Posts Tagged ‘class’

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Tyler: Intercambios

December 31, 2011

Here are some more pictures of our house. The house is kind of small but it is really comfortable. It is one of the better looking houses that are around here I think. Last night we had “pizza of Mexico”. Gloria likes to make food with the colors of Mexico and they are always delicious.

The past two days have just been filled with a lot of class stuff. I’m beginning to find it hard to write in English actually. Sometimes I will just type in Spanish or have been saying things in weird ways in English haha I guess I’m learning Spanish! Class actually doesn’t seem like its 5 hours at all. It always goes by really quickly. The teachers are a lot of fun and laid back. It’s like we learn a lot of different things but we always just hang out and talk a lot. Today our teacher told us to we were going to play a game. He told us to go buy some chocolate at the store that is at the school and then come back to class. After that he had us eat it and that was the entire extent of the game! After we just talked for about 30 minutes. We can tell that the teachers here just want us to do well without being intimidated or anything since it is a class.

Yesterday we also had our first intercambio. The guy that I meet with is really cool! His name it Pablo and he owns a bird breeding company for pet stores. He sells his birds to a pet store that is all over Mexico. During these intercambios, we talk for about an hour in Spanish and then we talk for an hour in English. We talked about a ton of things like music, where we have visited, places we want to visit, the differences of living in the states and Mexico, and just a bunch of other things. I will be meeting with him again on Tuesday. The only conflict is that is also the day that they have a trip to an orphanage…my roommate and I are going to try to get our intercambios changed so we can do both. 

I don’t really have much more to say…I am having a great trip so far. I can tell my Spanish is getting a lot better. Last night we went out and we made a lot of friends that live here. It was really cool being able to talk to them in Spanish! Of course our Spanish is still pretty broken but it’s getting better!

After class today we just came back to the house and ate lunch. After lunch we all slept for like 2 hours and then explored a little bit. We have our first test coming up so we just did homework and studied a little bit after dinner. I’m going to get some sleep tonight so I can do well on the test!!! Aaaaand have energy for tomorrow night!

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Tyler: Class and Homestay

December 30, 2011

Morning in Cuernevaca

Yes, this is what I woke up to the first morning.

The guys that I am living with are great. We all bring a lot of different things to our household. The woman that we are staying with, Gloria, spoils us so much. We were talking with some other people that are here with us and it seems like their host families are nothing compared to how great Gloria is to us. Every meal we are treated like we are kings. She was explaining to us that when we are in Mexico with her, we will be getting authentic food. The food so far has been incredible. For lunch today, we had baked peppers that were stuffed with meat and for dinner we had these baked variations of tacos. I have become slightly addicted to Salsa Verde. It is a slightly spicier salsa but not too spicy. It is perfect for everything! This is a picture of our room.

Room in Cuernavaca

Pretty exciting picture but I thought it was worth uploading quick. I will get some more pictures of our house up soon. We have just been so busy that we are kind of always on the go.

We started our classes yesterday. They were not kidding when they were saying the classes are really intensive and fast. The schedule for classes is from 9-10:50 am we have one professor and then there is a 20 minute break. After the breaking, we have different professor from 11:10- 1pm. Then we finally end with grammar practice from 1-2 pm. Then we are free to leave. So far the mornings can get a little long. During those hours, the only time I hear any English is when we are on breaks. All of the professors are from Cuernavaca and most only speak Spanish. They know a couple of words in English but at times it can be really hard to figure out how to say something in Spanish. Every night we have homework. Tonight was a little bit longer than it was last night. All of the homework probably took us about an hour and a half but that is including a journal entry that we only have to do once a week that is due tomorrow. At the end of each week we have a test on the material that we just learned and then there is also a final as well. We are also doing something called a “intercambio” where throughout the 3 weeks, we will be meeting with someone that lived in Mexico and just speak with them in Spanish/English. Some of the people who we could have are professions like doctors and lawyers that want to be able to practice their English and then we are able to practice our Spanish with them. The school is awesome. It is more like a resort than an actual school. Our classrooms are outside either under a canopy or just outside in general. There is a swimming pool there too…no big deal.

School in Cuernevaca

 

We are always on the go. These past two days we have had to go back to the school for meetings and other things in the afternoon. It has been kind of a pain but it should be over soon. We went and explored the nightlife here a little bit last night. It’s amazing how nice everyone is here. We definitely stick out though…everywhere we go there are people just looking at us. Cuernavaca seems really safe though! I mean, it’s hard not to feel safe with you see police with huge guns riding in the back of trucks right? The language barrier can be really interesting. Tonight we stopped at this little cafe close to our house and out of the 10 of us there, no one could really figure out what our waitress was saying. Luckily a guy that was there knew English and came to help us out. It seems like everyone is more than willing to help anyone that needs help here which I think is awesome.

I think that’s all I’ve got for today. It’s weird, I have been getting way more sleep here than I usually get. I’m really enjoying it! I’ll try to post tomorrow but we have a really busy day and I think that we are checking out the city tomorrow night. 

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Chiyo: Turkey Day in London

November 25, 2011

Unlike everyone else back in the states who is on Thanksgiving Break, my life stayed the same here in London since they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. Although we don’t get off school or internships, I can’t really complain considering we had a 10 day Fall Break at the end of October, so it’s a fair trade off. My voice sounded horrid this morning from being sick, and I was not ready to take on the day. 

We got our final case study in my int’l mktg class, which I’m super excited about because it is about Ferrari. And I absolutely LOVE cars. We did a small group exercise like we normally do every week, and this time it was a little different because it was about pricing strategy and after we gave what we thought were the correct multiple choice answers, our prof gave us the author’s answers and we were given a score from 1-5. Well…our team apparently is not very good at pricing strategy because we came in dead last. After class got out i had a field trip for my pop culture class in Camden Town, so I headed out of school and onto the tube for the gajillionth time.

Today our field trip was a trip to the Jewish Museum, which was surprisingly a fun field trip. We had a de-briefing by this cute old man who volunteers at the museum once a week, and he was so cheeky and lovely. My favorite section of the museum had to of been the memorial to the holocaust, because it was different from every other museum I have met on the holocaust, and way different from the concentration camp I visited when I was just 15 years old. This memorial stood out because it focused on one survivor from the holocaust, who is from Britain and after he was liberated, spent the rest of his life giving speeches about what happened during those awful years. It was such a moving section of the museum, and they have a video running of the man telling his story. I think the one thing that I will take away with me from that memorial was how after his wife, him, and his son got shipped off to the first of many concentration camps, 15 minutes later the papers that proved they were British citizens and which would have kept them safe from being deported had arrived. Fifteen minutes. That just breaks my heart, because his little boy and wife were taken to the gas chambers, and he didn’t find this out until he was liberated. 

I was looking forward to CAPA Thanksgiving, and even though I knew it would not even come close to what it would have been like back home in the states, it was still really great of them to put on a dinner for all of us. At my table, it was all Newman kids, and we went around the table and said what we were thankful for. It was then that I really missed being home with my family, where I would be cooking up a storm with my mom and sister. In the hotel where we had dinner though, they were showing the Packer game which I thought was awesome. I couldn’t really tell if the food was any good or not to be honest, because I have lost all sense of taste and smell due to being sick. I did however, take full advantage of eating lots and lots of mashed potatoes, turkey, and cranberry sauce. It may not have been the Thanksgiving that I am used to, but I will always remember “Turkey Day” in London 🙂

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My school put decorations up for us 🙂

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Chelsea: Bye Bye Quito

October 24, 2011

his is the first blog post I write with tear-filled eyes…

Unfortunately, I leave Quito tomorrow morning…and with that I also leave behind many friends and a wonderful family. Although I will be back throughout the next couple weeks, it’s starting to set in how little time I have left here and I can already feel my heart breaking!!

…here’s a recap of the weekend:
On Friday, I finished my last day of class with an essay and presentation! After classes I was able to finalize all of the details for my trip to Peru (which I leave for this Friday, ahh!) and spend time with some friends! That night, I went with two friends to La Ronda, a more historic part of Quito which is beautiful at night! We ordered hot chocolate and huge empanadas (that are incredibly delicious) that we couldn’t even eat half of – definitely should have shared. Afterwards, we walked around the streets a little bit, went into a few shops, and just enjoyed the beautiful night!!

On Saturday, my brother had classes all day to make up for a vacation day next week (how horrible) and my parents had to work in the morning. But, afterwards we made chocolate chip cookies – unfortunately they turned out a little bit flat, but I still managed to sneak a bit of cookie dough to eat. I spent the afternoon with my family and then went out (at 4:00, haha) with my friend Liz and a few of her Ecuadorian cousins here. After getting a little lost (I was glad to know that Ecuadorians too got lost here!!), we arrived at a high school dance…no joke. But, it was actually a lot of fun! Here, you can buy alcohol and smoke inside – so it was a little different atmosphere, and it wasn’t all high school kids – it was mostly people our age! Overall, it was a lot of fun and many many hours of dancing!

Today was a great last day with my family! I went with my mom to her job a little over an hour away. Besides running her own daycare, one day a week she works as a psychologist for a school/daycare and today she was holding a conference for parents at the school. It was really interesting and I’m glad I got to attend! Afterwards, we went to a restaurant with the family and I willingly (I even asked!) to try fried sheep’s blood. I know, what has gotten into me? Don’t worry, I’m still freaked out by vegetables on my sandwich. But, surprisingly it was actually pretty good – it just tasted like a spice!!

Afterwards, on the way home, my brother fell asleep on me – it was adorable, and I finally feel like I now have a younger sibling! Then, we came back home and my mom and I fell asleep on her bed watching Finding Nemo…totally precious. As we were making dinner, my mom and I were talking…and this turned into crying. My mom has such a big heart and really considers me her child! It was super sad to realize that I’m actually leaving tomorrow, but luckily I’ll get to come back! Later, I watched a little bit of Willy Wonka with my brother and he read me a Franklin the turtle book, which definitely took me back! 

…now, I’m avoiding packing! It’s hard to pack up again, not knowing what to expect. Although it will be hard to be totally by myself and not see my friends anymore and to move in with a new family, I know that it will be an equally interesting / fun experience! So, here’s to starting a new chapter of my life here in Ecuador, that is if I ever get packed…

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Hilary: It’s been a while

September 26, 2011

It has been a while!!  I have been busy and been traveling!  Since the new program started I have read many articles about Ecuador, globalization, westernization, the Andean cosmovision, education, the new constitution, and so much more.  I wrote a group paper, and spent great time with amazing people.

As a big group of gringos we travel to communities who are working to sustain their indigenous cultures, cultivate their land, offer everything and more to their youth, and contribute to the world or larger community market.  First we visited a rose plantation, which is communally owned and is on its way to being organic.  (It takes a long time to de-contaminate the soil!)  The roses are beautiful, but for me it was a little sad because, well as one of the workers put it.. “we send the best and most beautiful roses to the United States and keep the others for ourselves.”  This community is struggling right now to sustain their communal plantation and sometimes the full time workers do not receive a salary for the month.  But all the same this community needs the work and income to sustain their lives.  I would love to see us use our amazing technology of the world to know about these kinds of cooperatives and what companies work with them to sell flowers in the United States. With a system of transparency that shows where products come from, how, and in what conditions we could really transform the way international business is run!

The next community we visited was called Cariaku.  This community has made amazing strides in terms of investing in their own communal interests and sharing their lives outer communities in Ecuador.  They sell the milk of their cows to outer communities, but the food they cultivate they keep for themselves.  Cariaku has a very unique community structure, which includes and assembly at the top and many representatives that link the local government to other communities in the surrounding area, the province, and the nation.  They also have eco-tourism, this involves the youth in the community to care for the nature, welcome tourists and get involved in sustaining the local culture. 

I have had some great weekends in Quito exploring the city; riding the teleferico, running in the parks, spending time with friends, practicing, writing a huge paper, dancing in clubs, finding live music, and seeing shows of amazing Andean dance!  This past weekend I had a wonderful surprise and was visited by an amazing person who I met on the coast.  I can’t wait for my next opportunity to be able to travel, share stories, spend time, and stop thinking about graduation!!

My classes the past few weeks have been ok.  I am not learning as much as I would like to in class, and most of the other students talk in English… meh.  I am at one of those low points in the study abroad curve where things aren’t exactly as I would like, but with each weekend and time with people outside of the city my experience gets better.  

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Chelsea: Pensar menos y sentir mas

September 7, 2011

Hola a todos!

Nothing too exciting for the past few days – just, ya know, living life…in Ecuador.

Yesterday was the first day of school for my brother, Pablo! I went with my family to drop him off this morning—so exciting! All of the families were dressed up & the directors of the school gave an address to all the families there as the students stood (incredibly well-behaved) in lines with their class! My new goal is to learn the Ecuadorian national anthem – I didn’t dare even try mouthing the words or try the “watermelon” trick…

Here is a photo from this morning with Pablo (so handsome in his uniform!), my dad, and my aunt…and of course my brother’s awesome Spiderman backpack (that I’m extremely jealous of!).

The quote for the title of this post “pensar menos y sentir más” translates to “think less and feel more”. This was part of the talk we had from an indigenous man today about the duality of all things, which I found to be my most interesting class so far! Before the class, he performed an indigenous ritual ceremony—it was so interesting! The ceremony was essentially about being one with the earth, but was extremely moving—who knew hugs could bring everyone to tears?

For dinner, we had chicken, spaghetti noodles, and french fries. I can honestly say I have never had the noodle + french fry combo before (which is surprising, coming from a carb-aholic), but I’m not complaining.

More exploration to come this week! Only 5 more days of class & 3 trips for the next 2 weeks! I can handle this type of “studying”.

…and since this is a relatively short post, I thought I’d put in a couple funny stories from the past week…

1) I brought bubbles from home (the ones with the big wand) and gave them to my brother, Pablo, and cousin, Fatima a few days ago. They were both extremely amused and it happened to be a windy day, so it worked out well! I thought all was well until later that day my host brother came up to me and said, “Chelsea, I have a question. What happens if a bubble goes in your mouth?” Whoops. I’m not such a good influence after all!

2) So, the cars in Ecuador don’t stop. I’m not sure if they’re all lacking a brake pedal or not…but the lesson is, if you’re a pedestrian, it is your responsibility to not get hit. A little different from the U, where students just walk without looking, knowing that the cars will eventually stop. I guess that’s “Minnesota nice” for you. But knowing this, this is something funny my mom said to me on the way back from classes a few days ago after a car stopped for us to cross (which rarely / never happens)

“There are only two options to cross the street. You can wait for the cars…or you can wear a short skirt” 

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Mary: Another day in India

August 7, 2011

I’m writing during a mid-afternoon break today as I jam to a little Grateful Dead. I think it’s technically time for afternoon chai but Emily and I just got back from a long exploration walk so we just snuck up to our rooms to flop in front of the window air cooler for a few hours and relax. I’ve already had chai twice today, so skipping this one round is bearable. I woke up pretty early this morning, around 6:30, after going to bed so early. I was just sitting in my room reading when Emily came in a few minutes later and said she couldn’t sleep either so we sat on the floor and played speed scrabble (basically bananagrams but with regular scrabble tiles), and talked about our lives for about an hour and a half. Emily is the second oldest of six children. She spent three months in Tanzania last year volunteering as a teacher there in a small village and then took the rest of the year off from school to work in Minneapolis, where she’s from, in a bike shop, which is all pretty awesome. We’re both interested in a lot of the same stuff in school, environmental science and how people interact with their environments and trying to work on some of the social problems in the world. We bonded over music a bit too and I told her how psyched I was that she brought along her ukulele from home, I’ve been listening to her playing every day so far and loving it. We eventually got dressed and showered. There’s both an overhead shower and a faucet about half way up the wall that you can use to fill up a bucket for a bucket shower. Yesterday I took an overhead shower and thought nothing of it. Then yesterday afternoon I learned from another MSIDer that in our neighborhood the water supply is only turned on for an hour every morning at around 6 am. The owner of each house must turn on a main water supply pipe at that time and fill the storage containers for each home. Then when the water is switched off after that hour, that supply of water held in the containers must last all day, supplying the plumbing, sinks, and everything else in the house that uses water. Needless to say I won’t be taking any more overhead showers—they waste absurd amounts of water. My bucket shower this morning was maybe a little awkward but perfectly enjoyable. Emily and I then had another really big breakfast. It’s a good thing lunch and dinner are eaten so much later here (around 2:30 and 8:30 respectively) or else I would never be able to eat!

At breakfast, Rama-Ji’s daughter was talking to us about how the school where she works is in the middle of transitioning from a private school to a government owned public institution. Even though the government offers some subsidies to private schools, the taxes and corruption which skims some money off the top of the subsidies were so high that it made more sense for the school to just go public. What’s really interesting though is how the government is starting to focus more on rural education. Instead of employing more teachers and building new schools in the villages, the government is sending public school teachers out into the rural villages and telling the city kids they have to go to the rural schools if they want to attend public school. Rama-Ji’s daughter was glad they were finally thinking of the rural children but Rama-Ji was angry they weren’t just employing more teachers.

After breakfast, we made it to school safely, which is saying something considering it was our first walking experience in the city and we had to cross JLN road which is basically like a major highway with traffic lights (jaywalking is the norm here though, nobody uses the designated crosswalk). Class was awesome. We had our first real Hindi lesson and I actually feel like I learned something today. We went over the transcription system, which is really important since we haven’t learned the devangari script yet, how to introduce ourselves, ask how you’re doing, the difference between addressing an elder and a friend, how to make the weird pronunciations we don’t have in English (like curling your tongue back and touching the top of your mouth to make the retroflex consonants like ta, da, ra), how to ask questions, how expensive something is, and the numbers one through twenty. I really like the word for eleven – gyara (pronounced gee-are-ah with a soft g and a rolled r). Our Hindi teacher is a seriously cool woman. She’s Romanian but was born and grew up in Paris and is now married to an Indian man. We had a fun little conversation in French after she asked the class what other languages we had taken (Emily being the totally cool human that she is knows Swahili, Korean and Spanish). We also learned a bit more about religion and marriage practices in India. Despite being about 80% Hindu, India has complete religious freedom, to the point that major Muslim and Christian holidays are considered national holidays alongside the Hindu ones and conversion is tolerated amongst all religions. We discussed how Hinduism worships the abstract (a rock or flower or tree for example) as though it were sacred because God doesn’t have any one single form and therefore can be found in any form, which I thought was very beautiful. We talked a good bit about arranged marriages in India too, which are still very common. Love marriages are completely tolerated for the most part, but “dating” is hardly ever allowed and most Indians just expect to have an arranged marriage. Arranged marriages are very complicated, with both people’s caste, education, religious background, and horoscope being the main factors taken into consideration. There are classified ads in the paper every day advertising the families that are looking for a bride or groom and there’s even a website you can go to, basically like the Indian version of eHarmony, except it’s actually used fairly commonly (when I brought it up at lunch today Rama-Ji’s daughter laughed and said she had recently been on to see about finding a wife for one of her nephews).

After class, we came home for lunch which was delicious as usual and we even had mangoes and vanilla ice cream as a treat which was absolutely to die for, the ice-cream over here is different, it’s a lot thicker and richer than most American ice cream and I can’t rave enough about how amazing the mangoes are! While eating we watched some Indian soap opera that Rama-Ji’s daughter really likes and it was absolutely hilarious.  The acting was horrible and there were even sound effects added in. After lunch, Emily and I met up with the other MSIDers and went on our “assignment” to find the price of peanut butter at the closest grocery store (for some reason everyone thinks us Americans LOVE peanut butter, they always ask if we are craving it yet) and then to the closest mall to see how much a bus ticket to Delhi costs. This was all quite the adventure, as we only had vague memories of where everything was from driving past it yesterday and we took quite a few wrong turns down some alleys. We eventually found everything no problem but it was really crazy to actually be on the streets walking around the city. One of my guidebooks had an excellent description of city living that I kept recalling to my mind as we were walking around today – “Urban structures lie shipwrecked in the sea of humanity and a flowing, sinuous, teeming mass enlivens the streets, causing sensory and emotional seasickness. Every space is filled, and just as on the temples, where carvings complicate every surface, so too does the endlessly shifting pattern of the human form in all its postures create the background of the street”. Alright, well I’m going to go sit in the living room downstairs to read so Rama-Ji doesn’t think I’m being anti-social. Plus it doesn’t hurt that that’s the only air conditioned room in the house.

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