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May 19, 2014

Today I finally handed in the last of my essays for school, all 14. Now I can just enjoy the remainder of my Spanish classes and study for my “final exam” on Wednesday. Although at this point I wish I had more time to just enjoy the city, it will be nice to learn for learning’s sake without the tedious work.

Today I said an unanticipated goodbye to my primary students. I forgot that Pepe had told me that I didn’t need to come in today until I got there. I stopped by the room just to see if there was anything I could help with while I was there, and he told me I wouldn’t have to come in Thursday either because the classes had a field trip. Meaning that Thursday had really been my last day with the kids, only I hadn’t known it. He asked if I would like to say goodbye. I certainly wasn’t prepared, and neither was Pepe for the waterfall of tears I shed before I could get out more than a few words. The kids clapped for me, one of them begged me to take him with me, one gave me a bracelet, one started sobbing. Finally Pepe said that I should stay, and each class could spend the period writing goodbye letters/cards. The kids were excited. When they each had finished, they would hand me their letters/cards, hug me, kiss me, hand me bracelets, and always, beg me not to go. A few of them even asked me to sign their First Communion books and pretended to be mad that I wouldn’t be coming to their First Communions. I did this all in 3 different classes, all with the same responses. And each class almost knocked me to the ground when the entire class tried to hug me at once and “make me stay with them forever.”

It was honestly one of the toughest things I think I’ve ever had to do. And some of them didn’t finish their letters, so I’ll essentially have to do it again (on a smaller scale) on Friday. It’s so hard because as much as they tell me they’ll miss me, to always remember them, that they love me and I’m “the best teacher in the whole world,” they’re only 9 years old. I don’t mean to be melodramatic, but realistically they probably won’t remember me, or very faintly, in a few years. But here they are, a bunch of 9 year olds, reducing me to tears whenever I think of boarding that plane and never seeing them again. They’re such a sweet group of kids, and I thank God every day for sending me to that school.

I wrote a goodbye to read to my secondary students so hopefully I can thwart the tears. I know some of the classes probably won’t care that much, whereas other classes that I have become closer to will probably make me emotional and be say to see me leave. One of the students already asked me if he can hide in my suitcase and come to the U.S.

Goodbyes are just so hard when they put 4,000 miles between you.

My Goodbye to My Students

I wanted to write my goodbye down ahead of time so I could make sure that my Spanish was correct and that you would all be able to understand me. You’ll have to excuse my American accent.

Yo quería escribir mi adiós antes de tiempo así que yo pudiera asegurar que mi español era correcta y que todo lo que sería capaz de entenderme. Vas a tener que disculpar mi acento americano, y algo del español probablemente será equivocado.

 When I first got here, I was skeptical about how this would work out. As a Music Business major, I had no experience teaching, has no desire to teach, and thought I would be really bad at it. I never imagined that I would come to know such kind faculty and students, who welcomed me as part of a family. Although most of the time I just observed the classes, I am grateful that you gave me the opportunity to share something so close to my heart with you, which is music. And though I only taught one or two lessons, I hope you enjoyed hearing them as much as I enjoyed teaching them.

Cuando llegué por primera vez aquí, yo era escéptico sobre cómo este funcionaría. Como estudiante Música Negocios, no tenía experiencia en la enseñanza, no tiene ningún deseo de enseñar, y pensaba que iba a ser realmente malo en ello. Nunca me imaginé que iba a llegar a conocer tan bonito facultad y estudiantes que me dieron la bienvenida como parte de una familia. Aunque la mayor parte del tiempo me acabo de observar las clases, estoy agradecido que me diste la oportunidad de compartir algo tan cercano a mi corazón con vosotros, que es la música. Y aunque yo sólo enseñé una o dos lecciones, espero que haya disfrutado de aprenderlos tanto como yo disfruté enseñándoles.

 I hope that in some way, my presence here has positively impacted you. Although you weren’t really my students, I have come to care about you as if you were. If you’d like someone to practice English with, you have questions about or are ever visiting the United States, or you would just like chat and keep in touch, make sure you get my Facebook or email before the end of class or before I leave here.

Espero que en alguna forma, mi presencia aquí ha tenido un impacto positivo. Aunque no estabas realmente a mis alumnos, he venido a cuidar de ti como si fueras. Si desea alguien para practicar Inglés con, tienes  preguntas o alguna vez a visitar los Estados Unidos, o si simplemente quieres chatear y mantenerse en contacto, te voy a dar mi Facebook o correo electrónico antes del final de la clase o antes dejo aquí.

 Thank you for helping to make these last 3 months some of the best of my life, and I wish you success in the future.

Gracias por ayudarme a hacer que estos 3 últimos meses algunos de los mejores de mi vida, y le deseo éxito en el futuro.

April 13, 2014

Sitting here tearing up thinking about how I have to say goodbye to my students next week. As much as I’m ready for this semester to be over, the thought of having to say goodbye to 5 classes of 9-year-olds and 4 classes of teenagers breaks my heart. I’ll always remember how the little kids yell “JESSIEEEE!” whenever I come into the classroom, how they always tell me I’m beautiful, how they give me bracelets and little gifts, how excited they get to sing songs in English, and lastly, how they always hug and kiss me goodbye. And though I’ve loved working with the little kids these past few weeks, saying goodbye to my teenagers will be really tough. Although they often cause trouble, like to bush my buttons, and sometimes even flirt with me, I’m really going to miss them. Especially the few that were friendly and welcoming from the beginning, and the few that have stood out as really loving music and having a passion for learning. While I plan on telling them they can stay in contact, it won’t be the same as seeing these kids twice a week every week. I really do love some of them, in a way that I want to see them succeed and grow as people, because I see the potential they have to make this world a better place and the opportunities I hope they have.

Tomorrow I’m teaching a lesson on the history of rap in the United States, which most of them requested. I really hope it goes well. I’m not a teacher, but I hope that in some way to reach out to them. I hope that my time here hasn’t only been beneficial for me, and that I’ve impacted these kids and young adults in a positive way.

“Los pueblos que carecen de poetas carecen de heroísmo; la poesía conmemora perdurablemente los grandes hechos y las grandes virtudes.”
Tomás de Iriarte

April 29, 2014

Little update: I am still alive!

My teacher gave me 8 essays in one day, leading to a grand total of 12 essays, for this week. So as usual, I’m not writing because I’m buried in work. But I will write as soon as I am either not buried under work or totally brain dead because of said work.

Hope everyone’s doing well, 30 days until I come home!

Today I climbed a mountain with no equipment and only 3 hours of sleep and bowl of cereal to go on. I was pouring sweat and slightly delirious by the end, but it was an awesome experience! 

April 17, 2014 - Arrival in Madrid

Made it safely to Madrid and this hostel is AWESOME. It’s only been opened for a week so it’s brand new. I was able to fit all of my stuff in a locker so it’s all safe while I’m gone. There’s a kitchen so I can save money by cooking meals for myself, and I get breakfast every morning. The owner is super nice and speaks Spanish and English and offered to give me a run down of things to do in Madrid. He said most of the touristy things are within walking distance because I picked a hostel in the city center. And I just met 2 people in my room from Virginia! I’m probably going to just explore, get lost, then take a taxi back. There’s free walking tours every day at 11 and 2 so I’ll probably do that tomorrow.

So far so good, feeling on top of the world.

(it’s me)


(it’s me)

Me, when I’m being given a tour of something in Spanish. Me, when I’m being given a tour of something in Spanish.

April 14, 2014

Just booked a trip to Madrid, where I’ll be spending Easter with my friend Neil! I’ve known Neil since high school, so it’ll be a lot of fun. And I’ve been feeling really bad about not getting to travel a lot while I’ve been here, so it’ll be really nice to get out of the residency. So far I haven’t confirmed how I’m going to get there, but I’ve booked my room in a hostel for $74 for 4 days, which is definitely not a bad deal. Granted I’m sharing a room with 10 people, but I plan to spend as little time in the room as possible.

Also tomorrow I have my internship with the primary students for the first time, so that’ll be fun. I’ve made it very clear that I don’t want to teach, I’ll just be going to help with the English pronunciation of the songs. The teacher said the kids are excited to meet me, so it should be fun!

Today we went horseback riding as a group activity. It was alright. They had us ride around in a circle for an hour, then we went on a “trail ride.” However, there are really no trails in Valencia, so we walked on rocks and dirt and side-swiped bushes over a peaceful landscape of litter. Plus they asked about our riding experience, which meant that since I took riding lessons for a few years, I got the most difficult and hard-to-handle horse. I almost got bucked. Then, I got sunburn. I considered putting on sunscreen before I left the room, but I didn’t know beforehand that we were going to be in direct sunlight for 3 hours. So while my legs are still purple from the severe sun poisoning I got last week, my arms are now a nice shade of tomato. The Spanish sun has not been kind to me.

Not much else to report. I’ll have to make sure I finish and turn in all of my assignments by Wednesday before break starts on Thursday, but I’m not overly concerned about it. I can always catch up on sleep Wednesday night. I honestly feel a lot happier now that I have this trip planned. Although I fully recognize that I’m grateful just to be here and to have this opportunity, I want to see more of Europe, and I’ve had a desperate nagging the last week or so that I’m running out of time. I know logically that I can’t go to class, write 4-6 essays a week, go to my internship now 4 days a week, plan lessons for my students and travel around Europe, but I’m so afraid that I’ll go home and feel like I didn’t take full advantage of the opportunity. Being here has given me a newfound sense of adventure and a love for travel, but I know that in reality I won’t be back in Europe anytime soon. When I get home I’ll be working for the Summer, then saving money for a car, then saving money for a keyboard, then saving money for a laptop (which died 2 days before I left for Spain, if you wanted to know what poor timing is), etc. Then I’ll be paying off college and looking for a job in the music industry, I just want to make sure that I fully take advantage of this opportunity, because in reality, I don’t know if I’ll have it again.

If you’ve never been to Europe, get here. Somehow, just get here. It really is life-changing. And not in the snooty “I’ve been to Paris and London and Amsterdam and now I’m worldly” kind of way that some people can get, but in a way that you’re changed by experiencing different cultures, seeing different ways of life, and meeting people that have grown up in completely different circumstances than your own, but really aren’t that different at all.

So that’s my 12:34 am reflection. Hope everyone back home had a good day, and have a good night :)

Cariños <3 Cariños <3 Cariños <3 Cariños <3 Cariños <3

Cariños <3

April 11, 2014

Heeeeeeeeey. Long time, no talk (write).

Today I took pictures with some of my classes at my internship. Someone at Naz is writing an article about me and my internship coordinator wants to have pictures for the study abroad program. I felt a little awkward about it, I always feel awkward when asking people to take pictures with me, and felt especially awkward in this situation since I don’t really talk to the kids that much. But they applauded in every class when I said I wanted to get a picture with them. They were so excited! And even more excited when I told them it would be in an article at my college in the U.S. It was so cute. To me, it doesn’t really feel like I’m doing much for these kids, but I guess I must be doing something right.

I’ve increased my hours and the amount of kids I’ll be working with. Mondays and Thursdays I’ll now be helping with 3-4 classes of primary students and helping the teacher with the pronunciation of the traditional English songs I sent him. He’s working on putting together a little concert with the kids of all American songs. Originally he wanted me to teach the songs, but I explained that I’m not a teacher, but I would help him with the English. He told me he’s started working with the kids and they’re excited to meet me Monday.

On Tuesday I’ll be giving a lesson to 3 classes of secondary students. Normally I would be doing it on Friday too, but it’s Good Friday so we won’t have class. I prepared a lesson about how jazz music developed from classical fundamentals, and how the two genres have a lot more in common than the average listener would think. The lesson will be half listening to classical and jazz comparison pieces, and half listening to me explain the comparisons. I prepared a PowerPoint that will hopefully help them stay engaged, and typed out a handout of all of the songs used in the presentation in the hopes that they’ll like some of them and look them up. I also prepared a survey to get feedback from them before I choose another topic to discuss. So fingers crossed that it goes well, since I pretty much just picked a topic that I thought I was capable of discussing…

I can sing a song in front of a couple hundred people.
I can give a speech in front of a couple hundred people.
But ask me to teach a class of four-year-olds, and suddenly I’m in a panic.