Sunday, March 1, 2009


Holy crap, I can’t believe I am writing this blog post on March 1st. I officially have three months and 1 week left in Spain. I don’t know where the time has gone. There is still so much I want to do and so little time.

This past week has been a whirl wind. I spent Friday through Monday in Granada and Sevilla (see previous post) and then came back to Madrid on Monday. I worked Tuesday and taught a couple of private English lessons and then Wednesday morning I left for Andorra. I was in Andorra from Wednesday until Saturday evening for a Fulbright midyear conference.

The conference and the location were amazing. Andorra is a landlocked country in the Pyrenees Mountains between Spain and France. Andorra does not have a commercial airport, is not a member of the European Union, and is entirely duty free. Other interesting Andorran facts are that Andorrans have the second longest life span at 83 years, their official language is Catalan, and it is the 6th smallest country in Europe following Vatican City, Monaco, San Marino (in Italy), Lichtenstein, and Malta. Andorra gained independence in 1278 and its borders have remained practically unchanged since then. Before the introduction of the euro, Andorra accepted Spanish pesetas and French Francs because Andorran currency was very rare and it currently uses the euro. The population is 80,000 people, and there are about 90 Americans living in Andorra. Therefore, when the Fulbright group of 80 Americans arrived, we almost doubled the American population. Its main industry is tourism and there is Andorran university. Students have the option of attending French, Spanish, or Andorran school systems. If a family wants their child to attend a French or Spanish university they generally choose that school system. The Andorran school system is multilingual which means classes are taught in Spanish, French, and Catalan and English is taught as a foreign language.

Andorran Landscape, set in the Pyrenees Mountains

As for the conference, it was a great opportunity to reconnect with other Fulbrighters who are living throughout Spain and to reflect on my time in the country. Unlike our orientation, the mid year conference was for the most part helpful and productive. We were able to discuss our concerns and try to come up with solutions. Plus, it was interesting to learn about others research and challenges they have experienced. We also had time to visit some of the Andorran tourist attractions and many representatives for Andorran government were present at our opening and closing ceremonies. One of the best parts about the conference was the weather. It was sunny and warm. Everyone in Spain told us it was going to be freezing but when we were there it was quite warm and we only needed our jackets at night. We also stayed at a really nice hotel with a great lunch and dinner buffet, and by the way we ate you would think we were starving in Spain. Most of us have gotten sick of our cooking and we rarely go out to eat, so having multiple main course options in addition to tons of desserts to choose from was quite a treat. The first day we arrived I think everyone went up to the buffet at least three times but by the second and third day we cut back.

Turn Left for France, Turn Right for Spain

Enjoying the Mountains

Next week is the model UN conference. I am really excited for it because my students have been working really hard and I think they are going to do a great job. The model UN project is great because it forces my students to use English in a real and practical setting, teaches them how to do research, and it makes the think critically. After the conference I will be sure to write up an article explaining how everything works in more detail.

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