Archive for April, 2011

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Visa/Visado

April 28, 2011

So I’ve been spending some time working through some of the paperwork about traveling. Who knew I had to fill out all this stuff? I guess I need to give proof that I’m not a terrorist or an illegal immigrant, and I guess I need to make sure that in case I break a leg or am on the brink of death I’ll get medical treatment, but it’s a lot of work, and it’s far from instant gratification.

But luckily I am close to finishing all that stuff (or at least until I get more paperwork to fill out). I was just talking with one of my friends who went to Oxford last year, so I got some info about Europe. I feel like I’m brand new at all this travel stuff–I’ve never really gone outside of the US, apart from Mexico and Bermuda, but I didn’t even have to plan any of that. This is just slightly overwhelming but also incredibly exciting–the fact that I can plan fun excursions to places I’ve only read about in books or seen pictures of. It makes me think of The Motorcycle Diaries, which is a movie I watched for my Spanish class about two guys (one of them is actually Che Guevara before he becomes famous) who travel all around South America to “see what they’ve only read about in books”. It’s such a simple way of phrasing the excitement of travel.

Laura who went to Oxford was telling me about some great cheap stuff, and I’m just going to write them here mostly for my own record so I don’t forget them when I’m there. Apparently there’s a site called Ryanair where you can get flights all around Europe for literally as low as one pound, plus fees and taxes that add up to only around 11 pounds. That’s less than $20! Ā So that’s pretty exciting. And also, I had sort of heard of couch surfing, but I hadn’t really talked to anyone who had done it. But Laura highly recommended it. Seriously, can you get a better deal than a free place to stay–who cares if it’s a couch? You’re in Europe!

Also, even if I don’t have time to go everywhere I want to (which I’m sure I won’t…), I definitely need to go to Paris to see the Louvre. But also Laura recommended the Musee d’orsay, which is an impressionist art museum. I love impressionist art, so I will definitely try to check that place out. And apparently Florence is beautiful as well. And in Rome, almost all the famous churches with famous impressionist art are free! Free is a college student’s favorite word! šŸ™‚

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ĀæEn serio?

April 17, 2011

ĀæEn serio voy para EspaƱa? A veces, pienso de esto, y todavĆ­a estoy un poco sorprendida. Es un sueƱo grande que tenĆ­a hace muchos aƱos. Y, aunque sĆ© que es real, que en serio voy para EspaƱa en unos meses, a veces no puedo creerlo. Estaba pensando esta maƱana. Nada va a ser fĆ”cil, cuando estoy en EspaƱa. DespuĆ©s de unas semanas, sĆ­, va a hacerse mĆ”s fĆ”cil, pero Ā”que extraƱo serĆ”! solamente oĆ­r dos lenguas que ya no sepa. SĆ­, claro, mis amigos y compaƱeros americanos van a hablar inglĆ©s, y a veces los ciudadanos van a darse cuenta que soy americana y van a hablar en inglĆ©s conmigo. Pero, en general, todo lo que hago, todo lo que leo, todo lo que oigo, va a ser en espaƱol. Cuando regreso, creo que voy a simpaticar mucho con los inmigrantes extranjeros a America, los que no saben inglĆ©s. No sĆ³lo viven por unos meses aquĆ­; al contrario, viven aquĆ­ por siempre, y saben que si no aprendan la lengua, no tengan Ć©xito y no puedan ganar dinero. Ya puedo simpaticar con ellos, pero despuĆ©s de pasar tiempo en EspaƱa, voy a entenderlos porque tengo mi experiencia similar. Y creo que este entendimiento es similar de lo que Jesucristo hacĆ­a para nosotros. Podemos entender la dificultad de los pobres y afligidos cuando nosotros mismosĀ estamos pobres y afligidos.

Estos son simplementes un pedazo pequeƱo de los montones de pensamientos que tengo sobre mi viaje a EspaƱa. Si yo tuviera el tiempo, puedo escribir millones de pƔginas, pero tengo que hacer tarea. Entonces, ya estƔ.

For the Anglophiles among you (if I even have any readers), below is an English translation.

I’m really going to Spain? Ā Sometimes I think of that fact, and I still am a bit surprised. It’s a huge dream that I’ve had for many years. And, although I know that it’s real, that I really am going to Spain in a couple months, sometimes I can’t believe it. I was thinking this morning. Nothing is going to be easy, when I’m in Spain. After a few weeks, yes, it’ll become easier, but–how strange it will be!–only hearing 2 languages that I don’t know yet. Yes, of course, my friends and American classmates will speak English, and sometimes the locals will realize that I’m American and speak in English with me. But, in general, everything I do, everything I read, everything I hear, will be in Spanish. When I return, I think that I will sympathize a lot with the foreign immigrants to America, those who don’t know English. They don’t just live a couple months here; on the contrary, they live here forever, and they know that if they don’t learn the language, they won’t be successful and they won’t make money. I can already sympathize a bit with them, but after spending time in Spain, I will understand them because I will have my own similar experience. And I think that sort of understanding is similar to that which Jesus has for us. We can understand theĀ difficultyĀ of the poor and afflicted when we ourselves are poor and afflicted.

These are simply a small piece of the multitude of thoughts that I have about my trip to Spain. If I had the time, I could write millions of pages about it, but I have to do homework. So, that’s it.

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New Perspectives

April 16, 2011

I just went to an all-day session in Salem so that I can get Core credit at Gordon for studying abroad. We did some readings and reflections beforehand, attempting to give us some frame of reference for what kind of crazy adventure it will be when we actually go to another country for an extended period of time.

It’s incredible, the fact that before I know it, I will be living in another country, where people do NOT speak English as their native language, and at a college where people do NOT assume you are an evangelical Christian or even believe in God at all. They might not have the same basic values as me, and there are going to be problems in communication and in understanding. I have two basic options: I can separate myself from the new culture and retreat into an American bubble, seeking help from my American friends at home or from the other American students in Spain. I can stand on the veranda, so to speak, just watching all the cultural differences from afar and staying far away from getting messy in the middle of it.

But that doesn’t sound like me. No: I, the outrageous person that I am, have chosen the path of most-resistance. I want to get in the middle of it, to experience life the way that a Spaniard does. I want to understand their deeper motivations and what makes them tick. I don’t want to associate with my country, honestly. It’s not that I dislike America; it’s just that America isn’t what I want to define me. I’m not the typical consumerist, pleasure-seeking, American-dream chasing US college student, and I don’t want to come at this new culture with that mindset. It’s almost as if my entire life I’ve been living in this place that, yes, I call home, but I don’t want to be my only home.

I know that when I get to another country, I will have moments where the thing that I want more than anything in the world is to just go back home for a couple of days. I know that I will have moments that make me want to scream and pull my hair out and throw a tantrum like I used to do when I was a child. It’s not easy being immersed in a new culture. But I agree with Donald Miller in his new book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, when he says that “joy costs pain” (p.100). The best things in this world come out of a conquering of a difficult, painful experience. When we overcome a truly difficult situation, we experience true joy. And we gain a new perspective. You can’t take the easy way out and get these results. So you’ve gotta keep pressing on.

On a slightly unrelated note, I also took the Myers-Briggs test (http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes1.htm) and got an INFJ score. I love personality tests… such interesting revelations about yourself often result. Perhaps I’ll write more on this later.

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Pensamientos

April 10, 2011

This is my first blog post! I just found out last Friday that I have been accepted into the CIEE program to study abroad in Barcelona next fall. I am overflowing with excitement and can’t wait to begin preparations and training for this wonderful opportunity. Espero que yo aprienda mucho cuando estoy en EspaƱa. (I hope I’ll learn a lot when I’m in Spain.) I plan to spend as much time as possible updating this blog while I am there and when the journey looms closer. Right now it’s still kind of far off.

For now, I’m just trying to immerse myself in Spanish as much as I physically can while I’m still in America surrounded by English-speakers. Thanks to my roommate Sarah and my Spanish Conversation class, I’m getting a fair amount of practice, but there’s always room for more. I still can’t even imagine what it’ll be like to be in a country where I have little alternative but to speak Spanish all the time. But I’m excited. Extremely excited. šŸ˜€

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