Thursday, July 19, 2012

Aprender Galego

(Learning Galician)

Northwest Spain, I'm in Pontevedra
                 I wanted to write about Galicia and it's language. The fact that Spain actually has four official languages and that AFS places students even in the regions where Spanish might not be the main language freaks a lot of kids out. Some might decide Latin America is a better option and some might breathe a huge sigh of relief if they are placed elsewhere in Spain. (Everyone dreams of the classic South). But for me, that was always one of the most interesting parts about Spain, it's distinctive regions. Sure, I was a little worried that it would be harder to go somewhere like Galicia or Basque or Catalonia. and I am nervous, but not more so than than anyone going on exchange to anywhere. I feel so very lucky to be placed in Galicia. I will get the chance to learn both Spanish and Galician and my year will only be even more awesome because of it.  And that's not even to mention the stunning Galician landscapes. (and rich food, historic cathedrals, cities, beaches, accents, sports, weather, and all of it. I don't know if you can tell, but I really like Galicia already).

picture of the Ría de Vigo (Vigo River) in Moaña (by my host mom)
Before I leave, I'm trying to learn at least a few basics in Galician (as well as brushing up on Spanish). I'll obviously learn the most from speaking with my family while I'm there, but I want to get just a little foundation beforehand because I'd like to be as prepared as possible!

Galician is too obscure to be taught on the mainstream language learning sites, like rosetta stone, livemocha, or busuu, but there are still resources out there. Only about 3 million people speak it! My host mom has been really helpful in sending me some links. 

My host mom is a writer and journalist in Galician. This is the book trailer for her fantasy trilogy! Someday I hope I can read her books.

some of my fancy colorful notes
Galician is a sister language to Portuguese, and both share Latin roots with Spanish. I've studied Spanish in school for four years so I can recognize some of the cognates. One difference between Spanish and Galician is the number of contractions; Galician is full of them, while in Spanish there are 2. (a + el = al, and de+el = del. ) In Galician... there are aaaaaall of the ones shown in the left picture below. I've also found listening comprehension exercises (right picture) that practice distinguishing between very similar words with different meanings. It's not easy!

(sorry the print turned out so small, i think the picture will enlarge if you click it)

I like this guy's Galician videos :)

and a few websites, just one the off chance you are reading this and want to learn some Galician:

This Site isn't language learning, just a general site about galicia, but I figured if you are bothering to look at these you will be interested in that too!   This One is from the Galician government, the Xunta, and they have some good resources.   This is an awesome interactive dictionary from my host mom.  You can learn some important basic conversation skills Here.  and Here is one that has lots of activities and grammar and stuff (like the ones I took screenshots of and posted). It seems to work better on internet explorer, for some reason.  This has great verb conjugations, Here is more grammar,  and there's more verbs Here. There are some more youtube channels for learning Galican Here and Here (the second one is harder because she doesn't teach speaking English). This has nice introduction stuff.

Galicia                                                                                              Spain

I've learned even more about Galicia but I want to save a few things to post about when I'm there. I cannot wait to be able to write from personal experience soon.  :)

I have some actual news as well, but this post is already long and cluttered so I'll put the updates in a different post.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Familias de Acollida

Host Families

       Exchange is supposed to be about the people you meet all over the world, and your host family is a huge part of your year.  I know I was incredibly lucky to find out mine so early.  It's not that easy writing to my family, though. How do you start to get to know the people who are opening their home and family to you for a year? We email in Spanish and I make lots of mistakes and use Google translate more than I'd like. For one thing, after talking to them for 4 months I learned that I should be addressing them using a different, less formal, version of "you" (as in, I was speaking to them formally the way you'd speak to a really important person, the Queen of England maybe, instead of family). A couple times I've almost told them that I was sending them some arms (I meant hugs! In Spanish the words for "hugs" (abrazos) and "arms" (brazos) are just one letter off.) Everyone wants to hear that they will be getting some body parts in the mail (Not). I definitely have stress dreams about going, despite how excited I am about it. My subconscious has gone through all the worst possible scenarios (from a nuclear crisis to leaving after a semester because no one would talk to me) in my dreams. Shut up, Brain, why are you messing with my positive attitude here?! 
           But seriously, I cannot wait to meet them in person in just 2 more months!

My host family has a beatiful garden with fruit trees and flowers. In September the apples and pears will be ready to eat, yumm!

Oh, did I mention it's practically a small farm?  These are some of the chickens, or gallinas. Fresh eggs every day!

♥ ♥ ♥

Last spring,  my parents and I decided to be a host family. It's really hard to describe how it was to be a host sister. It was just a big change to adjust to a new member of the family. I'm an only child, and there was suddenly a new teenager living with us. It was strange at first to explain things that seemed like normal daily life and sometimes miming to communicate, but by the last few months we were really close. I realized that exchanging is a new and challenging experience for the family as well as for the student. Hosting was one of the best things I could've done to get the full AFS exchange experience.  I hope it will help me empathize and connect with my own host family because I've been in similar shoes. and I think the most important thing I learned is to not be afraid to speak up when I'm there!

Here's a visual of the placements of AFS Spain students so far! Just shows that you really can be placed anywhere.

View AFS Spain Placements in a larger map


Hope everyone's having a great summer, and Happy Independence Day USA!