Slowing Things Down

This has been a slower week in terms of seeing and doing new things, so I thought I would take the time to write my general experience so far, but first let me catch you up on this week.

I taught my first secondary class on Tuesday.  My cooperating teacher wanted the students to practice speaking English by doing a debate, so that’s just what we did.  This is the lower group of 15 year olds, but they did fantastic! I forgot how much I missed actually teaching a whole group, rather than pulling a few students out of class to practice speaking.  The activity was very simple, but the students still enjoyed it.  In my primary class of 4th graders and my advanced secondary group of 18 year olds, I assist the students during class activities, and pull students out of class to practice speaking English.  It is so odd for me to be in a class of over 10 students, to teach whole classes (around 20 students), and to not adapt or modify any of the material.  I am so used to prompting students to answer, giving options, using pictures, and teaching in small groups (1-5 students).  I have forced myself to refrain from using these strategies, and am learning a lot about teaching large groups.

I have spent a lot of time with my family this week, and have loved every minute of it.  On Tuesday I went to La Rambla, the tourist Street with shops, with some of the SPED girls, but other than that I have been busy playing hide n’ seek, jumping on trampolines, and playing soccer with the kids. Today, my host mom’s brother, Iñaki, arrived in Barcelona to visit.  He has lived in Australia for two years and comes to Barcelona once a year.  He is easily the kid’s favorite uncle, they have been talking about him coming to visit everyday I have been here.  They knew he was coming sometime in May, but had no idea what day, so this was a huge surprise!

Tomorrow (Friday), the SPED girls and myself will leave for a short weekend in Dublin, Ireland. I have been anticipating this trip for a while, so I am very excited! I have been researching and planning our days all week, and cannot wait to get there!  We will get to Dublin around 8 on Friday night and will leave around 10 on Sunday night.  It may be a short weekend, and we may be exhausted after it, but it will definitely be worth it!

Okay, so now I will get to the purpose of this blog; just to discuss some general obersvations since I have been here. 

First off, school is 9:00am-5:00pm with a 30 minute recess break in the moring and a hour lunch break in the afternoon.  There are not school buses here, so students walk, ride the metro or city bus, or get dropped off by their parents.  The students who live close to school go home for lunch, which is what my host family does. This is a private, catholic school, so uniforms and religion is a part of the day.  The students stay in the same classroom throughout the day, while the teachers move from class to class.  The class Schedule is different everyday.  Similar to the United States, the students have PE, art, computer, and music class throughout the week.  I would say the students are learning at about the same level here as they do back home, with the exception that the students in Spain know three languages.  At recess, they do not have a playground like in the United States.  Their playground is a cushioned Green surface like a soccer field, and the kids play soccer the whole time.  Boys and girls are seperated in primary classes (grades 1-6).  Preschool starts at 1 years old and goes until 1st grade, primary is 1st-6th grade, and secondary is grades 7-12.  In Secondary they are divided in the classes based on their ability levels.  Although there are many differences, students still have homework and tests, participate in sports after school, and hangout with their friends.  

Before coming to Barcelona, I was used to waking up at 5, going to school at 7, leaving school at 3, working until 6, planning for the next day, and going to bed by 10.  The Schedule is much different here, and I think I’m getting used to it.  I dont have to wake up until 7:30-8:00, school is 9:00-5:00, and then I don’t have to work or plan for the next day.  I have been learning that going to bed at 11:00 is a little early.  Their day may be longer, but they get so much more out of each day and still get the same amount of sleep as I would in Kentucky; I may go to bed later, but I also wake up later.  With the long days, the eating Schedule is also different.  I typically have a bowl of cereal and coffee before school at 8:30, then from 11:00-11:30 we have breakfast at school (small sandwich and coffee), lunch is at 1:30, then we have a small snack after school, and dinner is around 9:00-9:30.  Lunch is the biggest meal of the day (3 courses), but I have also learned dinner is 2-3 courses.  It seems like they eat more than we do, but the portions are smaller, and the food is so much healthier. So far, I have tried almost everything and loved it all.  I need to learn how to cook some of these meals because I will miss them! 

Although there are many more differences, some small some big, I have jumped right in and embraced the cultural changes.  If I didn’t want to step out of my comfort zone, try new things, and experience a different lifestyle I would not have signed up for this opportunity.  I am loving everything about Barcelona!  Just as I suspected, I have not been homesick at all, but I do miss my dog, Millie, terribly.  If Millie could be here now, I think I could easily stay in Spain much longer.

I am learning and experiencing so much during this journey, and am so grateful for the opportunity!

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