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Feb 1 / Brandon Shamoun

Another Month Down!

Day 96 of 219 in Spain.

It’s been over a month since I last posted.  The end of 2014 and into 2015 brought so many new experiences!  I’m enjoying Sevilla more and more everyday.  Whether if it’s meeting new people or just realizing new things that I didn’t before, I feel like the city and I are being more of a better fit for each other.

Starting back to Christmas – I enjoyed my time with a good Spanish friend of mine at his parent’s place.  It was quite similar minus the food differences.  Also, many of the children here get their main gift on the Three Wise Men Day (Epiphany) in early January.  The craziness during this time was pretty much the same as in the States.

Right after Christmas, I traveled to Madrid for a few days to spend New Year’s Eve/Day with my awesome friends, Naomi & Nick.  It was their first time in Europe, so I tried to show them a good time while they were here visiting.  I think they had a good time – I’ll post pictures from our adventure below.

Working has been a bit more exciting as we are planning for Carnaval in February.  It’s a time when everyone in the schools dresses up and celebrates!  This year, the themes range from Mickey & Minnie Mouse to The Wizard of Oz to British guards, to Majorettes (and many others).  I have decided to dress up as a British guard like the fifth graders, so we will see how that plays out in a few weeks!  Also, tomorrow is El día de la paz, or Peace Day, which schools world-wide participate to just acknowledge peace in their school and their everyday lives.  I won’t be here to see those activities (as I do not work Fridays), but it’s been interesting to see classes making collages and prepping for the day.  I’ll post some pictures from my school below, too, as my students are so interested in me taking their picture (with permission, of course)!

With only about four more months left in Spain, I plan on doing a lot of travel within Europe.  I’ve been hunting down lots of cheap flights to Italy, France, other parts of Spain, and possibly London and Germany.  I definitely don’t want this opportunity in Europe go to waste without checking out other cities and countries around me.

Life after Spain update – I have recently been invited to numerous grad schools in the States to interview via phone or Skype for admission and/or assistantships within their College.  I am excited for this opportunity and feeling optimistic about the outcomes.  I’ll keep y’all updated on that!

I'm an official temporary resident!

I’m an official temporary resident!

A message from the King of Spain on Christmas Eve.

A message from the King of Spain on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve dinner.

Christmas Eve dinner.

Taco Bell in Madrid!

Taco Bell in Madrid!

On the teleférico in Madrid!

On the teleférico in Madrid!

Selfie in Madrid!

Selfie in Madrid!

Silly Selfie!

Silly Selfie!

Las Meninas, a painting from 1656 painting by Diego Velázquez at the Museo del Prado in Madrid.

Las Meninas, a painting from 1656 painting by Diego Velázquez at the Museo del Prado in Madrid.

At the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium where Real Madrid plays!

At the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium where Real Madrid plays!

Bringing in 2015 in style in Madrid!

Bringing in 2015 in style in Madrid!

Coca-Cola sponsored the night and celebrations in the main squre!

Coca-Cola sponsored the night and celebrations in the main squre!

The Kilometre Zero starting point of Spain in the Puerta del Sol in Madrid.

The Kilometre Zero starting point of Spain in the Puerta del Sol in Madrid.

Tapas at one of my favorite restaurants in Sevilla.

Tapas at one of my favorite restaurants in Sevilla.

The Three Wise Men Day parade where they threw candy to everyone!

The Three Wise Men Day parade where they threw candy to everyone!

From the top of Las setas, or the mushrooms, in Sevilla.

From the top of Las setas, or the mushrooms, in Sevilla.

From the top of the Torre del oro, or The Gold Tower, in Sevilla.

From the top of the Torre del oro, or The Gold Tower, in Sevilla.

A snap of us in front of the Torre del oro.

A snap of us in front of the Torre del oro.

This awesome peanut butter care package from Katie & Amy at WSU!

This awesome peanut butter care package from Katie & Amy at WSU!

Celebrated that package with this yummy PB & J sandwich (Grape jelly doesn't really exist here, so strawberry it is!).

Celebrated that package with this yummy PB & J sandwich (Grape jelly doesn’t really exist here, so strawberry it is!).

Found this the in Taste of America store, and I bought it for my Spanish friend to try.

Found this the in Taste of America store, and I bought it for my Spanish friend to try.

The third grade class making a collage for International Peace Day on January 30.  This class did it on MLK, jr.

The third grade class making a collage for International Peace Day on January 30. This class did it on MLK, jr.

The students insisted that I take a picture of them!

The students insisted that I take a picture of them!

The fourth grade ecosystem project which had to be presented in Spanish and vocabulary in English.

The fourth grade ecosystem project which had to be presented in Spanish and vocabulary in English.

Another fourth grade class working on identifying the parts of a plant in English.

Another fourth grade class working on identifying the parts of a plant in English.

Dec 24 / Brandon Shamoun

Second Month [Almost] Down!

Day 57 of 219 in Spain.

What a great month it has been!  I know I haven’t blogged in about a month, but I’ll make up for that with a bunch of pictures from the past month.

My first adventure started off in the beginning of the month to take the GRE in Madrid.  Short trip, but I after the exam I got to revisit some of my favorite sites.  I did pretty decent on the overall GRE, too, so I hope grad school works out this upcoming year!  But while I was there, I visited the Biblioteca Nacional de España, or the National Library of Spain.  I love statues in front of the building – it reminds me of the ones of the founders of Detroit between parking structure 2 and General Lectures at Wayne.  Also while in Madrid, I visited the Puerta del Sol, which is one of the busiest places in Madrid.  This is where my friends from Detroit, Naomi and Nick, and I will be on New Years Eve.  It’s the televised NYE event for Spain, so it should be a crazy exciting place!  It is also the starting point of the roads in Spain – the zero kilometer point.  But while I was there this year, the big lighted Christmas tree was up.  It was a different feeling this year while there in the Winter.  Also while in Madrid, I visited the Taste of America store.  That was interesting, but I got to buy some Reese’s and Pop Tarts!  It was quite expensive, but it was worth the taste of america – haha!

At the school, you could definitely tell Christmas and the Three Wise Men, or Epiphany, day was right around the corner.  The schools in Spain have religion tied into the curriculum, but students’ parents can op-out them out of it if they want.  However, the school was decorated beyond belief.  Not only nativity scenes were present, but entire replicas of the city of Bethlehem were recreated!  On the morning of the last day of school, the students came in one hour late and the teachers were treated to churros and chocolate for breakfast.  It was quite interesting to have them early in the morning.  Students came dressed up as their favorite wise man or Santa and preformed in songs, skits, and dance routines for the rest of the school.  Some local singer came in and sang Villancicos, which are basically the American equivalent of Christmas Carols, but these have more of a historical and traditional context to them from what it seems like.  Either way, it was a awesome experience to take part of!  The sixth graders sang “The First Noel” in English and all the students were staring at me to see if I understood them.

The week before that, the school had a teacher Christmas party at an area banquet hall – very fancy!  It was a good time to be able to just relax and talk with some of the other teachers there.  At this party, I also tried some ham for the first time in almost 4 years.  It was an interesting taste.  The ham here is prepared differently than in the States.  It very had a very salty taste since it is preserved in salt for years before served.  Luckily I didn’t get sick after trying it!  In all, this time of the year has been interesting to experience.  The streets are full of people and the atmosphere of the city is just very holiday-spirited.  Tomorrow’s Christmas, and I plan to be with some friends and Skype/FaceTime with my friends and family back home.  Lots of the other Auxiliares at the other schools here in Spain are going back home in the States, but I think with staying here I will be getting the most out of it.

Here’s to 5 (or so) more months – Happy Holidays!

Please comment! 🙂

One of my favorite dishes here - Spinach with chickpeas and an egg.

One of my favorite dishes here – Spinach with chickpeas and an egg.

My plane to Madrid!

My plane to Madrid!

The Biblioteca Nacional de España (National Library of Spain).

The Biblioteca Nacional de España (National Library of Spain).

Some expensive Lucky Charms at Taste of America!

Some expensive Lucky Charms at Taste of America!

The Christmas tree in Madrid.

The Christmas tree in Madrid.

The street lights of Sevilla.

The street lights of Sevilla.

My Christmas tree sent to me by my awesome friend, Marcie! #detroitspirt

My Christmas tree sent to me by my awesome friend, Marcie! #detroitspirit

My ugly sweater that all the students and teachers loved.

My ugly sweater that all the students and teachers loved.

My students coloring their Christmas pictures!

My students coloring their Christmas pictures!

My three students at the academy I teach at in the afternoon.

Ta-Da!

The nativity scene/city in my school's lobby.

The nativity scene/city in my school’s lobby.

With one of the wise men.

With one of the wise men.

One of the fifth grade classes I teach representing Wayne State!

One of the fifth grade classes I teach representing Wayne State!  This picture is going to be used for a story Wayne State interviewed me for!

The guys at the Christmas party!

The guys at the Christmas party!

Christmas party.

Christmas party.

All of us at the Christmas party.

All of us at the Christmas party.

Some shredded cheese on a stick that was at the Christmas party.  Very tasty!

Some shredded cheese on a stick that was at the Christmas party. Very tasty!

I tried this sliver of ham iberico.  This was the first time I've had meet in year.

I tried this sliver of ham iberico. This was the first time I’ve had meat in years.

My awesome tofu burgers and salad from the party.

My awesome tofu burgers and salad from the party.

Virgen de la Esperanza de Macarena de Sevilla (The Virgin of Hope of Macarena).  This is at a nearby church.

Virgen de la Esperanza Macarena de Sevilla (The Virgin of Hope of Macarena). This is at a nearby church.

Churros and chocolate for breakfast!

Churros and chocolate for breakfast!

Some students dressed up for the festivities!

Some students dressed up for the festivities!

Christmas carols!

Christmas carols!

A Christmas dance!

A Christmas dance!

Me and some new friends that I have made while I have been here!

Me and some new friends that I have made while I have been here!  Happy Holidays!

Nov 29 / Brandon Shamoun

One Month Down!

Day 32 of 219 in Spain.

Saying WooooHooooo again because I finally have Wi-Fi in my apartment!  Just took about a month to get it!

On that note – yay, one month down!  And with that, the weather is getting colder!  It’s been in the mid 50s to lower 60s the past few days with scattered showers.  I’m not lovin’ it as much as I did when I came a month ago when it was in the mid to upper 70s.

My new apartment has treating me well.  It’s different living alone, but I’ve met a few people the I’ve been hanging out with often to keep me busy, along with work.  I’ve been to the IKEA here, which is exactly the same as the IKEA in the states except it’s in euros, to buy a few, cheap things for the place.  And speaking of work, I received a second job as an English teacher at an after-school academy in a different part of Sevilla, Nervión.  This keeps me busy during most evenings for a few hours.  Making the extra cash will help, too.  Another thing that is different here is that pay checks come every month opposed to biweekly or weekly.  So I am anxiously waiting a first pay check!

Thanksgiving here was fun and lonely at the same time.  I still had to work since it is not a holiday here, however my elementary school celebrated the event by having me present on the holiday and by also having me on their live radio show, “English Corner” segment!  In my PowerPoint, I had many pictures of the foods, history, and the Detroit parade.  The students loved the parade, and wished they could experienced that.  I also showed a YouTube video of it, and they were glued to the screen the entire time!  On the radio show, I talked about myself, the holiday traditions, along with what my family specifically does on this day.  I did the show in English with Silvia, the school’s bilingual coordinator, translating for the listeners because it was the English part of the show.  The students, teachers, and director of the school loved it, and they hope to have me on the show again in the near future.  You can listen to the broadcast here (starts at the 20:00 minute mark): http://mixlr.com/radiopazarahal/showreel/radiopazarahals-mixlr-150/.  Pictures are attached below, as well.  During the evening of Thanksgiving, I taught at the academy for about an hour, and afterwards, I enjoyed a meat-free Thanksgiving dinner at TGI Friday’s (yes, there is one here in Sevilla!).  It was pretty decent for it being “American” food, just a bit expensive, about 18 €, or about $22.  After that all, I went back home and was able to FaceTime with my friends and family back in the states as they were enjoying their Thanksgiving festivities.  It was great being able to do this.  Thank you, technology!

This upcoming week is going to be quite stressful because I am going to be taking my GRE exam in Madrid on Thursday, December 4, so that I can complete my graduate school applications to hopefully be accepted in the Higher Education Administration/College Student Personnel program.  However, after that test, I’ll be off until that following Tuesday because of Spain’s Constitution Day being observed.  So it’ll be a nice little break.

In all, Spain is growing more and more on me (even more than it already had before I arrived), especially because of the awesome people I am meeting.  They are showing me more of the local places around here, allowing me to practice more of my Spanish, and in all, just being a friend to chat with.

That’s all for now, but of course, I am going to leave you all with some captioned photos below.  Please comment! :)

Some of my new Spanish friends!

Some of my new Spanish friends!

Silvia and I before the recording.

Silvia, the school’s bilingual coordinator, and I before the recording.

In the studio at the elementary school recording the Thanksgiving Day segment.

In the studio at the elementary school recording the Thanksgiving Day, “English Corner” segment.

Thanksgiving Day, broccoli-cheddar soup

Thanksgiving Day starter, broccoli-cheddar soup,

My Thanksgiving meal, broccoli, mashed potatoes with gravy, a brick of stuffing, and cranberry sauce.

My Thanksgiving meal, broccoli, mashed potatoes with gravy, a brick of stuffing, and cranberry sauce.

And for dessert, pumpkin pie.

And for dessert, pumpkin pie.

Of course I watched America's Thanksgiving Day Parade in Detroit from my living room!

Of course I watched America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in Detroit from my living room!

Nov 14 / Brandon Shamoun

Finally!

Day 18 of 219 in Spain.

WooooHooooo – finally some Wi-Fi (thank you, Starbucks)!

I have been in Spain for the past 2 and half weeks or so, and I’ve been meaning to do a blog a lot sooner, but I haven’t had Wi-Fi in my apartment since I moved to my permanent place.  Anyways, Spain, Sevilla more specifically, has been quite great so far.  It’s just as I imagined it to be minus a few degrees since I haven’t been here during the Fall.  During this time alone,  I can say that my Spanish has already grown so much.  Living in a not so touristy area really pushes me to use the language, which is just what I wanted.

During my first week and a half in Spain, I stayed in an area of Sevilla called Nervión.  I was in the center of one of the main shopping districts, a movie theatre, one of Sevilla’s fútbol stadiums, and lots and lots of great tapas bars.  During this time I was staying with a guy I met through Airbnb (a website where you can find cheap places to stay for a short- or long-term period).  My host was Migue, and he was an Elementary English teacher as well from the Canary Islands (a set of islands under Spain west of Africa).  It was great staying with him to adjust to the culture during the first few days here.  It was definitely a great first experience using that site.  However, my ride to work in the morning was extended with a 45 minute bus ride to my co-worker’s apartment where I met to carpool to work.

After living with him for a few, I luckily was able to get a more permanent place closer to where I met my co-worker to carpool to the school.  My 45 minute bus ride turned into a 5 minute walk to his place.  From there, we drive to Arahal, which is a small rural town outside of the capital of Seville.  It’s been great carpooling since I can practice my Spanish with him during the car ride and review English with him.  I really have been enjoying the experience.

As lovely Spain is, I really do miss everyone.  Coming here without friends like I usually did was a whole new adventure on it’s own.  Going from knowing everybody at Wayne to knowing nobody in Sevilla has been the most difficult transition of my life.  Luckily there are many language exchanges that I have been going to, and I have been meeting lots of students from all over Europe to practice my Spanish with and to help practice their English.  It’s an awesome concept – meet a bar and just drink and chat about whatever.  Everyone seems to be trying to learn English, so it is usually very easy to find people to chat with at these events.

My actual work in Spain has been awesome.  I love the school, students, teachers, staff, everything.  I am teaching 18 classes, grades 1 through 6, three classes per grade, for 45 minutes per week, Mondays through Thursday from 9am to 2pm (Thursdays until 11:15am).  So even though it sounds like a lot, I am only working 13.5 hours weekly, which gives me tons of time to explore Arahal, Sevilla, Spain, and Europe!  The school has a 1.5 hour radio program, and I was asked if I can be interviewed on Thanksgiving day for their once-a-month English Corner segment.  I am looking forward to that.  You can check it out by visiting mixlr.com/radiopazarahal.  Here is a video of the students live on-air!  Besides the radio program, the students are so interested in the overall English language for the most part.  They have been learning British English, and that is what I am forced to teach, but they love hearing about American culture.  For some reason, when I told them I was from Detroit, they kept asking me about the Hardcore Pawn shop located in Detroit since there is a TV show about it.  Unfortunately, I’ve never been there to tell them about it.  They were also so amused by Detroit’s skyline with the river and skyscrapers.  Spain doesn’t really have this type of landscape, minus a few buildings in Madrid.  Since the students are mainly from this rural city, me being from an urban city allowed them to get a totally new perspective of the world.  When I showed them pictures of the RenCen, Comerica Park, Ford Field, American money, maps of the USA, food, etc., they were so amuse and excited to learn about the city and culture.  By doing this, it built a stronger connection between me and them.  Even though I have only been teaching there for about two weeks, all the students now know me, and when passing them in the hallway, they are eager to say “Hello” or “Hi, how are you?” so that they can practice their few vocabulary phrases with me.  It’s quite awesome!

I am going to leave you all with some captioned photos below, and hopefully I can get back on here in a week or so to post more about my teaching adventure in Spain!  Please comment! 🙂

 

My first meal in Spain at the Sevilla airport after 15 hours of travel.

My first meal in Spain at the Sevilla airport after 15 hours of travel.

I love Spanish olives!

I love Spanish olives!

The primary school I work at in Arahal, Sevilla.

The school I work at in Arahal, Sevilla.

Outside La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

Outside La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

Inside La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

Inside La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

Inside La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

Inside La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

I saw Lady Gaga in concert on my birthday, November 8, in Barcelona.  Met a few awesome people here from Bilbao that day!  It was such an awesome experience! #GypsyLife

I saw Lady Gaga in concert on my birthday, November 8, in Barcelona. Met a few awesome people here from Bilbao that day! It was such an awesome experience! #GypsyLife

A whole lotta nochos.  I tried to eat an "internationa" cuisine that day.

A whole lotta nochos. I tried to eat an “internationa” cuisine that day.

I miss my friends so much! <3

I miss my friends so much! <3

I miss my friends so much! <3

I miss my friends so much! <3

I miss my College of Education family!  Thanks for this awesome book!

I miss my College of Education family!  Thanks for this awesome book!

The Plaza de España!

The Plaza de España!

Intercambios de conversación! / Language Exchange!

Intercambios de conversación! / Language Exchange!