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.

 

 

 

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.

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

Finally Home

Well, after five weeks I’m finally back home in California. I’ve gone from the middle of winter to summer in about two days which is taking some getting used to. And while it is only my first day back, it’s taking some time getting used to everything back in the United States.

I keep looking around everywhere for all the stray dogs from Rosario. It’s difficult to walk down the street and not see four or five of them on every block. The traffic laws are also an adjustment. Drivers let pedestrians walk here, something which doesn’t happen in Argentina. Also, there are stop signs and red lights. It’s wonderful. Another good thing about being home is there is no dog poop everywhere I walk. I love that.

I love that I’m no afraid of the police here. Everyone is wary in Argentina when they see officers in uniform and that affected my image of them also. So to see officials here and not be afraid is…amazing. I was also struck by the lack of shanties on my driver back from the airport with my Dad. People live in gorgeous houses, and I’ve never been as aware as I was returning home.

One thing I noticed and what I find funny is that I’ve forgotten English. I’ll sit trying to think of a word in Spanish, but I know it in English! Even better, it that Spanish grammar is affecting how I talk. So I use double negatives and refer to inanimate objects as he and she. My Dad has been laughing at me.

But the most amazing part of being home is seeing everyone I love. I’ve missed my family, and when I saw my Dad for the first time in five weeks I cried a little. Today I saw my best friend and was ridiculously happy. While I liked all my friends and host mother in Argentina, I adore my family and am happy to be home.

I just want to say I loved Argentina. It was gorgeous, the people were nice, and the food was amazing. But while living there, I realized how lucky I am to live in the United States. And coming back, I’ve learned to appreciate and love my country even more than I did before I left. Plus, I’ve decided that since I had such a good time in Argentina, I’m going abroad next summer to study history. Don’t know where, but that’s part of the fun.

And if you ever get the chance to go to Argentina, stop by Rosario. Drink mate by the river, see the Monumento Bandera, talk to street vendors just because you can. And above all else, just laugh and realize you won’t know what you’re doing but that’s alright. Because most of the fun I had was just going day to day and learning as I went. I wouldn’t change anything I did there for the world.

My last picture in Argentina.

My last picture in Argentina.

Ezeiza International Airport.

Ezeiza International Airport.

View of my home from the plane heading into San Francisco.

View of my home from the plane heading into San Francisco.