Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Feliz Navidad

How am I suppose to sum up my first Christmas away from home with just words?

The real truth is that Christmas did not visit me this year. When the people around you don't celebrate, any day can just become a regular day. Even though we didn't celebrate Christmas it was still hard for me being away from my family, as I knew in the back of my head, that everyone was opening gifts and being with family. I skyped my family a few times and it felt as though I was watching a movie, for I knew something was happening yet it didn't seem real. I saw the living room decorated in wrapping paper and all of my aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents, yet it was as if it were a dream and when I hit the "end call" button I am brought back into reality. The reality of me being in a different family for 10 months and living a different life.
I've had battles with myself over whether or not skype has been a good or bad thing. It has been amazing for the fact that I get to see the faces of my family, because if I didn't get to see them for 10 months they would become strangers to me. Yet on the other had it has been bad...I shouldn't say bad, its just been difficult for me to "participate" in things. For example, I was skyping with my family when it came time to celebrate my 5-year old cousins birthday, its hard watching my family do things that I am normally a part of.

When it comes to Christmas here, Christmas eve is usually the more celebrated day/night. Here they have the Reyes Magos, which are the three kings who come the 6th of January. Some families celebrate just Christmas, others just Los Reyes or both. I've heard from people that the Reyes are better because there are three of them so they bring more presents. I guess that one is definitely a preference.
For Christmas Eve we had a big family dinner and then Ana and I went out with her cousin to one of her friends house's and danced and just hung out.
When you go out to a party, what time do you usually go out? Maybe 8 or 9...how about 1:30am? Yes folks I pulled my first all-night-er. I officially got in bed around 6am but fell asleep around 5am on a sofa at the party. It was quite the night, however partying all night its not really my thing, I would much rather prefer to sleep. And to add to that I'm not a big group person, even more so with people I don't know. 

                     The long dinner table and my host cousin "testing" it out
                                                 Ana, Me, Rocio
                                      Some good old swim team fun!

A bunch of the girls on the team came to the camp for a sleepover on the 25th which was quite entertaining, and it helped me realize something...my Spanish might be good in regular conversations, but when it comes to girl talk I am lost.

This Christmas will definitely be one to hit the books

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Notas, Navidad and Miles

Grades are in and I got a way to go HIGH FIVE!!!

I wasn't given grades for this semester, but a note was written at the bottom of my report card saying how pleased all the teachers are with my effort and that my Spanish is improving tremendously and that I deserve a nice holiday break. I have to say that receiving words rather than numbers is much more satisfying.
Looking back on this semester, it seems so long yet so short. I remember my first day at school and now here I am about to celebrate Christmas with a different family in a different country. It all still seems so unreal.

With Christmas and New Years fast approaching, my emotions can't seem to straighten themselves out. Am I excited, nervous, sad, scared, happy. How am I suppose to know if they all seem to take control at different times. I say this with remorse, yet I'm not really looking forward to the holidays, only for the fact that I know its going to sting a bit in the heart. But hey that's what I'm here for right? No, not the pain, but the growth that comes from the pain and the new adventures that accompany it.

How many people here would like to swim a mile...straight? Its really boring believe me. The coaches here are crazy, today we had a practice that consisted of 3x1500. Quite the horrendously boring set when your a sprinter and want to be doing about 1400 less than you actually are.

Well tomorrow is Christmas Eve - Nochebuena which means fiesta, and everyone keeps telling me that no one sleeps. I have NEVER pulled an all-nighter and the truth is that I don't think I can. I'm a guessing that I will be able to dedicate a whole post to my lack of sleep after tomorrow night.

Wish my body luck!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT

Monday, December 20, 2010

Without Words

There is so much to say about the past few days, yet I am at a loss for words.

The most difficult thing for me to do when I write is finding the words to describe my feelings, for if it's not perfect then it will not be expressing the adventures of my inner workings.
I was reminded the other day that we are our own best friend and our own worst enemy. That you are the only one that can build yourself up and on the contrary tear yourself down. With the holidays edging ever so much closer my emotions have been running a bit low, as everyone is talking about being with family I can't help but yearn to be with mine.
I've always known I'm strong, yet what I realized is that it takes strength to ask for help, encouragement and support. I sent an email to my family the other day asking for words of wisdom to lift my spirit for the swim meet we had over the weekend. I received wonderful words, but most of all I heard the words that I needed to hear the most. That everything comes from YOU. No one can do anything for you, yes they can give you words, but when it really comes down to it, your the only one there for you. The sooner you realize it the better off you will be. The reality is petrifying, but life's a challenge and we're all along for the ride.

Okay, enough emotional stuff on to the swim meet.
The meet went well, it was a really fun experience to be in a different element with the team. I got a better feel for the team. Not in a good or a bad way, just a better understanding.



                       This picture is of our 200 medley relay.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Kudos

This last week has been full of a little bit of everything.  However, to start off I want to show all of you guys this snapshot of my blogs stats. When I saw this for the first time I was shocked. Who would have thought that people all around the world be tuning into my year abroad.



I have a bunch to say in this post, but nothing is in a nice story form, so hence the following bullet points.

  • Lets begin on Saturday, which was to say the least reassuring. Just the other day I found out that there is another American living in my neighborhood, literally a 3 minute walk away. Shes been here since the beginning of September and is in the class of a kid I swim with, and no one thought of mentioning either of us to the other until 3 months later. I have to say that for me knowing that another American is here really isn't a big deal for me or at least I didn't really think that it would have a big impact on how I'm feeling in my journey so far. I was a bit wrong, because meeting a girl my age who is taller than me and is from Atlanta, seemed to reassure me that I'm not all alone and that if I need someone she is right down the road. However what I do know is that she is going to be a bad influence on me learning Spanish. Which brings me to my next point. 
  • I know that a lot of you have been waiting for this moment. The post when I say that I have dreamed in Spanish! I would love to tell you what my dreams are about, however I'm too tired to remember when I wake up. And most of the time I'm too tired to dream at all. But the other night I remembered speaking in Spanish in my dream, I only remember me saying very basic sentences, but then when I thought back I was speaking real, complicated Spanish. Lets say that the JOURNEY had begun. 
  • How many times at home have you seen a fight, and I mean a real fight...people throwing punches, etc. Its not that often now is it?! Here its normal, mostly in a fun playful sort of "guy" way, but yesterday at practice my host brother and a fellow swimmer who is a beast went at it. No punches landed, but charges were made. Its quite frightening to see how quickly a person can change. They can go from the person you always see them as, to a scary creature. And the worst part is that their team mates. A team should be like a family, not a rival gang. 
  • Being on this adventure, I need to always look at the positives, which at times can be quite a grueling task so early in the morning. However, a week or so ago I was told that I smile a lot, by a guy to whom I had never been formally introduced to, so his comment was a quick judgement, to which I was proud of myself for finding the positive in lifting. 
I'll wrap this one up for now, want to keep them short and entertaining to read. This weekend is a swim meet in Extreamadura, with a group of 16 carefully selected kids to represent NataciĆ³n Mairena. Wahoo go me! 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Full Day

 So yesterday was my first day away from home for the whole day. When I say that I am referring to leaving the house at 8am and not getting home until 11pm. I endured another grueling 4 hours of exercising. Spanish swimming has not only done in my body, but has also broken down my drag suit. Literally down to its component pieces. The fabric, the elastic and the thread. I was planning on purchasing a new one in Mallorca, but since we didn't get there I had my host siblings pick me up one. I received a USA drag suit, that fits like a trash bag and drags like one too. Just what I need when my body is broken down...a couple more tons to pull around.









After training a girl on the team had her birthday party that went on for about 6 hours. It was fun, however the first few hours I was just doing my best to be present and keep my eyes open.
Straight from the party, we went into Seville for a silent comedy show. Follow the link below to see a skit on youtube.

Tricicle: waiting room skit. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Heat Wave

Today began just as any other day, with morning practice. However, we have fiesta Monday and Wednesday, which means no school until Thursday. And when there is no school, we get 2 hours of training, an hour off and then back in the water for another hour, and as all coaches love to do, its in the morning so there is no sleeping in. JOY!

Today was unusually warm. Walking outside this morning in a sweatshirt and windbreaker, I almost broke into a sweat. Which is strange, because the past couple weeks have been unusually cold for this time of year as I've been told. If I think now is relatively warm, I can't imagine how I'm going to feel in April let alone June. And to add to that, we will be training outside which means there goes my hopes for bikini lines. For I will forever be stuck with a circle on my back and a drag suit tan...my dream come true.

It seems as though all of my hard work is paying off, not in times wise yet. However, I was selected along with seven other girls to represent our team at the championship meet of Extremadura. Which is a providence above Andalucia. I'm looking forward to getting of compete outside of our region, I think in will be cool to see where I stand, as well as getting to know kids on the team a bit better.

This weekend has gone by extremely fast, as they always do, and my host siblings are due to return home this evening. I would be lying if I said I missed them. I've REALLY relished having a lot of time just to myself this weekend, and being able to go out with friends and come home all by myself. It's felt like I'm my own person, something that I've never really felt before. Not that that's a bad thing, only that for me its a new and intriguing experience.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Ridin' Solo




video 

A very common sight


Rio Guadalquivir
La Giralda towering over Seville