Archive | February, 2011

Good Reasons to Drink Beer (and other things learned on the field trip)

16 Feb

Last week I had the pleasure of going on my first Spanish field trip with my school. I had been wondering where one might go for a local field trip. Apart from the castle and the cathedral, Jaén has no zoo, no aquarium, no children’s museum. So it was off to the Cruz Campo Factory – the glowing red sign in the distance of the city that has been calling to me ever since I first stepped foot on my terrace 6 months ago.

Before you start to worry about the purpose of taking a bunch of students to a beer factory, I just want to remind you that my students are all of legal drinking age, which is 18 here in Spain. And the idea behind the field trip was to talk about computer science workings behind the large factory, but somehow that message got mixed up in transport and the trip ended up being strictly about the beer. Not that any of the students seemed to mind.

After the short bus ride from the school, we arrived to the factory. We quickly learned the main ingredients of beer – malt, water, hops and yeast – all natural (good reason #4 to drink beer). And took a quick tour through the main workings of the plant from receiving the raw materials all the way to bottling and shipping.

Then we headed back to the orientation room where the table was covered with yummy tapas and we got unlimited refills for a chance to try many of the different Cruz Campo labels of beer (well, unlimited until some of the students drank 4-5 in under an hour and then we were politely cut off!).

We each piled back onto the bus with a nice a buzz and a new souvenir mug to take back to school.

My Lesson of the Day: Beer helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, protects against alzheimer’s disease and contributes about 10% of the daily need for folic acid. (good reasons #1, #6 and #8 to drink beer)

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Superbowl Monday

11 Feb

In an effort to stick to my American roots, I wasn’t about to pass up on the chance to watch one of the biggest, most American events possible: the Superbowl. The only catch? By the time it finally started all the way over there in Dallas, TX it was already 12:30 am Monday here in Spain. Nevertheless, we trudged to the bar, me wearing my Bengals jersey (although I was fully aware they made it no where near the Superbowl this season).

The game was interesting and the crowd was rather large considering it was a Sunday night out in Jaén, but there were a few striking differences between the Superbowls I have seen in the past.

First, there were no commercials! Yes, you read that correctly – no commercials. Despite the hundreds of millions of dollars that are spent on Superbowl advertising, it does not guarantee international viewing. Instead of watching commercials, our screen cut away to an arial shot of the stadium so we were able to see the jumbotron and everything else that went on inside.

Another striking difference: the announcers. Dion Sanders was traded in for a soft-spoken Spanish announcer who infrequently chimed in with things like “los cheeseheads tiene la pelota” (The cheeseheads have the ball) or “touchdown los Steelers.

The crowd slowly dwindled down over the several hours of game play and we finally found ourselves on the edge of our seats at 4am in the morning. The bartender had long since started closing shop, shutting the blinds – even pulling down the metal grate over the door –  but allowing us to stay until the end of the game.

As the Steelers turned over the ball and the Packers clinched the title, an all but anti-climactic cheer rang out and everyone returned home to get to bed.

My Lesson of the Day: You can take the people out of the country, but you can’t take the football out of the people.

My best Spanish birthday (yet)

9 Feb

Last week (February 3rd) was my 23rd birthday. While I was a  little bummed about spending it so far away from home, I had no idea that it would end up being a wonderful birthday. Some of the highlights include getting a bunch of birthday cards in the mail from home, being surprised by students with cake and gifts, and going out for dinner and drinks with some of my friends.

It was a fun, if not exhausting weekend. One of the funnier highlights was running into my students at the bar. As I turned around from getting a drink at a local cafe/bar, I was shocked to see about 5 of my students, all wide-eyed and staring up at me.  All of them are recently 18, which is the legal drinking age here in Spain, but it was as if they had seen a ghost at the bar. So much for being a good role model? haha At least I can say that I was the sober one out of the group.  I will give them props for trying to speak in English the whole time and they were very nice – asking me to come back to their class again soon, but maybe next time I´ll stick to going out at more adult locations? haha

My Lesson of the Day: It´s ok to run into your students at the bar as long as it’s your birthday, but it is wise to say no when they ask you to do  shots with them.