Bye For Now, Villanueva! – Janine

And… I just finished my last full day of classes! I can’t believe that this summer has gone so quickly. The last few weeks have been crazy busy for me and also pretty amazing. Tomorrow I have three more classes and then I am completely done teaching! On Saturday, I fly back to the United States for a couple more days of summer with my family and then it’s back to Oberlin College for me. It’s been hard work, but so rewarding to watch my students become better English speakers this summer! As my students have learned more English, I also have learned lots about how to plan lessons, manage a classroom, and answer questions. I also have definitely learned lots of new Spanish words, which is exciting. A huge thank you to my host family and all of my students this summer! It has been a pleasure getting to know you all!
During the break from classes at the end of July and the beginning of August, I left Villanueva to take a trip with my mom to Amsterdam. The beginning of the trip was a bit stressful. When I arrived at Atocha station, there was a taxi strike and it was a hard to find a way to the airport! Thankfully I found a 24 hour airport bus and I made my flight in time. My mom and I tried to do as much sight-seeing as possible in six days. We saw so many beautiful places, but my favorite part of the trip was going to a cat sanctuary on a boat in one of the canals, called De Poezenboot. At least 15 cats live on the boat, and people can come visit them every day and adopt them! I also enjoyed Amsterdam’s cheese and some world famous Dutch pancakes. After traveling with my mom, I also had the opportunity to stay with my good friend Emily and her family who live near Hannover, Germany. Emily was an exchange student at my high school, and I was thrilled to have the chance to see her again! Emily and I were pretty lazy, and we spent a lot of time sleeping and watching Dan & Phil videos on YouTube. I also ate a lot of delicious German bread and some fantastic cherry crepes.
When I returned to Villanueva, I was the only summer intern left in town! It was a change of pace to teach and plan classes by myself, but it was also lots of fun planning lessons. I’m thinking about becoming a teacher after college, and it was good practice to teach six classes a day. It’s been interesting teaching such a wide age range of students, from little kids to college students. I also took a short one day trip to Seville to see some of the more famous sights, such as the Plaza de España and the cathedral. Seville is an absolutely gorgeous city.
Although I’m looking forward to seeing my friends and family in the United States, I am so glad I came to Villanueva this summer! Hopefully someday I’ll be able to come visit!
Good luck on your exams!

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Villanueva in July and More – Janine

Hello all!
Things are starting to wind down in preparation for the feria, and the other interns are trickling out of Villanueva. Libby and I are the only interns still in Villanueva hanging out in the Academia today, and it seems more quiet than usual. Tomorrow I head out of Villanueva for the break to do some traveling with my mom in Amsterdam, and then I’ll be back in August for a couple more weeks of classes!
I am shocked at how quickly the last month has gone… Time flies when you’re having fun! At the Academia, classes have continued to be busy and engaging. My students have become more comfortable with their use of English, even if they are sometimes rather reluctant to speak out loud. I understand the nervousness that accompanies using a second language- when I speak Spanish it is very apparent that I am speaking with an American accent, and there are plenty of times when I am not 100% sure what is being said in a conversation. One of my classes finds my co-teacher Maya’s inability to roll her r’s hilarious. I suffer from the same inability to distinguish my pronunciation of pero and perro. Still, it has been great to slowly understand more Spanish as my students are also improving their English skills! I still am sometimes shocked when I realize I am understanding and listening to a conversation in Spanish. We also have added a couple new games to the mix in classes. My favorite game involves choosing three categories (like entertainment, money, and travel, for example) and then choosing one letter. Then everyone has to think of words that fit within the categories that all start with that same letter!
These past couple weekends have been relaxing and also fun. A couple weekends ago, I took a trip to Málaga for a beach day with Libby and my friend Emma. As someone from the Great Lakes, it still seems weird to me to be surrounded by salt water. The beaches in Málaga are super busy, but they are also perfect for a lazy Saturday! The next weekend, I spent some time in Pozoblanco in the morning with Maya and Libby. It is very similar to Villanueva, except a bit bigger! Pozoblanco’s main street is beautiful and full of restaurants, and there are lots of cute shops. That night, I experienced the Spanish summer tradition, el botellón, in Villanueva with Luna, Libby’s host sister, and some other interns. El botellón is not like anything I have ever seen in the States. People park their cars, blast music, and drink on the street. It was super strange to see my students there! I truly do not understand how Spaniards can stay out so late. When I asked my students about el botellón during the feria, they said they stay out until 7:00 am. If I tried to stay out this late, I would probably die. Sleep is important! Hopefully everyone has plenty of opportunities to sleep during the day while the feria is happening!

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Last Weeks in Villanueva – Libby

Hi everyone! The last few weeks and classes went well. It is nice to get to know my students better. In one of my classes we did a questionnaire about what they wanted to work on in English and what kind of activities they like the most. This was very helpful for me, and Giulia and I used their feedback when we made lesson plans. Last week, Janine and I started to work with two new women who want to learn English for their jobs. In my classes that week, we listened to “If I Were a Rich Man”. The students understood it well and thought the song was fun. Janine and I also taught a new B2 for the first time. It was nice to learn about his life and talk about the meaning of songs.

That weekend I went with Janine and my friend, Emma, to the Málaga. We went to the beach. Janine and I were going to take the tour bus with the tourism office, but it was full. It was fun, but the sun was so hot that we got tired and a little sunburnt. There were a lot of people at the beach. I liked swimming in the water, but I didn’t know it would be so salty. We saw some other English speakers there, who were British. Emma really wanted paella, but all of the restaurants were closed because of siesta. We had lunch at the train station mall. We had a good time.


Back at the academia, this week we played twenty questions. My classes really liked it, especially my high school class. They really liked playing in teams because they are very competitive. I taught the young learners class alone on Thursday and the kids really liked playing with play dough again. They also liked a video about broccoli and ice cream. I was happy that they wanted to sing the songs. In the upper level classes, we played “Chained to the Rhythm” and it was interesting to look at its meaning. Through talking about it with the students, I saw how much more complicated and interesting it is than I first thought, which was cool. We also practiced numbers and writing sentences with different tenses. Next week will be busy and we plan on doing a fun last thing in classes. I’m sad that this is my last weekend in Villanueva, but I’m excited to go home.

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Life in Villanueva – Janine

It’s been a super busy time in Villanueva! After intensive courses started, I’ve been teaching a least a couple classes everyday. It’s been great getting to know my students and learning to teach lots of different age levels, from younger children all the way to college students and adults. Slowly my students have been gaining confidence in their speaking abilities, and I enjoy seeing my students become more comfortable using English in the classroom. Sometimes, though, my instructions in English are hard for students to understand, which can lead to me speaking in my often confusing Spanish. I’m always super happy when, after a mixture of some interesting Spanglish, everyone understands what is going on in the classroom. I also find it hilarious how much all of my students love games, regardless of their ages. The 8-year-olds I teach love playing hangman just as much as the college students! Games definitely make the classroom more fun and less intimidating, and I hope to think of some interesting games to incorporate in lesson plans in the coming weeks.
When I’m not teaching, I’ve had plenty to do in Villanueva and around Spain! I went to Madrid a couple weekends ago for World Pride, which was a great experience. Madrid was absolutely packed with people, and it was amazing to see so many people from different places all celebrating together. Madrid is a beautiful city, even though it also feels a bit crazy. I’ve never been to New York City, but I imagine Madrid feels similar in a lot of ways to NYC. There were so many different types of people and so many giant stores lining the streets of Madrid. I stayed in an apartment near Callao with some of the other interns from Academia Manhattan, and the apartment was pretty classy. I also ate some really good Mexican food that weekend! Overall, I’m glad I was able to experience Madrid during World Pride, despite the craziness!
This past weekend, I went to see Córdoba, which was also interesting. Córdoba feels ancient, which is a feeling I never get from cities in the United States. I saw a bridge that the Romans built, which is still standing today! Córdoba definitely has a lot of history and I was happy to experience it, even just for a day. I also went to a concert from the guitar festival. I’ve never really heard flamenco style music before, and it was special for me to experience it first-hand.  It was also fun to visit Córdoba with Catherine and Libby, two other interns, who spent their past semester studying in Córdoba. I (and all of the other interns!) appreciated their knowledge of the city and their skills as guides for the weekend.
That’s all for now!

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Updates – Libby

Hi everyone! The first week of teaching classes went well. The students were learning entertainment and money vocabulary. In two of my classes the students heard the song “Money, Money, Money” and answered questions about it. The B1 group C class really liked the song and were singing it the next few days of class. Two of my classes really enjoyed playing Pictionary. My two B1 classes are competitive. Later, in the B1 group C class we played “Seven Years” because we heard them singing it before. They did a writing exercise with the song, where they had to fill-in missing lyrics from the song as they listened to it. The students were very good at this activity. We also practiced giving advice with the answer using “should”.

Outside of class, I started aqua aerobics with Lucy and the other interns. It is fun so far. The first day it was cold outside because we do it at night. We started out doing Zumba and then went into the water to do a few dances. We had to sign up for the classes at the Ayuntamiento the week before. This was my first time doing aqua aerobics, but I have seen people do it before. I like the music that we exercise to.

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The two weekends before I went with Catherine and Kaelan to Morocco. We went to Tangier and saw the Hercules cave. I got to hold a bird and a monkey there! It was beautiful and it was especially cool to see where the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean converge. We also saw Malabata beach, which was beautiful. We took some pictures there. I really liked the old medina or town, which had the old city walls and a pretty mosque. We also drove to a lighthouse, but we couldn’t go inside because it was closed. I tried Moroccan food. It was delicious. My favorite was the tagine chicken and beef. The chicken had olives and a really good sauce.

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Last weekend, I went to Madrid with Giulia, Kaelan, Janine and Maya. There were lots of people. We met up with Emma, someone I met this summer, who is working at a hospital in Córdoba. We also met up with my friend, Maya. She and I were on the same study abroad program and she goes to my college. She is doing an internship in Madrid this summer. It was nice to see her and hear about her internship. It was fun to spend time with everyone and see a lot of couples being happy. The weather in Madrid was surprisingly not too hot, which was very nice. We walked a lot around Madrid. We saw stages for concerts in Puerta del Sol and Plaza de España.

Until next time!

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Madrid – Kaelan

Hey everyone!
Last week was a really jam packed week! Firstly, I started my first aquaerobics class! It was interesting because you see a lot of diversity in age, but not so much in gender. I’m the only male in the class, which makes for an interesting dynamic! The most interesting part is when we get out of the class to go to the showers, I’m the only ones in the mens showers!
On Saturday, I went to Madrid. It was amazing to see so many people in one place, even if it was hard to get around! It was also great to see so many couples out holding hands, and not being afraid to show their love to the world! We went to the parade, which was a little disappointing since it was really only party buses. Because of this we left early, and instead went to eat and go out!
Sunday was what I like to call “The Aftermath” because you could see what Madrid looked like after a week of partying. I was amazed that the street was permeated with the smell of urine, which was disgusting. Furthermore, there was trash EVERYWHERE. In some places you couldn’t walk around the trash because there was no clean space to walk in. Even with this, I definitely enjoyed my time in Madrid, but was ready to come back to Villanueva at the end of the day!
Until next time!

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Villanueva & More – Janine

Hey guys,
I’ve been in Spain for a little over a week now, and I’m starting to get used to living in Villanueva and working at Academia Manhattan! Villanueva is pretty different from my hometown, Ann Arbor, and it’s been a bit of an adjustment getting used to living here. Something that’s super different is the fact that mealtimes are so much later here than in the United States. At home, I normally eat lunch around 12:00 p.m. and dinner around 6:00 p.m. Here, lunch is at 2:00 p.m. and my host family often eats dinner 11:00 p.m., which is basically my bed time! It seems to me that people in Spain never sleep. I’ve also been getting used to living with my host family. Even though we sometimes have a hard time communicating because of my minimal Spanish skills, my host family is super nice and have been feeding me some wonderful food. I am especially a fan of the Spanish tortilla! They also have a super cute little dog who loves to follow me around the house.
Walking around Villanueva with my host mom and dad is funny because they seem to know the entire town and say hi to almost everyone we pass. Something else that is also startling to me about Villanueva is how easy it is to walk everywhere. This is super different from Ann Arbor, Michigan; last summer I worked at a pool and I had to drive 20 minutes every day to get to work. Here, my host family’s house is a 5 to 10 minute walk from Academia Manhattan, which is super convenient. Something that I have found not so convenient about Villanueva is the “siesta.” I have very conflicted feelings about a town-wide nap time. One on hand, I love sleeping. Who am I to complain about being given time to sleep in the middle of the day? On the other hand, it is super annoying to me that EVERYTHING closes. It is impossible to do anything in the middle of the day, which is strange to me. In Michigan, we have a grocery store called Meijer’s, which is open 24 hours a day for 363 days a year (the store closes on Christmas and Easter).
My first full weekend here, I also went on a trip with some of the other interns, Giulia and Maya! We went to Málaga for the day to go to the beach, where I had one of the most delicious burgers I have ever eaten. In the evening, we took a bus to Granada, which I would classify as an extremely beautiful city. The streets were full of delicious tapas and the view of the Alhambra at night was stunning. We also took a tour of the Alhambra the next morning; it was amazing to see such an old piece of architecture that is still standing.
I’m looking forward to exploring Spain and working more with students in the coming weeks!

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Trip to Morocco – Kaelan

Hey everyone!

The last week was a ton of fun! We started teaching classes, and it’s been interesting getting to know the students as well as telling them about where I’m from! Last week I went out with my friends, and figured out why nobody likes Correos.

On Wednesday, I went to Morocco. I didn’t realize how far Morocco was, but it took us around 7 hours to get there! We took a ferry from Algeciras and got to stay in Tánger. Tánger is very different from Spain, and the Arabic was incredibly interesting to listen to! We went to markets, to the Atlantic Coast, as well as to the Malabata beach, which was beautiful!

The second day in Morocco we went to Ceuta. The land border at Ceuta was incredibly intense, and seemed like a prison crossing over. There were so many people! The currency is Euro versus the Moroccan Dirham, so I had to do some currency exchange while I was there.  The culture of Ceuta is very interesting, and the city is beautiful but foggy and warm!

I also went to Málaga for the first time to visit my cousin! She and her boyfriend came from London to Málaga. It was great getting to see them, relaxing on the beach with them, and just enjoying their company. I’ve never really been sunburnt, but in Málaga I definitely burned my shoulders! It’s a lesson for next time!

Stay tuned for more updates!

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Trip to Salamanca – Libby

The past few weeks since my last post have been very good! I have really enjoyed getting to know the students and learning about their interests. It also was nice to meet Janine, the other intern, who arrived last week. I have been able to visit a town in Spain that was the first place I went to on my study abroad program’s orientation tour, Salamanca.

Salamanca was beautiful. My friend from high school is studying there and it was great to see her. I climbed the cathedral tower and saw the Art Deco museum. The view from the tower was gorgeous and the museum was beautiful. They had many of Francisco Goya’s etchings, which were very cool. I’ve studied his art, so it was cool to see it in person. The weather was hot there, but it seemed more humid than Villanueva. It was nice to hear about my friend’s life and her classes in Salamanca. She said that there are students around her age, but also students who are thirty or older, who want to learn Spanish. I think that is really cool.

That end of the week was an art event in the Plaza Mayor of Salamanca. They projected a video onto the main arch in the plaza. The video images went with the music that they played. It was beautiful! There were so many people in the plaza and some people had glow sticks. I couldn’t find my friend for a bit because there were so many people. I didn’t know that there was an event going on. It was a cool coincidence that it was the week I came.

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In terms of work, we’ve been working on quizzes for the intensive classes and making lesson plans for this coming week. We also recorded a video for our newscast, which will be used for listening practice during classes. We also decided when each person will teach class. I look forward to starting intensive classes and meeting more students!

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My Second Week in Villanueva – Giulia

Hello everybody!  My second week in Villanueva has just begun, and things are going great!  Last weekend I participated in my first “ruta de tapas,” which is a Spanish tradition of going around the different bars and restaurants in town and ordering a “tapa” and a drink at each spot.
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A “tapa” is essentially a small dish, and each place has a different specialty.  I enjoyed all of them!  My favorite drink was a tasty mixture of carbonated juice and wine that’s called a “tinto de  verano.”  Absolutely delicious!
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It has been quite hot this past week in Villanueva, so unfortunately I haven’t been doing much during the day other than working and going to the gym.  The latter has been a great and productive way to pass time!  The gym is very close to my house, and I enjoy running on the treadmill and stretching.  It makes me feel better about the large amount of food that I consume every day!
A few of my friends and I went on a walk around Villanueva the other day and we saw the outskirts of the town, as well as a few horses and some goats.  Unfortunately, our walk wasn’t very long, since we made the mistake of going out at one of the hottest points in the day.  However, it was still lovely to explore more of Villanueva and gain a better sense of the town.
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Work has mainly consisted of preparation for the intensive classes that begin in July.  We each need to get assigned our specific classes before we can begin to write our actual lesson plans, but we have begun to make general vocab lists and quizzes that can be applied later.  We have also made presentations about our hometowns, which we have been presenting to the different classes all week.  My presentation is obviously about Berkeley, but I added a slide about Oakland and another about San Francisco in order to give students the bigger picture of the Bay Area as a whole.  Speaking about my city has made me realize how much I truly love it; I could talk about it for hours.  There are aspects of my home that I definitely miss while being here, but I am grateful for the opportunity to experience this new culture.
Maya, Kaelen and I are spending the day in Seville tomorrow, and I’m very excited!  I’ll provide all the details in my next post, as I’m sure I’ll have a lot to talk about.  Farewell!

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