Tuesday, May 22, 2018

A Day I Don't Want to Forget

May 17, 2018

This is simply one of those little days of exchange you probably won't remember if you don't write it down. So here it is...

Elsbeth met me in the morning at my house so we could go shopping at the market for some picnic supplies. I live near a huge Peruvian market, which is very convenient for me as I have a wide variety of inexpensive fruits and vegetables at my disposal at all times. So Els and I went out and bought pomegranate, strawberries, supplies for Gucamole, fried Yuka, freshly squeezed juice, and of course some deserts. Afterwards we went to my house, washed everything, and then set off for the park that is near my house with a pretty view of the ocean.

Later that evening I went to an event in San Isidro with Jeanne, Maddo (another French girl), and my friend Fiorella from school (she will be going to Belgium in August). We ate some French food and watched a movie in French (it was about a stock broker). While on the surface it seems kinda simple, its a night I don't want to forget :)

Fiorella and I <3

Día de la Madre (Mother's Day)

Mother's Day in Peru was slightly different than it was in the US. While my household in the US has Mother's Week (my mom deserves the most). Here in Peru, we had a large celebration in school. The entire school was decorated (it kinda reminded me of U.S. homecoming) and all the mother's were invited to come in and have snack with us. We all played games, and our classmates performed songs they had prepared for weeks.

Yumi, Pernille, and I

Inside my classroom

Photos of my classmates and their mammas

Right outside my class
My bestie Lorena and I :)

Rotary Weekend Getaway

The first weekend of May, my Rotary club decided to surprise the students of the club with a weekend getaway. So Saturday morning (5 de Mayo), I took the bus to my counselors house to help load up her car. After taking down coolers, air mattresses, and sheets; my counselor, her husband, her son, and I all loaded into the car and headed to a a different part of the city. We were headed to my first host family's house so that we could pick up my first host mom and Emma (an exchange student from France currently living in my first home). Once we were all crammed into the car, we set off on the journey to one of the beaches south of Lima. We quickly stopped at the house and unloaded the car before leaving for lunch, where we met up with the other half our entourage. Jeanne's first host family (which was my host aunt and uncle in my first family), their exchange student Malin (USA), Jeanne, and Dominik. While the second group had already eaten, we all sat down so that my group could eat. During lunch there was a drummer that was quite entertaining (dancing and singing included). After lunch we walked around the beach, although it was quite cloudy (its autumn). Before heading back to the house, we stopped for a tour of a "castle". In reality it was a very poor looked after in need of repairing mansion. But nonetheless it was something new.

My fav Frenchie!

After our beach walk we went to the beach house and got settled in a little bit. The adults went into cooking the dinner while the teenagers all left to enjoy the beach. After a while, we headed back to the house, (it was a little windy right by the coast with no sun). We all decided to watch a movie until the food was done. After a while we were all chowing down on Barbecue (no rice was in sight!). After dinner, we all cleaned up before turning on some music and dancing around the rooftop. Afterwards the teenagers went back to the beach to listen to the waves and see the stars.

The next morning we woke up and packed up for Lunahuana. Its a small city to the south of Lima, where white water rafting, zip lining, and quads are all popular tourist destinations. After searching for the right place, we all found one and after a while boarded a van that took us down to the river. It was decided that the exchange students and siblings would be in one boat while the Rotarians and host parents would be in the other. Going down the river was very fun and by the end we were all soaked. Too soon the ride was over, and we all dried off and set back home for the city.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Struggles of Learning a New Language

Today's blogpost is something quite personal and something I have been wanting to get around to. My reason for putting off the post was simply because I thought I would soon be over the struggle. But I'm definitely not.

Before I get into everything, I feel like a quick introduction and explanation is needed (in case any randoms are reading my blog). Around 9 months ago, I packed up my bags and moved from small town USA to Lima, Perú. While some struggles of my exchange have been related to other things (ex. culture), the majority of my hardship throughout my year can be traced back to learning a language.

When living in the U.S., I was the straight A student. The girl who picked up on concepts fairly quickly, and took pride in her grades. I don't say this in a bragging manner, just for you to understand who I am (or was) as a person. A large part of my identity for 16 years of my life had been the bookworm, smarty-pants, or teachers pet.

Before coming to the Perú, I thought that while learning a new language would be difficult, I would pick up on the language fairly quickly. School and concepts such as learning had always come fairly easy, so I simply thought "How hard can it be?"

The. Answer. Is. Really. Really. Really. Hard.

Trying to learn Spanish is the hardest thing I have ever tried to do. While it has become easier after 9 months, I still struggle everyday. Part of the struggle in that simply, my struggle with the language is not consistent. Some days I feel on top of the world, I'm having conversations and understanding everything said. But the next day or conversation, I don't understand anything that's being said and feel like a five year old.

With some days feeling like a child, this has definitely affected me. As explained, I was so used to concepts being picked up quickly. So constantly feeling like the dumbest person alive on a daily basis  has been quite difficult for me to grapple with mentally. Some days are better than others, but everyday it's still mentally difficult to deal with.

At this point of my exchange, I am unsure if my Spanish will ever be at the level I imagined it would be at the end of my exchange. I don't know exactly where I thought it would be, but I imagined after being in Perú for 9 months I wouldn't question everything that was said to me (or at least the majority). It's hard to see other exchange students succeed in conversations while you still feel like you're drowning in the language. But just remember that everyone is struggling and you aren't the only one who feels like an idiot.

On the topic of comparing yourself to others, you have to remember that everyone has a different background with learning new languages. It's no secret that the American school system doesn't properly prepare students for learning a new language. In my opinion, the majority of American high school illy prepares their students for learning new languages, especially when compared to many European systems. Some people think that because the majority of other countries are learning English, there is no point in learning another language. This (in my opinion) is a horrible and ignorant mentality. With that all aside, the mentality of learning second language in the US has also hindered my ability to learn Spanish. I'm not blaming my lack of Spanish on anyone, I'm simply stating that you need to keep in mind that some of the Europeans are on their 4th language. It's easier to pick up a third language than a second, some of them have been studying Spanish before coming. I would say my Spanish class in the US was as helpful as sticking my toe in a pool to learn how to swim. Going to Peru was jumping into the pool and drowning.

So in conclusion, if you are coming on exchange and nervous for the language, you have reason to be. It's going to be difficult. But try your best, take every day one at a time, and remember that there is no race to learn and no competition. Improve for yourself and no one else. At the end of the day, your language skills will be better than before. Good luck!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Back to School!

Okay, well I have obviously been back to school for quite a while. After having around three months of summer, I thought it best that I started school. Before we could start school, all of the exchange students had to take another Spanish exam. The results of the test slightly went into our chances of going to University. I did fairly well on the Spanish exam, testing having a high intermediate level. With my level of Spanish and my age, this meant that I could go into University here in Lima if I wanted. However, the plans of the university had been changed a lot before starting, and I decided that I thought it would be best if I went back to colegio. While I had a horrible experience in my first colegio, I was now living far away from my first school and I knew I would be changing schools. With this information, I requested to go to a specific coelgio that I knew had kind Peruvians and was in general a much better school. The Rotary was completely cool with it, and they started talking with the school to arrange my attendance. While I knew I would hopefully be starting school soon, the Rotary never got around to informing me about things. So one Wednesday night I asked my counselor when I would be starting. She talked to Charo (one of the head Rotarians), and called me back saying I would start school the next day (at this point it was 10:30 p.m., we love organization here in Perú).

So, the next day I started colegio. We had a presentation in the morning, and I started my classes around mid day. When I went to go start my class, my classroom was currently in an exam, so I went to the other classroom of the senior class. It was an English class and was obviously quite fun, I introduced myself, and the students asked me question. Personally, my favorite question was if I would go to Prom with a certain boy. I had to politely decline as I won't be here for the school's prom, but the offer was appreciated. After the period ended, I ended up going to my class. I was a little nervous, but instantly put at ease upon talking to my new classmates. The entire vibe of my colegio was completely different from my first one. The day flew by, but the most memorable part of my day was when Fiorella (a friend who will be going to Belgium), called out to the class that Peru no longer had a President. Having met the guy, it was kinda confusing, but so many lies and accusations of corruption had been in the news of Perú it came to no surprise.

Having been in school for a few weeks now, I feel like I am ready to talk about the differences of my two schools in Perú. My first school in Perú was a terrible experience. The school was very unorganized and the teachers were rude to all of the exchange students. We were yelled at, insulted, and overall I felt very dehumanized within the school. The teachers wouldn't call me by my name (they never bothered to learn it) and if they wanted to tell me something, they would tell Tiia to tell me something (even though after some time I was perfectly capable of understanding and responding). I began to feel a bit depressed going to the school, and I think it definitely contributed to some homesickness I felt in my first months of Perú. My new school is completely different. The school is larger, with more classes and students. The teachers are all much kinder and nicer. They talk to me, ask me questions (even simple ones, like how am I), and they genuinely want to improve my exchange. The students themselves are a dream. I felt disappointed in myself for never really having made Peruvian friend in my first colegio. Having only been in this school for a shorter amount of time, I already have made some friends that I think I will stay in contact with after I return back home. S/o to Fiorella, Aranza, Lorena, and Yumi, you guys are all amazing!! :D

Time With Tiia

As some of you may know, Tiia is one of my favorite people in the entire world. She is just simply the coolest and kindest person I will probably ever meet in my life. So this blog post will simply be me talking about some random things I have been doing with Tiia.

Shortly after I started school, Tiia and I went out and about Barranco, a district of Lima unlike the rest. Its quite artsy and just a really cool place to go (its also kinda far from everything). After we got our fill of Barranco, we headed to Parque Kennedy and chilled around.

Part 2.
Another random day I got some Tiia time was when Tiia and I went to go get some Little Caesar's pizza. We met up with Jared (who had to scramble out of bed to get there) and chowed down on some cheap pizza before we split our ways. Tiia and I headed out and back closer to my house. We chilled by the skate park, before we went down to the beach. We sat on the beach for a while (until a wave almost consumed us). We then moved a little up shore and sat down watching the water. In the middle of our deep conversation, we spotted two dolphins swimming through the water. While I know this might seem like a boring thing to bring up, Tiia and I were so excited to see some dolphins in the wild. After our dolphins swam away, we eventually went back up to my house, watched the sunset over the ocean, and hugged goodbye. 

Part 3. 
On a Wednesday after school, I met up with Pernille in Parque Kennedy. We looked around all the street vendors and explored a little bit. The park is in Miraflores, a nice and upscale district of Lima. We had came out to the park so that we could view Tiia's art project (more of a collaborative effort, with some other exchange students). All of the exchange students in Lima came out to support Tiia, and we all went to the art building to watch her kill her freestyle dance (she danced for an hour straight). 

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Some Days Around Lima

Hey blog! It's been a while (as my mom so kindly pointed out). I've been back in Lima for a while now, and quite a few things have happened. But for now, I'll fill you in on two days I spent walking around Lima taking some photos.

These first set of photos were taken in the center of Lima when I walked around with Nadja (Switzerland). We just took in the architecture and ate some vegetarian food (Nadja is a vegan).

The day after I walked around the city of Lima,  I went around exploring with Salome (Switzerland). We walked around my house, went to the local market, and later went to a really cheap movie theater near my home. 

A Day I Don't Want to Forget

May 17, 2018 This is simply one of those little days of exchange you probably won't remember if you don't write it down. So here i...