One's destination is never a place but a new way of seeing things. -Henry Miller

Posts tagged “Host family

Apartment Photos and First Day of Work

Cutie host parents in Sevilla. 🙂

Host parents with Enrique

I thought I’d start including pictures in my posts. The photos above, as captioned, were taken before I left my host family in Sevilla. Aren’t they adorable?

Below, are photos of my new apartment. It’s not glamorous. Just a warning.

My little table, lamp, and "closet." Also note the lovely tapestry that I got at a discount for being a "simpatica chica."

My bed. I could have, for the purpose of this photo, made my bed. However, I was feeling lazy. Forgive me. My sheets are orange and feel like a tablecloth. I don't think they believe in thread counts here.

My bookshelf, adorned with birthday cards!

My dresser and bulletin board

Our balcony. I enjoy sitting out here. Also, note our "dryer."

The view from our balcony. Stunning, isn't it?

So there you are. A visual of my current life.

I started my job last Friday, and I think that I am really going to like it. Every teacher at my school is incredibly nice…my first day was full of besos! They all tell me that my Spanish is awesome, which I know is an utter lie, but it’s still encouraging to hear. I only work Tuesday-Friday in the mornings (it’s a rough life…).

I get the opportunity to work in a bunch of different classes with many different grades, which makes me happy. The youngest class I’m in is pre-school (5 year olds) and I make the rounds in other classes up to 5th grade, as well as teaching some of the professors English.

While my first day was mostly administrative, I did get to work with one class. They were completing activities in their English workbooks. I’m not exactly sure who is writing these books, but its certainly not a native speaker of English.

Allow me to illustrate:

Directions: Unscramble the words to form a question.

Words: class in are you 5 ?

What do you think the correct answer to this would be?

“Are you in class 5?”

“Are you in 5 class?”

“Are you 5 in class?”

Naturally, the teacher asked me, since I’m the English authority, but I was unhelpful considering that the exercise made no sense.

I’m super excited to start preparing lessons and working with the students. This doesn’t even really feel like work!

Now, I’m headed to the fruteria for some fresh produce. Hasta luego!

Besos y abrazos.

p.s.– coming soon…photos of Granada.


Long Overdue…

My apologies on such an extreme delay updating on anything substantial. I am officially in my teaching location in Granada (hooray) and am currently writing this e-mail from my bed in my new apartment.  So let me catch you up to speed…

I concluded my home stay on a lovely note with my Spanish “familia.” They are such darling people. My senora gave me two bracelets as a parting gift with a stone on them for good luck. They told me that if I ever needed anything, they would help me.

All in all, my time at my language school was valuable. I can speak in more tenses than the present now. Which is helpful. Previously, I would start every sentence referring to a time not in the present with “in the past” or “in the future” and then proceed to speak in the present tense. It got old. And people had a hard time understanding me.  Unfortunately, I did not manage to woo my teacher. However, he did give me B/A’s in the class (not that it counts for anything…)  and wrote nice comments about my SPIRIT (legitimately) on my progress report.

On Saturday, I made the three hour train ride to Granada.  It’s really beautiful here and the people are SUPER nice.  Fun fact: When you order a cerveza here, you get a FREE tapa with it. I like free! I like tapas! I like cervezas! I like Granada! 🙂 I haven’t had much time to explore and discover yet. I have been a woman on a mission. The mission: find an apartment.

I looked at roughly 10 places. It was like Goldilocks and the tree bears. Too expensive…too far from work…too small…etc.  The other really challenging aspect of this process is that it’s  impossible to understand people on the phone and I am bad with maps. I got lost every step of the way. To every appointment. I misunderstood every person.  Tres (3) sounds very similar to seis (6).  E in Spanish sounds like our A.  Sometimes people tell you the wrong bus route.

My friend Alex accompanied me, which was helpful because he is far superior to me in Spanish and he has a sense of direction. And it was nice to get a second opinion. I finally settled on a mediocre apartment close to my school with really really nice Spanish roommates.

Here’s the scoop:

Two roomies: Elias (el-eee-us)  and Ana. They are cousins. Both 22. Elias is in a rock band and plays the guitar. Ana studied architecture and is looking for work. They are very kind, and just giggle politely when they don’t understand me. They want me to help them learn English, and make them “American” food (whatever that is…hamburgers?).  They do understand a little bit of English but they did not learn American English.  So whenever I tell them a word in English and they look confused, I try again in British English.  For example: Trashcan= no go. Rubbish bin= yes.

They try really hard to say my name the way that I say it, but its never going to happen. I heard them practicing in the other room today…it’s really precious. Elias made me dinner tonight, and we bonded. He’s super nice. I asked him all of the Spanish social norms and about the concept of last names in Spain. Very informative.

I’m not going to lie. My apartment is not the most beautiful. My room is nice, but…the whole thing is kinda old…for example… when I want to take a hot shower, I need to turn on a the gas, and then use a LIGHTER to light the gas. I am not good with lighters. I have genuine fear that I am going to burn down the apartment complex.

Next up: get a bank account and start work on Friday!

To conclude, I’d like to state that I now have copious amounts of Internet and will use my free time from here on out to respond to e-mails, and welcome phone calls via Skype!

Besos y abrazos.

The Most Fantastic Discovery.

As many of you know, I have a special affinity for the show, Golden Girls. I even have an autographed photo of Betty White herself. My college roommate, Brittany McDonald and I spent most of our sophomore year watching episodes of the classic TV program. Well, I had the most fantastic discovery today when I realized that my treasured series has made its way to Espana.

Many shows and movies on the TV here are “dobladas” (dubbed). I have seen some horrible Nicholas Cage/Sean Connery movie, How I Met Your Mother, and Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone dubbed in Spanish. Golden Girls is not dubbed. It is the exact same show, except remade with Spanish actresses living in Madrid. The show is called “Las Chicas de Oro” (translated: “The girls of gold”) the characters are: Rosa, Blanca, Dorothy, and Sophia. LEGITIMATELY. Their house is strikingly similar to the residence of the ladies in Miami.

When my host “father” pointed out this show to me, I squealed with delight and proceeded to watch two episodes with him. It’s funny because THEY HAD THE EXACT SAME STORY LINES as episodes I have seen before! I knew exactly what was coming.

Here are some fundamental differences:

-They don’t eat cheesecake

-Sophia is not from Sicily

-Rose is not from St. Olaf (but she is ditsy)

-Stan is named “Alberto”

To be honest, no one can replace Betty White, Estelle Getty, Rue McClanahan, and Bea Arthur. But since I’m here, it’ll have to do.

Also, click here for pictures of Sevilla and my weekend trip to Cadiz.

Besos y abrazos,


My Spanish Birthday

I had a really awesome birthday here. Granted, I missed you all extremely, but I tried to put homesickness out of my mind and enjoy the day here. The night before my birthday, I went out with Enrique and his girlfriend and their friends. They were extremely kind and spoke really slow Spanglish with me. I appreciated it. At midnight, they sang happy birthday to me in Spanish.

On my actual birthday, my host family got me a delicious ice cream cake and candles and sang to me after dinner. It was really, really sweet. They also insisted on taking pictures of me blowing out the candles (there were multiple reenactments), and they took one with my Spanish cell phone to send to my parents (however, I have no clue how to send an international text).

I went out at night to a street with lots of bars called Calle Betis for sangria and dancing with friends from the program. They made me feel really special and I had a lot of fun. I was also touched by all of the kind e-mails, voicemails, and facebook messages from people in the States. It meant so much to me. 22 is going to be a good year.

Besos y Abrazos,


Mi “Familia” in Espana

I moved in with my host family, and they are incredibly precious. They are very patient with me as I learn Spanish. They often say “poco a poco” which means something comparable to “a little at a time” when I struggle to find the right words. Enrique, Sr. is the kind father, Enrique, Jr. is 26 and is a salesman and Maria Luisa is the lovely Senora. They also have two daughters who are in their thirties and live with their respective husbands. Both parents are retired. Everyday, Maria Luisa cooks something delicious. The food that I have at her house is honestly better than anything I’ve had at any restaurant here. I may be 5 pounds heavier after this homestay…because a lot of Spanish food is unhealthy and also because I can never refuse it from them.  🙂

Not to toot my own horn, but they have since told me that I am the best exchange student they have ever had. I believe this to be so for the following reasons. First, none of their other home stays have spoken a lick of Spanish. Second, because they said that Americans are more similar to them culturally. They also say that I am “funny.” I am not sure if they think that “funny” and “fun” are the same (many people confuse them when learning English), or if I actually make them laugh. I did make one joke in Spanish which went over well.  The conversation went like this:

Enrique: Annie…like “tomorrow, tomorrow!”

Annie: Si…pero yo tengo padres (Yes, but I have parents).

They thought that was cute. They tell that joke whenever they introduce me to new people. It’s good that we have overlapping pop culture to draw us together.

Besos y Abrazos, (kisses and hugs)


p.s.—I don’t get much Internet here. My host family does not have Wi-Fi, so I can only use the internet when I go to my Spanish classes. It will be much easier for me to call/e-mail when I move into my permanent residence at the beginning in of October. Right now, it is frustrating because time difference + limited Internet = Annie is bad at keeping in touch. But I promise it is temporary.

Orientation Overload

Upon arrival in Sevilla, I met at a hotel with the rest of the Teach in Spain group. There are in total approximately 150 people from America teaching in different cities in Andalusia, and about 50 people at this orientation section. It has been interesting getting to know people, hear about their hometowns, (none from MD or VA…tear) and listen to their motivation for teaching abroad.

We have been meeting at the University of Sevilla campus in the morning and talking about all the crucial pieces of info about life in Spain…our health insurance plan, how to get a cell phone, how to find a place to live, how to acquire a bank account, how to avoid death, etc. We also learned about some of the cultural differences and received information on our homestays. I am living with a Senora, her husband, and her son who is 26, named Enrique. Apparently it is completely normal here to live at home until you are 30 or 35.  Strange, huh? I don’t move in until Friday, and I am very excited to meet them. I am hoping that Enrique is a Spanish cutie who insists on becoming my Spanish tour guide.

Here’s what we learned about Spanish culture in regard to our homestays:

1. They will be direct in telling you how they feel about anything and everything.

2. You can’t just eat whenever you want. You need to eat set meals and let them cook for you. Apparently they try to feed you a ton, and are very territorial of the kitchen.

In the afternoon, we met with the other people who will be teaching in our same city for lunch. The three other teachers in Granada and I went for tapas, and they seem like quality individuals. After lunch, we went on a tour of Alcazar, a palace in Spain. I have bad news about this for you, my dear friend. Not only did my camera battery die after 2 pictures, but I opted to take the tour in Spanish so I have very little information to offer about the significance of this place. It was VERY beautiful though…I wish you could have been there to see it! Google it if you’re interested.

Our day was concluded by meeting a local college student and taking a tour of the neighborhood where my host family is from, Triana. We passed the bull ring on our way, and ate more tapas! It was a long day, and a lot of walking, even for a girl who loves to walk.

While I am enjoying orientation is it hard to not be antsy to get to my teaching location and settle in. Every time I tell a local that I am teaching in Granada, they rave about how beautiful it is, and tell me how jealous they are. I CAN’T WAIT.

I promise to take lots of pictures today, so that you can get a visual taste of what I’m doing. Off to breakfast!