Thursday, July 26, 2012

U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!

The Olympics start tomorrow night (Finally!!!) and I will be as glued to my TV as I possibly can be with all the crazy changes happening in my life right now.

In summary, since I don't want to jinx things, I applied for my dream job, got passing grades for my certification tests, and got called about interviewing for a teaching job that would start SO SOON. It's been a crazy five days.

But, to get all of you who aren't already completely stoked about USA swimming excited for the Games, here's my new favorite video EVER.

Brendan Hansen and Lochte are my new crushes. Phelps, sadly, wasn't in the video enough :( On a side note, I can't decide if I want Phelps to dominate at the Games or if I want Lochte to kick his ass in everything. This is totally normal right?

If you do decide to watch all these awesome swimmers show the world how awesome the team is, I will be here ready to cheer with you! After all, I need to put all those years of training for swim meets to use somehow.

PS: I have a major obsession with the Olympics suits you can order. I have one from the 08 Games and I love it. Who wants to get me Team USA swim gear this time around?

PPS: I'm totally excited for the relays. I usually watch them while jumping up and down and screaming.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Two weeks and two days....

I move to Norman on August 4th! I am so excited and ready to start our lives together, but it's surreal that this summer is almost over.

To date, I have:
-Worked 4 weeks of camp with 20 kids each week. That's 4 weeks of learning astronomy, petting animals, 4 trips to see the insects and butterflies, 12 million rationales for why we don't have magic in the US daily life,   getting nipped by an iguana, holding a prickly stick bug, making "potions" and troll boogers until I've memorized the best ratios for success and no mess, and some of the cutest kids I've ever seen. So blessed to have this as my job.
-Put 1000 miles on my car in 2 months. (Houston to Norman and back, Houston to Dallas to Athens to Houston, Houston to Austin and back, and my daily commute downtown)
-Met with the hotel wedding coordinator, planned the reception menu, met with the florist and DJ, taken bridal pictures, had 2 cake tastings, decided on a bakery and flavors, and gotten my hair and makeup trial done.
-Been to my couples and bridal shower! So fun and I can't wait to move all our wonderful presents into our place!
-Moved a carload of my stuff to Tom's place.
-Taken all 3 certification tests.
-Had absolutely zero luck with the job search.

I still haven't:
-Seen the museum's Titanic exhibit
-Gone out downtown
-Seen the new baby giraffe (OMG!!!!) at the zoo
-Figured out what exactly I'm taking to Norman
-Booked a UHaul

I should probably do those things....when I'm not doing everything else. Blogging will resume when I move to Norman, especially if I am jobless. If I get a job, blogging will resume after the wedding and I recover from the inevitable mental breakdown.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Staying Alive...

I apparently forgot all about this blog with everything else going on this summer!

I've been home just over a month and in that time I have:

  • Started my summer job teaching summer camps. Hooray for Harry Potter camp all summer for the 2nd year in a row.
  • Taken all 3 certification tests for my OK teaching certificate in a week! Now I'm just waiting to see if I passed them all.
  • Had a couples shower and a bridal shower thrown for me!! They were both wonderful, and I need to post pictures of them!
  • Gotten 2 fittings for my wedding dress done!
  • Moved a carload of stuff to Tom's apartment.
  • Had way too much American food to eat.
I'll try to update this more next week since it's a break from camp and I'm not super busy everyday!

Friday, May 25, 2012

It's the final countdown..

...until I go home! I've made it through all my classes without losing it, and gotten some pretty awesome goodbye cards and presents from my classes. I even got my first "teacher pen" from Ana so that I can remember her, but there's no way I can forget her, or this year. I've had some amazing teachers, and some not-so-amazing teachers, one of whom told me that I wouldn't be able to give kids the same grade if I was an actual teacher. (That's a whole other post, but I am so frustrated with how she ignored my explanation of why and tried to tell me I couldn't do that if I was a teacher. I've tried, and succeeded with never saying things like that to teachers here because I understand there's a difference in how we teach, and she apparently doesn't get that.)

6th grade bilingual science
I've gotten to know some really awesome teachers and staff who care about my life outside of school and Spain, so I can't wait to keep in touch with them and keep updated on what's going on in Las Marinas. Hopefully I'll be able to send them some good job news, and they're all excited about seeing wedding pictures.

First grade art class. How precious are they?

I finally got my very own Indalo today! It's a symbol that was found in a prehistoric cave, and is now the symbol of the Almeria region. He brings you luck, prosperity and happiness if he's given as a gift, and I got one from my teachers!! So excited, and I hope he brings me lots of luck with everything I've got going on. I also got a sweet card from them, a memory book of the classes/school, and a card from the secretary, Elli, for her daughter's class. I love it!!

Second grade science

Goodbye Las Marinas!!

Going on a bear hunt....

I taught my first grade English the words and motions to We're Going on a Bear Hunt, and it took them a while to get used to it, but they like it. I think they mostly like watching me make a fool out of myself, but I'm fine with that if they love it. This would be such a fun unit to do in preschool, especially if you start off with the book like we did!

To go along with it, their teacher found some awesome activities, including a time line that they can use as we tell the story! I definitely want to do this in my classroom- now I just need a learning skill to match with it!

The beautiful example I made. I love my bear- he's so cute and not scary!
Maestra Ana, my first grade teacher, y yo at my goodbye lunch.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Goodbyes are harder when it really does mean goodbye.

Today was my last day with my 6th grade science class. When I started here, I wasn't really thrilled about having lots of classes with the sixth graders since I have no experience with them, but I am so glad that I got the chance to get to know all of them. I've been to the Sierra Nevadas with them, toured their instituto (high school) with them, and practiced pronunciation of so many new vocabulary words that I'm sure they're tired of hearing me talk. But they have been so much fun. They're definitely not afraid to say what they think, which can be hilarious, especially with the questions they have for me.

Love these kids, and their teacher. I've learned so much from them, and I'm pretty sure they've learned something from me...even if it is just how to pronounce vocabulary.

My second grade science class had their last class with me, and I think they've been the class that's taken it the hardest. I'm not sure what it is about this class, but they really do not want me to leave. I've been getting mobbed for the past few weeks with group hugs, which is both awesome and terrifying since I'm worried someone will get hurt. But they blew me away with the cards they made me. They wrote and drew whatever they wanted, and the cards are the best ego boost I could ever get.

"Becca you are the best in the world and I am going to miss you. With hugs."

"You are my best teacher in the world."

"Thank you for teaching us so many things. We are going to miss you. With love, Blanca"

"Becca is a star." I should frame this somewhere I'll always see it so I can't have a bad day.

"Calendar: I love you a lot. You are my best teacher in the world."

 I have quite a few cards of swans with hearts for my future wedding (I think) and they're all from my boys in the class. I love them. New wedding decorations?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Maestra, estas llorando?!

"Teacher, you're crying!" I'll admit, I teared up quite a bit today during my classes. My first third grade class was super sad to see me go, especially after I gave them candy as a goodbye gift (yes, I'm bribing them to miss me, and yes it's working.), so after lots of hugs, I left them and went to my other third grade class. This class, and teacher, are awesome, and the kids had all made drawings or cards for me. They came up one by one to give me them, and they obviously spent a ton of time and effort on them, which means more to me then anything. When I started reading them, that's when I started tearing up. All of them, including the boys, which is adorable, said they loved me and were going to miss me, and there were pictures of me with them. What really touched me were the ones who made cards for my wedding. It's just awesome that they cared enough to make a card for something in the future.

Me in my wedding dress with some of my students.

Tom and I flying with geese. So cute.
Best marriage advice ever. I have such smart kids.
Later, my first class of third graders came and surprised me with pictures they'd drawn for me, and most of them had written notes on the back of them. So adorable, especially the one who begged me to move my wedding to Las Marinas and to not leave them.

"Seno (short for senorita), no te vayas por fa (por favor). porque no celebras la boda aqui en esta ciudad por fa casarte aqui con Tomas." (Miss, don't go please. Why can't you celebrate the wedding in this city? Please get married here with Tom. And a whole bunch more I need to translate....reading kid writing in Spanish is super hard.)

"For you Rebecca. I love you. You are a best teacher! And you are going to be a GREAT TEACHER! I will miss you!" (Also, I love that we're snorkeling together...I love this girl.)

So, here are some of the cards, mostly the wedding related ones, with one that just makes me laugh because it's from one of my boys who I was unware of having a crush on me. Wonder how Tom will feel about it?

From Jose. "Good bye, have a good trip", and on the inside, another heart exactly like it.

I guess I should add the pictures of my classes huh? I love that there's always a mad scramble to be standing next to me. Poor Joel  really wanted to be right next to me, but he's too short to be in the back, so he got pushed to the front. I feel so loved today.

Third graders are silly, and adorable, and awesome.

Another class, just as silly. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Why Are You Going to the States?

I'm leaving Spain for good in eight days! I've been counting down to this for a long time, and now that it's here, I wish it would all just slow down and I could have more time with the students here. Preparing my kids for me leaving has been tough. To them, I may be American, but I live in Spain. Why would I want to go back to the States? We've explained that I've got my family there, and I'm getting married, but then they want to know when I'm coming back. I must be soft-hearted, because I am incapable of telling my sweet little kids that I don't forsee me coming back to Spain to live anytime soon, if ever. So I just tell them I won't be back next year.

I think my favorite has been Loles, a first grader, who kept asking questions about it. I told her I was going to be a teacher, and that I hoped I'd be teaching first grade. She thought about that, and then asked if I'd be teaching in English and was shocked that I said yes. I explained, again, that we speak English in the States, which was mind-blowing to her. She processed that, thought about it, and then wanted to know if my boyfriend (they say novio here for boyfriend/fiance, so it's not like they don't know that I'm getting married) spoke English. She was astonished that he could. So Tom is super cool now, which I'm sure he loves...being discussed by unknown first graders.

Today, in another first grade class, we explained that I was leaving, and where I was going and why, which was enough for most of them. Hugo, who is always thinking/participating/involved, had a question. I heard it in Spanish, but didn't think I'd heard it right, but the teacher translated, and he wanted to know if I knew Scooby Doo, because he loves Scooby Doo. I said yes, I knew the show, and then he wanted to know if it was in English in the States. I love what they associate with me and the States, especially when it seems so random.

My 6th grade English class had a treasure hunt today for something special since it was my last day with them, and they loved it! They got to run around outside, find tickets and redeem tickets for candy- who doesn't love that? Afterwards, when we told them it was my goodbye "present" for them, I got a huge round of applause, led by some the boys. I'm alternately exasperated and pleased with those boys, but I know we've made a connection because they'll always stop and say hi in the halls, and aren't too cool for that, even if they're with friends, so it meant a lot to me. It kept going, and the whole class was applauding, which was both awesome and awkward. I'm not sure if they're applauding because of me and the work I did with them or because I brought them candy today, but I'll take it either way.

I'm so lucky to have made such good relationships with the teachers and students here, and I'm grateful that I've gotten to do more then just teach from books, and have been able to put my interests and personality into the activities, because those are what are the most fun for us. I can't wait to do that for a full-time job in the States! But mostly, I'm so thankful that my kids are so hilarious, smart, adorable, fun, sweet and awesome. I've gotten to spend this year with the coolest kids ever, and they're all going to do great next year! Wish I could be there to see them graduate and move on to the next grade!

For your entertainment...

....I present my first grade art class singing the Itsy Bitsy Spider. They just learned it, so they aren't great with the words, but they're getting the motions! Also, please ignore my terrible voice! I had a sore throat last week, and they don't know the words well enough to do it without me!

This might be my favorite class. These boys have crushes on me, and they are so adorable. They want to say hi to me all the time. The whole class, especially those boys, loves to tell me how pretty I look that day...I'll miss that! I look forward to their classes every week because I get to talk to them as they work, so we know each other pretty well.

Tom: This is Abi, Yulan, Carlos, Alex and Jose's class....the boys who I always have stories about!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Dachau Memorial Site

This is not going to be a happy post. There is no way to explain what it felt like to be there and walk where people died and were buried as if they were subhuman. I'll try to keep it from being too detailed and graphic, but we did go inside the torture bunker, along with a gas chamber and crematoriums. I'm not trying to upset people, but I've been impacted by this, and I think everyone should educate themselves.

Not going to lie, the second thing I knew I wanted to do when we decided on Munich was visit Dachau. One of my favorite (weird word choice, but so true) classes at OU was my class on the Holocaust. We learned about the treatment of Jews in Europe before the 20th century, studied Hitler's rise to power and legislation, the planning of the Holocaust, and then discussed how Jews, Germany and the world are dealing with, and learning from, it. It was one of the hardest classes I took, but I got to learn so much about human nature. After that class, I really wanted to visit, and learn, about a former camp.

Walking to "Welcome Square"

Godforsaken. Those are replicas of barracks. We didn't go to them.
We did a guided tour, which was the best decision we made that week. Our tour guide is working on her Master's degree related to educating visitors about the camp and the atrocities that happened there, so she was incredibly passionate about it all. The first thing she asked us was why we were there and what we wanted to get from it. Which is a really good question...why was I there? For me, I went there to honor those who suffered and died there, to educate myself about what intolerance and hate can do, and so that I can teach the next generation about it.
Entrance to the Torture Bunker. See how long it is? It's just as long on the other side. 

The torture bunker is on the right, entrance building on the left.
Dachau is officially called a memorial site, or a former concentration camp. It was the first camp Hitler opened, and since it was liberated in 1945, it was open for the entirety of the Third Reich. I didn't know that 3/4 of the camp was surrounded by a Nazi training school for those men who would eventually work in other camps. Apparently the "Dachau method" was considered the best, and men were sent there to learn how to physically, and mentally, break people.
Guard Tower

If you tried to escape, you'd have to make it in and out of the ditch, across the grass without being shot,
through the electric fence and barbed wire, and then through a river. And in most places,
you'd end up in a Nazi training camp
When Dachau opened, it had mostly political prisoners. The barracks were made to hold 100 people originally (the camp was originally supposed to hold around 5000 people), but when it was liberated, people were sleeping 6-7 people per bunk, and there were 32,000. Walking into the camp and viewing Roll Call Square, it is so incredibly huge, empty and lifeless. I can't imagine 32,000 prisoners there.

It was interesting to walk through the museum and have our guide give us more information about things there. I had never known about how the Nazis arranged everything to present themselves as humans and high above the prisoners (inhuman). The prison buildings are one story, while the Nazi buildings and watchtowers are 2 or more. Even the pictures the Nazis took are above eye level. She stopped us in front of a picture of men waiting to be processed into the camp, which was placed next to a picture of prisoners during roll call. The prisoners have no individuality left, and cannot stand with their hands in their pockets, or look the Nazis in the eye, while the men waiting to go in still have their normal clothes and are standing however they want. The picture of the prisoners is from above, while the one of the men waiting is from eye level.
Beams used to be here. They used to hang prisoners from them and torture them.

Where you'd shower when you came into the camp.
Walking through the torture bunker was so mournful. Once you walk in the door, there are hallways to your left and right, and they seem to go on forever. All you can see are doors into cells. Looking into the tiny rooms, I can't imagine being left there for a day, let alone totured over and over for months. Apparently the Nazis would leave a rusty knife with the prisoners and tell them they could decide when to end it. What would you have done?

Blurry, but the door to a cell.
Inside a cell

At the end of the tour, we walked over to the crematorium and gas chamber. The chamber at Dachau wasn't used for mass killings like the ones at Auschwitz, but it was used to kill small groups, which is still disgusting. Walking in, the room felt completely different. It was dark in many of the small rooms already, but it was somehow worse then any other room. Walking out into the crematorium and looking at the ovens, some stil with the stretchers pulled out, was so surreal. How could people willingly do this?

Crematorium/gas chambers. The Nazis wanted it to look "homey". That's disgusting.

"Showers" and the entrance to the gas chamber. This makes me sick.
Disturbing on so many levels. That hole on the bright wall is where the Krylon B was put from the outside.
Where the poison gas went.

I can't imagine having to work these when the camps were functional.

So sad.
As we were leaving the camp, the Catholic memorial's bell started tollling. It rings at the hour Christ is supposed to have died, and it was the only sound we could hear in the camp as we walked past the spots where all the barracks used to be. It was so desolate and still, and hearing only a bell toll seemed so fitting. In memory of those who lived, died and survived there, I want to educate the next generation about what hate can do. This should not happen again, but it still is, in different forms, with different names. We need to be the ones who make it stop everywhere. I'll be teaching my students to respect the lives of all they meet, regardless of similarities and differences, in the hopes that I'll teach them that no one is more important than another, and that all life is sacred.

I don't remember what this says, but it has a former prisoner on it. How can you tell?

The memorial. Never Again.

Every bed with stones was a foundation for a barrack. This is only a part of one side

Catholic and Jewish memorials. That's the bell we heard.

Two Weeks!

I know, I haven't written about the rest of my trips, including Morocco and Granada, but I'm just not going to be a travel blogger. I can't stay interested in uploading pictures, which takes forever for some reason, and then write exciting things about what I did. I'd rather update you guys on life!

I will be flying home in exactly FOURTEEN DAYS. It's so surreal. I'm thrilled, but at the same time, I'm so sad to leave my school, kids and teachers. We've officially started the goodbyes, and it's no fun. I got mobbed by 10 third graders asking me to come back next year, and when I told them I couldn't because I was getting married in November, they asked their teacher for a party in honor of me on that day. Cutest kids ever! I also taught them the Bear Hunt chant, which was hilariously awesome. They were super into it, and I got to be over the top, so I loved it. I'm teaching it to my first graders next week!

Speaking of my first graders, Ana's class gave me a picture frame with a class picture in it! I'm even in the picture! So cute, and I'm going to miss them, and Ana, so much. I help her out with projects a lot, so I think her kids feel possessive of me, and they're sad that I'm leaving already. We're learning about pets for the current English unit, and one of the skills is talking about what animals have tails, fins, ears, wings, or legs. Ana and I made a game to help practice the words, and played it like Simon Says. We gave each word a motion, and they have to do the correct motion when we say the word. We played 3 games since they weren't happy with just playing 1, and Ana and I could barely see what they were doing we were laughing so hard. I'm going to get a video next week, because watching little kids make fins, tails, and whiskers with their hands is awesome.

In real life news, I'm officially on the schedule for Summer Camp! I always get nervous that I won't get invited back, or that I won't get weeks, but I got the email about orientation, so I'll be at my favorite place in the world for at least part of the summer. It's almost Summer Camp Season! This basically sums up my feelings about this time of year, minus the purple hearts and free drinks.

In better real life news, I'm in the process of scheduling my first interview for a teaching job! It's for 3 positions at a school between OKC and Norman, and could be a really good fit for me. Sorry I'm being vague, but since it's not official, and since I still have to interview, I'm keeping details off the internet. If you want to know more, let me know and I'll tell you! I'm really excited, but nervous that it won't work out and I won't get more interviews since I'm still completing certification, so if you could keep your fingers crossed for me, that would be awesome! I'm holding out hope that there's a perfect job for me that would give me a chance to keep working on my Spanish and teach K or 1st, and is a school with a good spirit and joy like I had for my student teaching. It's a lot, but I'm hopeful!

**UPDATE- I'm not getting an interview with the school anytime soon because they'll be on summer vacation by the time. I'll be in the States. So that's that.

Wedding planning is so laid back right now, but it stresses me out because I feel like I should be doing something. We had some drama with people in the wedding or helping us prepare, but it's pretty much all settled now, so hopefully we've moved past the big drama. Although invitations haven't gone out, so I guess we're in for some more when that happens.

Love you all tons and tons and I can't wait to see you very, very soon! In honor of me being terrible with posts, here's a picture of me on a camel. And one of me petting a baby camel.
Precious little baby. We were all fans.

Coolest and scariest moment of the entire trip.
PS- Did you know camels get up and down in stages and that you are either feeling like you'll fall forward off the camel or feeling like you'll fall off backwards? But I did ride without my hands at one point!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sleeping Beauty Castle!

Tom and I decided to take a guided tour out to see Neuschwanstein Castle, and on the way, we stopped at another castle, Linderhof, built by the same King, Ludwig II. I was not looking forward to the trip since it was grey and rainy in Munich, but it was sunny for us! And I may have had a minor meltdown when we pulled into the town and the side of  Neuschwanstein Castle that we saw was covered in scaffolding and I was worried it would all be like that and I would have terrible pictures of something I've wanted to visit for forever!
Waiting for the tour of Lindehof.

I'm sure this is prettier in summer.

Love him.
I honestly wasn't a fan of the first castle. It was small, and since it was modeled after Versailles, it was really over the top. In a small space, that just doesn't work for me- I ended up feeling closed in. The gardens were pretty, but I'm sure they're a thousand times better in the summer when they're green and the fountains are working!
The outside of Lindehof.

At least I got to see snow!

 I did get to take a picture next to a giant swan, so that was exciting. I should really make an album of all the awkward pictures I have next to's going to be awesome.
I would have gotten closer, but it was staring me down.

On the way to the castle, we stopped in a small town where the houses are painted with biblical and fairy tale scenes. Thankfully, we were able to find a Christmas ornament store there, so we have 2 small ornaments from Germany! We didn't get to take pictures of some of the really cool houses we saw driving in,  but it was a cute little town that would be fun to visit again!

I think Once Upon A Time could be filmed here.

When we got to the town below Neuschwanstein, we had some time for a quick lunch, then we headed up to the castle. We took a bus and then walked up to the "hanging bridge" (to quote my wonderful boyfriend) to take pictures of the castle. I was freaking out about having to go out on a bridge up that high, especially since I thought it was going to be old and scary. Apparently it's quite sturdy, even if it is old, but the boards still shake when people walk past you, which terrified me. Tom was fairly certain I'd cry and have a panic attack, but I did surprisingly well. Not only did we get some great pictures, I walked all the way across the bridge and back just to prove that I could. If that doesn't sound like a big deal to you, you obviously don't know how much I detest heights and that I get freaked out looking over high balconies sometimes.

After I hiked across the bridge and back. So proud and excited!

My Prince Charming. (You knew that was coming).

See that bridge?

That's where we stood. 
We had some time to wait around in the courtyard before our tour started, so we took some pictures, and I amused myself by watching a little girl count the steps from one courtyard to another. When she got stuck on a number I helped her, and I basically became her counting guide. When she finally made it to the bottom, she turned around to ask me what she'd counted to, then ran off to tell her family. Sorry if I freaked them out, but she was so cute, and so serious about it all that I had to help her!

I like making him smile for pictures.

Perfect for a destination wedding right?

Afterwards, we tried to ride back down in a carriage but apparently you need to buy the tickets for it before you go up, so we hiked all the way down. I did make us stop for ice cream when we got to the bottom since I was denied my carriage ride, but I don't think Tom minded. After that, we headed back to Munich to eat more delicious food and drink some more beer. It was such a long day, but I've finally seen the Sleeping Beauty Castle! I can check it off my life list!