Thursday, 17 March 2016

It's been a while! (Again)

Buenos tardes!

Wow, I really am late this time round! I haven't even been that busy really, but February seemed to whizz by. 
 I did some fantastic Valentine's lessons at school- it's celebrated pretty much the same way worldwide so instead I taught them some English pet names and common nicknames for friends and loved ones. It was so much fun because something that sounds so normal to me, sounds so strange to another country/language! For example, I told them that 'sausage' was a fairly normal one- I was called that as a child, and I've known couples call each other it sometimes, but the kids at school thought it was absolutely hysterical!! I got a similar reaction to 'muffin' and 'stinky', although I of course made sure they understood that you have to say it in a nice way!! 
It was also quite interesting for me to see which ones they had already heard of; 'baby', 'honey', 'darling', 'sweetheart' and the ever-notorious 'bae' were fairly well-known, and there were a few really random ones as well like 'babydoll' and 'pumpkin' that they'd heard from TV. Similarly with friendly nicknames, they'd heard of 'dude' and 'bro' from TV, but didn't know 'babe' or 'chick' or 'mate', so we had a good time, I quickly realised how many food-words we use as affectionate names in English, and they even told me a few Spanish ones! So the week or so after my last post was great fun.

Oviedo Carnaval Lego People

Something I had almost forgotten about that happened in February was the Oviedo Carnaval celebration! Unfortunately I missed a lot of the festivities because unbeknownst to me, they had been going on in a lot of different places on different days, but I did at least catch the parade! It absolutely chucked it down, but the costumes were incredible, and I saw a lot of great Samba Bands and Star Wars groups making their way down Calle Uría, all of whom were dressed to the nines in amazingly detailed outfits! (For some reason Dropbox has clearly sent those photos and clips to another dimension of my computer, but here are a couple of the other groups I saw that day!)
Carnaval! Ursula, Ariel and Sebastian

 The end of February to early March was by far the best part of the past few weeks, as my favourite person finally came to visit me, I had my 21st birthday, AND went to Disneyland for the first time ever (I know, I was neglected of Disney Magic as a child) in Paris. Let us begin...
My main failure at the moment is my cooking, so I took full advantage of my stay-at-home chef and much to his delight, I gave in to his begging me to try proper seafood and we made an absolutely delicious paella: chicken, chorizo, squid and clams! Although I loved the squid and clams, I have to say I was a bit freaked out when we went to the fish counter at the supermarket and saw a man buying 3 GIGANTIC spider-crabs still crawling and wiggling in the bag *shudders*.

Ta-Daaa! How pretty!?
We spent several afternoons wandering around Oviedo, we went to Avilés to have coffee and bizcocho with a friend of mine, and also spent a rather lovely evening exploring Gijón; a beautiful city which I'd only previously explored a little, and now can't wait to go back this Saturday! The weather thankfully stayed nice for us, and we walked along the harbour-side and then back through the town to have a nosy in all the lovely shops. Elliot's eagle-eyes spotted a convenient "bonbonería" and we found the most gorgeous little artesan chocolate shop! The owner was clearly very proud of her work, helped us decide which ones to buy, told us how they were all hand-made and even let us try a couple for free! In the end we decided on 6, and while I am well aware that the bottom two look less than appealing (!) they were each as delicious as the last:
A light lunch in Avilés

My only shot of Gijon was this rather poor panorama!!

 I had work on my birthday, and all day I had a stream of students approach me nervously in the corridors, whisper "How do you say 'Happy Birthday' in English?" to someone nearby and then give me the biggest grins when they finally said it to me- super cute. Since I couldn't spend my birthday with all of my friends and family, I wanted a fairly relaxed evening, so we found a bowling alley in the big out-of-town shopping centre, and spent a good few hours there bowling and playing in the arcade. After each game in the arcade, you could win tickets, and we (well, I say 'we', mostly Elliot) won enough to get me a Toothless (from How to Train Your Dragon) toy, which I was very happy with until I realised I would then have to carry it all the way home and to the nice restaurant we went into for my birthday dinner!! With Toothless stowed in my coat, we had a seriously tasty dinner of patatas y bacon con salsa brava y salsa ali-oli (basically fried potatoes with bacon, with spicy brava sauce and delicous ali-oli) and then an equally delicious pizza each!

His 4-Cheese and my prosciutto pizza
I'm sure most of you reading this are well aware of my birthday trip to Disneyland Paris for the weekend, so I won't linger too long on it, but safe to say, it was the best birthday present I have ever received, I had the best time despite the rain and snow (!), it was more magical than I could've hoped for and I can't wait to go back one day!

My favourite photo of the entire year

 I can't say I have much more to say, this week I've been doing about Easter and St. Patrick's Day at school (have to say, a shocking number of people didn't know that Ireland was its own country/used the euro etc., so I cleared that up!!) and I got plenty of happy reactions to my Easter powerpoint as it contained a good number of fluffy bunnies and other adorable Easter animals! The thing I enjoy most is hearing them talk about their own celebrations and traditions in comparison to ours, and I will be taking my parents and Grandma to a small local village party called 'Huevos Pintos' (painted eggs) on the 29th just out of curiosity! Thankfully the weather is starting to feel much more Springy (boiing), so hopefully it should be a lovely next few weeks!

Talk soon, hasta luego! xxx

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Back to Work!

Hello again! Sorry it's taken so long for me to start writing again; once you get out of the habit, it's hard to get back into it again!

I went back to work on January 11th, and after only 3 weeks back in the UK I have to admit I was *not* ready to work again- whose stupid idea was it to start the school day at 8.35?! January passed me by quite slowly, because there isn't much going on, and once you've covered the whole " was your Christmas? What did the 3 Kings bring you?" lesson, you really have to think of actual things to do! (Nb. For Spanish kids, it's the 3 Kings who bring their gifts rather than Santa Claus, so they get a 'Santa present' at Christmas, but have the majority of presents on the 6th January!)
The teacher I worked with retired before Christmas, but luckily her replacement was lovely; I think she was as glad of the company and help as I was, since it was her first week there, and she also offered to give me lifts to and from school throughout the month as well so I had a chance to converse more in Spanish with her in the car every morning, which of course is always good!
The last week of January was my last week in 'La Iglesia' (The building where kids aged 11-14 are taught) so I gave a somewhat rushed lesson on Burns Night in a bid to leave them with something more interesting that prepositions and the present continuous. Mind you, saying that, they did find it pretty funny when I spent part of the lesson stood on a chair or sat under the table to get them to practice "She is standing on the chair" "She is sitting under the table" etc. 
The Burns Night lesson worked better with some than others; I got them to find words such as 'sheep' and 'stomach', and then watched in amusement as they realised what 'Haggis' meant, and also got them to watch a couple of Scottish dances. With the nice ones, this was relatively simple and they told me about similar Asturian traditions such as the bagpipes and dancing, I won't go into how bad my bad classes were!!!

La Iglesia (church) opposite my school at sunrise
The weekend in between finishing at one building and starting in the other, was incredibly lazy, as I had no preparation to do for the following week; I'd introduce myself and do whatever the teacher had planned. However, on the Sunday I went to Avilés again to see a friend, and we had lunch in the cutest cafe I have ever seen. Crossed between a French patisserie, English tearoom and Spanish coffee bar, it was the nicest place I've visited in a long time! We probably should have had tapas or something, but I was so happy to be seeing 'lunch food' (i.e, not a full cooked meal as is the norm) on the menu that I was soon tucking into the most delicious smoked salmon/cream cheese bagel I have ever had. Not wanting to be too un-Spanish though, I did of course have a cafe con leche afterwards!

How adorable.

I was initially confused by the fake apple tree, yes.

Also love that when you order a drink, you automatically get given a small 'pincho' to eat as well!
Afterwards, we wandered around the town for a bit, walking across the river to a gallery (unfortunately closed) where we also found what looked like the beginnings of one those bridges where couples write their names on a padlock and fix it to the railings- cute!

Pretty rainbow bridge in Avilés
 And also a pretty church I couldn't resist taking a photo of, which oddly enough seems to be dedicated to Thomas Beckett of Canterbury!?
Iglesia de Santo Tomas de Canterbury (Yep, Thomas Beckett!)
My first week with the older students was both fantastic and strange. Fantastic because the students were mostly old enough now that they don't act like children, so they were *much* easier and nicer to talk to, as well as being able to understand and speak more English. Strange, because I am in some classes where a few of the students are actually older than myself!! There seems to be a sort of college, for want of a better word, taught at the school, for students aged 19-23, who may or may not have been to university, which is for courses on 'Electricity' and 'Automotives'  and they have to do a certain amount of English as well. I will obviously try my best with these classes, but I fear I am largely lacking when it comes to talking about cars or circuit boards.
The first time you meet a new class is usually fun though, as they have to ask you questions about yourself or your country/culture, although I have to admit it would be a lot easier if I had a favourite football team or played sports! I tend to get asked "Do you have pets?" which is then followed by smiles and 'awwwww' when I show them photos of Marmalade, Princess and Tetley; "Do you like Spanish food?" (haha, they think I can cook) 
However, with age comes opinion, and there's always that one student that asks my opinion on something genuinely important, like "Do you think the UK will join the EU?" (What? You think I know what's going on!?) or "I think UK schools are discriminatory for having 'sets' instead of having everyone together" (Oh...well, sorry...I erm...disagree?) which means I have to think pretty hard before I speak in case they take it the wrong way! Some of the younger classes I have are studying technology at the moment though, so I've been asked to maybe teach them some 'text speak', which should be pretty fun! 

It was Carnaval this weekend too, but the Oviedo party isn't until next Saturday, so hopefully I'll have more to tell you about that next time! 
Wow, this seems to have been pretty long, that's what happens when you let work build up and love procrastinating!!
Until next time- hasta luego xxx