El ultimo fin de semana (I know I need an accent mark in there somewhere, but I don’t know how to make them on my bluetooth keyboard)

I am sad to report that this past weekend was my last one here in Mallorca (until next year, that is). The good news is that it was an excellent weekend, so I don’t feel that it was wasted. My time here has been amazing; I am so glad I did this program. It’s the best thing I’ve done for myself in a long time. Remember, no one ever regrets the things they do, but they do regret the things they DON’T do. So before I get into my post, I encourage you to jump at opportunities that present themselves in your life. You won’t regret it.

Friday was a good day in class. We met the students who we are observing and had our pre-observation conference. The conference was supposed to be about an hour, but I have two groups, so I got about 30 minutes each. I really enjoyed meeting the students and working with them; I learned a lot from them, and I think (I hope!) they learned a lot from me. It made me feel that being an educational leader is still teaching, which, of course, is what I love to do. The pre-conference felt oddly like the conferences I’ve had with my students about their topics for papers and presentations. I felt like I knew my stuff enough to offer some good feedback and suggestions. Initially I was extremely nervous about this assignment (I started sweating when I read it on the syllabus in June), but I’m overall pleased with how it ended up going.

To celebrate, I met up with Ligia at the beach (our Friday routine!). This time there were a bunch of us, and we spent a little time at Charlotte (one of our favorite cafes) beforehand. We then went swimming in the sea and took a bunch of goofy pictures with Ligia’s underwater camera. (Side note to myself for next year: Get one of those cameras! I was going to get one after Ecuador last year, but I forgot all about that!) As usual, it was a beautiful, relaxing Friday afternoon. Here are some of our photos (thanks to Ligia for WhatsApping them to me! Is “WhatsApping” a verb?!?!).

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After the beach, Crystal and I came home and unwound for a bit. We considered going into Palma but ended up going out to eat at a seafood restaurant in Cala Mayor instead. It was quite delicious; we both had the sea bass, and it was one of those fish that still had the bones and head and everything. Normally that would scare me, but, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m taking more risks with my food, so I dug in. I mean, how could I not eat a fish when literally looking at the Mediterranean Sea?! I’m glad I got over my fear of fish vertebrae because it was very tasty indeed! Shockingly, I didn’t get any photos of my dinner this time. I was too busy enjoying it, I guess!

Saturday was a very fun day; Erin, Crystal, and I went into a town called Soller. It’s one of those very Spain-like places with a big open market and lots of amazing food and merchandise. It may or may have been the day I spent the most money on jewelry for myself because I may or may not be an extremely selfish souvenir shopper. Ahem.

The train to Soller is really cool; it’s an old-time wood train that chug-a-lugs all the way from Palma to Soller. The best part was the two-mile tunnel through a mountain that basically made its own air conditioning (have I mentioned that it’s hot in Spain??). There was such an awesome cold breeze as we went through the tunnel, which was much needed. The train stopped on the way for us to get a few scenic shots, which was fun.

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We had a great time in Soller, browsing the market and picking up some great items like terra cotta bowls and pretty jewelry. I loved the lady who worked at the terra cotta pottery place; she talked to us a lot and told us how to use the bowls. She said we can do anything with them- they can go in the oven, on the grill, or on the stovetop, and you can put (almost) anything you want in them. She suggested pasta, veggies, or meat. The one thing you can’t do is cook a tortilla espanola (sorry, can’t find the n with a tilde on bluetooth keyboard) because potatoes don’t cook well in these particular bowls. But everything else is fair game. She also explained that the flat ones are made from molds, but the ones with rounder bottoms are hand made (I have one of each kind). I love that I was able to find them to bring home because pretty much everywhere I’ve been in Mallorca has had these bowls. I will think of this trip every time I see mine at home. Yay.

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We saw some lovely scenery on the way home from Soller, and we were lucky enough to get the cushy seats on the return train! It was a great way to see more of the island while shopping and being social. The whole outing was overall a great success! And what’s better is that we found chocolate con churros when we got off the train! Trust me, chocolate con churros is the best way to end an excursion!

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We came home and siestaed (yet another verb I made up) for a while…my siesta in particular was a long while (almost tres horas). I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there really is something to this whole siesta thing! I will never again feel guilty for “wasting” time on a nap at home! I would be open to teaching in Spain for many reasons, but high on the list is siesta.

We didn’t do much on Saturday night, other than a trip to Istanbul (the restaurant, not the country) for kebabs. We stayed home and waited for Jimmy (Erin’s husband to arrive). I was excited to see him because I worked with him at Biotech and have missed having him there for the past couple of years. It was great to catch up.

On Sunday morning, Jimmy and I spent more time chatting, and then around two, Crystal and I went to the beach. The sun was blazing overhead, so in between puzzles from my puzzle book, we went for a nice long swim in the sea. I’ve been here for almost five weeks, and I still can’t get over how gorgeous the water is! It’s so clear, warm, and calm. I also love how salty it is because I can float around without putting any effort in. I’ve been doing some legit swimming, too, which is a great workout (I haven’t run in this heat, so the swimming makes me feel a little bit less lazy). I almost want to start swimming at home, but I know it’s much harder in the ocean in NJ because of the riptide. There’s not really much of a current here, so I’m not scared to go farther out in the Mediterranean.

I figured I should be more studious once we got back from the beach, so I worked on my presentation that was due today (even though when we got to class, my professor told me we were pushing the presos back). I put together my slides and took notes, so I felt pretty productive. Then we went for tapas at that place I went on my second night here (I forget the name but something with an X….Txaka or something like that). We ordered way too much food but had a great time laughing and sharing stories. I also really liked practicing my Spanish with Jimmy. He’s really patient and an excellent teacher, so I was able to say much more to him in Spanish than I have since I’ve been here. If only he could be my personal conversation partner every day!

I finished the rest of my preso when I got home (sorry for being obnoxious and calling it a “preso,” but that’s what people on the circuit call it, and I’m trying to be a person on the circuit), and then we slapped out some sleep.

So far today has been pretty good. I observed a lesson by one of my groups, and the post-observation conference seemed to go well. I enjoyed working with my students and learned a lot from them. I hope they learned something from me, too! I came home right after school because Crystal is leaving today, and I wanted to say good-bye and walk her to the bus stop. It was very fun having her here, and we find it funny that we have spent more time together in Spanish-speaking countries than in America! I just finished our good-byes, and of course now I’m about to take a siesta. So that about does it! I hope to blog once or twice more before I leave; if nothing else, I’ll be able to write about Tapas Tuesday tomorrow! Can’t wait to try some new and delicious food. I also have my second observation tomorrow, my preso one day this week, and my school improvement project due Thursday (I’m writing about teacher morale…should be fun!). Then Thursday is the graduation/end-of-summer party, and Friday I leave. :(

Ok, siesta is calling. Good night!

The one in which I try a list

Many of my students use a list format when they blog. Because I haven’t written in a week and I don’t want this post to be 8 million pages long, I will now do the same. This format is also in honor of my observation report assignment, which you will read about below.

Now that I’m halfway done with the post, I’m realizing it’s like half list and half paragraphs. Just ignore the inconsistency, please. :)

In case you were wondering, here’s what I’ve been up to these days:

Monday, 21 July
First day of supervision class (officially called SUPV 520 Staff Supervision)
I was nervous about this class because it looked like the heaviest workload, and after being double-Pennied, I wasn’t sure I could handle it (it is not nearly as bad as it looked).
Came straight home from school because I was exhausted and took a nice siesta (why are naps so frowned upon at home? They’re amazing.).
When I woke up, I made guacamole and fajitas for dinner. Not to brag, but they were quite tasty indeed.

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Started working on my first paper for my new class, and I got most of it done. I was pretty excited because I did it a day early! I don’t remember the last time I ever did anything a day early. It felt great.
I did my reading for the next day and then went to bed.

Tuesday, 22 July
Day 2 of supervision class- it’s going well, and I like the professor. Learning a lot; pleasantly surprised to be enjoying the work
I stayed in the computer lab after class to revise my paper, but that went quickly. While there, Ligia came to see if I wanted to go get my nails done with her and Julia. I jumped on that because my nails were overgrown and making me crazy.
Asked for gels and was disappointed when I realized halfway through that he was doing acrylics. Young is going to kill me. However, they look great and are a fun color. I feel artsy.
Word to the wise: if you want gel nails in Spain, ask for porcelain!
Either way, it was fun to be girly and hang out at the mall with my friends. I feel like Benjamin Button- the longer I’m here, the more I regress.
Home to relax after the mall- needed to get some down time before tapas Tuesday!
Went into Palma (finally!) to enjoy some tapas for Tapas Tuesday.
Walked around the old city a bit.

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The food was amazing! Honestly I don’t even 100% know exactly what we ate (I’ve been trying not to be too picky here)…a lot of pork, some fish, great cheese, and more. It was fun because I hadn’t been in the city yet, so it was good to see the nightlife there. It was pretty unbearably hot and crowded, but I was still glad for the experience. We went to a place called Molto Barro or something, and then another place with the word “toys” in the name. I forget what else it was called. Erin and I left earlier than the 20somethings and were home by midnight.

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Wednesday, 23 July
School again, as is the routine every weekday. We aren’t allowed to miss class (though I wouldn’t anyway).
Went straight to the beach to work on our homework. It was basically the best assignment ever. We had to go to a public place (beach, cafe, etc.) and pick a person or group to observe for 20-30 minutes (we had to write down everything we saw). Derrick, Molly, and I decided to go to the beach together and observe the same people and compare notes.
We ended up making up a whole story about the couple we observed based on what we saw. I am sorry to report that their relationship isn’t doing well, and despite their best efforts in this last-ditch-effort vacation to salvage things, they aren’t going to make it. Very sad indeed.
The funniest part was when they went into the ocean and we thought were observing them. We were diligently writing down everything we saw happen, and in the middle of it, our real couple sat back down on the blanket! The whole experience was interesting, and I learned a lot about the value of observation.
Here are my notes because I know that’s what you’re dying to see.

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After the beach, I went home to unwind for a bit and then headed to the airport to pick up my friend Crystal. She is staying with me for a few days.
I was sweaty and nervous because it was my first time navigating the bus system, but I figured it out and did just fine. The first bus was really late, so I was late picking her up.
I did get to speak Spanish to a woman on the elevator (she was picking up her friends from Valencia) and the lady at the information desk (I found out where to find Crystal by conversing only in Spanish!).
We took the bus back and pretty much went straight out to dinner with my school friends. We had tapas, and everything was fabulous. My friends went out after that, but Crystal and I just got some helado and called it a night.

Thursday, 24 July
Class in the morning.
Crystal and Maria met me and Erin at school right at 12:30, and we headed to a local market in Palma that Maria had found a few weeks ago.
I carried a melon.
The fruit samples were quite delicious, and I got to practice my Spanish some more. I’m not doing as well as I thought I would in five weeks, but I’m getting there.
I bought some Mallorcan souvenirs like terra cotta platters and an olive wood cutting board.
Went to lunch at a little cafe- had a goat cheese and watermelon salad that was amazing.
Walked around in Palma for a while, until the melon got heavy and we got hot.
Once we were back in Cala Mayor, Crystal and I went to sit and have a drink by the beach. It was a beautiful night with all the colors in the sky.
Crystal noticed a couple hugging for a long time, and we realized that the guy was proposing! It was a beautiful moment, and we felt special that we got to observe it from afar, even though I suppose we were invading their privacy in a way. The whole thing was pretty awesome; it was a perfect evening.

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Once we got home, we cooked a delicious dinner (pasta, chicken, asparagus, served in my new Mallorcan pottery).
We never ate the melon.

Friday, 25 July
It is 2:22am, and I’m starting to pass out. Will finish tomorrow, hopefully.
In the meantime, I will leave you with my favorite photo of this trip so far (photo credz to Ligia). I think it’s safe to say I’m pretty happy here.

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Two down, one to go

This will be another semi-uneventful post, as the week itself was rather uneventful. Don’t get me wrong; I’m still having an amazing time. But now it’s sort of to the point where I feel like I live here, so every meal isn’t the exciting outing that it once was. With that being said, I will still never tire of this view no matter how many times I see it:

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The end of the week was pretty busy; my final project (a curriculum analysis) was due on Friday, and I was up late Thursday night finishing it (no all-nighter this time, though! Woo hoo!). I stayed at school on Thursday after class because I wanted to use a real computer to do my tables and graphs for my project (I am surviving with just the iPad this year, but a laptop would be handy). When I sat down in front of the computer all ready to do my work, I was surprised by the realization that I actually had no idea how to analyze the data I wanted to analyze. I wanted to look at English scores for students at my school, based on home towns. I stared at the data table for a while and finally gave up and admitted that I lacked the knowledge to do that sort of analysis. I ended up being pleased with my project nonetheless and am glad I didn’t overthink it too much. I have been learning this summer that I tend to overthink and overdo things, so I’ve been working on stepping back a bit. I think that’s why I didn’t have to do another all-nighter. Yay.

After I finished at the computer lab, I went with a few friends (Erin, Molly, Derrick) for pizza at Casa de la Abuela (that was the name of the restaurant; I don’t know any grandmothers here, nor do I know where their houses are). The pizza was delish, but there was one snafu. Our purpose in going there was to get pizza for our class lunch on Friday (I was class rep and therefore responsible for organizing lunch). As it turns out, they were closed for lunch, so I couldn’t get the lunch that I had promised my class. Derrick had the genius idea of ordering a bunch of bocadillos (sandwiches) and pastries from the local coffee shop, so that’s what we decided to do. It actually worked out really well; we had the bocadillos, chips, sangria, and pastries, and we gave our professor Penny a t-shirt that we personalized with #data. The story behind the #data thing is too long to type, but trust me, it was funny, and the shirt/card combo made her cry! I had accidentally left the marker we used to make the shirt in the bag, so we all ended up signing it for her. It was an all-around successful last day, I’d say!

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After class, Ligia and I had our traditional Friday beach outing, this time with Molly and a few others. It was a good time, and we swam out to the buoy again. I have been enjoying the swimming; it’s a great workout, and the water here is super warm. It’s also nice that there’s basically no riptide, even though the water has been slightly choppy. I feel safer swimming out farther here than I would at home. I’m also wondering why I don’t swim much at home in the summer. Lame. When I get back, I want to be sure I get myself to the beach a couple times a week!

Our beach outing was followed by a trip to the Pelicano for a gathering organized by the folks at TCNJ. We were able to see Penny one last time, which I enjoyed because I was able to thank her for a great two sessions. I really have learned a lot from her, and I will stay in touch. She’s been super encouraging and has helped me see myself and the whole idea of ed leadership in a different light. I’m inspired! Here’s a group shot of some great folks from class, plus, of course, Penny.

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Another fun part of the evening was getting to spend time with Erin, my friend from Biotech. I mentioned in another post that Erin is the one who told me about the TCNJ Mallorca program, which was awesome of her because I’m so glad I’m here! I mean, the Spain part is obvious, but I also love the classes and am doing well, which is great. I’ve wanted to be back in school for quite some time, and this is the perfect way to do it. So thanks, Erin!

Here we are enjoying the lovely view from the Pelicano.

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The Pelicano party was over at 8:30, so from there we headed back to Istanbul and got kebabs (I really like those kebabs), and then we went to a place called the Cowboy Bar. It used to be a really popular bar for American Navy guys when they’d come to port in Mallorca, but they don’t come here anymore, so now the owner (an oldish British gentleman) doesn’t get much business. They only stay open on Fridays and Saturdays. I loved it, though. The second I walked in, I felt like I was back in America. There was a pool table and tons of great American music, and those neon Coors Light signs up all over (don’t worry, though, I didn’t have any Coors Light). Lots of people from school were there, and it was fun to hang out and unwind after a long week.

I didn’t do too much for the rest of the weekend; yesterday was a day for lounging around and catching up on sleep. Erin and I went grocery shopping and bought way too much stuff (we shopped hungry…never a good decision). Then Derrick, Molly, Erin, and I went for burgers at Charlotte (still another one of my favorite places). Derrick and Molly went out, but Erin and I just grabbed some ice cream and headed home to watch a movie. After some regional copyright issues from Amazon, we ended up renting Fargo from iTunes. Have you ever seen Fargo? It was the first time for both of us. That movie is CRAZY! I can definitely see why it got so many accolades, though.

Today was productive as far as school is concerned; I spent some time downloading all the files I need for my supervision class, which starts tomorrow. I did the reading for tomorrow, which was a breeze compared to my last two classes. It felt good to have it done early and then just enjoy the rest of the day. Erin and I went to the beach and then the orientation for the third session at Bellver College (the TCNJ Mallorca site). Then we came home and relaxed for the rest of the evening. I FaceTimed my mom, who is in Florida, which means I got to see my Aunt Laney, too, which was a bonus. Mom said she was looking for my next blog post, so I figured I’d write one to make her happy! And that takes me to about here, which I suppose means I’m done! Only 12 days to go- I can’t believe how fast this time is flying by! Wish me luck in my third and final class of the summer!

And here are some recent pictures of my kitty friends. They make me miss Ender and Bean!

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Midweek musings

Hola! I know I’m missing the upside-down exclamation mark (what is that called?), but I don’t know how to type one with my bluetooth keyboard. There are definitely a few quirks involved with not having a laptop here. Not enough quirks, however, to justify buying a new one (I don’t feel comfortable carrying my school laptop to another country).

Anyway, you don’t need my whole internal monologue about tech, although you should be aware that I am having technical difficulties with my phone and iPad. For some reason, iMessage dropped my phone number from its allowable methods of reaching me, so if you have an iPhone and have texted me to my phone number (I’m sure you all have many times), I’m not receiving your texts. If the desperation to talk to me gets to be too much to bear, message me on Facebook and I’ll give you the secret email address to text to. Or you can Whatsapp me if you use that- Whatsapp is still connected to my phone number. Or you can just leave me alone already because I’m in Spain! I kid, I kid. I love feeling connected to home. While I’m still having a great time, I’ll admit that I kind of miss Jersey a bit.

Ok, now that that’s out of the way, back to my actual post! Things haven’t been too eventful, so hopefully this won’t get to be too long (yeah right).

My group project on Sunday went well; I enjoyed working with my group, and we were super productive, which meant more time for the pool and a barbecue! One of my classmates teaches and lives in Mallorca year round, so we went to her house. Everything from the house itself to the scenery to her kids was beautiful! I didn’t take pics of the kids in the hopes of not appearing creepy, but I did get a few of the vistas. If you’re sick of the beach pics, now you can enjoy some of the mountains:

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I did not watch the World Cup because I got home so late. Also because I do not care about the World Cup. However, it was fun to hear everyone out at the bars screaming and hollering as I sat comfortably in my apartment. It was also the night of supermoon, which was pretty cool to see over the water. I know you want to see a picture. Your wish is my command!

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Monday was a fun yet low key day, which was pretty perfect in my mind. I had school, of course (we have school every weekday while we’re here), and Erin flew in from New Jersey in the morning. She is graduating from this program this summer, so now (literally right this second- she’s next to me), she is studying for her comprehensive exam and getting ready to take her last class next session. I’m excited to see her graduate! I feel lucky that I can cheer her on here in Mallorca.

At 6:00, a few friends and I went to our neighbor’s for dinner. Our neighbor Kevin was in our Intro to Admin class but then ditched us for School Law (meanie!). However, we’ve still been hanging out with him and his family here and there, and it was really nice of them to invite us over for a home-cooked meal. We had bean soup, this amazing bread with goat cheese and garlic, and fresh guac (Molly’s mom made the guac again…she’s the best!). Everything was delicious, and their apartment was awesome! I love our place for sure, but theirs is all modern and sleek, and their porch is pretty amazing; it spans the whole side of the building.

After dinner, I came home and read an article by Paul Gorski, with whom I fell madly in love as I read his work. He’s definitely a new favorite, as far as my educational friends are concerned.

Tuesday was a busy day, mostly with school stuff. Class in the morning as usual, followed by a quick trip home to prepare for a presentation that I was giving. Somehow or other, I ended up volunteering to do a talk about using Twitter for professional development. The school was having an event called TED CNJ (trademark violated) to encourage people to share an idea they had. After some prodding from my friends, I figured why not. Of course, I ended up wondering how I get myself into these things, since it took a nice chunk of time away from my homework. But still, it was fun, and people seemed to like it. Plus, it was an excuse to use HaikuDeck, an app that I love but never really use. Here I am with my slides, feeling all professional and whatnot:

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And here I am with the rest of the presenters. I learned a lot from these great folks! It’s so cool to hear educators from around the world share ideas. It really makes me think about the bad press teachers get and how many excellent teachers I know. Personally, I know way more amazing teachers than crappy ones, and regardless of the stereotype, my faith in humanity remains intact.
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Erin and I went for tapas after TED CNJ, but after that, it was time to put my nose to the grindstone. It was another late night as I finished up my textbook analysis. I didn’t end up with time to reread and edit it, which is extremely unlike me, but hey, sometimes you’ve just gotta let it go. I’m sure when I finally look back at it, I’ll be amazed at my literary genius!

Today was another school day, but it involved a siesta! I came home and passed out after class, due to the fact that I was up until 3am last night. After my lovely nap, Erin and I met up with our friends Ligia, Julia, and Nikolai for a kebab. We went to a different kebab place this time because our usual place was closed (each restaurant closes for one day each week – I think they have a schedule because it’s pretty evenly dispersed). The food was ok, but honestly I liked the other place better. Once we finished eating, we headed to the beach for a swim and some relaxation. We swam out and touched the buoy again and then lounged around chatting. It was a good day indeed.

And now, dear readers, I must do my homework and go to bed. Buenas noches!

Oh wait! Here’s the class photo of my curriculum class! They’re good people.

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Conquering fears

Apparently I really WAS tired last night as I was passing out while writing my blog. I ended up sleeping more than 11 hours! I feel a bit groggy still, but overall I’m refreshed. That’s probably a good thing because I have a presentation and two papers due this week, so it’ll be pretty busy yet again. I have heard from others who have been here in the past that the professor I have for the first two classes is the most rigorous. Word on the street is that it’ll calm down a bit after this.

Ok, back to catching up. On Wednesday I started my second class, called Curriculum Theory and Practice. It’s a good class and I’m learning a lot, but I did like the first class better. Nothing against the people in curriculum, but in my leadership class, there were 12 of us, and we all got along really well pretty much from the first day. I feel like it was a very special dynamic. Everyone in the curriculum class is really nice, but there are 22 of us, so it’s more difficult to click with everyone as quickly as we did in Intro to Admin. I love that they take class pictures for all the classes; that means I can show everyone to you! Here’s my Intro to Admin class, including our professor Penny, who I love.

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After class on Wednesday, I decided to FINALLY find the grocery store. I had been to little mercados, but I was determined to find the one at Porto Pi, which everyone claimed was such an easy walk (this was the one I was looking for when I went up the hill instead of down it and got completely lost in that beautiful neighborhood). Since my awesome parents had shown me the way on Sunday (when the mall was closed) I was able to get there lickety-split this time. I brought my little shopping cart that my mom got for me.

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The shopping itself was fine; I was able to find pretty much everything I was looking for. I even stumbled upon things I didn’t expect, like an entire section filled with huge chunks of pig, complete with hooves.

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In the grocery store (called Carrefour, which actually is more like a Target combined with an A&P, not just a grocery store), they have a whole international section (much bigger than our international aisle). I had one of those “oh so this is how people view Americans” moments when I noticed that most of the sections had legit food (grains, spices, sauces, beans, etc.) and the American section was pretty much the land of sugar. They had boxes of cake mix, icing, jelly beans, cookies, and other junk food. I didn’t see much actual, substantive food. I didn’t take a picture because there were many people around and I felt silly doing it, but I was definitely struck by what is perceived as “American” food. However, I have to admit that I don’t even know what I’d put in that aisle instead. We definitely are a sugar-obsessed nation.

And if I’m being honest, I must admit that I did buy a pack of Peperidge Farm cookies…mostly just to feel connected to home, not just because they’re delicious and amazing, obviously.

Even though my mom warned me that I have to weigh my own fruit and veggies before checking out, I didn’t see the scale, so I skipped that step. This led to disaster. The checkout girl tried to tell me that I need to weigh them, but she spoke so fast and with an accent (or maybe she was speaking Catalan?) that I couldn’t understand her. I just kept hearing her say “words words words frutas words words veduras words words” with a piercing glare on her face. I just kept saying “lo siento, no comprendo” over and over. The trembling and sweating returned as my confidence with Spanish once again was shattered. She called over another Carrefour employee and had her go weigh my produce. I stood there awkwardly and waited until she came back, paid for my groceries, and walked out of the store feeling defeated. I came so close to getting McDonald’s for some comfort food, which was right outside Carrefour, but I didn’t let myself. I came home and made dinner for myself, which I ate on the balcony looking at my amazing view. I felt better after that.

Thursday was another whirlwind, filled mostly with schoolwork. I had a group project to work on after class, so from 1:30-4, we stayed at school and wrote a group paper. I was pleased with how it came out. The case study project we were doing also includes an individual writeup (2 pages), so I came home and got pretty much right to work on that. Oh, in between school and homework, I tidied up the apartment a bit because one of my friends moved in! She had another place, but there were some issues that resulted in a quick evacuation, so she and her mom are staying here. It’s been fun to have the company. Speaking of company, I’m extremely excited for my friend and colleague Erin to arrive tomorrow; she is the one who told me about this program, about which I will be forever grateful.

I spent entirely too much time working on my paper, but I just couldn’t find a second article to analyze! I was frustrated because I didn’t think I had a very obscure topic; I was writing about teacher involvement in the curriculum development process. Finally, after a few hours of infuriating searching, I settled on an article about a research study in Nigeria. It was pretty interesting to read about their curriculum. I thought it was a bit amusing that the same nonsense happens all over the world. The researcher in the article I read said that 95% of teachers in Nigeria think teachers should be involved in the curriculum development process (well duh), but only 38% actually are. And not surprisingly, only 22% of teachers actually implement the national curriculum mandated by the government (most likely because teachers don’t have a say). I could relate a lot to the thinking behind it; as a leader, it’s never good to mandate anything so close to teacher practice like curriculum. People naturally get resentful for not being involved.

Yet I digress. I finished my paper, did the rest of my reading, and went to bed around midnight.

Friday was an excellent day. School again in the morning (we have class every day from 8:30-1:30), followed by some group work to prepare for our presentation on Monday. I came home around 3 and found my new roomie (Molly) and some friends hanging out and eating guacamole, made fresh that day from Molly’s mom. It was quite amazing and just what I needed after being pretty tired and somewhat cranky from the long week. I got the recipe for the guac and am excited to try it.

We hung out for an hour or so, and then we split up for a while. I had beach plans with Ligia, so I met up with her at 4:30 or so. It was such a perfect beach day; we were in the water for at least an hour. The Mediterranean is REALLY salty. It dries out my skin and puckers my lips, but it’s fun because it’s so easy to float! I’m glad I’ve been swimming so much.

Our beach trip was one of conquering fears. I don’t think I never noticed how often my first reaction to new experiences is one of fear. Ligia was like, “let’s swim out to touch that buoy out there, and I was all, “no way, it’s too far!” Later she suggested that we go ask the girl walking the tightrope on the beach if we could try, and my first reaction was “no, I can’t do that.” In both instances, I ended up agreeing, and I had a great time swimming way farther out than I should have and “walking” on the tightrope. Looking back, it seems silly that I was resistant to do either. Conquer your fears, people! Here are some pics:
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Yeah, so I fell off the tightrope. So what? It was still fun trying!

After our lovely beach day, we went for kebabs at Istanbul and then to karaoke. The school had announced a gathering at the local karaoke place, so we figured why not. There weren’t many people when we arrived, but we stayed anyway. People started showing up around 10:30 or 11. Like I said in my last post, this is becoming more and more like the true college experience! I can’t remember the last time I was someplace where the night didn’t start until 11:00pm. I stayed until about 12:30 and finally had to call it a night. I did sing (Lisa Loeb “Stay,” my favorite song), and I apologize to anyone who was there while that happened. It was really fun, though; everyone just pretty much sang along to everything. It was a great way to unwind after a long week of homework. I was especially entertained by the poor transcription of the “Ice, Ice Baby” lyrics, which said “check out my hook while Deeshay revolves it.” Who is this Deeshay person, and why is she revolving it?

Saturday was yet another adventure! I went on another bus trip with school, this time to the beach. Our first stop was a town called Cala Figuera. It was a beautiful street with a bunch of little shops and restaurants. Plus this view:

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I went for lunch with a friend and her professor (he’ll be my professor next year, so it was fun to get to know him). He teaches school law and is showing My Cousin Vinnie tomorrow after class. My kind of teacher! I had a pizza Mallorca for lunch (pizza with eggplant, zucchini, and peppers). It was delish, as most pizzas have been here thus far.

After lunch we went to take a look at the cliffs (some people jumped off these cliffs, but not me!). They were quite gorgeous, and I think I could have stayed there staring at the water all day.

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We then headed to Cala Mandrago, my favorite place from this trip thus far. It’s a national park and pretty remote beach, although it was pretty crowded on the sand. Luckily, I hung out with people who wanted to find somewhere more isolated, and we walked through some trails until we found a quiet little cove for swimming. The rocks were jagged and a bit painful when you put your hands or feet on them, but we survived. It really was an amazing afternoon. We stayed for almost two hours swimming, jumping off cliffs into the water (I have a picture of my jump but am not posting it due to obvious I-don’t-post-pics-of-me-in-a-bathing-suit-on-the-internet personal guidelines), and relaxing in caves. It was a pretty perfect afternoon- one of my favorites yet.

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Well, that pretty takes me up to now. And even if it didn’t, I need to go meet my group for our group project, and, as usual, I’m behind schedule. So I won’t be proofreading this post until later; sorry if there are typos! I only have my iPad here, so it’s harder to catch mistakes than it is on a laptop.

But anyway, hasta luego!

Beaches, eggs, all-nighters, and being tired

Well, I think I am giving up on the notion that I’ll ever be able to completely catch my blog up; it has surely been quite the week!

Let’s see…I last posted a week ago, right after visiting Valldemossa and La Granja. Honestly it feels like a year ago!

Sunday was a good day; it was the last day I had to spend time with my parents, so we went to a nearby beach called Illetes for breakfast. By the time we found a restaurant, it was 11:30, but even though desayuno should have ended at 11, the waiter let me order eggs benedict. I’m quite happy about that because the eggs were amazing. The beach was beautiful, too; as seems to always be the case here in Mallorca, the water was crystal clear and all different shades of blue. I really can’t believe how gorgeous it is here, and I’m so excited that I get to come back next year! Honestly I could come back every summer for the rest of my life!

Here are a couple of photos from the day:

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Once we got home from Illetes, I went to the computer lab at school to do some work; I had a presentation due Monday and paper due Tuesday. I’ll tell you what- I have a newfound appreciation for my students at Biotech. I have only been in the middle of this intense workload for two weeks, and I’m exhausted. I don’t know how they do it! Props to you, Biotech! I’m not complaining, though. I really love the classes and all I’m learning. Now I understand why I’m getting three graduate credits per eight-day class. It’s definitely a full semester packed into a week! Crazy.

Monday is pretty much a blur; I had class (my preso went well, thanks for asking), I went to lunch with some friends from school (Cyranos for empanadas again) and then came home to work on my paper. The only issue was that I was exhausted, so I ended up napping first. I finally started working on the paper at 9 or so, and I pulled an all-nighter to get it done. This really is turning into the true college experience! The paper was really challenging, but in the end, I enjoyed writing it and was proud of my work. Here are some photos from the process:

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As you can imagine, Tuesday was pretty uneventful after my all-nighter on Monday. We had a class lunch after our last class (tapas, of course. Photo below), and then I came back to my place with a friend (we had planned to go to the beach). We passed out on the couches for a couple hours, and when she left, I just putzed around and got down time. Even though that class was over, I still had reading due for the start of the next one!

Here are our tapas:

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Anyway, I want to write more. but I am practically passing out. Looks like this post is getting split into two! I’ll write more tomorrow, hopefully, because I am excited to post about Cala Figuera and Cala Mandrago…amazing trip, during which I jumped off a cliff. Don’t worry, though. It was a rather snall cliff. Here’s a sneak peak to whet your appetite:

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Ok, good night for now!

Beach, party, village, creepy dolls, and torture

I can’t believe it’s only been three days since my last post! So much has happened! I have no idea how I’ll capture it all here, but I shall try. Apologies in advance if this one gets long.

Thursday was another long day of school. We had class from 8:30-1:30 (it felt so short after Long Wednesday!) I had a group presentation during class that seemed to go just fine, and then after class we had a write-up for our case study to do (it was part of the same group project). We thought it would take an hour or two, but we ended up being in the computer lab from like 1:45 until it closed at 6. We had a little bit of confusion in the beginning, but I was pleased with the end result. The only thing is that after we did our group write-up, I still had to do the individual part! So I was up pretty late Thursday night (3:30 or so) getting it done. The paper itself was only two pages, but I had to do some more research, and I had some technical problems with the Google Docs app. Luckily I had some help with fixing that, so I got it done around 1 or 1:30, but then I had reading to do, and the syllabus said I should find an article about leadership for social justice. My professor ended up not checking the articles, but because I’m a nerd and pretty passionate about social justice, I enjoyed doing the research anyway.

My plan for Friday was just to come home and nap right after school, but you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men! A friend of mine from school said that she was going to the beach, so I decided to go with her. We ended up meeting my parents for lunch first and then coming back to my apartment to get changed. During lunch, the waitress (Louisa) sat down to practice her English with us. We had been there before, and she recognized us. I love how the people here recognize us; the waiter from my birthday dinner still remembers me and says hi every time I walk by Cyranos). Then we headed to the beach for a while, which was PERFECT. On the way we had bumped in to another classmate (he lives two doors away from me), so the three of us went for a swim in the Mediterranean. It was sooooo great; the water was crystal clear and warm. I loved it.

At 6 or so, we went to a place called the Pelicano, where TCNJ was hosting a 4th of July party for us! It was a great way for everyone to socialize and get to know one another better. It was also a fun way to relax and unwind after a long week of work. Oh, and the view was amazing. Here, you can see for yourself!
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The party lasted until 8:30 or so. I was proud of my parents for fitting right in and making lots of friends! They talked to lots of my classmates and even met people I didn’t know! It was fun to have them with me; I’m glad they came. Here we are at my favorite spot in town.
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After the party, we went to a restaurant and watched the World Cup with a bunch of friends. Well, I use the word “watched” loosely. I try to be into stuff like the World Cup; I feel like it makes me a bad human that I’m not. But I just don’t really care all that much. Haha. I do enjoy the crowd and the comraderie, though. Good times. I do know, however, that Brazil won 2-1 (sorry if that’s a spoiler for anyone who has it DVRed). Mom and I left early, and Dad stayed to finish watching the game with his new friends. They grow up so fast, don’t they?

I am sorry to tell you that this post is only about halfway done. Today was yet another action-packed day (and no school work!). There was another event organized by TCNJ- this time a trip! We took a bus and went to Valldemossa, a really cute town in the mountains, and then to La Granja, which means “the farm.” Both stops were awesome (despite how creepy some parts of La Granja were…we’ll get to that later).

Valldemossa is a small village in the mountains, and it is known for its monastery. The composer Chopin even stayed there for a year! I don’t think he was a monk, though, especially since on the Valldemossa wikipedia page, it says he was there with his lover (and if it’s on wikipedia it must be true!). There was a sculpture of Chopin, and if you rub his nose, you get good luck. Here’s my dad doing just that!
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My friend and I pretty much just walked around Valldemossa all morning; we did some shopping and took a stroll through the gardens, which were quite pretty. I got myself a new scarf (la bufanda) and a Mallorcan pearl bracelet (la pulsera…maybe because you wear it on your wrist, which is where you can find your pulse?). I’m excited about la pulsera because Mallorca is known for its pearls, and that’s my birthstone! So it worked out. Of course, I have photos of my purchases for your viewing pleasure.
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We ended up grabbing pizza at a cafe; mine had goat cheese and some kind of local Mallorcan chorizo (I forget the real name of it and didn’t write it down). It was quite delish! Ligia (the friend I was hanging out with) got yelled at by the waiter because she had put her purse down on a chair next to her and turned her back for a second. The man explained to her that there is a fancily-dressed 40-year-old woman (I don’t know why her age is relevant but he included it so I will too) walking around stealing purses. He said she is Roma, which I know is another name for what some people call gypsies (but that’s a pretty loaded word and I try not to use it but I won’t get into all that right here and now). The waiter seemed extremely concerned about Ligia’s purse, but luckily, it was not stolen.

I knew I could get used to Spain when we walked into the heladeria (ice cream shop), and Tori Amos was playing! It was destiny. I mean really, I almost never hear her in the USA, but she’s on the radio in Spain? Amazing.

That’s pretty much it for Valldemossa, other than these photos so you can see what it looked like.
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Ok, wordpress doesn’t seem to want me to add any more photos, so this is all you get for now.

Once we finished up at Valldemossa, we headed to La Granja. The farm is built around a spring that flows on the grounds. When the Moors were in Spain, they used the flow of the water from the spring to fuel the mills. In the 1200s, it was handed over to the Cisterian Order, and the monks farmed there. Eventually it was renovated by a family in the 18th century, and that’s pretty much how it still looks now.

The farm was beautiful; the land is super fertile (I’m guess because of the stream?), so we saw all sorts of vegetation from cacti to pine trees and everything in between. Here’s a ginormous rosemary bush!
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First of all, I couldn’t believe how huge the place was and how much they did. There were rooms for things like dying wool, weaving tapestries, making perfume, teaching kids, metalworking, and torture. Yes, you read that right. There was a torture chamber on the farm. To be quite honest, I haven’t quite decided if I was more creeped out by that or by the weird puppet things they had hanging all over the toy room. Hopefully wordpress will let me upload some pics. I was also somewhat disturbed by this crazy looking tiny opera house that was just randomly taking up an entire room. It was just all these creepy dolls in box seats watching a tiny stage with tiny people who looked like they were singing opera. And the people who run the farm now have opera music pumping into the room, which, in my opinion, just made it weirder. The whole thing was just confusing to me.

Here are some pics so you can see that I’m not just being overly sensitive.
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WordPress isn’t loving the idea of uploading more pics right now. It’s probably best that you don’t see the torture chamber anyway. It’s creepy.

If you’re still reading this, you are pretty much caught up on my trip by now. When we got home from La Granja, we got some relaxation time in, and then my parents and I went to dinner. We went to a Turkish kebab place called Istanbul (not Constantinople), but did you know that the things we call kebabs aren’t really kebabs? We were rather confused when the man brought our food, and there were no skewers. As it turns out, an actual kebab is more like a gyro; shaved meat with veggies in a pita. We got chicken ones, and I was happy to have some vegetables in there since I haven’t been eating so hot lately. Dad said (and I agree) that they were the best things we’ve eaten in Mallorca so far. Kind of funny that the best food we’ve had in Spain is Turkish.

But anyway, I shall now attempt to upload a photo of my delicious kebab. If it doesn’t work, I am just giving up and being done here. 20140706-002732-1652280.jpg
It worked! Yay! It’s 12:28am! Good night!

But wait. Here’s a horse.
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