Posts Tagged ‘Spanish’

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Tyler: Tepoztlán

January 6, 2012

This past Sunday was a lot of fun. After the New Years Eve clubbing, more than half of the group that I’m with in Cuernavaca met up at 10:30 am to get on a bus to Tepoztlán. It is about 45 minutes from Cuernavaca. It is known as a touristy town because of all the small shops and the temple that was built on the nearby Tepozteco Mountain.

Once we got to Tepoztlán, we all just wanted to get up the mountain. Little did we know, just climbing up the mountain was going to be an adventure in itself. I don’t think we were expecting the climb that we had to endure. It took about an hour and 15 minutes of pure hiking up rocks and steps to get to the top. Once at the top, it was really cool. The view was remarkable. We could see for miles. Everyone was really nice on top of the mountain too. A Mexican group came up to us and the girls wanted to take pictures with my roommate and I and the guys wanted to take pictures with the girls that we were with. Haha I guess we look very American…who would have thought? Here are some pictures from the trek up the mountain.

tepotzlan

climbing

climbing more

Justin Miller and Tyler Page

view from Tepozteco

After climbing down the mountain for an hour, my roommate and I had one thing that we HAD to try before we left Tepoztlán, “quesadillas con chapulines”. If you were to translate that, you would figure out that “chapulines” were grasshoppers. All of the food that we had eaten so far at Tepoztlán was really good and very cheap. We had been talking to our teacher all week about how we wanted to try them. So we finally had our chance! We found a store and ordered a quesadilla with grasshoppers, hopefully the first and last time I will ever do that. I mean, it wasn’t horrible but it definitely wasn’t good. When I got a leg stuck in my tooth… that was a deal buster for me. We all had a bite and it really was weird. We followed the disgusting and crunch grasshopper quesadillas with plenty of chicken quesadillas because they were so good.

grasshopper tacos
Before heading back to Cuernavaca, we also stopped at this little ice cream shop that our host mother had told us so much about. We got a big group to go there and we all go a bunch of different types of ice cream. The ice cream here is a lot different than the ice cream in the United States; it is a lot less dense I think. Anyways, I got watermelon ice cream which was really weird but also insanely good. There were other people that got bunch of different kinds with come actual fruit in them. There was also a kind that had tequila in it (only in Mexico right?). 

Overall the day was great. We got back to Cuernavaca around 8 at night and just relaxed at home for the rest of the night. We also quickly finished our composition that was due the next day. To those of you who think that this is mostly a vacation, I quickly learned that there was also a lot of work that goes along with this trip. We have class for 5 hours a day and then sometimes we have things in the afternoon plus 2 hours-ish depending on the day of homework. It’s a lot of work but I am enjoying it!

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Tyler: New Years

January 2, 2012

The past couple of days have been insane. I have constantly been on the go. There is just so much to do here!! Okay so I will start with New Years Eve day…

On New Year’s Eve day we had our first test. For 2 hours before the test, we just had a review session which was really nice. We pretty much quickly covered all the things that we had learned during the week right before the test. For me, I thought the test went pretty well! I hate the anticipation of waiting to get a test back. 

One thing that was really different and that would never happen in any school in the United States is that after our test, they had a ton of salsa and chips for us. They also had bottles of real champagne for us after we got done with our test to bring in the New Year! It was insane! All of us were like, “Is this really happening right now?” It was a lot of fun just hanging out with the teachers for a while.

During the week we have to write one journal entry in Spanish and turn it in to be graded. The first one we had to turn in was on last Thursday and it was supposed to be about the first 3 days that we were in Cuernavaca. My housemates and I all turned ours in together. When Saturday came around and people were getting theirs back with grades on them, I noticed that I hadn’t gotten my back yet so I went and asked one of my teachers. There ended up being a note for me saying that I hadn’t turned it in but I could still turn it in on Monday but lose some points. This is where it gets really complicated. The woman who is in charge of grading them only speaks Spanish, just like the rest of the teachers. I went and saw her and had to explain to her that I had turned it in with my roommates and that they could they could vouch for me. She then asked me to go look in my backpack and notebook again to see if I had it so I did just that, knowing that it wasn’t in there. After “looking” for it, I headed back to her office and told her that I know for sure I turned it in and that it was on notebook paper with my name on it and everything. After she kind of got frustrated with me arguing with her, she finally said that she would look around for it a little later. After the test we all just hung out around the pool at the school for a couple of hours. Right before I was going to leave Nancy, the teacher, comes out with my journal entry graded and said that it had fallen behind a desk or something (I didn’t really understand). There that was a win for me! It is so hard to have a conversation like that with someone when you can only speak a little bit of the language that they only speak. It has definitely been really difficult here at times with the language barrier but it is also a lot of fun as well.

After that mess in the afternoon, we headed back to our house and hung out there for the rest of the day until it was time for us to head out. That night we went to this club called “Juarez Cuatro”. It was the recommended club for us to go to because the head of the school knew the owner of the club. It was really expensive but it was also a lot of fun. This is where a lot of people may have made their New Year “mistakes” that night at the club (haha). It was really packed. They pretty much only played American dance music which was cool because we knew all the words.  Here are a few pictures of me throughout the night…notice how sweaty I am, I was definitely dancing a ton.

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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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Hilary: 6 months has come to an end

December 30, 2011

So I am back in the United States after a twelve hour plane journey from Quito to Chicago I was picked up from the airport by the lovely Kendal Ann (Cupcake) and my mom.  I found my self stuttering with English and thanking the people that got me through customs in Spanish.  It is always great to come home, but weird at the same time.  I had a really wonderful experience abroad.  I am most proud of my language improvement and my academic work,  this study abroad program has advantages and disadvantages but i know that my monograph with serve me very well for future research proposals and grants.  I will miss saying ‘buen provecho’ and ‘que te vaya bien!’  I will be practicing my Spanish every chance that I get and I will hopefully stay in contact with the wonderful friends that I made.

Reflecting on my experiences I am bringing back a better sense of what sharing is, the knowledge that money really doesn’t matter (this one is hard to find in the states and in my perspective needs a lot of reflection), and i recognize that time moves quickly wherever you are so go with your gut and enjoy yourself.

I am still standing on both feet trying to find my balance in life; balancing the spiritual with the physical and mental, the spiced with the bland, peace with chaos, and work with play.

I missed all of my friends and family dearly, I can’t wait to truly reconnect and put my changing link back into my growing circle.

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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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Tyler: Day one: longest day of my life

December 26, 2011

Today was for sure one of the longest days of my life. First of all, I pretty much decided last night that I just wasn’t going to sleep before leaving for the airport because I knew I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep anyways. I was actually quite impressed with how fast I got into the actual airport. I left my house at 3:50 am and was in the actual airport, past security and everything right at 5:00 am. Being 2 hours early for my flight, I just kind of hung around and ate breakfast. The first flight I was stuck with the dreaded middle seat, it wasn’t the worst thing ever but it really ruined my plan to sleep on the plane. After I got off that plane, the entire group that was coming to Cuernavaca met up outside of the terminal because they didn’t print the gate number on our layover tickets. We got that all squared away and then began to actually talking and we all ate lunch together (airport food is way too expensive). 

Our flight from Dallas, Texas to Mexico City then took forever to actually get boarded and we ended up taking off like 20 minutes after we were supposed to. After going through customs in Mexico City, we were supposed to meet someone in the food court that would have a U of M sign with them. They were the representative that was going to take us to the bus to get us to Cuernavaca. The only problem was no one could find me! We waited for about 30 minutes and finally we decided to give the program a call with a toll-free number they gave us for problems like this. This is where my Spanish skills were put to the test. I offered to make the phone call. When I finally figured out how to use one of their weird pay phone things, I got a hold of someone that is a part of a program and the first thing I asked was if they spoke Spanish. The reply was, “no hablo inglés”. This is when it got interesting….after talking to the guy for about 5 minutes, he told me to call him back in 10 minutes if the representative didn’t show up. Then about right when I got back to the rest of the group that was waiting for this guy, he finally comes out of nowhere! I wish I could say I saved the day but I think that the guy who I talked to on the phone called him when he was taking down our names. I was just a little short. 

After finally meeting up with this guy after waiting for 45 minutes, we began our bus ride to Cuernavaca. The ride literally felt like it took days. Everyone was extremely tired by this point and mostly sleeping. The ride to Cuernavaca was incredible though! We kind of drove up this mountain and then back down the other side of it. The view from the top of the mountain looked awesome. It was like we were above the clouds. I wish I would have gotten some pictures of it but the camera was in my luggage in the bottom of the bus. 

After arriving to the school that we will be taking classes at (which is awesome btw), we meet up with our host mother. It is 3 guys and I staying with this 5 foot 3 little Mexican woman. She is great! She is so talkative and has a lot of energy. She also speaks a good amount of English which is good for us! We got the tour of the house and were taught how to use the keys to lock up when we come in at night. Tonight she made us chicken fajitas and this soup that was delicious (no idea what it was). 

I am insanely tired since I have now officially been up for 36 hours straight. Tomorrow we have to be at the school at 8 am for some info session thing and then we have our first day of class from 9am-2pm. It shall be interesting! I will post pics tomorrow of our house here and the school that we will be studying at. Now it’s time for bed!

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Tyler: Pre-departure

December 25, 2011

Getting ready for this trip was kind of a struggle. I just got done with finals on Thursday night, the 22nd. I was home in Sartell and saw some people on the 23rd. The 24th and 25th I was busy celebrating Christmas with the family. Christmas night, I found myself struggling to get everything in line. I am now fully packed and ready to go and it is 12:30 am on the 26th. I thought about sleeping for about 3 hours until I needed to go but 1) I’m too afraid of not waking up to my alarm and 2) I just had a full mountain dew and am wide awake. Sooooo….I thought this would be a good time to start this bloggity thing.

My itinerary for Monday, December 26th:

3:30 am  Wake-up
4:00 am Cab arrives
4:30 am Arrive to airport and try to figure out where to go
5:00 am Finally figured out where to go…
7:15 am Flight out of Minneapolis Airport
10:00 am – 12:00 pm Chill in Dallas and then take off again
3:05 pm Arrive in Mexico City to meet up with the rest of the program

I honestly have no idea where it goes from there. I will be studying in Cuernavaca, Mexico. It is just a little but more south than Mexico City. I will be taking a bus with the rest of the program to Cuernavaca but after that it’s really up in the air. I will be staying with an older woman named Gloria Perez along with 3 other guys that are in the program. I’m really excited about some authentic Mexican food and to just be a part of their culture. During my studying abroad, I will be taking a Spanish class from 9am-1pm every day (not sure if that includes weekends or not).

I’m pretty much just going with the flow with this trip. I’m really excited about the experiences that I have coming up and what life is going to be like in Mexico. This is my first time ever leaving the United States! Hopefully I don’t get kidnapped by drug lords and forced to become a drug mule….I’m thinking that is worst case scenario though!

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