Arrival in Querétaro

The first moments of my arrival in Querétaro before leaving the airport are very much a blur, and they went by far too fast for me to even consider taking pictures or making any really substantial observations. Between getting off the plane and going through customs and immigration, it was all very hectic and went by quickly, in addition to being very hazy in my memories even just a few hours later. I had a hard time getting myself to speak in Spanish to the airport workers, and I kept freezing up rather than actually talking to them. I couldn’t understand most of the instructions that they gave me for having my bags checked and who to go to, and I definitely felt very bewildered for the remainder of my time in the airport. The workers there at least seemed to be used to this, and were for the most part patient as they ushered me around the room.

a bird's-eye view

a bird’s-eye view

The most immediate behavior that I was faced with following immigration and customs at the airport was the taxi driving and traffic in downtown Querétaro. I don’t believe I have ever been as terrified in a car as I was today in that taxi. Not only are the streets extremely narrow with a lane of parked cars on one side and buildings on the other, but the drivers drive very fast and there are hardly any traffic signs and no traffic signals in that part of the city. Our taxi driver spoke calmly to us about the city and our trip while veering around corners and cars. The view from right behind the driver in the taxi van was especially frightening because it looked like we were going to hit every single thing in the field of view. I found it very interesting how he could be so casual and nonchalant while driving in such an erratic environment.

driving through the narrow streets and parked cars

driving through the narrow streets and parked cars

Since my arrival earlier today, I have seen much worse traffic and driving situations around the city, so clearly my initial terror was just naive. Additionally, I am warming up to speaking Spanish to the people who live here, and I can only hope it will get better. I am really enjoying the aesthetics of the architecture, the old streets, and the unique way that this part of the city is set up.

buildings and streets

buildings and streets

Pre-Departure Post: Anny Sheie Queretaro

I am very nervous for my trip to Queretaro Mexico. I am bummed to be missing out on a whole month and a half of time with my family and friends. I am most nervous about not communicating well because I am not perfect at Spanish.

However, I am also so excited! I can’t wait to try new foods and experience new and different things.

I think that my host culture will be very inviting and welcoming but they might do certain things differently. I definitely understand that I have to take time to adjust to the different way they may do things.

I know that soccer is big in Mexico, so I guess that I think there will be a lot of soccer fans. Soccer fan with Mexican flag

I also think that the food will be a lot like the Mexican food we have in the US.download

 

One last pre-conceived notion I have is that there will be a lot less diversity than we have in the states. I think that there will be people mainly of Mexican heritage. I anticipate that this will lead to me having feelings of being the odd one out when in public.

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Pre-Departure

I will be arriving in Querétaro, Mexico on Thursday the 25th. I am very excited for my first study abroad experience; I am most excited for the opportunity to immerse myself in the culture and the language, and I plan on exploring the city as much as possible. I want to do things I wouldn’t normally do, like attending community events and seeking out social interactions. This will be my only time studying internationally, and I fully intend to make the most of the trip and learn as much as possible. I am a little nervous that my Spanish language skills will not be sufficient at first, and I am also very anxious about meeting my host family for the first time. I am worried that I will not be able to communicate with them well enough when I am meeting them and becoming acclimated to the new environment. However, I look forward to improving my Spanish, and I know that forcing myself to speak as much as possible in appropriate situations will help me to reach that goal.

Right now, I am most excited for the moment when I first get off the plane and can begin listening and reading the language. I am also very excited for initially leaving the airport and getting to see the city; I plan on seeing as much as possible in the first few days that I am there, before I meet my host family and classes start. From the picture my host family sent me, I am particularly interested in the architecture, especially the churches. Based on what I’ve heard from past participants, I’m a little worried about my attire, based on reports of extra male attention. I want to dress appropriately for the culture but I also want to be comfortable in the heat. Overall, I plan on taking a lot of pictures so that I can keep and share memories from this trip.

 

old-church Soccer fan with Mexican flag

Introduction

Hi, my name is Audrey Jones and I am studying abroad in Querétaro, Mexico as part of the five week ESOL program. I am going to be taking two 300 level Spanish language classes and an ESOL class while I am there. I am hoping to improve my Spanish language skills and learn about the culture there. I am an Education major and I am planning on getting my ESOL/Bilingual endorsement, so this trip will contribute to my program requirements. I am also getting my minor in Spanish, so I will be gaining credit toward that as well. Additionally, I will be continuing to take Spanish electives taught in Spanish once I return to Western Oregon University, so I hope that I will not lose much of the language skills I will hopefully acquire while in Mexico. Essentially, this program is very helpful for my professional and educational goals, and studying abroad anywhere has always been a personal dream for me.

Back in Oregon

I can’t believe i’m back in Oregon. Everything has gone back to normal. I’m still off of work but i’m back home to my parents, my boyfriend and my new kitten. This trip was amazing. I wouldn’t change anything about it. I loved all of the people who came with me and the people who were a part of making it happen.

I loved my host family and I have been in contact with them. They told me I have to come back and I think I will have to one day.

Now that I have been back everyone is speaking only English and it throws me off. I drive my car a lot more here. Nothing is close around here and if it is it too rainy. At least no floods.

Being back in Oregon is bitter sweet.

I want to thank everyone who was a part of this amazing life changing experience.

-Anahisse Gonzalez

six friends

Week Four

How is it week four already? I feel like i just got here. I’m not ready to go home. I feel like I still have so much to do before I leave.

This week I went to a quinceanera. It was so fun. One of my host cousins turned fifteen and I was invited. It was such an awesome experience. All of the family I have met so far were there so it was nice to get to dance and laugh with everyone. Queretaro is my new home. I don’t know what or how I will be feeling in a week. When I have to begin packing to return home. I am gonna be a mess. I’ve made so many friends. I see these girls everyday. I don’t think I can not see them everyday. They are my friends and I hope that once we get back to Oregon we will stay friends. I know so much about this place now. I learned how to get around the bus system (I got lost twice). I know the shorted way home from the centro. I know all of the closest OXXO’s. What will I do without my favorite Jalapeno chips.

I ate something i normally wouldn’t eat at home and it was so good. I’m kind of in love with it!

While I’ve been here I haven’t worked so although I’ve been in school this has been a mini vacation for me. I’m doing great in all my classes. I wish I could stay longer.

-Anahisse Gonzalez

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Week 2

2014-07-11 12.35.25 2014-07-12 12.51.03 2014-07-12 13.23.04This week has been so much better. I am feeling a lot more comfortable talking with my host family. I am asking them more questions and am better at comprehending what they are saying. I am also gaining confidence with trying to understand new topics in Spanish. This weekend we went to Mexico City, or as it’s called locally Mexico or DF. A new experience for me was the fact that at touristy places, vendors would approach you and ask you to buy something. It was weird at first because it isn’t common in the States, but you get used to saying no thanks or I don’t want anything. The whistles some were selling sounded amazingly like animal calls. I was tempted to get one, but knew it wouldn’t much interest for me for long. Also, it’s common to barter for market items, it’s kinda fun if you remember to ask for a lower price. Some vendors decrease the price if you’re interested in something when you start walking away. Also, some vendors had incense going, and smelled to high heaven. The ancient culture in Mexico is incredible and sad at the same time. The Aztecs must have been in good shape to climb all of those steep steps. I felt more comfortable going down the steps on my butt, because of a fear of heights, and it felt safer doing it that way. Visiting the museums helped me gain a sense of how the ancient civilizations in Mexico lived.

Arrival Post

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Airport security wasn’t as bad as I thought, until we got to the bus station where they checked our bags very thoroughly. When I first arrived, I was excited to explore the city with my friends. When I’m somewhere new, I love exploring with friends. For the first few days we saw numerous parts of the city and wanted to see more. When I met my host family, I thought it’d be cool because I thought it’d be like living with my grandparents. As I started unpacking, I start and getting homesick because they let me unpack and left me to my own devices. I love my family, and was starting to feel alone, and when somewhere new I’d rather be with people I know. I enjoy independence, but I enjoy spending time with people, especially when I feel alone. I asked for help the next day and my host family started talking with me more, and I felt better instantly. I’m feeling better now and much more at home.

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Arrival

Arriving in Mexico was crazy. After flying all night, speaking spanish to the lady at customs and being surrounded by a different culture and a different language was very difficult which makes me very grateful for the few days the other WOU students and I had to adjust to the city before moving in with our host families. Today I moved in with Laura and the first thing we did was have lunch which just so happened to be my favorite meal, spaghetti. Laura has two daughters, neither live at home but they visit and her mother is here often.

I am understanding more spanish than I thought I would and I know I will only get better as time goes by. I will start classes tomorrow but for now I have a chance to rest. So far I love it here and am looking forward to the weeks to come!

Arrival in Mexico!

After our flight was delayed for a bit in San Francisco, we finally made it to Mexico D.F. I was told before hand that the airport was going to huge and that Mexico D.F. might smell funny from all the smog, but I was still surprised to see that those pieces of advice that I was given was true. I found immigration and the paperwork a bit intimidating, but I made it through without too much hassle. Most of the time there is a blur to me because I was so hungry and tired from our long flight. Next, we took a bus to Queretaro. Surprisingly, there seemed to be tougher security and screening to get on the bus than the plane at PDX.  Even though the bus ride was a bit bumpy, the scenery was beautiful and the seats were comfortable! Finally, we took taxis to our hotel that we were staying in for the first couple of days. Traffic is crazy here! I never would have believed that so many cars could fit into such narrow streets! We managed to make it all in one piece to the hotel and today I moved in with my host family.

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My plane from PDX to SFO preparing for passengers!

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On the bus to Queretaro!

Taxi!

Taxi!