Wednesday, February 27, 2013

San Juan Bosco/Update

On Friday night I went to a dinner/dance fiesta that the other high school in Bembibre puts on yearly. It is called San Juan Bosco, since the feast day is around when they do the dinner. What this saint has to do with this fiesta is beyond me, but oh well, it just is. It is a pretty formal event (suit&tie and nice dresses). So we went to dinner, which was basically just food being served to us in the big room with fancy table, chairs, and place settings. Not even going to lie, I wasn´t expecting the dinner to be that fun because group dinners, for me, are usually pretty boring because it is 10 people speaking at once with lots of interrupting and talking over another person. I normally just call it good if I can follow the stories and conversations that are being had. I don’t really contribute unless someone specifically talks to me. Probably something I should work on. Anyways, it obviously wasn’t my favorite part of the night. So after the dinner, we went to this discoteca, which I hadn’t realized until a bit after we arrived, was being used for the school (but it wasn´t like we had to stay there for the night and other people weren´t allowed to come in). And the people that didn´t come to the dinner still came out to the fiestas and to this particular discoteca. All in all, I had so much fun and it is probably in my top three favorite nights in Spain. I can´t even describe how much fun it was. I came with Raquel and some of our friends (none of which go to my school), but a little bit into the night I found some kids from my class and I was with them for a while. All in all, a blast. We only took photos during the dinner and a lot turned out terribly so that is why I have only added two photos...

Alba and I

Jeni and I. She is one of my classamates and sits right next to me. She has become of my good friends here.

Last week on Wednesday, I went on a field trip to the Bembibre theater and watched a play. I went with my school and it was a really good play! It was actually was semi serious with the content, but there was enough humor to cover it up.

Other than that, nothing big to report from Bembibre, everything is going wonderfully. School good now, it is actually only getting better. Now that the language isn’t really an issue anymore, I am able to communicate more than just the words that I am speaking; I am able to put expression with the words. I am not sure that makes sense, but I am making jokes and adding a bit of sass which was harder to do at the beginning. So everything is pretty good in northwestern Spain.

Hasta Luego

Monday, February 18, 2013


I´m going to start off this week´s post with an embarrassingly lovely story. On Friday night I went to a discoteca with Carolin, and when you walked in they gave you a foam heart thing with a name on it. The point was to find the other counterpart of that couple (not that anyone actually did, though). I didn´t know who the woman on my heart was, it was Doña Sophia. Carolin says hi to someone she knows and I figure this might a good person to ask who Doña Sophia is. So I ask and she doesn’t answer, instead she just stares in disbelief at me like I am an idiot. She finally answers and says “Umm, the Queen of Spain.” Now    I´m thinking, shoot! this is embarrassing so I very quickly say that I am not Spanish in attempt to diffuse the bomb a little bit. Then I need to ask this girl who the male counterpart is because I don´t know that either. Again, she looks at me like I am extremely stupid and what I hear her say is “Fran Carlos” although I am not certain, I am too embarrassed to ask again. At this point, I assume it is some ancient King and Queen of Spain, and then I just leave it at that.
Now my host parents are driving me home and I tell them what happened, that is when I find that the man´s name is actually “Juan Carlos” (which is when I made the realization that Doña Sophia is the current queen of Spain, because I knew that Juan Carlos is the current king). It was all embarrassing, but it was also totally my fault for my lack of knowledge.

So Carnaval was this weekend and on Saturday afternoon I went to the “parade,” basically where groups/organizations/schools etc dressed up in these amazing group themed costumes. These are my favorites that I saw.

There was a group of about 50 people who did flags of different countries.

These are two girls in my class and my school did the theme of Toy Story characters.

Messi, of course

From Up

There was like 20 of them, and it was actually kind of a scary sight.

Looks like we have found the new pope.

Probably on of my absolute favorites

Later that night, Raquel and I went to a friend´s birthday dinner. After dinner we went to another friend´s house where all of us who were going as angels met to get ready together. After we got ready, we went out to the fiestas! Obviously, I had a great time and a ton of fun. Although I´m normally not a fan of doing costume related activities, I must say, I´m really proud of how our costumes turned out! They were super cute!

A bit blury, but this is Alba and me.

All of the Angels! Alba, Claudia, Laura, Raquel, Me, Andrea

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

week of 11 feb

This past week in Spain on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were days of stike and protest. I´m pretty sure they were about education, but one thing I am certain about was I didn´t have to go to school on Thursday. In bigger cities, students won´t go all three days to school so they can participate in said protests, but since I live in a pueblo, we didn´t have a protest set up plus my teachers were giving class those days so I went. As a class, though, we decided to all skip on Thursday, so that was nice.

This weekend was a "puente" which means you have two days off in a row, and because it lines up with a weekend, I had a four day weekend. That is why the blog post is late, because I forgot yesterday was Monday.
The reason for the puente was because this past weekend was a holiday called "Carnaval" I wasn´t sure what this holiday signifies so I asked my host mom. She says is orignially comes from an ancient Pagan holiday/celebration, it is also like a holiday before Lent, and when Franco was the dictator of Spain, it was banned,so now it is a big deal.
How is it celebrated? Everyone dresses up in costumes. I mean like a real costume, though, not some ´put together the night before´ type of costume we do in the States for Halloween. After we get all dressed up, we go out with our friends to the fiestas!
Although Carnaval was this weekend, Bembibre is having its celebration this coming weekend.
My costume is almost done and I´ll upload pictures in my next blog.

On Friday, we had like a "cousin get together." So Sergio, Raquel, 3 of our cousins (Marcos, Alberto, and Patricia), and I met up at the mall in Ponfe, got some food, and we were supposed to go see a movie, but we took too long eating so we missed it. Instead we played some bowling. It was really fun and a good way for me to get to know some of my cousins! I´m sure we´ll plan another one in the near future, or at least I hope because I had fun!

Just so everyone knows, I love getting mail! If maybe if by some chance you have lost my address, I´ll just go ahead and casually include it right here:

Shannon Williams
C/ El Campo, Portal 3 Bajo B
24300 - Bembibre
León - España

...I´m not kidding, please take my hint seriously. I would love to receive any type of mail: a letter, a card, a small package with skittles or jelly beans, anything really. And I´m just going to add, if you do decide to send a small package, the best method to send it is in one of those big paper envelope things with the bubble wrap lining on the inside. I hope you understand what I´m taking about. It is also best that is it under 2 kilos (about 4 pounds), because if it is more, it will take double the time to come (because it will have to be opened and checked in Madrid) and I will have to pay to recieve it.

¡Hasta Luego!

Monday, February 4, 2013

AFS Mid Year Orientation

Preface: this post seems really long, but there are a ton of pictures, and I mean a ton. Yes there is quite a bit of text to read (oh, the horror!) it but read it until the end! :)

On January 26, the three other kids living in Ponferrada and I took the train to Valladolid for our Mid Year Orientation. We traveled for about 5 hours (we had a one hour stop), and we got into the place at about 9:30. We ate dinner, waited for the other traveling students to arrive, and relaxed for the night because we weren´t allowed to go out into the city. We started early Saturday morning, and to be quite honest, the actual orientation wasn´t that fun (not these type of pre-planned activities are), but at least they didn´t have us locked up the whole day forcing us to participate in activites they know we don´t want to do. All together we  only did about 3 hours of the activites, the rest of the time was more or less free time. We took a trip to the grocery and bought mountains of food then a little later we went over to the park for a few hours. That night we walked to the mall to hang out for an hour or so. I think the volunteers figured out that we just wanted to talk to our friends that we haven´t seen in months.

Sunday was supposed to be the day to go exploring in the city of Valladolid, but the weather was terrible, so it wasn´t as fun as it was supposed to be. Although, it was nice to be able to see another Spanish City. The city is really beautiful with some ridiculously beautiful and detailed architecture, and it is a pretty big city, everything is a lot more spread out than Ponferrada. I think I prefer Ponferrada more.

Saturday morning the volunteers introduced us to this piggy bank (that was actually a winking demon holding a baby angel...) the purpose of the piggy bank was that while we are together in a group, if you say something in English, you literally had to pay for it. It cost 20 cents per word that was said. At the end of the weekend we would buy candy and share it amongst ourselves. We ended up with almost 8 euros...and only 4 people ended up having debts to be paid. Yes, I did have to put money into the jar, 2.40 euros to be exact. I´m not really sure if this is even a good excuse or not, but the only three words that I kept saying were "oh my gosh"...a bit embarrassing but, oh well.

At 2:30 the four of us said goodbye to our friends and boarded the train to Ponferrada. Honestly, the trip to and from Valladolid was way more fun than the orientation itself, and I became a lot better friends with the three others in Ponferrada. It was 4 hours each way of laughing, talking, terribly awkward silences, stupid videos, and fun pictures.

All of us wonderful AFSers. We have the USA, Germany, Switzerland, Latvia, and Turkey representing. You might notice significantly fewer students at this orientation and that is because some have changed families to different regions of Spain, some left because they were only here for the trimester, and a group from Galicia (a region of Spain) are having their own orientation in Galicia. 

Indigo from Montana and Carolin from Germany

one of a solid 20 peacocks in a park

some  of us on a bridge that moved, so that was cool.

We learn and do the most ridiculous songs and games, but I´ll probably remember them forever.

the train window. we thought this was so cool...because it is.

Uncaptionable, but that is Martha from Delaware with me.

Meg´s mom sent her a puzzle of a picture of all the girls from the first orientation for us to do at this orientation :)

This is how we did introductions Sat morning. A silhouette with a few things about ourselves. I have water for swimming, musical notes for music, a suitcase for traveling, and a book for learning

Milena (Switzerland), Martha (Delaware), Meg (Virginia), Me, Carolin (Germany), and Indigo  (Montana)

Gotta bring that ´tude and sass

Paige (Pennsylvania), Me, Martha (Delaware), Derin (Arizona)

A church

Carolin and I on the train :) <3

Ponfe crewww Carolin, Derin, Me, Emils. Love these guys

I realized I can change the size of the photos (look at me getting all tech savvy), so I went from size medium to X-Large so yea...If I decide its too big, I won´t put them so big in my next blog, but I think I kind of like it better?

So I took a math test last week and our teacher told us our grades today. I got a 7, but I´m not even sure how that is even possible because I thought I didn´t even answer enough questions to accumulate to a 7. But hey, I am not complaining. I am very proud of the 7 though, because it was one of the highest in the class and people don´t normally score that high on math tests with the teacher I have.

In other exciting news, about 2 weeks ago, Ponferrada recieved another student who will be finishing out the year with us, but she is on the semester program so that is why she is just now coming. She is super nice, and we have the same exact taste in music! Her name is Zuzanna, and she is from Slovakia. Here is a picture of when all 5 of us hung out. She didn´t go to the orientation because she had only been here for a week at the time, but she´ll be going to one in Galicia in a few weeks. 

Probably goes without saying, but she is the one between Derin and Emils.