expats

A Day in the Life: Logan

Hi Guys!  As Shannon already explained, there is a lot more to our Spanish life than traveling and generously priced food.  We unfortunately do have to work.  Now that I have my weekly routine all figured out, I think its time I share what I do.

My official job title is Auxiliar de Conversación, and that basically means I pretend that I totally know what I’m doing in front of a highly critical audience made up of 11-18 year olds.  I have exactly zero teaching experience and was pretty much thrown into it.  Essentially, they pay me for speaking English with my “perfect American accent” (their words, I swear).

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7:30 AM: Wake up and get ready to educate the future of the Spanish people.  Schools here tend to be pretty relaxed, and like Shannon, I don’t have much of a dress code to adhere to.  I can wear jeans, t-shirts, sweatshirts, etc.  I try and keep it moderately profesor-y with a minimum of jeans and a collared shirt.

8:40 AM: I (ideally) leave my house for my commute.  Its a grueling 15ish minutes…foot and on the metro (aka its super close).  I really lucked out with the location of my school, and the fact that I can walk there is almost unheard of in Madrid.  Unlike Shannon, however, I work Monday through Friday.

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9:00 AM: Start working.  Everyone at my school is amazing and the teachers have made me feel like a part of the team.  Everyone values the work I do, and it is really nice to feel like I belong.

I am mainly responsible for conversing with the students.  This can range from just asking them questions about their lives to creating vocabulary worksheets.  I do some lesson planning, but it is all based around conversation stuff and never anything like grammar.

11:00 AM: Break time.  I just go to the teachers lounge and hang out and practice Spanish.  I normally have between 1-3 classes between this break and when I start at 9.

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11:25AM-End of day.  My end time varies a lot more than my start time.  Monday-Wednesday I finish around 2, and Thursday-Friday I finish around 5.  I have anywhere between 3 and 6 classes each day, and I am anywhere between 50% and 100% worn out when I’m done.  Its not that the job is hard, but I spend most of the day on my feet using my “teacher voice.”

Tuesdays and Thursdays I also have private lessons that I do on the side.  I don’t really love doing them, but the money is good and I enjoy teaching the students.  Overall, its not too demanding, and I am enjoying things here in Spain.  I hope you enjoyed learning a little about my life here.

Besos y abrazos,

logan

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Adventure Time: Granada

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Last weekend Logan and I made the short journey to the southern city of Granada. Granada is most well known for their copious (and delicious) tapas, the Alhambra, and their white washed houses. It’s only about a 4 hour drive, and we found a cheap BlaBla car for Friday morning. We stayed in a wonderful AirBNB with a balcony and a central location (it was also mega cheap). We decided 2 days was enough time, so we got down to business right when we arrived.

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Our first stop was finding a couple bars to drink and eat lunch. The tapas in Granada were pretty good, but Logan and I thought they were pretty similar to the tapas we’ve had in Madrid. After filling up our bellies with vino tinto and our fair share of free food, we trecked up a huge a** hill to _____. This is the best place to see La Alhambra, and it’s one of the most popular destinations in Granada.

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We spent the night bar hopping between the many bars that litter Granada’s streets. And we were not disappointed. The alcohol is cheap, and the food is delicious. My favorite bar was one where they gave us a seafood tapa (a whole plate of fried shrimp *nomz*).

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The next day we were up bright and early to trek to our main destination, La Alhambra. La Alhambra is one of the most visited spots in Spain, and is a Moorish citadel and palace. Since it’s so popular you have to buy your tickets in advance.

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If you could tell from my previous pictures, La Alhambra is situated at the top of a giant f*cking hill, that we had to climb at 9:30am with a bit of a tapa hangover. It was long, and a bit tiring, but TOTALLY worth it. La Alhambra is MASSIVE, and we spent a good 3 hours walking around the beautiful grounds. We decided to get tickets that included everything other than the Nasrid baths, and I have zero regrets.

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This part of Alhambra is called Generalife and it’s filled with beautiful gardens, fountains, and ponds. It was so so so beautiful, and because La Alhambra is so massive, there were never too many crowds anywhere we went. Also, the weather was PERFECT, look at me guys, I’m wearing shorts on the first day of November!

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The other main part of La Alhambra is the Alcazaba, this is where you get the best views of the beautiful city. The clusters of white houses make my heart swoon, so beautiful!

After we left La Alhambra, we ended our trip exactly how we started: with a few more rounds of tapas.

Besos y abrazos,

Shannon

Adventure Time: Segovia

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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.

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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).

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

Logan

 

 

It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times: Part 1

If you’ve been following any of our social media accounts you would think living in Madrid has been nothing but sunshine, rainbows, and happy feelings. But obviously reality is a bit different. While we do love Madrid, there are just some things that get on our nerves.

Peeved:

1. Cash Moneyz 

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Everyone knows Spain uses the Euro. And thats fine, the Euro is great.  My only problem is that €1 and €2 are coins, not paper. I know this doesn’t seem like a big deal, but when I give someone a €10 bill and get back 3 lbs of change, it makes me a little upset.

2. Light Switches

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Why are they so big?! Its like the country is full of people with poor vision.  Also they put the bathroom light switch on the outside of the bathroom…call me American, but that does not seem ideal.

3. Power

I just feel like it would solve a lot of problems if everyone just followed the same system.  Then you wouldn’t have to buy these stupid things to make your electronics work.

4. Nutrition Labels

EVERYTHING is per 100 grams.  Thats fine if you are looking at something like meat, but terrible for something like salsa.  NO ONE EATS 100 g OF SALSA!  The entire jar is like 70 g, so why would the nutrition label be per 100 grams?!

5. Hard to get around (crazy street layout)

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I guess this is also part of Spain’s charm, but when you are trying to get somewhere for the first time, the winding streets are mega confusing, especially in comparison to the good ol’ Chicago grid system.

Love:

1. Madrid’s Metro 

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Everyone loves Chicago’s el, but the Metro here wins by far.  Its fast, efficient, and clean (none of which can be said about the el).

2. Tapas/Cheap eats

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In no other country do they give you free food with a €1.5 drink.  You don’t really get to choose, but its guaranteed to be Spanish food…and that means its going to be good.  Plus the drinks are  €1.5.  Thats like 1/4 the cost in Chicago!

3. The people

People here are great and love to meet new people. When introduced, you exchange a quick kiss on each cheek.  It really feels much more personal than the standard handshake back home. (when 2 men meet they still shake hands, aka no kissing)

4. Language/// Idioma

I studied Spanish so obviously I like this part of the country.  Its pretty much the reason we’re here.  Also tapas…that’s the other reason we’re here.

5. Architecture/History

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Just google image Madrid and you will see what I mean.