Saturday, October 29, 2011

Lately

Teaching babies English = coloring

Fire dancing

The usual dinner

Some girl making window art

Alexis´ student Beatriz´ family tree. (Yes, that is her as Hermione and me as her daughter.)

FOUND HIM!

Alex´s birthday ladies

Packed train

Buying chocolate croissants with Suzy. Finally found a great bakery that gets my stamp of approval - La Mallorquina in Sol!

TEFL Teacher Lessons Learned: Vol. 1

…some learned the hard way, some learned vicariously, some pleasant surprises. To be continued!

#1: The actual teaching bit is like a cakewalk compared to the preparation; the real magic (and headache) happens during lesson planning.

#2: From David: For your morning classes, bring breakfast to eat while you wait for your students to show up 15 minutes late. 

#3: From David: Keep the lesson in your bag that only two students showed for to use again when those two students are absent.

#4: Though you may be prepared to be a “profe de ingles,” make sure you’re ready to handle the logistics too - in Spanish. If you know Spanish, skip to the next tip. If you’re like me and you rely on mime and gesture, read on.  Some phrases to know that will make your first week run more smoothly…
  •  I’m looking for _________ … (insert name of your “jefe” here - your boss, the big cheese, whoever is paying for your classes. :))
  • How do you get to ________.... 
  • ….on the XXth floor….
  • I will be here every Monday & Wednesday/Tuesday & Thursday/etc…
  • Where is the copy machine? I need to make copies etc.
  • Hi, I’m an English teacher
  • I need XYZ please…. Chairs, white board, table, etc.
#5: Check the forecast before you set off on your day - every day. Yeah….

Monday, October 3, 2011

Catching our breath

I’m staring at David napping next to me, chugging OJ and hoping this headache goes away before our sure-of-a-hell-of-a-time graduation party later tonight. What. a. month. I’m obsessed with this teaching thing, our TEFL classmates and all that we learned, Madrid, living with David, speaking Spanglish with a lisp, dipping everything in olive oil before I eat it, etc…. and I haven’t even started to TRAVEL yet.

There are lots of things we do in our lives for which we don’t give ourselves credit. That’s where the beauty of reflection comes in. (p.s. this blog and journals that David’s sister gave us have been great for saving our thoughts.) I have always wanted to become a teacher…and now I freaking did it. Thanks to my mama for reminding me that I achieved this dream/goal. I am so proud of David and me for deciding we wanted to do this, packing up our stuff, and DOING it. I’m also proud of my classmates for doing the same! We all have interesting past-life stories. :)

Natasha, our TEFL program director (whom I absolutely love), gave us a session on “Getting the Job” toward the end of the program. Though we were all tired as fudge (or “knackered” as the Brits say!), I managed to find my favorite piece of advice during her schpiel. When taking jobs, she said to not make decisions based on money. We’ll all want to, but don’t, she said. “Think about why you’re here, why you came here.” For those who are treating this as the start to a new career, then go crazy taking jobs. But for those who left 90-hour work weeks or stressful jobs, take care. “We are habitual people,” she said. And at that point, I knew her advice applied to me. I have this nasty habit of occasionally freaking out, pushing myself to take on more XYZ and killing myself until it’s perfect. I didn’t come here to do any of the above; I came here to balance a job and a life (and travel, duh). New goal: Spend more time smelling the roses I have and less time freaking out about planting more roses. Lol, OK you get it.

Tash also told us that we’d be surprised at how little we can live on. Confession: I actually haven’t checked my budget since we’ve been here, but that’s because David and I have only been spending on what we need. I mean seriously, a splurge these days means buying the amazing square pizza down the road instead of eating pasta at home…again. Did you know we don’t have a TV? Or Internet at home? And we very very recently got (pay-as-you-go) mobile phones? It’s lovely. Though one might think we’d kill each other out of boredom or annoyance, it’s not (always) like that. :) Seriously though, of course David and I argue, but there is so much fun and love packed into our tiny apartment.

K. Enough for now. Besitos!
P.S. Download this app so we can text message for free! http://bit.ly/bIfNEW

Greegs popping the champagne open for certificate ceremony!

Woo hoo!

Me with my small group members, Lindsay and Sarah + Alex lol


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Lately part 2

Venezuelan dinner

Photo shoot

Modal verbs musical chairs, anyone?


Popcorn castle!

First interviews!

Taking a break at Cien Montaditos

Chocolate sandwich and tinto de verano

Monday, September 19, 2011

Yes, we're alive

Hi. We are here. You can find us locked in our apartment under lesson plans, construction paper and cardboard.

Barely any time to blog these days, but I at least wanted to share the kinds of things we've been working on.

Below, a little bit of home made its way into my lesson about the who/what/where/when of festivals. :) (Elementary level)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Lately

Plaza Mayor

Almudena Cathedral
Palacio Real de Madrid

Practicing our lessons at home

Study snack: white Cheetos

Our plaza

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Our Classmates


Our first class outing (missing a few!). So lovely to finally get the chance to know each other outside of school. It´s going to be a great month!


Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Good & The Weird

What I'm really liking so far…

1. Having sangria every night. (I'm talking the 1 euro gigantic bottle I have sitting in my fridge like it's Kool-aid or something :))

2. The weather. Pleasantly mild during the day and cool at night.

3. Friendly Spanish people. I hope it's not just because we look foreign, but locals have been so kind and considerate - from the guy on the metro whom I accidentally hit with my bag to the patient store owners who let us practice our Spanish instead of forking over the "dos empanadas carnes, por favor!" and shooing us away. So many "perdons" and "no pasa nadas" with a smile. Love it.

4. Our program, TtMadrid. More on that later. But basically, if you're looking for a TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) program in Spain and you want the best, go here.


Some struggles (These were manageable but by no means convenient :))

- REGULAR coffee. You know, the normal black kind to which you add cream and sugar?! I'm sure this was mainly a language barrier problem on our end, but we couldn't wait long enough. So, our solution: Buy fresh grounds from Starbucks and buy our own little trusty coffee maker.

- The customer is always right….not. While most American companies cater to their consumers (like 80% about the consumer and 20% the employees), in Spain it's more like 50/50. That means hours of operation are limited, and stores just do their own thing in general. Difficult when you are trying to get things done, especially on the weekends. Our solution: If it's open, shop in bulk.

- Finding our cooking repertoire. Thank goodness for pasta and sauce - always a good go-to when you don't have time, money or the whereabouts of sliced turkey. Or ground beef. Or chicken. Or peanut butter. Or salad. Or fresh milk (most places have this power milk stuff, or milk-in-a-box…. not for us:)). Our solution: If you find something you like, buy a lot of it. And remember that store! (I'll blog a list of top ones eventually)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Day 2: Holy jetlag!

So.... we slept for 12 hours when we only meant for 6. I guess that´s what happens when you´re awake and moving into a new continent for 24+ hours.

But those were 24 super productive hours. We bought and installed new stuff for the flat, explored our neighborhood and Gran Via, went grocery shopping and cooked our first meal, went to El Corte Ingles (which is like if Macy´s were to sell everything that Wal Mart does), and took our first siesta (which was very painful to wake up from). At night, we went wandering around, taking in the night scene. Lots of people - all ages, all different kinds, celebrating lots of different things (we could tell by the different themed costumes lol)...

Today, we´re doing more home stuff, feeling out the area, finding a church and hopefully practicing our train route to school. (Side note: School starts tomorrow, so I´m hoping we can continue to post frequently...)

Besos

Outside our apartment

Fixing stuff up

A La Plaza de España

David in the plaza on our corner

Saturday, September 3, 2011

We´re here!

We´ve arrived safely to our new home. Not really sure what time it is, but we haven´t slept for more than two hours since we left. We found our apartment and already started home improvements. So far, we´ve been able to get everything we need done with our limited Spanish and pantomime.

Today we´re off to find our own Internet so we can keep these posts coming without having to run to the cafe...

Here are some pictures. Hasta luego,
David

Malasaña - our new neighborhood
Spanish bakery... they sell meat too. Kind of weird but we were excited.



Friday, September 2, 2011

Peace out, America!

In Miami and we were already mistaken for being Spanish! Lol... OK, so maybe it was more David and less me. But a lovely Spanish lady asked us what time the "avion" lands in Madrid... And we both smiled big smiles at her and said ummmmmmmmm. Lol... Whatever, we made a new friend and had a quick Spanish lesson. She said "gra-thee-as."

A little rainy and we're 15 minutes delayed, but all is well with us. :)

-Alexis

Sent from my iPhone.

Start of our new adventure

Some goodbyes...

Us with my not-so-baby-anymore cousins, Sarah and Amanda. [We're missing AJ here!]

August was filled with great times in Florida with some of our family and friends. So sad to say goodbye...

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Welcome!

So, here she is. Nothin' fancy. I made this blog so I can save and share the story of my next adventure: living and working in Spain. Characters in the story (as of now) are me (Alexis) and my boyfriend, David. We recently spent a year in New York City, and now we're off to Madrid to teach English as a foreign language.

FAQs (Trust me, I know the script by now :))

  • Yes, we have a place to live! No, the program doesn't pay for rent.
  • No, we don't know how to speak Spanish fluently. But we both took Spanish for four years in high school (props to Mrs. Rizzo) and plan to re-pick things up quickly.
  • June - that's when we made the decision to do this, which was pretty fast. There were many motivations, but overall we knew we wanted to make a move together...a big one!
  • Of course we miss New York. Who said we can never make our way back there again?
  • We'll likely be teaching adults and children in all kinds of settings - business, academic and private.
  • No, at this point we don't know for sure what the plan is post-Spain. We have many ideas and dreams, so you'll just have to follow along to find out!
  • ....And yes, we love visitors. Just give us a heads up. :)

We hope to keep in touch with all of you - and gain new readers too - so please feel free to comment on our posts, ask questions and share the blog with others. Shoot us e-mails as often as you like.

Only the beginning!
D&A
Brooklyn Bridge - July 25, 2011