Week 2 & 3 Zamora

I have been so busy that I forget I need to post every week. My second week in my program we spend  doing a workshop with local people who perform traditional dances. I learned about the culture and what parts of Spain each dance comes from. We learned to play a few of the instruments and some of my classmates even tried on the traditional clothes. The dances were fun to learn and it gave me a taste of how people celebrate certain events with dance.

My classmates and I also took a trip up to Gijon, Spain for the weekend. We went to enjoy the beach and to visit another part of Spain. I fell in love with this area. I was beautiful and had a lot of history. The weather was a nice change too.

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The third week we had two excursions to Pereruela and Toro. In Pereruela we visited a pottery workshop. I got to see from the mixing of the material to making different types of pots, pans, and ovens. I also got a chance to try and make my own dish, which turned to to look more like a donut. In Toro we visited a old convent and a winery.

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My Spanish has been improving. I can now communicate my basic needs and am able to get by. I love that I am force to put my Spanish vocabulary to use. I am great at ordering un café con leche, and whatever needs I need at the store. I still have the feeling that I am not here in Spain. Maybe it will hit me once I return back home. I feel comfortable here and know my surrounding really well. I have made some great friends and they help me feel at home here. My one goal is to hope that I will continue to speak Spanish back in the states.

Week 2

WOU blog writer Courtney Richardson reporting in from the last week. Saturday I flew out to Dublin and made a pit stop at the Hard Rock Cafe before catching a train to Galway. I spent the night in a hostel which was an interesting experience that I’m glad I got, but I definitely prefer hotels. Sunday I hung out with the lovely Jen Hight and we tromped around Galway for a while before I had to catch a plane back to London. Monday we had our class at the British library so that we could see their Magna Carta exhibit, it was pretty cool but I liked seeing the old English copy of Beowulf more. That night I went shopping with some friends and found the Disney store, which was great for me…but maybe not so great for my wallet. Tuesday brought another field trip, this time out to Windsor castle and Runnymede because this week was all about the Magna Carta, literally, only the Magna Carta. Windsor was cool, except for the part where I ended up sunburned. At Runnymede we saw the JFK memorial that the Brits put up, the Magna Carta memorial that the American bar association put up, and the Air Force memorial. There was so much climbing, my legs still hurt, but the views were incredible. Wednesday was class and a nice relaxing day in to recover from Tuesday. Thursday I spent with Jen Hight again, but this time in London. And I finally got to go see Westminster Abbey, although I think I was more excited by the fact that Jeremy irons was the narrator of the audio guide than I was about the stuff in there. Friday started way too early but I was going to Scotland so it was worth it. Saturday we had a free day to tromp around Edinburgh, I might’ve gotten lost, we won’t talk about it. We also saw Edinburgh castle which was pretty cool. Sunday we came back to London, but not until after we saw Alnwick castle. Now that is how a castle should look. I’ll report back later with more adventures, but first have some pictures.

 

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Panoramic view from Alnwick

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Panoramic view of Alnwick

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Window in Westminster, featuring Henry VIII

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Window in Westminster featuring Elizabeth I

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Panoramic view from the air forces memorial

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Yeah, no explanation needed here

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Found this pub in Galway, shitty picture but it’s Richardson’s

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Did I mention that I found a storm trooper in Edinburgh? Because I did, and it was awesome

 

Paris

Today is my second day in Paris, and it seems fine. The people are nice enough but it is difficult communicating when I don’t speak the language. Today we went on a walking tour which was rather fun. It was nice to see the big sights like the Eifle Tower and Notre Dame.

We spent some time in the French military museum today after the tour and it was interesting. Not sure what we read since I don’t speak the language. Our poor waiters have to deal with Americans who have no idea what is happening.

I do feel bad for my friend Sunny. She’s always ready to go to the next thing, but due to my ingury I just can’t. I’m usually done for the day at 4 due to pain while she’s ready to still be going. Even worse for her, I am now exhausted. I’ve done three weeks of constant travel and just want to rest right now. Like, a day spent sleeping sounds amazing. I do recognize this makes it harder for her to do stuff. But it doesn’t change the fact that I am very worn down and need to take it easy for a while. We’ll see how it all plays out.

Pre-Departure for China!!

Leaving tomorrow for China at 6 am and I am very excited but also very nervous! I chose to participate in this program because I am going into nursing and am a big believer in understanding other cultures thoughts on medicinal remedies for curing people .  I really want to take in every minute of this experience since I never know when I’ll be able to come back.  During my time in china I am nervous about how I am going to eat.  I tend to be a picky eater, and I get nervous trying new things, but I am hoping this experience will expand my horizons.  Also, I have a stereotype idea that China is hot, sticky, polluted, crowded, loud, and they are rice eaters.  I am very excited to visit and find out the true feel of China on my own instead of only believing in stereotypes.  Lastly, I am very excited to visit a country that holds so much history and to visit special locations such as temples and the great wall of China.

I have so much to learn and only a month to take it in, but I am very excited to share my experiences throughout it!

 

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Pre-Departure

Hello there!

My name is Estely Carranza and I will be participating in the Study Abroad trip to China, to study Traditional Chinese Medicine. I leave tomorrow morning and I am beyond excited, yet very nervous at the same time. I am very eager to try new foods, and learn and in live in a new culture. I’m not sure what sorts of foods will be available, but I hope it looks like the food in the picture. I hope that the people are friendly and approachable, as I try to learn the language. I also have heard that its very humid, so I hope that I can endure and adjust to the change in climate. Overall I am ecstatic to be in a new country and hope that you follow me on my journey as I experience learning about  Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and their culture as well.

  herbal medicine (TCM) 

Querétaro, Week 3

After having been in Mexico for more than three weeks, I feel like I am becoming a lot more familiar with my surroundings and a lot better at communicating. I’m definitely feeling more comfortable with my Spanish language skills, but in addition to that I feel like I’ve become more proficient when it comes to using nonverbal communication and roundabout explanations to express myself when I don’t know how to say something in the language. I feel like this is especially valuable to help me with my continued learning and future career. It has also become very interesting to observe other peoples’ routines in a different culture; because I have a consistent class schedule, I often find myself seeing the same people as I walk to the university campus, and I feel like some consistency in my observations has been beneficial to my understanding of the culture.

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On Friday, I went to the Summer International Jazz Festival in La Plaza de Armas. It was a very interesting experience, and very different from any of the concerts that I’ve been to in the U.S.. There was no admission fee, and the seats filled up quickly even before the music had started. The music was much more engaging than I had expected, considering I don’t usually seek out jazz music, and there were several familiar English songs thrown in as well. The festival is stretched out over many days, so we were only able to see one band (the head singer was very talented when it came to tap dancing), but participating countries included the U.S., Cuba, and Canada. I would love to revisit on a different night and see a different band if I have the time.

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My señora spontaneously took me to a theater over the weekend as we were walking back from a pharmacy. There was a play in progress that had recently begun, and we were able to just walk in and sit down in the crowded theater. Like the jazz festival, it was completely free and nobody minded that we were walking in partway through. The play was largely nonverbal, but I still felt just as lost and confused as I might have if it was all in Spanish. It was part of the Cultural Festival celebrating the founding of the city, and there were continuing events throughout the week that I was unable to go to due to time conflicts.

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My favorite place that I have discovered throughout my entire time in this city is Café RenovArte, a nice little café with great Internet very near to the main college campus. It’s one of the few places where the staff is consistently friendly to us even though we are clearly not from around here, and they are happy to hold conversations with me even though my Spanish conversational skills are very much a work in progress. I’ve found it very interesting how much English music is played everywhere in the city; just walking down the streets I can hear it blasting from various stores and restaurants. Café RenovArte is one example; they always have loud music in English, mostly from the United States, playing throughout the day. It is hardly beneficial to my language skills, but it is certainly familiar and comforting as well as being very interesting in a cultural sense.

Now that I have passed the halfway-point of my time here in Mexico, I feel like everything is going by very quickly, and I hope I am able to make the most of my remaining time here and not miss out on too many experiences.

Onto London

Well, my study abroad classes are done but I’m not. My friend Sunny and I are currently in London which was an adventure. Turns out Ryanair sent us the wrong information so we missed our first flight. After a panic attack or two later we figured it out and got to London. Yay us!

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After that we had to travel to London itself. We were a couple hours out in some god forsaken field meaning we hit London at 10:30. After that we had an hour and a half walk to the hostel. Eventually we gave up and took a taxi. Long story short, we got in at midnight.

Today was better. We had High Tea for brunch (because we slept through breakfast) before going to the British National Museum.

It was gorgeous. We spent four hours there and still didn’t see everything. I loved the medieval history room. My only problem came after an hour and a half of Greek urns. There are only so many I can watch before my eyes glaze over. But the rest was awesome. Tomorrow we’re headed to Westminster Abbey which will be great!

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Germany Awaits

I have about a week until I have to leave for Germany. I have been so excited to go to Germany but as each day passes I become a little more and more nervous. I feel like there is still so much to do and so many bills to pay. Although I am trying to prepare myself for Germany, it seems much harder than I would have expected. I have been studying about German culture for the last six years and I still feel like there is so much to learn. The best way to learn is to surround myself in their culture. I cannot wait to get better, maybe even fluent, at speaking german. I am most excited to see the world and escape the United States. I want to play soccer, fussball,over there everyday. I believe that will be the easiest way for me to meet people and make new friends. I do not drink often and when I do it is only a small amount so that makes me nervous about drinking Germanys fine brews. Public intoxication is looked down upon in Germany compared to the U.S. where people are so drunk, they cannot even figure out how to stand. Small cultural differences like this are what interest me about going abroad.
I have a week after the program ends to travel and see what I can. Any suggestions to visit in or near Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany? I would love to visit neighboring towns and villages or even Lake Constance (Bodensee). How about some tips for preparing to study abroad? Any information is good information.

Pre trip.. Pre flight.. Anxiety!

Less than three days until I am in China, well at least I hope I am counting right. Anyways.. I am so very excited! I cannot wait to arrive and be swamped by the new culture. I am definitely apprehensive about the warm weather and humidity, I’m more a cold person. I have heard so many stereotypes..
Like the smog will be choking you and
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the traffic will last all day. Most of the time I hear you drive forever to get nowhere.
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I think I will be fine though, because of how awesome my TCM class will be. I think I will have a ton of fun because I am going into this so excited. I plan to wake up every day and look at all the great things I will be experiencing. No negative thoughts whatsoever. Well, at least I can hope, right?
Anyway.. Until I’m in China,
Farewell!!

Week 4: The cockroach was waiting at my door.

I opened my door in the morning and found the creepy critter right against my door. My senora again came and killed it before me. But first it ran all over the place!

The kindness of the people here is just so amazing to me. My senroa, who has to be at least eighty-five years old, spends her Sunday nights cooking for her sister. She walks to her sister’s home to bring her to food on Monday mornings. My taxi drivers are so kind and helpful. They give me there numbers to call them when my bus doesn’t come or show me where to go to take the bus home after they drop me off. I am just amazed that these men can be so kind and talkative when they work seven days a week for about fifteen hours each day. They drive around the same city, same roads and breath in the horrible fumes of the city. I have never smelt any exhaust and city stench as bad as this. I live in Portland and am used to a little city smell or car exhaust but I have never craved fresh air so badly as I do now. Another example of how kind these people are is when I am taking the bus. Men who have been at the bus stop waiting much longer than me will let me get on first. Also, people give up their seats for others who have children, many bags, or are old. This may be a rule on trimet in Portland but people seldom follow it. Lastly, everyone (and I mean everyone) says hello to each other on the street. Oftentimes they don’t say hello to me because they can tell I am from the US and they don’t think I will say anything back. However, to people of their own culture, they are incredibly friendly. I stop and ask for directions sometimes and people will go out of their way and take ten minutes no matter what it is they were doing, to help me.

This all just shows me how much more family and community centered this culture is compared to my culture in the US. In the US, we wouldn’t do this. We would just throw money at an elderly sister who can’t cook her own food or thinking for ourselves when taking the bus. I feel like the way that the people here act towards each other just makes everyone generally happier. It is definitely a lesson that I will take back with me.

As for this weekend, I stayed in Queretaro. It was so nice to relax and explore the city without the huge group of students. It was nice to feel more local and a bit less like a tourist. My friend and I visited a beautiful Museum of Art (not allowed to take photos) and explored little shops. I had a communication breakdown with a woman when I was getting my nails done. She told me that it was eighty pesos to get my nails painted with gel nail polish. That is maybe four or five dollars so I was thrilled. As she worked more on my nails and I read the bottle, I realized it was shellac! I have sworn that I would never get shellac or fake nails in my life. What is worse is that she did them very poorly and there are funky gaps in the paint. I will be spending my night tonight soaking my nails in acetone and scraping off the horrible nail job. I see this experience as positive though because I learned that I should make sure I fully understand what is going on and not be afraid to ask for someone to explain things again to me. It was a fun and new cultural experience for me.

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1D is huge here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Amazing Tamales!