Friday, February 26, 2016

I Passed!

Remember how down I felt after taking the DELE Spanish exam for C1 last year? Turns out it was all for naught. While studying Spanish (heh heh heh) in the library yesterday morning, I received an email with my results:
I was expecting to fail, so when I read the email I immediately wondered, "What the hell does 'APTO' mean?" (insert headsmack here) It means I passed. What did I do once I realized the good news? I grabbed the Spanish grammar and writing books on my table, threw them to the side, told my friends, and treated my roomate to lunch. My Spanish teacher was quite pleased to read my email.

What will I do with the time liberated from my study schedule? Look for translation work, plus get back into projects I had pushed aside for studying for the exam. I'd always dreamt of being fluent in another language. I knew I was, but now I have a piece of paper to prove it!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Chinese Restaurants of Jaén

Good lord, I miss good Asian restaurants. The ones from my Canadian hometown are pretty spectacular, and low-cost, too. We've got a lot of Asian immigrants so it's not hard to find a restaurant in pretty much every community.
I love you, Mongolian grill.

Jaén has a handful of Chinese restaurants, none of which match the quality of home but they'll do in a fix. I remember visiting the equivalent of "Uncle Willy's" in Úbeda, much to the horror of my Asian friends back home. Here in Jaén, I haven't visited any of the buffet-style mega-restaurants, which people here love due to the low cost (hence, bad quality, I presume) and unlimited amounts of food. I have, however, ordered at a few other restaurants:

1) Xin Xin Restaurante (Pl. Jaén por la Paz, 7):  Worst. Name. Ever. However, best Chinese restaurant in Jaén, in my opinion. You pay about E1 more for every menu item compared to the other places, but the quality and taste is the best here. Plenty of room in the restaurant, but delivery and pick-up is available, too.  Free WiFi. On the menu itself, there's Chinese and Thai food.

2) Gran Muralla (Plaza de la Estación, 31): Almost exactly the same as Dragón Rojo, the only difference being less oil.

3) Dragón Rojo (Dr. Eduardo Arroyo, 1): This one gets a shout-out because I live close, hence the delivery is fast. The food tends to contain a lot of oil.

4) Restaurante Chino Peking (C/ Cruz Roja Española, near the Plaza las Batallas): This was my go-to restaurant whenever I had to come to Jaén capital from the village, to process my TIE, as it's almost directly across from the extranjería office. During lunch hour the huge restaurant was always empty. The portions are large and the quality is pretty good. I always asked for their spicy-as-hell oil, to top my food.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Things I Never Tell My Students

During my career as a teacher, I've taught everyone from adults (up to retirement age) to children as young as four years old. Here are some things I always think but never say:

1) I love the hugs I get. Coming from a country where hugging a kid who's not family can practically get you jailed, it warms my heart when the little ones come and hug me when I enter the class. Warms it more than the Cadiz sun.

2) Flattery gets you nowhere. Whether it's a kid drawing me too many pictures, or an adolescent saying I'm guapa, saying nice things doesn't put you at the top of my list. When I'm teaching, I don't give a f*** how I look. I only care if you're behaving in class and doing the homework.

3) Don't tell me you don't have time to study. I've had C1 adult students with families, full-time jobs, dogs, and a house to clean. They passed. I may nod my head in fake sympathy as you wax poetic about how there's no English in Jaén, but if those C1 students can sacrifice and pass an English test, so can you.

4) Don't call me expecting a miracle. I don't understand why students wait all year until two weeks before their exam to call me, begging me for private lessons. Two weeks is not enough time to get your sh*t together and pass if you haven't been studying the entire year. (That said, I have given these lessons, and 99% of my students pass. Just sayin'.)

5) I have cried in the teachers' washroom. There's, like, no privacy at school. Once or twice I've had to lock myself in a stall and have a cry, just to de-stress.

6) Sometimes that smile of mine is fake. A good teacher must walk in cheery, in order to animate the students. There have been mornings where I've actually paused outside of a classroom, pasted on a smile even though I wasn't in the mood, and marched in.

Of course, those adorable little hugs turn my fake smile into a real one.
It doesn't get more Spanish than cute kids, Cervantes, & fútbol.