Sunday, October 30, 2011

Culture Shock

I've been working on this list for a while, and I can't believe I forgot to write about this. Overall, I feel like I've adjusted pretty well into Spanish life and culture, but there are a few things that I didn't expect. Some are silly, some are awesome, and none of them are a huge deal, but they are things I notice. I'll probably keep adding to this list as I think of things.

  • Buying milk in "bricks" and not having it be refrigerated. Bricks are what you buy drinks giant juiceboxes. I'm totally fine with them, but not when it comes to my milk. I prefer to buy milk that's cold and in a plastic bottle.
  • Buying barras de pan (basically baguettes) every day or 2. I love fresh bread, and I'm so sad when it goes stale. I usually eat it too fast for that though.
  • Having no idea what the brands are. I could be buying store brand, or name brand for all I know. I usually just go with what looks best or is cheapest. This will hopefully last in the States.
  • An elementary school day here is from 9 to 2. It's awesome. The kids have a recess where they eat a breakfast or a snack, and then they go home for lunch.
  • Teachers here work 30 hours a week.
  • Always being concerned with bus fare. Not as big a deal now that I have my bus card, but I do have to reload it with more salvo fairly often.
  • I don't have a microwave in my piso! Shocking and a tragedy.
  • I had no idea how to use the washer at first...hooray for learning new Spanish vocabulary. I forgot to add in the spin cycle, so my clothes were DRIPPING wet.
  • Every apartment has a clothesline or drying rack for drying clothes on their terrace. Except us, we don't have a terrace, but we do have a drying rack. I thought it was tacky at first, but it's normal to me now.
  • Buying notebooks with grid lines instead of college ruled.
  • I teach British English. So I now have to learn new phrases in English too. (School bag = backpack, rubber = eraser, director = principal) Good thing I have a British roommate!
  • A teacher here told me she wants to go to Route 66 for her honeymoon. That's so random, and not that cool to us in the States, but it's super exotic for them here.
  • I've met almost as many people from the UK as Americans. Plus some Australians and Germans. We sang Happy Birthday in Spanish, English and German at a party on Thursday.
  • There's no tipping at restaurants. There's also no tax. You pay what it says and that's it. It's glorious,
  • Buy a drink (beer, wine, tinto, mosto) and get a free tapa. Tapas here are very small though, so it takes a few to fill you up.
  • Discipline in schools is different. Kids don't sit quietly very well.
  • Living in an apartment building with a locked front entrance. I have issues with this, because our lock is hard, and I've just started getting it open on the first try. I also have a video camera intercom to buzz people in with.
  • We buy so many huge water bottles. It seems wasteful, but you can't drink from the faucets here.
  • Eating dinner at 9 or 10 at night. Not only do they eat late, dinner is small because they eat a huge lunch. I still haven't figured this out.
  • Using 24 hour time on everything. I am getting really good at converting times though.
  • Having to recharge my cell phone with more salvo every few weeks. It's no fun when you can't call or text because you have no salvo (credit) left. Thank goodness for toques! That's when you call, let it ring once, and hang up without getting charged.
  • The school buses here are what we would call Charter buses. It's pretty cool.
  • I paid almost €4 for a little thing of peanut butter. I didn't know how much I missed it until it was gone. I ate it all in a
  • I still can't get used to having conversations in Spanish. Mostly because I can't believe that I can do it. I still make grammar and vocab mistakes, but I am definitely getting better.
That's all I have for now, but I'm sure there are more. I mean, it's only been a month and I've only been to 3 cities. (Sevilla, Almería/Roquetas and Jaen).

Abrazos y besos de España!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Mi vida española

Hola! ¿Qué tal? Estoy bien, pero siempre toda tengo muchas cosas para hacer o gente para visitar.

It feels like I've been here forever already. I haven't had a chance to be homesick because I've been so busy making new friends and doing things. I don´t even remember the last time I updated, so bear with me if things get confusing.

There´s a group of about 8 English teachers in Roquetas. It seems like one person would meet another and somehow we all became a group. There are 5 other American girls, 1 English boy, 1 Australian boy, 2 teachers from Spain, and some other people who usually hang out together. I´m sure that at some point I´ll update more specifically, but it is REALLY HOT in this internet cafe, and I can't stand it.

I spent the past weekend in Jaen for the feria, and it was amazing. Amazing, exhausting, hangover-inducing, fun. Gotta love eating the whole weekend, staying up until 4am to go on rides at the fair, and sleeping the whole time you´re on a bus.

Maybe the best way to do this is to tell yall what I´ve done for the first time since I´ve been here:

  • Ride that terrifying boat ride that's always at fairs. You know, the one that swings a lot and makes me want to cry just looking at it? OWNED IT. 
  • Rode a mechanical bull ride called Rodeo Americano. I did Texas proud...I think.
  • Learned to take the head and legs off of shrimp so that I can continue eating my favorite seafood.
  • Bought a bus card! Cheaper fares and no worrying about having change!
  • Taught my British roommate how to make French Toast and something else American. do people live without French Toast?
  • Learned how many groceries can fit into one of my grocery bags. (not a lot, which means more small trips)
  • Stayed in a hostel. It was super nice, minus the fact that we had to wake up early the first morning to see if we could stay another night. We could, so we all went back to sleep.
  • Watched a full football game on TV. It was Man U v. Liverpool. 
  • Been the only American in a group of about 10. The rest were Australian, Scottish, or British. One girl just wanted to know if Houston really has 6 lane highways.
  • Ordered paella. My goal of learning to make it probably won´t work out.
  • Discovered that I really like Tinto Verano, which is a delicious wine drink here.
  • Went to a regatta! It was really fun, but extremely hot.
  • Found my new favorite sandwich: bacon and rellano cheese. It´s like a grilled cheese sandwich but a million times better. Bacon here is more like ham though.
  • Discovered that potato chips are really good dipped in the yolk of fried eggs. 
  • Eaten lots of ice cream, and learned way too many new words about food.
  • Taught in a 6th grade class.
  • Been to an Arabic baths spa. It was the highlight of my entire week and I need to find one in the States
I am so glad to be working in my school. I love my schedule, and I love most of the classes and teachers. Kids love to come say hi to me and then walk away. I´ve actually been going by Rebecca here in most classes, so that´s a change for me that I´m still not used to. There´s a first grader who has my name, and she loves coming to say hi to me. I can´t understand little kid Spanish, but I do know that they like me and that I think they´re hilarious. One class says new vocabulary in Spanish first for me and then they try the English words. This is without their teacher telling them to do that.