Educational Philosophy

Education is a social process. Education is growth. Education is not a preparation for life; education is life itself.

~ John Dewey

Our simple educational philosphy: we learn as we live and we celebrate what we learn!

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Sunday, August 02, 2015

MontJuic and more

We hiked to the top of Mont Juic from the funicular that connected to the Barcelona metro station. It was a pleasant temperature and we got to see the old fort at the top that had great views of the ocean and surrounding Barcelona. We picked out the Sagrada Familia from the skyline (it will be just short of this mountain's height when its construction is complete). Then we walked down the mountain to the Miro Museum. We had never seen so many Miro's and as an added bonus we got to see some of Calder's constructions. 

From the Miro museum we headed down past the Olympic park and popped in the stadium. It was less than spectacular. :) We headed to the Magic Fountains next and got a couple pictures of us with the crowds.

Then we went to the nearby Arena shopping mall to have lunch at the top floor. We made D try the patatas bravas which were excellent. After a quick break we headed down and went for a walk to Barceloneta beach where we people watched and saw the "local" parrots with the local pigeons. All in all it was a good day. We leave today around 2:00 Spain time and have a long flight back to the US.

Saturday, August 01, 2015


 Today we woke up very early to travel to MontSerrat.We had to take the metro and two trains to get there, but we didn't get lost. It was beautiful and once again we missed all the tourists and all the rain. The mountain has a monastery and some beautiful hikes around.
 The mountain is known for its odd rock formations, like the jagged ones above and below.
 We realized we were all wearing the same color shirt, so we took a picture. When we were on the mountain we took two funiculars (photo below) to two different hikes. It was cool even if it scared M a little at first. When we got back to Barcelona we had a late lunch and then we decided to walk around the neighborhood we are living in to search for shoes and then watch NCIS. Overall it was a very good day!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Barcelona Day 2- Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell

We woke up early and headed to Parc Guell. While H, D, and T had visited before, C had not. We all enjoyed the visit and got to see the inside of the guard house. When we had gotten our fill of this marvel that was a flop in Gaudi's day- making it so it was possible to see his designs for the market today- we walked down a steep hill. On the way down we passed a quote from Gaudi that encompassed the whole idea of the park itself, "Everything comes from the great book of nature."

At the bottom of the hill we headed to the Sagrada Familia. It had changed so much since the last time we were there and we couldn't stop imagining how fantastic it would be after the end of its construction. It was gorgeous enough as it was especially the stained glass windows that were added and the 1000 seat choir. We popped in the school and then the museum where we got to see models for the continued construction. They have made so much progress because of all of the tourists that we hope to be able to visit it again.

From the Sagrada Familia we headed to the Block of Discord and saw modernist facades of the houses. Several were Gaudi's but some were not. All were cool and we enjoyed seeing the different styles that were present in the era. After lunch and a short break we headed back out to the Gothic quarter and saw the cathedral. We also got to see some old roman columns before we had to go to our reserved ticket time for the Picasso Musuem. It had quite a collection that moved in chronological order. The collection was also cool to compare with the works we saw in Malaga (because they were less cubist in nature). What was really surprising was Picasso's obsession with Las Meninas (Velazquez) which we got to see in his multiple paintings and recreations.

But we weren't done! We headed to Las Ramblas after a stop for froyo. And we walked back by the ocean just in time for dinner.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Madrid and then Barcelona

Today we went to the Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida in Madrid. It was where Goya was buried. We got to see his frescoes that were restored to their prior glory. Then we walked up a sketchy trail across the railroad tracks to get to a park where there was an authentic Egyptian temple- Templo de Debod. It might be the closest we ever get to one. Anyways from there we took a taxi to the archeological museum. It was renovated so Rick didn't have much to say. Little Rick decided that he would give it a one star because it was so massive and nice. After getting our bags we headed to Barcelona. It was a pretty easy ride. Once we got to Barcelona we checked in to our apartment and then explored our neighborhood stumbling across some cool ruins and then going to get food at El Corte Ingles.


Today we walked around Madrid on a tour lead by little rick (aka D). On the way we saw all sorts of monuments and churches from the outside including a monument that honored many people who died in an assassination attempt on the royals. We also stopped in for churros at San Gines which was a site that inspired Valle Inclan whose plays T and H read in their second summer term. They were really good and not too expensive considering how famous they were. After this along the way down to the palace we also got some sweets from the nuns at a nearby church which involved walking down a hidden hallway and placing an order then paying 10 euros through a turnstyle. It was a new experience for everyone. We stopped our walk around 10:30 and went into the Palacio Real which was the biggest gray and working neoclassical palace in Spain. We enjoyed the rooms and embraced its beauty (even though Rick's book was inaccurate).
After a short rest, we went to lunch at VIPS (because we knew M could have a salad, and D tried their ribs at the recommendation of the waitress). We toured the Thyssen and enjoyed seeing such a massive collection of famous artists including Monet and Rothko among others. When finished we had a short rest at Parque de Buen Retiro and then went to the Prado. Over the course of the day, H and T were excited that they got reduced prices because of their student IDs and because Haley started a line for the Prado right before it became free. So all in all it was a great day that ended in a picnic dinner in the hotel room.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Cordoba with the family

Today we woke up and headed to Cordoba on a train. T and I had decided that it was so cool to see the Mezquita and we had to show M and D. So we did. We walked from the train station into town and we didn't get lost and we saw a totally different part of town which was exciting and gave us a more local flavor. Then we went to the Mezquita. We all enjoyed walking around the giant mosque (even if we did get separated for a while). We then went to the Museo Sefarad. This was a new museum for all of us and it was very different from the one across the river about the history of the muslims and therefore nice to see. It talked about the Jewish presence in Cordoba before the inquisition. We then viewed the aquaduct had typical tortilla de patata with the locals and got a cab back to the train station. It was short and sweet. We then headed Madrid. Despite some people being in our seats we made it to Madrid and got to our hotel with no problems. We then decided to go to the Reina Sofia museum where Picasso's Guernica is because it was free. It was a good choice and we explored the airconditioned rooms for a while. Then we meandered down the tapas bar street and looked at the different places to eat before we decided to go to VIPS. We all agreed it was a good choice.

Sunday, July 26, 2015


Yesterday we were reunited with the family. It was so good to see our mom and dad after 10 1/2 weeks. We took a cooking class in the he morning at Triana market. The class was in English, but we are excited to be getting recipes for everything we cooked. We cooked the typical meals that we had been eating with our Senora. It was great to be able to see how we can adjust them for allergies.

After our cooking class we picked up the family at the train station. We then went to the hotel and chilled for a little bit before we went on our own created bike tour to various locations in the city. We first biked to Maria Luisa where we saw Plaza de Espana and then we biked to Los Remedios, and Triana where we saw the mini feria. Then we walked to las setas had llao llao frozen yogurt then we went up the setas. It was great. We then walked through the shopping district to get back to have dinner just behind the cathedral. They originally said they had no room, but after two minutes waiting we were allowed in. It was great to have dinner together again and the food was very good. We then biked back to our hotel.

Today we woke up and went to meet Mercedes with the whole family. We were in charge of translating the conversation and I think that it was fun for both Mercedes and our parents to meet. We talked to her for a while before we went to the Alcazar. We already had the tickets so we got to skip the line and headed in. It was good to walk much more slowly in through the place. Afterwards we showed our family our favorite smoothie place where they use fresh fruit to make smoothies every day. We got our free smoothie and then showed them where we had classes before we biked back to rest. Both of our parents napped and ate lunch while we caught up on our journaling before we headed out. We got a sandwhich and headed to the Iglesia de San Salvador. We hadn't seen it yet so it was a pleasant surprise and it helped us skip the line into the cathedral. The cathedral was just as huge as we remembered it and we of course climbed the 36 ramps up to the top of the tower for the fantastic view. From there we went to the Hospital de los Venerables (got a little lost on the way there but who doesn't on the way to Barrio Santa Cruz??). From there we headed to a Flamenco show and then to dinner across the river. It was a great day and we are so happy to be with family again!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Last Week with our class

This week we started wrapping things up. We said goodybe to T's intercambio, had our final exam on Monday, and we then taught our last lesson on Thursday. On Thursday we also had a performance where we had to dance with the kids to the songs Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Shine, and Tonights Going to be a Good Night. We all had been learning the moves to the dances for the past three weeks and it was cool to see how much they learned to present to their parents. They still needed some assistance so we danced with them (as the dance teacher instructed). Even though all of the other children who presented were older, our group was the best!

After the presentation we ate some Tapas with some neighbors and watched all the people walk to the mini Feria that is going on in Triana. All the people came out of hiding :) We then had our last day of classes today. We received letters from the students and a fan from the teacher we worked with. We will miss all the kids and it was a great learning experience. To wrap up our final day everyone in the program got to eat lunch together close to the center.

Tirion decided that since it was cooler only like 97 degrees we should go tan next to the river. It was great and actually kind of frescito. Tonight we are spending our last night with our Senora Mercedes talking about her fan collection and children. We will say goodbye to her on Sunday while also introducing her to our parents.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Granada Day 2

We woke up somewhat early (later than yesterday) to head to the Alhambra. We caught a taxi and then headed up up up. We then unloaded and got in line to get our tickets. We made friends with some people from New York and quickly got our tickets (after leaving and using the kiosks). Then we waited in line some more. We felt like we were in Disney World and we beat out the other people on the race to the main attraction Placio Nazaris by our time slot 8:30AM. We were ahead of all the others from our group and had to ask some cleaning men to help (they happily obliged). Once we were allowed in, we read about the rooms from Rick and enjoyed the jaw dropping views. We were especially thrilled that because we had gotten there early there were not many people there blocking our views of our pictures. We even saw them cleaning the tile floors.

From the main attraction we climbed up a few tower walls and got some great pictures and views. And we meandered around and headed to the next attraction. The palace of Charles V. We again beat the crowds and had time to see the art museum and the museum beneath that which had original pottery and the original tiles etc. Nobody was there and it was free and worth the trip.

Tower View
The Palace

From the palace we headed to the oldest part of the complex the Alcazaba. It was old ruins with nice towers and structures and we enjoyed the fact that we could explore and walk around and look across the city to where we were the other day (Sacromonte and the Mirador). From the Alcazaba we headed to the gardens which were a little more crowded but they led to a cute summer palace and up and around more gardens that were beautiful. We hope to return when it is night sometime and see a play or hear a concert in the grounds. Here we crossed several language barriers and got a picture of us that was the best of the day. 

Fountains in the gardens
We had so much time left that we wandered around Granada and found a monastery that had very little information about it and stopped in for a bit before catching our train. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Granada Day 1

Today we arrived in Granada. We took a train, but because the train station is being remodeled we went halfway by train then got a bus that they provided. We then went to el catedral because it just opened. The cathedral is one of two Renaissance churches (the other that we saw in Cordoba). It was very cool and had lots of light. We then decided to walk to the Capilla Real it was a lavish chapel where Ferdinand and Isabella are buried. We also saw some famous pieces of art by Botticelli and Hans Memling. We then stopped at a local place for our breakfast of tostada con marmelada frambuesa and orange juice.

After leaving our bags at the hotel we decided to take a walk recommended by Rick along the historic center of Granada. We stopped at the corral de carbon which was a carvanserai where merchants rested their camels on the silk road. We then went to the Alcaceria (a market where they sold various items that were overpriced for tourists to buy). It reminded us of Morocco and of course it should because originally it was a Moorish silk market. We continued on the walk and went to the plaza de bib rambla where the center of Granada used to be. We then walked to plaza nueva and then continued up paseo de los tristes where funerals once occurred. We ended that path at the Hammam El Banuel (or Moorish Baths) which were very similar to the baths we saw in Ronda. We then decided to continue to some free houses on the historic walk to the Albazin. We stopped at Casa de Zafra before we headed up a giant mountain walking up millions (and I mean millions of stairs to the overlook called Mirador de San Nicholas). It was a beautiful view of the Alhambra which we are visiting tomorrow morning bright and early. We then walked down through the area and made our way to Froyo before taking a descanso and siesta in our hotel.

We decided to venture out to see the Museo de Cuevas del Sacromonte even though Rick didn't recommend it and caught a bus to the location. It was a good decision because the whole way we kept going up up and up. Once we got there we still had to hike up about 150 stairs to the museum. It was super cool. The museum consisted of unique cave dwellings that come from the Roma tradition. It showed yet another side of the culture in Granada and had stupendous views!

Tomorrow the Alhambra!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Second to last week

We are very busy and keep getting behind on our blog. Partly because we get up really early for Spaniards (at 6:30 or 7:00) so that we can swim in the mornings when there are fewer people and partly because it is so hot that we haven't wanted to turn on another electronic device and have it warm up our room. To catch up-- we went kayaking last Friday on the river here in Sevilla.

We got a map from the center that was supposed to direct us to where we were kayaking. BUT it was inaccurate and we ended up walking in circles around a park looking for the dock. We ended up calling the other person in our program who was supposed to kayak with us and he said that he was sending the guide over to "save us". It was a James Bond style save that was captured on video. The guide drove up in his inflatable boat and Haley and I rode in the front of the boat to the dock we were supposed to be. Then, we kayaked up and down the river. It was much cooler than walking and we enjoyed seeing the river from a different view. Unfortunately, the guide wasn't very good at taking pictures even though he had us pose several times. It turns out our other friend got better pictures from one of the bridges.

This week we have been busy with Playschool. We taught a joint lesson where we listened to a song titled "What do you see in the sky?"  The song described clouds that looked like animals (the children were learning about weather and animals). Then, we read Little Cloud by Eric Carle and each child made their own clouds that looked like animals and then wrote about it and shared with the class. Despite it being the last hour of class where the children get insanely rowdy, it went really well. We are going to miss the children when we have to leave at the end of the week next week.

In other news, we  met T's intercambio for froyo and went to an Italian Baroque classical music concert at the Alcazar. It was located in the beautiful gardens and was a cultural event that we can now check off our list. We also saw Magic Mike in Spanish (the best part- aside from the air conditioning- was that the songs were in English and that the others watching were making fun of the actors). Tonight, we will say goodbye to people finishing Summer Term 2 who are not doing the education practicum. Tomorrow, we leave at 6:00 AM to see Granada. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Segovia and La Granja de San Ildefonso Palacio

We arrived in Segovia around 3 yesterday by train after we swam in the morning and changed trains. The trip was long, but totally worth it. When we got there we took a cab to the Alcazar and went in to see it. It was really amazing and had awesome views. It was one of the favorite residences of the monarchs of Castile and controlled the region.

We then checked into the hotel and got our air conditioning fix before we went out to explore. We visited a popular local dessert place in Segovia called Limon y Menta and tried Marzipan cake unique to Segovia and of course another dessert that just looked good. We then walked to the most famous part of Segovia the Roman Aqueduct. When we got there some guy asked us to take a picture with him because he had the same shirt that we did. That's probably all over the internet now. Anyways we then walked to the modern art museum and got in with a student price. It was focused on pieces by Esteban Vicente. The interesting thing was that the art museum is a remodeled palace of Henry IV and that Vicente studied in Black Mountain NC. We then went to the grocery store got some snacks and waited it out until dinner. Of course we went to a cute vegetarian place and got a tofu pizza.
Today we had some free time so we caught a bus to a nearby town with a palace. The palace was built to model Versailles and had wonderful gardens and cool buildings. We couldn't take any pictures inside, but it was very cool and we enjoyed seeing some spanish tourists milling about enjoying their summer vacation. 

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Minons and other things

This week we have been sweating a lot. The temperatures are going up and we are having to walk at the hottest part of the day. To cope we decided to see a movie at la plaza de armas with our friend. It was los minones. It was so fun to get a break from the sun and also to see a movie in spanish that we could understand. We have all decided we want to go next week to see another movie.

Some fun comments we remembered about our past week:
T walking up the hill to the hotel, "I need a mule."
H talking about the time without a watch, "There is a thirty percent chance that it is 11:30 right now."
Emily, "Did you know that I could fit my fist in my mouth?"

Today we went to a cute cafe to read our book and catch up on our journals in the air conditioning. This weekend we will be going to Segovia.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Ronda and Malaga

Yesterday we travelled with our group of students at the center and a professor to Ronda. It was a bumpy and nauseatting ride. We however loved that Ronda was about 5 degrees colder than Sevilla. The sun was just as strong however. We had a tour guide and he took us to see all of the sites including the new bridge that was built over the gorge. We then walked all the way downhill and saw two bridges  that were even older. The most exciting part was seeing the arab baths. The baths were cold to sit in and learn about history. In reality though, the baths were places were women could talk about everything without men seeing them. They were also based off of Roman baths and there were three different baths one hot, one tepid, and one cold. They could go back and forth as many times as they wanted.

We then had to walk all the way uphill (hard and harder for T when she was sick and coughing). We made it though and walked through the town. It was so gorgeous. The end of our tour ended in the plaza de torros. It is the oldest one in all of Spain and has rock used everywhere from the gorge. We saw the museum and then went to a froyo place before we went on a bus with Emily to Malaga. The hotel was great (wifi and air conditioning). hehehe
 Malaga cathedral
 Plaza de torros
 Ronda view (Ronda means round)

Arab baths

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