Prior to Returning Home

My experience in Mexico has turned out to be exactly what I expected to be.  I learned a lot about myself and the others that I met along the way.  I have experienced the language and have learned more about the culture.  I have learned more about the stereotypes that Mexico has about the United States and did everything to disapprove them while I was here.  I learned more about the country of Mexico and about the people who live here.  I never expected that I would ever feel extremely comfortable talking to people not from my culture and I have learned to be able to talk to my host family and the people here in Mexico.  I had a lot of fun getting to know the culture and learning about the customs that are not know about.

I learned that burritos are an Americanized food and that Mexico is a lot more safe than people think.  Also there are many different colors of tortillas including red, blue, orange, and green.  I also learned that it is common for Mexicans to use their knowledge of English by changing their words.  They will change the words goodbye for adios and goodnight for buenas noches.  All in all I learned a lot about the culture and I was very surprised about what I learned and I feel prepared to teach others about the truths of Mexico.

 

 

Pre-Departure: Bittersweet

So I have less than 24 hours left here in Scotland. While I am super excited to see my family and my dog, I really don’t want to leave. Scotland feels like a second home now, it’s so familiar. I never expected to love it as much as I do or have as much fun as I did. While the first couple of weeks were the hardest for me, now life here has become like second nature.

I'll miss seeing this view everyday!

I’ll miss seeing this view everyday!

Tomorrow I leave the University of Stirling at 7:30 am for the Edinburgh Airport. From there, I will fly to Newark and then after a four hour layover, finally to Portland. While I am excited to see my family, I am not excited for the super hot weather that we have been having in Oregon, I will probably melt as soon as I step off of the plane.

And the beautiful Scottish highlands (the favorite part of my trip).

And the beautiful Scottish highlands (the favorite part of my trip).

I won't be seeing any castles like this back in Oregon.

I won’t be seeing any castles like this back in Oregon.

I know that this post is pretty short, but that’s really all I have to say at the moment. I will still post about my last week and my arrival home later this week. Now I am off to finish up packing my stuff and enjoying these last couple of hours I have here in Scotland. There are still so many things that I want to do and see but they will just have to wait until I come back!

 

Natalie

London Week 4

Hello everyone!

Well, it is week 4 and I just finished with my finals for this summer course! It has been such an amazing adventure and really glad that I had the opportunity to be in my Leadership course. I am really sad that we will be leaving in just a few days, but I feel that I had taken advantage of what there was to see so I feel good about leaving soon.

So, for the past week since my last post, I had been going out and exploring on my own! I was always so worried and scared of leaving anywhere on my own, but I am so glad I did, I am starting not to feel like a tourist!

On Friday, me and a couple of friends took the train over to Cardiff, Wales. I absolutely enjoyed being there, the weather was really similar to Newport, OR and there was many restaurants and cafes to hang out at. Where we stopped and hung out at was the bay of Cardiff and it was absolutely beautiful. We tried to go in to a couple museums that were around the area, but everything was closed, and with no map we did not want to stray off too far. It was really cool being able to see the culture of things while being there. Although, I was worried about not being able to communicate with the people that were around that was not a big concern. Later on that day, it was expected to rain and like in Oregon, it rained! It was interesting seeing other people’s response to it and a lot of people were not prepared for the rain so many of us ran under this covered area and waited for the weather to die down.

Saturday, we attempted to go to the changing of the guard, but unfortunately they were not going to do the change since it was a new month, they were only doing the change every other day. But unfortunately with the schedule we have left we will not be able to watch the change. But after that we went to the Millennium Bridge then walked over to a market and had lunch. Then Sunday we went to St. Paul’s church then to the British Museum, and the museum was really interesting. I liked that they had a variety of different cultures, but definitely Greece was a favorite of the museum. We looked at the mummy’s from Egypt and it was interesting learning about the process of washing the body’s and getting it prepared to be wrapped and put in the coffin. After this museum we stopped at a stand which was serving hot dogs and they were delicious! They taste a lot different than the ones we have in the states. Then we walked over to the science museum. I really enjoyed this museum. There were different levels and each level was specific towards a specific time era. When we walked in we saw the first car ever made and the spaceship to the moon and the clothing that they had to wear. My favorite exhibit was the top level which was the future, there were three big tables and about 10 people could stand in front and you had to choose a game from the choices and we all had to different tasks, one of the games that we played was we were all doctors and we had to take urinary samples from each person coming down the screen to see if they had any disease and then told the “patients” what they had to do to treat it. There was also a C02 exhibit and learning about the atmosphere and that was really neat.

One of the things that I have learned to accept while being in London is the fact that when you make plans they can either go really fast or they take a long time to do. I had planned to go to Victoria Gardens, but then I changed my mine while on the tube since I was not sure if my bus pass will take me to that zone. So I ended up going to covent gardens, and I was expecting something completely different. But when I got there, it was a market which sold clothes, jewelry and there was also like a mall so I went in and checked out some of the things they had and it was amazing. I really am glad that I ended up going there. On my way back, the tube stop I had gotten off at was closed and I was so worried I would not be able to make it back for class, so I walked and tried not to worry and I ended up finding another tube station so I was glad about that. After dinner me and some friends went to Abbey road to take pictures where the Beatles had taken their album picture and it was really cool, there were a lot of people trying to take pictures so that was a little difficult.

My last field trip as a class was yesterday, we went to Westminster Abbey and it was really cool being able to walk around and see the graves of people like Queen Elizabeth the first, King Richard the second. I really enjoyed being there. We also had a walking tour about William Wilberforce because he was one of the leaders that we had focused on in class and we learned a little bit more about him. The walking part has definitely gotten more difficult for some reason, but I find that once I rest for a little bit I can keep going. I have loved everything about London!

Just a few more days to go and I will be home! Until next time!

 

Abbey Road

Abbey Road

British Museum

British Museum

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

Millennium Bridge and St. Paul's

Millennium Bridge and St. Paul’s

Science Museum

Science Museum

An Unexpected Journey

This past week I actually ended up running into Richard Armitage and Martin Freeman from The Hobbit movies. It was really cool; I actually met Richard, and  just saw Martin in passing while he was getting into his car. I’ve never met a famous actor before so it was a really cool moment. I also went to the Beatles studio and walked across Abbey Road. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world! I love London and all the opportunities I’ve gotten here!

Richard and I

Richard and I

The mythical Abbey Road

The mythical Abbey Road

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!

mexico family mexico family2

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Paris For The Weekend (Week 3)

I took a weekend trip over to Paris this week. It was only a two hour train ride which was a lot shorter that I thought. I was really worried about the language barrier because I don’t know any French. However to my relief the general population of Paris knows at least some English, so I was able to communicate just fine. While in Paris I mostly just stuck to the basic tourist things. I saw the Mona Lisa and Van Gogh’s paintings, I also went to Notre Dame and the top of the Eiffel Tower. Visiting the Catacombs ended up being my favorite part of the trip. The decent down and the trek through the tunnels was a bit scary, but it was also really fascinating. It’s crazy to think under this big city are the bones of so many unfortunate souls! The only down side of the trip  was that the city is actually pretty dirty and smelly. There is also tons of sketchy pick-pockets roaming the streets. (My metro card was actually stolen!) It was nice to see Paris but I was so glad to come back to London.

 

Bones in the Catacombs

Bones in the Catacombs

tower

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.