About Me

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Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain
I recently earned my Masters in History at NWMSU and am now working as a language assistant in a Spanish elementary school.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Training and Some Free Time

I attended two training sessions for the language assistants yesterday and today. Cody and I had to wake up at six and catch the train (located just a five minute walk from my apartment) at seven. The location of the training was on the western side of Madrid. The sessions covered some pretty common sense topics the first day, but today we talked about more practical classroom management skills and ideas for activities in which we can present our culture and experiences to the kids while maintaining the focus of the curriculum. We also had to fill out a lot of mind-numbing paperwork. From the endless stream of questions about which box to check and what phone number to write, I came to the conclusion that, as a whole, humans are too inquisitive to be left alone safely with a government form and a pen.

I met several people at the training who seem nice. There is a great variety of personalities participating in the program. My school has four assistants including Cody and I. The other two assistants are from England. Since these two days of orientation were for non-European Union assistants I haven't met them yet. I have tomorrow off and then begin work on Thursday, which I have been told will be another orientation to introduce the four of us to the children, staff, and resources at my specific school in Alcalá de Henares.

The meeting today ended at two in the afternoon, so I took the opportunity to head to Gran Vía, a main street in Madrid which is often compared to Times Square in Manhattan. I took several pictures of the surroundings.
The following building is the Palacio de Comunicaciones, the headquarters of the Spanish postal service. It's located near the arch known as the Puerta de Alcalá. I plan to visit both of these places at night sometime as they are lit up with colorful floodlights.
From here, I went down the adjacent Paseo del Prado, a walkway lined with trees near a tomb of the unknown soldier from the Napoleonic Wars, the Palace Hotel, and several high-profile art museums including the Prado. Here I saw a pigeon with a numbered tag on its wing, which I assume means it is either a carrier pigeon or used for racing.
I walked from here to the very large and tranquil Parque del Retiro. There were many people lounging on benches or in the grass among trees, fountains, and statues of former Spanish monarchs. In the center of the park is a pond, on the edge of which lies a colonnade with several fountains and an equestrian statue of King Alfonso XII. The boats which you see on the pond below are rented out. There were many more on the water than are visible in this picture.

More to come soon!


  1. Hi Eric,
    Great post today! That's great that you'll have two other assistants to get to know. You should be able to bounce ideas off of each other.

    Madrid looks beautiful and the pond area with the boats looks like fun. Hope you guys have a good day off tomorrow. Can't wait to see more photos and to find out how your first day at the school goes.
    Love ya,

  2. Great post. I see that the motorcyclist get special treatment for parking alongside the street. So glad to see all the sights. You need to include photos of you and Cody as well if possible. Have a good first day tomorrow and enjoy your upcoming 3 day weekend. I'm jealous!

  3. Wow, I am jealous too. It is so beautiful there. Love the pictures and all the information. Can't wait to see some more pics with you, Cody and maybe the other two assistants. Uncle Mark says Hello and wants to know if you would like to come play in the sandbox and he will come play in Madrid. I wouldn't take him up on it if I were you. Uncle Mark says he wishes he could see your blog, but unfortunately he can not go to blogs, they are pretty strict on blocking that kind of stuff. But I have been keeping him posted. Take care and enjoy your days off. Love, Aunt Tammy

  4. Wow...loved all the pictures! Looks beautiful there! Love ya!! Enjoy your day off and your first day of school! I know the kids are going to love you.