Monthly Archives: October 2013

NEWS: Students, teachers protest en masse against LOMCE

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Students and teachers in Madrid and around Spain participated in mass strikes and protests last week in a demonstration against a recent law that slashed government funding for public healthcare and education.

Protesters said they were demonstrating against the Ley Orgánica para la Mejora de la Calidad Educativa (“The Organic Law for the Improvement of Educational Quality”), also known as LOMCE or the “Wert law” after Spanish Education Minister José Ignacio Wert. The law went into effect in May 2012 and is estimated to cut public funding towards education and healthcare by over 10,000 million euros. Wert and representatives of the Spanish congress said at the time that the cuts were necessary in order to meet deficit targets set by the European Union. Opponents of LOMCE say that the law endangers the future of public education in Spain.

Protesters took to the streets on Thursday, Oct. 27, to voice their displeasure with the measures. The demonstrations began at 6 p.m. in Plaza Neptuno, just off the city’s center at Puerta del Sol. The demonstrations lasted for hours and wound through the streets past the Museo de Bellas Artes and the Banco de España until culminating in front of the Ministry of Education building.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmiI-x0-r9o&w=560&h=315]

Protesters were enthusiastic throughout the march. Some carried megaphones or drums, others with flaires, and many more just marched with signs. Protesters alternated between periods of unified chanting, quiet, and playful dancing.There was no clear estimate in Spanish media of the size of the turnout: Protesters said almost all teachers participated in strikes earlier Thursday, while government officials deemed the protests a failure.

In my personal opinion, I felt like there were tens of thousands of protesters out on Thursday evening. I’d estimate somewhere around 60,000 people at the protests, with most participants being […]

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Teaching English to the little minds of Spain

A drawing one of my students made for me for my birthday! A drawing one of my students made for me for my birthday!

I had no idea to expect when I signed up for this teaching-English-in-Spain program, as far as the actual job was concerned. I’d volunteered some with little kids before, and I like kids, but I’d had zero training or studies in education. Thankfully, though, three weeks into the job, I’ve found myself comfortable teaching kids, and I just love their enthusiasm and energy for learning English!

I got a bit lucky with my school placement, in a few regards. I am an English teaching assistant as CEIP Fernando de Los Rios, which is a bilingual primary school (preschool through grade 6) in Getafe, just outside of Madrid. I was lucky in that my school has used auxiliares before, and in fact one of the current auxiliares I work with, Katie from Scotland, is in her second year at Fernando de Los Rios. Because the school has been a part of the program before, the coordinator Marta/Martha was awesomeee in communicating with me before I arrived in Spain — making sure I knew how to get to the school, what to bring, etc. A decent number of auxiliars in this program show up at their schools on Day 1 and their schools don’t even know the TA is coming — so I’m glad mine did know about me!

I was also lucky in that my school is a bilingual school: The kids have been learning English since they were in preschool. Bilingual schools have become really really popular in Madrid in the past few years. The way they work is, they teach Spanish language and math in spanish, but everything else is in English — English language, science, arts and crafts, religion, what have you. And the teachers at my school are really good about it: When they’re in English class and the kids try speaking in Spanish, the teacher says, “You know I don’t understand any Spanish…” just so the kids have to find a way to express themselves in English.

But the kids, they’re soo good at English! I was pretty impressed with their abilities from Day 1. I actually assist in 4 different classes — two 4th grade classes, and two 5th grade classes. Probably in each class, there’s 2 or 3 kids who have perfect English, as close to fluent as they can get without the full vocabulary. A lot of the kids are extremely comfortable […]

The piso search: Part II

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I’m no longer homeless!

Hokay so I’ve been bad about updating this blog so far, but it’s because I’ve been so busy with finding a place, moving, starting work this week, etc. Today is Friday so I have my first off day from work, so I thought I’d try to knock out a few posts!

Ok going back to where I left off a couple of weeks ago: On the first Friday I was in spain, I actually found a place I really liked. It was super cheap: 280 euros rent, plus about 35 in utliities a month. It was super close to the train station I needed to be near for work, and I really loved the neighborhood it was in: Not too boring, enough going on so that you still know you’re living in a big city, but the kind of place where you can become a regular.

So I told the guy right after he showed it to me that I wanted to rent the place, could I move in? He said I couldn’t until next Monday or Tuesday, though, because he actually had 2 rooms free and he was trying to rent them to a pair of friends so that he could knock them both out. I said ok, whatever, I’m still booked at the hostel until Tuesday anyway, I can just wait it out. So I was feeling pretty good about things all weekend, I didn’t even go visit anymore pisos because I thought I’d find a good one at a great price.

So I call the guy Monday afternoon and ask if I can rent the place and move in; he says call again that evening. I call again Monday evening — he says call again Tuesday. I call on Tuesday, he said call again later.

At this point, I chose to give up on this guy. He was being wack as hell, clearly just stringing me along as a backup but he would def give the rooms to a group of 2 if he could, and then I’d be out on the streets. Plus at this point my original booking at  the hostel was done, so I started making individual bookings for 2, 3 nights more. I just decide to not call the guy anymore, it’s not worth my time.

Then Wednesday afternoon, he finally calls me and says yes, I can rent the room, I can move in Friday afternoon. I was ecstatic! Felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Then Friday rolls around, and I check out of my hostel at 11:30am, per requirement. I look down at my phone to call Adrián, the guy with the piso, only to found a text message that made my heart drop. It said more or less, all in one text message, “Hello I am not in Madrid today so you can’t move in today, bye.” Like, that was it.

I was furious. This guy […]