Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Vitoria (Jan. 14)

The weekend after I returned to La Rioja, I took a day trip to Vitoria. Vitoria-Gasteiz is the capital of the province Álava in Basque country (Pais Vasco). It was a nice change of scenery. There are beautiful murals painted all around the city.

Jan. 6 Madrid

I returned to Madrid the next day. I returned to La Rioja on Jan. 8th. I took advantage of my last days in Madrid and did some touring. I went down the longest street in Madrid: Calle Alcalá

So I know where to go when they don't pay me!

Alcalá gate
Parque retiro
Parque retiro
Parque retiro

Last Day in Trier (Jan. 5)

I didn't do much on my last day in Trier. I just walked around the center and went on a short train tour called the Roman Express. It was 35 minutes and was not worth the 7 euros. blah. Oh well, I was able to rest my feet for a while and sit in a heated area.

The Roman Express

After the tour, I walked some more and had a bratwurst for the last time. :( I also purchased a bottle of wine for Silvia and Bernd. I knew it was white, but I didn't know that "trocken" means "dry". I was lucky because they loved the wine. I actually loved it too. We drank the wine while we made and ate raclettes (switzerland) and talked about the next time that I will return to Trier.

Materials to make a raclette

Until next time, Trier. :(

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's activities at the primary school

So I just finished class today with the kids of the 5th of primary. I had them read their sentences about the famous African Americans that I assigned to them last week. For some reason five people did Michael Jackson although I'm pretty sure that I only assigned Michael Jackson to two people. Yep.

So the readings were fatal. Half of the class didn't do the assignment. Of the students who actually did the assignment, only four actually followed my directions and wrote only two sentences. The other students copied directly from the website and wrote a paragraph. I explained the problem with copying and the main teacher explained in spanish. ua!

The next activity was very successful. We talked about Valentine's Day, and I told them to write a poem and draw a picture. I gave them an example of the most famous love poem:

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Sugar is sweet,
And so are you

Some of the students simply copied the poem from the board and drew a heart. ua! The majority of the students, however, were very creative:
You are beautiful
You are my smile
You are my sunlight
I love you

You are beautiful
You are always there when I get there
I love you
You are my heart

The sun is yellow
The sky is blue
Chocolate is sweet
And so are you
I am always dreaming of you
I love you

You are beautiful
I love you
You are red with me (She meant to say we are in love -estamos enamorados)

Your eyes are brown,
My eyes are brown too
We are red together (haha)
There were many other nice ones. Some of them didn't make sense to me...or to the other students.

Not creative but made the class laugh:
One rose is red
the other is blue
You too look like roses
your eyes is like the roses

I'm excited to see how this activity will fare with the 11 year old kids.

Update: From the 4th of Primary (9 year old kids)
roses are red
violets are blue
your hair is beautiful
and I have a poem for you


Monday, February 13, 2012

A side post...

So, I have not finished writing about my Christmas vacation. I haven't even started to talk about my little weekend trips that I have taken since January. I need to break from that a bit and talk about English practice with my adult students. We say kids say the darnedest things.

Well, so do low level ESL students.

Since last week, I have had some lazy/free time at work. The students at La Escuela Oficial de Idiomas have been taking their first round of speaking, reading, and writing exams. These exams are not the official ones to earn the level certificate. Those exams will be in May or June. Because of this, I have been hanging out in the teacher's lounge or in the library. My hours present an opportunity for students to have some last minute practice before the test. Not many students have showed up as they see it as a free hour. Some students, however, have taken the full advantage. One of the intermediate 1 students has come a lot. He likes to talk and doesn't have many opportunities to talk in class since his class is large.

Exams are continuing this week and I thought that he would be the only one to show up. Today, seven intermediate students came, because they have their tests on Wednesday. It was quite an interesting time...

Of the seven maybe four of them dominated the conversation. I was not surprised, because they are the same four students who always talk in class. One of the guys lived in England for a while so his English is excellent. He talked about his travels and his street slang. He used some British slang that I had never heard of (like carrot). He explained how the mix of formal English and slang is a tricky combination for English learners. He told a long story about a drunk English woman who attacked him the the men's bathroom in a pub in England. Supposedly, she was aggressively pursuing him. I think I had to cover my embarrassed face the entire time. So funny.

Well, he told us this story, because another student asked me to teach him how to flirt. He caught me completely off guard. I did not know what to tell him. He asked me to prepare a lesson on flirting and by his wide innocent eyes, I knew that he was not joking. I told him that I'm not an expert on flirting, because I'm shy.

He sad "well, you know something..." So apparently, after my Mardi Gras lesson, I will be preparing a lesson on flirting. Great. I will be extremely embarrassed, but I think the material will be useful for the students. I'll let you know how it goes...


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Day trip to Luxembourg (Jan. 4 2012)

I had to wake up early for my trip to Luxembourg. I dragged out of bed, but I eventually dressed myself to make it downstairs to a breakfast that Silvia prepared for me. It was toast with jam and a nice drink that I can't remember the name of. She said she prepared the same breakfast for her son when he lived at home. Yum!

Silvia drove me to a small city called Wasserbillig. The train from Wasserbillig to Luxembourg only takes 30 minutes.

In the train

Ticket from Luxembourg to Trier

All-day ticket to Luxembourg (train and bus)

Welcome to Luxembourg!

When I arrived it to Luxembourg, I ate breakfast and then did some exploring.

Luxembourg is precious. Around 500,000 people live in this country and 60% of the people are immigrants. More than half of the immigrants are from Portugal. They went to Luxembourg and helped build the banks. Luxembourg depends on foreigners. Because of this, the kids grow up learning many different languages. Their principal language is Luxembourgish which is a mix of french and german. The children also learn french and german. This allows the people to live in peace with the immigrants from the neighboring countries. When the children become older, they start learning English. Wow!

So I used the map Silvia gave me to find the tourist office. I signed up for a 2 hour tour of Luxembourg city. I have to specify, because the country Luxembourg has a city called Luxembourg. :)

When I signed up for the tour, it was 10:30am, so I had to do some more exploring. I felt like I walked to all corners of the city. I was looking or English schools, because I wanted to send in my resume. I had decided in my first 2 hours there that I wanted to stay.

When I did the tour, we went to some of the same places that I had explored. So now I could just learn about the places that I had already visited. I also met some people from the United States and Australia. The Australian woman told me that she liked my Georgian accent. What? I never let people hear my accent. I have it hidden, but sometimes it slips out.

Water is a little high! This is where young professionals live in the old part of town.
Reminds me of the beginning of la herradura in Haro

Palace of the Grand Dukes
Inside of the Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral next to the library


After the tour, I visited more English schools and purchased some post cards. Later that evening, I caught the train to Trier. By the time that I arrived to Trier, the regular bus had stopped. I would've walked to Silvia's house, but it was raining. I caught a bus to Porta Nigra and called Silvia to help me. She was on her way home and so picked me up. We made it home and I waited around in the kitchen for dinner.

For dinner, we had a meal from France: Quiche. Oh so yummy!

After dinner, I prepared myself for my last full day in Trier. :(

Silvia had...

planned a day trip to Luxembourg for me. She had called the train station and found out that I could purchase a 4 euro all day pass for Luxembourg. The all day pass included the train ride from Wasserbiling (a small town 20 minutes from Trier) and the buses in Luxembourg. So cheap! She also printed out a colorful map of Luxembourg and placed it in a protective cover. I was so impressed and so grateful. We talked for a little while about some points of interest in Luxembourg and called it a night.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Outside of window of my room

In the morning, Silvia gave me directions to the city bus stop, and I made my way into the center of Trier.
The Mosel river

Trier is a very important city, but not many people know about it. It is the oldest city in Germany and lies along the Mosel river. It's part of the Mosel wine region. It was once part of the Roman Empire and did not become part of the German empire until the late 1800s. Some of the famous landmarks in Trier are the Trier cathedral, the Church of our lady, the Porta Nigra, the Basilica, and the Kaiserthermen.

Map of the city

My first stop was the tourist office right next to the Simeonstift museum and the Porta Nigra. I had to buy a map, because the office doesn't provide free maps. That's a first for me.
I took the number 2 bus to the Porta Nigra

From the Porta Nigra

Because it was raining, I decided to tour the museum and the Porta Nigra. I first went into the Porta Nigra and felt crazy about paying to walk inside an empty gate. :/ Although I complained a little, I enjoyed it.
And there it is. "The black gate" once was white. It became black during medieval times.

Nice views from the Porta Nigra

After the Porta Nigra, I went to the museum, and I was in there for a very long time. The Stadtmuseum Simeonstift has displays that illustrate the history of Trier. I'm really bad in museums, because I just have to read everything. It turned out to be a good thing, because the rain had stopped by the time I exited.

The woman with the cross is the mother of Constantine, St. Helena.

In the museum on the stools. Where was the oldest and largest Roman camp north of the Alps?
You are banned if you don't know the answer!

I went walking through the city center, looking for the other landmarks.

The cathedral of Trier- Roman style- where Constantine built his church

The cathedral is connected to the Church of Our Dear Lady (The Liebfrauenkirche) -gothic style

It was way too cold to find them all and a little dark so I decided to leave them for another day.

Oh yeah! The EuroShop. I don't recommend buying batteries from here...

Spanish wine in the EuroShop?

Around here is where I gave a Brazilian man and his daughter the direction to the Karl Marx haus

Don't let this fool you, the weather was horrible. I ended up here while looking for the bus.

I ate a bockwurst and went back to Silvia and Bernd's house and waited for them to return.
Silvia cooked a small dinner of pasta and beef (essentially hamburger helper) and we all sat with our feet on the heated floor and talked about our day. Silvia had also prepared a surprise for me... (next post)

Why was the Trier revolution in 1848 "the worst point in the province"?