Week 3 in Mexico

Another busy week has passed and I am now on week four out of five, which is crazy to think about! School has been crazy busy and it has been a challenge to keep up on it all the time, but I still find time for fun things. This week, some friends and I saw “How to Train Your Dragon” and “Transformers 4″ at the movie theater by my house. We watched “Dragon” in Spanish and the other in English. Together, both movies were only two bucks, which was exciting!

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This weekend we went to a nearby city called San Miguel Allende. There, we saw a beautiful church, ate some delicious Italian food, and went swimming in a natural hot springs. Overall, I had a really great time in the city!

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The next day at a study party, Nicolette I found some delicious Chinese food at the mall. It goes to show how diverse it is here in Mexico and you can find just about any kind of food! I also learned this week that I love nopales salad, also known as cactus salad. WP_20140720_011WP_20140720_004

Week 3

Another great week in Mexico! Over this past week we went to the movie theater for the evening and watched two movies. We watched How to Train Your Dragon 2 in spanish and Transformers 4 in english with spanish subtitles. It was fun to watch How to Train Your Dragon 2 in spanish because I have already seen it in english so it was interesting to hear how the sentences were phrased differently in spanish even though they essentially had the same meaning. Transformers was good as well and I found the spanish subtitles very useful when there were people speaking chinese. The rest of the week was fairly uneventful; lots of homework and school.

Saturday we went to San Miguel Allende for the day. We explored the central plaza, which included a huge church that looked more like a disney castle to me, ate some yummy food, and went to lots of shops filled with trinkets and other interesting things. We finished our time there at a hot springs resort.

On Sunday I went to church again and this time I brought two of the other girls with me. After the service there was a potluck so we stayed and ended up having a really good time. We tried a lot of new food and made some local friends that we will be spending time with later this week.

Only two weeks left and I am looking forward to all of the things I have left to do. We are coming up on a lot of tests and papers but I am not too worried. I know everything will work out. I am looking forward to coming home but will be sad to leave this beautiful city!

Pre-Departure Post

Looking through all of my posts, I’ve realized that for some reason my pre-departure post isn’t on here, probably due to error of user. Anyways, before I departed I was still a little bit undecided about how I felt about Spain in general. Naturally I’ve always had more interest in traveling to countries that were not the imperialists but those that were colonized so needless to say Spain wasn’t the first country that I thought I would study abroad in. I try not to have expectations when I travel but just as a comparison, I thought it would be more down to earth than the USA but more sophisticated than Costa Rica (which is the only other country I have experience abroad in). I had heard that Spain is a very religious country so I assumed that there would be a lot of churches and that the culture would be more religious centered than in the USA. I also wasn’t sure what to expect because I knew that Oviedo is an older, historical town but that it wasn’t excluded from the festive night life that takes place in all of Spain. I think of myself as a pretty open-minded person so I just saw myself learning to interact with the Spanish culture as best as I can. I know that making mistakes is part of it all so I saw myself enjoying the experience whether it was similar to what I thought it would be like or not. My main concern was that I wouldn’t get along with my host family because that has a significant impact on my experience in a foreign country. I was also concerned about the language barrier but I also knew that the language barrier is probably one of the most exciting challenges for me. All in all I was a bit apprehensive but also super excited and grateful to be able to visit SPAIN!! I am so fortunate for all of the opportunities presented to me and I really value being able to study abroad and see things from other perspectives!

Free Stock Photo of Church

 

Week 5: My Highland Adventure

Another week has gone by and the Scottish adventures continue. This week I started my internship as a research assistant with the School of Sport here at the University of Stirling. So far, I haven’t done too much, mostly because it’s hard lining up everyone’s schedules. Hopefully though this coming week we will be able to run some trials with cyclists to measure lactate levels. My mentor’s name is Ian Walshe, and he is super nice. He has made sure to introduce me to a lot of people in the department, both professors and students, which had made me feel very comfortable and welcome. I am already starting to feel like part of the team!

This week, me and some other students decided to go into Stirling and do the Ghost Tour. We went and we had a great time. The guide we had was in full costume and character as the old town “torturer”. He was hilarious and all of the stories he told us were very good as well. After walking through the old part of Stirling, he took us up to the cemetery, which was very old and beautiful, not as creepy as I thought it was going to be. But our guide was very knowledgeable and told us not only ghost stories, but also a lot of the history behind them which I really appreciated.

Our Stirling Ghost Walk Tour Guide

Our Stirling Ghost Walk Tour Guide

This weekend though, I took a guided three day trip of the Scottish highlands. I have to say that this trip was definitely the highlight of my trip (at least so far). There were 16 of us on the tour, and we were all from the International Summer School at the University of Stirling. Our guide’s name was Nory, and he was frankly the best tour guide I have ever had in my life. He was hilarious and told us tons of stories and history about all of the places we went and made it interesting, not a boring history lecture. The first day we drive through the highlands to Glencoe, Fort Williams, and even stopped at the Genfinnan Viaduct, which is better known as the Harry Potter Bridge. It was amazing how beautiful and green everything was, things in Oregon are green, but it is nothing compared to the shade of green in Scotland, it looks almost fake! Going into every valley (or Glen) I expected to see Hogwarts or characters from Lord of the Rings, it was like something out of a fantasy film. It was also really cool because Nory pointed out several places that had been featured in the Harry Potter films, which I really enjoyed being a huge Harry Potter fan myself.

Representing WOU in the highlands!

Representing WOU in the highlands!

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Me and the Glenfinnan Viaduct (Harry Potter Bridge)

Me and the Glenfinnan Viaduct (Harry Potter Bridge)

The second day we spent exploring the beautiful Isle of Skye off the coast of mainland Scotland. We first went to the faerie pools, which if you have never seen pictures of, Google them right now. They are these beautiful clear blue pools and waterfalls that you can swim in and walk along. We ate lunch there and waded around in them for a bit. Since it is mountain run off, they were refreshingly cold, but it wasn’t anywhere near as cold as the Oregon Coast so I was fine. After the faerie pools, we headed out and stopped at many places to take pictures of various mountain ranges, kilt rock (which as the name implies it a rock that looks like the pleats on a kilt), and the old man of Storr (which is an interesting rock that is supposedly made by a fairy). The last stop of the day was Faerie Glen, which is where the entrance to the Faerie World in supposed to be. Nory warned us that we better all believe in faeries or we could be dragged into the faerie world where we would be stuck for a whole year until we could get pulled back out again.

Faerie Pools

Faerie Pools

Faerie Glen

Faerie Glen

Faerie Glen

Faerie Glen

The third and last day of our trip started out with us getting the chance to go out onto Loch Carron with a local fisherman to catch Queen’s scallops. It was quite an experience going out onto the Loch. When the catch came up, we all had fun picking through all of the different organisms that had been caught in the net even though we didn’t catch too many scallops. After sorting through it all, the fisherman cooked us some scallops. and it was pretty good even though I am not a big seafood fan. After that, we headed back out on the road and went to Loch Ness and then to Rob Roy MacGregor’s grave to round out our trip. To my disappointment, I did not see Nessie, but that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t exist!

Fishing on Loch Carron and we caught a Sunstar!

Fishing on Loch Carron and we caught a Sunstar!

Loch Ness

Loch Ness

Some pretty awesome highland cows

Some pretty awesome highland cows

Well that’s pretty much it for this week’s adventures. As I hope you can tell, I had a fantastic trip seeing more of Scotland. The views alone were well worth the trip. I think that if you ever get the chance to explore the Scottish highlands, you will never regret it. This has been an experience that I know I will treasure for the rest of my life. It was absolutely amazing.

Week 3

I’ve had so much fun learning new words in Spanish. I’ve picked up some words here and there. There a few slang words I’ve picked up on, mostly just shortened words from words I already know. I’ve also felt a lot more comfortable with speaking Spanish and asking people questions. I’ve started talking with my host family more and more about topics I am not as familiar with to see what I can learn from them.
It’s been getting a little harder to go out since we’re getting more projects and having tests. But, on Wednesday we took a break and went to the movies. Movies here are cheap by a whole lot. We saw two movies for 62 pesos, $6. We saw How to Train Your Dragon 2 in Spanish. I was most pleased that I understood most of what was going on, the rate of Spanish was easier for me to understand and the animation helped. We also saw Transformers 4 in English with Spanish subtitles. We were all curious to see how things translated. I was curious about how things translated differently and not literally, but that’s language. It doesn’t always translate literally.
Yesterday, most of us went to San Miguel de Allende. It’s a big tourist city that’s closer by Queretaro. Lots of people go there to retire, most are rich, or have extra money to spend. So, things are slightly more expensive there. There’s also a beautiful cathedral there. My host family says it’s based off of a cathedral in Europe. I found a site online that says the architect used European cathedrals for his inspiration.
One thing in Mexico that I’m learning to have fun with is bartering. Some vendors don’t do it and some prices already seem fair, but it’s fun to try on occasion. You don’t ask to barter, you just do. It’s a cultural thing that’s something I’ve found that’s fun. They name a price, you say a lower one until you come to an agreement. I’ve just asked for 10 pesos less and they’ve accepted. I’ve gotten a bracelet and a doll that way. I’m curious to see what else I can barter for.

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Week Four. The end is near, noooooooo!

Week four is just ending and in about 8 days I will be on a plane back home. I still can’t believe that time has passed so quickly.

This past week has been great, just like the rest. The week started off with tango lessons and some pizza. The tango lesson was super fun, and all in all quite a success. I managed to not fall on my face and I had a good time, so I will call it a win.

Friday and Saturday were spent in Buenos Aires. Despite a few bumps in the road (like a 5am Friday morning, 7am construction outside the hotel, tiny hotel rooms, getting ripped off for lunch), I had a great time. We visited a lot of historical sites. We visited La Recoleta, the Boca Juniors stadium, el caminito, la casa rosada, el museo de Evita Peron, and la plaza de mayo. A lot of the things we learned about I already knew but it was to see the local perspective on the topics. There are things, like Evitas death, that I definitely want to research more about. But the highlight was the delicious dinner with an amazing tango show. We got to see amazing dancers, musicians, and singers. It was interesting an interesting experience to see a real tango show. From beginning to end, the tangos and songs told a story.

For Saturdays lunch we got to wander around a less touristy town and we found a great meal and I finally tried the traditional Argentine parrillada. Not only was the food delicious but the service was great.

Today was a pretty relaxed day back home in Rosario. Had a good lunch and walked along the river and bought some presents for my family.

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Art Museum

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Although Oviedo is such a small town, it seems to have it all! On Tuesday we took a trip to the local art museum. Our guide, one of the professors from school, was very informative but also conscious that we would be overwhelmed if we covered all of the pieces so she selected specific pieces to show us. Among them we saw some pieces by Goya and Dali which was amazing to see the pieces in person and not just copies! We were going to view some pieces by Picasso but they were on exhibition in Madrid at the time. Although learning the historical value of the pieces by Goya was interesting, my favorite piece was by Dali called Mariposa. The professor was not expecting to present on this piece but she was also very informative on capturing the significance of the little details of the piece and what they meant to the artist.

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Travel, Arrival, and First Full Week in London!

So the internet has been really spotty up here at King’s College, so I haven’t been able to update everyone on my arrival and my first couple days, but the internet finally started working again so here we go!

King's College Hampstead Campus

King’s College Hampstead Campus

Coming over to London went very well, though it took quite a long time. I started my adventure with a  six hour drive to the airport in Portland, followed by two plane rides culminating in 12 hours of flight and passing through Immigration in both Canada and the UK.

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After we landed in London and got through Immigration, which took nearly half an hour, we were on our way to King’s College. At the college we checked into our rooms and went on walking tours around the area before dinner, where everyone got to meet each other officially for the first time. After dinner, I went back to my room and slept until midnight, when I woke up and started (and finished) most of my homework for my first few weeks of class.

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This past week has been full of incredible experiences! The first day we were in London, we went on a bus tour of the city, and then were allowed to wander through London for as long as we pleased. A few other kids and I got lost for a few hours, but ended up walking and touring the city for nearly 9 hours. It also gave me several opportunities to take some beautiful photos.

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We wound up at the British Museum, where we were able to view several wonderful artifacts, including THE Rosetta Stone!

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The next day, most of the Shakespeare class went to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre to see Shakespeare’s bloodiest, and one of my favorite, plays Titus Andronicus. The Globe was breathtaking, and the play was phenomenal, the best play that I’ve ever seen!

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Since Monday, I have mostly been doing school related activities, as I am primarily focused on my schooling here in London. However, I have had several chances to go into London Town and have fun with friends, and by myself! Over the past few days, I’ve been able to see the London Bridge illuminated at night, go to King’s Cross and take my Platform 9 3/4 photo (Go Ravenclaw!!!), see several different museums, and attend Richard III starring THE Martin Freeman. This past week has been phenomenal!!!

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Week 1 in London!

Hello!!

So I have completed my first week of classes in London! Hurray! Classes here are so interesting compared to the states. I am taking a leadership London course and the professor is from Belmont University, there are 10 students in my class, which is really nice when trying to get to know everyone. The structure is different and we sit in class for 3 hours two times a week and have field trips every other Tuesday and Thursday. This weeks field trip was to the Tower of London which was absolutely breathtaking, there was so much history to be told and everyone who still lives in the Tower of London had incredible knowledge of their history. My favorite part was being in the Crown Jewels, where the queens, kings, princes, and princesses had their outfits, crowns, rings, spoons, etc. There was so many crowns to see and see how different all of it was from other people’s. After that we went to the National Portrait Gallery which was not really my scene, but there were some interesting portraits of people that I did recognize such as George Washington and Winston Churchill. This was also a neat place to learn more about the history of some of the great British leaders from the 19th century until now.

I am finally adjusted to the time difference here so it is nice to be able to sleep when I am supposed to and wake up when I am supposed to. There will still be many cool places to see, but today I got to go into the Beatles store, and walk around downtown where we ran into a souvenir shop which was surprisingly cheap and  had many gifts in which would be a good representation of London. The person working there was also really friendly and gave an extra postcard for free! I am loving London!! The only thing I am not a big fan of is having to wash my own clothes, the washer and dryer each cost 2 pounds per load!! Washing by hand has been an experience and has made me feel really privileged to be able to not have to pay during my time in WOU. I am enjoying walking around, I took a small walk out near the campus and then I decided to read my book for class outside since the weather was really nice. This has been such an amazing experience and have been learning a lot.

Until next time!

 

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Week 2 in Queretaro!

I can’t believe how quickly the time is passing here! It is already week two, but in some ways I feel like I’ve been here for longer.

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This past weekend, my classmates and I went to Mexico City for three days. Here, Mexico City is referred to as Mexico D.F., or simply Mexico. It was by far the biggest city that I have ever seen in my entire life! Not only was the city itself huge, but it was super crowed with all the huge crowds of people!

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We were very touristy and saw many of the must sees of D.F., including the pyramids, Frida Kahlo museum, Diego Rivera murals, and several other important museums. I had a really good time but I am excited to be back in Queretaro. It was nice coming home to a city I recognized, where I knew how to use the buses to get around, and just as important, being home to my host mom’s amazing cooking!

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Overall, my Spanish speaking and writing skills are getting better. It was really rough at first, and even though it is still not perfect now, I am understanding a lot more and I am able to talk more as well, which is really exciting!