Wednesday, December 14, 2011


It has been a quick 4 weeks!

I didn't think I had bought very much, but packing to go home has been more difficult than packing to get here. It seems my stuff has multiplied! I think I have gotten everything packed minus my electronic stuff: computer, phone, chargers, converters, etc. That will all go in my backpack. We are going to run our suitcases down in a few minutes so we will have less to worry with tomorrow.

I wrote my final blog entry for SEK today. It was about my time at SEK and the differences with American schools. The entry can be found at SEK School Blog . If you scroll down, you can read all the ones that I have written (remember, look for the English ones). I also had 2 classes of 1 ESO. They were sad to see me leave. One class even chanted my name as the bell was ringing. Crazy kids!

Overall, today was bittersweet. I have enjoyed my time here and was really starting to form relationships with the students. They are getting use to me. But, I am so glad to be going home in time for the holidays. I am excited about the season and all that it brings. I am looking forward to this Sunday. My family is getting together and we are all going to make and decorate cookies!

I also just heard about my Teacher Work Sample...I got a 4 (out of 4)! I am super excited.

This will probably be my last post from Spain. We are leaving the school at 6:30 in the morning. Our flight out of Barcelona is at 10:15 am. We get to New York City (JFK airport) around 1:15 pm and then have a layover till 5:30 pm. At 5:30, we get on our last flight, that drops us off in Nashville at 7:05 pm. I have to admit, I am excited! I am ready to see my family and friends!

I think I will make my food list now:
Chili (with no beans)
tub of cookie dough from Sam's (with a spoon)
Rafferty's salad (ranch dressing)
lasagna (with meat; no tuna!)
ice water (with ice)
chicken fingers (no specifics)
rice crispies (with milk and sugar)

That should do it for a little while.

Only 11 days till Christmas!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Almost Done...

I woke up this morning determined to go to class. I actually made it through all my classes. I didn´t have a class the last hour, so I was done at 4:20.

I am still pretty sick. Jordi asked me today if I were ready to go home. I said yes, so that I can go to the doctor. He said, "oh no! They will think Spain is so bad. You got sick here!" Ha ha...I told him it was the weather and I would have gotten sick anywhere.

Our flight out of Barcelona is at 10:15 AM on Thursday. Our contact here at the school suggested that we get our bags packed and bring them down Wednesday afternoon, so we wont have to deal with them Thursday morning. The taxi is coming at 6:30 Thursday morning. Whew, that will be early since I have gotten used to school starting at 9:30!! So, I guess the rest of my night will be spent trying to relax, pack, and not get any sicker.

Schoolwise, things have been good. Last week, I had the 1 ESO students start doing time lines. It was basically just filler work to get through the holidays, or so I thought. While I was out yesterday and in class today, the teacher allowed them to continue working on their time lines. That makes nearly 3 hours of in class time to do a personal time line! I can't see that flying in most of the schools that I have been to in the US. I thought the excessive time was a little odd.

I forgot to mention this in my Paris post, but getting out of Paris has been the toughest security post yet! I took my shoes and jacket off, pulled out my 3 oz. of liquids, and had my passport ready. Yet, I somehow set off the metal detector when I went through it and my bag set off another detector. I had to be patted down and my bag was gone through by a security person. I was never sure why I got patted down, but my toothpaste didn't make it into my ziplock baggie, so they had to check on it.

Well, I am off for a nap and then to start packing. Adios!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Weekend in Paris anyone?

Our last weekend student teaching abroad has concluded. It was awesome. We were in Paris! It seems like a dream that this time yesterday we shopping in the center of Paris. We got very lucky with the weather. It had rained for nearly 2 weeks straight, but cleared up on us all day Saturday and most of Sunday.

We saw the Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower (twice), Notre Dame, and the Louvre. Everything seemed very spread out in Paris and very crowded. The trip up the Eiffel Tower took 3-4 hours. It was 15 degrees cooler in Paris than what we were used to in La Garriga or Barcelona. Here are just some pictures of the trip.
Our first stop was the Arc de Triomphe. Once you see it, you walk under the street to get to the actual monument. It is positioned in the middle of the city with a a spiderweb of streets coming out from it.
Me at the Arc de Triomphe
After the arc, we headed out to find the Eiffel Tower. It was so huge! This was the first full view of it we had.
Walked around the corner, looked up, and saw this. We thought we missed it!
Once we got closer, it looked even bigger. We walked under it to get in line to go up. There were army guys walking around with very big guns. We wondered if it were a special occasion or if this was normal.
View from the bottom
View from the top of the Eiffel Tower...that is the Arc de Triomphe
Just a cool picture of the tower...the bird wouldn't stay out of my shot.
Up next...the single, most important reason to go to Paris: the crepe! We experienced this 3 times! The first one is pictured below. The second one was chocolate and strawberries and the third was just nutella. I think I need to learn how to make these.
This was enough of a reason to go to Paris...Nutella and banana crepe!
Next, we hopped on a boat tour that took us to Notre Dame Cathedral. It was dark by this point, so it was very cold, but it was gorgeous with the Christmas tree lights on.
Notre Dame cathedral and the Christmas tree out front. I'm not sure which was more exciting for me.
 Then, back on the boat for a quick trip to the Eiffel Tower. It was all lit up and amazing.
Me at the Eiffel Tower at night, freezing
And here is a little clip of what we got to experience.

On Sunday, all we had left to see was the Louvre.

Me at the Louvre

The Mona Lisa
After the Louvre, lunch, and a little shopping, it was time to get back to the hotel. We grabbed our bags and had arranged for a taxi to take us to the airport. We landed back in Barcelona, and jumped in another taxi that took us straight to school. Overall, it was a very enjoyable weekend and a great last weekend trip for this journey.

Today is Monday and although I had a full schedule of classes, I did not go to any of them. I am still sick. And while I had fun this weekend, I think the cold air may have been a bad idea, health-wise. I was in the nurse's office getting medicine this morning for congestion. I can't hear out of my left ear. I am not sure if this is a result of the plane ride or the sinus infection. And from all the coughing in the last few weeks, I have pulled a muscle near my about sore! I can barely raise my arms above my head. Let me just say, I will be glad when the plane lands in Nashville in a few days and I can get to a real doctor and few shots!

All of my Paris pictures can be found here:  Paris 2011

I have updated my Barcelona pictures too:  Spain 2011

And if you missed them, here are my Rome pictures: Rome 2011

Friday, December 9, 2011

Going to be a great weekend...

This weekend, several of us are headed to Paris!! I am so excited! I have been there once before, many years ago. (Sarah, if you are reading my blog, I will try not to get into any trouble this time. LOL I guess its a good thing you aren't going with me!)

So far today, I woke up, showered, and headed to my first class. When I got there, Jordi told me he was sick (hopefully not my fault) and that he was going home. I wished him well, finished up the class, and then headed to Jesus' class to watch some time line presentations. 6 students went today. I heard about one student's stomach operation, one student going to school, at age 3, in China, and one student traveling so much, he needed a second passport! Whew!

After class, I headed back up to the technology room to see how the rest of my day was going to go. The door was locked. I took this as a sign of a free day for me. I came back to my room, napped, and finished packing for the weekend.

Since all of Jordi's technology classes are in Spanish, I can't do a whole lot in there. I have been writing bog entries and observing. However, last week, I was given a task! Woo hoo! He wants me to assemble a video yearbook of sorts. I am to take all the students' school pictures for the last 5 years, match all the students up, and develop a slideshow to show how much they have changed. Jordi says it will be displayed at the end of the school year. So, for several days last week and this week, this is what I have been working on. I started with 3 ESO, (Freshmen) and found all their pictures for the last 5 years. It was very interesting to see how much the students have changed! Hopefully, this project will keep me occupied till the middle of next week, when I return home.

Well, I am off to nap again before it is time to leave for Paris! I wish I had some Aleve Cold and Sinus right now!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Last Barcelona sightseeing adventure

Today, was our last day to go into Barcelona to sight see. Fortunately, we have seen everything there except for Guadi's Park Guell. We took a train to Barcelona and then bussed to the park. The park was like a huge maze. There were walkways and stairs all over the place.  We covered the majority of the park before we found food. Then, we were able to see all the mosaic tiling details in the center area.

Me and the Lizard

Sitting on the bench
One of the many entrances
So, my next picture is a shout out to my aunt Laura. When my brother Matthew and I were little, I remember a conversation we all had in the car about paying to poop. I have no idea what brought on this discussion or how it concluded, but I remember it being the funniest thing. We wondering if you were using the restroom when your time was up, if the door would just swing open. Well, today at the park, they had port-a-potties that you had to pay for! You actually had to insert coins before you could go in. Seeing them, brought a smile to my face as I remembered our car conversation.
Restrooms are called water closets
Today was a pretty easy day and a good way to wrap up our Barcelona adventures. Tomorrow, we leave for Paris! We will be leaving during last period to catch the train before traffic hits. I am not sure what all we are going to do in Paris, or if I will be able to blog while there. There are a few sights on our must see list: Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame cathedral, the Louvre, Moulin Rouge, etc.

I hope everyone has a great weekend. I will be thinking about all the Christmas goodies that my family will be making on Sunday. I hope there is plenty left when I get home!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Hump day already?

Good morning all!

Today is Wednesday and the first day of school this week. We all went to Vic on Monday, and yesterday, several of us went to Barcelona. We got an earlier start by catching the 10:20 train with several things to do while in Barcelona. Up first was a ride on the tram from the Olympic area down to the Mediterranean Sea. Well, who knew there were two different trams in Barcelona? So, instead of getting to the beach, we found another cool sight, the Montjuïc Castle. It sits atop Montjuïc hill and was built in 1640 during the Reaper's War. The view from the top was amazing. You were able to see the city and the sea.
City View!
Sea View!
Me and the Sea!

Still wanting to get to the sea, we jumped on a bus headed down. We got off at a familiar stop and started walking. Some time later, we arrived at the beach! It was amazing. The sand was clean, the water was blue, and the waves crashing were amazing. (I borrowed some Mediterranean Sea sand and a few rocks.) We ate lunch/dinner at a restaurant nearby. I had roast chicken; it was delicious.
The Mediterranean Sea
Me and the Mediterranean Sea

After food, we headed back to the train, stopping a little to shop. On the way back to the train station, I was once again, pleasantly excited to see the Christmas decorations!

Update: my health is improving. I have one more dose of my miracle juice. Hopefully, I wont have to get more. Last night, was the first night I actually slept in several days. I still woke up coughing, but I was able to get some good rest. I have to get better...we're headed to Paris this weekend!

Also, today in technology class, I made a new blog entry. It can be found at SEK Blog . Enjoy! My two geography classes are doing presentations again on Friday. I found a website where the students can create timelines of their lives. They have been working on these in class and will present Friday. I will try to video and upload some highlights. I am learning some cool stuff about my students this way.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Not bad for a Monday

First things first, I visited a pharmacy today! The pharmacies are set up differently than in the United States. Any medicine, prescription or not, is behind the counter. I had to ask the pharmacist for something. Kudos to myself for writing down some of the keywords such as cough suppressant, sinus medication, non drowsy, decongestant, etc. beforehand. So, when it was my turn at the counter, I just showed the woman my paper with the words and she said, "ah, ok." She pointed to her head, and I said no, meaning I did not have a headache or fever, and then she disappeared. She went to the back, opened a drawer, and pulled out a bottle of miracle juice. I paid, left, found a bench, and took a big gulp....nasty! (It was definitely cough medicine!) Hopefully, after a couple of days it will help. I also purchased 8 rolls of cough drops.
My miracle juice...hopefully
 Next, we went to a nearby town, Vic, to the 16th annual Medieval Market and Festival. We had a really good time. It was much cooler than we expected, but I had a jacket, so I was good. The first thing we did was eat. We found a booth where they were cutting meat off a big mass of meat and slapping it on a roll...sounded good! The sign said ham, but it didn't really taste like ham. It had a really good smokey taste though. Next, we headed to the dessert booth. I bought donuts and a massive brownie. I ate a donut and saved the rest for later. There were lots of people walking around dressed in medieval attire. There were also places for little kids to buy swords and shields, ride donkeys, and play on a medieval playground. There was even a guy playing with fire and molding glass.
Medieval Market and Festival

A kabob booth
A funny story about the picture below. These people were dressed up at the medieval festival and playing around with all the children. I tried to snap a picture. When one of them realized what I was doing, they stopped moving and posed. I said, "thank you," and they came running over, excited that we were speaking English. She asked where we were from, I replied, "United States." She then said that one of them was going to visit the US in a few weeks, and in particular Pittsburgh. She asked where we were from and I replied with, "Kentucky." She got very excited and said, "chicken!" Its funny how Kentucky is known, even in Spain, for KFC. We shared a laugh (and then made sure they didn't steal our money).
Medieval Festival Performers
After walking around for several hours, we were ready to head back to La Garriga. We stopped for one last treat, a chocolate muffin filled with white chocolate...can you say, breakfast?
I hope this is as good as it looks...I will let you know tomorrow after breakfast!

We hopped back on the train and stopped at the store in La Garriga. I bought some really good chocolate, to bring home as gifts, of course. Tomorrow, we are heading back to Barcelona to tour some more.

Last Weekend in Barcelona

Good morning all! I apologize for not writing this weekend; it has been a little crazy. We went into Barcelona both days to sight see and shop, since this will be our last weekend opportunity. Next weekend, we are headed to Paris!

Saturday, we all slept in (or tried). My coughing had me up around 7:30. Took some medicine and relaxed till we left for the train. When we got to Barcelona, we headed straight for some gelato. Yum! Then, we made our way towards the 1992 Summer Olympics stadium. We couldn't believe that the Olympics were nearly 20 years ago. I remember watching them on television when I was little! After taking several pictures, we headed towards the Mediterranean Sea. Once there, we were basically starving and decided to find food, fast!
Mare Magnum restaurant where we ate dinner
We found this place right at the end of the pier that seated us at a window so we could look out over the Mediterranean Sea while we ate. The food was good. I had potatoes covered in a spicy sauce and chicken with asparagus. After eating, we headed back to the train station to catch the last train back to La Garriga. Of course, we stopped for gelato, again! After gelato, we were walking and amazed to see that the Christmas lights were turned on! Below is a movie of snowflakes dancing on the El Corte Ingles mall store front. I was crossing traffic, so it does turn sideways a little at one point. But this made my day! I love Christmas lights. If you listen, you can hear the music playing too!

On Sunday, we wanted to get an earlier start to make sure we got a lot of shopping in. We headed to Barcelona and made our way to Las Ramblas, a lively promenade in the center of Barcelona. The street had shops on both sides and, on the weekends, booths set up of homemade items including jewelry, leather stuff, and art. We looped around this area twice to pick up some souvenirs and gifts for ourselves. I purchased my first piece of Barcelona art! It is a ceramic/oil painting of Casa Mila, a famous building in Barcelona designed by the Catalan architect, Gaudi. The painting is by a local artist, Elena Mendez.
My art purchase

We walked around the sea for a few hours and finally headed back to La Garriga so one of the girls could attend mass at 8 PM. It was a long day, but very enjoyable.

Today, Monday, we are heading to another town, Vic, for a medieval festival. We have heard that it is awesome! I will report back with my opinion. Also on the agenda, finding a pharmacy! I need some cough medicine!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Donkeys, Bats, and Chocolate...Oh my!

The week is over! I have to say that I am glad. I am still very sick and want some time to relax. Unfortunately, one of my roommates left us a few days ago due to medical problems. She went back to Kentucky to take care of herself and hopefully get better soon! Then, my other two flatmates left early this morning, headed to Paris! I hope they have a good time. But, with everyone leaving, that leaves me with the flat to myself. I hope the cooks are aware and don't bring me a refrigerator full of food!

Today, I gave my US Geography presentation for the fourth time. My teacher tells me its because its good. Anyways, the kids today were 2 ESO, so 8th graders. These particular students only take courses in Spanish, unlike the majority of the SEK students who take classes in Spanish and English. Therefore, there was definitely a language barrier between us today, yet we pieced the presentation together nicely. I told the students about the Grand Canyon and how some people will ride donkeys down to the bottom of it. First, I had to explain what a donkey was. All I could think of (start laughing now) was "ehh-ahh." I made sounds like a donkey until they understood. Once they understood, they wanted to know, "Why Americans ride donkeys to bottom of canyon?" I laughed and said that some Americans are weird. I also explained that Mammoth Cave has bats. My demonstration of a bat looked more like a chicken, but they got the gist.

While writing this blog entry, the cooks brought the food for the weekend. Apparently, they didn't get the memo that it was just going to be me. I tried to explain to them, but they didn't understand. So, I whipped out Google Translate on my laptop to communicate with them. They read and then said "ohhhh, solo!" They started laughing and making fat faces..ha ha. I guess I am still expected to eat everything. Here are a few pictures of all the food. Anyone want to swing by for dinner?

They thought that there would be two of us here over the weekend...I don't know any two people who could eat all of this in one weekend. I recognized spaghetti, pizza, salad, chicken (in 4 dishes), vegetables, etc. Also, notice two cartons of milk, 8 juice boxes, and a loaf of bread on top of the refrigerator. 

And yet there is more...a plate full of sweets and cakes, fruit, and 2 loaves of bread.

Still not done...everything red is a chocolate bar!

Thursday, December 1, 2011


I wanted to share with you a glimpse of what my 4 ESO students are doing in technology class. I know I have mentioned how cool the Lego Mindstorm kits are, but I wanted you to see first hand.

This first video is of a group of 3 students just starting to work with the motor and controller. That is my teacher, Jordi, in the striped shirt, showing them how to connect it.

This next video is of a pair of students working on their elevator. The video is after two days of assembling when they hit a roadblock. They were attempting to use gears to transfer the direction of power. But their gears are not matching up and the rod is not rigid enough to hold up the weight. This is problem solving at its best. What you don't see is that in the end, they scratch the idea of gears and go to a simpler pulley system.

And here are just a couple of other pictures of students working (Notice the pink walls, lol). I am also working on another blog entry for the school. I will post sometime in the middle of next week. We don't have school next Monday, Tuesday, or Thursday! I figured it; I only have 6 more school days here...that's crazy! Where has the time gone?

As mentioned, my flat is in the primary building above all the little kids' classrooms. There is nothing more hilarious than in the afternoon, when school is letting out and I am trying to get up to my flat, and am bombarded with 5 year olds barreling down the stairs, each with a rolling backpack. Seriously, are crayons that heavy that they need rolling backpacks?? Too cute! We have joked that most of the little kiddos are under the 50 lb weight limit and could be packed in our luggage.

Also, my mom told that one of my links from yesterday's blog couldn't be watched without a youtube account...sorry for that. If you missed it, go down and try it today. I think I fixed it. It is a quick watch, 2 minutes. US Geography Presentation