One year in Spain

I’m so happy to share that today marks the one year anniversary of my life in Spain! I think I’ve got things pretty good after one year. I have a job/income, a roof, good friends, and I’ve seen and done many new things. Every day is another learning opportunity and I’m incredibly thankful!

When I look at this list of some things I’ve done in one year I just can’t believe it.

  • Two trips to Sevilla (one was for la feria)
  • Valencia for las fallas
  • Casablanca, Fez, Tangier and Chefchaouen, Morocco
  • Barcelona
  • Zaragoza
  • Toledo
  • Mallorca
  • Trips to Alicante (one for Hogueras)
  • Ibiza
  • Florence and Rome, Italy

In addition to the places visited I completed a half-marathon and finally began to like children. For any close family and friends who read this…you know what I mean. I’ve improved my horrendous Spanish a bit and also found out that I can live on my own without starving to death.

I can only hope the next year and years following continue to get even better. 😉

La Feria de Abril – Sevilla

Oh, Sevilla! One of my favorite cities in the world.

Ever since my first trip to Spain, I’ve absolutely loved Sevilla. It’s one of the places I considered when choosing a location in Spain. In the end, Madrid seemed a better and more central hub to find work.

Back before I even stepped on Spanish soil I researched different things to do in Spain and added “la feria” to my list. When a roommate told me she was going in April it didn’t take much convincing before buying my RENFE ticket. “La feria” is a giant fair in Seville about two weeks after Semana Santa, so either in April or May. After experiencing it for the first time this year I can see myself going back again and again.

Some things which stick out the most are the colorful casetas, and sevillanas dresses and music. This is also most likely what this fair is most famous for. Many families reserve their own caseta, or small house, for family and friends. Normally you can’t enter unless you know someone inside, though there are a few public ones. Thankfully, we were there with some people who lived there, so we were able to enter several.

Most women wear colorful and sometimes extravagant sevillana, or flamenco, dresses. I felt a little awkward (go figure) asking people if I could take their photo, so I didn’t take any good dress photos. I think you can get an idea from this photo, though. So many polka dots!

Sevillanas

There seemed to be a never-ending stream of Sevillanas music and dancing flowing from each caseta, especially at night. Before going I only had time for ONE Sevillanas dancing lesson so I left most of it to the professionals. After a few drinks I may have tried… a bit…

I found this video on Youtube from last years feria.

Another feature of the fair are numerous horseback riders and carriages. Watching them trot down the street was like seeing a very, very Spanish glimpse of the past.

Carriage and Casetas

How cool is that?

It seemed each caseta was uniquely decorated.

At night, the party was turned up a few levels. The music and dancing continued and spilled onto the streets. Like most places in Spain, you could stay in a caseta until the wee hours of the morning. Some common drinks in the casetas are rebujitos or manzanilla.

Feria at night

 

Don’t let my serene expression deceive you. I probably had one too many rebujitos by this point.

I plan on going next year! The next feria will be May 5 – 10 2014. Maybe I’ll even have a dress.

Have you ever been to la feria or Sevilla?

My Challenge

This week I will attempt to tackle the daunting task of summing up my adventures over the last month or so. I haven’t completed my post about las fallas and I’ve got a bunch to write about from my trip to Italy. I know that if I don’t start now I’ll be even more behind especially because by the end of May I’ll have finished the following new adventures!

Seen la feria in Sevilla

Ran a half-marathon

Traveled to undetermined destinations with my grandparents

Resort weekend in MALLORCA!!

 

Anyway, stay tuned as I attempt this time-management tango.

Travels and Teaching

It’s only Monday and I’m already daydreaming about the next weekend. Two friends and I will arrive in Valencia to experience las fallas! I have found mixed reviews of fallas from several Spaniards. I’m a bit worried that it will be a crazy guiri-fest, but as a closet pyromaniac I’m still excited as all hell! I will be sure to post something more after the trip, but essentially las fallas is a major celebration where giant and ornate wood structures are burned for all to see.

I have several trips planned because the week after, I’ll be traveling through Italy for Semana Santa. I’m trying to work out a trip to Sevilla to visit a friend in April. Probably the craziest thing I did this weekend was book a groupon deal for May in Mallorca with three friends. Ironically, my new swimsuits arrived in the mail today.

All of this reminds me that I need to be careful with what little money I have!

Things have been going well in the school. Last week was “English Week” and the theme for this year was the Middle Ages. I spent last week talking about knights, castles, crowns, and princesses with my infantil classes. I even found a pretty cool jousting game. I let children decide which shield, horse, armor, and strategy we used. Then everyone cheered as we watched if we were able to unseat our opponent.

This week I’m teaching the five-year-olds about different types of marine life. Tomorrow, we will be playing a fishing game in class if everything works out. I bought magnets, string, and paper clips. I’ll attach the magnets to rulers, using the string, and I’m bringing pictures of different animals to color. Once each student has chosen their animal (fish, shark, turtle, seahorse etc) they will put a paper clip on them and put them in the center of the floor. My idea is that there will be three lines. Each with one “fishing pole.” On the other side of the room there will be three bags, or buckets if I can find them. The team who picks up the most animals and places them in their bucket wins.

See you after las fallas! If you have ever been I would be interested in your story!

It’s Been a While

Hello everyone!

Bad, bad, BAD me for not writing a post in months. My procrastination turned into a cycle of sorts. “If I write a post now I need lots of time to cover everything that I’ve done.” eventually led to “There is no way I can write about everything that has happened since September!” Here it goes, dear friends; a brief summary.

It seems I’ve eventually settled into an everyday routine. I live in an apartment with 7 other people so sometimes it is the furthest thing from normal, but it’s going well. I’m teaching 28 classes (24 hours) a week in the school and 5 private classes a week. The students in the school range from 3-5 years and from 12-18 years old. One of the first questions people ask is which age group I like the most. I can’t choose because each age level has reasons why I love them. The younger children are very loving and energetic although they can be rowdy. When they see me on the street they stop and wave. This weekend I saw one of my 5 year old students walking with her mother. When she saw me she started waving and tugging at her mother to show her that I am her teacher. Sometimes I even get besos on the cheek or a “Te quiero mucho!” They are most challenging to prepare classes for since they have a short attention span. The older children can be really fun to talk to, but sometimes it’s difficult to converse with them. It’s also frustrating when they don’t prepare the assigned topic. Some days are fun though. Last week in the 12 year-old classes we talked about extreme sports, I showed them a video of me skydiving, then we made origami hearts.

542771_10100279001266173_575779458_n

The teachers in the school are very kind and have made an effort to make me feel included during and outside school hours. I feel very lucky.

In addition to the school classes, I give 5 private lessons a week. The ages range from 5 to 37. For the younger students I normally charge 22 euros a class and for older students 18 euros. Even with all of this the money situation is tight. At the end of every month I find myself scraping money together and playing “let’s see how long this loaf of bread can last.” I don’t regret my decision to come to Spain. Far from it. I’ve decided to renew my contract here for next year! Bring on the vida española!

I’ve made some amazing friends here so far. I’ve been lucky enough to travel with several and even found myself in a recording studio with my violin! Okay, so I didn’t play very long, but it’s a start, right?

I’ve started cooking a lot more. This includes cooking a Thanksgiving dinner for my roommates (substituting chickens for turkey), and various weekend breakfasts.

french toast last weekend, for example.

Travels

I’ve returned to Sevilla. Oh, what a marvelous city!

Plaza de España

Took a trip to Toledo.

Made it to Valencia

Morocco was spectacular and also the most terrifying driving experience! I was able to add camel to my “weird things eaten” list. Luckily, one of my roommates is from Casablanca and we traveled with him and another friend from Tangier. Having Moroccan friends with us really made things easier. We even met the mother of one friend and the father of the other.

Breakfast in Tangier

The amazing blue city of Chefchaouen

Tannery in Fez

Casablanca

For the future

I signed up for the Madrid half-marathon so I’m in the process of shaping up and training. I’m also looking to get back into bellydance and I’ve been searching for classes here.

That’s all for tonight, but I’ll do my best to post more regularly.

Travel theme: Night

Gallery

Here’s my try at this weeks theme posed by Ailsa.

This week, the theme is “Night” and the first thing that came to mind was Seville and the performances we witnessed and the smell of jasmine (one of my absolute favorite scents) which seemed especially strong at night in some places.

I loved this mural. Doesn’t it look like the man and the goat have history together the way the man is eyeing the goat so cautiously?

Inside the building with the mural, we watched a wonderful performance.

We never made it into Metropol Parasol, but they really did look like giant mushrooms.

This spot definitely seemed to be more of a local hangout. Anyone could get up and dance.

Puente de Triana over the Guadalquivir River.

If you also participated in Ailsa’s theme I would love to see what you chose.