My 72 days of Adventure!

Many of us including myself seem to be waiting for something to come to us, for a change to happen. Well I decided that I was tired of waiting, so I decided to step out of my comfort zone, seek out opportunities, and challenge myself by taking on a new and different adventure.

I decided to make my own path by going out to a place for 72 days where I have never been, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

You might be wondering why Argentina. Well there are many reasons, a few are that it is a Latin country where its citizens are proud of their nation, how it is a family oriented country full of celebrations, a country influenced by music and other arts, and because of its healthcare system. Now, from all the places in Argentina I selected Buenos Aires not only because it is the capital, but because it is one of the largest cities in the world where I will be exposed to many new things.

I can assure you that when I decided to take on this amazing opportunity, which I have been blessed with, I was very nervous. I was nervous for the flight, because I have never been on a plane, let alone by myself. Not only that, but I was very scared and anxious to live in a huge city, because I have never lived in one, so I was afraid to get lost. I was excited to see a new culture and country where I would be part of the culture, get the chance to work in it, and meet new people. I felt sad knowing that I would be far away from my family for the first time. Now, even with all my research I felt uncertain, because even knowing what I might expect was not enough, because it is something new which can go in any direction, but with the support I had I was able to push forward.

Prior to my departure, I was full of mixed emotions. After my family said goodbye I was alone and all I could do was maintain myself. As I was trying to find my way to my first flight I was slightly confused, but I was very fortunate to have met friendly people along the way willing to help. I will especially be thankful to an angel of a woman, who sat by me from Portland to Houston, she was such a confidence booster. I can honestly say that for being my first flight, alone, I felt like I did pretty ‘good’ even though I was shaky every time the plane would take off and land. This was definitely a memorable and amazing learning experience.

I took both of these pictures, one before my departure and the other one as I was in the air heading to Houston, Texas from Portland, Oregon.

I took both of these pictures, one before my departure and the other one as I was in the air heading to Houston, Texas from Portland, Oregon.

I took both of these pictures, one before my departure and the other one as I was in the air heading to Houston, Texas from Portland, Oregon.

I took both of these pictures, one before my departure and the other one as I was in the air heading to Houston, Texas from Portland, Oregon.

Pre-Departure

Well, less than one week till I leave for Ormskirk England. Although I am uncertain of my overall feelings, I know (and been told by many others even more vehemently) I need to get away from Oregon and the United States. Start fresh and get a new perspective on things. Find my own way and perhaps find opportunities I would never have thought possible.

I have been to the UK once before, but it was basically a flyby trip, amounting to three weeks of buses and dashing through important sights. In Ormskirk, I will get more of the small town feel, which is far more what I am looking for. Big cities are ok for small spurts, but being out in the country with ‘realer’ people is more to my liking.

Can’t wait to see my godfather in his own land of Northern Ireland, home to the Ulstermen. That should be interesting and a treat, as I only see him once every two or three years here in America.

To everyone else preparing to leave, all the best and look forward to hearing from you on the blog and when we return home.

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This is what I more or les expect in the English countryside. Green, peaceful and with some wildlife/livestock around.

 

Predeparture, or Is This Shock or Apathy?

[This post is late because I didn't have sufficient internet access until about two hours ago, because airports aren't known for their internet, and I finally got to sit down...]

How is it that I can be sitting in a TGI Fridays in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport, and I’m still less nervous than I am whenever I visit my mother?  I’m not nervous.  I’m not overly excited, and I’m not huddling in a corner somewhere (and I’ve only taken my anti-anxiety meds once).  No, I’m just having dinner, drinking a hard cider, and watching sportsball while I wait for my 9:30 flight to Heathrow.

You know what I’m stressing out about right now?  This blog post.  Because the truth is boring and there is no easy way to say “I feel nothing.” It’s not because I’m not thrilled to be going to London, don’t get me wrong—it’s just that I guess I don’t have much in the way of expectations.  I decided a long time ago to leave all of that behind.  It’s like I’m not studying in London—I’m just moving somewhere else, and moving somewhere new isn’t new.

Of course, I say this after having been on an emotional roller coaster from Hades for the past week.

Either way, I expect tomorrow to be hectic, stressful, and fabulous.

And I really want to see this thing:

Wikimedia

Millennium Bridge

Now if only my knee had gotten the “only pack what you can carry” memo….

Spain bound in just a few days

Just a few days left in the states and I will be Spain bound. At this point I’m beginning to get a feeling of mixed emotions. From scared to beyond excited to experience such a wonderful opportunity. I don’t think it will all sink in completely until I am on my long 10 hour flight to Spain.

I think my host culture will be kind of like Mexico. I know there will be many differences between the U.S and Spain. Some of the things they do in Spain are quite different than those of the U.S. Something I’ve been learning about are siestas and how there are specific times to take naps in Spain and then the night life begins. Also that they eat their meals at times we may consider to be late.

In regards to the food I’m going in with an open mind. It’s all about trying new things. We will see what I discover. But I’m really excited to try gelato and churros con chocolate! yum!

Gelato

Gelato

Churros con Chocolate

Churros con Chocolate

Although I do speak Spanish fluently I’m a bit nervous to be surrounded and live somewhere where all that is spoken is Spanish. Speaking Spanish will be a plus for me because I will be able to communicate well with others but I’m pretty sure the people in Spain speak a different Spanish than I so we will see just how different their Spanish is to mine.

Getting myself from place to place will all be by foot or public transportation. I’m excited to see the beautiful landscapes Spain has to offer and to see all the beautiful architecture and castles. I will visit Alcazar of Segovia and the Cathedral but I am really excited to be walking through the beautiful Aqueduct of Spain every day. I can only imagine how beautiful it will look in person.

What I will be walking through every day!

What I will be walking through every day!

Alcazar of Segovia

Alcazar of Segovia

Cathedral in Segovia

Cathedral in Segovia

I can’t wait to live with my host mom  because I know that will make a big difference to my experience. Soon I will be posting my arrival in Spain!

Allons-y!

 

Image from: http://old.unit5.org/northpointimc/IMC/France%20Webquest/Images/francemap.png

I’m getting ready to leave for my term abroad on Thursday this week, and I have to say that I can’t help but be nervous. I have heard a lot of things about the French that both are exciting to me and a little scary.

Image from: http://resources.touropia.com/gfx/w/france.jpg

I am very nervous to leave because I have fears that my fluency level is not high enough to really be able to express myself in French. I know that many people at my college will be able to speak English but I am scared of not being able to articulate myself. I know that this is a normal fear for most foreign language students but I can’t help but feel a bit nervous. I’m excited to be going to a less touristy part of France to do my semester. Aix is much smaller than Paris and I think that because of that I will be more accepted as a foreigner than I might be in a larger city like Paris or Lyon. I hope that because it is a bit more remote that I will be able to assimilate faster and easier into the culture.

Image from: http://imgc.allpostersimages.com/images/P-473-488-90/64/6415/TZK9100Z/posters/peter-richardson-fruit-and-vegetable-market-aix-en-provence-bouches-du-rhone-provence-france-europe.jpg

One of the things I am most excited about is the open markets that happen during certain days of the week. These markets sound to be a great way to get fresh and local produce from farmers in the area. I really enjoy supporting those that produce things close to where I live in Oregon, and I am excited to be able to do the same in France. In addition to food, there are also flower markets. I hope that I will be arriving in a time that flowers will still be around and in season. I think that going to a French flower market would be really beautiful and I would love to be able to experience the smells of all the flowers and to see all the colors together.

Image from: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Rm2txOLw0ng/UaTdmEktqVI/AAAAAAAACec/fU0DrzR-w7o/s1600/french+wines.jpg

I have also heard that the French drink a lot of wine and mineral water. I am not a very big fan of either, but I would like to be able to go there and experience them as any French person would. While I am not twenty-one yet, alcohol is not illegal for me in France. I have heard that because of this when a lot of students go abroad they have a tendency to go crazy and drink a lot. I really don’t want to follow suit in this. While I think that I will indulge in wine at dinner or the like as with the normal French customs I don’t want to be drinking all the time nor do I want that to be the goal of my trip. I hope to enjoy the customs and culture as it is.

Image from: http://recipe-finder.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/mineral2.jpg

It is to my understanding that most drinks don’t come with ice in Europe. I know for some of my friends that use ice constantly in their drinks this would be a problem. But I don’t usually tend to put ice in my beverages. So I think that I will be okay with this custom.

Image from: http://www.newhorizonsforchildren.org/nhfc/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Luggage-Stuffed-Suitcase-XSmall.jpg

As far as getting ready to leave I haven’t started packing yet. I leave in four days and mostly I have just been making piles of things that I think I want to bring which I am sure will be twice as much as what I really will bring. I have been buying a few last minute things recently. I went on a mission to find a boring black purse that will be boring enough to not tempt anyone to mug me.  I think I have a small fear of that happening. Today a friend of mine bought me luggage tags as a going away gift. I still feel like there are so many things that I have to get done even though my to do list is dwindling.

The past few days I have been almost apathetic about leaving. I haven’t been excited or nervous but rather “whatever” about the whole thing. It hasn’t been until today when I started cleaning and putting some personal things in boxes in my bedroom that I am beginning to feel sad to leave my friends and family. I had a small party with my friends last night as a way to see everyone before going away. It was hard to say goodbye to them and also many of my family members the last couple days. I know that I have a lot of support to leave but it doesn’t make it any easier to know that I won’t see them for quite a while.

Image from: http://i.istockimg.com/file_thumbview_approve/5853965/2/stock-illustration-5853965-question-mark.jpg

I am also nervous that I haven’t gotten any information about my host family other than their address and an email. I sent them a letter about myself a week ago and haven’t gotten a response back yet. I was hoping to know if I was staying with a family with brothers and sisters or just the single woman whose name I was given. So it has been a little disheartening to wake up every morning to check my email and find nothing… I know it will not be a big deal once I am there but I think I would feel better if I knew a little bit more about the situation I was walking flying into.

I am happy to be going and I don’t want to make it sound like I am not excited, but I can’t say that I am not going to be sad to leave my family and friends. It does help to know that I have support for this trip, and that if I need anything there are people I could Skype call.

Overall, I have some last minute things to do… like pack. But I know that when the time comes to get on the plane on Thursday I will be ready and excited to start my life changing experience!

 

Pre-Departure: Macerata, Italy

In a few short days I will be leaving for Macerata, Italy. I will be there for 5 weeks and will be studying painting, drawing, and a bit of Italian.

I expect Italy to be just the way I see it on TV/Movies and in books-a beautiful country. From rolling hillsides to beautiful beaches. With old buildings and cathedrals. A super relaxed atmosphere. A place that will be very enjoyable in the summertime.

I looked up the place in which I will be staying on the map and saw that it is very close to the Adriatic Sea. But seeing as the places I will be staying are pretty rural, finding images of it is a bit challenging. I anticipate and hope that the place that is only 30 minutes from Macerata will look something like this!

Italy on coast

I expect many people to speak Italian, but the town is near a University so the amount of English should also be highly prominent. I am really excited and almost find it hard to believe that I am going. I am also really nervous-especially the closer the departure date gets. There is a part of me that is stoked to go and a part that doesn’t want to leave at all. I will miss my family and boyfriend sooooooo much!

My dream would be to not only study art there but to also brush up on my opera. I have studied opera for quite a few years now and to get the opportunity to study it in Italy as well as art would be mind blowing-ly awesome.

-Jolene Johnson

3 days before leaving for China

Hello guys, this is Pluto, and I am leaving in 3 days. I will be in China 1 day ahead of you guys. Really excited to go home although it is not my home town. I am junior student majoring pre medicine, and I would love to learn the other aspect of medicine. I am working in San Diego now, and I am busy and happy. Looking forward to see you guys in Beijing.

Pre-Departure

I am about five hours away from heading to the Portland Airport to begin my trip to Queretaro, Mexico. I am honestly feeling very anxious to go on this trip alone. I’ve actually been to Mexico a few times, being that my dad is from a Guadalajara, Jalisco. I haven’t been to Mexico in about 13 years so to say that I know what’s is waiting for me would be a lie.
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This is a taco stand that I remember are everywhere in Mexico and if my memory serves me right they always have the best tasting tacos. You do have to be careful to what you’re eating simply because your stomach isn’t ready for some of the foods and will make you sorry for eating that kind of food. So, I will be watching what I eat for sure.
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This is a Catholic Church and even thought I don’t know where this one is located I can tell you that there will be something similar to it close to where I’ll be for the next six weeks.

I am very excited for this chapter in my life and I can’t wait to fast forward to next year when I can say that this trip has been the best thing I have done throughout my college days. Until next time. Hasta luego.

Mexico Pre Departure

Hello everyone!

Before I make my pre departure post I just want to introduce myself really quick. My name is Aaron Cole and I will be studying spanish in Queretaro, Mexico for 6 weeks. I picked this trip because I wanted to better my spanish skills, and I know that there is no better way to do that other than to go to be immersed in a spanish-speaking country. I am minoring in spanish, so this program is a really great opportunity to get some credits that I need and greatly improve my spanish. I know several other people who have done this trip in the past and I have heard nothing but great things about is, so I am really excited to go!

carne-asada-tacos (I am especially excited about the food)

I am going up to Portland tonight and catching a plane tomorrow morning, so the moment of departure is finally here. The entire summer I knew it was coming, but it hasn’t really sunk in until now. Part of me still doesn’t really believe all the way that is it happening. I know I will get off the plane in Mexico City and be overwhelmed with all the spanish, but I will get used to it.

One of my goals for my time in Mexico is to look as little as possible like a gringo. I realize that this will be extremely difficult since I am really white with blonde hair and blue eyes, but I want to fit in as much as possible. I want to experience the culture from the inside rather than see it from the outside like a tourist.

Gringos I will try to blend in better than these guys

Now I think I will go spend the next 24 hours or so switching my mind over to spanish so that I’m not so culture shocked tomorrow.

Berlin Pre-departure

I am physically and mentally exhausted so no photos right now.  Lately, my only respite has been in airports and I still have 20 hours to go.  I’m excited to finally get to Berlin, I’ve spent the last 30 days hating life at Joint Base Lewis McChord in Washington for the ROTC LDAC.  After spending half of that time in the field and living deprived of all electronics and any other facet of normal life (simply for the sake of being unpleasant), the return to civilization will be a welcome change, provided Berlin isn’t a sensory overload for me.  This will be a difficult transition and a slow start, I left during finals week and couldn’t touch my computer until the day I left for Germany, and I haven’t taken a language class in over a year.  To make sure I was prepared I did my best to research German customs and culture.  My intent is to blend in as best I can and not look like a tourist foreigner.  I’ve been in Germany three times before but only for a few hours flying through, and even then I was locked down in an isolated terminal.  From what little experience I have and from what I’ve read/heard Germany should seem pretty familiar to me; organized, clean, polite.  I’m expecting there to be an ever-present stark contrast between modern Germany and centuries old Germany.  I definitely don’t feel prepared for this but that’s my first challenge and half the fun.