Sunday, April 21, 2013

Chapter Two: One week already?

Chapter Two: One week already?

Hello and welcome to my posts.  I'm Evan Wolfe and this is my blog!  Why write a blog?  In case you haven't heard, I'm studying in Barcelona, Spain.  It's a great way to keep you up to date on my discoveries.  This time last week I had gotten off of my plane and taken in more unusual sights and sounds than I have ever experienced.
If you are new here, this is my second post.  I had already written a first post but I wasn't ready to share this with the rest of my audience until it looked more aesthetically presentable.  As a former (Freshman level) graphic design major, the color of the text has to contrast the background just right or it will bother me.  This is the scheme that I settled with after some tinkering around with the features.

My gratitude to:
  • The WKU Sisterhood.  I may not be a sister but I am thankful for your help to make these adventures possible!
  • Gustavo Adolfo Obeso Rodriguez.  Sr. Obeso was the first to get me interested in the Spanish language, and the culture of different Spanish-speaking Countries.  What I learned from his class inspired me to travel.   
  • Dr. Fred Carter for giving me the chance to be a part of this program.  
And now for the feature...

The School
As I promised you last chapter, I would tell you more about Santa Isabel (Full name Colegio Reial Monestir De Santa Isabel.  It is a Catholic Private school that teaches students from Kindergarten to their Secondary years.  The students learn Spanish, English, and Catalan throughout all of their subjects.  By First grade the students will begin learning English. My host-father told me that one of the reasons that he chose to send his children to Santa Isabel is because he wanted them to learn English.  Most of the students are confident and eager to speak to you in English.  Also, the students are required to ask questions in English or ask for assistance with phrasing.  The students are learning the British form of English, so there are some minor differences from American English.

The Spanish accent that almost everyone speaks with is very catchy, and you will find yourself speaking occasionally with a Spanish accent. As I read this back to myself in my head, it is in a Spanish accent.  It's completely unintentional.

Because the students are learning every subject in English,  there is a great emphasis on summarizing, note taking, and graphic organizers.  I was surprised to see 4th and 5th grade students utilizing these note taking strategies that I've typically witnessed in High School and College age students.

Teachers  in Santa Isabel have different classes during the day, and instead of the students moving to different teachers for math or reading, the teachers do all of the moving from classroom to classroom.  The teacher work and break schedules are staggered so that they can cover for each other in the event of a teacher needing a substitute for a class or two. 

I work with a teacher who teaches Science and English to 4th, 5th, and 6th grade boys.  We have one English reading class that is all girls.  Currently we finished up the circulatory and respiratory system in Science, and reported speech in English.  Lately I've been leading the activities and helping the students with their reading.  I also give exams to students where I will ask the students questions about a given picture and they have to respond to the questions in English, using full sentences.  This trains their ability to communicate contrasts and answer "who, what, when, where, why, and how?" questions.

I'm getting ready to teach a Science lesson to the students as soon as they finish their current Science exams.

Tutoring the kids

I live with a host family who has two children.  Usually we ride in a car or on the bus together and at home we have a snack, do homework, practice spelling words, and then play a game.  Games that I've used so far are charades (The student reads the card with an English word a picture on it and acts out that word while the other student guesses in English what the words is), I spy, and a simplified form of Pictionary where the students take turns writing the words after guessing the drawing.  We also read a selection of picture books that I brought from home, where we all take turns reading a page.

The Weekend
Plaza De Espana

 This picture was not taken by me, but you'll see some pictures that I did take of this place from a different perspective. In the months preceding my arrival to Spain, this picture was on the background of my computer.  On Saturday I had walked around this location and taken pictures but I didn't realize this was the same location as this picture that was on my desktop until I had reviewed my pictures on the computer.

I think it looks good at night.  The statue is just out of view from this picture.  It would be situated on the upper right corner of this picture.  The towers that you see in the first picture are behind me in the other two pictures.  It was a pleasant night walking around Plaza De Espana.  I took the metro to get there and it was the easiest thing that I've done since I've come to Spain.  I had come to Plaza de Espana to see the magic fountain but I had missed the show.  The magic fountain is a water and light show that plays to music.  I had hoped to see it, but I didn't make it in time.  I'm not worried.  To me, exploring and traveling is about seeing the quaint cafes, parks, and scenery that catch your eye along the way.  When I was younger I had dreamed of exploring large cities on my own, immersed entirely in new places.  To me, that night was a success. 

Here is a video of what the Magic fountain show looks like:

Castillo Burriarc
Over the weekend I rode with my host-family to meet my Host-father's friends from law school.  We took a 45 minute hike to the historic castle known as Castillo Burriarc. 

After we returned from the hike, we ate at an old-fashioned Spanish restaurant.  I tried pig feet for the first time, along with a plethora of salted peppers and cooked vegetables.  Next to the restaurant was a patio that children could play on while under supervision.  There were also cages with various birds inside.  I took a picture of this bird because I had never seen it before.

Unless I'm mistaken, this bird is called a Las Perdius.  I looked up the name just to make sure and I found pictures of a different looking bird.  Can anyone help me out on this one?  Am I correct?

And now for questions that I like to think you have for me:
  • Did you experience a lot of culture shock in Spain?  I moved from California to Kentucky.  Culture shock is a regular occurrence.  But yes, I did in Spain.  More on that subject later.
  • How is your Spanish?  It is so-so.  I know enough Spanish to survive.  I can ask for directions, I can ask for how much food costs, numbers, dates, and some adjectives.  I can also tell when students are talking to each other on or off topic in class. 

When I speak to locals in Spanish, they can hear my American accent and they talk to me by using a little bit of English.

Gelatto is as good as everyone says it is.  Possibly better.

I have two favorite coffee shops:
  • Nyo's: it is across the street from Santa Isabel.  It is a popular location between us Toppers (Toppers being my fellow students from WKU) where we catch up on we've been up to.  Both inside and outside of the school.  Also, the espresso is just right.  Strong, but not to sharp and bitter.  They call it cafe.   
  • I have forgotten the name of the other one. It is quaint and has a nice collection of pastries.
Next time on the blog: I will tell you about my host family, the colleagues, and a cliche-free (mostly) recanting of my journey through Rome!  That's right, Rome!

Until next time...


  1. Even, this is Dan the Man in Bowling Green. I'm Glad you are having fun.

    I like the pictures, it makes your blog come to life. Looking at the scenery I can see now why the Spaniards of the 16th century where at home the North American west because of the arid looking climate.

    Have fun and I look forward to reading more Blogs :)

  2. This is great Evan! I've read people's travels before but I think just knowing you better helps it all seem more real to me. Excited for more!