Oops. (I did it again.)

Let over a month go by without an update. It’s not that I don’t do anything cool or worth writing about, it’s just that life in between vacations is a bit routine. Which isn’t to say it’s boring. I have a blast.

So how have things been? Well, the big news of course is that I GOT A JOB. For next year. In ANDORRA. That’s right, I’m staying! Andorra can’t get rid of me. I’ll be working at one of Andorra’s private language academies, teaching mostly teens and adults. I’m pretty excited about it – the school seems really cool, with great resources and a really interesting program. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it from students and teachers alike, so I think it’ll be a great experience. I have to go through getting a residence permit from immigration all over again, but at least this time I know what I’m doing (sort of).

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I’ll start work in August, which means my trip home this summer is a bit short – probably just about 5 weeks. I’m excited to get back to the US and see everyone, but I’m also really excited for a second year here… I’m living the dream! No but really, since I was about 16 the dream has been to live abroad long-term, and I’m making it happen! Dreams really do come true, guys. So you could say I’m very happy these days.

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We recently (2 weeks ago) had a week long break – our last! I spent the weekend hanging out in Andorra and relaxing (Isa and I donned bikinis and hung out on her terrace in 59 degree weather because it has been a long winter!). Monday through Wednesday, I spent in Vic rock climbing… I’m not very good at it, but I had a lot of fun! And I didn’t sustain any injuries, so I take that as a win.

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That Wednesday night, my BFF Kelsey and her sister Andie arrived! We hiked up to Engolasters on Thursday (it’s the easiest/shortest hey-look-how-pretty-Andorra-is hike) and spent Friday in Ordino (Andorra’s cutest little parish, I think) before heading to Barcelona for the weekend. Sadly, Kelsey left on Sunday and I headed back to Andorra.

School last week was nothing too exciting. Wrapping up the year consists of a lot of practice and review, which is nice because I get to see how much my students have learned! And then Jess, my best friend since middle school, arrived on Friday!

Friday night we went out for tapas, and then Saturday we did a hike in Sant Julia, followed by spending the evening watching the Champions League final at a sports bar (Madrid won! YAY!). Being in Europe for the Champions League final was a BLAST – people were very into it, and after the win, they were driving through the streets honking in celebration. Obviously, Andorra is pretty Catalan so the majority of people are Barcelona fans here, but there were some Real Madrid fans out and about. It reminded me a bit of Baltimore after the Ravens won the Superbowl a few years ago.

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Sunday, we hiked up to Engolasters. The end of the hike, it started to rain, and we ended up spending some time in the cafe at the top waiting for it to stop. It didn’t, really, so we eventually headed back down in the rain. We had a relaxing night in, and then spent Monday morning souvenir shopping. I had meeting Monday afternoon, and after we went out for dinner and then watched Game of Thrones at a bar that shows it in English before getting drinks with some friends. Jess left this morning, which is sad. I miss her already!

I only have about 4 more weeks of work, and 5 weeks from today I’ll be back in the US. Time flies! Crazy, huh? I’m just relieved to be staying – I wouldn’t be ready to say goodbye to Andorra for good yet!

(Also, Andorrans are surprised when I say I’m staying because I love Andorra, and well, let’s just say… If I had a boyfriend for every time I’d been asked if I’m staying because of some Andorran boy, I’d be dating half the country!)

Semana Santa: Berlin, Krakow, and London

Well, once again I find myself way behind the time on this update, but life does have a tendency to get in the way, doesn’t it?

So, Semana Santa gave us TWO glorious weeks off (boy will I miss these vacations next year…) to travel the world. To start out, all 5 of us Andorra Fulbrighters set off for Berlin, where the German mid-year conference was happening. The German commission opens their conference to all the European Fulbrighters, so of course we jumped at the excuse to head to Berlin! It was a huge conference (an overwhelming number of people, really, when you’re used to 5!) and super fun. There was a good representation of the Spain crew there as well, and we hung out with them a lot because #spandorra is the best.

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#spandorra crew representing in Berlin. I stole this photo from Cass’s FB – thanks, Cass! But look how damn #spandorrable we all are.

 

We skipped some events because they had little to do with teaching English in Andorra, but the ones we did attend were cool. Aside from a million Americans, there was also a big group of Germans about to go study/research in the US next year, so it was cool to meet them as well. In between sessions, we managed to see some sights around Berlin, partake in lots of delicious food (mostly kebabs, kebabs, and more kebabs…), and even go to an ex-pat stand-up comedy show! Berlin is a really cool city, very hipster and interesting, and I can definitely see its appeal.

(Holocaust Memorial, Bradenburg Gate, the German government, the Berlin Dome, the Berlin Wall x2)

After Berlin, Johanna and I hopped an overnight train (complete with beds – we felt like queens!) to Krakow to spend a few days there. I honestly had no idea what to expect, because I had very few preconceived notions of Poland. I ended up loving it! Krakow is beautiful, and sort of reminded me of Prague and Budapest in more ways than one. Our time there was also spent eating delicious (and cheap!) food – this time of the Polish variety – and seeing the sights, which included a cathedral, an old salt mine with some crazy salt art, the main market, the Jewish Quarter, and a castle.

Poland is undeniably beautiful, but there is obviously a dark side to their history, especially in the 20th century. We visited the Gestapo Museum, Oskar Schindler’s Factory (of Schindler’s List fame), and of course Auschwitz-Birkenau. While I certainly wouldn’t describe any of the above as “cool” or “great” places to visit, they are very interesting and, I think, something everyone should visit at some point in their lives. I don’t really have the words to describe how it feels to stand at the gates of Auschwitz-Birkenau and know that over a million people who walked through those same gates never walked back out, or to walk through the gas chamber and know that right where you are standing, thousands of people were murdered. The exhibitions at Auschwitz are very well done, and they are really impressive in their ability to show the scale of the atrocities committed in WWII. The scope of the horror is in some ways incomprehensible; the idea that human beings could treat other human beings in such a way is terrifying. It is not an easy thing to do, visiting these memorials, but it is absolutely important and I would recommend it to anyone traveling to Poland.

After Poland, I traveled to London to visit my good friend Charlee (you may remember that she visited me back in November with her boyfriend, Josh!). I had visited London once, five years ago, the first time I met Charlee. That time we were only able to visit for a day, but now she lives in London so I got to spend several days there. And wow, London is awesome! (Expensive as hell, but awesome.) We packed in lots of tourist activities and an impressive variety of delicious food. (Andorra and Spain are wonderful, to be sure, and the local food is delicious, but good Lord do I miss international food, and wow does London deliver just that.) One of the highlights was our tour of the Tower of London. We had a HILARIOUS tour guide, “Billy Beefeater,” who pretty much took the piss (look I’m so British now) out of everyone in the group. Another super cool visit was to the Sky Garden – Charlee’s idea; I had never heard of it. It’s free and you get great views of London… and the drinks are tasty! (Although not free.)

Overall, the trip was fantastic, but after 2 whirlwind weeks, it was nice to come back to Andorra and settle back into my routine here. It’s hard to believe I have less than 3 months left in my Fulbright experience. We recently got the contact information for the new grantees coming next year, and it was a little bit weird. It makes the approaching end feel more real, and it’s even a little sad to think my students will be hanging out with a new lectora next year (although I’m sure she’ll be awesome).

In the meantime, life back here has been great. Ski season ended, sadly, so my weekend activity of choice is suddenly gone and I’ll have to figure out a substitute. (Probably hiking, because the mountains are addictive.) Work is going well. Last week we took the students to see an English theater group that travels around and puts on plays for English students, and it was a lot of fun. They make the kids participate and do silly stuff, so we were all laughing – our students are great!

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Well anyway, that’s all for now! Happy Monday everyone!

Hello, yes, I’m alive and doing things.

Wow, I am just getting worse and worse at updating this, aren’t I? To be honest, life has been a bit routine so I haven’t had a whole lot to update on. Classes are good, tutoring is good. (Actually, this week tutoring was GREAT.)

Of course, the big news right now is that Devin is visiting me! He arrived Wednesday evening after 48+ hours of traveling, the poor boy, and he is still recovering from his jet lag. So far he hasn’t done much in the way of seeing Andorra because I still have to work this week and the beginning of next, but he’s met the crew here and seen where I work and been to the place with 1000 beers, so I think he’s doing okay. This weekend we’ll do more adventurous stuff, and next week 3 of the kids I tutor are going to go skiing with us and teach us!

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Finally here!

 

In other news, a few weeks ago we got to take an official (!) tour of Casa de la Vall, which is Andorra’s historical government building. It’s a very cool old building from the 1580s. They’ve actually moved to a new building in the last few years, so we got to tour that as well, and we met the Subsíndica del Consell General, which as far as I can tell is like the VP of Parliament.

We learned a lot about Andorra’s government (which is fascinating) and legal system. Andorra has 28 members of Parliament (can you imagine if we only had 28 people in Congress?!). There are 2 representing each of the 7 parishes, and then 14 who are national representatives. Of the 28 members, 14 are women, which I think is SO COOL (it’s actually the second-highest proportion of female legislators in the world!). I was really surprised to hear, though, that women in Andorra didn’t have the right to vote until 1970, and couldn’t run for office until 1973! Look how far they’ve come in just 45 years though… (Ahem, America, take note.)

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Here we are with her! (She’s the one in the white top.)

 

In less official news, the Fulbright crew here has been eating some delicious meals. I’m definitely the worst cook of the 4 of us, but my friends here are gourmet chefs so we had an amazing Hanukkah dinner and then a Mediterranean night and everything was perfect. It reminds me a little bit of community dinners back in my Project SERVE days! (Actually this year reminds me of my Project SERVE year in a lot of ways!)

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Look at this deliciousness. I only brought the wine so I take no credit.

 

The teachers at my school had a Christmas dinner last week and it was SO FUN. I work with the coolest people. Also, I just love the work culture here. It feels so much more laid-back than in the US. I had a blast. There was karaoke, dancing, games, lots of good food… Great night. (Have I mentioned yet how I never want to leave?)

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Two of my wonderful co-workers: Priya (teaches English) and Anna (teaches Spanish and Catalan).

 

I bought a ski pass! I am an official season pass skier. How fancy am I?! Do I know how to ski? No… not yet. But I figure if I go every weekend (which I better, to make the cost of the pass worth it!), I’ll eventually be at least half-decent right? I got skis and stuff to borrow from one of the teachers at school, so I’m all set up! I’ve only been once so far, with my friend Isa. She’s a cool snowboarder chick, so I felt bad that I was holding her back to green and blue slopes when she’s a badass… Except she totally tricked me at one point and made me go down a red! She said it was a blue, but then I thought I was going to die I fell so many times! When I finally made it to the bottom, she told me it was a red! So I guess I survived that. After the day of skiing I was exhausted, sore, and totally unexcited about climbing up 4 flights of stairs to my apartment… But it was fun!

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The view from the top of the slope I totally didn’t know was red.

 

Anyway, that’s about it for now! I’m sure I’ll have more adventures to update you all  soon! 🙂 I have some pretty exciting travels coming up over Christmas break!

Cómo vuela el tiempo…

So, now that I’ve updated all about my vacation, I’m 2 weeks behind in post-vacation life updates! Time flies here, I swear! At the end of every week I sort of end up looking around and thinking, “WHAT?! How is another week over?!” The other day (Saturday, which is suddenly several days ago), I realized that it was exactly 40 weeks until the WEDDING. Devin and I are almost halfway through our engagement – how did that happen? I still feel like we just got engaged! (And yes, if you’re wondering, pretty much all the big things are planned!) Forty weeks sounds like an eternity but when I think about the fact that I’ve already been here for almost 11 weeks, it sounds a lot closer… The next day all I could think was, “Oh my gosh, 40 weeks from TODAY we’ll wake up MARRIED!”

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No but really I’M SO EXCITED

Another thing that made me realize just how time flies is the fact that I turned 25 last week! Being 25, and infinitely older and wiser than I was before, I feel like I’m qualified to comment on the fleeting nature of our life on earth… or something. But seriously, I feel like I just turned 20. On my birthday, I actually had to teach the whole day, but my classes were good. The one class all sang me happy birthday, and then in my private lessons the kids had a little surprise for me with sweets. I tried to make cookies with them as a fun lesson, but it turned out terribly because their family has a fancy oven with multiple settings and the kids put it on the wrong one, which I never thought to check. Oops. Also, I’m never trying to make cookies with 3 boys between the ages of 10 and 15 again. Ever. After, my friends took me out for dinner. A low-key, broken-bone-free birthday, which if you were following me 5 years ago when I turned 20 in Europe, was NOT the case then. Older and wiser, obviously.

Other than that, things have just been busy. My classes are going really well. My kids crack me up on a daily basis and I absolutely love them. Even when a particular class frustrates me, there is always at least one who makes me laugh. I know teenagers can be awful sometimes (I had to tell my private lesson kids last night that I could just go home and relax and stop wasting their parents’ money if they didn’t want to learn), but they can also be a lot of fun. Some of them have made great presentations lately and I’ve been so proud of them!

By now, they have all realized that I understand them perfectly. While some classes have heard me speak Spanish and know I have a degree in it and all, others still aren’t quite sure how much I speak and it’s a funny little game we play. One kid yesterday said, “But you’ve only been here 2 months and you’ve learned Catalan! How do you learn so fast?” My response, obviously:

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No but really, I feel like my Catalan is making progress, finally. There was a time where I felt like I just wasn’t learning to speak, only to understand, but lately I’ve been trying it out a bit, and I can say pretty basic stuff! Of course, when someone says to me, “Ok, now let’s practice your Catalan!” I immediately freeze, because … What do you want me to say?

Tomorrow, my friend Charlee and her boyfriend Josh arrive to visit for the weekend! They live in London and I haven’t seen them since I was in England almost 5 years ago, so I am so excited!!!

Well, I have to go correct my third-year students’ CVs for class tomorrow, so I’d better get going. Don’t expect an update while my visitors are here, but I’ll try to post one early next week!

Overdue update: I did the most beautiful hike.

I know, I know. It has been TOO LONG. There are a few reasons for this: things have been SO busy, my Wi-Fi is THE WORST, and of course, I don’t think you all want to read daily about my teaching. (Or maybe you do? Correct me if I’m wrong.) Anyway. It has been 11 whole days without an entry, which I’m sure my mother is not okay with. (Sorry!)

Things have been good! Teaching the last 2 weeks has gone pretty well. My students are all finished with their presentations, thank goodness. I was getting tired of dealing with technology issues (is there any school in the world where all the computers/projectors/cables work? I want to work there). Some did a better job than others, obviously, but I’m glad to be finished with them! We’re moving on to more relevant, content-focused things now. With the third-years, I’m working on CVs and cover letters and job searching, regardless of career track. With the second-years, I’m working on career-specific things: two groups are working on reports about multinational companies, one group is working on designing a hike itinerary, etc. The first years are more basic: introductions and other simple things, but related to their focus. (For some of them, that stuff is frustratingly easy. For others, it’s way too hard. Womp.) This past Monday was Dia de la Convivencia at my school, which is kind of like a field day where students from all the different tracks get mixed up together onto teams and compete in a series of games. It was a lot of fun! After the kids went home, the teachers had a potluck lunch (complete with wine because Europe) and that was really fun as well. I really like my school a lot; the staff is so nice!

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Kids doing kid stuff, I don’t know. Check out the view from our athletic field though?!

Tutoring is going well too. This week I’ve played lots of games with the kids – Pictionary, Scattergories, and yesterday one of my kids taught me chess in English. I think I’m starting to get into the groove, maybe, and figure out what works for each kid. One is only 9, and he’s silly and we have to play games the whole time or he complains and asks what time it is every 5 minutes – but this week, he was sad when the hour was over and asked to play again next week! Two are serious, and I have to have something more like a “real” lesson to feel like they enjoyed it. Two that I have together are 15 year old boys, and the most effective way to teach them is to make everything a competition. Anyway, on to the fun stuff, shall we?

Last weekend, we had more visitors from Fulbrighters in Madrid. Friday night we had a big fondue dinner (yum!), and then Saturday we split into 2 groups and did 2 different hikes. I went with Maria and her friend to Els Pessons, which is out in Encamp, close to Pas de la Casa (the parish next to France). The 40 minute bus ride had me about to vomit from the twists and turns, but it was SO worth it.

On the way to the start of the trail, we were delighted to see that traffic was stopped because a pack of free-range horses was meandering down the road. Later in the day, on the way back down, we saw (and heard) a herd of sheep jingling their way home from a day roaming the mountains, and then we saw traffic stopped AGAIN for a bunch of cows who were wholly unconcerned with reaching their destination quickly. SO ANDORRA. I LOVE IT.

The hike was a bit of a walk from the bus, and then the hike itself is a bit long, and the walk back to the bus again is even longer than the first one. All in all, we spent 9.5 hours walking/hiking, although we took a number of short breaks for snacks and pictures and such. Els Pessons has a bunch of (maybe 7?) little lakes, and it’s all SO beautiful. (After 2 years in Hawaii, I have high standards for a beautiful hike, and this definitely met them!) The water is super clear and reflects the mountains the sky perfectly. At the end, you can climb up a very steep peak, and from there you can see for miles in every direction. It’s absolutely breathtaking. (The climb up to the peak was breathtaking too, by which I mean I am terrified of heights and I was so scared I could hardly breathe – the path is a bunch of steep switchbacks with loose rocks and nothing to keep you from tumbling to your demise.) (Nothing, though, will ever be as scary or as hard as hiking Kalalau. I would have curled up on a cliff and waited for death if I hadn’t had Devin there.) The terrain is pretty rocky the whole time, so unfortunately you have to keep an eye on where you’re stepping, but when you get to look up, the views are incredible. Rather than talk about it more, I’ll just leave you with some pictures. (As usual, click to enlarge.)

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View from the top.

AMAZING, right? I want to go back, but I think next time I’ll a) stretch before! Goodness was I sore! and b) take more water – I ended up filling up my bottle in a little stream, but more water would have been good. We had to sprint a bit to make it back to the bus on time (which was then late, of course!), and let me tell you, running after 9 hours in the mountains isn’t fun. I also ended up with some minor blisters… womp. My feet were killing me by the end. There is a restaurant right on the first lake, which is pretty easily accessible, and if anyone wants to go on a date there, I’m down.

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I mean seriously LOOK AT THAT VIEW.

After the hike, we went to Caldea (Europe’s largest thermal spa, located right here in Escaldes!) for the nighttime light show. The light show, ultimately, was kind of a disappointment, but we had fun pretending to be fancy people! We had a coupon from our Youth Cards, so it was pretty cheap (11 Euros for 2 hours!), but we only had access to some parts of the spa.

 Sunday was a lazy day; Lauren and I went out Saturday night and were tired, and everyone had hiked so much the day before! I ran some errands and did chores while most of the others went and did another (much shorter) hike (I didn’t go because my hip was killing me… I’m an old lady!). In the evening, Johanna, Maria and I went to the basketball game of the Andorran national team against Bilbao. Andorra’s one and only team actually plays in the Spanish division (which, when one of my students mentioned that, made another student bitterly comment in Catalan “Yeah, but what the hell does Andorra have to do with Spain? We’re independent!”). Maria sings in the choir at her school, and they did the national anthem at the beginning, so we got free tickets. Unfortunately, Andorra lost.

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Sportsball!

This week has been pretty chill. I’ve come down with a bit of a cold, so I’m not feeling 100%. I’m losing my voice in a big way and I just feel exhausted. This weekend, some of us are going to La Seu, which is the Spanish town just over the border, for a once-per-year CHEESE market. I’m pretty pumped.

That’s about it for right now, I guess! This post took about 2 days to complete because my Internet sucks, and now I need to rush to get ready for work!

Ordino is #andorrable.

Well, after my terrible Wednesday, Thursday went a lot better! My classes were, in comparison to Wednesday, perfect little angels. My tutoring sessions were great… My little favorite (a 12 year old named Daniel) and I designed a custom BMW for me (in English, obviously!) and played the game with M&Ms. My other new student is a 17-year-old, so he was very chill and we just chatted about all the extreme sports he does. (He is way cooler/braver than I will ever be!)

Friday was sort of a mixed bag… I had no class, but I did have the tutoring session I’d rescheduled from Wednesday. Since it was down in Sant Julia, I figured I’d go to the post office and the phone store (my phone is still broken) down there. Got to the post office and… it had closed half an hour earlier. (They close at 1:30 here. WTF.) Got to the phone store and… the hours posted online were a lie! Turns out it only opens 2 days a week – and Friday isn’t one of them. Perfect. I sat in the plaza for an hour waiting for my tutoring session to start.

Tutoring was great. The woman I “tutor” is the mom of 2 of the boys I tutor, and she’s wonderful. She’s so sweet and I really like talking to her. We spent a long time chatting about Andorra, languages in general, Americans, gun control, and what it’s like to raise teenagers (not that I have experience there, obviously). We never really got around to any sort of lesson, but she got to practice a lot of speaking, so I call it a win.

After I left, I got an email that was a bit of a day-ruiner… I’ve had a WONDERFUL schedule so far, with late starts on Monday and Thursday and Fridays off. Well, that’s changing. Apparently they had to redo the schedule for one of the classes at school, and now my hour with them is on Friday. Smack in the middle of the day. Which is just SO INCONVENIENT. We’re talking in person Monday and I’m going to see if there’s ANY other hour of the entire week that works because… come on. I don’t want to lose my free Fridays for ONE HOUR. Any other day of the week and it would be fine but Friday?! Ugh.

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I actually said these words out loud upon reading the email.

Friday night was fun though! I went over to the other grantees’ house and we hung out and ate pizza and drank wine, and then Lauren, our friend Isa, and I went out (three blondes… we stick out). Once again, I saw several students out… A bit awkward, ha. I also saw a co-worker and the owner of a tapas place we really like. Oh, Andorra.

Saturday, I slept in, and then woke up to a text from Wade about going on a hike. We took the bus out to Ordino, which is supposed to be the cutest parish… and it didn’t disappoint. Oh. My. Goodness. It’s exactly what you think Andorra would look like. It’s so tiny it’s almost hilarious – the population is just over 3,000.

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LOOK AT IT. Screw Carlisle, I want to get married HERE. It’s a 12th century Romanesque church.

We walked around a little bit, ate a snack in this adorable little garden, and then went on a tour of the Areny-Plandolit House Museum. The Areny-Plandolit family were very rich because they were important people in the iron industry as well as merchants, so they had a very old, fancy house. The original part of the house is from the 12th century, but the more modern parts are as recent as the 20th century and were used as a summer house. The generations of Areny-Plandolits did lots of important things like medicine, law, and joining the clergy. The 19th century Baron, Don Guillem, had 17 kids, 11 of whom survived. His first wife was very beautiful and was murdered by a guy she had rejected because she was, well, married… (#maleentitlementwhat). Anyway his second wife was also his first cousin, but I guess their kids turned out okay. The coolest part of the house is probably the library, which has a book from the 7th century. What. Catalan didn’t even exist yet back then, so it’s obviously not in Catalan, but whoa!

Our tour guide was really cool – she’s actually from England but has lived here 33 years and her Catalan is AMAZING, obviously — the tour was in Catalan. The only other person on the tour was a guy we later discovered was from Lithuania and, as he put was, is in Andorra “escaping taxes.” He apparently has been on the tour like 20 times. (It’s cool, but it’s not that cool…) He’s definitely a money launderer or planning a heist or something.

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Andorra’s flag is pretty cute.

Post-tour, we did a little loop hike. (We got a little lost finding the trail in the beginning, but thank goodness I was with Wade, because he sorted us out.) It had #andorrable views of the valley Ordino sits in, and we had PERFECT weather. In a typical Andorra moment, we finished the hike, wandered into town to get some food, and bumped into people we knew – Dipu and Yasmin. We grabbed a snack with them, hitched a ride back to Andorra la Vella (thanks Dipu!) and made plans to meet up for Mexican later that night.

Last night we had dinner at La Adelita, which is Andorra’s Mexican restaurant, basically. We did the 21 Euro tasting menu, so we had 7 courses and unlimited beer/wine. It doesn’t really compared to the Mexican food scene in Baltimore (how could it? There are no Mexicans here) but it was pretty decent.

Today I have been SUPER lazy, partially because it’s rainy and cold outside, but I’ve planned a few lessons and I did leave the house to go grocery shopping with Lauren. (Going shopping at Pyrenees alone is my personal hell, but with Lauren it was fun.)

Tomorrow starts another week of adventures! Let’s hope for a better one than last, yeah?

Dale la vuelta a la tortilla…

I’d like to say it has been a good week, but… well…. Not all weeks are good, I guess! Monday was actually pretty good (which for a Monday is impressive!). My morning meeting was cancelled, so I didn’t have to be at work until 3. After work, I tutored the two little girls, Ari and Violeta. We started off with a cloze activity using song lyrics, which I pretty quickly realized I had made WAY too hard. So I changed the activity a little bit, and we got through it… slowly. It took a lot longer than expected, but that’s okay! Next week, we’re using a different song, so I’ll try to make it easier. After that, we played a game using M&Ms, which obviously the girls loved – so yay! By the time I got home, I had just enough time to eat a snack before running to Catalan class, which I was WAY too sleepy for. This 8:30-10:30 pm class is killing me!

Tuesday started off okay, but ended up a little crappy, honestly. (Which is sad because it was my one monthiversary here! I can’t believe it has been a month already!) My first class was wonderful – well-behaved, hard-working, just great. I really like that group. My second class was not so great. There were only 6 of them, but they managed to make such a damn ruckus that the cap d’estudis (the vice principal, I guess) came over from her office next door to ask them to be quiet. Ugh. Also, they wouldn’t stop messing with their desks (the kind that flip up from the chair) so I made them sit on the floor. They did, however, get through all the presentations, so I guess that’s a partial win. My third class, who I expected to be the worst (it’s a fairly big section of all boys), actually behaved very well! They got through all their presentations and were reasonably quiet throughout.

After school, I had tutoring… It didn’t go so well. The first kid, Adria, is 12 and he’s adorable but he clearly doesn’t really enjoy tutoring. He asked me about 50 times how much longer we had (at least it was in English?) and kept asking if we could play Monopoly… which he only had in Spanish. Then we were playing with flashcards and he said HE would ask ME the words… as if I don’t speak English. Ha. After that, I had a group of 2, Guillem and Cerni. They’re sweet kids, and last time they were very well-behaved, and this weekend at the festival they were awesome. But they were a bit distracted yesterday. (Maybe it was the rain? I feel like kids get a little crazy when it rains.) I tried to get them to plan a road trip across the US using some maps, but they weren’t nearly as into it as I hoped they’d be.

I honestly prefer teaching a class to tutoring, because the pressure is so high in tutoring. Not only do you have to keep 1 (or 2) kid(s) entertained for a whole hour, but there’s not as much you can do with them. I like it when they can play games or talk to each other or do whatever. It’s a lot harder when they’re on their own. Plus, of course, their parents are paying me a lot of money to be there! There’s a fine line between wanting the kid to have fun (i.e. not just working out of the book like they do at school) and wanting the parent to think the kid is learning something. I know the real point is just to have the kids talk to a native speaker, but still! I want to feel like they’ve learned something… Which is why, when I asked Adria what he had learned that day and he said nothing, I felt pretty discouraged.

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Today (Wednesday) was set to be my long day, but it was originally supposed to be sort of lighter than usual. One of my tutoring sessions cancelled, and I wasn’t going to have to teach one of the classes. Easy day! The first of the day was my usual class, and they were good! They got through all their presentations, were relatively well-behaved, and overall I was thinking, “Wow, today is going to be better than yesterday!” Except then, one of the other English teachers ended up being sick and didn’t come in. And suddenly I found myself covering her classes. By myself. With no lesson plan or warning. I had to postpone a tutoring session to cover one of them, so I didn’t really end up teaching too many more hours than usual, but still.

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The first class I covered was HORRIBLE. I usually have half of them at a time, and Meri (the sick teacher) takes the other half and we switch halves every week. Well, this time I had all of them. It’s a big class (26) and 23 of them are boys. They are also the Sports & Leisure kids – so generally, high energy and not super academic. Dear. Lord. THEY WERE SO BAD. I wanted to cry. (I didn’t!) They were so loud the teacher from next door came to yell at them (in Catalan) because her class was taking a test… and they still didn’t shut up! I ended up scolding them in Spanish because they just wouldn’t. freaking. listen. Then they all freaked out about how much Spanish I speak, and STILL didn’t listen. (To be fair, a few of them were pretty good. There were just a lot of trouble makers.) In the end, I kicked a kid out. I told them the next person who talked out of turn would get kicked out, and he immediately made a comment, so I kicked him out. They were a little better after that. Honestly, I think I just need to be meaner. (But it’s hard, because I don’t really understand the discipline system here. When I kicked the kid out, I honestly had no idea where he’d go… Turns out he just hung out in the hallway, but at least it made a difference.) In the end, 5 out of the 15 who were supposed to present actually went… It was a combination of “Pero teacher, I don’t have! Not ready!” and the fact that they were so awful we ran out of time. I told them all that if they didn’t have it ready to present next week – on USB or email, no excuses! – they were getting a 0 for the assignment.

Afterward, I apologized to pretty much everyone, and they were all so nice. “No no no, you saved us, we didn’t know what to do with that class! They’re a complicated class, don’t worry!” But I still feel like I pretty much failed today. THEN, the second class I was supposed to cover was MISSING. Like, just… not anywhere to be found. Turns out there was a misunderstanding and they were told to just go home… this is mostly annoying because I rescheduled my tutoring session SPECIFICALLY to take that class, and then they weren’t there. I guess there was a misunderstanding. So now I lost my Friday afternoon for NO. REASON. Also embarrassing because I had to go ask the director where my students were… Basically I’m pretty sure I came off as a total basketcase today.

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On the bright side, my last class of the day was lovely. They behaved very well, got a lot of work done, weren’t loud or obnoxious… They found out I speak Spanish (they heard me speaking to another teacher), but otherwise they were good! And tutoring with my new student went well – he’s a cute kid, and I think he’s going to be a really hard worker! My phone is somehow not working as a phone anymore (like not sending calls or texts…cool…), so it was a bit stressful trying to communicate with his mom, but … I guess I’ll get that looked at tomorrow or Friday.

In summary, today was rough, so I bailed on Catalan class tonight to drink wine with Johanna, which eventually the other Fulbrighters joined in on, and I laughed so hard I cried, and that is basically the only part of the day I feel like I definitely got right.

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Me at the end of today.

Tomorrow is another day, right? In that spirit, here’s a video a friend posted on Facebook earlier today, about getting through your bad days.