Week Two: One of the Best and Hardest Things I’ve Done

So this week was rather exciting. Our site offered a ride on the Panema River, which I took them up on. It was cold but rather exciting to be sailing and seeing all the different houses around us. Some houses were really well maintained while others were beginning to fall apart. Once again I was stuck by the difference of wealth inside the country. While on the boat Alex and I met a kid who spoke fluent English. He had a lot of questions about America’s political system so we had an hour discussion with him. It was interesting.

On the Panema River with Alex and Naomi.

On the Panema River with Alex and Naomi.

Houses on the river.

Houses on the river.

The next day Naomi and I went to a flea market, and in the afternoon we met up with Alex to get a coffee. While walking to meet Alex I ended up on tv. This guy came up to me and asked me if it was alright if he asked some questions. Hoping to practice my Spanish I agreed. Next thing I know, I’m in a Messi jersey giving an interview on how wonderful the Argentine soccer team is!

On Tuesday we all went to a sports bar to watch the Argentina game, and went nuts when they won. But that was nothing compared to the USA game that night. It was the single most patriotic thing I have participated in ever, no doubt made even more so by being in a foreign country. We sang the national anthem twice, chanted USA every couple of minutes, along with another chant of “I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!” And yes, the all caps was necessary. We were that excited. Of course, the US lost and the bar owner gave us all free shots for mourning. It was amazing.

Watching the US game with the other Americans.

Watching the US game with the other Americans.

And of course, today is the fourth of July so we all went out to a bar to celebrate the independence of our country. The national flag monument here is lit up red white and blue, but I didn’t take a picture because to get there I would have to walk through a very sketch part of town. It would not have been safe, so instead I went with my friends to a restaurant and had a steak for America.

Celebrating the 4th of July!

Celebrating the 4th of July!

However, not everything about this week was happy. Yesterday we went to the Memorial Museum for the Disapeared during the dictatorship that was only about 20-30 years ago. It was hard to get through the museum, the pictures of the missing are haunting. The hardest part for me was to look at pictures of children who had been killed/kidnapped during this time. Many of them still have not been found. We heard a story that happened about a year ago of a young girl who lived in Spain. At age 24, an old man came to talk to her and she learned something shocking. Her parents were not her biological parents. Her mother and father were two of the disappeared (it is used as a noun here) and the grandfather knew her mother was pregnant. The people who raised her tortured and killed her real parents before kidnapping her and fleeing the country. How do you live with that information?

The children of the Disapeared.

The children of the Disapeared.

Even worse, in the building across from our university, they used to torture and execute Argentines during this time. When I look in the windows for the basement I can see the torture rooms, it is chilling to walk by this reminder every day. I can’t fully explain how horrifying it truly is to be constantly reminded of this when I go to class. Once again, I’m struck by the differences between the US and Argentina. It’s hard to think any country could do this, and their motto “nunca mas” reminded me heavily of WWII. (It means never again). Not only that, but the burning of un-approved books and the concentration camps also pounded this in.

In this building, they tortured and killed many Argentines. I see it every day on my way to school.

In this building, they tortured and killed many Argentines. I see it every day on my way to school.

So while I am in a beautiful country, I am constantly reminded of the horrors it committed on the way to and from school every day. And I think this experience will make the biggest impact on me from my time in Argentina.

"These crimes only exist in a society that refuse to see"-quote from the Memorial Museum.

“These crimes only exist in a society that refuse to see”-quote from the Memorial Museum.

It’s Just the Beginning

This week I have started getting the hang of it, like using the colectivo, knowing some of the streets, and really feeling comfortable in my work environment. Throughout my experience I have been meeting some lovely people here in the city of Buenos Aires most of whom I have had the pleasure to interact with at work. I must say the people here are amazing and beautiful.

This past weekend I got to see what the famous night-life is all about by walking around Palermo Hollywood and going to my first boliche (night club). I got to admit it is busy; it is true what they say, at night it all springs to life. It was a nice experience to get to see Argentina’s nightlife.

This week I was able to put some of my interpreting skills by helping my site coordinator interpret some papers from last week’s meeting about the OMGPIVC Worldwide Prevalence Study. Additionally, I was able to work and job shadow the primary prevention program and occupation here in the Sanatorio that focuses on childcare. I was really surprised on the emphasis of the childcare education in the Sanatorio Mater Dei. I was able to see the interaction with the childcare educator and her patients and hear her presentations and talks with the parents, but most importantly the mothers. One of the days will be a day I will never forget, because of the way she had helped a young mother with her first child. Witnessing what I did reassured me to continue to pursue my goal as a community health educator and nurse. I have learned so much from her this week, even though it was a short week due to the Paro (a strike) of all the closed access to the different systems of transportation in the city, such as buses, subways, taxis, and more this Thursday. The strike was to get the attention of the government, because of all the insecurity and the economy of inflation that has occurred in the last two months. This is why I am excited and looking forward to continue to learn and work with her again next week.

Even though the country has had some trouble it does not fail to impress me with its culture and people. One of the things I ran into is this week was a performance on the streets of the lovely Argentine Tango and for the first time I got to ride an underground subway. I have tried to see as much as I possibly could this week by walking around the city. I got to say there is so much to see, after all it is a city of about 2.9 million people.

 

I took this as I waited for the underground subway to take me around the city.

I took this as I waited for the underground subway to take me around the city.

The tango performance I ran into as I walked around the streets of Florida in Buenos Aires.

The tango performance I ran into as I walked around the streets of Florida in Buenos Aires.

Feeling Homesick

I know it has only been two weeks now, but I cannot help feeling homesick. Being in a different country with new people, new job, new home, new everything its very over whelming. This being my first time far away from home, I guess the feeling should have been expected. I am just thankful I have many people back home that have and continue to be there to support me. Like one important person said to me, “It is the first few weeks that are the hardest after that you might not even want to come back” and that is what I am waiting for.

A little advice I would give to others that are feeling the same way, would be: To take advantage of the opportunity, because it is a short period of time, and it is a once in a life time opportunity that does not come along very often, to take the experience as a growing opportunity, to see, do, and learn new things because new and change is good, to take everything in because when you do go home you will be taking so much with you. I do not mean just the souvenirs, and to know that you have everything and everyone waiting for you when you go home.

Now, even though I have been feeling homesick I have been surprising myself with how I have been adjusting to the culture, the city, the language, which my Latin background from Mexico has given me an advantage, my new home, and my internship. I still have so much to learn, but I am taking it all one-step at a time.

Week 2- It’s going good

After our excursion on Friday last week the weekend went by and that was spent exploring Segovia. There is so much to see and explore around here. There are beautiful views and so many places to take nice walks.

The view of the cathedral from the Alcazar

The view of the cathedral from the Alcazar

The view of the castle from a park

The view of the castle from a park

A jump in front of the Alcazar!

A jump in front of the Alcazar!

Week 2 of classes began and everything went well. This week we really began to get into the classes. I’m really learning a lot in all of my classes. I find it more interesting learning everything in Spanish. All of our professors are really nice and our director Marian is great too! We visited the Cathedral on Thursday, we were able to go inside. It’s such a big, well kept cathedral. As we walked around and Marian taught us about the meaning and history of many things I can’t but feel so privileged to be in Segovia and be learning so much.

The cathedral with the sunset in the background

The cathedral with the sunset in the background

I think I’ve adjusted pretty well to life in Segovia, not completely but I’m getting there. Adjusting to different meal times and the night life. Going out with the group out of class and going to the bars is nice because we all get to know each other and bond. One night we were out at a bar and played card games, that was so much fun. Although I may be the quiet one in the group I’m adjusting really well with the group and getting to know everyone.

As a part of our program we have the opportunity to have conversation partners with the cadets at the Academy of Artillery here in Segovia. This is a way for us to better our Spanish and for the cadets to better their English. We’ve gone out a couple of times and they are really nice to talk to and get to know. I’m really enjoying learning things about Spain and then comparing it to the U.S. My host brother is very much into politics and up to date on current issues so I enjoy talking to him and learning about things from his perspective.

The 3 female cadets at the Academy, they're great!

The only 3 female cadets at the Academy, they’re great!

This week I also got to visit my volunteer site for the semester and I must admit I was nervous at first to learn that I would be an English teacher, have my own class and teach my own class. After talking to the director at the non profit organization “Caritas” I became more comfortable with the idea. The people I will teach to are adults that have no knowledge of speaking English. I asked one of my friends if she would help me out in teaching this class and she agreed so soon we will start to teach. I’m excited to teach people another language. I’m really starting to feel grateful and see the benefits of speaking two languages. Being bilingual is really beneficial and many people have told me how lucky I am to be fluent in both languages.

Today some of us from the group decided to take a trip to Madrid. It was quiet the adventure, we didn’t really have a plan of where we were going, we just grabbed the map and explored. Like anyone else, we were all craving our American food so we went to TGI Fridays for a burger, it was yummy! and of course we all grabbed some Starbucks too! Like in the U.S there is a Starbucks at every corner in Madrid. Madrid is really a big city and filled with so many people. It was nice to explore. I can’t wait for the rest of the exploring that lies ahead in my 3 month stay here. Being in Europe already trips are being planned to many places!

Madrid- The buildings are so unique!

Madrid- The buildings are so unique!

Walking the streets of Madrid

Walking the streets of Madrid

In front of the Temple of Debod in Madrid

In front of the Temple of Debod in Madrid

Week 2

Well week two sure flew by! I can’t believe that I only have 4 more weeks to go! It’s been a blast although I miss my family and friends I still am having a ton of fun. Lets see Sunday we went to eat at this little tiny place on the edge of the road. Which I was very nervous about since there have been a lot of people that have been getting sick and I thought well I haven’t been sick yet and I hope this doesn’t get me sick. Well they didn’t and I’m glad I ate there! They had corn on the cob and the way they eat them over here is by putting Mayonnaise, cheese, and chile powder which is awesome!!! They also had some awesome gorditas which is why they took me to eat there in the first place because they are so good! Corn on the Cob!Gorditas
Monday we had school and found out that I had a midterm in my Mexican Civ class next week and I thought What?? I don’t know what our test would be about since its so early then I thought wait next week is week 3! I’m almost have way done! Well after class we all went to get some awesome milkshakes and I had a Chocolate Strawberry milkshake which I asked the group why you never see such a mix in the USA! It’s alway vanilla strawberries!
Tuesday we had to go to a soccer game! I had told myself that I wouldn’t miss a home game the entire time I was going to be here! So I looked up the Gallos Schedule and have been true to my word. We played again San Luis and I went with my Host sister and Brother in-law. They bought me my tickets and paid to sit closer than the 300 level! We were right behind the benches! The Gallos won 2-0 So, we had a lot off fun. Gallos Vs San Luis
The rest of the week flew by and we all went to another soccer game which was a little of an upset! Gallos were winning 1-0 but within the last 10 minutes there was a handball in the Box against the Gallos and the other team got to shoot a penalty so they ended the game tied 1-1! It was upsetting but it was a great game as well! Saturday morning we get a group van and they took us to Guenajuato! Which let me tell you, if you haven’t been then please go! It is an awesome place to be! There we went to the Mines, and learned that at one point in time Guenajuato produced 2/3 of all the worlds silver, so we had to go to the mines which was fun and scary! I have never been 60 meters below the earth in my life so it was an experience! Mines in Guenajuato
There we went to a torture chamber where people where taken to be tortured or I guess the word is violently interrogated until they confessed to sometimes things they really didn’t do. That was a creepy place but again worth seeing! Torture chamber
After the torture chamber we had to go see the world famous mummies from Guenajuato! That was also creepy mostly because they had baby mummies and these mummies look too real! They also have the worlds smallest mummy every which was never born. The mother passed away 20 weeks pregnant and like her mother the baby was also mummified. It was a sight to see. I had to take a picture of it! Baby mummy
We stayed the night in a Hostel and came home sunday afternoon! This was a great week and I keep learning so much about Queretaro its unreal! I’m enjoying my time here but hope it goes by quick so I can get home to good ol’ Oregon!

Querétaro Week 2

Well, the last post ended up a bit long, so this time I think I’ll just start with the pictures and add captions from my journal as I go.

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Friday July 5th was my 22nd birthday, and though at first it was a little bit sad to have my birthday here without my family, I was very spoiled and had a wonderful day. This was my breakfast, a delicious chocolate cake that was somewhere between tres leches and mousse, but definitely purely awesome.

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At school Laurie brought a wide variety of pan dulce because I love bread, and a candle that played happy birthday. I even got a present, a stationary set since I write so much :). (spoiled)

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In my Lengua en contexto class we took a walking tour of Querétaro where we were the tour guides using our research on the different monuments in the city. Alejandro had interesting information to add, and he was much easier to understand than the tour guide from Saturday. Before returning to the school he sweetly bought us drinks as a birthday gift, and didn’t even give us homework. (definitely spoiled)

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That night we went out to dinner at a place with amazing fruit smoothies and sandwiches, and then went dancing at La Mulata. At first it was weird because they were just playing music videos (mostly english) and it was a bit pricey, but around midnight we all started dancing and it was a blast. We met a group of students from a different university and ended up combining and all dancing together. They spoke some English and since we spoke some Spanish we muddled along ok. It was amazingly fun, and I even got free Manzanita! (Did I mention I was spoiled?)

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On Saturday we met up as a group (session 2) and explored the street markets a bit. We were supposed to do more, and go on the trolley, but the WOU group split off early since we’d already done the tour and it started to pour. We walked all the way across town in the rain and got thoroughly soaked since we all left our jackets at Josh’s house.

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These are our “Do we really have to go back out there? We aren’t even dry yet!” faces.

The first week we were here was warm and sunny and beautiful, but that Saturday marked a definite change. It is apparently Querétaro’s rainy season and when it rains here, it tends to rain hard. Like, dumping buckets on your head for 30min to a couple of hours at a time hard. It isn’t miserable (usually), but it definitely is a lot more rain than I had been expecting. I wish I had brought more cool weather clothes instead of all summery, especially since it continued to be rainy throughout the week.

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That Sunday was thankfully a beautiful day, and we all went to Bernal. The town of Bernal is small and picturesque, and situated at the foot of la Peña de Bernal. It really is about as tall as it looks, and though it isn’t bad for an afternoon’s hike, I’ve really never been much of a hiker.

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I made it up about 2/3 of the way to where they had a lovely little view point and a warning sign. Apparently, the hike is much more dangerous after that point, and I decided to be satisfied with the view from where I was. I actually was the only one who chickened out and didn’t go all the way up, but I didn’t mind. I sat in the shade up on a comfortably shaped rock and talked to the people who stopped to rest there. Most families with kids stopped there too, so sometimes one of them would come sit by me :)

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The sign in the left hand corner said something about being careful if you value your life, but all the people pictured made it back safely. Oh, also, a *lot* of people were hiking it in nice clothes! There were girls in fancy shoes, guys in dress-shirts, and even infants in cute little outfits. It made me feel like a wimp whining about the climb when there were groups of people of all ages cheerfully climbing in Sunday clothes.

After coming back down off the Peña, we had lunch at a pretty neat restaurant where you eat under the spreading branches of an old tree, and then went shopping. There were a lot of interesting things that we could buy, but they weren’t especially cheap, probably because it is a very touristy area. We decided to leave when the thunderclouds moved in, and it was good that we did because as soon as we got on the bus it started raining *hard*. Part of the freeway of the way back to Querétaro was badly flooded- to the point where the guardrail was completely underwater. It made me thankful that we were on a very large, very tall bus.

One thing about coming to Querétaro that was difficult to adjust to was the food. I love it, but it was difficult for my body to handle, and little by little the symptoms got worse. On Tuesday I finally gave up on ignoring how I felt and went to the doctors. I had an intestinal infection and a fever, which wasn’t at all dangerous but not fun either. I slept for pretty much all of Wednesday, and by Thursday I could get out of bed without my head swimming. Yay!

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On the eleventh we all went to a “cooking class” that was actually just a cooking demonstration. It was still interesting, but not really what I was expecting. The chef was obviously very good at his job and it was interesting to watch, but it would have been nice to get to make something.

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There was an option to participate by chopping ingredients… yay. Oh, and this lesson was at Las Monjas, which had good food, but a lot of people got sick after we ate there last time so we were all a bit leery of the food.

Also, if I study Abroad again I am taking less classes. I don’t really need the credits, and taking 3 intensive classes while wanting to enjoy my time and explore another culture is a difficult balancing act.