Monday, December 26, 2011

A Different Reality


I passed French.  Woohoo.
But I didn't pass all my classes.

Lengua/ Spanish Lit.                                   1
French                                                        5
English                                                        10
Sciences of the Contemporary World          5
Biology                                                       4
Physics                                                       1  
Philosophy                                                  4
Math                                                          5
Integrated Project                                      6   
Gym                                                          4

So as you can see I failed 5 Classes.  But there is recuperation in all of the classes.  So I can get these grades up.  They are not set in stone.  Although I don't think I can save Spanish lit and Physics.

You know what I have been feeling?  That is is my reality.  Living here in Spain. I knew where I was before.  But my perspective has changed! That this is my real life.  Before when I went to the AFS orientations, I felt that we were just telling the stories of our experiences.  But Now,  I feel that they are the stories about our lives.  I feel like my world has completely changed.  Life in America feels like a dream and life in Sevilla is the reality.  It's hard to explain.
Yesterday it was hard to switch my brain from Spanish to English.  I started talking in Spanish to my family.  My whole family here skyped with my whole family there :)  I was the translator.

But I have a few pictures I would like to share with you guys.
Happy New Year!!!!

There was a cool light show in downtown Sevilla

My host sister and me taking out the garbage.

Me, the little one is Raquel (host-sister) the other pretty girl is Maria Jose (host-sister) and our friend Andres

Me, Maria, Roberto (I like to call him Bert) and Andres

These are my spanish friends........

A sisterly love

- Adioss :)  Feliz año Nuevo!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Navidad en España :)

Merry Christmas! How are you?

Well this is supposed to be a big time for year long exchange students.  Because we have been here for three months.  It is during the holidays and it is normal to be homesick.  Right now, I miss my family; however, I still want to be here in Spain.  It is a strange mix of feelings.

I promise I will post pictures of my high school.  And my friends.
ASAIC. (As soon as I can)

Well just to quickly let everyone know, I moved to a new family.  I'm not going to tell why because that is not fair.  I just wanted to justify why the people and places in the rest of my entries will be extremely different.  But no worries, I am still living here in Sevilla.

I had a great Christmas Eve today.

I will tell you about my whole day!

-So I got up and showered at 10.30.  We left the house at 12.30 to go to a nearby Village called Gerena.  And there our family had a HUGE lunch.  We were visiting my host-mamá's side of the family.  But strangely enough,  my host-father's family is all from Gerena too.  It's just the way things worked out.  So then we came home around 5ish.  
-Then my sister María José and I went outside to talk with our friend Edward.  Later he had to leave to go to his puebla for Christmas.  
-Next, we went to our friend Laura's house. She has a really nice piano and I just plunked away, but I needed my music. mI don't remember squat from memory.  Her house was all decorated because her family (16 ppl!) was coming to her house for dinner.  Well, we sat and talke from about 5.30 until 8.30.  
-Well, then we left to go get ready for dinner.  Everyone was ready and we piled into the car at about 9.00.  But then my host mother said that she left her cell phone in the house.  So my little sister said she could go get it.  BUT all of the sudden she screams and runs out to tell everyone "Papá Noel ha venido"  or Santa came! She's 10 and still believes in Santa and the Three wise men. It was so fun to see her face and excitement!  
-Well then we went to downtown Sevilla for dinner with my host-father's side of the family.  Then yet again, Papá Noel came for the other kids at dinner.  Thus, more presents for me.  
-I got a really pretty scarf, a book, and a sweet computer mouse for my laptop from my Spanish parents.  And my abuelitaa gave me a scarf and really good smelling perfume.  Then my abuelitoo gave me 20 euros.  I was like holy cow man!  I couldn't stop smiling the whole night.  
-It was a very nice day.  Tomorrow is also filled with adventures.  

My new little host sister is 10. Her name is Raquel, she has strawberry blonde hair, and she looks exactly like Dory the Fish from Finding Nemo!
So naturally, I taught her how to do the fish face...
My new other host sister is 16 like me.  We literally are soul sisters.  We love to do a lot of the same things.  But no worries, I ALWAYS make room for the little one.  We love to watch Phineas and Ferb together!  
My host parents are so great, too.  They always want me to give them the kisses before I go to bed.  And my host-father is just awesome.  After dinner, we always have these really deep talks about everything.  It's just nice to feel at home. Ya know?  

A little bit on Christmas here in my family:
Papá Noel comes on Christmas Eve (but not for all families)  He hides the gifts or puts them somewhere special where they are every year (our beds)  And then when we find our gifts we can open them up right away.  At the grandparent's house today,  Santa (aka the parents and the grands) hid them all over and the kids had a mini scavenger hunt.  
-But the Three Wise Men come on the ummmmmmmmmm 6th of January.  And they leave the gifts under the tree and we open them up in the Morning.  

Well I am sooooo tired.  It was a long day and I ate to much.   I'll talk to you all soon.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

long weekends


I can't believe it is already December!!  This is my favorite time of year.  I always look forward to Christmas time.  The twinkling lights, the lovely music, the cold, the food, the smell of my mom's roasted pecans, our tree, ABC Family's 25 days of Christmas Movie Marathon!!!  Seriously,  Christmas movies are my absolute favorite :)  Just being with my family and friends makes me happy. 
I guess this year, I will have a new Christmas experience.  I am excited for Christmas to come, but on the other hand, I want it to wait until I go back home!!  But I can't have 2 Christmases.  

I have been starting to dream in Spanish.  Sometimes I am speaking it, sometimes others are, sometimes I understand, sometimes I don't.  It is one of the WEIRDEST things I have ever experienced.  Sometimes there are people in my dreams, who are from Spain, but they are speaking English.  EVEN THOUGH THEY ONLY SPEAK SPANISH.  Boy, I tell ya...

This week we had a LONG weekend because we didn't have school Monday and Tuesday.
We went up to the countryside.  A little Puebla, or Village, called Constantina.  (I think I spelled that right)
Anyways, I love going 'up north' away from the city every once and awhile.  They have this little shop that makes really good hand-made, natural potato chips. OH and also Churros.  

I think school, academically wise, is going to get better.  I talked with my Lengua teacher.  It is absolutely impossible for me to pass Spanish Lit and Language. My other classmates have had 12 years of Lengua class.    I can't even speak Spanish fluently.  So she gave me a website to practice my Spanish, and we are going to talk to the principal on Tuesday.  My other classes are going well.  Except for Physics.  I have a test tomorrow and I don't fell prepared BECAUSE I DON'T UNDERSTAND A THING! Well, lesson learned.  It really was my fault.   I am kinda afraid to talk to my teacher.  I know that it is stupid. And I always need to ask questions. But this next chapter, I am just going to suck it up and go talk to him.  At least, I'll be doing something.  

I really love being in Spain.  I feel that if I had to go back to America right now...... I would be so depressed. I really am trying my best to be apart of this family.  FUTURE AFS STUDENTS...  You really need to communicate with your family.  Always talk.  And sometimes, you just need to shut your mouth.  You might be in a situation where it is best just to listen and nod your head.  Remember,  they can kick you out anytime they want.  It is hard to live with people.  Hahahaha I know.  It's not a piece of cake to live with your real families, so why would it be any easier to live with a host family?????  Even though you try your best, and you think everyone is getting along, somethings are just going to happen. 

I notice how many people read this blog, and I thank each and every one of you.  Those of you in America, Russia, Germany, Australia, England, Spain, and everyone else :) Thanks for caring.  I am glad that I can share my experience with you.  

Alright.  Enough of the heavy stuff.  Let's see some PHOTOS :)   

The meat store.  Uncle mike, you would love it there :)

Just country side.

I helped get this baby going.

Just another walk.

It was really peaceful up in the hills.  

This just made me smile.  I remember when my cousin Annie and I were mad  at each other and then started throwing pine-cones at each other :)  Love ya Annie <3

Yes, the family has a horse.  I tried to ride it.. But let's just say the horse and I didn't get along to well.

Wild pigs all over the place :)  Actually I think someone owns them.  But they are just  all other the place!

The little cottages. 


We took a bike ride on a path.  It was incredibly beautiful.  

I feel like I am looking  back 500 years when I see this old fence.  

Can't be in Spain without having CHURROS :) Dipped in sugar and chocolate. yumyumyum


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pictures from Córdoba, España

Hello.  Another post with the pictures that I promised you a long time ago.  This was an AFS Orientation in Córdoba.  

- Adioss <3 

Gosh these potatoes.

Lovely tourist shops.  

Down the road. 

By the Mesquita.  The famous religious landmark in Cordoba. 

Another cool landmark. I don't know what most of these sites are called.  Just take a vacation to Spain and travel to 
The Mesquita.  

A main square

San (from Turkey) And me.

Annika, who was born in Swizerland.  But moved to America for 8 years.  But she now lives in Switzerland.  She was only here for three months.  And she left yesterday.  I cried at the train station.  But I love this girl :)

Inside the Mesquita.  There is a muslim mosque.  But in the inside, there is a Christian Catherdral,  It's really quite something.  

Looking towards Mecca.

Christian artifacts.  

The Catherdral

The tower.  

My little Paella.  AWWW. It was ZOO good man.  

OUR AFS group in cordoba :)

Another picture of us at the hostel. My face is kinda weird.  It's a joke between us.  

They had this boss tire swing right in the middle of the hostel lobby.
Me, Noelle, and Jamie <3

Another view of the Mequita tower.  YES I KNOW THAT IT IS SIDEWAYS DAD.  I wasn't going to  fix it for just this one.

Well that is it for this week!!!!!!!  
I hope you enjoyed.  I really love exploring new places.  I really want to see Barcelona and Madrid!! 
Not to mention I really want to go to France.  
Well, I have time.  

-adios :)

Que Hola!

Hi hi hi.
I am soo sorry.  It's been a long time since I've written.  I feel bad if you keep checking back everyday to see if I posted.  How long has it been?  About 20 days!  I have not felt completely content without writing you guys.

Well,  I haven't written much because I have been waiting for something to write about!  And I have a few stories.

Well school is going better.  I feel kinda normal walking through the hallways.  IDK it was just weird before.  Now I feel a part of the school.  Not like I am just there.

I HATE GYM.  There is even a group on Tuenti (the Spanish Facebook)  that is all about how we hate our teacher.    It's quite comical.  I had to run for 12 minutes straight without stopping on Friday.  Gosh, man, I've never had to do that.  At least, I wasn't the slowest.  There were about 7 or 8 kids behind me.  So I felt kinda good.

Um yea, I think I failed both my Lengua tests.  Here, your tests are more like essays.  The Teacher will ask you like 5-8ish questions, and then you have to pour your guts out, writing everything on that topic.  Ugh, you have no idea how stressful that is.  It's getting better.  I'm learning more everyday.
- It's important to study your language too.  Not just live it.  BUT READ IT, WRITE IT, STUDY VERBS, HEAR IT.  Everyday.  You don't have to go freaking crazy, but I usually read a few rules and conjugate a few verbs and study flash cards everynight.
THANK GOD FOR IPOD APPS :) Literally, there's an APP for that.
I celebrated Thanksgiving with my family!  My wonderful host-mother Maite, made turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy.  It was a hard day at school and I even cried a little when one of our English teachers from the USA was presenting a power point.  I was like, ummm yea.  That's not very nice.  
But I am glad that my Spanish friends know a little more about Thanksgiving.  Although, I'm sure not everyone was paying attention.

Make sure you talk to all types of people.  Make Friends with everyone!  In gym class (god curse it)  everyone was giving me hugs and saying that they are my Spanish family.  So I feel really lucky to have great friends here.  It's hard making friends and in the beginning you feel like a complete outsider, but once you begin to learn the language more.......IT GETS BETTER :)  

We also had a power point presentation on American government.  I was in AP GOV (Advanced Placement American Government)  last year....  It really was something to see a whole year's worth of material squeezed into one class period.  (well not everything, but the important topics)  AND at the end of the class, the teachers made us all write whether we were democratic or republican.  I'm like DUDE, that's the first rule of etiquette.   Don't talk about politics, religion, or race issues in school. Then we get off track and start arguing in Spanish about the differences.  And how kids want to be both, and how other kids think that you can only chose one side.

OHHH and this weekend at my friend's birthday party,  SAME THING.  (I am pleased to say, that I was involved in the conversation.  YELLING also.  I felt so Spanish)  We didn't reach a conclusion.  BUT,boy, it sure was something to see.

I am so happy that I've made so many friends.  There is one girl who also lives in Sevilla from the USA (Tuscon, AZ) and we always love to meet up and just hang out.  It's our English time.  Also, I guess there is another teacher in here school from MADISON, WI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
SOO I had her tell him that I was from Appleton or something.  I didn't want him thinking I'm a MARQUETTE BASKETBALL fan just yet.  I'm going to meet, I think.  And then I will drop that bomb.   Gosh, that's one thing I really miss.  MY SPORTS.  Now I am wishing that I watched every football game and basketball game with my father before I left.  I really took going to College Basketball games for granted.  I miss that part of my life so much.  But, I like that I know so much about American Sports.  It's a great conversational topic with all the SPANISH BOYS :)  

Well, I'll leave you with that for now.  I'm very happy here.  I feel so blessed to have such great family and friends all over the world.  My family and friends in America, my family and friends in Spain.  From Turkey, from Japan, Italy, AND Switzerland.

Love is like an earthquake-unpredictable, a little scary, but when the hard part is over you realize how lucky you truly are.


Monday, November 7, 2011

BUT sometimes you need to give a little more than you take. It's just the way life works out.

Well howdy!
It's been a while since I have written. But I only want to write the most interesting things so I don't bore you with every post! That's one of the things I dislike most about bloggers. Some bloggers write about everything and their topics vary so much that it gets boring after awhile. I don't wanna be like that.

Well I went to Cordoba this weekend for a meeting with AFS. I could't wait to see all my chums:) So another post is coming this week!

For a little of this post, however, I am going to talk about how I feel.  Lately I have been posting about what I have been doing.

What's it like to be in another country? Apart from your family and friends? For a whole year?

What's it like to be in another country?
- Well if you were in Italy or France and someone asked you how you felt, you would express your joyous emotions. Only because you are experiencing something and seeing somethig that you would never see back home in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. But what if you had to stay there for 3 months? (with your family) Well I am sure you could manage. What if you're family wasn't there? How would you feel? Let's say you don't Know a speck of French.

Apart from your family and friends?
Well throw yourself into my situation.  No one can ever prepare you for how hard it is going to be.  No one can explain to you the different feelings you will have.
          You will miss your old friends and the EASE of just speaking English, or your first language.  You can express yourself more.  Here, It sometimes takes a while for me to get my point across.  And I always worry if they still like me.   I seriously miss my friends back home but I am really happy to be making such strong friendships here.  (Here's a secret:  THERE IS LESS DRAMA IN MY LIFE NOW.  And I am completely in love!  I don't have to worry about homecoming drama.  Who cares!  I'm worrying about what to pack for my vacation to Africa!  I Don't have to worry about swimming extra laps because someone smarted off to the coach.  I have to focus all my energy on my Spanish homework which is sometimes impossible to do! No girly arguments with the people at school. My stress comes from schoolwork, and a few other factors but I'm just glad it doesn't come from social drama.)

Sometimes I just want to be with my real family, but other days I don't mind being apart from them. I have had them for 16 years before I left, and I will have them by my side for another 16 years and well, for the rest of my life!
 It is so normal.  One day you will feel comfortable living without your real family, and the next you want your room and privacy.  Not that I don't get privacy here.  But I am now in a family with 5 people.
And I really have had to change the way I live.  Or some of my habits.
*If you will be an AFS student: You can't expect your family to adjust to you and your family can't expect you to adjust to them.  Living in a family is a two way street.  You give a little you take a little.  BUT sometimes you need to give a little more than you take.  It's just the way life works out.

For a whole YEAR!???
Well, I have been here for two months.  It feels like 3 weeks!!!!!!  I can't believe Thanksgiving is around the corner.  Which by the way: Yes, I have already cried at the thought that I will be away from my family during that time.   But My AFS liaison told me, "You will have many more happy, traditional Thanksgivings to come!" That helps a little, but The feelings are potent.  Things like this are not easy, sometimes it's harder for other, but, you signed up for this knowing that you ABSOLUTELY cannot be with your real family during the holidays.

During the orientation we talked about many many many many things!!!  It felt great just to get everything out. And in turn, offer my own tidbits of comment and advice.
There were only 3 boys and 11 girls.  But we are SUCH a close family.  I am now officially the AFS Mom.  My shoulder is always available and I will always just sit and listen.  But, I am quite sure that everyone would do the same for me.

Cordoba is an AMAZING place.  So different from Sevilla.  But well,  exploring this new place with my AFS chums was just so exhilarating!
- I felt my self so unbelievably happy on Sunday morning When I was walking with 3 other people at 8:30 AM down the EMPTY streets of Cordoba.  I had my lovely friend, Rose from Sitka, Alaska; My super funny but extremely nice friend Oğulcan or San (for short) from Turkey; and my mellow friend Julian from California.  We were on the hunt for churros, but sadly we didn't find any.  But this one lady came up to us and asked us if we knew where the Mosque is.  Well here is where the specialness come in: Niether one of us  spoke Spanish as our first language.  She and her friends are from France, San is from Turkey, and of course you have us three Americans:) BUT were are all from DIFFERENT parts of the country!  Well we were having a conversation in Spanish!  It is truly fulfilling that I can communicate with someone from Turkey and France when they don't speak fluent english!

AND on Saturday, I was talking with San to our chaperon from Cordoba and his students.  We were all from  extremene different parts of the world.  I am from North America, They are from Spain on the Iberian Peninsula in Europe, and San is from Istanbul Turkey which is actually the only city in the world located on two continents (Europe and Asia)  But again, we were all communicating in Spanish!  Of course it was discussed why I look like I can speak Spanish but can't.  They were all really fascinated that I was born in Guatemala but live in the Northern part of the USA.

We are getting back together soon!!! Towards the end of November.  We are all bringing a special dish from our country/ city in the USA (most of the kids in our group are from the USA)  I was so sad when I thought I wouldn't see all of them until February!  BUT those fears were quickly qualmed when we discussed the multi-culteral dinner and the pending plans for a Chirstmas get-to-gether :)

I will post the pictures soon :)


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

“A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.” – John Steinbeck

Don't you love the title?  It is so true.  So far my journey has led me to some pretty incredible places!!
Since I have left I have been numerous places!!!! I still can't comprehend how much this world has to offer.

-I have been in New York City.  Although I didn't see much.  So that is one of the places on top of my bucket list.  Sometimes, I just wanna live there. Just like the books and movies.
-JFK airport
-the Switzerland Airport!
-Madrid!!! Was a beautiful place.  I didn't see a lot but it felt like Spain to me!
-A Youth Hostel: There I made friends from all over the country! HECK FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD!
-I had to take the bus with 3 other girls from Madrid to Malaga to meet our host-families. We traveled down the country.  It was mostly barren countryside.  But there were some interesting sites!  And there was one part when we were driving around a mountain. It wasn't HUGE but if we went off the side, it would be a long wave down.  
-Portemao, Portugal
-Casablanca, Morocco in  Africa!!!

All this and it hasn't even been 3 months!  WOWWZAA

During my youth hostel stay, while over-nighting it with my fellow AFSers in Madrid, I felt that we all became such good and CLOSE friends.  It was comforting to have so many kids your own age, from all over the US and the WORLD, sharing the exact same experience as you.  I felt so at ease knowing that they were all missing home and their families, too.  (Well, maybe not at that moment,  But I now know that more than a handful of them have recently had bouts of homesickness.  Just like me)  It's soooo normal.  In fact, It wouldn't be normal to not have some sense of nostalgia while on exchange for a year!!
- I now have friends from:

Arizona (SCOTTSDALE!!) Right by my grandparents :)
Alaska (Sitka! The town in "The Proposal", my mother's favorite moive :) Yes mom it is a real place.
Kentucky (Chloe is practically the cutest thing on this planet!)
New York, and NYC
More friends from good ole' Wisconsin (What's up Erika :)
Sweden: Hi Will :)
Germany (One of the girls from Germany recently visited WISCONSIN!! More specifically, Germantown and Milwaukee :) How crazy is that?  We met in the Madrid airport, and when I said I was from Wisconsin, she squealed and gave me a HUGE hug.)
Turkey (Two funny guys from Istanbul)  
And of Course Spain :)

So this week I went out with some new friends.  We meet at the metro at 8:00.   I thought to myself, oh my gosh that's late.  But to them it was normal.  I didn't return home until about 12.45ish!!
Man, that was so interesting for mee.

On Sunday my host fam and I went to church and then took a walk around downtown Seville :)

The sweet landmark is called "Las Setas"  Don't they look like mushrooms???
The incredible view of the whole city was breathtaking! Doesn't is look like it's going to rain?
Underneath the building are the ancient Roman ruins of Seville.  This is such an ancient city :) While driving to church I saw preserved Ancient Roman Aqueducts!!!!!!! It is soo different when you're reading about this things in books.  But when I actually SEE the history I have learned about....... Man, I just can't explain this feeling.

Enjoy :)


Beautiful ehh?

Smart Car :)

Modernistic architecture amid the old and ancient.  

What did I tell you?  In a way I can see how some people might object to this modern building obstructing the classic scene.  But  "las setas" has a purpose.  It protects the Roman ruins underneath, it gives you a wondersul view of Sevilla, there is a market, and COME ON!! It looks like a bunch of mushrooms.  

The Ruins.  We didn't have time to see this part.  I will post pictures  when we do get the chance to go.

Oh Hi God, What's up?  

Enchanting... Am I wrong? Didn't think so.

The Cathedral

It did drizzle a little bit!

Walking on top of the mushrooms.

Another Church.  See the umbrellas?  Well we meet friends for patatas (Potato Chips) and drinks after our mushroom extravaganza.   

Maite tells me that in the Spring, you smell the orange blossoms and the incense from the churches.  One: I LOVE oranges.  Two: I absolutely adore church incense.  Don't ask my why.  But it makes me feel comfortable.

Hello people of Sevilla!

Yea, I kinda am addicted to shoes.  

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” – Ralph Waldo Emerson