Monday, December 17, 2012

17 Dec

This is my last week of school before break, then I have 2.5 weeks off! During that time I will give a more in depth about my classes and my grades.

Friday was Sergio´s 18th Birthday and we had a dinner with a bunch of his friends in this vacant house then we went out to the discotecas. It was such a fun night!

Before we left to go to the dinner
Yesterday (Sunday), we went to this pueblo about 15 minutes away to look at this super amazing nativity scene. It was legitimately bigger than the average sized living room and it was like a cute miniature town!. It was probably one of the coolest things I have ever seen. I found it pretty funny that it is called a nativity scene but only about 1/25 was Mary, Joesph, and Jesus, regardless, it was great. I don´t have pictures because it was prohibited, although, Sergio told me that I´m allowed to take photos because if anyone were to say anything, I can just say I don´t speak Spanish...jaja

Anyways, Things are going well, I´m pretty sure I have never wanted to be on Christmas break so bad in my life. Only 4 more days!!

Also, I got a 5 on my history test from about 2 weeks ago and on my history final I got a 5! So I´m pretty sure I have passed the class and I literally did not even try to.. In Econ, I got a 6!!! I´m so happy, it´s my first 6!! and that was actually my goal for this trimester so yay!

Hasta Luego!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Week of 3 Dec

I could lie and say I didn't have time to write my blog yesterday because of studying or some lame excuse, but to be completely honest, I decided to take a siesta instead. So, that is why the blog is late.

First, I'll start with my field trip to Leon to watch a Sherlock Holmes play in English. It was very fun, but to be completely honest, I have never heard English spoken so slowly before in my life. Obviously, it was to help the students to understand, but still... But then I thought that is probably the way Spaniards have to talk to me at times so I'm not complaining. The play was about an hour, and after we went to an archives place and got a tour. Everyone was pretty bored, but I was just focusing on understanding what the tour guide was saying. But I understood, so that was good! We had about 4 hours to just roam around the city and do whatever we wanted, which was odd for me to figure out at first. It was tons of fun though! My friends and I literally just walked around town, ate some food and went to the central commerical center. Since it was my first time in Leon, I´d call our adventure a sucess. I saw one of the most beautiful cathedrals I have ever seen, too. The architecture and detail was impeccable and stunning to look at. My English teacher told me that it is one of the most important gothic cathedrals in the world. 
Although I saw the play in English, I spoke tons of Spanish with my new friends I met that are in the grade below me. I´m not sure why but one of my favorite pats of the whole day was on the bus ride home and we were singing Christmas Carols (well actually, I was singing the majority of the time, but when they knew the words, everyone joined in). Everyone was just having a good time, it had snowed earlier for the first time this season, and who doesnt love Christmas Carols?!

I just thought the spelling error was funny..

the beautiful cathedral

This city of one the most beautiful I have ever seen!

Angie, Cristina, Me, Alicia, Love this picture and love them <3

This weekend Lani´s host family went out of town so she stayed the weekend with me! We had tons of fun, and I´m glad I finally got the chance to show her around Bembibre! We went to the Bembibre soccer (I honestly never plan on missing one, I love them so much), hung out with Sergio´s friends, later with Raquel´s friends, and on Sunday we had a photoshoot! It was such a fantastic weekend!! 
*We took close to 200 photos and I put my favorite one of the both of us, of me, and of Lani on here, and I put some of my favorites in general on my Facebook page.
Soccer game!

Genuine happiness is what you are looking at, two girls just loving their lives in Spain

This week I have a day off on Thursday. I feel like I always have days off...oh wait, I do. I´m definitely looking forward to the day off and sleeping! Well, I also have to study for Lengua and should be a productive but recuperative day.

In other news, I got a 5,5 on my science test! And, that was in like the top 7 or so! 

That´s it for now!

Hasta Luego!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving! Christmas! Movies! Field Trip!

I kinda have a lot to say, so please bear with me. Although, I am going to try to put more pictures and fewer words!

So I had a bit of a surprise Thanksgiving dinner and honestly, it was one of the best Thanksgivings I have ever had. On Wednesday my host parents asked me if I wanted to go to Liz´s house for dinner tomorrow night, and of course I said yes! Liz is this amazing Bristish woman who runs the Libreía (book store) by my school. That is also when I learned that there are 2 Americanas on the Bembibre Basketball Team (only one was able to come to dinner). So on Thursday at about 9:30pm I got picked up and we went to Liz´s house for an amazing dinner. This is how awesome Liz is, she googled tons of information and recipes about Thanksgiving to make it as special for Ni (basketball player) and I as possible. We had chicken (turkeys aren´t exactly easily found here), stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy, and for dessert apple crumble with nata (cream). It was amazing, I can´t even put into words how delicious it was.

Liz even make the table all cute!

There are not even words to describe...

On Friday, we had our AFS Thanksgiving/Christmas party, and I was in a terrible mood and did not want to go at all, but obviously it was tons of fun! All the families of all the students gathered together and ate food and all hung out (typical Spanish). It was nice to finally meet some of the host siblings of the other students!
We all had made posters before about how we celebrate Christmas in our homecountry (except Lani and I had made ours together because there wasn´t enough poster board). We all gave a short presentation in Spanish with our posters. We ate tons of food (I guess that´s why they also called this a Thanksgiving fiesta?), and everyone brought food from their homecountry. I made carrot cake (all by myself) and all the Spaniards loved it (none of them have eaten it before)!! All the adults kept asking my host parents if they helped me because they didn´t actually believe that I made it all by myself and that it was so delicious!
Ida is leaving in less than a week because she is only here for a trimester, so it was also a chance for people to say bye, but I will be hanging out with her this Thursday so say one last goodbye. I´m so sad she is leaving! I remember being bus buddies on the way to Ponferrada just a few months ago and now it´s goodbye :(
okay, well I am just going to post lots of pictures now because I assume people enjoy looking at pictures more than reading!

my carrot cake!

Marina (my tutora´s daughter) and Carolin

Ya´ll can´t even imagine how many trys we have to do just to get a decent picture as a group (see below for final result)

Lani <3

Just some of the students and host siblings

Ida! <3

our beautiful Christmas Poster

Derin´s poster, and he will kill me if I don´t say that he is not the one who spelt Christmas wrong :)

Christmas in Germany

Christmas in Denmark

Chirstmas in Lativa
On Saturday I went to the movies with some friends from school and we saw Breaking Dawn Part 2. It was sooo goood!! and most importantly, I understood it all! I was really impressed with myself with how much I was able to pick up on nearly every word and not just rely on the video part and simply understanding what is happening. I was able to understand the conversations between characters completely and the exact words being said. It was a very fun afternoon!

Last thing! On Wednesday this week, I am going to a field trip with my grade, grade above me, and grade below me to Leon (a big city about an hour away). We are going to watch a Sherlock Holmes play in English. This is meant for schools from all around to come and watch the play and give students a chance to listen and try to understand the English. At the end of the play, students are supposed to ask questions to the actors to practice their English and such. Then we are going to la Universidad de Leon, I am assuming for a tour of some sort? but I am not sure. I´m excited though!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Quick tidbit about happy news!

So I wasn´t actually planning on writing this one until about 30 seconds ago (not kidding). It is 11:15pm in Spain  right now and I was planning on spending just a tiny amount of time blogging since I had pre-written the last post during English class so I was only supposed to type it and post it and be done. Of course, when do things actually go according to plan? So basically I have spent the past hour reading other AFSer´s blogs without actually writing mine...

Thought I would share some wonderful news (the whole point of why I´m quickly writing this)! I had a Lengua test, and the thing with Lengua is that I have to pass, unless I want to take 2 English Lit classes next year (this is counting for Junior year Lit)...which obviously I don´t. So I studied my butt of for this test, and allow me to quickly explain how tests in Spain are: here are some topics/concepts/important people etc and a few questions, now here is 50 minutes, now write as much as you possibly can and the maximun score is 10 (virtually impossible, kids aim for about 7s). Well, I scored a 5.15 (5 is passing)!!! I was so excited, I felt very accomplished, too because my hard work paid off!!
Also, I got a 4.8 on my History test! Considering I barely studied, I´d say that is pretty good!
Another proud moment, on both of the exams, I didn´t even get the lowest scores! Not even second or third lowest! (I'm not quite sure where I stand past that). Go Me!!

So I know when you type in the URL for my blog this will be the most recent, since this is, in fact, the most recent...but scroll down or look on the right hand side for my (Post 14) and read that one too!!! I posted it about 5 minutes ago, so it is recent too!!! It is short so it won´t take very long, I promise!

Hasta Luego!

Post 14 (I´m kinda done with coming up with names)

This post is not an update but a story that I found very interesting.

On Friday in my economics class, a student and my teacher had what started as a conversation about the economy and what ended up as a debate about politics. This discussion lasted for 35 minutes and there I was all content about wasting time when my teacher asked me a question about US politics and economics. Just like that, I was now in this discussion. Somehow this ended up as a debate on communism. It was basically me versus my class and I am not even kidding, the kids from the sciences group (I am in the humanities and social sciences group) were now in my classroom circled around me and the few kids I was talking with.

After this, I go to my next class (which I am obviously very late to) and I am starting to think to myself that never have I ever in my life had a conversation about communism with positives included. In fact, I don’t think I have ever been taught in school the pros of communism, the only thing we learn is that it is bad and here are a few reasons why it doesn’t work. We talk about this a lot in my economics class about how capitalist the US is and this affirms it. I was talking to one of my friends during the next class about this and he told me that a lot of people in Spain are open to the idea of it and there are strong groups of communists all around Spain. I then explained to him that it is not illegal to believe in communism in the US but I think the general sense is just that you don’t verbalize it if you do (of course, I could be totally wrong about this whole thing, but this is my opinion and what I have observed throughout my life).

The point of me writing this post is because something as little as this was such an eye opening experience. I saw a whole new mentality and I was able to see something in a new light, from a new point of view.
This is really what being an exchange student is about. Yes, it is also about learning a new language and culture of your new country, but I think one of the most important things about going on exchange is being able to look at the world from the view of a different group and type of people, people who live their lives completely different than you do, where your normal is not so normal anymore. It is important to step outside of the box that living in the same place your whole life puts you in. Not to say that I have turned communist, but this is just a little example of how people from a different country think about things has opened my eyes and as my friend Claudia told me: “it is important to be more open minded”

Hasta Luego!
(JK, I´m ´bout to do another quick post:)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Post Number 13 (the extent of my creativity)

Just going to jump right into this post. School is so much better now, it´s actually becoming fun! When I am actually listening, I understand about 90% of the what teachers are saying. Although, I still get nervous when the teacher asks me to answer a question or when they say "Estados Unidos" because there is always a question to follow. If school was about a three before, it´s about a seven now. I say seven because one point is automatically subtracted because it´s school... Another because it is kind of difficult (school here is a lot harder than America), and the third point because I am without any real, close, best friends. But overall, way better!

This weekend I went to a birthday celebration for my friend Angie (a girl in my class). It was a lot of fun! We went to dinner then the discotecas!
Volleyball was a great decision! Even though I don´t love the sport in particular, I have made some great friends and it was a great way to meet new people from my school. Also, I didn´t realize it was like a real team with games against other schools and such, I just thought it was something to do afterschool... But this just makes it more fun!

Today was another Huelga, but this time it was about protesting the government about the economy, education, health care, and basically everything the government is supposed to take care of here and not just education. It was a nice day of school to relax and get caught up on some stuff (which is why I decided to write my post today and not on Monday).

Back home, I am really independent, and I am starting to get my feeling of independence here living in Bembibre, I know where everything is in town now and I can go places by myself without my family and be totally fine! Things are great here in Spain and I hope all is well in Sacramento!

¡Hasta Luego!

Angie, Me, Cristina, Paula, Alicia

Paula and Me...I just think this picture is really cute, so I included it.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Cosas Al Azar (random things)

I´m just telling you now this this blog post is will not be quality writing. It´s a bunch of different random things put together in one post. There won´t be any connectivity. 

School is a lot better than before. I´m having more conversations with the kids in my class and I guess they aren´t as timid to talk to me. Spanish school is way more difficult than school in America, without a doubt. Within my next few posts I will probably do something about explaining my classes and how I´m doing with them.

I started volleyball on Tuesday, I have it every Tuesday and Thursday from roughly 5-6. It´s basically a group of kids who meet up at my school and we play for an hour. They don´t really have school sports here like in America. It was really fun! I met more people that go to my school, and everyone was so nice and friendly!!! Also, I was suprisingly really good compared to the others (not to sound concieted). The reason I bring that up, though, is because sports are just simply not as important as they are in America. Someone said they didnt know the rules of volleyball and I was shocked because for some reason I thought it was like common knowledge, but they don´t really matter as much here. 

I only had three days of school last week, which means a 4 day weekend!!! Thursday was Días de los Santos, where people bring flowers to cemetaries in honor of their loved ones. My family doesn´t celebrate it though because they think it is ridiculous. They don´t think you should have to dedicate a day for the dead, because people that have passed are remembered everyday. I aree with them, so it was a day to relax. Friday we didn´t have school...well, I´m not exactly sure why. Someone told me it was because since Thursday was a holiday, there is like a consensus to take Friday off also to make a 4 day weekend. This is how Spaniards think, I love it haha! I had a relaxing but really fun weekend. Chilled out during the day, then at night I hung out with friends. 

I´m getting my fill of fútbol (which I love), for example on Saturday I watched games from 4:30pm until probably about 11:30pm (excessive? absolutely not). I went to the Bembibre game (I love going to them!), after the game, I went to a bar with friends where Barcelona was playing (on the TV), then I went to dinner at a friend´s house with Sergio and others where I finished the Madrid game then watched the Valencia game. It was amazing and not once did I think "this is getting old."  I wish fútbol was more popular in America so I could enjoy it more often)

Well elections are tomorrow, and I like to stay informed so I have indeed been watching all the debates and such on Youtube. It´s kinda ironic how Hurricane Sandy and the US elections have been consuming the Spanish news lately. Many Spanairds like to tell me their thoughts on American politics with their two sense (is that even how that phrase is spelt?), I kind of find it amusing. 

Hasta Luego!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Orientation and No School!

Tuesday I went to school as I normally would and there were six people including me there. That is when I found out that that day was one of the three days where no one goes to school. My friend, Manu, explained what was happening and that there were student strikes in Ponferrada this week and he was leaving after 1st period. We planned our escape during Economy and left immediately after. Leaving class or school is so easy to do here, you literally walk out the door. There is no secrecy or "escaping." Then I went home, watched a movie, and slept. My parents wanted me to go to school on Wednesday because I am only allowed to miss a certain amount of hours of class. I ended up leaving after 4th period because I only had gym and Lengua and my teacher wasn´t there. Thursday I took the bus to Ponfe to go to a strike with Derin and kids in his class, but because it was raining and there had already been a strike the day before, there weren´t that many people. We ended up walking around the city and hanging out. It was a very fun day!

This past weekend, I had my AFS orientation. It was a ton of fun! It was so nice to see my friends from the US that are living in different cities! The best part was meeting tons of new friends from other countries! I made so many new amazing friends, and I can´t wait for the Mid-Year Orientation. I can honestly say I made friends that I will have for a lifetime. At the orientation, we played lots of games, talked about our "emotional rollercoaster," talked about culture shock, other actividies, and this was the time for students to talk about any troubles they are having.

Overall good week! Below are some of my favorite pictures from the orientation!

The student strike

Megg and Milena

My amazing friends <3

All the students!! 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Daily Life

I don´t really have too much to update everyone on, so I decided to make this post about my daily life in Spain (on weekdays). The big difference between this routine and my routine in Sacramento is I am 100x less busy here and have too much free time (something I am not used to). I miss all the school activities that American schools provide!! Speaking of which, Homecoming Week started today at St. Francis!!! Gooo Juniors!!! <3Mike&Sully<3 (my class´s mascot).
Friday was a national holiday in Spain, so no school!! Thursday was a day of protest at a lot of schools around the country, and I'm pretty sure there are more this week. I think Bembibre doesn't really care enough, so we didn't have a protest. But I learned today that apparently we have our own form of protest at my school. Every class decides on a day they want to miss this week and they don't come to school. Basically a free day off!! Welcome to Bembibre, where we would rather have a day to catch up on sleep then hold a protest...this pueblo cracks me up. I agree with that logic, although I did want to go to a protest to see what it was like.

Okay, finally, here it is:

-wake up at 7:30 and get ready for school
-leave at 8:15 and class starts at 8:30. Also, I walk to school and I really like that!
-school ends at 2:30
-We eat a big lunch, the most important meal here at about 2:50
-around 3:30 I take my siesta and depending on how much I have to do that day, I wake up at either 5 or 6
-after siesta, I have "merendar" with my parents. This is like having a small snack (most of the time, some kind of baked good) with a small cup of coffee. During this time, I have conversations with my parents about random things. It is a really good and fun way for me to practice and learn Spanish and the culture.
-work on homework, use the computer, study or maybe go on a walk. It´s kinda free time, I guess.
-At 9 or 9:30, we have a dinner, which is pretty small (by Spain´s standards).
-I watch some TV, which is another way I practice Spanish. My favorite part is when I understand what just took place...
-by 11, I start to get ready for bed.

So I know it doesn´t sound too exciting, but it is relaxing.

Also, on Mondays and Wednesdays I go to the pool for an hour or so with Raquel´s best friend, Andrea, to swim some laps while Raquel and Sergio are at their english lesson. By the way, when I say swim I actually mean swim 8 laps then talk for awhile until we feel like doing another 8 much as this being my form of exercise :) I figure the talking helps me with my Spanish, so I don´t mind! haha

¡Hasta Luego!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I hate coming up with this will be my title

I kinda had a weird day. That last post about my biggest problem is Spain I drafted during Philosphy. When I got home, I was informed that I would be meeting with Yoli (my tutora or liason) today and not Thursday in Ponferrada while Raquel is at dance. Honestly, my whole perspective about my exchange was changed in the 30 min she was able to meet with me. I told her basically everything I said in the last post and it was amazing how many possible and reasonable solutions she could come up with. She just gave me the straight up truth, I am not here to learn history or philosphy or any other subject. My number one priority is learning Spanish and then, embracing a new culture. Once I learn more Spanish, then I can worry about grades. She also told me that some of my teachers were out of place for expecting the same amount of work from me and the other students. I felt like I needed to produce the same quality of work as the other students, and hearing from an adult who is knowledgable about exchange programs that that is ridiculous definitely reassured me. She told my parents they should go to the principal (who is super personable and nice) and explain to him the reasons why I am actually here and have him explain that to my teachers. So now here I am writing a blog post instead of doing my homework. Thanks Yoli! :)
She also gave me different options for meeting new people. I am going to look into doing more activties in Ponferrada or Bembibre. Also, she has a 16 year old daughter and the next time her and her friends hang out, I can come so I can meet more people and be in the city. Within those 30 minutes, I felt so much more reassured and confident. Side note: I was nervous about being able to clearly communicate my concerns to her since she doesn´t speak English, but I was so shocked but proud of myself with how the Spanish just went rolling off my tongue!!

Things are looking up and to top it off, I had a fantastic weekend!!! It was very fútbol filled, actually. During the week I watched Barcelona v. some team in Portugal. On Saturday, I watched Bembibre´s team play and Sunday was El Clásico (Barcelona v. Real Madrid). Watching a fútbol game in Spain is unlike anything else, it is so intense andn I have already decided it is my favorite past time. In a few weeks, I´m going to go to a game in the Ponferrada stadium with my cousin Marcos!! I am so excited!!

Friday night, Megg came to Bembibre and then spent the night. That night is without a doubt in my top 3 favorite nights here in Spain. We went on "un paseo" (just means walking around town) with Raquel and some friends. When Raquel had to go to dance, we met up with Sergio and some friends and went to a bar to"tomar algo" (which is basically the equilivelent of going to a starbucks or a cafe and getting something to drink while talking and hanging out with friends). After, we had a picnic dinner in a park while listening to music and looking at the clear and beautiful night sky. I have never seen so many stars at once. It was so simple but it was really fun. Life in Bembibre is so simple and enjoyable, I really like it.
On Sunday, we drove to this is old tiny pueblo called Cantexeira to see some ancient spanish type things took lot pictures and tomar algo. Quality family bonding time.

Bembibre´s team

Me and Lorena <3

La Familia


Megg and I <3

Always havin´ fun

The Hard Times

I haven´t really talked about anything bad about being in Spain, but this experience would not be the experience that it is if there weren´t hard times included. I´m not homesick, I´m not going through a big culture shock, the thing that is really killing me is school. Back in Sacramento, I love going school, seeing my friends everyday, and I actually love learning. Here, none of that is happening and it has been the hardest thing for me yet. I dread going to school. This probably sounds weird, but it is not a learning friendly enviorment. They don´t make learning fun, it is blantently obvious that the students do not want to be there, and all the teachers do is lecture. Not kidding, in my Lengua class (Spanish language class), the teacher dictates and the students copy down the words. We are then expected to study those notes and every three chapters we have a test. I am also expected to do all the work. I probably should not have assumed that the teachers would give me leeway, because they don´t. Because of this, I spend hours on homework a night and I come home completely exhausted from school. To top off my school expierences, I honestly have no friends of my own. I stay with the same 20 people every day and don´t get many chances to meet other kids. I only have the girls in my class that help me with homework and let me copy their notes. The students in my class are so timid to talk to me. They don´t even want to attempt a have a conversation with me. It´s not that my language abilities are bad, it´s that their mindset is if I am not fluent, then I must know nothing. Not the case. My solution right now is to just start talking to all my classmates and asking them random questions about school or anything (even if I know the answer) just to show I can sufficiently communicate. I know I have Sergio´s class I can always talk to and practice my with Spanish, though. Honestly, I need to meet more people and I really want to find friends by myself.

Monday, October 1, 2012

1 Month!!

Wow, I can´t believe I have been here for a month already. It seems like a week ago I was packing my things in my huge red suitcase and waiting anxiously to start my adventure!
I have had a pretty uneventful week, just school and lots of homework! Insane amounts actually, I spent 7 hours over the weekend doing homework and I only got about 3/4 done. I don´t even spend that much time on homework in 5 days in the States...
I didn´t do anything super fun over the weekend because I have been really sick for the past 4 days. Thursday morning I went to the police station to get my visa extended and a Spanish ID card that all citizens are supposed to have. Saturday I went on a much needed shopping trip in Ponferrada to get winter clothes. I completely underestimated how cold it gets here and I did not come well prepared. I guess you can take the girl out of California, but you can't take the California out of the girl. :) When I was unpacking all my clothes, the first thing my family said was that with the clothes I brought, I will not get out of the winter alive. After shopping, we went to see mis abuelos (grandparents) because they had gotten a little puppy that day, then we went out for some ice cream. On Sunday, my cold was majorly acting up so I stayed inside all day and relaxed. I taught Raquel and Sergio how to make cookies, though!! They didn´t turn out right and I thought they were bad but everyone else thought they were good! They only probably thought that because they do not know what real and delicious cookies should actually taste like :) I think the reason they tasted a bit grain-y is because their sugar, especially the brown sugar, is different. It isn´t as fine...actually it is as thick as sand. While the three of us were preparing the dough, Sergio started an "ingrediant war," we starting putting flour, sugar, and the dough on eachother´s faces! It was a mess but so much fun! Also, it was the first time I had taken part in any type "food fight."
That was basically the extent of my weekend.

Since the update part of this post is so short, I think this is a good time to give people my List of Observations, or things I have noticed that are different here.

1. In school, the teachers are religious to the textbooks, Everything we do is from the textbook.
2. When people speak in Englsih, they speak with British accents. It makes sense since they learn British English, I just had never thought about it before. My first day of English class I legitimately had to cover my mouth the whole time because I kept laughing!
3. Driving is insane. I can only assume the rule here is if no one dies then it is legal. It is scary. Crosswalks are supposed to be a safe way to cross the street, I thought... Here, they´re not. I don´t think cars have to stop for you, only if you are in the middle of the crosswalk.
4. People go out walking just to walk, like not for exercise, as a pastime. They don´t have a destination in mind or anything, they just go out walking then they always run into people they know so they chat for a little bit, then maybe go get something to drink. It is actally quite fun, and who knew walking around town could be such an adventure!
5. Things here are not that expensive, especially compared to the US. I think things are extremely reasonably priced. In Spain, if it didn´t cost a lot to make/produce then it won´t be expensive to buy. However, in the US, even though it cost little to make/produce, the price will be high because people will still purchase it.
6. Teachers and students are very laid back towards eachother here. They call teachers by their first time and for example, a boy in my class told the teacher to calm down and it was totally normal.
7. I knew coming here that Spaniards are very touchy, but the kids and teenagers like to hit one another, and the head and shoulders are very popular targets. It´s very strange. It´s not violent or anything, always playful but it´s definitely more than just small shove or light pat on the shoulder that we might do in America. It is very odd for me to to watch.
8. The portions are insanely large here. Everyone here is skinny, though, it doesn´t make sense. Also, you have to say "no more food" about 10 times before they realize your stomach is about to explode. It is a trap because if you say "poquito más" (a little more) you will get a another serving size and I´m pretty sure it is considered rude to not finish everything on your plate.
9. They eat all fresh foods here, except the milk, it doesn´t need to be refridgerated until it is opened (aka, not fresh). I was surprised when I was in the grocery store and the milk was on a normal shelf next to soda.
10. The last different thing I care to mention about food is that "un postre" (dessert) can (on just a normal occasion) mean a yogurt or a piece of fruit, but for breakfast they have baked goods that in America we would consider a desert. Basically, it is just switched.

Please feel free to leave comments! It is a great way to contact me! It seems that Mondays are going to be (in general) the day that I update my blog!

Until next week!

Monday, September 24, 2012

School, the weekend, and lots of Photos!

I would like to start this post off by talking about school (get the boring stuff out of the way). After my first day, I still had 4 more classes to be introduced to since I take 10 classes but only have 6 per day. All of them are going pretty well, some way harder than others, but I just need to focus on the courses I will need to transfer back to St. Francis (Econ, Lengua/Spanish, Science, Math). History, Oh History, I think we might have a problem... I'm pretty sure my teacher has this twisted idea that I read, write, speak, and understand Spanish and that I am simply a bad student. Let me tell you, it is quite the contrary. Carmen, my teacher, always calls on me and the response "no lo sé" (I don't know) does not cut it. She also always calls on me to read aloud my homework answer (which are like paragraphs). Although, deep down, I know she is only trying to help me. I don't think I have ever felt so embarrassed in my entire life. The first time I read aloud, I heard giggling behind me (since she forces me to sit front row, 2 feet from her) and I wanted to sink in my chair and die of embarrassment. Let me give you this analogy for reference. I read Spanish aloud like a kindergardener is reading a book for the first time; however, the other students read Spanish aloud so fast (not exaggerating) that my eyes can't follow along on the page fast enough. Luckily, I can understand her lectures (the majority), and it also helps that I have already learned this information (thank you AP World History). With philosophy and economy, it is quite the opposite. I have no background in either of the subjects, so there I am out in wild, unknown territory trying to survive. My English teacher is great! I have heard some horror stories from students about their English teachers such as: not allowing them to help during class, having to do all the work, having to do all the work but in Spanish, and many more. My teacher encourages me to correct her if she makes a mistake or pronounces something incorrectly, I don´t have to do any of the work (class or homework), I can work on other subjects during the class, and I have only have to take the tests to check my grammar (understandable).
After one week of school I can say I have made 5 friends (progress from the initial 0)!! I don't understand my lack of companions because do they not realize I am willing to sell myself for English help in exchange for friendship?? Another reason I think no one wants to talk to me (except my fav 5) is because they literally don't know any English. My 5 friends have all told me that everyone here has practically taken English their whole life, but they don't know anything on the spot and they definitely can't speak it.

If I recall, in my last post I made a joke about me being famous here. Well, as I have recently found out, said joke is actually extremely true. I am the first exchange student Bembibre has ever had, and California is a fantasy dreamland fort them, but to me it is where I humbly reside. Sergio told me everyone at school asks about me. Raquel told me everyone at her school talks about me. My parents told me they have people asking them about me all the time. I even have these little 12 year old boys (who I have never been introduced to) stop me in the hallway at school to say "hello" in their best British accents (remember, they learn English from England here).Word does really get around in a small town. Sergio told me I had an American face (I didn´t even know Americans had a certain "face"). Aparently, my "american face" provokes a lot staring, like a lot, like more than one person can handle. Note to every person reading this, don´t stare at people because it is very uncomfortable for the staree.

On Saturday I went to Ponferrada with my host sister and her best friend, Andrea, to hang out with Megg, Lani, and Maria. We went shopping then went to dinner where our other two friends Emils and Derin met us. It was a really fun night and I'm so happy I was able to hang out with my friends!! Very fun night!!

On Sunday, toda la familia went on an 12 kilometer hike up a mountain. The route is called "Ruta de Las Fuentes Medicinales". It was beautiful, very hot, then extremely cold, amazing, tiring, but spectacular. It was uphill for two hours then downhill for two hours. The downhill part would seem like a relief but it was just as difficult as uphill. There wasn't a single part that was flat land. Despite all that, it was so much fun!! And Sergio took some beautiful pictures (some of which are posted here).

Cool Kids on the Block

Sulphur paint

Lani, Me, Megg

Raquel, Me, Andrea

The girls!

Megg, Emils, Maria, Lani, Me, Derin, Raquel, Andrea