
In one hour, I read two pages..not because the reading level of the book was incomprehensible but rather because I was excited to learn.
At UW, I never really had the desire to learn about economics. I chose economics as my major because I didn’t get accepted into the business school and economics seemed like a solid 2nd choice with its relation to business. My grades weren’t horrible but they weren’t spectacular as I finished my last 2 years of economics classes, learning what I needed to for the test..but as for beyond the test, nothing.
OK, so last night, when I was reading, I had www.wordreference.com opened up, probably thee most useful language website I have encountered. As I was reading, I noted words that I didn’t know, looked them up after finishing the page, and then re-read the page now with the understanding of the meaning of the words. But looking up the words took longer than suspected. I found myself searching for other words, really trying to understand everything about when I can use them and how I could use them….What happened last night? I was learning ..but more importantly wanting to learn. I havn’t felt that way in a long time with a school-related subject. My spanish classes at UW were maybe 1 of 3 classes I honestly enjoyed and put an effort into learning during college and I am glad that it is continuing today.
An intercambio is a language exchange. As of recent, they are taking up muuuuuch of my free time. Someone told me about this website that is the craigslist of intercambios. Ever since I signed up and posted my advertisement — ‘Hablo inglés de los estados unidos, busco *castellano’ — I have been rollin’ in opportunities. 10 total people have contacted me since last month and I am doing intercambios with 7 of the 10. These have really been taking up a lot of time during the week but it does not feel like a job because I can totally see the progress in my speaking.
The first intercambio I ever had, I had no idea what to do. A girl named Lucia had contacted me and said that her and her boyfriend would like to meet once a week and do the language exchange. She said we would meet in front of the university of jaen at x o’ clock and then get started. We ended up standing next to each other for like 8 minutes before she and her boyfriend came up to me and asked if I was Ryan. I said yes and we continued on. We talked for 35 minutes in english and then 35 in spanish. By doing this, neither of us have to pay for the help that we are receiving from the other, which is nice..but makes me think about how easy it would be to receive 12 euros an hour just to talk to somebody in my own language. Yes..that is the price people are paying for these intercambios. English is loved worldwide but its impossible to realize in Seattle.
*The translation for spanish in most of Andalucia is castellano instead of español
On Friday after basketball practice, I was invited to Antonio’s house with a couple of other guys to hang out and play some videoooo gaaaaaames . Before the marathon started, we got some food. Antonio removed his pizza from the oven and started cutting it with scissors instead of with a knife. I started laughing and questioned the decision. They all laughed and one of the guys said quote above. The spanish accent made it way funnier.
This was the first time I had been in a house while in Spain. Most families and kids live in apartments in the city, especially in Jaen. In all my travels of the world (not that much..) I have never seen a neighborhood similar to what we have in the Seattle area. His house was isolated just as all the other houses were. His dad owned a ‘panadería’ which is a bakery. Their basement had 1 room where Antonio and his brother hung out full of American entertainment (many Lord of the Rings posters, Simpsons posters and video-game related treasures) and then other rooms full of materials his dad used for his bakery. The house was really nice and Antonio was very hospitable, as are all Spaniards.
I hadn’t played Halo in months which shouldn’t be a big deal, but unfortunately it was. We played for 4 hours starting at midnight. One of the hardest things about learning Spanish is learning the vocabulary to very specific situations—for example video games, basketball/sports in general, things that the average person would never talk about. I guess any hobby at all has its own set of vocab..
At the end of practice before heading over to Antonio’s house, the coach told me that they were going to allow me to play in the games from now on. Before you start clapping, let me tell you this is a glorified varsity high school league. The bodies are all stronger and taller but skill level is much much much worse than CC bball in USA. I was explaining the skill of the league to a friend and he said I shouldn’t elaborate on the skill but just focus on the fact that I’m playing in a semi-pro league in Spain…Weighing the options a pesar de la ventaja obvia