madrid

School’s Out—A Reflection on a Year in a Madrid High School

School’s out for the summer. Weren’t those the sweetest words when you were a kid? Summer meant possibilities, everything open and waiting for you: swimming pools, summer camps, driver’s ed, athletic conditioning (wait, was that just my school?), endless days when all you did was eat popsicles and jump in the sprinkler. Ah, summer. It’s too bad that summer, at least the idea of it as a three-month-long break, had to end—for most.

For teachers, there’s still Summer with a capital s. Teachers may not see summer the way kids do—they’ve got responsibilities and bills to pay. But summer is still there, and the idea of summer motivates us from February to June. School’s finally out here in Madrid. Most of the exams are finished; most final grades are being handed out as I type this. Camps start next week here in Spain. Done! Finished! Terminado! 

This school year was a fun one for me. After having lived through a rather unpleasant experience last year (and that’s putting it rather mildly), I came into this year with low expectations. But my low expectations were met by great teachers. Teachers who cared, teachers who worked with me rather than against me, and teachers who spoke English well. (Weird, isn’t it, seeing as they’re English teachers?) We had a great year together, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to have worked in one of  Madrid’s most historic educational centers, where the alumni have names like Lopa de Vega, Calderón de la Barca, and even Juan Carlos I. The classrooms were old, certainly, but for the most part my classes were conversational in nature, and we worked with what we had.

Teenagers are teenagers everywhere, though, so of course my efforts to speak English were met with some resistence. Nonetheless, at the end of the day (year), I can say that I left with them knowing more English, with them having a better perspective on my home country than they started with. A simple goal, yes. But a goal achieved is a goal achieved.

They say that the auxiliares de conversación program is the luck of the draw, and I’ll have to agree. After two years at different schools with not-so-pleasant results, this year it was my turn to finally work with great coworkers, even if I also had to put up with the sometimes surly attitudes of teenagers. I did a lot of fun activities, spoke mostly in English, and felt fulfilled. You can’t really ask for better.

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Exploring Vinos de Madrid with Madrid Food Tour

This past Tuesday, I participated in a wine tasting with Madrid Food Tour held at De Vinos. (Rough life, am I right?) Madrid Food Tour was founded by Lauren Aloise with the goal of showcasing all of Madrid’s gastronomical delights, with a bit of history added in to keep things interesting. They have several different types of tours, all of which you can book through their website.

On Tuesday, however, they hosted their first midweek wine tasting, led by James Blick. James knows a lot about wines, and I was excited to learn more about a relatively unknown region—Madrid. As James told us, up until 1990, such wine was sold a granel (“in bulk”). However, that year Madrid’s denominación de origen, or protected designation of origin, was established. Actually, as he explained to us, Madrid is basically made up of three subzones: Arganda del Rey, Navalcarnero, and San Martín de Valdeiglesias. The  majority of these wines are young and rosés, although there are some excellent red wines to be had (as we would find out).

Wine 1: Blanco Brut Nature by Bodegas Jesús Díaz

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Let’s Link—Week 6

Ah, vacation. Isn’t it great? I never choose to spend my Christmas holidays traveling, as many do, but instead I venture home every year in order to spend time with my parents, brother, sister-in-law, and many more. (Mario stays in Spain to be with his family work.) This means I think less about blogging and more about baking Christmas cookies, watching IU basketball, and hanging out with my parents. Yeah, I’m that cool. Fortunately for me, I’ve had the opportunity to reunite with some close friends from high school. I haven’t laughed like that in a long time! It’s great to be with people who you really identify with. I’m beginning to see why I’m okay with not wanting to live in Spain forever.

Anyway, all that to say: let’s link! Are you ready for some thought-provoking bits of information? Of course you are!

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I really enjoy reading Janet Mendel’s blog. She writes about her kitchen and culinary adventures in southern Spain. Like me, she is a Midwesterner. She wrote about a traditional Spanish Christmas food I’d never heard of—the cardoon.

Cat wrote about her favorite Spanish Christmas traditions, which include Sevilla’s beautiful Christmas lights.

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Let’s Link—Week 4

Are we already on week four? I can hardly believe it. But I love link posts, so I hope there will be many more!

Let's Link!

Young and Educated in Europe, but Desperate for Jobs. This post hit close to home, as I know many young and educated Spaniards without jobs. Many have had to go outside the country. It seems there are just no jobs here.

IU Dance Marathon raises record $2.6 million for Riley Hospital for Children. I am so proud of my alma mater for their dance marathon! They raise more and more money every year for Riley Hospital, a children’s hospital that does great work in the state of Indiana.

Tom Hussey’s Reflection Photos Give People a Chance to Look Back on Life. I loved seeing these photos of the elderly looking back at pictures of their younger selves. We are all young once. Let’s not forget that.

Thanksgiving 2013: This Year’s Big Trends. What’s out?: cauliflower and kale. What’s in?: appetizers. The big trend?: Bruléed pumpkin pie.

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