Thursday, 19 November 2015

Hello again! 
Sorry this one's a bit late again, I wanted to be able to write a decent amount for once! I continue to have a lovely time here in Oviedo; the weather has been simply gorgeous, my lessons have been easy to teach, and I was helped along by a mid-week parcel from home as well!

I had a four-day weekend again last week, as the teacher I work with on Mondays was unable to come into school, and said I needn't bother coming in either! I took advantage of the extra time, and did my first proper food-shop at Carrefour, which is like a monster Asda selling everything under the sun. (Everything....except mincemeat. But I'll come to that later.) I also spent my Sunday afternoon with my friend for our regular maccy's meetup in town, which was lovely as always!

If anything, one thing which was a bit more of a challenge this week was working out what I was going to do in my classes, since there aren't really any other celebrations in England until Christmas now. However, my teacher friend who drives me to and from school most days, has spent a lot of time in the USA, and so suggested I do Thanksgiving! Now, aside from the wonderful Thanksgiving episodes of 'Friends', I can't say I know a lot about Thanksgiving, but the story turned out to be very straight-forward, and I learned a lot as well! And, with my bilingual classes, I even got to watch a few clips from 'Friends' to ahem..."practise their listening skills." They all found it very funny when Joey gets the turkey stuck on his head, so I'd say it went well!!

Going back to Carrefour: I wanted to let the teachers at school and maybe some of the students, try some typically English or Cumbrian food or sweets, since I'm spending my year eating dinner at 3pm and tea at 10pm (still weird). However, as hard as I tried, I could not find any ingredients to make the things I wanted to! I had originally planned to make my own Cinder Toffee in time for Bonfire Night, but nowhere had Bicarbonate of Soda, and golden syrup was nowhere to be seen! So I enlisted my parents, and they sent me 3 huge bags of cinder toffee, and 6 bars of Kendal Mint Cake- brilliant!! Unfortunately, Kendal Mint Cake doesn't stretch far enough for all my students to try a piece, but I did manage to give a bit to the majority of the teachers, to which they all replied "Ooh, minty!?" but I think it was a hit :D Luckily, there was enough cinder toffee to sink a ship, so all of my students (well, the well-behaved ones that is) got a small piece each, and several rushed up to me at the end of the lesson to ask me "What is it? Can I buy it in Spain? How do I make it!?" so I apologise in advance to many sets of Spanish parents whose kitchens may be filled with overflowing pans of toffee this week!!
One thing that I am still struggling to cope with however, is mince pies (I told you I'd come to it!) since it is almost impossible to find currants or sultanas here, let alone mixed peel or a lonely jar of mincemeat, and I'm blowed if I'm going to spend £20 on postage to get a jar of Waitrose's Own Mincemeat from Amazon!! I really really really want to make some so that my flatmates and teachers at school can maybe try some since the sweets were such a success, so I think this weekend I'll be exploring some more supermarkets in a vain attempt to find some. Fingers crossed.

Steering myself away from food now, I can't believe it's only a month until I come home for Christmas! 4 piddly little weeks and I'll be en route to Stansted airport. Hoooww have I been in Spain for this long already? It seems to have flown by, and I don't know if that's a good thing or bad thing- part of me wants to live in Oviedo, and part of me wants this year to be over and done with so I can carry on with life back home! I've been so happy here so far, and my Spanish has improved dramatically, but, despite not being homesick, there are definitely a million things I miss about home. Especially at Christmas!

That's all for this week! Sorry there hasn't been any photos this time, when you go to the same places all the time you sort of run out of things to take pictures of haha. Speak soon! xxx
PS- Helen, I started writing this as soon as you told me during mine and Alex's phone call!!

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Better late than never!

Hola a todos!

As you might have guessed from the title, I completely forgot to write this until now! Although, I haven't had internet for the past 2 days so perhaps it wasn't entirely my fault. Luckily it is fixed now, thank goodness because I was sure I'd turn mad if I had to spend any more time playing Candy Crush on my phone or watching peculiar Spanish television (there was The Big Bang Theory, but listening to Sheldon in Spanish is not something I intend to make a habit of!!)

I've had a lovely week-and-a-bit, all my lessons have been running smoothly and after about a month of desperate trips to Santander down the road, my bank account is finally sorted so I can pay my rent. WOOHOO! I know I'm not the only Year Abroad student to have had problems in this respect by far, and I can tell you now that it *does* get easier. I was lucky enough to find a branch in which the man spoke a little English, so he helped me every time I returned with some new disaster. To be honest I think my ever-obvious Englishness was a source of quiet amusement for him.

In my lessons last week, I did of course cover Guy Fawkes Night, and I have to say how jealous I was seeing everyone posting on Facebook about fireworks and bonfires! I think the students were interested in it, because of course they don't celebrate it here, and predictably all the boys demonstrated the effects of gunpowder with fabulous sound effects! I had to laugh though as at one point a girl asked me if we had the day off to celebrate- pffft! She looked completely shocked when I told her we didn't have very many bank holidays or festivos, buuuut they did seem to like the idea of half term, having two weeks holiday in the middle of October!!

The weekend was lovely as well, as the sun came out and I could happily wander along the road to Carrefour to do my weekly shop, and then on Saturday night me and my flatmates ordered Chinese takeaway - something which I have sorely missed about Leeds! - and watched Aladdin (in Spanish of course) on the TV. I found it interesting that so many of the lines lost their meaning in translation, like for example, the Genie turns into a sheep and says he feels sheepish, which of course would not make sense as the words are different! And again, he buzzes around Aladdin's head telling him to "Bee yourself", which again would not be funny unless you understood the English play-on-words! Even so, it was was a nice evening as we don't often get the chance to all sit down together, so perhaps we will do more often in future.

Autumn has arrived in Oviedo!

I'm finding it hard to believe it's almost the middle of November already, I'll be coming home in just over a month! There are a few similarities between Asturias and England, but one of my favourites has got to be the weather. I know the majority of people go to Spain for the southern sun, but when I leave my flat in the morning to walk to get my lift to school, I love nothing more than it feeling like an English November morning; cold, crisp and beautiful wintery sunshine. All it needs is a touch of frost on the grass, and perhaps I'd forget I was even abroad! (Although I suspect the palm trees might give me a hint)

Cold, sunny, clear skies outside my flat
I'm sure I'll have more to talk about this time next week, and I might even remember to post on time! That's all for now, Happy Belated Bonfire Night!

Hasta luego xxx

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Hit the 6 Week Mark

Buenos días!

 Another good week gone by, can't believe I've been here for 6 weeks! Had another fun week of Halloween lessons, and even got to watch a bit of Harry Potter with a few of my classes (I said it was to improve their listening skills, but honestly, who doesn't want to watch a bit Harry Potter now and then?) so now I'm all geared-up for a couple of weeks of Guy Fawkes and Bonfire Night! It's bank holiday yet *again* tomorrow so luckily I have fewer classes to plan, and more time to plan them, which is nice.
 Can't tell you how weird it's going to feel on the 5th of November and not going to see any fireworks though, really going to miss trekking down to Hyde Park in Leeds with everyone, buying a ton of sparklers and trying not to get shot down by one of the many inevitable people who brought their own fireworks to the show! 

School decorated for Halloween!
I didn't do anything other than school festivity for Halloween either actually, although I've found a goldmine of old Doctor Who episodes so instead of celebrating I've been immersing myself in David Tennant and Billie Piper (the golden age, let's be honest.) 

I did have my two private lessons again this week, which are always so lovely. Learning farm animals with my four-year-old pupil with the help of a few colouring pages, as I had naively believed I would be able to leave him to do that by himself, giving me time to work out what I could do next. However, he handed me every red crayon in his pencil case and insisted furiously "Pintas! Pintas!" and then proceeded to colour over all of my colouring with his own crayon! Adorable, but perhaps not quite what I intended, so this weekend I managed to find a book of English children's songs with a CD, so hopefully I will be able to use that to more success!
My conversation classes with the English teacher are particularly enjoyable as it feels more like I'm going to see a friend for a chat (albeit a friend who occasionally asks me about relative pronouns and the like.) This week I had the pleasure of meeting her family as they gave me a lift home. Normally, you can't help but feel a little bit doomed when they ask "Do you speak much Spanish ?" and while you plan to answer "A bit", your friend replies "Oh yes, very well!" *gulp*, but they were very kind and all seemed pleasantly surprised and encouraging over my attempts at fluent conversation! 

The short walk to the shop down the road

Despite having plenty of time on my hands, I very rarely get much done, since I'm usually a bit drained after a morning of unruly children, but me and a couple of other language assistant girls (from that WhatsApp group I mentioned a while back) made plans to meet up on Saturday. Unfortunately one couldn't make it in the end, but the remaining two of us spent the afternoon shopping, and of course, went to Primark and Maccy D's as a kind of pilgrimage. I think that's one thing I definitely miss about England is the shopping. There are some shops in the city centre, but not the ones you can spend ages meandering about in, and I sort of miss the Leeds Student Union's little card shop and going to Muffin Break for lunch. But anyway, these little weekend meet-ups seem to be becoming more frequent, so hopefully I won't be spending the majority of my Saturdays in bed eating nutella on toast :D

And with that hope, I'll be off! It's getting a bit more difficult to find things to talk about really, so fingers crossed for my Guy Fawkes Night lessons being worth a good post next week!

Besos xxx

Iglesia de Noreña, outside of my school