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.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tutoring, Tombstones, and Romans

This week at the school we have been planning things to do for Halloween. The Spanish don't normally celebrate Halloween, which is more of a British/Irish/American tradition, but we are bringing the holiday to the school as part of the cultural exchange. I have been put in charge of translating a storybook into English and reading it to the pre-school kids. It's called "¡Fuera de aqui horrible monstruo verde!" or "Go Away Horrible Green Monster!" We are also planning on doing activities such as a haunted house for the kids.

I started tutoring English to the sons of the school's gym teacher this week. One of the sons is in college and the other in high school and they have had several years of English classes, but have never had the opportunity to put it to practical use. I act as a conversation partner to them, telling them about life in the United States while they speak about growing up in Spain. I tutor them at their house, which is on the far south side of the town in a new neighborhood. They have an olive tree in their front yard and I met their grandfather who was gathering these fruits in a plastic five-gallon container. The container was nearly full and the tree still held several olives.

On Friday, Cody and I had to set up a bank account as the school pays us by direct deposit. We opened an account with Santander, Spain's largest bank, which was much easier than I thought it would be. We received a debit card, account book, and online and international banking all for no charge.

Yesterday we walked around the city. We came across one of the local cemeteries, which had been founded in the late nineteenth-century. There were many statues and ornate mausoleums.
After this, we walked to La Garena and I had a tapa of pork meatballs in tomato-garlic sauce at one of the restaurants on the plaza. We sat at the plaza for a while then walked to an archeological site known as Casa de Hippolytus. This building was believed to have been an academy in the ancient Roman town of Complutum which sat on the present-day site of Alcalá de Henares. It is one of two Roman archeological sites open to the public in the town and was built sometime during the third-century AD. Excavations are ongoing at the site and a well-preserved mosaic floor has been uncovered. Other excavations were underway nearby which may reveal finds from the Iberian settlement that pre-dated the Roman presence. Here are some pictures of the site (which is kept under a metal roof) which included a courtyard, pool, latrine, steam room, and an outdoor garden:
We then went back to our apartment for a while before walking to the nearby area of El Ensanche. This is a new neighborhood much like La Garena with many restaurants and markets. Here we found the Plaza de Toros (bullring) and a large shopping mall. The mall was much like an American shopping mall with two levels of various clothing, book, computer, and toy stores along with a food court. Between the mall and the bull ring was a good view of the nearby mountain:


  1. Eric,
    Keep the pictures coming. I am really enjoying reading your blog and also looking at all the wonderful sites over there. I have also enjoyed our e-mails. Keep in touch, Stay Safe, and may God be with you.

    Love Aunt Linda and Uncle Jerry

  2. Good luck with the tutoring. The archeological site looks very interesting. Let us know how the Halloween party goes with the kids.