October 3, 2007
October 5, 2007
Sorry for being away for so long, we had been traveling westward for two weeks and got back just recently. Things have only improved here in Beijing. My host family is adorable, but speaks no English (which will only help me in the long-run). IES planned an incredible trip that has exposed me to China's treasures, and I'm finally able to make my way around Beijing with little trouble. These are the provinces we visited - Xinjiang, Gansu, and Shaanxi, and each one has its own personality and unique flavor.
October 8, 2007
Four. Four!!! How did that happen? After next week, I'll be spending my time traveling, studying for finals (which, by the way, are worth 70 percent of my total grade) and really just doing whatever I want.
The past two weeks here in France has been what can only be described as a blur. I have finally settled into a somewhat seamless routine and I have stopped gawking at the French street signs as I wander around Tours. I have been trying to blend in more and the dinners with my host family are no longer an hour-long grammar lesson. My classes are going well and the highlight of my education is, undoubtedly, my environmental studies class.
October 12, 2007
Hey everyone! I know it may seem like I have been neglecting to post my stories, but for me, my study abroad experience has only just begun. I'll be writing throughout the entire year. For the Fall, I will be studying at the American University Washington Semester for International Law and Organizations and then I'll be heading to the (much anticipated) American University in Cairo, Egypt, for the Spring. As you can see, I still have an exciting year ahead of me.
October 14, 2007
In the time since I last wrote I have visited Madrid, Toledo, Cuenca, Segovia, where I went to various art museums, a few cathedrals, some churches, two synagogues, the theater and a roman aqueduct, and when we returned from all this traveling, I began my classes for the semester. It has been two very busy but enjoyable weeks! So here´s my account of our trip to Madrid...be prepared it is a loooong post! :)
October 18, 2007
I have officially survived my first final exam at the University of Otago.
October 19, 2007
As one of my friends reminded me in a recent email, being in a different country means being in a unique place in the world. When you are abroad you miss home, and appreciate the things you have there, but you also realize the opportunities there are elsewhere in the world. You may begin to feel at home in the place you are visiting, but you are aware that you don't completely belong there, and yet when you return to your home, there is often a feeling of displacement at home. After all your experiences, you are not the same person as when you left. Being in this in-between place can be hard, but it is rewarding. Traveling gives you the opportunity to sort of belong to many places and the opportunity for self-reflection.
October 20, 2007
So it has been two weeks since our traveling adventures and we are all back into the rhythm of Chinese classes, our home stays, and the very crowded city of Beijing. My China rage has only escalated slightly as I walk to school every day weaving through the hoards of school children, dog walkers, and people racing to work, but my lovely friends and family here are balancing everything out by showing me the brighter aspects of Beijing life.
October 29, 2007
The last three weeks since our trip to Madrid and since the start of classes have been great. Every day I feel more settled and at home here, and am not looking forward to the end of the semester. I want to see my family and friends, but I don't want to leave the people here. In particular I will miss Gregorio, Ima's neighbor, with whom I have an intercambio. We now meet almost every day. It is amazing how much he understands me, and how I think. He's surprised me a few times by his observations about my personality because they describe so clearly how I feel about myself and how I view the world. I'm also learning a lot of Spanish, and am having fun helping his English. He has become my friend, my mentor and teacher, and I will miss him so much when I leave.
My trip to Cabo de Gata was one of the best things that I have done in the past two months here in Spain. It is located along the coast on the opposite side from Granada, and the beaches are very different from the beaches on the tropical coast, (where Nerja, Almu�ecar, and Salobre�a are). For one thing the beaches are actually made of sand, not tiny pebble and the coast is more wild. Cabo de Gata is actually a National Park and its miles of coastland are protected land. The nearest big town/city is Almeria, and then there is an hour bus ride between Almeria and Cabo de Gata, a small town on the west side of the park. We booked a hostel in San Jose, the town on the east side of the national park, which is where Maria Jose recommended we stay.
October 31, 2007
I just took my last final this morning! The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of studying and stress, but now it's all over and I can officially drain every academic cell in my body of life until January 16.