Saturday, October 31, 2009

Yessica, Mañana Halloween!

Well this week at school was dedicated completely to Halloween. We forgot about science and English grammar and focused on Halloween activities only. The kids were so excited about Halloween we started a countdown in class. It was a little different to go from the US where holidays are not allowed to be celebrated in school to Spain where they reserved an entire week for a holiday. Every day of the week we had a different activity like a craft, snack, or song to do or learn. We decorated the hallways of the school with bats that the kids made, streamers, and Halloween pictures. In Maria Jesus's class I helped to put up spider webs around the class and did a play for the kids based off of The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. We also learned a Halloween rap which the kids absolutely loved. In my 3rd grade class, we watched The Nightmare Before Christmas and made monster finger puppets. After spending the whole week decorating and getting ready, Friday was finally Halloween! In the morning the fourth graders put on a Halloween play for the school which was so cute! Then after lunch, all the kids got dressed up to go trick or treating around school and have a Halloween party. All the boys dressed as vampires and all the girls dressed as witches. There is not much originality when it comes to costumes in Spain and everyone is something scary. I was assigned to help out with the 5 year olds to help them put on their costumes, the whole class was vampires and help them put on makeup. Then we went from class to class to go trick or treating. The kids had to sing the trick-or-treat smell my feet song in order to get candy. It was so cute! I dressed up as a pirate and everyone really liked my costume (maybe because I wasn't a witch hahaha). We ended the day with a Halloween party outside on the patio. All the parents brought snacks and candy and there was a lot of music. The other auxiliares and I set up a booth where kids could reach into a bag with peeled grapes and cold spaghetti etc to try and guess what body part they thought it was. Even though the kids acted like they were really grossed out, but I think they loved it. I really had fun with Halloween but it was exhausting! Here are some pictures!

My pirate costume! Here I'm holding out some hotdogs for the kids to touch... they were supposed to be fingers!

Another auxiliar, Rich, dressed as a mummy with some of the teachers from school.

Some of the kids from my fourth grade class preforming a Halloween play.

The hallways at school!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Los fin de semanas madrileños

When Friday rolls around and school lets out it is officially my 3 day weekend (el fin de semana) since I have Mondays off woohoo! I have been staying in Madrid for most of the weekends just to get to know the city and because I don't have any money at the moment. I get paid at the end of October thank goodness! But the nice thing about being in a big city is there is lots to do! This weekend I went out for tapas on Friday night. We went to this little tapas place called El Tigre which is famous because they give you free tapas with any drink order. We ordered glasses of wine and got patatas bravas, croquetas, bread with jamon and cheese. It was amazing! On Saturday I slept in, went to the grocery store, and then to frisbee practice. On Saturdays, Los Quijotes have a scrimmage for about 2 hours and whoever comes out can play. Its really fun and I really like the people on the team. When I got to the field we usually play on it was a total wreck. There had been a concert there the night before and there were beer bottles everywhere. So after driving around for about an hour to find another field we finally found a really nice one with grass! (all the other fields have been really really hard dirt) After we played they announced there was going to be a team party which I was excited about because its hard to get to know people when you are playing. So Saturday night I went to one of the capitan's houses to botellon (have a couple drinks and hang out) and there were about 15 people from the team there. So I got to talk to the players which was really fun. Then around 2:30 we went to a bar slash club that was decorated like a pirate ship which was awesome in a cheesy way. The music was really cool and we danced the night away. It was fun to hang out with the team and I hope they will be good group of friends. Sunday is the day of rest and that is usually all I do. I slept in and after lunch I met with some friends in one of my favorite places in Madrid Parque del Buen Retiro (the picture at the top) which literally means the Park of Good Rest. It was a really nice day out and nothing else is usually open on Sunday so the park is a great place to go. We relaxed in the sun and threw the frisbee around for a bit. Its a perfect way to spend a Sunday! Next week is Halloween week at my school and we are going to do something everyday for Halloween which I'm really excited about and so are the kids! Can't wait! I'll write about it an hopefully take some pictures!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Day in the Life

Since the first time I posted about my life at school I was in a hurry to finish because I was writing at school and our internet only works half the time. I didn't get to put very many details about my daily schedule. Soooooo here we go! I arrive at school everyday at 9:30 and before going to class I usually stop to talk to the other auxiliares. There are 3 other auxiliares at my school-Rachael, Rich, and Yazmyn. Rachael, Rich, and I are all only working at Andres Segovia but Yazmyn comes 2 days a week to our school and 2 days to another school. They are all really nice and it has been nice to have people to collaborate with on things like celebrating Halloween etc. At 9:30 I start my first class with the professor I spend the majority of my day with, Maria Jesus. She has been so welcoming to me and has offered to go out to coffee to practice Spanish as well as bring me books written in Spanish. She teaches both the fourth grade classes in English and Science so we begin the morning with either English class or science class (which is taught in English). I really like both of the classes, the kids are so sweet and eager to answer your questions. Many times I take one part of the class out into the hallway to work more one-on-one with the students. After class from 9:30 to 10:30, I have my second class with Maria Jesus from 10:30 to 11:30. At 11:30 we have a break, called Recreo, where the kids go out to the playground to play futbol and hang out with their friends. The teachers have a coffee break where coffee, tea, juice and snacks are served. Its awesome! After recreo, I either go back to Maria Jesus's class or to my 3rd grade class which I help teach with the headmistress Belen. She is so much fun to work with and the kids in that class are wonderful! I also help them with English and science class. Twice a week I also help teach 2 classes of 5 year olds. They are super cute but such a handful! Its really hard to get them to concentrate on anything. After a class from 12 to 1, we break for 2 hours for lunch. The first hour is free time/planning time for the teachers and I use it to check my email or read. At 2 lunch is served, I eat half the time at the school and half the time I bring my lunch from home because it is about 4 euros every day. At 3 I have another class either with Maria Jesus or Belen that lasts til 3:45 then my last class of the day is from 3:45 to 4:30. After lunch is the hardest time to teach because the kids are either really hyper from lunch or really tired. But I love all the kids at school and they very affecionate so they come up and give me hugs everyday which I love! After 4:30, I either walk to catch the train home or give private classes. I am still working with Isabel the 2 year old and also give classes to 2 kids from school on Friday afternoons. Working, giving classes, and now playing Ultimate definitely is keeping me busy but it is nice to have a schedule and things to do!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Ultimate Frisbee- Madrid style

After playing ultimate on the club team at UNC for 2 years and loving it, I was interested to see if there was any opportunity to play in Madrid. I googled ultimate in Madrid and lo and behold there was an team here! They are a coed team called Los Quijotes (very fitting) who also play sometimes as a womens and open team depending on the tournament. The men's is called Los Quijotes and the women's is called Las Dulcineas (she was the woman Don Quijote was in love with haha). The team has open practices for whoever wants to come on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Once you have come for a while and the players get to know you and your abilities you can be invited to practice with the team on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I went to my first practice on Wednesday and it was so fun! We threw a little bit, did a quick cutting drill, and played for the rest of the time. I am really excited to just have an opportunity to play and hope to move up to practice with the team. The captains held a team meeting for returning and new players and explained the requirements to be on the team and go to tournaments. So far the people on the team have been really cool and its been a good way to meet people and get exercise. The team has a website if you want to check it out:

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Spanish take their holidays seriously

This Monday all of Madrid had a holiday so a lot of people left the city but Tory, Allison, and I decided to stick around town. Wanting to do a little bit of traveling, we decided to take a day trip to Aranjuez, a city about 45 minutes outside of the city. It was an easy train ride from the center of Madrid to Aranjuez and one thing I love about Madrid is how good their public transportation system is. In Aranjuez there is the Royal Palace that was built by Felipe II and Fernando VI lived there. The palace was built by Juan Battista who is a famous Spanish architect. We got to Aranjuez and went to tour the palace. It was absolutely beautiful and all of the rooms were done in Rococo style which means they were uber-decorated. They had everything from a throne room to a Arabian library. We toured the palace and saw an exhibition on Palace life which included tons of abanicos, or fans, that the queens used. After the palace, we walked around in the gardens of the palace that were called Jardines de la Isla (Gardens of the Isle) because the king built his own river and lake around the palace so it would be on somewhat of an island. The gardens were definitely my favorite part of the day because they seemed to go on forever and there were tons of fountains and places to rest and relax. After walking in the gardens we stopped at a cerveceria to grab some sandwiches, beers, and patatas bravas for lunch. Delish! We also stopped to get the famous dessert from Aranjuez which was the freson con nata. It is a combination of berries like strawberries, blackberries, raspberries topped with the best whipped cream I have ever had. I am usually not a big fan of whipped cream but it was really thick and creamy almost like icecream but not cold. I might have to go back just for the dessert!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The wonders of Ikea

I mentioned that our apartment came fully furnished but it was lacking some personality like our pictures etc. It didn't really feel like home because we don't have too many things to put in it. However, there is also an Ikea in Madrid that is accessible by metro. Now I know that Ikea has recently come to Charlotte, but I didn't get the chance to go before I left. Clearly, I had to go for the first time while I was here. It was FANTASTIC! It was so big and it was so fun to walk through all the different display rooms to see what they had. Ikea had about a bazillion things to choose from and it made me want my own apartment to decorate (with an unlimited budget of course). We went to get just get place mats, picture frames, and more silverware but we came out with about 20 things more. After going down to the storeroom we got a bunch of picture frames to put around our living room, some candles for our table, and some odds and ends for the kitchen. We topped off the whole afternoon by eating at the Ikea restaurant and as we were leaving the entire staff broke out in a choreographed dance to Mamma Mia by ABBA which totally made my day! All in all a productive day and I am now in love with Ikea! Here are some pics of our apartment with our new decor!

Our table complete with the lava lamp our landlord's son gave us (yessssss) and our Panaphone bought from a Chino (the equivalent to a Spanish dollar store) which advertised on the box: Works in the world!

The new candles on our living room table.

Our pictures!!! These definitely make the apartment feel more homey.

Our new and improved dining table.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Ch-ch-check out my escuela!

I forgot to mention what school I am working in and I guess that is kind of important haha. I am working in a school about 45 minutes outside of Madrid, a town called Leganes. The school's name is CEIP Andres Segovia (Andres Segovia is a famous Spanish guitar player) and it is a primary and infant school so the age range is 3-11. Here is the website if you would like to check it out: Later I will try to take some pictures of the school!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Send me mail!

We have wireless in our apartment now yay! If you want to send me snail mail I would love you forever! Here's my address:
Jessica Alcorn
Calle de la Concepcion Jeronima 10
Madrid, Madrid 28012

Friday, October 2, 2009

Updates, orientation, and first day of school oh my!

Right now we do not have wifi in our apartment and we are working on getting it installed. Needlessy to say, I haven´t been able to update the blog recently. However, a lot has been happening here! This weekend I went to the Prado which was amazing because I took an art history class last semester. I did my final project on the works of Goya, a very famous Spanish painter, so it was fantastic to see the real thing. I also went to the festival for Madrid´s candidacy in the 2016 Olympics which was really cool. Every side of the festival had a different color piece of paper to hold up either blue, green, yellow, or red (we were in the green section). I saw in the paper yesterday the arial view and it was awesome so I decided to put it on my blog for you lovely readers. In other news I went to the orientation for my program on Monday and Tuesday of this week which was really helpful. They told us what our typical day would look like as a auxiliar de conversacion and some ideas of ways we can help the teachers. On Thursday it was my first day of school! Our coordinator Vanesa picked me and the 3 other auxiliares working at my school up from the train station. We then got a tour of the school and met each class so they would know who we are. Their faces when we walked in were priceless, they were all so excited to see Americans and native English speakers. We also go our schedules and I will be working with primarily 4th grade, some 3rd grade, and some with 5 year olds. I work Tuesday to Friday from 9:30 to 4:30 and I have Mondays off which is fabulous. Now 9:30 to 4:30 may seem like a long day but the Spanish loooooove their breaks. At 11:30 we get a half hour break for coffee and snacks with the other teachers. I think all schools should operate like this. Then from 1 to 3 we have a lunch break. They serve lunch at school and it is SO good. So far I have had the 5 year olds and 3rd grade and they were both really good. Spanish schools are a lot different from American schools in that the kids are really loud but I´m getting used to it. All the kids are super excited to have someone from a different county to be in class with them. The only hard part is that all the auxiliares have to pretend that we don´t speak any Spanish so the kids have to speak in English to us. It is hard to not let Spanish slip when I can understand everything they say. But they are convinced I don´t speak a lick of Spanish and that they are going to teach me some hahaha. I will update more after I have my first whole week of school next week. Hasta luego!