Tag Archives: practicum

The Suspense is Killing Me!!

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So this week has been quite interesting.

 

Firstly, Tuesday was our last day at our practicum schools since they are getting out for the summer within the next week. My last day teaching was Friday so I just observed others teach and then we were invited to one of the 8th grade graduations. It was so cute. The students put together a video of scrolling pictures that played in the background while they read individual speeches to each of their teachers, some of which they have had since they started school in the 1st grade. A lot of the kids got emotional and it was absolutely adorable to watch them with so much happiness that they are moving on to high school but so much sadness in knowing that, after spending 8 years with the same people in the same class, they will go their separate ways to various high schools throughout the city.

 

Later that night, my friend Jeremy and I played tennis with a PCVL and one of our language teachers at the park and that was a blast. It was nice to run around and laugh at our tennis skills while better getting to know one of my teachers and one of the PCVLs that has been at the training hub on and off since the beginning.

 

Today was a rough day in respects to language. Instead of having our typical 4 hour language classes from 9-1, our teachers created what they referred to as “simulation stations” for us. There were 6 various rooms and in each room there was 1 or 2 language instructors and you had to pull a slip of paper that had a random scenario description that you had to successfully complete in Romanian. The rooms/topics were divided into: Family, Post Office, Restaurant, Socializing, Shopping, and Travel. Each topic lasted only 5 minutes so it was a little unnerving at first. My first room I went into was shopping and my slip read: “It is your birthday party tomorrow. You have to discuss with your friends what foods and drinks you will buy, the quantities, where you will buy them, and make sure to mention how the shop keepers never seem to have change for you.” It was definitely intense but I made it out alive. The rest of the day was spent listening to practicum presentations from all 8 groups which became very repetitive very quickly.

 

Tomorrow, however, is a huge day! We don’t have to be at school until 10am which is absolutely amazing. We are done with language classes for the rest of the week because tomorrow we have medical sessions where we will receive any vaccines that we have yet to receive and in the afternoon we find out our site placements!!!! This is the moment that we have been waiting for for 6 weeks. After tomorrow, we will know where we will be living for the next two years and we will start preparing for our counterpart conferences that will occur this weekend. Our teaching counterparts of our new schools will come into town for the weekend where we will get a chance to meet them, interact with them, talk more about what Peace Corps goals in Romania are, and then come Monday morning, we will head out to our new sites with our counterparts for 4 days to get acquainted with our new homes! I CAN’T WAIT!

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I Just Got Flashed by a 2nd Grader

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Today was my first day teaching in our new practicum school which is a “middle school” but really it has what seems to be all the grades up to 8 in it. I was in charge of teaching the 2nd grade class about clothing. The kids start learning English in the 3rd grade but they have the option of starting in the 2nd grade so I taught the “optional” class. I brought in a bunch of clothing items to help teach the words. The students really got a kick out of the dress and my scarf. Everyone wanted to wear the scarf..i’m not sure why. After going around the room and asking them what it was, I taught them a song about clothes to help them remember to the tune of “head, shoulders, knees, and toes” but it was “hat, tshirt, jeans, and shoes” They absolutely loved the song and picked up on it instantly. I didn’t have to repeat it at all and by the end they were singing it by themselves without my help. Since these activities ended up being shorter than planned, I also had them draw what they wear during the weekend since they are in uniforms at school and had a few kids come up and tell the class what they draw. I ended the session with a short game of SLAP where i wrote the words on the board in English and said it to them in Romanian and they had to compete against another student to find the word and slap it. It was definitely much more interesting teaching primary school as opposed to high school but i really enjoyed it. I’m sure my high energy and just flat out goofyness. The last class in the day was cut short due to the “carnival” the school was having to celebrate the 1st of June which is Children’s day. We got to see some of the students participate in the costume contest which was adorable. When we got back to the classroom, a girl that participated in the costume contest came in late and started stripping in class. No joke… her top was open…she took it off changed her shirt and her bottoms as well. CULTURE SHOCK. I have seen little kids running around the beach without a top on but never imagined that it would happen in school….WOW. That’s all I’ve got for today. Until next time! TE PUP!

Carnavalul Florilor

Some of the kids waiting for the contest to start

Cute!

Rooster

Adorable

Typical Romanian Garb

My walk home on the gorgeous "Old Blvd"

The one of many gorgeous houses on the old blvd.

Another one

Jovankai îi Plac Lei și Vodca

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Once again, the weekend came and went in the blink of an eye but it was thoroughly enjoyed nonetheless. Friday was our last day of practicum at our current high school and it was definitely bittersweet. I really enjoyed teaching our classes and getting to know the students and of course our mentor teacher Monica. It was a great experience to watch her teach because you can see that she truly cares for her students and is very passionate about teaching.  Since the normal school schedule was altered this Friday due to an appearance by the mayor of the city along with a creative writing awards ceremony, we didn’t teach. While the mayor was giving his speech to the teachers, my teacher was telling me some interesting facts about our practicum school and how after communism the population dropped and now many high schools are starting to consolidate and close down due to the smaller number of classes. With this, there are many jobs that will be cut and so on. I never really thought about these types of changes that the end of communism caused and how, 20 years later, they are finally starting to come forth.I also experienced my first form of culture shock at the school that day. My training group and I were standing out side of our classroom admiring some of the students artistic abilities. Kevin and i were discussing something while 2 of our freshman walked by us. As they walked by, they both stared right into Kevin’s eyes and said “Kiss, Kiss…te pup!” Our mouths dropped…. Yes Kevin is a young teacher and our school has mainly girls in it. I never expected any of the students to have that much courage to so blatantly hit on a teacher. We were both left speechless for several minutes after that and it was just another reminder that we are definitely not in Kansas anymore.

After language class we did the typical PCT thing of going to the blue bar and then heading out to dinner after that. I was fairly tired so Jeremy-WB and I walked home around 10pm. When I got to my house, I was very excited to get into bed and just relax but naturally, that didn’t happen. Denisa was in the process of getting ready to go out to a Romanian hip/hop concert at a local club that was made to resemble a castle. She ended up talking me into joining so i quickly changed, put on some make up, and headed out the door. When we pulled up to the club, I was definitely amazed. I wish i would have gotten a picture of it but it was pretty remarkable. The outside was designed to look like a castle, towers, doors, armor and all.  The inside was beautifully decorated. The walls were made of stone and made to look like the inside of a dungeon. There were 3 floors with very posh looking tables and couches as far as the eye could see.

Most of my night was spent sipping on my drink and people watching. If you have seen the movie Euro Trip, you can picture what this very typical Eastern European club looked like. There were topless dancers, whom no one really paid attention to that also baffled my mind. My favorite aspect of this club was the music selection. Before the main act came on, the DJ mainly played what sounded like Romanian techno. About 20 minutes before the rapper came on stage, the DJ switched to American music and I couldn’t help but laugh. The selection started off with songs from the 80s/90s with Ice, Ice, Baby and Hammertime. It then progressed into some Missy Elliot and Not wanting to lose your love tonight. The last song right before the main act was, I kid you not, Carl Orf’s Carmina Burana. For those of you that are not aware. carmina Burana is one of my favorite musical pieces. It is centuries old and was originally written and performed by Benedictine Monks. Anyways, this song came on…it is a very deep and ominous piece and i was so shocked I didn’t know whether to laugh out loud or cry. The crowd went wild. Everyone threw their hands up in the air and jammed to, not a techno remix, but the original song. Listen to the song below and picture myself along with 500 Romanian youth, rocking out at a rap concert to this song. Priceless.

Saturday was a lot more tame. It was Jeremy-WB’s 31st birthday and since he is one of the people that I consider myself the closest to within our group I decided to make him a birthday cake, with the help of my Gazda mom, naturally. Since I apparently lack the creative ability and soft touch to make a cake look pretty, I was given the grunt work. I cut up the fruit aranged it within the cake and frosted the inside of the cake. Basically I did everything that would not be seen. Luckily my host mom is very creative and together, with my cutting skills, and her creative imagination, we successfully made a quite tasty cake.  Since the weather this weekend was nothing but sunny, we decided to head to the park again and just hang out. There was about 15 of us and we played uno, soccer, talked, listened to music, and just had a great time. After many hours in the sun, a smaller group of us decided to stop by a local restaurant and get some dinner. We found their wine list, saw how cheap bottles of wine here and noticed that this particular restaurant carried my favorite type of wine which made me that much happier.  The wine in this country is usually arranged by color and sweetness, no names. If you know exactly what you like and what you don’t you can go about ordering a glass of wine but it is very rare that you will get the same rose semi-sweet wine at different restaurants. After dinner we took a stroll to the park where we hung out and eventually got serenaded by some locals with a guitar. Below is the video (actually more like audio) of the PCTs and Romanians singing along.

This morning, I was woken up by my host father screaming which I assumed to be profanities and I had no idea why. Denisa came running into the house and grabbed something and said “I need this for the chickens, the dog bit one of them”…..WHAT?!?!?!?! Apparently Ion, my host dad bought who I call Mamasita, my host grandmother a bunch of chickens. I assumed he bought some to take with us when we went to go visit her to cook on the grill. When I get into the car….I hear something moving and realize that the chickens Ion bought were still alive….the story was finally pieced together. The whole 20 minute ride I kept on hearing the chickens squawking and flapping around in the trunk. Wow…

The rest of the day was spent in the country side at gma’s house hanging out in the sun and walking through the garden. Now it’s off to do more Romanian homework! Until next time, te pup!

The Mundane Life

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There really isn’t anything to report since my last post. It feels like I have been living in this country for months and months rather than barely 3 weeks. Language classes are getting  progressively harder due to the copious amounts of vocabulary words that are being thrust at us on a daily basis. I believe we have made it over the verb conjugating hump which was the roughest part so far. We learned past tense today so now i can go home and tell my host family that I did something earlier as opposed to saying I am doing something yesterday. Oh the simple things…

This week was a huge week when it came to practicum. I have been slacking on my language homework due to my large amounts of stress over lesson planning. I now have a new found respect for teachers that I never have had before! I spent a solid 4 hours working on a lesson plan for ONE 10th grade class this week. Starting Tuesday, I was a nervous wreck. I almost cried walking home on Tuesday because I had the worst case of writers block I could imagine. I had NO idea where to start when it came to my lesson plan and, although i had the text book as a reference point, I didn’t find anything very amusing in it that I would have liked to use. I finally laid down some framework on Tuesday and skyped with a current volunteer and she got me through the emotional parts of thinking I was going to crash and burn. After finally putting all of the pieces of the plan together last night, I taught my first full class today!

I consider it a partial success… I got through the entire class without any damages, emotional or physical, and i believe that by the end of the class almost all the students fully understood what i was trying to teach them. The lesson was in regards to general vs. specific nouns with 10 new vocab words that were general nouns as well. I had a lot of activities planned and even thought of an extra one just in case I had a nice amount of time left over. The kids seemed to enjoy the various worksheets and games we played which was a plus but I know there are many things that I would have changed if I got a chance to. Well, i guess this is what practicum is for! To find out what are strengths and weaknesses are in the classroom and to improve on them before we get to our actual classrooms in the fall.

Tomorrow is our last day at our current practicum schools. Next week my group goes to a middle school which can be anywhere from 3rd-8th grade. I’m excited to see how much the younger kids know and how the various teaching and learning styles come into play.

Before I write my final thought, I would like to remind you that I live in a nicely sized city of 100K. I also live fairly close to the center with apartment buildings, busy streets, and the general hustle and bustle of a city. With this said, here is a picture of what I saw while driving down a fairly busy street today… Only in Romania.

Yep...that's a goat.

Long Week and Even Longer Post to Match!

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I can officially say that I have made it through my first week of Pre-Service Training! It definitely wasn’t any easy task with all the language lessons, technical sessions, talk about poop, and practicum intro but all 39 of us somehow survived! Since I’ve had minimal access to internet this week due to the fact that my gazda’s router is effed up for some reason, I haven’t been able to post/talk to anyone for longer than a 5 minute period. Here is a rundown of how my week went:

Monday:

We met at one of the local high schools that will act as our training center at about 9 am where the whole group spent a few hours going through basic administrative things such as receiving our PST manuals, learning the basic do’s and don’ts, etc… After several hours of that, we had lunch and then went into another building on that is also part of the high school where PC has rented out the entire floor for us where the offices, PCT lounge, and language classes are located. We were broken up into groups of approximately 10 for our language classes with 2 professors each for this week. After this week, we will be broken off into smaller 5 person language groups with only 1 professor.

We will be re-grouping our language classes bi-weekly I believe based on our progress and will be paired with other PCTs on the same level as us.  We started off with the basics Monday such as greetings, the various regions of the country, the verb to be, counting, and telling time.  Looking back on my notes, I am now fully realizing the true meaning of “intensive language sessions”. The teachers manage to pack a lot of Romanian into a short amount of time with a surprisingly high success rate.

Tuesday:

Our “normal” school schedule is language from 9-1 lunch from 1-2 then technical sessions from 2-5ish. Tuesday was the first true to schedule day and we had language in the morning. My professors are Maria and Simona. They are what I believe to be in their late 20s and this is Maria’s first year teaching for PC while it is Simona’s third and she is very well versed with the ins and outs of the PC and the language program itself.

In class we started putting together basic simple conversations that included things like what is your name? Where are you from? And what is your occupation? We also learned a very long list of vocab words that mainly dealt with objects found in a classroom such as pen, desk, light, dictionary, chair, etc. we went on to learn some grammar with regards to indefinites and definite and the transformations that occur based on gender and switching from one to the other. We also learned possessives and the location of objects such as on, in, under, next to, and between.

At 2pm all the trainees met back up in the big classroom where our technical training consisted of intro to the country of Romania and the culture along with an intro to the Peace Corps service within the country past, present, and future.

We decided to go and get phones today so a few of us went in the general direction of our houses accompanied by a currently PCVL(PC Volunteer Leader aka a PCV who has extended his/her service for an extra year or in some cases 2.) We found a no-name store that does repairs on phones and I went in asking if I could possibly get my iphone unlocked which was unsuccessful. After spending about an hour in the store while the other PCTs were getting their phones, I decided to call it a day and go home. I got home and Denisa and Iza already had dinner prepared so we ate and then they helped me with my homework. I decided to make flashcards with the set of 500 index cards I brought to country. My funny moment of the night was when my host mother came home from work (around 9pm) I tried to ask her if she had a rubber band and instead managed to ask her if she had a spare tire….whoops!!

Wednesday:

Wednesday’s language class was fairly low key due to the fact that most of it was review from the past two days of language bombardment. Part of our homework due Wednesday was to come to class with three new vocab words and either draw them, describe them, or act them out so the class can guess what the words are.  Mine were bowl, tomato, and orange…can you tell I did my homework in the kitchen? We got a lot of good vocab with some random words thrown in like amazement, and craftsmanship which were next to impossible to figure out and left me wondering where the hell these words came from.  The only new things were learned were introducing a 2nd and 3rd person and how to say high five in Romanian. In case any of you were wondering; it’s “Bate palma”

The day’s technical sessions dealt with learning about the Romanian educational system, overview of our possible sites and what our roles in the community will be. A current volunteer also came in with a few of her students and her counterpart to give us a firsthand account as to what she does, how she has impacted her school, and what the students have to say about her. The second part of the session was the introduction to our practicum.

The practicum is basically our training to become sufficient enough teachers. I know all of you teachers are reading this and cringing at the fact that I am supposed to learn enough teaching skills in the next 10 weeks when you earned a 4 year degree on the subject matter and I agree with your thoughts of “How the hell will that work?!” I know that I will be nowhere near as good of a teacher as an actual teacher but I’m going to try my hardest to get the basics down! We were introduced to the 10 or so teachers representing about 5 or so middle schools and high schools that we will get a chance to observe and teach at. We will be the schools two days a week and get about 12-18 hours of experience in a high school (9-12) and another 12-18hours in a middle school (middle schools range from 4th-8th grade).

Since I didn’t manage to get my iphone unlocked on Tuesday, I decided that today was going to be the day that I would go out on my own and get myself a Romanian phone and sim card. Luckily for me, when we left school, it was absolutely POURING. Being the stubborn individual that I am, I was not deterred from my previously mentioned task and headed straight for the center with my umbrella in hand. Luckily, there are more wireless carrier shops here than Starbucks in the US. Without exaggerating, on one block, we found 3 Vodafone shops, 2 Cosmote shops, 3 Orange shops, and a few independent dealers as well. I managed to get a dinky Vodafone brand cell phone with a pay as you go plan for a total of 126RON or about 15 dollars. I always forget how much of a rip off cell phones are in the states…

I accomplished a huge milestone today and that was having my first successful conversation with my host parents in Romanian without any of Denisa’s translating help. We talked about what my parent’s do, where I come from, how long I lived in the states and other random facts that I can’t think of off the top of my head. It’s amazing to see how many language barriers intonation, body language, and pantomiming break.

Thursday:

Thursday’s language session was, of course, another intense one. We learned a crapload of new vocab including what the rooms in the house are called and the names for most of the objects found in a house. Today was also national “Man’s Day” so our professors sang “La Multi Ani” (The happy birthday song that doesn’t have the same melody has our version and can work for many other events such as this one). We also learned how to say here, there, this, and that and of course these are said differently depending if the word is masculine or feminine. We learned the verb to have and its forms along with to need.

Our ideal house we drew. It includes: a liger room, a waterbed room, a large kitchen, bathroom with jacuzzi, discoteca, cinema, solar panels, library, dracula's dungeon, an elevator, an indoor pool, and several other rooms. We had a lot of fun with it.

Today’s technical sessions were very amusing mainly because the main topic was about diarrhea and it was present by Dr. Dan who looks EXACTLY like Lieutenant Dan from Forest Gump and is absolutely hysterical with a sarcastic sense of humor. We learned about how all of us will most likely get pin worms at least once, how the food is the best tasting in the country but might not always be the safest, water safety, and nutrition.  The second session was about safety and security and our chances of getting hit by a car vs. attacked by a stray dog in country.

I came straight home after school and hung out with Denisa and Iza for the day. We have become close with each other and enjoy each other’s company. I love practicing my Romanian with Iza ( the 12 yr old) she has a sarcastic way about her and I mess up some words and she just shakes her head at me because she is repeating the same word for the 10th time in a matter of 5 minutes. My favorite moment with her was when she was helping me study with my flashcards. I couldn’t manage to remember the word for “the light switch” which is intrerupatorul and we sat there for a solid minute or two repeating intrerupatorul over and over and OVER again. I couldn’t help but laugh thinking if I were on the other end and her some random Romanian in the US repeating “the light switch” like a maniac. I ended the day showing my host mom some pictures of my friends and family back home.

Friday:

Ahhh Practicum observation day! Our schedules were a little flip flopped today since we were in the schools in the morning observing our teachers and classes that we will be working with for the next few weeks. My group of 5 consists of Ashley, Whitley, Megan, and Kevin which I can say is a very solid group. This group will also be our new language group for the next few weeks. We observed a 9th,10th, and 12th grade English class and the day was very amusing and our teacher is awesome. You can tell she really enjoys what she does and has absolutely amazing and detail lesson plans. We were also surprised with personalized cups. Our teacher each gave us a coffee cup with our name painted on it which was so cute.

The cute coffee cups we received at the highschool.

We went back to the training center once we were done at our schools for a shorter language lesson. Today was another review and another day where we brought in new vocab words and once again, there were some ridiculous ones such as heap, ancestor, and business deal. Yeah…don’t ask… I would like to point out that as much language we get thrown at us, we have actually learned most of it and have already started implementing what we know. The PC language program truly is astonishing.

After training, we deiced we needed to blow of some steam and went out to dinner. We went to this cute pizza place that I went to with some others the night before. There ended up being around 15 of us and we had a blast. Melissa’s host brother Mihai (17)joined us and we fully welcomed his company entertainment. We hung out at the pizza place until around 10. The group separated and I stayed back with Nick because his host father called him and told him that he was coming to join us for a beer. As Nick and I are sitting waiting for them, we see most of the family walk up. We go into the closest café, sit down, and start communicating in awful Romanian on our part, and English on their part thanks to the help of Nick’s bilingual host sister.

His family is precious and his host dad is a very jovial man that likes to enjoy himself. We were enjoying our drinks and beers which most of the conversation was about due to its name. It is called Ursus and its logo is “The king of beers in Romania”. Urs means bear and there is a bear on the label. Megan and Matt joined us later and we had a great time hanging out with Nick’s family and other PCTs at some obscure café that we basically took over with size and volume.

From left to right: Matt, Nick's host dad, me, Galileo, Nick, Nick's host sister and host mom.

All in all this week was absolutely amazing. I can’t remember the last time I have been so busy yet still enjoyed myself so much. I’m not finding a large issue with the language and getting around yet. As you all know, my sense of direction is fairly accurate so that’s a plus at least. The people here are very helpful and hospitable and it is very surprising how many people speak English. I enjoy the company of my training group and we have already started becoming fairly close friends, granted we don’t have much of a choice when we are the only people we know but traveling and being in a foreign country always seems to have some magical affect on people it’s a huge catalyst for friendships.

Hopefully I won’t have many more of these novel length posts and will be able to update everyone more frequently. Love you all  and hope you enjoyed! Here are some pictures i’ve taken in the past week, if you want to see the rest, just go to my picasa album via the link on the right.

 

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