Going Down Under

…My life abroad

feels like home to me December 24, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrea @ 5:43 am

i am writing this from my very own bedroom… and i am so happy about that.  I also cannot get over how fast the internet is and how i’m not paying for it.  *awesome*

all my flights went well, although i can’t say the same for several of my friends, who missed their connecting flight from miami and had to catch a later one.  So although I felt terrible for them, it was so awesome that i got lucky and didn’t have to wait longer to see the fam.

today has been a great sunday.  i loved going to church and being with that huge family.  it was kind of weird hearing how everyone asks you about it though, haha.  “so.. did you like it?”  “how was ecuador?  where is that again?”  “HOW WAS IT?!” “So I guess you speak spanish fluently now, right?”, ect.  It’s kind of hard to know what to say in response.  But hey. 

Today I did a bunch of things from the list in the entry below, and it was everything i hoped it would be. 

Happy Christmas Eve. 

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wrapping it up December 21, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrea @ 10:27 pm

Well, this will be my last blog from South America. I think I will still keep using this site though, so keep checking in from time to time. Although I may not have any more strange or exciting i-just-got-attacked-by-fire-ants-in-the-jungle kind of stories, Mechanicsburg, PA isn´t all that bad. Life is interesting no matter where you go. : )

I am almost finished packing, and a little tired. The last few nights here have included quite a bit of salsa dancing and tonight we are going out for it again. I don´t plan on sleeping at all this evening, as a matter of fact. haha. Too bad people don´t like dancing that much in the states. what a shame! I will just have to just start a trend in grantham, i guess. I have been running last-minute errands like it´s my job and they keep piling up! But it will all get done.

Do I have mixed emotions about getting on the plane? No, not really. I am just 100% happy about it. I don´t feel like I´m saying goodbye to Ecuador or my Ecuadorian friends forever, and that helps. Also the fact that it was a bit of a rough morning with the host family (long story) made me a little more excited about gettin on that plane. I can´t wait to experience Christmas… actually let me tell you a couple of things I am so excited for:

– hugging my family (obviously)

– my own bed.. soft……. aaaah

– drinking coffee with my parents in the morning

– having a job and earning money (please remind me of this when I complain about it later)

– seeing college friends in j term and church and high school friends this week

– riding in the car with my sister… since she got her license while i was gone!

– starbucks. panera bread. juice and java. olive garden. el rodeo. red robin. need i say more?

– going to CLA. I miss that place.

– Snow.

– not experiencing the following: people peeing on the street in public, city pollution, cat calls, being pushed all the time, constantly smelling cigarette smoke, not being able to understand people, stomach infections, and being woken up by a large german shepherd

– hugging flossy (speaking of dogs)

– seeing our christmas tree – which may be fake but it is a good fake

– re-doing my room. it is going to be so fung shue. however you spell that… but it will include incense and bamboo plants.

– singing at the top of my lungs to music while i drive, although let it be known that i do not miss driving

– my hot tub

– seeing Brady Sebastian talk… haha i just can´t wait to see what that kid has to say about life

– using fabric softener to wash my clothes

– hot showers, for as long as i want, without waiting an hour and a half beforehand, with good water pressure, and softened water that doesn´t turn my hair into a rat´s nest

– easy and quick internet access

– thrift store shopping.  LOVE IT.  wanna go?

– playing the piano. I haven´t for at least a month now and I am slowly melting away to nothingness because of it

okay I´ll stop now. But let´s just say it will be nice to be home.

I have been so blessed to be here, blessed for the opportunity to travel and see a little bit more of the world. Until my next adventure, though, I am going to just glory in South Central Pennsylvania. haha.

Thank you all for your continued prayers and support during this semester… that has meant so much to me and been such a blessing, I can´t even tell you. If you have a chance let out one last prayer that the flight will go smoothly tomorrow. I don´t tell people this a lot but I am super scared of flying. Even though I do it all the time. also, they have been closing the airport here a lot due to fog. So hopefully tomorrow it will be sunny and clear and no delays will be in store.

Take care and I will see most of you very very soon! Please give me a call anytime from sunday on… I want to see as many of you as i can as soon as possible!

Con amor,

Andrea

 

3 DAYS BABY! December 19, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrea @ 9:01 pm

well i am one happy camper. I just finished my tejido essay, hereby completing academic semester #5 of my college experience. Both the easiest and hardest, in different ways. After studying for hours for my lit final this morning, I was pleasantly suprised with 7… yes 7… short answer questions, including ¨what was your favorite story and why?¨ Although my spanish answer may have been grammatically atrocious, you can`t go wrong with a question like that. If only Messiah finals could be like that…

For the past few weeks my friend Nadia has been heading up this superlatives thing among our friends. Kind of like senior yearbook… but we made up our own superlatives. For example, I won titles such as ¨craziest face maker¨, ¨best picture taker¨, ¨most willing to ask random people questions in spanish¨, ¨fanciest-dressed¨ (hah!), and ¨biggest lover of fanta¨, among others. We read all of them yesterday at bible study and had the best time at it. We also processed yesterday the things we have learned spiritually here… allow me to share a recap with you of what I said…

Before coming here, someone told me that your highs abroad are really high and your lows are really low. That is so true. I think of the times here that have been so amazing.. especially the trips to the galapagos, amazon, beach, those wonderful moments of conversation with ecuadorians, the friendships I have made that while last a lifetime, the memories of hilarious things that you could only really find funny if you were there (sadly), and the times when I drew so much closer to God because He was all I had. But the lows… there were plenty of those too. The homesickness, (soon to be cured!) the difficulty of ending a long-distance relationship, the many hospital visits, the nights when I tried to read a homework assignment and thought to myself that I hated this language I have to speak all the time… man, the rug just gets pulled out from under you overseas. And in retrospect, I have to say that without the lows, the highs wouldn`t have seemed so high… and I probably wouldn`t walk away having learned as much without those things. What a concept.

Spiritually, there have been times here when God has felt ¨closer than a brother¨ as the verse goes, and I have devoted myself completely to time with him. But, there have also been periods here when I haven`t given God the time of day and have wrapped myself up in the ¨fun¨ or the ¨not fun¨ and relied on myself for everything. Looking back, a little bit more consistency instead of what at times was like a spiritual roller-coaster would have been nice. But I will leave Quito without a doubt that I am supposed to come back… someday. How or when is still foggy, but I will let God do His thing and keep it a mystery for a little while. One step at a time.

Um… i should go pack…

Love you all montones,

Andreita

 

whoa HEY December 16, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrea @ 11:22 pm

so i have 6 days left in south america.  try THAT on for size.

I couldn`t be happier.  I loved Ecuador but I am so ready to leave.  I`m starting to pack, starting to say goodbye, and starting to frantically do all the things I want to do before I go.  And kind of not studying for my lit final on wednesday.

I put a bunch of pictures on facebook of the orphanage I`ve been working at, plus final projects like my completed weaving project and my modern dance recital.  so if you want to see that stuff… you know where to find it.

I have a cold which is kind of sad.  Being sick… story of my life.  Think I`ll stay in and watch a chick flick tonight.  And maybe listen to I`ll be home for christmas/i`m dreaming of a white christmas (but not so white my flight on the 22nd is delayed) on repeat all night…. haha we`ll see.  Love you all.

Hasta luego amorcitos

 

11 days and counting December 11, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrea @ 3:34 pm

Hey everyone!  Sorry I didn´t mean to neglect this blog for so long!  I was actually really suprised when I logged in because I wrote this long entry in Montañita and for some reason it didn´t post.  So here I was thinking I had updated!  Anways…

These days are seriously just whirlwind.  Everyone is like: oh gosh.  We leave in less than two weeks; let´s do everything we wanted to do here but never got around to!  So that makes for lots of adventures and busy schedules, not to mention with finals.  Finals week for me is amazing.  I just have one test on the 19th.  But for many of my friends, it´s pretty loco.  I am really enjoying the only semester of my college experience when I can relax during finals week.  Procrastinators like me are usually the ones pulling their hair out this time of year.

We were in Montañita this past week for 4 days.  It was pretty amazing.  Everyone should go to Montañita.  It´s my favorite beach in the entire world.  I´ll tell you why:  it´s not built up and commercialized, yet there´s tons of cute little tiki looking places with amazing food and really sweet design, there´s huge waves, sand dollars all over the beach, the people of the coast of ecuador are so friendly and inviting, and you can make friends with the whole town in under a week.  Well, that´s what we did.  There is actually this guy in Monañita that we remembered from the last time in Montañita… Nadia and I didn´t know his name but we called him the Latino Leprechaun.  He is like 20 something but 3 feet tall and the craziest little person you ever met in your life.  Well this week all of us were like best friends with him… oh my word I wish I could tell you all the funny stories… I am laughing just thinking about it.  Everyone in that town is a caricature of a person.  Like, you are IN a movie when you are there because every person you meet is sooo… exaggerated.  Everyone remembered us from last time, like even this nice lady who has a restaurant across the street from our hostal… when we walked in she was like, oh you´re back!  It´s great to see you!!!  We had many an adventure there to say the least.  Oh and the weather was gorgeous!!!  Sunny and warm.  I am probably the darkest I have ever been in my life.  When I come home and my family is together people will think I´m adopted or something…

Kara and I are planning to hit one more beach this week.  We leave saturday for Atacambes, which is kind of like the ocean city MD of Ecaudor.  It´s really built up, pretty popular.

Um… what else can I tell you…

I have my first dance recital/program thingy yesterday and my second and last today.  It is kind of embarassing doing this abstract dance moves in front of a bunch of USFQ students in a common area on campus, but these are the things that build character, our dance teacher tells us.  when I come home if you want a good laugh just ask me to show you my dance for this class.  But hey if it´s this or a final, I´ll take the dance show!  so much easier!

Oh my word I forgot about the nativity scene.  Okay, so my host mom, the craziest woman I have ever met in my life, has finally decided to decorate the house for Christmas.  I was really looking forward to having my house feel the slightest bit holiday season-ish.  To my horror, rather than breaking out a tree, pretty lights, or anything else within the realm of my imagination, Beatriz has one main decoration for the house:  a nativity scene.  But this is not just ANY nativity scene.  Oh no.  I cannot describe this without a picture.. I will try to post one… but it is probably 2 feet by 3 feet and it´s this plank COVERED in tiny figurines.  You know the kind of figurines you buy at the dollar store that are the definition of tacky.  We´re not just talking the basic nativity with mary, joseph, Jesus, and a few animals.  We are talking hundreds of little animals, shepherds, you name it.  And they don´t go together… they look like they were bought individually.  Maybe it has accumulated over the years.  THEN there are COLORED christmas tree lights lining it that flash like enough to give you a seizure.  I personally have a vendetta against colored lights and when they blink it is just a double whammy.  THEN the worst part of all is the excruciatingly high-pitched non-polyphonic music that is somehow part of it.  They turn on this switch and it is like one of those horrible cell phone rings from when cell phones first came out.  Except the notes are hideously out of tune and instead of playing away in a manger or something nativity-ish, it plays santa claus is coming to town.  William hung version.  I came to the realization yesterday that they leave the music and lights on ALL night.  So we´re eating dinner and this very loud off-key high pitched song is serenading us the whole time.  The nativity scene is right outside my room so needless to say, I have been playing my own christmas music pretty loud to drown it out.  Oh my word.  Sue, who lived with my family two years ago, warned me about this thing and now I know why, hahaha!

I just have to have a sense of humor about these things.  Or else, I would have pulled all my hair out by now.

Well I love you all and will keep you posted on the happenings from here on out.

 

school`s out… for the winter… December 4, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrea @ 7:12 pm

I can say with a big smile that I am basically done with school.  All I have is a test on the 19th of december and that is IT.  It feels good.

Tonight we are all taking a night bus to guayaquil, and from there to montañita.  That`s the hippie beach I told you about earlier.  Then after two days there we are taking another bus to Canoa, another beach 4 hours further down the ¨Ruta del Sol¨ (route of the sun) on the south coast.  I am so ready for the beach.  Well, when am I not?  We`re hoping for good weather this time.  It was so beautiful this morning that I could see three different volcano peaks on the way to school, so with skies that clear we should be good to go. 

The bullfight on Sunday was AMAZING!!!!!!  oh my goodness.  I put a new album up on facebook so feel free to check it out.  I put a lot of captions explaining what`s going on with the pictures so if you want to learn some about it, you can.  It is a fascinating cultural experience.  But FYI, animal lovers, might not want to check out the pictures.  It`s pretty mean what they do to the bull.  Anyways, I`m SO glad I went and let`s just say the farm show rodeos kind of pale in comparison.. haha… although as usual I AM looking forward to the farm show.  Laugh if you want.  I am so there.

Things with my host mom have improved a bit… we haven`t talked about our ¨fight¨ on saturday, we`ve basically just both acted like nothing ever happened.  I think she heard me crying in my room that night and probably realized she should be a little nicer.  She even corrected a paper for me, so I can`t be too upset.  I know that at the end of the day my family here cares about me, and even though they might not show it the best, they want me to have a good experience here.  We all slip up, right?

I have to go to dance rehearsal… ciao chicos

 

what a day December 2, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrea @ 12:36 am

I have been in a 3-day-long bad mood and it is just really strange. My friends have noticed, I have noticed. Although I am very expressive and wear my heart on my sleeve, I never really considered myself a moody person.  Haha hopefully I don`t come off that way, at least.  I suppose part of this is due to the fact that I haven`t really had homework all semester and this weekend I am swamped with it, trying to write a 6-page literary analysis in spanish for one of the hardest teachers I`ve ever had. Right now my grade`s in jeopardy for this class and that equals death to my gpa. I need to just remind myself that my next 3 semesters will allow me to write papers in english and that has to count for something.

Without going into too much detail, tonight I had a very difficult conversation with my host mom that ended up with me in tears. There are many positives to my host family, and in so many ways they are wonderful. I am trying to remind myself that my host mom did not intend to be hurtful by what she said. Oddly enough, this conversation revolved around the fact that I do not always finish everything on my plate (after 3 courses each night) and that this causes my family to feel that I don`t care for them or their cooking. I find myself trying every night to eat as much as I can but there are times when I feel like if I eat another bite I will be sick. I have never before had so little control over my portions. Yet, in these moments I remind myself that so many people have the opposite problem – not enough food – and I need to look at this as a learning experience.

Let`s change the subject. Tomorrow I am going to a bullfight. The bullfights are going on just a 5-minute drive from here in a huge complex that is only used once a year for the fiestas de quito holiday. Two of the matadors I will be seeing tomorrow are from Spain and one is from Ecuador. I am told that this is comparative to a horse race; everyone dresses to the hilt. It will be sort of sad to watch them brutally kill the bulls, as I have heard is pretty gruesome, but I am chalking it up to a good cultural experience that I may never get again. Christa and I are going together… we ended up being the only ones willing to pay for the $30 tickets, the cheapest we could find. Hopefully I won`t be as confused watching this tomorrow as I normally am during the super bowl game. No wisecracks, please. : ) Fiestas de Quito was something I originally thought would just take place on Dec. 5th and 6th, since those are the days we get off school, but I was terribly wrong. It is this like week-and-a-half-long ginormous city-wide party. Traffic is interesting… I spent an hour in a taxi last night to get to heather`s house which is 5 minutes away…and every place in town is all decked out. I am kind of glad that we`re going to the beach on tuesday and avoiding the craziest days of it. But the whole town has a fun vibe to it lately and that`s a lot of fun. One of the maids, Aurorita, came out tonight in heels and makeup and a nice dress and told me she was going out dancing with some friends for the fiestas. It was so precious! I about died of the cuteness of it all and the way she laughed and was excited about it.

Okay anyways I`m gonna go… paz y amor