Happy New Year! Sorry that it’s been a while. There’s a post about my winter break in my drafts, and another post I still owe you photos for (blame dropbox), and that will come… but for now, I don’t want to get too far behind, so let’s talk about the last few weeks. January was not a model month if my goals were related to anything that’s the opposite of being lazy, but it’s been positive in other ways. Plus, if you accept the rationalization that I just got all the bumming-around out of my system and the rest of 2016 will be all hustle, then it was a success all around.Read More
***THIS POST IS INCOMPLETE. THE PHOTOS WILL BE ADDED ONCE I'M BACK FROM MY TRIP**
It’s been a nice couple of weeks. Relaxing. No trips, lots of free time as usual. I’m trying to take advantage as much as usual! I am trying to write for the blog every day or couple of days, even if its not posted too frequently, that way I’m not sitting down to write about something three weeks later and forgetting a lot of details. That said, right now it is 6:09 and I just finished filling in the days that I hadn’t written… and my plane to London is at 8:40. I don’t want to leave y’all hanging for so long, so I am going to throw this baby up as fast as I can but don’t expect me to have proofread anything (I’ve still got pictures to edit!). For that same reason, this is about all the introduction you’re going to get, so let’s get into it!
(11/29 - 12/5)
Monday - I went to a Yoga class! There are a few studios, and I’m glad I researched them thoroughly, and googled the styles of Yoga before choosing a studio, else I might’ve ended up at the one that practices Kundalini style during which "In addition to postures, a typical class will also include chanting, meditation, and breathing exercises.” I’m on board with all of that, except the chanting. The class I attended did have a meditation session at the end during which the instructor played(?) some sort of gong or drum. I love yoga, both for the physical aspects of it and it’s ability to allow me clear my mind… but I don’t buy into the spiritual aspects as much and might get jaded if there’s too much of an emphasis on it. Anyways, I really needed that class and was glad I went. I might try out the other studios, but either way I definitely plan on getting back into the habit.
- Tuesday - The 4th ESO (sophomores) class I assist with on tuesdays is right after break time, so usually when I arrive the teacher is still outside monitoring kids and there are a few students hanging out studying or playing music. This time I walked in and they had The Weeknd playing, his song “Earn It” I think. I made a comment about liking The Weeknd and carried on playing with my phone.. until the next same came on and caught my attention. If you don’t know The Weeknd, and I’m simplifying here of course, but a lot of his lyrical content consists mainly of abusing drugs and spending time in between the sheets, at varying levels of subtly and bluntness. The next song that the girls played on the speakers leans heavily to the latter (bluntness): "Or Nah (Remix)”, peep the lyrics here. Now I’m not a prude, and this country certainly is not, so out of curiosity I asked them if they had any idea what most of the lyrics mean, at which point one girl pulled up a translated version on the projector. But wait, we’re not done yet. They switched from The Weeknd to Tyga, and “Bouncin on my D*ck” was playing over the speakers, along with the lyrical video on the projector, as the teacher walked in. She wasn’t phased, only turned it off once she settled in and had her jacket off, and also wasn’t phased when a student raised her hand to tell her about our earlier exchange where I “told her the music they were listening to is perverted” (her words not mine, I actually said “inappropriate”)(but I think “perverted” is just the more common word in this situation in spanish). Ultimately, I think there was nothing wrong with any of this… I’m looking at you 4th grade teacher who took away my computer privileges as punishment for visiting www.lovecalculator.com during recess (which by the way looks exactly the same way it looked 15 years ago).
- Friday - Karaoke! I’ve gone a few times and enjoyed listening (singing is out of the question). This karaoke is done with a live band, who usually does a song or two in between karaoke-ers. There's a booklet of 100+ songs to choose from, a majority of which are in English. There was one song this week (in Spanish) that I particularly enjoyed the performance of. The musicians kept the music in a rock style, but the girl sang it like a flamenco singer with that strong, almost-nervous, vibrating voice that goes right through your chest. I was hoping to find a similar cover on youtube, but will settle for the original here:
(12/6 - 12/12)
- Monday - This was a 5-day weekend! Monday we decided to take advantage by another full day of exploring. 10? of us zigzagged across the island and checked out: Faro de Faváritx, Monte Toro, Cala Morell, and Faro Punta Nati. I’m running out of adjectives to describe all these beautiful sights so I’ll just let the pictures do the talking (plus I’m running out time to post this before my flight to London). We ended our evening with a delicious dinner in Ciutadella, at one of the spots I’d mentioned was recommended to Lily and I but we were too impatient to eat at.
- Someday - I finally picked up my TIE! TIE is what I need to be here legally once my visa runs expires (which may have already happened, it was good for 90 days). Woo!
- Friday - Max and I took another biking trip, this time to Es Grau. You may remember this was the place I’d biked to on my own for my first bike trip, and I may have mentioned that there’s a whole nature reserve park here that I wanted to come back and explore… and we did!
On the way there I led us through some random paths and access roads, at one part we may have even been going along a dried up river. It’s amazing how many trails/paths exist and a lot of fun exploring. The paths were, at times, narrow, rocky, and steep, and it was a great taste of off road biking (though we did have to hop off and walk a few times). Definitely plan on doing more of this and I will try to do some research on these too. Eventually we made it back to the paved road, having more or less gone in a giant windy circle (and not regretting it one bit!)
I hand’t biked much in a few weeks, and my quads reminded me of that as soon as we got on the main road and headed towards our destination. Last time I suspected that the way there was harder but had no proof, this time I peeped a informational sign for cyclists with a chart showing the elevation over time. The way there is indeed steeper.
Once we got to Es Grau, we first rode into the town so Max could check it out. We climbed down the rocky coast to sit by the water, and then that crazy mf decided to go swimming! It was 60ish Fahrenheit, but felt like 70 with the sun. The water was actually quite warm, maybe even warmer than the times I’d gone swimming back in October, and I was really starting to regret my decision to be a pansy and watch… until Max got stung by a jellyfish and I gained complete confidence in my choice. Don’t worry, he’s alive and well and didn’t seem like he was in any pain.
After a few minutes in the sun for him to dry up, we headed back to the park and had time to check out two trails (they were bike friendly woo!) before the sun got low and we had to head home.
The park, called S’Albufera, is "the largest and most important wetland area in the Balearics, is a former lagoon separated from the sea by a belt of dunes, which for many centuries – but especially in the last two as a result of human influence – has filled up with sediments converting it into an extensive flood plain. The Natural Park affords protection to some 1708 hectares of marshes and dunes.”
The first trail we took actually cut short because of construction… but the second one ended with a “mirador” (viewpoint) at the top of a hill looking over a large expanse of the park. There’s a large pond(?) and at one point, all of the ducks must have gotten spooked or something, and across the entire area we could see streaks of movement and hear flapping (the ducks were spooked but also lazy and barely getting off the water, which just accentuated their movement), it was awesome. I’m looking forward to coming back and discovering more of the park, and I can see this route to the Es Grau / S’Albufera becoming a regular thing. It’s full of breathtaking views and a good mix of breathtaking uphill battles and exhilarating hands-off-the-handlebar-and-in-the-air descents.
- Friday - It was attack of the teenagers! I’m not sure why, and no one else really knew either, but all of the teenagers were out and about and taking over the city. We were booted from our tale at one of our regular bars because there was a dinner reservation, and peeking through windows of all the restaurants all I could see was teens. Later, the streets were full of kids with plastic bags — what’s inside the plastic bags? Liquor and mixers, duh, for Botellón. Our best guess was that it’s because finals are done… but they still have another week and a half of school til break. I was afraid to stay out too late or make any new friends that night because there’s little to no IDing at establishments here and I don’t want to find myself in an uncomfortable situation. Not to mention I saw 3 of my students (15-16yr olds) on the street when I had stepped outside for some air around 130am — luckily they did not notice me.
- Saturday - Earlier in the week I was invited to go ice skating, obviously I said yes. I love ice skating, skating in general, and I miss getting around on my rollerblades, needless to say I was excited. I heard rumors that it wasn’t actually ice that we’d be skating on, but some sort of lubricated plastic, but this just made it more intriguing.
The rumors proved to be facts. We arrived to the rink, set up inside the old basketball stadium, and in front of us was a tiny plastic rink with 5-7 children skating around. We stood around about 5 minutes deliberating whether it was worth the €5 and our time to partake — the group left the choice up to the Americans, and our intrigue won over so inside we went. I got my rentals and hit the “ice”. Apparently it’s called synthetic ice, and at first I thought it sucked! I couldn’t get any grip. After observing a few little girls actually gain speed and even try out a few tricks, I deduced that my blades just must be too dull (which makes sense, according to the wiki I linked, blades wear out in as little as 30min). I switched my pair out and was in business. The synthetic ice was actually quite effective, very reminiscent of the real thing. Naturally, no occasion with Dank is accident free - at one point I was skating backwards, practicing crossovers, and knocked down one of the little girls :(. Fortunately for me, she was 100% okay and not shedding any tears, and fortunately for you all, one of my friends got it on video:
- Sunday - Longboarding and tennis, who would ask for a better day?!
There’s a girl, Miriam, who often comes to English Evening with her longboard. I, too, would be arriving with my longboard had it not forgotten it on the train while visiting my grandmas the week before I left for Spain. Miriam said she’d find me a board to use if we went boarding, and we’ve been trying to make plans for weeks. Finally, it happened! She invited me to go riding with friends on Sunday at 11:30, and for once I was on time (I think). Her dad gave us a ride to Punta Prima.
There, in a huge parking lot, was a whole longboard extravaganza. Half of the parking lot was blocked off and a huge line of cones was set up to practice carving*. There were kids and adults of all ages, from 5 to 15 to 35, boarding around, some learning how to ride, other advanced riders practicing tricks. It’d look like something out of California (especially the 10-12 year old of the shoulder length straight blonde hair, skinny jeans with loose T, and crazy-good skills), if not for the family friendly environment (or maybe that’s just me making wrong assumptions about skating/boarding communities in the US). The guys organizing the meet up were friends of Miriam's and one of them led me to his van where he had 5 or so longboards of varying styles and sizes for me to choose from. I went for a boxy bamboo deck, similar to one of the flexy Loaded decks I’ve long been wanting, and was very happy with my choice.
Besides the board I borrowed, there were a ton of extra boards out in the parking lot so people could try out different styles. There were a few kinds I’d never experienced and I enjoyed the opportunity to try them out. One board was especially cool, a 6foot (or more) custom longboard built by one of the guys at the event (a carpenter by trade) (he also happens to be the father of one of my students, though at that point I wasn’t 100% sure so I didn’t bring it up). It’s huge, and thick, and you’d expect it to be difficult to ride and turn, but it was so easy to balance and had the turning radius of a Mini car (and better than that of my board which was <half the size). It looks like a surfboard, but I bet surfing is much harder than riding it.
After an hour in the parking lot, it was time for the ride we’d all been waiting for. We were riding from Punta Prima to Cala Torret, just a few kilometers away. The organizers arranged for some city officials to come with us, with a car leading and tailing us, allowing us to use the road with no problems. The start of the run was a bit of uphill, and having the road to ourselves, we got towed up by a van with strings of people holding on tight to the bumper (this is called “skitching” by the way). I’d always wanted to try that! The cruise itself was amazing. Chicago is flat, with the exception of bridges or ramps. Chicago is also full of traffic and potholes. Cruising there is it’s own type of fun, but to finally have some hills, and natural scenery (the road we took hugged the coastline), this is what long boarding is all about. There were about 40 people on boards at the parking lot, and about half made the ride down the coast, while many others followed in cars. At the end of the yellow brick road was a chill spot named Sa Cova. Lounge chairs and dub/reggae music, cold beer and barbecue. €3 for a combo of chicken wings (2, fresh off the grill) and a beer. Miriam had a family lunch and I had a tennis game scheduled so we didn’t stay long, but there will be a next time!
"The act of turning back and forth down a hill as a form of speed control or fun. Typically, carves are large and span the width of the hill and form large, smooth “s” shapes. Carving can be used to help a rider control their speed, but they can also be done for fun to get down a hill." Definition taken from this site
- Wednesday - This week the kids have their annual holiday show at the Teatro Principal. This theater, built in 1829, is one of the oldest (some locals have told me THE oldest) opera houses in Europe! You can read more about it’s history here. All of the classes were doing some sort of performance - a dance, a song, a musical performance. I knew they’d been practicing all week, but I had not actually seen any of the performance so I was excited to attend as it’d be all a surprise to me. I was also looking forward to seeing the kids outside of their uniforms, interacting with their families, and overall just having fun and doin’ something besides learning english. Here are some of my thoughts about the evening:
- The theatre was truly beautiful, much more so than I expected. The red seat cushions were stunning. For a place nearing it’s 200th birthday, it’s in pretty good shape! I’ll have to check out another performance (maybe professional this time) before I leave.
- The students were all in the 3rd floor balconies, 6-8 students per balcony. My seat was up there with the 4th graders. At one point, before the start of the show while the parents were still filing in, I went down to the main floor to say hi to some friends who decided to come and check it out (+ one of their mothers works with me). Big mistake. “Daniel"“Daniel"“Daniel"“Daniel"“Daniel"“Daniel” Shouted at me from the entire horseshoe of balconies above, I didn’t know where to look or wave first. I would not make a good celebrity. As overwhelmed as I was, it was also a really nice feeling (so I guess after a few weeks of being famous I would be used to it).
- The show itself: There were 4 announcers, students from various levels. They would come out in mixed pairs, or sometimes all together. Mostly speaking Minorcan, but sometimes translating to Spanish and even English (they are technically a trilingual school). It was more-or-less what I expected and have experienced in the US in a school recital, but of course with some differences. The younger kids wore the cutest outfits and had more simple dance routines, as the ages got older there was more choreography. One grade played something on recorders (I wouldn’t have guessed that this instrument was used internationally to introduce kids to playing music). Another grade sang backup vocals to one girl (with a great voice) accompanied by a guitar player. In another, 4 girls did a whole dance routine while the class acted some scenes in the background. Between acts were various short videos, which made time for the kids to be led down/up from the balconies. One of the final acts I really enjoyed (in part because it was a break from singing and dancing) had the whole theatre in the dark, with a dark sky background on stage and [invisible] students rearranging themselves to make words with glow-in-the-dark letters. The final act had all of the students and teachers on stage singing together, with different-aged ballerinas dancing across the stage as well. This was the final song they all did together, very touching:
- It was interesting to hear which songs they played for the holidays. Some were new to me, but many were not. A few songs used the same melody but had translated/new lyrics (e.g. "Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer”) but many others were not (e.g. "Jingle Bell Rock”)
- Although I could not understand a lot of the interludes - the speeches and the videos that is - I was able to get the gist of it. During the entire thing, they kept discussing various positive attributes: empathy, altruism, friendship, unity, sharing, etc. This was the theme. Now, I know that these positive attributes were of course discussed and encouraged in my own schooling, but I don’t remember it being such a central theme around the holiday times and especially as part of the recital. Albeit, I don’t remember much from childhood so maybe I’m not giving the USA enough credit. Spaniards do seem to be nicer people though, so maybe a little more emphasis on soft skills growing up is a good thing 0:).
I was curious about the origins and lyrics of this song, so I asked a friend... here's what she found:
- Thursday - Earlier this month was actually the first time I’d seen the first Star Wars film (episode IV). I also watched the 2nd (episode V) and half of the 3rd (VI). Now, I’m still not sure I understand why there is so much hype (and I don’t think I could as someone trying to get into it in 2015) but I’ll admit they are entertaining. My friends were going to see the new Star Wars, and I joined the bandwagon and bought a ticket. I should add that I bought a ticket at the box office at ~8pm the day of for a showing at 12:05am. Back in Chicago, I noticed someone trying to sell a pair tickets for $80, and this wasn’t even for the first showing (but for a 10pm showing on Friday). Supply and demand huh.
- That said, when we arrived for the show there was a long line of people waiting to get in and plenty of people dressed up. Before the movie started there were a bunch of commercials, most of them star wars themed, including one building support for the Talayotic Culture of Menorca being recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. This is an interesting topic in general (which you can read about in detail here), but I bring it up because the voiceover for the commercial was of done by Stephen, a guy I may’ve mentioned who's from Ireland who was an Auxuliar last year and is here this year as a regular ol’ english teacher. He’s not typically a voice actor, but somehow they got in touch with him, pretty cool! Here it is:
- Friday - Friday was a nice day. I finally got to do some more yoga. Mona, a fellow aux, had been taking classes where she lives in Es Castell (neighboring city to Mahon, a 10min bike ride), and I decided to join her. I found out that her instructor started doing house calls (since Mona had often been the only participant during the time she went) and so I arrived at her place around 11am for a relaxed practice. I enjoyed the class, and apparently she switches up the routine every time so I think I’ll continue going to her. Too bad my place isn’t big enough to host yoga here.
I also bought a pass to Primavera Sound, a music festival hosted in Barcelona June 2-4 along the likes of Lollapalooza. The line-up hasn’t been announced yet, but you’ll know when I know. Thank you to my parents and grandmas for it is their Thanksgiving/Chanukah/NewYears presents to my bank account that made this possible. My brother and sis-in-law are planning a visit around that time, so hopefully they’ll be able to attend with me! Friday I also booked a few flights for my winter break, something I’d long been putting off and needing to do.
- Saturday - The tennis club has a tournament every other weekend pretty much, and I decided to sign up for this weekends'. As usual, less than 24hours before the start of the tournament, the schedule was finally posted. 9am start time, ugh. I stayed in Friday, still ended up awake until 3, and snoozing through my allotted breakfast time (but saving time for coffee) made it to the club by 9:05. There's not a single person on the courts. The coaches are sitting at a table in the cafe w a few people and I ask if I came at the right time? "Yea, people are just inside getting coffees. Have you had breakfast?” I hadn’t, but I wasn’t hungry yet so I opted for a liquid breakfast - fresh squeezed orange juice! The tournament went as usual... I played well but did not perform too well, winning 1 of my 3 one-set matches. The weather was phe-fuckin-nomenal and I stayed for another hour or so rallying with one of the players, until I caved to my hunger and had to go eat. Boy I’m going to miss playing tennis in late December, outdoors and in shorts.
- Saturday - Saturday night we went out to Assukar, a club known for playing latin music (and a mixed latin crowd). It was a ton of fun. I love going places where everyone is dancing and genuinely enjoying the music and the environment. That said, usually at a generic club or bar, my hip-moving abilities are in the top percentile and can hold up, but in a place where everyone knows what they’re doing… I realized I have some catching up to do. Luckily some of the girls we were with were quite good and taught me a few moves that hopefully next time I can remember. The DJs played Salsa, Bachata, and Reggaeton, cycling through the three styles, with a couple songs each.
I normally wouldn’t write about my love life (or lack thereof) but this lil story is worth sharing. Earlier in the night I had noticed a certain chica… and finally, a few hours and a few shared glances later, I noticed her friends all being occupied and her needing someone to dance with so I went over to ask her to dance, hoping she’d look past my not-up-to-par repertoire of dance moves. She obliged, we danced for a song, talked a little, and she disappeared - off to the bathroom or talk to her friends or have a smoke or something. Typical experience of dancing with girl at loud club. What wasn’t typical, was that before ending our lil encounter she leaned in for your standard Spanish two cheek kiss, and followed with the typical “encantado” and “igualmente” (“charmed” “likewise”). Now, so far this is an isolated experience, so I don’t know what this experience means... whether women here are more polite in general, this girl was more polite, this girl was into me but actually had to go, or what… but I can tell you that if she wasn’t interested and was just being polite, that sort of thing definitely doesn’t happen in the US and for male self esteem’s sake you ladies should try it. Anyways, this island is tiny, so if/when I see her again I’ll just have to ask.
- Sunday - Election day! I've listened in on some political talk, but can't pretend to understand enough to have an opinion, let alone explain anything to you, but here are some helpful links:
- Monday - This was my last day at school before break. In the morning, the students had to go down to the school chapel (I work at a catholic school) for a short mass. They don’t go to the church daily, but have been going every week of this month. The service is in Minorcan so I don’t understand anything, but it’s always interesting to see the Pastor interact with the kids and keep them behaved and participating (it’s usually just the pre-K through 3rd grade when I go).
One large difference during the holiday season here in Spain is that, traditionally, kids receive gifts Three Kings Day instead of Christmas.. and not from Santa, but from the Three Kings (aka three wise men). Those differences aside, there are many similarities in the traditions: the kids write letters to the 3 kings, and they all believe in the 3 Kings, with finding out that it’s their parents being one important coming-of-age moment. On Monday afternoon, the kids got to meet the Three Kings, or rather their Pages, and give them the letters that each class had written together. We all lined up on a small street behind the school and awaited for the Pages to arrive. The Three Kings deliver presents on camels, but their Pages rolled up in a [old] brown Porsche 944 coupe. They got out and walked along the lines of kids, high fiving ‘em. At this point, some of the parents were arriving and snapping pics of their kids. Next, we walked along the side of the school into an entrance that led us to the school theatre. There, the Pages sat on the stage while representatives of each class would came up with their class' letter, followed by the rest of the class for a group picture. I left after a few classes, but I believe that in the end all of the 3-5 year olds got to have a solo photoshoot with the Pages since their parents were there. I wonder, do Christian/Catholic schools in the US arrange for Santa Visits at school? I thought you always had to go to the mall (or the CTA Holiday Bus/Train) for that? Not surprisingly, I knew one of the Pages — Raul, a roommate of one of the auxiliaries and cousin of one of the teachers at my school. Small world, indeed.
Banking in Menorca:
There are two things that have jumped out at me as different in my banking experience, and what interests me the most is that I can’t tell whether it is just a difference, or the technology being dated here, OR the technology being ahead of the USA here.
The first is the “libreta”. Libreta means notebook, and it’s essentially what it is. It resembles a passport, but instead of visas and stamps inside, there is a ledger of my bank account. Furthermore, when I want cash from the ATM… I insert the entire libreta, and it prints the new activity in the book (including any additional activity that has happened online and is not yet in the libreta). The libreta does NOT work as a form of payment. I did have the option of receiving a bank card as well, but there was an annual fee and I figured it’d be advantageous to make impulse shopping harder. I know the concept of a bank book is nothing new… but what about one that you insert into the machine that functions as a bank card AND notates for you, is this new tech? or old tech? I should add that I haven’t yet figured out how it reads the libretto either to identify you - the machine asks you to turn the libreta to the page with the most recent transactions (which has no identifying information about me) so there must be some sort of chip or tag (NFC?) inside. I’m excited to get to the day where my transactions are at the end of the page and see if the machine can clip the page. My googling-in-Spanish skills are not up to par as I could only find information about opening bank accounts and not the technology, but I’ll keep trying!
The second thing I found interesting and couldn’t determine whether it is innovation or stagnation, is this nifty little encryption(?) card. It’s just a card with 4 columns of 2 rows, a 3digit code and a matching 4 digit code. When I make bank account transfers to pay my rent, the website provides me with a code and I have to look the number up on my card and provide the matching set of numbers. I wonder… What other situations will it ask me to use this card for? Does everyone in the bank get the same card? Is this safer than the two-step verification involving receiving a code via email or text that seems to be the standard in US financial institutions? New? Old? or just a different way to go about doing things?
p.s. they also provided me with (I don’t remember being given the option to create my own) two different PIN #s when I opened my account, one for the ATM and another for any online activity.
**update 1: I used the ATM to withdraw some cash, and upon receiving my libreta back, I noticed two lines had been printed… my withdrawal, and a mystery €30.25 fee. A week later I finally made it to the bank to enquire WTF and found out that it was some tax/certificate/madeupfee that they pay to the police (?) for non-resident bank accounts. I explained that I had asked about the difference between accounts when opening mine (my residency card was still on its way at the time), told theirs none except tax implications, and thus had gone ahead and opened a non-resident account. To my surprise… I was able to change the account type AND get a refund (well not full, but €20). Customer service in the US is pretty good, but I’ve heard and read about Spanish banks being known for their multitude of fees, so I was very happy about this experience**
**update 2: I LOST MY LIBRETA, NO ONE ROBBED ME, SOMEONE RETURNED IT TO THE BANK. Friday I woke up to an email from the bank telling me to come by for my libreta. I didn’t even know I lost it! Thursday evening I went to a few different cafes for drinks and then headed to see Star Wars. I had dealt with the fee earlier that day, so my libreta was still on me. OF COURSE I lost it, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t. Along with the libreta were sheets of paper with both of the aforementioned PIN #s, and the card with the codes. Everything you need to clean out my bank account into which I had just deposited my paycheck. There was also the business card of the manager(?) of the bank who had helped me with the mystery fee, and some kind stranger called him, dropped it off, he emailed me, and here I am, not broke and very happy**
PSA (Public Service Announcement):
I don’t have an announcement to make, but Mahón’s got plenty. I noticed an interesting PSA campaign of word-less illustrations on the back of the city maps that are posted all across the city. These little graphics remind people about such things as to clean up their dog's poop, to respect all genders and sexualities, and to prioritize clean means of travel (i.e. biking). I’ve seen PSA campaigns for [what I would have hoped to be] obvious topics in other cities (or public institutions) and it’s always interesting to see what approach they take to appeal to the masses. For example North Dakota’s blunt Be Nice billboards or the variety of comical [and shame inducing] ads in the CTA trains reminding people not to block the doorway with their bags, to give up their seats for pregnant women, and all in all not to be a dick. At first Mahón’s approach seems a little childish, but then I remember that for much of the year the Spaniards aren’t the only ones living here and making use of equals signs and smilies and simple graphics is a means to avoid any of these messages getting lost in translation.
Are these signs reminders to the residents or simple instructions for visitors, like "hey guys on one side you’ll find how to get around this island, and on this side, how to act”?
Remember how I teased about a interview with the newspaper? Well I got a full-page feature on the back-page, which is the 2nd best page after the front :p. I'll be back with the interview translated in English!
Since we last spoke, I had another weekend of travel (Barcelona baby!) followed by a few days hosting a visitor here in Mahón (my best friend Lily!)... and then: two weeks of settling into my apartment, accepting that although winter here is no polar vortex it’s still winter, and working through the inevitable feelings of loneliness and homesickness that can take arise if I’m not proactive. And of course teaching!Read More
Uh oh, I’ve fallen behind! Now I’m tasked with remembering, writing, and organizing 3 weeks of my life in an entertaining manner for y’all. I can’t even imagine how hard it would be to write a memoir or autobiography. Luckily life ain’t that busy here so it shouldn’t be too hard, though I have had a couple of exciting weeks!Read More
Public speaking is not my forte. Senior year of college I signed up for Public Speaking in attempt to remedy this, but dropped this freshmen-level class after one speech (a how-to on board-folding clothes, coming from me LOL) as I realized that there was a heavy focus on research skills and my next opportunity to get up in front of the class wouldn’t be for another month or two. Yet, somehow it never came to mind when I was planning for (/dreaming about) this trip that improving my public speaking would be another benefit of my experience.Read More
2 weeks down, 30 to go. But who’s counting(other than my mom :p)!?
This week I finally started my job, and it’s been quite…interesting [and enjoyable]. I have 0 experience teaching to a classroom, and practically 0 experience with kids, so it’s definitely going to be a learning experience for me too (and I'm excited!). For those that don’t know, I’ll be working with all of the grades at the school, from age 3 to 16, spending an hour with each.Read More
It’s been a ~slow~ week here. But such is life here, and from what all the locals tell me it’s only going to get slower. I’m not complaining. Yet. I might even grow to like it :p
The flight over was… well I couldn’t even tell you, I slept the entire way. The layover in Madrid was a bit boring as I finished my book (The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera, I highly recommend it. please read it so we can talk about it!) in the first hour. The plane to Menorca was small but the flight was smooth, and I had an extra seat next to me (yay for sleeping in odd positions!).Read More