miércoles, 9 de noviembre de 2011

Summer Review

The summer has been pretty unforgettable. I am going to list all of the incredible things I have done, above all for myself, so that this insane summer is not forgotten. I am certainly glad I took advantage of it because that was my last free summer. PA school starts in June.
I finished up teaching elementary school at Colegio de Andalucia at the end of May. During June I hung out with Carmen as much as I could. We went to the beach all the time and swam and snorkeled together. We went to a music Festival in Sevilla that was awesome and we saw Raymundo Amador and Muchachito.
I went to Oviedo to visit my friend Collin.
My mom visited and we hung out with Carmen and the rest of my friends in Malaga, then Zahara, Granada, Barcelona and Madrid.
Spent two great weeks with family in Massachusetts.
Went to the crazy wedding of Jeff and Silvia Romero Gill.
Started scribing.
Went to the other crazy wedding of Riley and Heidi Mahoney.
Lived with my parents and did a lot of yard work. We also made a lot of dinners together and got hooked on the series The Wire suggested by Kevin Krohn.
I Skyped with Carmen a ton.
When I didn't live with my parents I was living with Colin and Kevin in Portland, we went on a number of good runs together around Portland.
I got into OHSU, received my visa for Spain and shipped back off to Spain.

Review of near future

Hola familia,
I want to keep all of you informed about the process that I have been going through to apply to grad school. You have all been very supportive over the years and I really appreciate it. If you have not already heard through my mom or dad, I'm sure you will be glad to hear that I've been accepted to Oregon Health and Science University's PA program. I am really excited about the program and the opportunity. OHSU is ranked 6th out of the 154 PA programs in the US, and ranked higher going by first time PA certification pass rates and recognition of competence in the medical community. There were over 1,500 applicants this year and there are only 38 spots open in OHSU's program. It is an excellent school and very competitive, so I feel fortunate to be accepted there.
I had prepared like crazy before the interview by researching, shadowing and doing volunteer scribing for multiple PAs in different settings, and by doing mock interviews. I interviewed on the first day of interviews which is always a good thing because admissions are a rolling process, so it's first come first serve in a sense. The interview was pretty different from the med school interview I did last year. There were 8 interviewees total and 10 admissions committee members. The interviewees were split up into two groups of four and we did a group interview with admissions committee. It was interesting. A question would be asked and each of the interviewees would answer the same question, one after the other. The order of the interviewees answering the questions was changed with each question so that no one had to answer first more than the others. Some of the other interviewees thought that it was helpful because we were able to think about what the person before us said and build up on that. I felt like I already knew what I was going to say and having more people around just made it more nerve racking if anything else. But it wasn't set up to be a competition, we weren't supposed to argue against others. We were just supposed to say what we thought. It was relatively relaxed to be honest. After the group interview there was a written essay to answer and then an individual interview. I felt like I did well on everything, and received positive feedback via body language.
I did the interview on a Friday and was called the following Wednesday and told that I got it. It was pretty funny. They called my parents' home phone and mom answered while dad and I were sawing down brush and planting trees in the back. Mom insisted that the program director stay on the line in stead of calling back later. She hurried down the property screaming at the top of her lungs "NICHOLAS! NICHOLAS! OHSU IS ON THE PHONE!" Dad is chainsawing in the background and I'm screaming "WHAT MOM? WHAT DO YOU WANT? WE CAN'T HEAR YOU!" Eventually I got to the phone and there was hardly any service so I had to run up to the house. The program director heard everything, of course, and was laughing pretty hard at the situation. I could hardly talk because I was out of breath from running. But I think he enjoyed it.  Typical family scene - awkward, uncool, but funny.
That all came before Halloween weekend, which inspired me to celebrate even more hellaciously with my friends from the UP cross country team who had come from California and Washington state for the weekend. That weekend I received my visa for Spain and I bought the eariliest flight to Spain that I could get, which was scheduled for after my last shift working as a scribe, the 15th of November. I am very excited to see my girlfriend Carmen, who I haven't seen for four months! Above all I am looking forward to seeing Carmen, but also to seeing other friends there and teaching again. I am going to return to the same position I had last year teaching at an elementary school. I was supposed to start working at the school in the beginning of October, but I had to wait for my interviews and my visa before I could go. Fortunately, everyone at the school really likes me and they were willing to hold my position. Now, I just have to work more hours to make up for the time I missed. I am very excited. If you are thinking that it isn't the best move to leave scribing when I am about to start PA school, I will assure that I have already considered this. I have already taken everything from the scribe job that I can. What I need to do now to prepare myself for the medical field is go back to school. The scribe job is an internship, meaning it is a job with a steep learning curve that provides great experience, but is extremely demanding and very low paying. At this point I have reached the tail end of the learning curve and am at a plateau where I am not learning many new things, so the job has turned into just computer work. On top of that the program is limiting its workers to 1000 hours a year so that the program doesn't have to provide benefits to the scribes. So now I get no benefits, work less hours and still get paid minimum wage. To sum it up: I have been very frustrated with scribing since I came back home because above all I am not gaining new knowledge/experience from it, I am busting my ass off for the doctors I work for, I drive an hour to two hours to get to work, I work only 3 -4 shifts a week at any hour of the 24 hour clock and I get paid minimum wage. I am really excited to never be a scribe again!!!! hahaha. To finish painting the picture, none of the scribes that were working when I was hired 2.5 years ago are still there. No one scribes for more than two years, and here I am! OK, enough pouting. I appreciate that my boss let me come back to scribing. It has been worth it to scribe while I was here to get back in with the doctors and the PAs in the area. That is the reason why I came back, for those connects.
So, in Spain I will enjoy my last hoorah by exploring the Spanish Countryside with Carmen, eating tapas, listening to flamenco, mocking flamenco dancers, teaching English, reviewing all of the interesting cases that I have seen in the hospital and recorded - and research them, reviewing some science stuff that I know I should brush up on, and possibly volunteering by doing translation at a Hospital. Its going to be a great time. I bought a two way ticket to ensure that I make it back here! hahaha.
I think I will start up my blog/diary again and maybe I will post this in there just to get me back in the blogging mood.
Have great holidays! I will try to stay in touch via emails, blogs and Facebook.
Un abrazo fuerte de tu sobrino! (Its typical for Spaniards, men and women,  to finish a card with "un abrazo" which means a hug. I wrote " a strong hug from you nephew!")

martes, 29 de marzo de 2011

Paelleros Sin Fronteras and thoughts

The last two weekends I have had the opportunity to attend two paella fiestas. Paella (pronounced something like pie-ay-ah) consists of a mountain of rice with green peppers, red peppers, artichoke and just about any kind of meat you want to throw in. The meat of choice for both the paellas was chicken thigh. Celebrations that include paella are worth commenting on because they are always exceptionally fun and the paella is always the center of the party. The typical routine is drink and snack as soon as the preparation of the paella begins. The paella always smells amazing and has an impressive evolution from ingredients to mass of yellow, green and red ricey deliciousness. Paella is cooked slowly over a massive frying pan and because the pan is not very deep it creates a massive surface of food and gives off a strong aroma which amps up everyone's excitement to eat. By the time the paella is done everyone's hunger is usually staved from snacking, but the paella is the grand prize and people keep on eating. When I return to the US I am going to try my best to replicate "una paella" - a celebration with paella. I would compare it to the American barbeque with a cultural difference.

The second weekend of "una paella" was to celebrate the birthday of a friend of a friend which was a lot of fun. We played paddle ball and ping pong when we weren't eating.

The weekend before, I attended "una paella" that was a celebration of the anniversary of the volunteer association that works with children who have cancer. It was much more unique. I recently started volunteering at this cancer center in a nearby hospital and was invited to participate in the party. At the hospital my job is to play with the children. It is the best volunteering I have done yet because it’s fun and rewarding.

At the party a non-profit organization called Paelleros Sin Fronteras showed up to cook a massive paella. Paelleros Sin Fronteras stands for "paella makers without borders!" It is an amazing organization of people that cooks massive paellas for any good cause. The pan that they cooked in was literally two yards in diameter and big enough to feed 250 people. It was so big that they were using oars to stir the paella. haha. Everyone was amazed by the paella and having a great time.

During the party there was a dance competition and I knew that one way or another I was going to be "animated" into joining the dance contest because that always seems to happen to me. So I was paired up and joined the competition. My partner and I made it to the second round, but were axed during the second evaluation of the dancers. Two of the children who are cancer patients at the hospital were in the final round dancing with their fathers. When the fathers and their daughters danced the final dance together all of the coordinators of the program and some of the other patients' parents were crying with happiness at the sight. It was an incredible experience. It felt really good to participate in something special for the children and help them too feel liberated and completely happy.

Before coming to Spain I had almost no experience working with young children and suddenly I became surrounded by children all the time. At first it was kind of difficult to teach because I just came out of college and really struggled to convey a subject in a manner in which the students could understand and relate to. Now I feel much more comfortable talking with children and really enjoy working with them (not always, they suck the life out of me). I really enjoy volunteering with children in the cancer center because I feel like I help them to do the things that make them happy.  The experience has made me realize how special childhood is and how much of a tragedy it is for a child to lose the opportunity to fully live their youth.

I have three more months left here in Spain and plan to explore the southern coast of Spain more thoroughly, but I don't think that much is going to change in my lifestyle as I now have a full schedule and a group of friends. But I am very satisfied now knowing that I have already gained a lot from participating in this program and living here for the past six months. I've come to really enjoy working with children; I understand children much better, understand education much better and remember much more of my own childhood and what I was like. When I become frustrated with students in class because they are not paying attention, goofing around or struggling with assignments I think about what it was like when I was a student their age and what I wish my teachers would have done for me. This helps me to be patient and do my best to make sure that they are learning rather than just finishing a worksheet by copying something they see.

And that’s the summary of my personal growth over the past half year: learning to play with children and how to throw a great party with paella.

lunes, 7 de marzo de 2011


The province of Malaga celebrated Semana Blanca last week and naturally we had a week off of school and a week of vacation time. I didn’t have any plans set for myself and I was invited to go to Berlin with three teachers from my school and my housemate Courtney. I should note that all of the teachers are women between ages 33 and 40 and I was a little hesitant about the idea of going on a vacation with only women, but I felt very comfortable with the group as we spend coffee break together every day, so I decided to take advantage of the opportunity.
We rented an apartment in Berlin for 7 days and bought metro passes for a week so that we could travel around the city easily. I loved the metro system while we were there. We were able to travel throughout the entire city easily and quickly and see a lot of the city in any one day.  Berlin is a really fun city with a kind of alternative/artistic feel. When the Berlin wall was taken down a large amount of abandoned and poorly maintained buildings started to be converted into bars, discotecas, art galleries, and music studios. Many young artists started to move to Berlin to take advantage of the low price of living and focus on music and art. The majority of artists and musicians of Germany now reside in Berlin. All this was very apparent by the diverse style of the citizens, the number of alternative/dive bars, art galleries, public art and street musicians. To be honest it reminded me quite a lot of Portland, but on a grander scale: weird people, good beer, lots of music and lots of art. Instead of Mexican food Berlin has Turkish food. I would say the two cities are pretty comparable minus the tumultuous history of Berlin and its historical landmarks.
It was a great experience to see what remains of the Berlin wall and become better informed of the history behind it. It is shocking to think of all that the people of Germany had gone through during world war two and that about 15 years later they had to face another wall. I saw some pretty profound photos of people holding children up above the wall as the wall was being constructed in 1961 so that friends and relatives on the other side of the wall could see their children. Another photo I saw that was unbelievable to me was an aerial photo of the gate of Berlin and the wall in front of it, which is really two walls with about 30 meters in between that had barbed wire fences in case someone had jumped over one of the walls. I was most surprised by the year in which the photo was taken, 1988, which is not long ago at all. It was crazy to think that the city of Berlin, which belonged to Germany, remained divided between the western world and Russia.
I also visited a site of a former concentration camp which was pretty shocking. It was a concentration camp for work, not extermination, but it really was as close to hell as I can imagine.  The prisoners had to perform tasks such as test products for war and create armaments for the Nazis. The darkest parts of the concentration camp experience were the execution wall, crematoriums, and infirmary. In the Infirmary that we saw Nazi doctors sterilized people and performed medical experiments such as injecting viruses in people to observe the reactions and placing pieces of metal in people’s bodies to study infection. It was a very dark experience, but good to learn about history and recognize the horror that humans can create if not careful.
The trip overall was an incredible learning experience and reflecting on my trip the history I learned is what I value most, but while I was in Berlin my favorite things to do were drink good beers in awesome bars, eat loads of delicious sausages and gain a feel of the lifestyle of Berliners.  It was a really great experience.

martes, 8 de febrero de 2011

Noche Vieja

After Christmas I headed to Madrid and Spent two nights in a hostel and explored the city for two days. I really like Madrid; it is quite different from southern Spain. When I arrived in Madrid I felt like I had just stepped into Europe for the first time. Southern Spain is quite agricultural and rustic, whereas Madrid is very cosmopolitan and feels very alive. It was nice to experience something different.  I ended up making friends with a group of Brazilians, Australians, Portuguese and French people in the hostel I stayed at and we went out together at night and went to some museums together during the day.  The nice thing about knowing English is that the majority of people in Europe can speak some English, but Spain is sort of the exception and has much fewer English speakers. Something I found interesting was that among all of the Brazilian, French and Portuguese people I was the only one who could speak Spanish, so I had to speak on behalf of our group when we went out.

After I explored Madrid for two days I met up with my friends Paloma and Alfonso who were exchange students at my high school for a year. They are my friends that I met up with at the beginning of the year and went with to the bullfight. Their family has vacation homes in Galicia which is the northwest region of Spain (I frequently describe where I am from by saying “I am from the Galicia of the USA”). Their homes are in a town on the Atlantic Ocean that is called Cabanas. The NW of Spain is actually quite similar to the NW of the US and reminded me a lot of Oregon. Normally it is cloudy and rainy in winter in Galicia, just like in the Pacific NW, but I was suuuuper lucky because it was sunny the entire time I was there.
Paloma and Alfonso’s family and family friends are all members of a maritime club on the beach which is really awesome. It is basically a large building with a massive kitchen, dining hall and dance floor. I realized that I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to spend New Year’s Eve with Paloma’s family because both Paloma and Alfonso told me that they usually don’t take even their best friends to Cabanas because they have a ton of fun hanging out with all of their cousins and family members and want to enjoy their time with them. Alfonso told me that they made an exception in inviting me because I am a friend from Newberg High school and I didn’t have any family in Spain! haha. The family was very welcoming and friendly to me; I felt very comfortable and appreciated. Paloma’s father, Eugenio, was incredibly generous and paid for everything for me, refusing to let me pay for anything over the four days that I was with them. They were very nice to me.
New Year’s Eve is called noche vieja in Spanish, which means the old night. On the day of noche vieja it was beautiful outside and Alfonso wanted to try to go surfing and invited me to go with him. I had never been surfing in my life before but I was amped to be able to try. Alfonso lent me an old wetsuit that had a hole in it and one of his friends lent me an old board. I was absolutely flipping out over the fact that I was going to try surfing for the first time in my life on December 31st in northwest Spain on the Atlantic Ocean. The ocean was gorgeous and the day was perfect, I couldn´t have asked for more. Alfonso and his friend gave me literally a 15 second tutorial on how to surf and we jumped in the water. The water was freezing cold and I was really feeling the water coming through the hole on my back. I was horrible, at first I struggled just to sit up on the board out in the ocean. I had no idea how I was supposed to dive under oncoming waves with the board so I was getting tossed around like a rag doll about seventy percent of the time. I made a few good attempts to try to stand up and ride a wave but every time I started to try to stand the nose of the board sunk down and I fell and subsequently got dominated by the water. I would describe my hour and a half attempt to surf as a personal understanding of the force of water and my lack of balance. Even though I was frozen and was never close to riding a wave, I had an amazing time being in the water under the sun and looking out over the ocean and along the green coastline. My excitement about the entire situation never let up, it was an experience I will never forget.
After surfing Alfonso and the rest of the family advised me to try to take a siesta because the night was going to be long and tough. We spent the rest of the day saving as much energy as we possibly could so we could make it through the night.
Apparently the family tradition for their new year’s celebration is that the men cook for dinner all day long and drink. By the time dinner is served everyone is in very high spirits. Eugenio, Paloma’s father was dressed in a white apron, chef’s pants and a chef’s hat – it was great.  At about 9 pm we went to the maritime club and dinner got started. Everyone was very well dressed, all the men were dressed in suites including me, wearing a suit that Alfonso´s friend lent me (I was kind of dying later in the night because I wanted to take the suit off because I was so hot, but my friends told me I couldn´t do it because it would be disrespectful to the parents). It was a great scene; there were over 130 very excited people in the dining hall eating, drinking, toasting and singing. In Spain there is a tradition that just before the clock strikes midnight twelve bells ring and each time a bell rings everyone must eat a grape. So for the last 15 seconds of the year everyone in Spain is working on eating 12 grapes, one at a time with each bell. This is not that easy to be honest. A lot of people peel the grapes and take the seeds out to make it easier. I harnessed all my concentration and eating abilities and finished the grapes on time without peeling them!
As soon as it was midnight the party started to kick off. After eating grapes everyone gave each other kisses and started making drinks. People were in rare form dancing and singing like crazy. It was pretty unreal because everyone was going all out, even the 60+ year olds were saying they were "borrocho perdido" which means lost in drunkenness, haha. People were not literally that drunk, but just dancing and having a great time.

At that time in Spain a song called Papa Americano (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWlrQDUjL9Q) was very popular. This song for me is both a massive pain in my ass and very fun because of course every time it plays people start dancing around me, pointing and singing "Papa Americano". Well I knew that Papa Americano was going to come on at some point during the evening and I was somewhat dreading it knowing that I would have to put on some kind of performance. At about 3:00 am Papa Americano started to play. I didn´t even recognize the beginning of the song at first but all of the family members did and started to form a circle around me. The circle started with about 40 people and continued to grow. I just started to laugh and tried to do a silly dance to appease the crowd enough to let me escape, but I didn´t get off that easy. I tried to leave the crowd but everyone was yelling ¨PAPA AMERICANO!!!" and clapping and pushed me back in the center of the circle. At this point the circle consisted of literally 80 people. I decided that if I was going to dance like an idiot in front of so many people I might as well ignore all inhibitions and forget myself consciousness. I can´t really put into words what the hell I did to entertain those people for 4 and a half minutes, but I just started jumping around and I guess "dancing" Hahaha. But everyone was going nuts the entire time yelling, singing and clapping. At about three minutes into the song I started to run out of creativity and couldn´t think of anything else to do so I resorted to the one dance that I know and always triumphs with people, swing. I grabbed the hand of¨ "Tutus" a very fun cousin who is a true character of the family and started to swing dance with her in the center of the circle. As soon as I did the first spin everyone erupted with shouts. The screaming, clapping and laughter only grew as we were dancing because people were dying over the fact that I actually knew quite a few swing dance moves. When I did the pretzel (a complex looking move) with Tutus people were flipping out and cheered us on even stronger! Tutus and I were dying as well, laughing and smiling. For the last ten seconds of the song I jumped up and down with my hands in the air doing spins and claps and everyone clapped with me. When it was all over an auntie ran up to me with a towel and dabbed my face and hair because I was drenched in sweat, then she kissed me and said “Que bueno eres!" - How good you are! Hahaha. After the auntie everyone started giving me kisses and hugs and were telling me how crazy and¨"beautiful" it was and that I had to return to Cabanas in the summer. Hahaha. Alfonso and Paloma came up to me wide eyed and said "You can come to Cabanas any time you want now! My family loves you! You are a cousin now!" Hahaha. It was absolutely unbelievable. For the rest of the evening I was a superstar.  It felt like something out of a movie, it was crazy. About an hour and a half later I had to do the dance again because some of the family members missed the dance and new people started showing up to the party and everyone wanted to see it. I had no desire to do it again, but when I tried to run away when the song came on about eight cousins grabbed me and were telling me that they had to see the dance. haha. Luckily they only played half the song the second time.
We continued to dance for the rest of the evening and at about 5:30 when the last parent went home I was able to take off my suit jacket, which I was dying to do all night. At about 7:30 in the morning we called it a night and walked home and went to bed.
The next day Paloma’s father drove the 5 hours back to Madrid which was a pretty terrible experience with the hangover that followed the evening.  New year’s day in Spain is actually formally called Dia de Resaca which means day of the hangover.  The 2nd of January Paloma and her father brought me to a massive street fair in Madrid and then we went out for tapas, jumping to and from about 5 different bars eating different delicious finger foods.
I had an unbelievable experience with Paloma, Alfonso, Eugenio and the rest of their family. It was something that I could never repeat as an experience as a whole, my best New Year’s experience b y far!

domingo, 6 de febrero de 2011


OK. I am very late in entering this, but the theme is Christmas. I spent Christmas in Granada, which is where I studied abroad three years ago. When I studied abroad in Granada I became good friends with Paco, the grandson of my host mother, and we have stayed in contact over the past few years. Paco invited me to spend Christmas with his family which was absolutely awesome because I already knew a good amount of his family. In Spain Christmas eve is the big Christmas celebration, greater than Christmas day. The night is called Noche Buena, which means the good night.
On Noche Buena apparently it is normal for all the young people in the family to go out to bars before and after the family celebration. So on the 24th of December I went out to bars at 3pm with Paco, his cousins and his cousins friends. I felt that this was very abnormal because to me Christmas Eve and Christmas day is a time you spend with your family, not a time to go out to bars and clubs to party. But when I went out it was apparent that in Spain it is very normal to go out on Noche Buena because all of the bars were packed at three in the afternoon. We drank and danced until six then went to his grandmother’s house. When we arrived the house was packed with 34 family members cooking, eating, drinking, and shouting. Everyone helped prepare the dishes for dinner and snacked at the same time. Everyone was very friendly and happy to have me at the party. Every other minute an auntie or and uncle was feeding me a different kind of food.
After picando (snacking) for almost three hours we sat down at the tables. At dinner it was obvious that the grandmother was the most important figure at the table. She sat at the head of the table and when she said the prayer before eating some of the cousins continued to talk all of the older cousins yelled at them “How disrespectful and shameless you are! Shut up and listen to your grandmother!” They were adamant about showing respect to their grandmother.  She was very funny and nice to me by ending her prayer with “And to our American friend who didn’t understand a word that I just said, but whom we are very happy to have with us here!”
 After the speech the dishes started to travel around the table. There were so many different kinds of foods that it was impossible to try every one and not become stuffed. I was already full from drinking at the bar and then snacking for three hours, but I had to keep eating. I ate soup, marinated salmon, stuffed peppers, shrimp, cured ham, pork loin, a seafood loaf (it seemed like meatloaf but with shrimp and crab) and a few other plates that I can’t remember. When I finally threw out the white flag and decided I couldn’t possibly eat anymore I was so bloated from food that I literally had trouble breathing. I have never eaten so much food in my entire life. I was packed with food that it hurt for me to move.
After eating everyone sat around and talked for about two hours to digest a little. I never stopped feeling completely stuffed that night. Despite feeling too full to do anything Paco and I had to go out and light fireworks and party with his friends (completely normal to do in Spain at 1 am on Christmas Eve). We ended up going to a discoteca but we were so full and so tired that in the end we decided to turn in early and go home at 4:30.
On Christmas day we hung out and relaxed. The family had another meal in the afternoon and in the evening Paco, his cousins and I rode go-carts and went bowling.
It was a great experience. I missed mom, dad and Hali a lot during Christmas time, but it was really nice to be able to spend time with friends and a family that was so welcoming and friendly.

lunes, 17 de enero de 2011

Christmas Vacation Warm up

In Spain the holiday vacation starts and ends about a week later than in the US because here they celebrate the arrival of the three kings on January 6th as well as Christmas. So all of the students and teachers were in class through the 23rd of December. It was weird to me that my first day of break started on Christmas Eve.

But before Christmas break started the holiday season was kicked off by comidas, meals, with coworkers and friends. Spain's holiday celebration is kind of out of control, from December 16th to January 7th people party and eat beyond the limits of health. Americans as a whole are pretty unhealthy, but during this period of the year I am sure that Spaniards are unhealthier than Americans. So starting on the 16th everyone starts going to meals which include eating way too much food and then going out afterward. People usually attend two to three comidas during the week before Christmas.

My school had a comida on the Friday before break started. All the other teachers (about 40) and I went to a nice restaurant to eat and we did a secret Santa present exchange. It was really fun to be able to spend time with all of the teachers outside of school - everyone was cutting loose and having a great time. Without the students around we behaved similarly to them - laughing, yelling and creating chaos. The assistant director of the school asked me to hand out all of the gifts during the gift exchange, so I snuck a Santa suit in my backpack and put it on in the bathroom and surprised the teachers by entering the room yelling Merry Christmas and laughing like Santa. It was a ton of fun! Every time that someone opened a present everyone chanted either "Que bonito, Que bonito" or "Eso quiero yo, Eso quiero yo", which mean "How beautiful" and "I want that". It was really fun. After the dinner about 17 of us went to a dance club, where there were many other parties of workers celebrating after their own comidas. It was great to go out with my colleagues, everyone had great time singing and dancing together and most of all being able to hang out without hundreds of wild elementary students around. .

Two days later I had another comida with my housemates and all of our friends. We went to a house outside of Malaga and cooked a mountain of paella. I have always wanted to see paella cooked in a large pan because it is a very typical Spanish dish. Before we ate the paella we spent about two hours snacking on olives, cheese, salad, bread, morcilla (blood sausage), chorizo (more sausage) and chips. Then we ate a ton of paella. I was stuffed. The comidas are always filling because of the snacking before the actual meal. I eat enough to basically count as a meal before the actual meal is served. Then the main plate is so delicious that I don't want to stop eating so I keep going. By the end of the comida I am unable to do anything but sprawl around the house.

The next week during the classes I talked to all of the students about how Christmas is celebrated in the US. On the last day of class before break I dressed up as Santa for the students and went around to all of the classes to pass out candy. It was really fun. The younger students thought that I was the true Santa Clause and were completely mesmorized by me. It was pretty hilarious. After school was over I took a bus to Granada to celebrate Christmas with my friend Paco and his family.