SUPER BOWL 51

I know this is late but it’s a basically my version of a major life event so I’m posting about it anyway. Also if you hate the Patriots (i.e. are one of the 99%) I’d suggest giving this one a pass.

CAN WE TALK ABOUT THAT SUPER BOWL?!

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

When we won in 2014, I was ecstatic. That was an epic Super Bowl, it was ON MY BIRTHDAY, we seemed to break the curse of last minute miracle catches (or we at least learned to overcome the curse, the miracle catch still happened). It was the first time we had gone to the SB since I got settled in LA. (We actually played a month after I first moved there, in 2012, and I watched at a party of 100+ Giants fans. After we lost I hid in the bathroom while Katie got the car from the valet. It’s not a high point.)

2014 was spectacular. It felt like a magical season, the day we signed Revis I texted a friend saying if we didn’t win the Super Bowl that year, I wasn’t sure Brady would ever get another ring. Then Gronk stayed healthy and it felt like our year. This season, I knew we were good, but it felt so impossible. That Brady could have five. That we could win twice in three years. That we could do so without Gronk.

Then we beat the Steelers in the Championship (fun fact, Katie is a Steelers fan and it’s like they waited until we no longer lived together to match up in the playoffs, which was v. considerate of them), and suddenly we were Super Bowl bound.

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY

Gareth was there that weekend for my birthday. Months before, when he realized it was also SB weekend, I don’t think he was very excited. I am generally not super fun to be around during playoff games (right, Jake?), and I basically cried stressed out tears all through SB 49. I love winning Super Bowls but can’t actually handle the emotions of the Patriots playing in one. (I KNOW IT’S JUST A GAME, caring too much is the definition of being a sports fan.)

Anyway, back to SB 51. Wow, was it bad, huh? I remember when the Broncos were blown out by the Seahawks thinking we probably still would have lost but we’d never let ourselves be embarrassed like that in a Super Bowl. And suddenly it was happening. The game didn’t start until 12:40 am my time, and an hour in it was so clear we had lost I stopped feeling upset. I realized it was the last game before a very long off season, and decided to enjoy watching them play for the final time until September. I did stay aware of what we needed for a comeback, and truly believed if any team could make a historical, never before seen comeback it could be us. But did I think the odds were in our favor? Definitely not.

"sad we're losing" face

“sad we’re losing” face

And then suddenly we were unstoppable. Everything changed. We got our own miracle catch, and made TWO two point conversations to tie the game. It was insane. It was the most amazing comeback, most amazing game I’ve seen. And then it was overtime. We won the coin toss. It’s football and nothing is ever certain (the Falcons will back me up on this), but it didn’t feel like we couldn’t lose. Not after everything.

I did a presentation on American football for my kids at the beginning of the school year, and when the playoffs started I showed them clips and kept them informed about what was going on. When I went to school the next day, everyone knew we had won and all my classes were begging to watch. So not only did I get to see it live, but I got to relive it about six times that week, haha.

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

And now I get to update my bio section for SB 51 and rewatch this commercial about 1000 more times. What a season!

Spain – 6 month update

Hmm, just maybe I fell behind on these? Well, what better month than to check back in than month six. Half a year in Logroño! As much as I have traveled in the past, this is the longest I’ve ever been abroad. I don’t think I’ll ever get to a point where I don’t miss Katie/LA, but overall this whole process has been much easier than I ever expected. I think a lot is due to how easy life in Logroño is, to the fact that I felt really ready to do some traveling, and to the close proximity to my friends in London and G.

I posted recently about the best and worst things about living here, and it’s all still accurate. The weather has finally turned and it’s been downright warm a few times already. I got a sunburn during my crazy bike ride adventure! I sat by the river in a t-shirt and ate ice cream! What is this Los Angeles?!

The shift in weather has also brought much more energy and motivation with it. Sometimes I wonder how I could accomplish so much or stay so happy in LA and I’ve decided it’s 100% the weather. I’ve also decided this is the last winter I’m going to experience for a while. Hopefully I’ll be getting that confirmed sometime soon when I hear back about my placement for next year.

Big events since my two month update include:

Thanksgiving in London

December trips to Berlin, Amsterdam, Prague, and Wroclaw

My mom coming to Spain and spending Christmas with G’s family in England

An incredible New Year’s Eve

Lee visiting me in Spain and our trips to Pamplona and Belgium

The Super Bowl

Rachel visiting Logroño

Faye visiting Logroño


As for work, I’m still loving my private lessons and still struggling with the school placement. I’ll update more after everything’s over, but it’s hard being alone in a classroom! I have seven and a half weeks before my contract is up (but who’s counting, right??), and feel ready to not step foot in an elementary school for a few months.

I’m still finalizing it all, but I think I’ll be able to spend a few months here after the school year ends. I’ll take 3-4 hours of Spanish classes a day, and just enjoy the summer. I am a pretty big nerd and so excited to get to spend some time learning and feeling like a student again. Also after all that my Spanish better be at a place I can be proud of, I feel pretty plateaued at the moment.

I’m going to take a few tests this summer as well, probably the GRE as it’s good for five years, hopefully a DELE exam at the end of my Spanish lessons, and then a test that is the first step in a years long application for my dream job that I won’t be posting about until after it’s over. But basically I’m spending all my free time studying for it, hence the lack of updates here.

very serious student right here

As of now I’m still studying like crazy, working on a new cross stitching project, and will soon have a little more than two weeks off for Easter which I’ll be spending it in Italy, Slovenia, and Croatia. I’m SO excited.

Two Days in Berlin at Christmas Time

This December I was lucky enough to jump around to a few different Christmas markets, and I had the best time doing so. I don’t know if I’ve shared this yet, but I am basically obsessed with the holiday season. Thanksgiving and Christmas are basically my happiest times in life, and getting to spend December in various European markets was a dream come true. I had a really hard time deciding which cities to go to, because basically every European city becomes winter wonderland during December (except for Amsterdam, strangely enough). It was a whirlwind trip, spending two to three days each in Berlin, Amsterdam, Prague, and Wroclaw.

Also, as great as it was, it started with the journey from hell. I live in Logroño, which has a lot of positives, but a huge negative is there isn’t an airport nearby. My roommate and I, who was also flying to Germany, though to a different city, had to catch an early bus to Barcelona, and after six hours we arrive in Barca just in time to catch the last train to the airport.

After finding the airport, we thought the hard part was over (though sleeping there would be an entirely different kind of difficult). However, as soon as we walked into the terminal, it was obvious something was wrong. It looked like we were walking into the aftermath of a rave. There was trash everywhere. Multicolored fragments of paper all over the ground. I honestly wondered if something really terrible had just happened there. Apparently the cleaning crew had gone on strike four days ago, and not only had no one cleaned or removed any trash since then, but the striking workers had a protest where they basically trashed the airport. Hence all the paper and stickers and graffiti. It honestly looked (and felt) post apocalyptic.

We found the only clean spot in the entire airport by squeezing between one of those mechanical walkways and the wall. A word of warning for anyone else attempting the same thing–they turn the heat either completely off or WAY down at night, and lying on the floor made sleep virtually impossible because of the extreme cold that was coming from the tiled floor.

After a night of absolutely zero sleep, I finally boarded my plane at 6:25 and slept for about an hour and a half before landing in Berlin. G and I timed it nearly perfectly, and he landed about 20 minutes after me, just long enough for me to find his gate. The journey from Berlin Schönefeld Airport into central Berlin wasn’t ideal, as the train only comes twice an hour, once around the :15 mark, and again around the :45 mark. We had just missed the 10:15, and had to wait for the 10:45, which I will not lie, in my tired and messy state I was not super pleased with.

I’ll take a second to admit I was not in a great mood. I was exhausted. I felt so dirty from the airport. I was and had been freezing for nearly nearly 10 hours. I’m not sure either of us was expecting a great day during that 30 minute wait for the train. That said, we went into Alexanderplatz and found a Christmas Market right next to the station. We had some delicious sausage and a glass of warm Glühwein, and I was suddenly feeling much better. We hung around the market for a few hours, eating, drinking, and watching my mood rapidly improve. Guys, Berlin during Christmastime is a dream. It was like being on a Hallmark Christmas movie set. EVERYTHING was decorated. Everything was themed for Christmas. We even found a beer hall that was adorable. It was all wood and rustic, it had a huge tree, Christmas music, and the servers were all dressed in Christmas outfits. And it had a really warm fire that we sat next to. It was the perfect place to wait for our room to be ready.

Eventually, though, it was ready and we headed to our hotel. It was incredible–for Berlin and Amsterdam we used lastminute and managed to book really nice hotels for the same price (or less) than an airbnb.

We left for DasMeisterstück, which is a craft beer and sausage place that has excellent and well deserved reviews. The day before was Gareth’s 27th birthday, and it was a nice, low key way to celebrate. The food was delicious, I tried sour German beer (it was good), and all the beers G tried were excellent (and this from someone who prefers literally any other drink to beer).

After dinner we headed to WeihnachtsZauber at the Gendarmenmarkt, one of the main Christmas markets in Berlin. It was minutes from DasMeisterstück, and I’d recommend combining it with dinner there if you go. That said, I would skip this if I was doing it again. You had to pay to get in, and because it is so well known, it was beyond crowded. I’m not sure if it’s because it was so late, but it was 10 times as crowded as any of the other markets we went to. It was impossible to actually see any of the stalls, and just walking down an aisle took about ten minutes. Other than the amount of people though, the market was beautiful, and I would recommend trying to go in the middle of the day when it might be less packed. (Also I think there is live music/performances in the day time!)

literally filled to the brim with people

The next day I insisted we find breakfast that included eggs, because such a thing doesn’t exist in Spain and it’s basically the first thing I look for when traveling outside the country. We found Wintergarten which was incredible and highly recommended. It was in an old Literaturhaus, and the vibe was great. I’m going to be honest, I got two full meals–eggs and pancakes. I know that’s pretty excessive but the food was amazing and Spain has me feeling constantly breakfast-deprived. Both were delicious.

After that it was Berlin tourism time, and we hit most of the major sights. The Reichstag Building, the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, the Holocaust museum and installation, which was incredible but be ready to cry and feel quite low for a while after. They are all within walking distance of each other, though note that if you want to go to the top of the Reichstag Building you should book in advance. From there made our way to the last Christmas market, Berliner Weihnachtszeit, which was the best one. There were little fires to sit by, ice skating, a ferris wheel, and so much mulled wine. It was incredible.

 

Berlin could not have been more perfect and I strongly recommend it for anyone looking for some of the best Christmas markets in the world. Our journey continued from Berlin and we took an overnight bus to Amsterdam (though nearly didn’t make it–note that the main bus and train station are not the same, and we were left literally sprinting to the bus!).

Goals for 2017

I super belatedly posted my 2016 wrap up, so now it’s time for the obligatory goals and resolutions post. How boring, right? Um, maybe to you guys! As I think is clear by now, lists and goals are my happiness bread and butter. This is basically my favorite time of year.

  1. I start this year much like the last. One of the main things I want to refocus on is my health. I was successful last year mostly, but the move to Spain really threw me off. The food here! It’s delicious, but man is it unhealthy. It’s all fried and meat and cheese. And it all comes with basically free wine. I haven’t been able to find a pilates class, and it’s too cold/wet to exercise outside. This has led to a lot of inactivity and a lot of unhealthy eating. It’s time to make a change! I want to drink more water, start taking a daily multivitamin again, eat healthier, and exercise (much) more. Also I’d like to get on a more normal sleep schedule, because apparently sleep is a little important.
  2. I want to keep working on my Spanish. It has improved massively from when I first arrived, but I’ve never been more than a high beginner, and the weeks away in December have really set me back. I want to try to do three classes a week, Tuesday – Thursday, and instead of reading 10 books in English this year, I’ll read 10 books in Spanish.
  3. I want to write as much as possible and recommit to this blog. So no more weeks/months between posts–I want to be able to look back on this time and have a complete log of what I was thinking and doing. I’m going to try to commit to a schedule of three times a week, which will definitely take some planning but it’s not like I don’t have things to write about!
  4. I want to volunteer more. The election, and I think also just the result of living internationally, has really made me feel a duty to dedicate more of my time to improving the things about the world I think are unjust or underserved. It’s time I do more. I want to try to do something based in the US, possibly here in Spain if that language barrier doesn’t get in the way, and internationally.
  5. I don’t know how possible this will be, because I make so little money I only break even at the end of every month here, but I hope to save an additional $2,000. I’m not sure how I’ll do this, I’m looking into VIPkid, or maybe getting another private lesson where that money is solely put into savings, but I hope I can at least come close. In addition to this, I want to start tracking every cent I spend, so I know exactly where my money is going!
  6. I want to go to new places. So far this year I have the following trips either booked or planned. Obviously things change, so this is tentative, but so far I have:

January – Belgium. I actually just returned from here yesterday! I went to Bruges and Brussels, and there is a full post coming soon. I also did a day trip to Pamplona.

February – I’m not totally sure what February will be. I know Gareth is coming here for my birthday/THE SUPER BOWL (!!!), but I’m not sure if we’ll try to plan anything else that month.

March – I’ll be going back to London in March, and my friend from LA will be in Europe, so I’ll be meeting up with her somewhere!

April – Spring break! I’ll be spending most of it in Italy and Slovenia, but I might try to add a trip to Budapest and into Transylvania, Romania to the end of the trip.

May – Again, nothing is really planned here yet. I’ll have to go to my new city to do my renewal forms so I don’t lose my visa, so (hopefully) a trip to Andalucia, and maybe Portugal or Palma?

June – This will be another big travel month. Hopefully I’ll spend a few weeks in Lebanon volunteering with refugees. Then I’ll go back to the states, and road trip from the north down the west coast to LA, where I’ll see my friends.

July/August – These months are super unclear. I have a few options. Au pair, work in summer camps, move home, or do a work visa for a few months in Australia?? Not sure, but I could really wind up anywhere. Exciting/terrifying.

September – I’ll return to Spain and find a place to live/get a new life set up. And hopefully take a few weeks to do a cheap overland trip from Zagreb all the way down to Greece!

From there I have no plans, but I’ll be teaching again starting in October and will probably fit in a few more trips as well. Definitely to the southern Spanish cities, and hopefully to Portugal and/or Palma if I haven’t made it there yet.

And lastly, there are a few 30 before 30 goals I think/hope I could accomplish this year.

  1. Go to Italy
  2. Go to Greece
  3. Stay in Shakespeare and Co bookstore
  4. Learn to cook 5 meals very well
  5. Run a 10k (or maybe a 12k Spartan race? I’d count it 🙂
  6. Learn Spanish. I hope to make that my main focus this year, and by January of next year, feel confident saying I speak the language.

So, I’ve got some plans and things to focus on. Maybe a few too many things to focus on, but that’s a problem for future Kristen!

How to apply to teach English in the Auxiliar de Conversación Program in Spain

The application to be an Auxiliar de conversación in Spain for the 2017-2018 school year is officially open, and will close this April 18th. The number of people applying this year already feels so different than last–in 2016 I applied in late February and was around number 3500. This year, they had already hit 1,000 applicants within 24 hours of opening. I stayed up and applied right at midnight and am still nearly number 400. That’s crazy!

One of the hardest parts about the Auxiliar program is the application. Maybe as a result of being free (though there are other free government programs that are not the disaster this process is), it’s pretty poorly designed and explained. I’m going to try to make a step by step guide to help anyone who was as confused as I was. I have information both for first year applicants and renewals down below.

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