Archive | November, 2010

Thanksgiving in Spain

27 Nov

Thanksgiving in Madrid was a huge success! I think we all missed our friends and family, home and some of the things Spain just doesn’t have, but we all enjoyed each other’s company. My Thanksgiving started Thursday with an unofficial dinner at my friend Laura’s apartment with her Spanish roommates. We had breakfast for dinner because we thought that concept and breakfast food were the most different from a typical Spanish meal. Her roommates were so excited! One of them made pumpkin cake in honor of Thanksgiving and another girl printed each of us a copy of the national anthem and had us all sing it in honor of America and us Americans. (By the way, we completely butchered it! Not one of us could sing in tune even with the video pulled up on YouTube, ha.) The menu was French toast, scrambled eggs, bacon and mimosas, in case you were wondering.

Friday was our traditional-as-possible American Thanksgiving dinner. A big group of Auxiliares, plus a few English, French, Australian and Spanish friends, got together at my friend Siury’s apartment and we each brought out favorite Thanksgiving dish (needless to say, there were plenty of desserts…and lots of alcohol!). It turned out amazing!

Spending Thanksgiving with friends. (From Left) Our hostess Siury, Juany, me and Katy.

I made a broccoli and corn casserole and sweet cooked carrots (I was going for a Cracker Barrel veggie plate meal), Laura made stuffing (ALWAYS my favorite Thanksgiving food), Jeta made sweet potatoes, Jaylene and Kyla made amazing apple pies (from scratch!), and people who actually eat meat brought a small turkey (or maybe a chicken?) and KFC (keeping it classy). There was enough food for everyone to have seconds. I think our foreign friends were very impressed.

Nacho at his first American Thanksgiving. This picture sums up the general feeling after Thanksgiving dinner, haha.

Like I said, Thanksgiving here was a success. I’m so thankful to have found such great friends in Madrid to be my family while I’m away from home ­čÖé

Catching the metro before it closes for the night with our clean plates and a bean bag chair?



Happy Thanksgiving!

25 Nov

I would like to take time to say Happy Thanksgiving to everyone back at home! Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated here at all, so everyone has still been working and going about their lives as usual. I even almost forgot to say Happy Thanksgiving to the other English assistants at work this morning it’s so normal here! I did do a presentation about our holiday in my classes today, which mostly just made me wish I was back home with everyone. The kids seemed to like it, though, especially the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and the food. I am┬ádefinitely┬ámissing watching the parade with my mom and football with my dad, eating way too much, then staying up all night to go Black Friday shopping with Crandall! I am so thankful that all of you are a part of my life ­čÖé

My American friends an I are having Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, but it’s hard to find some of the ingredients for the must-have dishes. No one here has ever heard of stuffing, cranberry sauce or casseroles. You’re lucky if you find pre-made pie crust. My friend had to search high and low for sweet potatoes, and I can only make squash casserole IF I can find any squash, ha. Other people are making apple pie, mashed potatoes and mac ‘n’ cheese, YUM! Even if the recipes are a little different than back at home, I’m looking forward to it.

Hope everyone is having a relaxed Thanksgiving!


Kind of shopping

25 Nov

I’ve been really good about not shopping so far. I wish I didn’t have to try not to shop, but right now I’d rather spend my money traveling. However, I did go to El Rastro to do a little Christmas shopping for my family. ┬áEl Rastro is like an open-air farmers’ market but with accessories, clothes and gifts instead of food. Prices are usually pretty reasonable and some of the things are really unique so I was able to do all of my Christmas shopping there!

There are some stores I am dying to spend money in, though! (Mango, Mulaya, Bershka, Top Shop, etc.) It looks like I will have to whether I actually wanted to or not. It’s still “Autumn” here and I am already in my warmest clothes, including the daily usage of gloves, which no true┬áSpaniard┬áhas been spotted in yet. Apparently, when Winter really gets here it is going to be colder than North Carolina ever could be. I’ll at least try to hold out until the super sale in January. (It’s super because everything everywhere is on sale. There’s one in the summer, too, in case anyone wants to plan a trip around it ­čśë )


More Trekking

22 Nov

Yes, I went hiking again this weekend. Who knew I was so outdoors-y?! This time some friends and I went to Manzanares El Real, the pueblo where I work, and hiked for 16 km! (That’s almost 10 miles!) I got to see more of Manzanares than usual this weekend, though. I actually only had a regular 2-day weekend. I worked Friday because I’ve already planned on missing work to travel (yay!), but I immediately regretted offering to come in this Friday when my alarm went off that morning. (I think from now on I will just let them remind me I need to make up days, ha!). But I digress…

Friday was the usual-but-always-a-good-time drinks and tapas. (I think this is one of the best ways to kick off the weekend!) Then Saturday ended up being another beautiful day with perfect weather for hiking! ┬áHere are some pictures…

My trekking buddy, Laura.

The trail on the way to our trail.

Bottom of the trail. Laura, Kyla and Jaylene, who is already 50 steps ahead

View from the top!

On the way back down the mountain.


En Las Nubes

13 Nov

Today I went hiking at Parque de Natural Penalara and it was absolutely BEAUTIFUL! It was a hike with the church I attend in Madrid, but our car got lost on the way (of course) so it ended up just being me, my two friends, one of my house mates and a friend he invited. We had a blast! And sung classic American songs such as “Baby got back” and “She’ll be coming ’round the mountain” while we hiked. ┬áHere are some pictures, enjoy!


Our group, minus one, getting ready to head up the mountain. Me, Amy, Laura and Jose.



Laura and I standing in the prairie at the foot of the mountain. (It's super cute and would be perfect for picnics or laying out when it's warm!)



Definitely not the N.C. mountains! Even at the beginning of the trail we are above the clouds.



At the top of the mountain...and it's snowing!




Bird's eye view.



Eat, Drink…Repeat

12 Nov

I LOVE to eat! And I enjoy drinking occasionally (aka on the weekends). Monday through Thursday I work and have to get up early, so I sometimes meet friends for dinner, drinks, or wine and tapas one or two of those nights, and I think a lot of Spanish people are more relaxed during the week, too (even though they still consume alcohol way more often then I would ever think to). The weekends are a different story.

A friend of mine from South America who has lived in Madrid before told me the first week I was here that everyone in Madrid hangs out in La Latina on Sundays. I asked why and what happened there every weekend and she said, “Eating and drinking. We just go there to do that all day. Then we go out.”

I had my own experience with one of these marathon feast-’til-you-go-out days last Saturday. Some Spanish friends invited a bunch or people over for lunch at noon. I didn’t get there until 4 p.m., but no worries because everyone was still eating and drinking. When I walked in, there was a huge spread of Australian and Spanish food and at least 8 open wine bottles and an empty case of beer. I ate my lunch, then everyone had coffee, then dessert was served all the while with more drinks. After dessert, liquor drinks were made for everyone and the Americans and Australians tried to teach circle of death to the Spanish people in Spanglish. It was great! Four or five hours after I arrived (so 8 or 9 hours after everyone else had started) we left for the bars. Needless to say, I was the second person to leave to go home. I don’t know if I can keep up with the Spaniards!


The dessert that marked the end of a 4-ish hour lunch and beginning of pre-gaming: rum soaked pineapple, custard with kiwi and whipped cream and chocolate liquor


This weekend was kicked off with even more delicious food. This morning (and by morning I mean noon, ha) some friends and I got together to make French toast for brunch. ┬áIt was so good…we used enough sugar and butter to make Paula Deen proud! And it reminded me of home ­čÖé


Making french toast and caramelizing bananas to go on top, YUM!



Our brunch included homemade syrup, bananas, whip cream and orange juice


After working out and relaxing, I think I will meet everyone for drinks and tapas…and then go out! Tough life, right?



12 Nov

Shh-ing is not ever very effective and definitely is NOT a form of discipline. At my school in Manzanares, though, it is the first and sometimes only attempt at gaining any type of control over the classroom. (Treats of copying or taking away 5 minutes of recess come in second and a stern talking to in Spanish a close third.)

Don’t get me wrong. These kids are super cute and it is very hard to learn another language, I DEFINITELY understand that. I like working with them, especially when I get to work the kids in small groups or one-on-one. I also remember when I was in third and fourth grade and I was NOT able to talk constantly, play with toys or paper planes or be constantly out of my seat like these kids are.

Sometimes I just move off to the side and stare in awe…or stare into space and try to ignore the chaos. For example, there may be a group of kids up front giving a science presentation. At the same time, there will also be a group of kids having a whistling contest, a table of kids fighting with each other, at least two kids still clapping for the last group that presented because each of them want to have the last clap, the teacher shhh-ing and grading simultaneously, a few kids actually paying attention and the rest of them drawing or cutting paper or playing with silly bands or cards. This is exactly what transpired in one of my classes on Thursday.

Last week there was a very similar scene in another class, except one little girl took it one step further by cutting her own fingers and hair with her scissors. (This is the same little girl that has been acting like a cat for about three weeks now, HA!)

One of the teachers at my school explained to another assistant that they aren’t as hard on the kids like we are in the U.S. The kids in Spain (or rather at this specific school in Manzanares) are given more leeway because when they’re older they will naturally behave better and be more studious. Hmmm. I’m not sure I agree with that logic.

Sometimes you just have to laugh…or bang your head against the wall, lol.