This morning I had an opportunity to visit the American School of Barcelona. Jenny, whom I met last week when Andrew and I took on Barcelona for the day, works as an instructional coach in the school, and she was kind enough to give me a tour of the school and set up a half hour where I could interview a teacher named Luisa. The school is located in Llobregat de Esplugues, which is not in the central area of Barcelona, so it was necessary that I take the metro and bus to get there, which was not a problem at all since I've been beasting public transportation recently. ;) From the top of the school where the students have recess, you can see the whole of Barcelona and even the Mediterranean. Can you imagine that view every day!? I stood there with my jaw dropped and was completely jealous of this school. I hope these kids don't take the view for granted! It's amazing! Also, from the azotea you can also see Shakira's house. Yes, SHAKIRA'S HOUSE. It looks to be a very nice house in a very nice neighborhood, as you would expect it to be.
As we continued the tour through the school, we entered the cafeteria and saw a group of fourth graders whose parents had come into the school to see their child's and other children's presentations about the Middle Ages. Each student had chosen a topic of interest having to do with the Middle Ages, and from there they were to design a book and then present their book to parents. And they were to do this in English. I noticed there was a student sitting by himself not talking with anyone, and I mentioned this to Jenny. She suggested we go sit and listen to him explain his book, and I was more than happy to agree. I sat down at the table across from Eloy, introduced myself, and then proceeded to listen to him teach me about the spice trade route. It was quite amazing to listen to him speak such advanced English for his age. He was really interested in the spice trade and knew a lot of information about the topic. He also wrote a book about knights, which he also presented and explained in great detail. It was such a great experience to talk with Eloy and listen to him present these books that he had written—I really enjoyed it. I've never felt that I could teach fourth graders, but that kid I could definitely and would want to teach.
As I mentioned earlier, I also had the pleasure of interview Luisa. As this was to be my first interview, I didn't know exactly how I was going to approach it, but I prepared last night by writing out some questions that I felt would be useful in our Spanish classes. Much to my surprise, the interview was more than amazing—it was perfect. I could not have asked for a better first experience with the interview. She spoke rather clearly and at a fantastic pace, and her answers were incredibly in-depth. There were moments when she was speaking that I would get very excited by what she was saying. I was already envisioning students listening to her responses and hopefully being intrigued by such a relevant dialogue. I'm looking forward to use her interviews this coming year! Now I need to get some more incredible interview footage from those that I meet in Madrid, but they're going to have some big shoes to fill! Click the video below to see a sample of the interview!
In this short clip, Luisa speaks about how technology is used in the classroom.
After finishing up at the American School of Barcelona and changing my flip flops to shoes, I headed up to Park Güell. Upon arriving at the ticket booth at 12:45, I was informed that they were only selling tickets for a 4:00 entry. I quickly debated whether or not I wanted to stick around to get into the park, but I kept telling myself that if I didn't do it now, I would regret it later on, and I knew that I would. So I went ahead and bought a ticket for a 4:00 entry and figured I could entertain myself for three hours. And honestly, it wasn't that hard. The actual part that you pay for entry is only a small portion of the park—the other areas of the park are free and are quite beautiful. I walked around many paths and saw so many incredibly photo opportunities, so of course I took a bunch. At one point I rested on a bench for a long while, just enjoying the sun and the sights and sounds of Park Güell. Since pigeons were pretty much overrunning the place, I decided it would be a good opportunity to take some close ups, which you'll see below.
An interesting cultural aspect of the Park Güell is that there are merchants everywhere selling refrigerator magnets, earrings, bracelets, figurines, fans, and other items for a very cheap price. I had seen them earlier when I bought my ticket and throughout the park when I was walking around. At random points, though, I'd see them start running in a group. Like it looked as though maybe they were playing a game or that they were chasing someone—I really had no idea. It turns out that what they're doing is illegal, and every time the police would come near, the merchants would grab the four corners of the sheet upon which their items were being presented, and they'd flee the area and disappear. I saw this happen about four times, and it wasn't until then that the police started to comb the area on foot. From that point on I didn't see the merchants. I feel that this is a daily occurence, and while it seems like a game of cat and mouse, it's also very serious. I don't fully understand it, but it's neat to watch.
While I was sitting on the bench, I noticed from afar that there was a rock-like platform upon the top of a nearby hill where many people were standing and taking pictures. I knew I had to head that way, but not until I had lunch. I quickly paid for a ham and cheese sandwich and a water, and made my way towards the hill. It was an easy climb with some great views overlooking Barcelona. Once I reached the top, I was a greeted with one of the worst street performers I've ever seen. Wearing skin-tight animal print leggings was a bad decision for this man, but even worse were his song choices. Let's just say that he overused a certain American explicative a lot, and for no reason. It was in poor taste and really put a damper on the majestic view from on top of the rock formation. I did, however, get some really nice pictures from up top, including the panoramic picture seen below. At two different times, a butterfly landed on the rock and allowed me to take a picture. I couldn't believe that it was so chill and agreeable to letting me get that close. Perhaps it was used to it? In any case, the end result is beautiful!
The park itself was pretty spectacular. I loved seeing Gaudí's famous broken tile used on the sculptures, walls, and benches up top. I didn't know that below the seating area were all these columns that support the area above, and that was really breathtaking to see in person. As I expected, the view from the benches was incredible. To sit there for a few minutes and overlook Barcelona and see how it sprawls out, well, it was pretty awesome. I had been waiting for that moment for a while, and I'm glad I finally got to see it.
To finalize my last evening in Barcelona, Jenny and Dani introduced me to pinchos, which is basically a self-serve way of eating tapas. I was really into this idea, and I ended up loving the food that we ate. How it works is that they place all the food out on the counter, you pick what you want, and then you eat it. The idea is quite simple, but it makes for a unique experience. You save the toothpicks and leave them on your plate, and that's how the server determines the price you pay for your meal. I think something like this is begging to come to Indianapolis and would do so well considering the trendy restaurants that we have nowadays, so if anyone wants to start a pinchos restaurant on Mass Avenue, I think we'd make a fortune! Overall, it was another great evening of great food and great conversation, and I couldn't have asked for a better way to end my stay here in Barcelona. Onward to Madrid!