Friday, December 11, 2009

Wow, Spain........

I think I fell in love with Spain a whole lot more last weekend. I went up to Santander to visit Rebecca, where she lives and works with her niños. I am so blessed to have her here with me in this country...there is something incredibly comforting and special about knowing she's going through the same things right along with me (even though she may be a few hours away!).

The Christmas lights put me in the mood for hot chocolate, Christmas carols, and time with loved ones. Thank goodness I only have a few more days to wait for the last one! (Satt, Wade, Emi, Casie, and Carlie all get here next week!!!)

Is it possible that there really are views like this in the world? As I looked out over the cliff down to the sea, I was literally at a loss for words.

One thing I decided: That was not my last trip to Santander. What an enchanting place!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Wow, Spain #2

I saw the most Spanish commercial of my life last night. Right now, at Carrefour, you can get three legs of Jamon Iberico for the price of two! Now that's a deal!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Turkey Day Play

Yes, do not be fooled. All the way over here in Spain, I got to celebrate Thanksgiving. In fact, this Thanksgiving turned out to be one of the most memorable I've had yet. I dressed like an Indian, presented a "Thanksgiving spectacle" at school, and ended it with a full course roast chicken meal (whole turkeys are hard to find!).
Below: my three year old babies. They sing me the "hello" song :)
My fourth grade loves. They are smart!

Me and Esther...compañeras de Infantil (Nursery school co-workers)
Fourth grade boys...a LOT to handle. Top-hat boy was screaming, "I'm Abraham Lincoln!!"

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

day and night

Days can be blinding in Madrid. The sun shines down brightly here in this high-altitude city, and my squinting is beginning to be a problem.
In contrast, the nights are dark, but illuminated. People buzz on the streets. In my neighborhood, the old people who measure to my waist walk hand in hand with their canes on either side to support them. I think to myself, "I want to hit the town with my love when I'm 80." Again, another way in which I think Spaniards do it right.
I think I might start recording a "Wow, Spain" moment of the day. This moment will reflect cultural differences that I find in day to day life that often make me either chuckle or gasp.
"Wow, Spain" moment of the day today? My co-workers shirt read "Slap it hard, the way I like it."
Now, I've never worked in an elementary school in the states, but I'm guessing that shirt would not be permitted. Another way in which Spain and the States are like Night and Day.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

salamanca, y amigos nuevos

Yesterday was another fiesta that Madrid made up, so I didn't have to go to work! Instead, I ventured two hours northeast with three new friends! I met them at my church, Mountainview, and we have since gotten to spend a good bit of time together beyond the church doors. Sunday night we had pizza night, and Monday morning we set off for Salamanca. Fun thing about this group of friends? Internationalism. Sam's British, Daniel's german, and Alex is originally from Ecuador (though she's been in Spain since she was fourteen). And, well, I'm American. We speak primarily Spanish together, with the occasional english side comment. It makes for a great time!
Salamanca was breathtaking. Being there made me incredibly thankful, yet again, that I live in this country. I hope to see more and more Spanish cities as the time goes on. Still on my list? Barcelona!

Friday, October 30, 2009

The world is our classroom

Today, I faced Madrid with new inspiration.

Last night, over a cup of coffee with my friend Blanca, I was absolutely inspired. Blanca said, "Sarah, the world is your classroom! You want to learn spanish? You have a million teachers! Talk with your neighbor, ask your baker how his children are doing, say hello to the fruit-store man."

Yes, of course! What had I been waiting for?

Today, I went to the post-office to pick up the package my mom had sent me from the States (which made my whole week, by the way!), and instead of trying to conceal the fact that I was a foreigner, I struck up a conversation with the man behind me. As soon as he found out I was American, he wanted to tell me everything he could about Spain. I learned a new phrase southerners like to say about their beloved land, "Nunca al norte, Siempre al Sur" (never go north, always go south). It made the 45 minute line at the post office go by a lot quicker...yes 45 minutes...the place is a zoo!

With all these new-found teachers, I'll be bilingual in no time!

Thursday, October 29, 2009


I have found a fountain of love, and it is called teaching.

Anyone who feels alone, unloved, or underappreciated should go to his or her nearest elementary school and apply for a job.

There, anything you do becomes "the coolest". Anything you wear is "the prettiest". And finally, anything you say is "the smartest."
You also get notes like this:It reads, "You are a very very, got teacher and are beautiful," followed by two pictures, one obviously "yes" and the other "no", and "Con todo cariño de Eva, by Eva"
So, maybe I'm not that "got" of a teacher since she thinks "good" is spelled g-o-t, but I'll take what I can get, people!
The best part of my day today?
When Laura (one of my fourth graders) ran up to me in the hallway, gave me a massive hug, looked me in the eyes and said "I loff jew"...[I love you, for those of you who can't read Spanish accents]. I think my heart is still melted on the floor at San Ignacio.
p.s. First grade funny occurence of the week: We drew pictures of "Our Family," but when I got to Christina's picture I couldn't find her. There was, however, an incredibly frightening rabbit human. When I asked Christina about it, she explained to me that I was confused; that was in fact, her, with a rabbit mask on. Silly me!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

oooh german.

I had another exceptionally silly day today with my first graders. Gustavo and I performed our rendition of "Lunch time, Fred!" which was about a zookeeper feeding his animals.

The performance started off weak, and we could tell the kids were not interested. We were sweating it, wonder how we could regain their attention.

Then, German saved the day. On the "Lunch time, Tiger" page, German raised his hand and stated, "yo se lo que dicen los Tigers en ingles!" (I know what tigers say in English!). He then placed his "claws" by his face and let out a true Lion King roar. Again, I used all of my effort to not laugh histerically. Next thing I know, Gustavo and I and the whole class change into monkeys, penguins, and bears...and we had a blast doing it! And you know what? I think the kids learned the names of the animals because it was so fun!
The cherry on top? When asking to interpret the picture on the last page (Fred had run out of food for the animals), German again raised his hand and said, "Se acabo la comida, entonces se quito la ropa" (His food ran out so he took his clothes off.)

"What a version!" Gustavo replied.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

kids say the darndest things!

I just finished my second school week in Colegio San Ignacio de Loyola...don't be fooled: "colegio" does not mean college. It means elementary school! Spanish children are lively, to say the least. While the fact that they are so rowdy could drive the sanest of people bonkers, I find their incredibly charming baby-spanish-accents counteract tendencies to get angry.

I'll give you a few examples. Yesterday Paula, one of my first-graders, came up to me and told me "Yo puedo cantar una cancion en ingles!"... (I can sing a song in english!). She then proceeded to sing me a "Hannah Montana song": or so she said. The lyrics went something like this, "Bahfweojf a;lsdfjf dlfasdln adfalefji dlkcnhmmmm badeebadooo ballyshaaaakaeioefoif". I mean absolute and utter gibberish. I had to hold back my intense desire to laugh, especially when she asked me to translate what the song meant into spanish.

Today, another one of my first graders, Beatriz, told me (in spanish), "Sarah! Donovan went to sleep in his desk and was dreaming of hot girls!!!" I smiled and nodded.

Janire, perhaps the most talkative child I have ever come across yet also the most precious, looks as if she's about to explode if she thinks of something exciting she wants to share with you. She grasps her hands together and her eyes widen as big as saucers. Upon being asked what is so exciting, it's obviously the most exciting of news. Stuff like, "Sarah!!! MIS PRIMOS SE VAN A QUEDAR EN MI CASA ESTE FIN DE SEMANAAA" (Sarah!!! MY COUSIN'S ARE SPENDING THE NIGHT THIS WEEKEND!!!!)

Then there are the kids that don't have to say anything. Luis, for example, frequently likes to take off whatever article of clothing he finds unnecessary (a shirt for example), ties it on his head, and spins around in the back of the classroom as if his two teachers were blind to him.

I often spot Beatriz half dancing/half mouthing song lyrics to herself at her desk. She always ends it with some gesture of surprise, which suggests to me she doesn't truly realize what she's doing.

And then there are the moments that make every "I'm going to go insane moment" worth it. Today Nora would not let me leave without her giving me a hug and a kiss on the cheek. When I got to school this morning, one of my fourth graders Laura jumped out from out of nowhere and gave me a hug. Not to mention, my day is full of joyful shouts of "Hello Sarah!!!" in the hallways.

I love my job, craziness and all :) In fact, I'd say the craziness suits me.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

que casualidad!

This weekend has been really good to me! Yesterday afternoon, I received an email from a man named Kary Eldred who is a good friend of my Aunt Mary's pastor. Kary is a fellow Baylor Bear (sic em!!) and is married to a Spanish woman, Monica. They live in Madrid and attend Mountainview International church. In the email, Kary told me a bit about the church and invited me to come check it out. Although the past two weeks I had attended the same church, I thought I would definitely give this one a go, especially since Kary had gone so far out of his way to contact me and extend me a warm welcome to Madrid.

I got up this morning after very few hours of sleep (I ate dinner at Dani's best friend's house in Mostoles and we stayed up late watching Spanish, kind of odd) and made my way to Principe Pio Station. God really wanted me at church this morning because I literally made it to the train in the nick of time. I enjoyed the short train ride's sights of the beginning of Madrid's sierra. I somehow found the church and had a conversation with the pastor before we started the service. He was incredibly welcoming and is also an expat (from England!). Kary's family sat next to me, along with their friend Carmen who is from Paraguay.

I don't know how to explain the service and the feel of the church besides the fact that I simply felt at peace. The people were so genuine, and we had the common bond of Jesus despite the fact that we are from all over the globe. I'm so glad Kary emailed me (and that Aunt Mary emailed him!).

After church, everyone stayed to chat for a good 45 minutes. I met a Spanish girl named Blanca who just became a Christian this summer, after living with a family of believers in California. She's like the twin opposite of me in that she loooves english and is itching to get back to the States! So we decided to do an intercambio so we can both practice the languages we love!!!

After that, I went to lunch with Kary's family and Carmen. It was such a blessing! These are truly wonderful people.

To top it all off, tomorrow Dani, Cano (his best friend) and I are going to Avila. Google it: it's a romanic, walled city in Spain about an hour from Madrid. I'm incredibly excited to take a little road trip and be able to relax away from the hustle bustle. Check back soon for pictures from that adventure!

p.s. The pictures are from my Friday afternoon spent in Retiro park! I'm spoiled here!!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

the simple life!

So I've been trying to pinpoint what makes life in Madrid so enchanting and I think I've grasped it. To a great extent, I'm a city girl. I love the hustle-bustle, the fact that you can see a million new faces every minute, and the buzz cities exude on every street corner.

Madrid is special, though, in that while it's an enormous city, the day to day life is nothing like that compared to a New Yorker's.

The other day I woke up at 6 in the morning (still jet-lagged) and there was not a peep on the streets. No one in this city was even thinking about waking up for another two hours. This is a great contrast even to the suburban-land of Mandeville, where Starbucks customers are ready to take on the day at 5:45 (freaks!!!!).

In the schools here, the lunch break lasts two hours (so people have the opportunity to share this meal with their families). In fact, I am currently on my 2 hour lunch break writing this blog!

I hang my clothes on a line outside of my window, with clothespins and everything. At first I was a bit embarrassed to bare all my skivvies out there, but no one else seems to mind hanging out every size, shape, and fashion of underwear they have!

I go to the grocery store every few days for what I need, and I bring one over the shoulder re-usable grocery bag to tote everything up to my apartment a couple of blocks away.
I walk everywhere. If I want to go to the most popular parts of the city, I'm a fifteen minute metro ride away.

I'm living the simple life here in the big city, and it's an incredibly refreshing experience. I am thinking clearer, breathing in the air, soaking up the sites.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Así es la vida

I’ve officially hit the two week mark here in Madrid, and I am catapulted back to what it was like here for me two years ago, two weeks into my journey. When I studied abroad, two weeks in was a difficult time for me: I had recently been robbed, I had had several discouraging experiences with the language, and I was beginning to miss what it feels like to “fit in”.
Thank goodness I have that experience under my belt to know that this is “normal”. The emotions aren’t near as extreme as they were then, but I have definitely felt a bit of loneliness and “out-of-placeness”. The biggest difference between now and then is that now I have the complete assurance that this place is worth every embarrassing language mishap, feeling of awkwardness, and inability to express myself. How are we ever supposed to grow if we never face challenges like these? Every person has his or her challenge that they know they must face, as scary as it may be. But truly, are we meant to live our comfortable lives without ever taking a risk? That, to me, is a much scarier fate.
Have I felt out of place here? Yes. But then, I remind myself I have also been able to witness a completely different way of life, that I might otherwise never have had the chance to know.
Have I stumbled in many a Spanish conversation? Yes. But, had I not attempted, I would not have gotten the chance to know these beautiful people who don’t share my native language.
I hope I can impart this view of challenges to the children I am teaching this year. Who knows what they will have to teach me, as well. Life is beautiful in Spain, every challenge included. At the end of the day, I rest in the fact that I am never alone, even when it appears so: “Y os aseguro que estaré con vosotros siempre, hasta el fin del mundo”—Jesus.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


¡¡HOLA!! first blog! My apologies for taking so long--I still don´t have internet in my piso, but i´m working on it! right now I´m in an internet cafe sitting next to a dear friend from Baylor, Rebecca Goldstein. She leaves me tomorrow for her place of work, the Spanish coastal city of Santander!

I don´t know if summing up this past week is even possible, but I will make an attempt. First off, I´m quickly losing all English competency due to the amount of spanish I´ve been using. Getting around Madrid the second go around has been much easier, and I´ve been much more confident than expected (praise God!).

I was lucky enough this time to be picked up at the airport by my Spanish friend Dani, who has helped me get settled in to my piso by speaking with my landlord on his cell phone when I didn´t have one. He also helped me buy my own cell phone, get computer adapters for my american plugs, and find out which internet would be best for me (still trying to figure out...). Basically, getting settled in has been a breeze, and all the while I´ve had a friend to chat in Spanish with, which makes my heart happy.

My piso rules (pics coming soon), and I live with 2 english girls who are still in Uni. I´m a metro ride away from anywhere I´d want to be in the city. I absolutely can´t believe I get to be back here in Madrid, and I´m so thankful!

Today, Rebecca and I went to church across town and we got presented and everything! I´m hoping to jump right in and make friends so that I can have a community (Satt--thanks for teaching me how impt. that is!) It was an amazing service, and it was completely refreshing to be with Spaniards who love Jesus!!

All in all, moving back here has been a long time coming, and I have complete assurance I´m exactly where God wants me. That in itself is an incredible feeling. I´m falling back in love with Madrid very quickly! I can´t wait, however, to be able to talk on skype and share this with the ones I love back home! I´m thinking of everyone all time!

un beso enorme de España!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Madrid Eve!

I leave for Madrid tomorrow!!! I feel like a little kid on Christmas Eve! I keep getting that exhilarating tingly feeling when I think about it...

Only a few more errands to do, last goodbyes to say, and american meals to eat before I'm off!

Next post, I'll be there! WOOHOOOOOO!!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

ask, seek, knock.

"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will you Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"--Jesus

I asked for a piso.

Monday, September 14, 2009

the face of departure.

Approximately two years ago, I was making this face:
I took this picture the day I left for Madrid in August 2007.

If I were to take a picture right now, I think my face would be different.

My face in the picture reflects my utter inexperience with Spain and my excitement to get to know it. I truly had no idea what I was getting myself into.

In fact, knowing what you're getting yourself into can often cause more anxiety.

I'm a week away from taking another departure picture and this time, I have no place to live. I have scattered friends, and a meager savings. This should be cause for stress, right?

Believe it or not, though, I'm not stressing. It's times like these I simply cannot lean on myself or my own strength. Often times in life, we feel like we can get along with the "I'll do it" mentality. Well, this one I really can't do.

I have to trust the One who called me over there. It would be silly of Him to not give me a place to rest my head. That's just nonsense.

So, what will my face look like on departure day?

Trusting. Whatever that looks like.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Yesterday, I got my passport back from the Spanish Consulate. Props to them for getting it back to me in 4 1/2 weeks! Its contents? A long stay visa (attached on the adjacent page to my short-stay Spanish visa).

I celebrated by dancing around my room while listening to the Chambao pandora radio station. I highly recommend it (dancing in your room & Chambao.)

Oh, the little joys of life!

Monday, August 24, 2009

It was a difficult week of goodbyes...
Texas skies,
Texas pubs,
I couldn't be more thankful for the friends God has given me. He really outdid himself on that one. I am also thankful for skype, email, and the communication age which will allow me to keep in touch with these beautiful people.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A new chapter...

“Ya sea que te desvíes a la derecha o a la izquierda, tus oídos percibirán a tus espaldas una voz que te dirá, ‘Este es el camino; síguelo.’” --Isaias 30:21

"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, you will hear a voice behind you saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'" --Isaiah 30:21

As believers, we often ask the question, "Is this the path God wants me to take?" We get caught up in what may or may not be 'God's will,' often overcomplicating something God intended to be simple. This verse states it perfectly: whether you go to the right or to the left God will be behind us, and with us. One of the most godly women I know told me once that God cares less about what we do and more about how we glorify Him while doing it.

All that said, I find myself at the beginning of a new path yet again. Thinking back over the years, I've tried to pinpoint how I even arrived here. I think it began somewhere with a simple love for spanish and the culture in high school. That experience led me to pursue a Spanish minor at Baylor, which exposed me to the study abroad program in Madrid. Living in Madrid taught me more life lessons than I can count and it stretched me beyond belief. I found living outside of one's comfort zone can be painful, but becomes well worth it when you hear the words, "Hablas bien!" Many times I decided "I can't live here," which came from a desire to live a comfortable life, where I actually speak the language. But I quickly remember that something in my soul ignites every time I hear or speak spanish, and ignoring it would be ignoring a part of myself.

So, here I am, a month away from moving back to Madrid, Spain. I'm waiting on a visa, praying for roommates and a church to settle in, and packing up my things. Many times I can't believe that God has directed me here; I am incredibly thankful. And when I lose courage I listen to His words, "This is the way; walk in it."