Why are Spanish people so good looking?

Call me superficial. Call me pathetic. Call me whatever you want, but one thing which became readily apparent to me in the first five minutes of arriving in Spain is that almost everyone here seems to be incredibly attractive.

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Both men and women look like they’ve come from some sort of fashion show, despite the fact that it’s 7am in the morning, and most ordinary mortals look like me (namely, ruffled, crumpled, and a complete mess).

I think part of it may be because the Madrileños know how to dress well. The women have perfectly fitting jeans and always look as if they’ve just come out of a hairdresser. And the men are able to wear coloured pants without looking as if they’ve failed an audition for the circus.

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What’s particularly interesting is that even though it’s getting cold, and they’re wearing loads of layers of clothing, they still manage to look incredibly sexy.

This just isn’t fair!

I used to think “Wow, Elena Anaya is so beautiful!” (I was going to put Penélope Cruz, but I think Elena Anaya is more attractive) and “Antonio Banderas looked really good in that film” (I know, I know, Antonio Banderas, lots of people don’t think he’s good looking, but for some reason, I do). However, since coming to Spain, I have come to realise that the vast majority of the population look like Elena or Antonio WITHOUT EVEN TRYING!

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Elena Anaya

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Antonio Banderas

There is simply no justice in this world.

But the most bizarre part of the whole thing is that one teacher at my school seems to think that I am the Australian Elena Anaya equivalent (I WISH!). She keeps telling me that my eyes are “sooooo pretty” (because they’re light in colour), that my hair is “soooooo curly” (I haven’t seen anyone with hair as curly as mine yet), and that my Spanish is “sooooooooo funny” (not sure if this is meant as praise or an insult).

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I DO NOT look like this!

I think this teacher needs to book an urgent appointment at her optometrist, as her glasses clearly aren’t strong enough. Or maybe it’s simply the case that people tend to find difference attractive? Who knows? There’s probably a PhD in this for someone, and let me just say, I definitely think that investigating differences in attractiveness around the world would be much more interesting than a lot of other PhDs…

Any takers?

The good, the bad, and the ugly

Well, today was a bit of a mixed bag, you could say (that’s putting it mildly). Here’s some of the highlights…and the lowlights…

The good

  • The Year 1 English class was replaced by a lesson in road safety from a local policemen. It was particularly amusing when the policeman asked the kids whether any of their parents broke the road rules, and about half of them put up their hands. He then pretended to jot down all the names, and said he’d visit their houses to arrest them. The kids loved this.

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  • I had class with my two favourite students, Camilla and Fernanda. They are both 5 years old, and so, so cute. Camilla wears huge purple glasses, and doesn’t speak a word of English, but chatters at me incessantly in Spanish. She loves showing me her sliding across the floor moves, which she thinks are particularly impressive. She also seems to get a perverse satisfaction when I say “No, Camilla! That’s so dangerous!” This causes her to grin away madly, with obvious delight. Fernanda speaks a bit more English, and is absolutely obsessed wtih my appearance. She always wants to touch my necklaces, and sits there and intones “You are so beautiful” throughout the class. This is excellent for the self-esteem.
  • One of the Year 2 students gave me a present. It was a beautiful flag (???) he had made. I’m not too sure what I’ll do with it, but it was a nice thought!

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  • The other Year 1 class were learning about Red Riding Hood, and I got to use the Big Bad Wolf puppet to act out the story with the teacher. This was surprisingly enjoyable, particularly as I could be ask nasty as possible, and say that I was “getting in character.”

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The bad

  • Some of the kids got a little bit too “caught up in the action” with the Big Bad Wolf puppet, and thought he was actually attacking and eating Red Riding Hood. One boy got quite viscious, and tried to pull off the wolf’s legs in order to save Red Riding Hood. Unfortunately, the wolf puppet was pretty badly made, and now one of its legs is hanging by a thread. I hope no one notices that next time…
  • I have blue and green plasticine embedded under my fingernails after spending 45 minutes helping the children make models of the world. I can’t seem to get it out now.

The ugly

  • Things went TOTALLY pear-shaped in the Year 5 science class. They were having an in class quiz, which the teacher and I were supervising. Most of the kids clearly hadn’t studied, and kept putting up their hands to ask questions, which the teacher tried to deflect. When she had to leave the room, the kids turned to me, and began asking, then started talking to each other. I told them to stop talking. They pretended they didn’t understand. So I told them in Spanish to stop talking. This caused an uproar. “SHE SPEAKS SPANISH!!!!!” they shrieked, and began yelling at me anew. In desperation, I decided to move the two cheekiest students, but then the teacher came back, lost it completely, and screamed that the class were the worst students in the history of bad students.

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All I can say is, thank goodness for my 3.5 day week!

Two types of teachers

This week has been my first week of “proper” teaching (last week was really just orientation), and, over the past two days, I have realised that the teachers at my school seem to fall into two distinct categories…

Type 1. The “I have no idea what you’re doing here” teacher

This type of teacher is by far the most common. They know that I am there as a language assistant, but they don’t seem to have any conception of what my job actually entails (although they have been told by both me and the co-ordinator MULTIPLE times that I am there to work with them in the classroom, and assist with speaking and listening activities).

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As they don’t know what I’m doing, and they haven’t bothered to plan the lesson, this means that they have to try and think of something for me to do on the spot. And, typically, this involves me being given 3 or 4 unfortunate students, and being told to take them outside to “speak in English” about “whatever (you) want.” There’s no plan. No materials. Nothing. And this lasts for 45 minutes.

Right….

Needless to say, it is a disaster. Because the kids aren’t familiar with me, they don’t listen to what I’m saying, and talk in Spanish, rather than English. As I have no materials, it’s really hard to think of relevant activities. And because I’ve never taught, I have no idea what level the children are at. Can a 6 year old read, for example? I don’t know!

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Type 2. The “You’re here as a teacher, so you can teach” teacher

This type of teacher is much less common, but is also hard to deal with. Rather than having no idea what to do with me, the “You’re here as a teacher, so you can teach” teacher expects me to do their job. Perfectly. Without any preparation time. While they sit at the back of the room, relaxing.

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Today, I had three such classes. In the first, I had to talk to Year 6 students about the concept of self-respect. In the next class, I had to teach Year 5 students grammatical structures for expressing likes and dislikes. And, in the most ridiculous class of all, I found myself trying to teach a group of 5 year olds that you eat lunch in the dining room, whilst one of the little boys kept tugging on my arm, telling me that he had something in his eye, and asking me to help him wash it out.

It was absolute hell.

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“The School of Athens.” It’s NOT like this.

There’s one teacher at the school who seems to understand what I’m meant to be doing. He lets me read all the materials, introduces the subject to the students, and then invites me to lead the class discussion, while he sits there and helps.

I love working with him.

But he’s a substitute, so he’s only there when one of the other (dreadful) teachers is away.

All I can say is, if the students learn ANY English this year, I’m going to be happy. And surprised…

An ode to tortillas

One of the first things which people think about when the word “Spain” is mentioned is tapas. And whilst I would like to say that I have sampled a wide variety of exotic tapas, I must admit that every. single. time., I find myself ordering EXACTLY the same thing.

Tortilla Española, or Spanish Omlette, or Tortilla de Patatas.

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The weird thing is, I don’t like omlettes as they are typically made in Australia, with loads of eggs and not much else. I find them, well, too eggy, for want of a better word. But Tortilla Española is different. The eggs are mixed in with potatoes (and onions, although if you are a purist, you might argue that these are an unwanted “improvement”), then cooked gently to form an absolutely delicious concoction, which you can eat by itself, or with aioli, if you so desire.

Just writing this is making me hungry!

Tonight, my friend Maria (I’ve mentioned her in the “People I’ve met” post) and I went to  a fantastic bar called Malaspina, and they gave us some free tortilla as a tapas. Let me just say, I never say no to a tortilla, so when this came out, on its mouthwatering little plate, that was the end for me…

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The worst part of the tortilla craze is that I have now started buying pre-packed varieties. But what really makes this bad is that I buy them in bulk.

This unhealthy obsession began when I discovered that the 24 hour supermarket near me sells pre-made tortillas in packs. You chuck them in the microwave for 4 mins, and voila, they’re ready. At first, I was dubious about the quality (tortilla aficionado that I am), but it was surprisingly good. And, even better, each pack lasts for two meals!

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Consequently, every weekend, I find myself at the supermarket, buying the ready-made tortillas en masse because I’m too lazy to a) go out; or b) learn to cook for myself.

If “we are what we eat”, I will be returning to Sydney in the shape of a potato omelette….