First Night in Argentina

I got off the plane to Buenos Aires, and at first it seemed like no one was there. That might have had to do with the fact that the flight landed at 8 in the morning. Well, as soon as I got through the international check there were people everywhere. Swarms of people just talking and laughing, getting their bags, walking into stores. Being surrounded by that much Spanish was overwhelming, I forgot everything I knew and just stood there for a solid minute before moving on.

Baggage pickup was very nice, in a completely unexpected way. There were just lines of people waiting, some for baggage, some for customs, some I didn’t even know why they were there. All my bags came through which is always a relief and I met someone in line in the same situation.

Relaxing in Atlanta before my ten hour flight.

Relaxing in Atlanta before my ten hour flight.

Her name was Ashley, and she was studying in Cordoba, Argentina for the summer. We quickly bonded as being the only two people who did not speak fluent Spanish in the near vicinity (she is from Scotland, and I am from the U.S. in case that was apparent already). We both enjoyed knowing there was one other person who had no idea what was happening around them.

Customs gave me no problems, they let me go pretty quickly. And then I entered the horde. I thought the international terminal was bad in EZE, but when I left it the rest of the airport was just packed with people. Once again, the shock of that many people just made me shut down a little before I got help.

This help came in the form of a taxi company. The woman who booked my cab (which was only 20 dollars in US dollars) wrote out directions to the money exchange. She then waited for me at the booth the entire time it took to complete the transaction before escorting me to my cab driver. That’s what really struck me in the airport, how wonderful and nice everyone was. Everyone was so pleasant and it was great. If they had all been super cranky I’m not sure what I would have done, especially at the hotel I’m staying at. They were all so wonderful, putting up with my mangled Spanish and helping get me checked in for my flight tomorrow. This poor guy, one of the concierges, had to help me for two hours because I couldn’t figure out how to work their computers.

I loved the ride over from the hotel. I spent the entire time looking out the windows and just studying how different the trees around me were. They are similar enough to California trees to be comforting, but just different enough to draw attention. I haven’t seen any birds yet, but they are loud out there. Another thing I didn’t realize was how humid it is here, it just feels like it should be raining at any second.

What really struck me though, and what is going to stick with me, was the strange mash of buildings on the drive. There were some ancient churches we drove past that were absolutely gorgeous tucked right up against state of the art soccer stadiums. Ranches sit right next to golf courses, a stunning white cathedral sits across from my hotel right next to an actual hovel. One of the walls was caving in, chickens and horses were running around it, and standing above it is this display of wealth. This striking mismatch shocked me. From my window, there’s a perfect example of this. A brand new soccer stadium sits proudly, while next to it is a concrete bridge for pedestrians that looks to be slowly falling apart.

One of many such projects I saw on my drive to the hotel.

One of many such projects I saw on my drive to the hotel.

My hotel in Buenos Aires.

My hotel in Buenos Aires.

 

And while I feel that these are important to point out, it was some of the ruins that really had a chilling effect. On the drive to my hotel, I noticed there was a little cute picture of a police man that said 30km. He appeared again at the 20km marker and counted down to something, I just wasn’t sure what. In about thirty seconds though I found out. The remains of a police check point was what I saw, the glass broken and burn marks on the concrete. I don’t know what it is from, and it happened to fast to take a picture of, but it was enough to make me curious about why it was so damaged.

But what really made my night was dinner. So the only restaurant is this really nice fancy one. And it was the only place I could eat tonight so I went. I felt so bad for the manager, here he is trying to keep it all fancy as people are there with their dates and families. I went there directly after getting off the plane. So its been about two days since I showered, my hair is disgusting, and I have no makeup on. I am sitting in his fancy restaurant eating a delicious meal looking disgusting while he tries to deal with it. It should not have been as funny to me as it was. Must be the lack of sleep.

A really nice place where I had dinner.

A really nice place where I had dinner.

Ready for the Next Chapter

Graduation!! That came out of no where.

I cannot believe I just graduated from Western Oregon University with a Bachelor’s degree this past weekend. It was so refreshing getting to graduate with all my friends, and having my family there to support me. It will definitely one of the best and most memorable days of my life, and I am not saying that just because I graduated, but because it is the beginning of my next chapter, and because I may have tripped on my way to my seat at the beginning of the ceremony. I guess it is nice that even though I walked across the podium to receive my diploma a different person, I still got a little of my clumsy, childish personality that keeps me being me.

I am so blessed for all the opportunities I have had as well as for my experiences throughout my college years, my internship, and my life thus far.

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Class of 2014

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My two younger brothers and I

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My lovely parents

It is amazing, how fast time passes by, I cannot emphasize that enough. It feels like just yesterday, my parents were dropping off, a nervous, insecure, scared, Marlen at Western Oregon University’s campus four years ago. Now, I am a completely different. I am in awe, looking back and seeing how much I have grown and changed over those years. I feel so ready for my next path, my next chapter.photo2

Arrival

On my flight from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Houston, Texas I could not fall asleep from all the nerves and excitement I had of knowing that I would soon be able to see my family and friends. From my flight from Houston, Texas to Las Vegas, Nevada it all hit me “I am going home.” I could not keep still; I was all shaky and antsy. Then once I got on my last flight from Las Vegas, Nevada to Portland, Oregon all I could think to myself is, “Could this plane fly any faster.” After, the longest flight ever finally I arrived. I was all full of so many emotions that I could not contain myself, especially when I saw my father and mother waiting out for me, I ran right towards them giving them a great big hug. After a few hours of waiting for my lost luggage, I went back to my hometown where I saw other, my two little brothers, who by the way are not so little and other family members.

A picture I took as I was flying over Oregon.

A picture I took as I was flying over Oregon.

To be completely honest it has felt weird coming back, its as if time had stopped. It almost feels like I never left. However, I still feel like I have to readjust especially when I have all these things going through my head and having so many emotions that I do not know how to express.

It is all coming at me, all at once, coming back, finals week, and graduation. I am just lucky enough to have the right people surrounding me who have and continue to support me that will make my transition back much easier.

Arrival

As I landed in Buenos Aires, Argentina my heart started pounding as different possible situations were occurring in my head. Additionally, I had my parents’ voices and phrases repeating over and over such as,”Stay calm when you arrive, be smart, be careful, pay attention, if you get lost ask people around you to help, call immediately once you arrive, do not forget your luggage and to go through immigration, find who ever is picking you up as fast as you can, trust and do not trust people,….”

As I got off the plane I observed what everyone was doing and followed them which allowed me to go through everything much faster. After the long line of immigration my nerves started to kick once again, but as soon as I got all my paper work checked and got my luggage my mission was to find the individual, who was sent to pick me up from Buenos Aires Cultural (BAC). Once I spotted my name on a poster, like the movies, I walked right to him, who welcomed me with a surprise handshake and a kiss on the cheek. As we walked for a ride to BAC I could not help and notice all the traffic, people, buildings, and everything around me, I was in shock. I was able to calm down as he was able to point out buildings and teach me some common phrases used in Buenos Aires and so much more.

Once I arrived to BAC I knew I was not at home, I was in Buenos Aires an incredible and amazing city. As I walked in I was greeted with more kisses on the cheek, which I continued to be surprised from each time since I am not used to it, I guess you can say I was very welcomed. Then I was given a tour of my new, yet temporary home then my room, which I have enjoyed.

This is a picture of my bedroom.

This is a picture of my bedroom.

This is a picture of the hallway of my apartment, which you can see as you walk inside.
This is a picture of the hallway of my apartment, which you can see as you walk inside.

After I settled down, I was introduced to the rest of the diverse group of residents of BAC, who I joined to drink the traditional drink, mate (hot tea), which I found strange, but so very delicious all at once. Then I was able to have some interesting long conversations the rest of the night as we all enjoyed some delicious carne asada (BBQ), which is famous in Argentina. I could not have asked for a better first day in Buenos Aires.

This is the mate (hot tea), which I tried my first day.

This is the mate (hot tea), which I tried my first day.

The next day, Friday my coordinator from BAC took me for a walk to see a little of what the city has to offer. Then I had the opportunity to go to the cinema with a new friend, another student residing in BAC from Brazil to watch Captain America in Castellano, the native tongue here in Argentina. I had a plethora of fun! Saturday, I was able to join another friend, who I am very lucky to share a room with, to try the coffee of Argentina with some sweet facturas (pastry). Then I joined her again with my lovely coordinator and another friend to the shopping (mall) to watch another movie. Today, Sunday I have been able to relax and prepare for my first day tomorrow in my internship, which I am extremely antsy for.

This was a picture I took when my BAC coordinator took me for a walk in the city. There was a great amount of performances and other great things to see.

This was a picture I took when my BAC coordinator took me for a walk in the city. There was a great amount of performances and other great things to see.

This was another picture I took as I walked around the streets of the shopping (mall) districts with my coordinator.

This was another picture I took as I walked around the streets of the shopping (mall) districts with my coordinator.

This is a picture of the facturas (pastries)  and coffee I had with my roommate.
This is a picture of the facturas (pastries) and coffee I had with my roommate.

I am loving Argentina!

London: Arriving, Living, and Thriving, or Reality is Unrealistic

There comes a time in every university student’s life when they should be working on that essay that’s due in only a matter of hours, and so they make themselves busy doing something else.  Usually, it involves cleaning their room—today, it involves writing something I should have done five weeks ago…

Actually, my distractions usually look something like this.

Actually, my distractions usually look something like this.

...or this.

…or this.

...and some times even this...

…and some times even this…

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            There’s a reason why I haven’t been keeping up with these things, and I’d like to say that it’s a pretty reasonable one—I’ve led a pretty boring existence, really.  That’s not to say that London is boring, or that I haven’t done anything fun or exciting, but that I haven’t done much worth talking about.

Let’s run through it:

  • I haven’t left London
  • I generally stick to three or four locals (Kingston, Roehampton, and Central London, to name a few)
  • I haven’t had any terrible experiences
  • I haven’t had any surreal experiences
  • It isn’t that much different from what I’m used to

At least it doesn’t seem different.  Like I said in my first (and thus far only) post, I’ve cleared my mind of all preconceptions and have erased my pre-existing notion of what is normal and comfortable, so nothing feels out of place or difficult.

In a way it reminds me a bit of Portland in how my first experiences have paved the way for future ones.  Going to Portland for school, everyone I knew was telling me how difficult it is to drive in the Pearl District where my school was located.  But I’d never driven in Portland before, and the first time I did was in the Pearl, so the difficulty was lost on me, since I didn’t know that it was easier elsewhere (to this day, I can’t drive in downtown to save my life).  Yes, it was different from driving in Salem, but it wasn’t hard.

London feels the same way.  It only took me a couple days to get situated, two trips into Central to learn my way around, and now I just sort of…live here.  Every once in a while I’ll remember that I don’t live here, and that’s what’s confusing.

The other reason I haven’t been writing is also a simple and reasonable one:  The stereotype of the British being alcoholic sexual deviants is actually pretty true here.  My flat is rarely, if ever, sober, and we’re not called “Hoehampton” for nothing.  (I have developed a good spiel on the concept of dry campuses, but won’t get into that here—maybe on my own blog sometime, or else just talk to me in person.)  So that leaves out discussion on antics and drama, and what else is there to talk about?  Surely you don’t want to hear about the French Revolution and how much I still hate philosophy…

The UK's lack of dry campuses is glorious

Peace, love, and harmony between nations tastes like snakebites (aka, beer, cidre, blackcurrant, and if you’re so inclined, vodka)

Pictured:  Why I love Kingston (and the British)

Pictured: Why I love Kingston (and the British)

Finally some decent internet/wifi (arrival)

Well, made it to England about one week ago. Been pretty hectic at times, but others have been real laid back and mellow. The scene leaving the airport was comic, stuffing fifteen people with most of our luggage in a small bus, as the trailer taking the luggage was overflowing. We had to leave behind our two escorts, it was so packed. I was only one of two American males, and three overall. Twelve girls to three guys was almost intimidating.

I was not too nervous about coming over, as I have already been to England once before, other than being completely on my own. I know how to get to gates, go to customs and all related to that, it was just having no support for part of the trip that daunted me a little. I was much more nervous about finding my way through Ormskirk and the campus itself.

Got a tour immediately after settling into our rooms, as the staff did not want us to sleep (we arrived at around noon local time) and further disorient our internal clocks. It was interesting, seeing the town and being around such history on the one hand, but modern (or fairly modern) conveniences and shops on the other. Rooms are fairly sparse and far less accommodation than back home, but still have heating and electricity. Still getting used to the overall scene and getting the internet to consistently work!

Classic example below of having a more modern shop put in around an older building.

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Quite a journey to Spain

Well early Thursday morning I headed off on my adventure. I was feeling really nervous about flying by myself but I had faith everything would be ok. My family and I headed off to Portland Airport early Thursday morning, my flight was to depart at 545am. We made it to the airport and I said my saddest goodbyes. It will be the biggest obstacle of mine to be away from my family for so long. Once I made it to Dallas Airport I was there for about 5 hours so I sat in the terminal my next flight would leave from. There a lady walked by and I must have caught her attention, she sat next to me and started to talk to me. Her name was Aurora, she too was flying to Spain to visit her daughter. We walked around the airport and waited for our flight. Once it was time to board, I walked into the plane and the plane was big! I’m so glad i had an aisle seat. A nice man sat next to me. His name was Carlos, he had just dropped off his daughter in Canada to study. We too got acquainted on our 9hr flight.

Goodbye Oregon!

Goodbye Oregon!

As we were on our way to Spain and about to fly over the Atlantic ocean someone wasn’t feeling well so the unexpected happen and we had an emergency landing in Boston. I started to get really nervous and panic. I wasn’t going to be able to make it to my meeting point with the other group members in Madrid. I had no way of communicating with anyone in Spain to let them know of my flight delay, we weren’t allowed off the plane. So there we sat in the plane, waiting. After getting the passenger off and having to also look and take off their luggage from the plane we were stalled for an hour. Finally we were off! Carlos next to me saw my worried face and told me everything was going to be ok. He would let me borrow his phone once at the airport to let my host mom know about my delay and he would guide me to wherever I needed to go so I would make it to Segovia. I was so relieved and thankful for such a kind man. We arrived in Madrid around 1pm (we were supposed to arrive 10am). We called my host mom and made arrangements so she could pick me up at the bust stop. Carlos helped me get to the metro and there another lady was on her way to the bus station as well. Carlos left me with the lady and her and I were on our way on the metro to the bus station. Her name was Martha and she was on her way to visit family. Once at the bust station Martha helped me get my ticket and left me at my bus stop. I stood there waiting for my bus, at this point I was exhausted. I just wanted to get to my destination and sleep. Long plane flights are no fun!

Finally made it to Madrid Airport

Finally made it to Madrid Airport

I finally arrived in Segovia to the bus station and my host mom and her son were waiting for me. As soon as I stepped off the bus I was exposed to the first difference between the U.S and Spain, the way people greet each other. Like I usually do, I was going to shake my host moms sons hand but custom here is to kiss on each cheek, so a bit lost I did just that, he told me that’s how they do it here. Sure enough that is how they do it here, I learned about other differences when I had orientation at school. We made our drive to her apartment and I couldn’t believe I was finally in Segovia, the views were amazing! Once we got to her apartment she fed me some pasta with tomato sauce. She showed me my room and my bathroom and I got all settled in. I fell asleep as soon as I made it into bed.

The next day (Saturday) I had orientation at school. As if anything else could happen the death of my host moms brother arrived. She had to leave to Madrid for the day. She left me with a neighbor and to my surprise her neighbor too had an AHA student! I was thrilled to know another student from my program would be my neighbor.

The first thing I was able to see in person on orientation day! The Aqueduct!

The first thing I was able to see in person on orientation day! The Aqueduct!

Our group with our wonderful director Marian!

Our group with our wonderful director Marian!

Some other differences I noticed when I got to Spain was the way their home is set up. All the living spaces have doors, the kitchen has a door and is small and we eat in there. The living room and dining table too have a door (this is known as the salon). As Saturday went by I was informed of many things about the people of Spain. There daily schedule is definitely different. Eating lunch at 2pm sleeping for a siesta after and then not having dinner until 10pm. Then you would think that it’s time for bed but nope the night life begins at 1030pm for all the young adults. Saturday night the group went out for drinks. Another thing about Spain is the amount of bars you can find here.

I’ve started classes and everything has been going good. I’ll post about my first week here soon!

 

 

 

 

Arriving to Peru

  • D

Something that caught my attention upon arrival in Lima was the weather. It was very cold when I got out of the airport, not at all what I was expecting. The air was cold but also humid, at midnight it was around 60 degrees and 95% humidity. I arrived late Tuesday night and it is now Thursday. Although today has been one of the warmer days, it still feels very cold to me. In Oregon 60 degrees doesn’t feel as cold as it feels here, it also could be because I’m near the ocean.

  • I

When I got dressed the next day my host mother, Ana, was surprised to see me in sandals and a light sweater….I didn’t understand why until we went outside. She explained to me that right now in Lima it is winter time, out seasons are opposite of theirs. I really should have packed less summer clothes….

  • V

After finding out that it is actually winter right now, and that I’m not  going to be swimming in the ocean and laying on the beach like I thought I was, I decided to look into the weather to see if it was get colder or warmer, to decide if I should buy some different clothes.

  • E

I found an awesome website with a lot of information about Peru. It says, as I now know, that winter begins in May and ends in Novembers, since I will be here until mid December I hope to be able to experience a few nicer days. Even though the weather isn’t what I expected, I still love Lima!

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I have arrived in London!

When I first arrived to the London Air Port I was greeted by the stress of figuring out where I needed to be, what I needed to do, and who I needed to find. To my surprise it was much easier than I had been planing for. As soon as my group found their luggage, we were off to find the CCSA members who awaited our arrival. Air ports are a funny thing, because there are such a diverse group of people in them, you could have no idea where you really are until you get outside. Once our bus arrived to the air port we took it to the Kings College campus where we would be staying for our mouth abroad. The drive to campus was amazing; so many new things to look at. The cars were different, the architecture was different, and all the greenery was amazing. Even though I hadn’t slept in over 24 hours, I was awaked by all the excitement that I knew awaited me!

I love brick buildings, and when I arrived on campus I saw that almost every building was brick. It is beautiful!

My home for the next month!

 

This is a building that is on the Kings College Campus in Hampstead. It is amazing! Most of the buildings have a similar look to the one on the left.

 

 

 

Arrival

Arrival was very interesting! I was very glad that we had Carmen with us to help with the spanish. Upon arrival we immediately went through customs and it went very well. Once we got through all that we bought a ticket for the bus to Queretaro. That was a fun experience, the ms weaved in and out of traffic, sometimes creating an extra lane. Once we got to Queretaro we went straight to bed, we were all very tired! These past few days have proven to me that my spanish is not as good as i thought, but i have learned alot these last few days and am really excited to meet my family tomorrow. Today we took the trolly around town and walked alot. It was nice to get to know the city. I cant wait to see what this next week has to offer! image