Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday night :)

It's a cold and windy night but we're sitting in the cozy hotel lobby. Hugo from Argentina just asked us if we drink cheese in Estonia so it's another hilarious culture night. Pablo and Tea are making yarn bracelets and I'm writing another blog entry. Got some photos from Tea, I will upload some a bit later.

Today was fun again - we had three different sessions. One on assessment, one on foreign language teaching and finally one on ICT. At 5 we had a debriefing session with Jesse and most of us were really happy with everything that is taking place here. The week has passed really quickly.

Got an email from Eva today. It was really sweet of her to let me know that they miss me in Estonia :)

Tomorrow is a free day. We might go shopping as the weather here has become really cold and we need some warm clothes. I think I also need to do the laundry.  We were given some homework for Monday, so I need to read a novel they gave us, finish the poem I mentioned yesterday and find some materials to use in classes next week. On Sunday we'll attempt to go to see the Grandfather Mountain. I hope the weather will be nicer than last weekend. By the way, they told us that we might even see snow soon. Hope that will not happen.

Yesterday we had a roundtable session with university students who are studying to become teachers. They were all so friendly and interested in finding out more about our country and school system. None of them really knew where Estonia is. Tea managed to make some of them think about moving to our country :) We had pizza for dinner and Jesse took us back to the hotel. Here are photos of the really friendly teachers-to-be and us.

Now they're talking about Guatemalan legends again. Margaret from Poland and Aida from Argentina just joined us. We were making plans for going to New Work in two weeks. It seems that we're going to take the bus as it's much cheaper than going by plane.

 Here are the machine pancakes we have for breakfast every morning. I don't really like them so much but I know I have to eat something so I eat.
Aida and me a week ago. We went to a nice place after we had arrived in Boone. I really can't believe it was already a week ago :(

And finally I'm going to upload a photo of us sitting here in the lobby right now. We just made an agreement that Friday nights are going to be crafts nights. Have a nice weekend everyone!

Ah, and one more idea. We're thinking about entering a worm festival next week, so tomorrow we'll go and find some caterpillars and start training them :D

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Nothing happens on the 7th day

It's my 7th day here in Boone. The sessions are over for today but at 6 there's going to be a meeting with a group of teachers-to-be. So we're sitting in the library and waiting. Tea took a quick look at the DVD collection and is now watching some Russian cartoons. I was really surprised that they have something like that here.

Day by day the leaves get more and more colorful. If you look closely enough you'll notice a hammock hanging on the tree and there's a girl reading a book in the hammock (I didn't actually see what she was doing there :D)

Yesterday I was really tired so I slept for an hour after we got back from the university. In the evening I helped my roommate do her ICT homework and Tea gave Pablo an Estonian lesson. He's a really quick learner, we were really amazed.

Today we had a session on assessment in the morning. I liked the lecturer a lot. He talked about master learning and used a lot of idioms to illustrate his talk. Then we had lunch and had a session on poetry and creative writing. Again, the tutor was great. We'll have to write a poem about our origins for next week. I might post parts of it it when I get it finished.

In one of the buildings we have had the sessions there are flags from all over the world and we managed to find our blue, black and white one too :)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The honeymoon period is over

Appalachian State University campus

I'm at our ICT class right now, trying to check my emails, write a new blog entry and keep up with the activities we're doing here at the moment. John, our tutor wouldn't be happy if he knew that. But he just paid me a compliment saying that I'm one of the advanced fellows here when it comes to ICT :)

I'm terribly tired as we had another culture evening last night. The main topic was the best stand-up comedians in the world so we were watching videos on YouTube till the early morning. That's probably why I feel that the honeymoon period is over now. Maybe it'll continue if I've had a couple of hours of sleep. We'll see about that.

We had three sessions on teaching today. I liked the one on digital storytelling the most. We're going to create videos and tell stories next week. I'm really looking forward to that as it involves being creative.

I also got an email from Ethel - my partner teacher. She invited me to spend a night in her home next Monday. She's so nice :)

Fall in Boone

We're also planning a trip to New York as we have 4 free days in  October. We need to buy the plane tickets as soon as possible. Going to NY is actually a bit frightening but I would really like to see the city, the monuments and the skyscrapers. I also don't really like the fact that we will have to fly again but taking the bus would take 12 hours.

Orange juice that has a curious name :D I bought it yesterday after the sessions and we went to the library here on campus. I think we spent three hours there and the time passed really quickly. They had rocking chairs there and it was really nice.

Here's a nice song you might like. It's about North Carolina. Dr. McGarry played it to us in his class yesterday. He told us a lot about American pop culture, music and movies.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Are we bear yet?

Don't try to understand the title of this entry... It'll be difficult to explain and as I haven't got much time, I can't really tell you.

Yesterday we had the first day at the university campus. It was raining (again) so we took the bus. Sarah showed us around a little and I must say that it's a big and fairly modern campus.
Jesse Lutabingwa

Then we had a session on student centered learning and then the lunch break. The next session was on ethnography. Dr. McGarry is just amazing - we were talking about different stereotypes. For example that all Argentinians know how to tango, nobody in the U.S. knows where Estonia is and so on. It was really fun. He's exactly the crazy professor type :D

Right now I'm at Crossroads Cafe at the campus.  We've got half an hour and then there's gonna be another session with Dr. McGarry on pop culture, movies and music. I had a late and one mint chocolate, I'm not hungry at all but I know I should eat something. I guess I'm still having the so-called honeymoon period as everything here is just so great and exciting that I don't even have time to eat properly. The weather today is just wonderful - sunny and really hot, like 25 degrees or so.

At the end of October we're going to have our internships in different schools in the area. Yesterday we had the Welcome Reception at the university and I met my partner teacher from Ashe High - Ethel. She is really nice - very friendly and energetic. She promised to take me to her place and show me everything in Ashe County. This is definitely going to be really interesting as the school is in a rural area.
Yesterday in the evening we did the laundry. It took us more than two hours to get our clothes clean and dry. So we had another cultural evening at the hotel lobby. Ethel gave me a box of cheese as a present but we haven't got a fridge in our room so we had to eat it. Thus, it was a culture and cheese night. Again we learned a lot about Guatemala and Poland and laughed our heads off.
Pablo and me

Today we had a session on active learning and we did scavenger hunt. We had to work in pairs and wonder around the campus to find out more about Appalachian State University. I went with Jaime from Guatemala.

There are so many things I'd like to write about but I haven't got enough time. So, I'll just add a couple of photos to the entry and that's it for today.

Let me know how you're doing :)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Shop till you drop...

It's late again so this entry will be quite short as I would really need some sleep.

Our hotel - Holiday Inn Express

We had to go to Grandfather Mountain today but it was raining heavily so we couldn't. It's just amazing how they managed to rearrange the schedule in just 30 minutes and we went shopping in Concord Mills which is a huge shopping mall about 2 hours from Boone. I really loved it. We had about 3 and a half hours and I managed to buy many things I had planned to buy :)

Yesterday we went to the Walmart in Boone which took us like 3 hours. It was more like going to a huge museum than doing shopping. We discovered so many interesting things. For example, if you want to buy some M&M's, they are sold in packages that weigh about half a kilo or more. The beer cans are about twice the size, juice is sold in a 2-liter bottle and you can buy sugar cookies with sugar.

A good example of a typical car here

We also had a walk with Tea. It's really funny that the Americans do not go anywhere on foot. They're used to driving everywhere. Therefore, it's not easy to be a pedestrian here - there are no crosswalks, the drivers aren't used to people walking on the streets and the sidewalks may unexpectedly end. 

We've been laughing a lot too as there are two Guatemalan teachers who have a really good sense of humor. When we were heading back for Boone in the afternoon Pablo told us some Guatemalan legends and ghost stories and we taught him some Estonian in the evening.

 Boone at night

We're going to have an early start tomorrow. We're going to the university campus (finally) at 8 and have our first sessions (ICT and something more). In the evening there's going to be a formal reception where we'll probably meet all the university lecturers and our partner teachers from local schools. And some of us will meet their host families too.

So much for a short entry :D
Good night! And good morning to all Estonians, as it's 7 a.m. in Estonia now.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Boone, North Carolina

There are a lot of squirrels in Washington, you can see them everywhere. They are like rats there but cute and with a fluffy tail.

Good morning, how are you?
I'm in Boone now. Yesterday was again a really long day. We left the hotel in Washington at 11 and had to wait in Ronald Reagan National Airport for three hours because our flight was delayed. When we finally got on the plane, it took only an hour to get to Charlotte. The flight was quite nice as I was sitting next to a Guatemalan guy and managed to find out a lot about his country and their lifestyle. It was sunny and very warm in Charlotte.

To get from Charlotte to Boone we took a bus. It started raining soon and there was thunder and lightning but we kept going. The landscape became more montainous and soon there were mountains covered in mist all around us. The rain had stopped and we saw a rainbow :) The view was breathtaking. I tried to take some photos but didn't get any good ones.

We got to the hotel at about 7 and now I'm sharing a room with Soythip, a teacher from Thailand. She's on the phone right now, talking to her family and I can't understand a word.

Our hotel room - my home for the next 6 weeks :)

We had dinner in a restaurant where you can eat as much as you like for 14 dollars. The food culture here is just crazy. They eat so much! This morning we went downstairs to have breakfast and they had a pancake machine here - all you have to do is push the button and you'll get two freshly baked pancakes :D I'll probably gain a lot of weight here, so you'll have trouble recognizing me when I get back.

Today we're meeting Jesse at 9.30 and go to the university campus (I think) and then we'll have some free time (finally).
Take care!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Heading for Boone

Everything's big in America :)

Good morning! It's 6.20 am in Washington and I'm already awake because my roommate had to get up at 5 to check out and start heading for her university. I'm lucky though as our check-out is at 9. So before I start packing and have breakfast I'll write about yesterday.

In the morning we had three workshops. Then we had lunch and went on a bus tour in Washington. I saw the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials, the Washington Monument, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, the White House and the U.S. Capitol.

Lincoln Memorial

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
In front of the White House

A guy in the park in front of the White House

An old woman and a squirrel protesting in front of the White House

The most impressive building - U.S. Capitol

After the sightseeing tour we were given some free time and we spent time in Union Station, Washington's main rail terminal which is full of shops and restaurants. We found a Johnny Rocket's burger restaurant and had a burger and a Strawberry shake.

 In front of the Union Station.

It was great to see all the places I've only read about in books. But you can see huge contrasts in Washington. Although there are all these fancy buildings, you can see homeless people sleeping on park benches or even on the sidewalk. It can also be noticed that security and protection is a big issue here as there are policemen everywhere.

Need to start packing now. Next time I'm going to write in Boone, North Carolina.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Busy day

Today's been really busy. In the morning we had a workshop on cross-cultural communication and education. Then we met our university representatives. Our host  at the Appalachian State University is Jesse Lutabingwa. He's nice and friendly and has a really good sense of humor (you see, I'm already using American spelling). Thanks to him I got a TEA water bottle in the evening as he drew my name from a box of bingo cards.

In the afternoon we had a chance to learn more about the U.S. education system. It was interesting to see how they're using student-centered methods all the time. Then we prepared posters about our countries for the poster fair that took place in the evening. Unfortunately, we didn't have much time to study the posters other countries had made as we had to go and have dinner.

That's our poster about Estonia.

Now I'm back in my room. Daniela is going to talk to her daughter and I'm mulling over the things I heard and saw today. Some of the people here are from really exotic countries like Ghana, Rwanda, Bangladesh, Thailand and Cambodia. Talking to them makes you think that the world is just huge and full of diverse people and cultures.

Me and my roommate Daniela from Bulgaria

Kristi and me and the teachers from Rwanda (and some other lady who decided she wanted to join us).
Tomorrow we're going to have four different workshops on innovative teaching methods and cultural diplomacy in the morning and in the afternoon there's a bus tour in the city and a free evening.
OK, going to bed now.

21 Sept

Good morning! Slept like a baby in my huge bed. Heading for breakfast soon. Chatted with Villem and my mother on Skype :)

Today's going to be another long day as we're meeting our university hosts and the people from Irex who're responsible for the whole program.

It's cloudy and a bit foggy but it doesn't really matter as we're staying indoors anyway.

If I were in Estonia, my classes would be already over. Hope everything's OK at school.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Washington D.C.

Haven't slept for 24 hours but can't fall asleep before I've let you know that I've arrived in Washington D.C. This has been a really long day. The flight to Munich was interesting as I happened to sit next to two Estonian guys who had travelled around the world at least three times. They had millions of stories to tell me.

The flight from Munich to Washington lasted for 9 hours and was pretty tough. We were watching movies to kill time. I was so bored that I had to watch Alien 2 and the newest Pirates of the Carribean.

Washington is nice - it's warm (21 degrees) and sunny. We were warmly welcomed and taken to the hotel that's going to be our home for three days. I'm sharing a room with a lady from Bulgaria. After a dinner and a short walk the bed feels extra warm and soft so the first blog entry is going to be quite short. I'll just add a couple of photos and try get some sleep.