Friday, September 23, 2011

It's Typical Here. Typically awesome.

How are you?

So here, in Spain, obviously........Many things are different.

(Mary Beth, a fellow AFSer who went to Spain last year, wrote a blog that really helped me mentally prepare.  Some things are different in Sevilla, but, Hi, if you are reading this, I REALLY appreciate your and Jake's blogs. They truly impacted my decision to pursue going to Spain. I can't thank you enough for sharing your experiences.)  For everyone else: and  PLEASE read these blogs about a year abroad in Spain.  They are so insightful.  Remember, these blogs are about their experiences.  And they will be different from your's should you decide to go with AFS to Espana for an exchange year.

So ok.  I do need to tell you guys a few things.
You may or may not be SHOCKED by these things.

So after my first few days in a Spanish school, I started to be more attentive.  (The first few days I didn't want to walk into the wrong classroom [which I have done in America] or trip down [OR UP!] the stairs at school.)

There are a few people, mostly males from what I have perceived, that are about 19 or 20 years old in my school.  And no, they are not siblings of any students (well they might be) or teachers.
They are actually students.  Yes.  In Segundo Bachillerato (equivalent to an American Senior) there are 20 year old students. There is a guy in my class who is 18.  Yea. I am 16.  And I do know a guy who is 15, I think he was just born at a weird time in the year.  We all know a kid who is either older or younger than us by just a few months, but you could be 14 and he or she could be 13, but you are in the same grade. But there is a THREE YEAR DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THIS ONE STUDENT AND THE OTHER.
That's different.

And Like I said before.  When the teacher doesn't show up, there is no class.  SOOOOOOO I go with my friends to the room we were supposed to have class in and we just talk.  BUT  some kids, and kids from other studyhalls go outside.... Some just walk around the school.  SOME.............SMOKE.
Yes.  It is very common for me to see someone just puffing away on their cigarette at school.  I somtimes smell it when I am in the bathrooms.  Which gives me the memory of hearing stories from older adults, saying that they remember, back in the day,  when they would sneak off to smoke in the bathroom.  hahaha.  I think it's pretty comical.
Well this one girl was talking to me and explaining that things are different in Spain. Regarding the Smoking and drinking pastimes.
She said that the age is 18.  But no one really enforces it.  DON'T WORRY ANYONE.  I WILL NOT ENGAGE IN ANY OF THESE ACTIVITIES.
As they are grounds for my termination from the program.  Plus it technically IS breaking the law.  Another thing that we cannot do.
A girl, whose name will remain anonymous, was telling me today that she just bought a pack of cigarettes the other day.  And she is my age.  We were talking about something and it just came up.

Also, If you go to the bathroom in a Spanish school.  Well [specifically] MY school.  YOU have to bring your own Kleenex if you want to wipe your bottom.  Or just soil your underpants.  I am talking to the girls right now.  I learned the hard way.  So YES I know what I just said.  I WILL REMEMBER NEXT TIME.  Stop laughing or smiling if you are.  Thanks.

I go to a typical co-ed public high school if any of you are wondering.

I take the bus.  No its not like a city bus.  It's a school bus that directly drops me off with all the other kids on my route.
BUT don't go picturing the nice little, traditional yellow school buss from our favorite childhood show "The Magic School bus"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
or a ratty tatty old smelly bus.
TAH DAHHHHH!  I get to take a Coach bus to school everyday.  You know, like a Greyhound bus.  It's not shiny and brand new, but nevertheless.  SCORE.  So thats nice to have a padded seat every morning.  Granted I talk to my friends that usually sit around me.

Well there are NO lockers at my school.  It's probs not like that in every school here.  Mi colegio is a block schedule school.  So I have class A B C D E F G the first day.  THEN class A G C F R Y the next.  It varies.  Which classes is she taking you may ask? Well here:
- Fisica y Quimica or Physics and Chemistry.  (I already took chemistry in the USA so UGH  great.)
- Filosofia or Philosophy... yea I know. EWW
- Matematicas at least I understand.  Not that I am very good at the material, but I get where we are most of the time.
- Biologia or biology.  I already took that one in the USA so IDK.
- Ingles or ENGLSIH.  Easy A.  or here, it's an EASY 10.  The teacher said that she is not a dictionary.  So the kids have to ask me, not for the direct translation, but for the definition *in English.  Then they can infer what the word in English means in Spanish.  I have to explain the definition of an electric eel today.  But alas, it was not as easy as you think.  I have to speak REALLY REALLY REALLY slow.  I use my hand to try to show what I am saying. AND I have to use really SIMPLE syntax and words.  But I am thankful that my Englsih teacher is not afraid of me.  I have heard some horrible stories about English classes during an exchange year.  Yes, I have caught a few mistakes from the teacher.  She's no Mrs. Anderson, but at least I will have an easy subject this year.
- Educacion fisica or GYM (PE) just take me now lord.  I already finished this class in America.  I survived two grueling years of gym at DSHA.  But now, I have to show everyone how I can not run.  In front of boys. And gosh, I know I know.  Who cares.  BUT still.  I hope a few girls understand my pain.  I don't need this class, but I am stuck in hell for two hours each week.  And I have to behave and not make it look like I don't give a darn.  That would be rude to the teacher and set a bad example for AFS.
- Lengua Castellana or the equivelant to our English classes in America.  You know, reading, writing, grammer, books and essays.  THIS will be one of the hardest classes.  But I like the teacher.
- I have a study hall each week on 3rd period on Tuesday. SO thanks God :)
- FRANCES. Or FRENCH.  Yes, I already know how to say the basics.  But I can tell it's going to pick up soon.  This will also be one of my hardest classes.  I need to translate from spanish to english to french.  Then back again.  GREAT........ But I am kinda excited at the same time.  I sound pretty awesome when I speak my little bit of French. Not to be tooting my own horn.
- Modern Sciences.  That will be normal.  Just Science. WHICH I LIKE.
- AND I have Proyecto.  or an independent studies class.  But this one is with a group.  We need to write a 15 page paper and give a presentation about the life and music of Johann Strauss.  I only have to translate and make the paper sound REALLY good.  So that should be hard.  I like writing analytic essays.  BUT I HATEEEEE writing reports.  So translating will be good for my Spanish.  One girl wrote one of her parts already, in English.  But SORRY.  I REALLY had to correct that one.  Some words didn't make sense.  Some things were COMPLETELY random.   But the kids are just siked to have me in their group.  I think you can guess why :)

So there are all my classes.  IT will be work. But hey. I signed up for this.

A typical day of school:  (YOU'RE WELCOME FATHER)
- Get up around 7:00
- Get dressed.  "Put my face on." Gosh I look horrible in the morning.  la dadadada brush my teeth, hair, etc.
- Make my bed.
- If I didn't put my books in my backpack the night before, I get my books ready.  But I usually do that before I go to bed.
- Go downstairs.  Have breakfast.  I usually have juice.  (like a V8 fusion thing.  It's vegetables and fruit but I only taste the fruit!)  And Pan Toastado.  Or toast.  BUT not with butter.  toast with olive oil.  AND its not like bread smith bread or sarah lee bread.  Its nice, fresh, bread.  I know. I am spoiled.
- I have to leave the house by 8:00.  The bus stop is only a 2 block walk.  only 3 mins.
- Go to school
- THEN three one hour classes.  my school only has two floors. And the stairs are not much.  SO THANK GOD!  In the states,  My school has the basement, 1st floor, 2nd floor, 3rd floor.  And last year my locker was in the basement and after lunch i had a class on the 3rd floor.  I had to walk 4 stories every day for one semester.  Gosh and the stairs are steep at DSHA.
- After 3 classes is RECREO.  Just a 30 min free time where the kids eat a small sandwhich (or bocadilla as they call them) and drink a juice box.  it quite cute to see this tall and tough looking guy eating a sandwhich and drinking from a small little juice box.  But hey. they need to nourish themselves too.  i have noticed that some kids dont seem to be eating.  or maybe they scarf their food before i see them.  who knows. And yes, I staind around talking with my friends.
- After RECREO we have 3 more classes. they are all about 55ish mins in both the morning and afternoon. no yellow day, orchid day, green, day.  Blah blah blah. <--- at my school in the States we have different colored days for different schedule times.  If we have mass or a 1.5hr assembly we have a green day.  etc.
- I always have to guess which bus is mine after school.  It changes from day to day.
- I get home at 3:30ish.  School ends at like 3:00ish.
- I have lunch.  yes.  That's why we have a small snack at RECREO.
- I do my homework.
- Then if we have swim I go. It's either from 7-8 or 7-9.  Tuesdays and Thursdays we have dryland for an hour.
- Then come home.  and finish anything i have to do.  then dinner is around 9 or 10 or 10:30ish
- Go to bed.
- Repeat.

But it's a nice schedule. I like the meal times.  REALLY I do.  It's nice.

I am going old down town Sevilla, tonite with my friends.  Mis nuevos amigos.

My host-sister Marta told me today that she can tell my Spanish is getting better.
She said that she is starting to speak faster and I understand right away.
Truthfully, I knew I was starting to understand a little more.  Even after 3 weeks, but I DIDN'T realize that she was speaking faster.  SOO that's pretty awesome.

I can already tell that I will need to send a box home after my year here.  I would be in deep dodo if I had to pack everything up tonite.  It wouldn't fit.  I have a few new shirts, and Two pairs of shoes.  All for school.

Also, I love being here.  But if anyone who is reading this is contemplating a year abroad.  This is NO easy task. It is so hard.  Just ADAPTING to a new LIFE.  The food, culture, people, land, climate, city, houses, plants, animals, sounds, sights, smells, etc.  My first day of school was SO hard.  Quite awful.  So bad. I will not sugar coat it.  I walked in.  Didn't know a SOUL.  Except for my host-sister.  But she was off with her friends the moment we walked in.  BUT hey.  She's in her grade.  AND I didn't want to be depending on her.  So My host mother, Maite, introduced my to a girl right around the corner who was in my grade.  But that day, I didn't see her right away.  And I later discovered that she was not in my class.  I am with the same kids each day.  Different combinations in different classes, but ALWAYS the same kids.  So I have to make friends with them.  We are together for a whole year.  But They are very nice now.  I didn't feel the LEAST bit excepted the first day.  Yes, I did sit alone in a few of my classes.  But now, there are kids who tell me to sit next to them.  And I did get more than one invitation to hang out this weekend.  It takes A LOT OF WORK.  You are coming to Spain for school.  AFS is a school based program.  It's required that we go to school.  You can be terminated for skipping.  You do not come to Spain to party at the discotecas all week.  Most Kids that I know. DO. NOT.  You don't go to Spain to drink or smoke because you can get away with it.  You may be able to. BUT if you are caught (and GOD help you if you do) well, kiss your new Spanish life goodbye.  Spain is wonderful in many aspects.  But it is hard just leaving everything behind. I wanted to do this.  I really did.  But I DID CRY at the airport.  I think my father teared up a little.  My mom and sister were bawling.  I didn't bawl but I really had quite a few tears rolling down my cheeks.  SPAIN is SPAIN.  In my three weeks here, you can make it what you want it.
-DO NOT. repeat. DOOOOOOO NNNNNNOOOOOTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT have high expectations for your experience here.  Yes, you can expect to be homesick.  Heck I am a little homesick.  BUT that is REALLY REALLY normal.  It would NOT be normal for a kid not to be homesick at one point in their year away from home.   Yes, you can expect to not understand anything in most of your classes the first few days.   I think I looked like a deer in headlights in my Physics class the first day.  Don't expect everyone to be obsessed with your being from the USA.   Most people the first day avoided me.  Or we scared I think. The language barrier REALLY does make everything difficult.  But after 2days and a week and 2 weeks.  You will pick up a few words.  Maybe even understand what they are saying.   So Yes.  That's it on that topic.

Anyways.  THIS was a LOOOONGGGGGG post.  But I hope you enjoyed reading.  My fingers hurt form typing so much.

God Bless everyone.
Peace out.


  1. AWW! Im super happy Spain is so wonderful! Reading your blog reminds me of Germany and how much i miss it there. I know this is a great experience for you to learn about the language and culture. I'm so glad that children are nice to my little Katie! ahhaa. I cant wait for more pictures and of course stories when you return! Miss you!

  2. Im going to do a student exchange to Germany for my Gap year, Im from Australia and not doing it with AFS. The program is amazing - 6 months of school, 6 months of volunteer work, the you can "sign off" of the trip and travel, and have that flight home whenever you want from any EU country. I am just really happy that your blog is insightful to what happened when you left because most people's blogs just say what the did - not how they felt about it. Thanks, keep it up :)


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