Month: October 2014

A Day in the Life: Shannon

Hello all! So I guess it’s about time to let you all know what my life is like on a daily basis. For those of you who think I moved to Spain just to eat a ton of tapas, and travel around Europe – you are only half right. I came to Spain to be an Auxiliar de Conversacion through a program called BEDA. Now that I’ve finally got a routine down, I can let all of you lovely people in on what the heck I’m doing over here.

Selfie

7:30 AM: wake up and get ready for work. My school doesn’t have a dress code for their teachers, or profes, which is awesome because after working in advertising, I couldn’t bear to wear business casual on the daily. Look at me channeling my inner teacher with this classic cardi + dress combo

8:15 AM: Start my 45 minute commute to work. Yeah, it kinda sucks, but I only work monday-Thursday and this was the tradeoff for living in the heart of Madrid.

schoool

9:00 AM: Arrive at my school! My start time changes everyday, but the earliest I have to be at school is 9AM. My school is in a smaller neighborhood in Madrid, and is a semi-private Catholic school. Everyone there is the absolute best (teachers, students, other faculty errybody). All of the teachers I work with are super nice, and have welcomed me with open arms and lots of chorizo.

classroom

9:00AM-11:15: I usually have two 45 minute classes during this time period. I teach everyone in the school (3yo-16yo). And I’m actually creating the lesson plan, teaching it, and creating activities for every class I have. I was honestly a bit worried I wouldn’t like the teaching gig, but I love the kids and teaching has been a surprisingly good time.

outside

11:15-11:35 : Mandatory snack break. Spanish people usually eat five small meals a day, and this is one of them. During this time all of the teachers (myself included) go to the cafeteria to share a loaf of french bread and some spicy chorizo. This is where I practice my Spanish listening skills because the teachers talk SO quickly it’s hard to understand much of anything (pero, no pasa nada).

11:35-12:30 : My last class before siesta!

12:30- 2:30: All the kids go home and have a long lunch with their families (talk about adorable). Sadly, I have to stay at the school during this time because my aforementioned commute is too long to go home and have lunch. But I make the most of the mega break and plan my lessons for the following week.

Hallway

2:30-4:00: I have two more classes to teach before the day ends. These classes range from elementary science, high school (ESO) English, and art.

After school I usually have one private lesson (so I can make some extra cash moneyz), and then I go home! My life here is really laid-back, fun, and different from what I’m used to. Hopefully this post gave you a little glimpse into what my life is actually like.

Besos y abrazos,

Shannon

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top Notch Tapas

happy

TAPAS! A post devoted to our favorite Spanish snack time is long overdue. For those of you who don’t know, a tapa is a little snack that is served with your drink FO FREE. And honestly, after all these tasty snacks I’ve been enjoying with my vino tinto, I don’t think I can ever return to the American bar scene. Sorrrry. Another note on the bar scene here, as long as you aren’t in a club, you can actually hear the other person you’re out with. Amazing, right?! When we would go out for a night on the town in Chicago we could hardly see each other with the dim lighting, let alone actually hear each other over the blasting music. In Spain their bar scene is chill, cheap, and full of snacks. I digress.

After reading this post about two tapas bars that are known for giving you tons of food, Logan and I decided to make a little trip and see what the deal was. So let me give you the low down. There are two bars across the street from each other. One is called Amigos, and the other is called Enamigos (LOL good one guys, I see what you did there). Regardless, both give you a s*** ton of tapas.

AmigosLogi

TapasAmigostext

Looked at all that delicious fried food. Just call me an om nom nomivore, because I seriously pigged out on this one guys. Amigos was really good and the bartender was SO nice. Every time the cooks finished cooking one dish he would bring it out to us, and we didn’t even have to buy another drink (usually it’s a 1 tapa per drink rule here in Madrid). Amigos was my personal favorite. Wine was dirt cheap (2.50 euro), and super delicious. [tapas not pictured: croquetas, cheese, and bologna type meat]

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I’m sorry Enamigos, I know we did you a disservice by eating at Amigos first and getting too full to enjoy your tapas arrangement, but life just isn’t fair. Overall, Enamigos was good, we had a lot of the same type of tapas here, but no bread, and that’s why they lost in my eyes [not pictured: the croquetas we ate the second she put the plate down].

Menu

Only in Spain is the alcohol cheaper than the pop (soda for my Wisconsin readers).

 

Here are the addresses for these bars in case you’re ever in Madrid (P.S. there are about 1 billion bars in Madrid called Amigos)

 

What: Bar Los Amigos
Where: c/ Ezequiel Solana 115
Metro: La Almudena, Ascao
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 11:00 – 00:30, Closed on Mondays
Price: Drinks are 2.50 – 4.00 depending on size; very good prices

 

Adventure Time: Segovia

aqueducts

*Click to enlarge photos

Shannon and I have officially passed the one month mark here in Spain. That is just enough time to start to get the hang of things around here.  We have our work schedules down, we’ve figured out how to order food in a restaurant, and we know where to go when we need to buy something.  With the basics of Spanish life covered, we decided it was time to start exploring.  For our first trip, we decided to start small: Segovia, Spain.  Its only about an hour bus ride from Madrid, so we thought it would be a good first traveling experience (you know, less opportunities to get lost).

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Segovia is a smaller Spanish city with lots of history.  It has been around since Roman times, and at one time was the home of Isabel of Castile (do a wikipedia search).  The biggest attractions in the city are the Aqueduct, the Alcazar, and the Cathedral. The city center is very walkable, so Shannon and I were able to visit all three sities.  When I say walkable I still mean like 2 Kilometers between sites…I guess thats really dependent of your definition of walkable.

The Aqueduct was very impressive.  No one knows exactly how old it is, but about 1,500 years is the rough estimate they give. The whole structure was built without mortar and is held in place by precisely cut stone.  It was really cool to see and touch something that was constructed way back when.

Next stop was the Cathedral.  We didn’t actually go in (because it cost money), but we walked around almost the entire thing. I’m no architect, but I’m pretty sure this church is an engineering marvel and a work of art, especially when you consider its age.

alcatrazINout

Last stop was the Alcazar.  While I’m not exactly sure what Alcazar means, I can tell you the structure is basically a castle. (Maybe Alcazar means castle? I don’t know, the dictionary is so far.) This was by far my favorite part.  It looks like something straight out of a fairy tale, with a draw bridge and tower included.  Shannon and I decided it would be fun to take a risk and climb the tower despite the tourism warning that it includes 152 steps and “is only for the healthy.” To get to the top, you have to go up several sets of staircases that are made of hand-cut stone and very narrow.  The main staircase is cylindrical and you half expect to find a princess who has been locked away at the top.  When you finally reach the top, there is an amazing, 360 degree view of the city and countryside (last picture).

close uppppView

Overall, it was a great trip, and an awesome way to kick off a year of exploring!

Logan

 

 

A Walk in the Park

Retiro Park

Photo Credit: Anonymous

Logan and I live in el centro in Madrid, meaning that we live super close to pretty much everything, including Retiro Park (shown above). Retiro is just a couple metro stops, or a 25 min walk from our piso (talk about lucky)! The weather is absolutely beautiful here (75 and sunny everyday), so what better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than in a beautiful park?!

CoupleCloseup

The park has a really big man made lake near the center. People go out on little paddle boats and feed the coy fish, it’s pretty adorable.

RetiroPond

See all those adorable families rowing their little hearts out?! Ugh, too cute to handle. Behind me is a super cool monument, I’m not sure who it is, I could look it up: but I really don’t feel like it (#sorrynotsorry). The Spanish are all about grand statues, and the statues tend to make everything look like a big deal. Kudos to you Spaniards.

LogiCloseup

LogiMonument

Logan looks like he could make a pretty good statue, what do you think?

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The garden entrance is probably the most beautiful part of Retiro Park, and it was mine and Logan’s favorite spot. Doesn’t it look like Alice in Wonderland?!

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LogiGarden