Jason and I started off the third month finally celebrating our 18th wedding anniversary about two weeks late. We spent a lovely morning at the Arab baths (I think we will be visiting them often while we are here in Granada), and that evening had a fun and different fondue dinner at El Agua a restaurant just down the street from our house.
The children have been in school for about a month now, and I have to say, I really expected more tears and frustration on all of our parts. Robbie definitely doesn’t like the very long day he spends away from the house, but he’s pretty resigned to it now. He leaves about 8:30 to catch the bus every morning, and arrives back home at 6 p.m. It would be more of a problem if he then had a bunch of homework, but I’m not sure his school knows exactly what to do with him. We had assumed they would just give him the same work that his classmates were doing, and we would need to struggle with him at night to
help him translate all the things he supposed to be doing, but that’s not the case. He rarely brings home any work, and it sounds like he is being given special assignments in most of his classes. We’ve met with his tutor, and explained what we are hoping Robbie will get out of this year, but we will have to give it another month or two to see how it pans out. He has made some friends at school, and is enjoying playing basketball during break times, but since he’s already a pretty shy kid, he’s definitely not experiencing a busy social life as yet.
Matthew seems to be taking everything in stride, and is the most “immersed” of our kiddos. His teacher, Diego, doesn’t speak any English at all, so he is hearing Spanish non-stop for 5 hours a day (yes, it’s only a five hour day for Matthew and Gabi right now…more on that later!). Three days a week after school, he heads across town to basketball practice at another school in Granada, Maristas. One of his coaches and a couple of the kids speak English, but overall, he is learning all the basketball terms in Spanish, and it’s pretty cool to watch him interact with the other players. A benefit for Jason is that there are a group of dads who play basketball on Thursday nights, and he has enjoyed playing with them, and practicing his Spanish as well.
Gabi is doing well. After the first day of school there were no more tears and she really loves her teacher, Laura. She’s made friends with kids in her class, both fellow expats and locals, and has also been playing with other kids in the neighborhood. Just last week she started some extra-curricular activities offered at her school including a cooking class and a circus class.
This is probably a good spot to jot down some of the big differences we’ve notice about schooling here in Granada. First of all, all teachers are called by their first names. Second, teachers are much more demonstrative in both positive and negative ways. On the first day of school at Gomez Moreno we noticed lots of hugging between the students and teachers. On the opposite side, Robbie has said that a couple times a teacher has pulled a kid by the ear or swatted him on the back of the head for doing something wrong. We assume this is a cultural thing, and one we have told our kids to just get used to. It’s not like in the states where teachers can’t comfort or welcome a child with a hug or a kiss on both cheeks (typical greeting here in Spain). But, our kids report, the flip side is that while there are teachers out on the playground during breaks, they often let kids “work it out” themselves, without getting involved. Not a bad thing in our opinion. Finally, the actual school day schedule is quite different. Matthew and Gabi start school at 9 a.m. and have classes until about noon, when they have a recess and a short break for a snack. Lunch is served at 2:00 p.m. in the comedor, or students go home for lunch. If they eat at school, they then can stay until 4 p.m. with lunch and a long recess. After that, there are optional extra-curricular activities from 4 until 6 p.m. If they go home for lunch, they can come back to school for extra-curriculars. Apparently the comedor at school is competitive and not everyone who wants to eat lunch at school is able to do so. Priority is given to working parents, etc. We have Matthew and Gabi on the waiting list, but aren’t holding out much hope that they will actually get spots, although we’ve been told usually everyone gets in by the end of October. We’d like them to take lunch at school because, and this is the same at Robbie’s school, children are required to eat what is served to them, and finish each course before they are allowed to start on the next. Robbie was NOT happy with this at first, but by the second week he realized that he can eat just about anything that is put in front of him, and it’s done wonders for one of our picky eaters. Anyways, at this point in time, Matthew and Gabi come home from school at 2, have lunch with Jason and I and then go to their extra-curricular activities later in the day. Robbie’s school schedule is similar to Matthew and Gabi’s, except that after his hour-long lunch at 2 p.m., he still has about 2 hours of class time to complete.
Most of this post seems to be about school, but that’s probably because that has occupied a lot of our time this month. Getting into a routine, attending class meetings (all in Spanish, of course…I was afraid to raise my hand in case I accidentally volunteered for something!), and getting activities organized has been time consuming. But we’ve still been able to explore a bit, make new friends and continue to practice our Spanish.
I have been hiking with a group of women a few times, and one of my favorite hikes was Los Cahorros just outside of Granada. Hanging bridges over the river, rock faces jutting so far out onto the trail in places you need to use handholds to get past them and a great spot for a cerveza after! Liked it so much, I dragged my boys back two days later. Two weeks ago, Jason and I took Matthew and Gabi to the caves in Nerja and then drove to Salobreña where the two of us had spent a week five years ago. Jason and I have enjoyed our latest set of Spanish classes with Susana at DeLengua, and we both have met locals for language exchanges, which I think is going to be the best way for us to improve our Spanish.
This coming month is going to be busy, with a couple of trips planned and organizing a Halloween event with many of the expats and few locals we know. Those of you who know us know how much we love hosting for Halloween in Seattle, so we are going to keep the tradition up and share with our fellow Granadinos a little bit about Halloween in the states!