Tuesday, August 28, 2012

So long, Farewell, Auf Weidersehen, Goodbye

Hi Everyone,

Soo, if you didn't already know (and I would assume you do since you are on this page), I'm spending my Junior year abroad in Spain, and I'm really really excited! (I couldn't count how many times I've said that lately!).

I have decided to keep this blog while I'm away because it will be easier for all of you back home to hear about what's going on with me across the Atlantic, and I won't have to repeat stories quite as many times. I probably won't be on facebook as much- don't think I'm abandoning you all, I still love you very much, but it will be much better for me to integrate and adjust into Spanish life without constant contact from the USA.

So here is my goodbye post. I've made a few posts already but they are pretty boring stuff, written for other exchange students so don't judge me. From here on out, it should get much more interesting from España! I don't know how good I'll be at actually updating this regularly but I promise to try!  I'll try to have lots of pictures, because that's always the most interesting. This is what I am really considering the start of my blog.

I should explain in more detail exactly what I'm doing: I am going to spend the next 10 months  with a carefully screened host family in a small town in Northwest Spain, through the American Field Service exchange program. It does cost tuition. I speak some Spanish, took four years of it in school, but I'm nowhere near fluent. Not to mention the region in Spain I will be in also has Galician (very similar to Portuguese) as another main language. I will still graduate on time because I have taken classes to make up credits ahead of time online and over the summer. My school here in Texas does not want to accept any credits I may earn abroad, but I'll be okay anyway. My host family seems absolutely wonderful and I'm so happy they are opening their home to me this year.
Of course I'm nervous about some things (I'm voluntarily leaving behind everything and everyone I know! I can't say that's not scary),  and of course I will miss the U.S., but my excitement more than balances it out.  I know I don't really have any idea what it will be like. I can't even imagine everything I'm going to experience or how things will turn out, but I can't wait to find out for myself.

I guess I'll list just a few of the reasons I'm doing this... I'll gain skills in a foreign language (or two), discover and appreciate different culture, gain a new perspective on US culture, gain confidence and independence, be part of a world community, meet new people, and learn to really live in the moment.  (Those were taken directly from the AFS handbook so please pardon the cheesy phrasing!)

Getting to right now has been a VERY long process. All the time, and money, and effort, and papers, and signatures, and planning, and everything has gone toward right now, departure. I can't thank my family enough for supporting me through this and helping me get here and letting me go. Having this opportunity really does mean more than I can ever say.

Speaking of the challenges of applying,  I applied for my Spanish student visaAugust 2 at the Houston consulate.... and I still don't have my visa and passport back. It has been approved but I haven't received it in the mail yet, and at this point my parents will have to overnight it to me in NY or Boston unfortunately. This has been the most stressful part of the whole process. (Just last week the consulate called and said they'd mail my passport that day and I was beyond happy for about 3 minutes, until they called back again and said that was a mistake and it stilled hadn't been approved. It was traumatic.)

Today was my last day in Austin. I spent it doing last minute packing checks and visited my school and friends for the last time and had dinner with my family. Tomorrow I fly to Boston to spend a few days with family friends, then I'll go to New York for orientation with AFS (which I'm really looking forward to because many of the other kids going to Spain who will be there have gotten really close through facebook and I already know we will have a great time) then there is another orientation in Madrid before I travel by train to meet my host family. The next week and a half will be absolutely crazy, but I don't think I've ever been more excited in my life!

please email me (, comment on here, or on facebook to keep in contact with me! I love y'all and I will miss you! I don't know when I'll next have internet or time to use the computer but I'm ready to start this journey.



I packed, by some miracle.

the start of packing...

segway tour of my city... i'm so cool. but isn't it pretty?

my cake at my going away party! hahaha gotta love typos "adios"

my girls since literally forever
my other darlings

if you don't look closely at my twitching eye it's me with a texas flag
I love you and I'll miss you!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!

hahaha i will really miss my girl.

thanks for this beautiful drawing sofie. it's really accurate i'm sure.

aaaand a liz lemon 30 rock joke from her year abroad because tina fey is fabulous.

and a random galician folk song just for kicks.

Wow, this post turned out much longer than I'd planned. Oh well. If you stuck it out all the way to here, you're my favorite.




Friday, August 3, 2012

da escola, irmás, voos na avións, e visados

(School, Sisters, Planes, and Visas)
          Well, first of all, I am officially enrolled in the school IES Illa de Tambo in grade 1° de bachillerato, in the Natural and Health Sciences Course for the next school year! The school is right in the center of town and about 3 km from my house. My host sister also goes there and is in my grade. We won't have classes together (she is taking different courses) but I'm still glad she'll be able to show me around. 

El instituto / my school

Also, my school's list of textbooks

         Speaking of my host sister, I've finally gotten to talk to her! For a long time, I heard nothing from her and it worried me. Finally I added her on Tuenti, the Spanish Facebook, and we got to chat! It was great, she's really nice and cool and I think we'll be good friends. She told me they actually don't have 2 dogs- they have FOUR! :D   Then, I recieved an actual letter from her! She had sent it before we chatted and I was so happy to get it! It was so sweet, and I love mail (who doesn't?). Seriously my host family has been beyond sweet in their emails, I'm SOOOO excited to meet them! 

my host sister is awesome

one of my host dogs
Okay, time for the visa story:  
I went to the General Consulate of Spain in Houston this morning to apply for the visa! Houston is about a four hour drive, and the consulate is unusual in that it doesn't accept appointments, you just walk in.  The day started terribly because I overslept by an hour (I was supposed to be up at 4:45... didn't wake up til 5:40), and I had to rush and make a ton of copies at the last second, and we were low on gas and the car's registration was expired and I was certain we'd be stopped and everything would go wrong, but somehow we got to Houston fairly on time. Then we had to find a bank with a notary for one last form, and the first places we tried didn't have one. But we found one eventually, funnily enough in the same building as the Italian consulate... but not the Spanish one. 
At this point things started looking up, it was still pretty early, and we arrived at the consulate just fine. The lady just took my papers, she was extremely nice and thankfully I had all the papers. It ended up perfectly all right! I'm still worried about getting my passport back in time for departure- it will be pretty close, but I am going to try not to stress about it at this point. It's out of my hands and there's nothing I can do except wait and hope for the best!

probably took an entire tree for all the necessary paperwork

The Consulate building

me by the seal thing at the door... haha sorry for the bad quality

     I've booked my ticket out of Austin! I'm going to visit family friends in Boston and then take a train to New York for orientation. I'll be packed and out of here August 29th, although I won't actually be with my host family until September 8th (coincidentally that's also the holiday of the Virxe do Porto, the patron saint of my host town. That's got to be a good sign, right? and assuming the visa does arrive in time... fingers crossed!) Packing is starting to be on my mind... it's just absolutely crazy how fast time has gone. There's still a lot to do here and I really can't even imagine saying my goodbyes, even though at the same time all I do is think about Spain. I don't know how to write what I'm feeling now. It's just crazy.

I actually got this fortune cookie! Pretty decent for once.

 ¡veinte y cinco!

25.   what kind of tiny number is that?!?