Coming Home

I had a wonderful last week in Mexico. I successfully finished up all of my homework and managed to get A’s in each class. Classes started for many of the local students during this week so it went from being mostly just study abroad students on campus to a full campus of native Spanish speakers. It was fun to have more people around to interact with although it made for some crazy bus adventures. All of the sudden the buses were packed full and they came at different times then they had been the past month.

We went out to the main centro most nights  to see as much of the city as we could before going home and I feel satisfied with all of the things that we did. I feel like I got to do everything I wanted to do. On our last day we had a goodbye lunch with all of the students and their host moms. My host mom was unable to make it to the welcome lunch on the first day so I was very glad she was able to come to this one. It was really cool to get to see the improvement in all of our speaking skills. I remember we all had our difficulties speaking to our moms at the welcome lunch but everyone seemed to be doing just fine at the goodbye lunch. It is amazing how much improvement can happen in just 5 short weeks. I feel much more confident with my Spanish now and while I know I still have a long way to go, I know I would not have gotten to where I am now for a long time if I hadn’t had this opportunity to be a part of the Spanish culture for 5 weeks.

Now I am home and am working on readjusting to The United States. Before coming home I had no idea that there would be things I would miss right away. The biggest thing that I miss is speaking Spanish. It was fun to actually be able to understand and communicate with people in another language and now that I am back to speaking English all the time it seems almost too simple. Although it may take me a while to stop thinking “gracias” first before I say thank you to people. And I can’t get over the fact that water is free here. There are many things that I have here that I take advantage of and I am much more aware of that now and am thankful for a lot of things that I haven’t had for the past 5 weeks.

The trip had its ups and downs but I learned a ton, made some wonderful friends, and pushed myself to do things I never thought I would. I am so glad that I got the opportunity to go to Mexico and to be a part of the culture there. I may not ever get a chance to go back but I know I will never forget such a beautiful city!

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Back in Oregon!

I successfully made it back to Oregon! I do miss Mexico a lot though, although I am glad to be back home for somethings.

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The flight home was the worst part of the trip. We missed our connecting flight because there was not very much time between our flights. Thankfully, we were all able to get on the next flight to Portland and were only two hours behind schedule.

In comparison to before I left, I think that Mexico is a lot more open and not nearly as conservative as I thought it was going to be. While it is still more conservative than Oregon, it was a lot more open and modern than I predicted.

Week 5

This week has been busy but I have actually had a great week.  I ended up getting great grades and in the end was very proud of my accomplishments.  The last night I went out with my host mom and host brother to a ice skating birthday party and I had a great time.  I got to say goodbye to my host aunt and my host family.  It was very enjoyable to spend time with my family the last night in Queretaro.  I have had fun here but I am excited to see my family in Portland.

 

 

 

Week 7: Only One Week Left

I know it’s pretty cliche, but one thing that my study abroad experience has taught me is that time does indeed fly when you are having fun. This past week, I have had to start thinking about packing, and more specifically, how I am going to fit all of the stuff I bought into my suitcase.

This week was a very nice one, on Tuesday, my program put on a kayaking event in the Loch here on campus. Even though it was a bit cold and it rained a bit, I had a lot of fun. We got to kayak and canoe around the Loch. We even played kayak polo, with nets, a ball, and everything. I had trouble at first getting my kayak to go straight, but after a while, I finally got the hang of it. It was a blast, but my arms and back were really sore the next day.

Kayaking on Airthrey Loch

Kayaking on Airthrey Loch

Another big thing I did this weekend was take a trip to Prague (which is in the Czech Republic in case you didn’t know). I went to visit one of my good friends who lives there. He was an exchange student at my high school and it was really cool to see the city and where he was from. I honestly didn’t know what to expect, but Prague is an absolutely beautiful city with so much to do!

My trip to Prague

My trip to Prague

My friend (Bob) and I did almost everything there was to do in Prague (or at least it felt like it). He works as a tour guide, so he was a great person to see everything with. We did a ghost tour, an underground tour, and a nuclear bunker/communism tour. It was interesting because all of the history I learned while there started centuries ago and went up to about only 50 years ago. The underground tour was really cool because the city of Prague was actually raised hundreds of years ago because they had (and still have) bad floods that destroy everything.

Me and Bob

Me and Bob

Famous Astronomical Clock in Prague

Famous Astronomical Clock in Prague

While in Prague, I also went to the opera for my first time. We saw Don Giovanni, which wasn’t as hard to follow as I originally thought even though the whole thing was in Italian. The theatre was beautiful and was where that opera actually premiered when it was conducted by Mozart. One of my favorite parts of my trip had to be going on a segway tour of Prague. My friend Bob works for the company, so he took me around the city on a segway! It was really scary at first, but once I got the hang of it, it was so much fun! It was much better than walking up and down hills all day (which we had been doing before).

Segway tour!!

Segway tour!!

With my adventures quickly coming to an end (something I really don’t want to think about), I have to start thinking about packing and the things I have to do once I get back to the States. Even though this is my last week, I still am cramming as many things as possible into these last couple of days to make sure I get to see and do everything before I leave. Anyways, until next time!

Cheers,

Natalie

Return Home

My arrival home was stressful.  We had a one hour layover in Huston.  Our bags arrived late and we missed our plane.  Stress was high and we were all tearful.  We all wanted to go home.  We waited in line at customer service and were able to get a plane ticket for a plane two hours later.  We all breathed a sigh of relief.  I was so excited when I saw my parents at the airport.  I was revealed when I got in my parents car and made it home.  The next day I continued with my normal life in the states.  I started unpacking and making my place my home again.

This was very different than when I arrived in Mexico.  I was comfortable in my host parents house, but it wasn’t home. It was stressful at first because I wasn’t able to speak English, but I was soon more comfortable speaking my Spanish with my host family. It was stressful, but in a different way because I was in a different culture and speaking a different language.

Prior to Coming Home

Culture is almost always different than what you expect. Mexico was no exception. Space is a lot different in Mexico. The two biggest things were personal space and independence. Everything is closer together, the houses and the stores especially, are a lot closer together. Almost every house in my neighborhood is touching the neighboring house. Even the people stand closer when talking. That was different for me because I have a bigger personal bubble, even for those in the United States. Standing closer to people isn’t that hard for me to accept, and I became very accustomed to that.
I realized how independent people in the United States are. My host parents were very respectful of how independent I am. People are more community oriented in Mexico. I missed being able to take myself places. It didn’t take me long to get used to use the public transportation system, which is very common in Mexico. Public transportation is very common and very cheap in Mexico. Many more people use transportation use it in Mexico, than in the United States.
I am ready to come home. I have enjoyed my time in Mexico thoroughly, but I miss home. Stress is very hard when you’re away from home and not in your comfort zone. I am so very glad I had this experience and I learned so much while being in Mexico, but I am ready to be home. I miss my home and I miss my family. I want to come back to Mexico. I loved everything about Mexico, but I am ready to come home.

Back Home

First off I want to say that I am incredibly happy to have decided to study abroad and to have chosen Rosario, Argentina. I had not traveled outside of the U.S before (well once as a child but I don’t remember the experience) and this study abroad has broadened my horizons and I cannot wait to travel again.

I’ve been home since Tuesday afternoon and things have finally slowed down enough for me to write. Being back home has been more of an adjustment that being in Rosario. For one, it’s summer here. It was a lot easier to go from spring to winter than from winter to summer. Especially since I came back with a cold, and a cold + hot dry weather = nose bleeds. I’ve pretty much had a nose bleed since I got back, not fun and it really makes me miss the winter in Rosario. And two, the vacation is over. I’m working again and it’s a little weird since I hadn’t had a vacation in over a year. Going back to work after five weeks of “vacation” kind of sucks.

I feel like it is more difficult for me to adjust back into my normal routine and into American culture than it was for me to adjust to Rosario. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that when I arrived in Argentina I had no clue what to expect, everything was new and I just immersed myself. But coming home, I had a clear memory of what everything was like. But now that I have a different perspective and notice different things, what I see does not match perfectly with what I remember so it has been a bit more difficult to adapt because things feel more foreign. I feel like i’m not making much sense, maybe it’s the blood loss, so I will update this later.

Week 5 in Queretaro

It’s hard to believe that tonight is my last night in this beautiful city. Part of me is excited to come home but the other half of me doesn’t want to leave Mexico.

This week, me and some of my classmates spent time with our ESOL teacher, Cevia. We went out to eat and I ate a delicious salad. I didn’t realize how much I missed salads until I ate mine! We also had some fresh pineapple pastries from the local bakery that were amazing!

Today, I we all went out to eat with our host moms as a large party. The food was good! Not nearly as good as my host mom’s cooking, but still good. I am going to miss the food here a lot. Not only is the food delicious, but it is a great time for socializing with people and practicing Spanish!WP_20140728_003 WP_20140801_002

Santillana del Mar

I have to play a little bit of catch up because the last week was really hectic and I didn’t have time to post as much as I wanted to…

Anyways, for our last excursion they took us to Santillana del Mar where we were free to explore the little town at our leisure. The whole time spent in Spain I was surrounded by tangible preserved history but I never lost the sense of awe I first felt on my first taxi ride into Oviedo. Walking in this town totally reminded me of how lucky I am to have had this opportunity and now am apart of the passing history of this town. All the shops are too cute  and just the setting in general is beautiful! While exploring, we found the museum of torture that we were told is not for the faint-hearted but definitely an interesting glimpse on the history of not only Spain but Europe in general. THAT was an intense experience although it was very interesting. Afterwards we just continued wandering throughout the little calles and shops until it was time to go. It will forever be a sunny-filled memory spent with good company.20140719_115556 20140719_123149 20140719_123317 20140719_134126

Week 5

As I finish my study abroad experience I am sad to leave and at the same time I am ready to go home. I am done with the school part of my trip and wish I could have visited the city and been a tourist more. I have learned so much here in Mexico. Hopefully some day I can come back and visit.
School was hard last week and the beginning part of this week. Breaking it up has made it better, but I still got super stressed. Being away from home and out of my home country made it harder for me, as well as for my friends. We all felt so stressed, but we did it and survived and are stronger because of it.
This past weekend was a blast. I remembered why I don’t like humidity while visiting the city of Jalpan in Sierra Gorda. It was nice to keep cool while we hiked along, over, and in a river. The hike felt more like being in Oregon with all of the trees and river. The water was so clear, and came right out from the rocks.
While there, we learned about what makes a magical city in Mexico. I don’t remember all of it but, it can’t be super touristy, there are no chain restaurants, and it has to have hotels.
The city also has a mission. The priest who built it also built five others in Mexico. During some part of his project, something happened to his leg, but he continued on anyway. He did all of his traveling on foot.

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