Monday, February 28, 2011

Día de Andalucía

On the 28th of February El Día de Andalusia is celebrated. Celebrating the discovery or creation of their providence in Spain. Every year the swim team hosts a swim meet, and the above video is of the raising of the flag and the song of Andalusia.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Speaking Of...

Speaking, and my ever growing ability to carry on a conversation without having to translate in my head before letting it slip out from between my lips.  In the past few days I have done a few things that have made me realize that my Spanish has gotten really good, okay not really good, but I'm channeling the Andaluz (the very distinct Andalusia accent) and becoming more of myself since the language barrier has been and is still being demolished piece by heavy piece.

The first thing that I did happened on Tuesday when I got up in front of my class and gave a power point presentation on the controls of alcohol. When I found out that I was going to have to stand up in front of 20 kids, my peers, who not only speak Spanish as their primary language, but are teenagers who judge quite quickly, I was petrified and to say the least I freaked out. However after building it up in my head along with memorizing what I was going to say, getting up in front of the class seemed like no big deal since it had been build up and brought back down with my sometimes over reactive brain. So in the end I stood up in front of the class and gave my presentation with a steady voice, and still hands and the best part was that when I met some classmates eyes all I saw was encouragement.

The second thing that made me realize that my Spanish is progressing happened today. A sly comment flew out of my mouth even before I had a chance to realize what I was saying. Don't worry it wasn't rude or anything it was just a fact stating comment which resulted in a few high fives. All in all I have come to the conclusion that I just might be getting a hang of this whole "second language" thing. How exciting!

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Middle Zone

Five months past on Saturday, which means that I have entered the back half of my journey. I'm not sure if I'm happy about that or not, considering some days I have moments when I don't want to leave, and others I just want some normal Maine living.
I have titled this collaboration of thoughts, "the middle zone" due to my dad's wonderful insight as to where I am right now in the time line of my year abroad. I have conquered the mountain of getting comfortable and am in the peaceful valley before I have to begin to part ways with the people who have formed my life for nine months. Its a very serene feeling to know that I  am right where I am suppose to be, yet on the other hand it is chilling, because how often is it that someone is on their path that leads them to grow into themselves. At times I am still shocked and speechless that I'm here. That I have made it this far and continue to have the strength and courage to do stuff that I have NEVER done before. Its like a free fall, you just have to have faith that you will come out the other side alive. Notice how I said alive and not another word, because the truth is everyone is going to come out with a scratch or two maybe more, but the real challenge is having the faith and courage in yourself to continue to the end, when the reality is that it would be much easier to climb right back up that ladder and sit watching at the top.
               "life ain't always easy, and everyday were survivors"

I've experienced a lot of different things during these past few months, however one of the most unpleasant is being dead tired and having to go out, and then everyone just laughing at me because I'm so tired, but never getting the idea into their brain to take me home. An example of this was last Thursday when a girl on the team had her birthday party. She likes to have her party on the day of her birthday which just so happened to be a school night for me, and of course on Spain's super late watch the party didn't begin until around 10pm, which for me is the time that I like to be curled up and in my bed, however that never happens. It may not be fun, but it is always... "part of the experience."

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Past Brought To The Present

"The pain you feel is the weakness leaving your body."

I was told this about 6 years ago by a swim coach, and each time it was said I hated it more and more. I couldn't find any relationship between what it was saying and my swimming. When I feel pain from swimming it is not weakness leaving my body, it is me over coming an obstacle. However, the quote came into my mind again this week and I finally understand what it means. All it took was 6 years and 3000+ miles away from home for me to figure it out, and now it makes perfect sense when applied to my year here.
Saying that this experience has been easy would definitely be an understatement, I've experienced a lot of emotional pain, and obstacles that I've had to face on my own. And each one has made me grow stronger, which in turn is the same as saying that weakness is leaving my body. I'm changing as a person, I can feel it. I'm growing into myself, becoming more me. Discovering who I really am, it is not better or worse it's just ME!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I've Got A Feeling

That I am right where I am suppose to be.

I don't really know how else to elaborate on that considering it seems to sum up how I'm feeling right now. Well actually I guess I can't say that honestly, because that was how I felt last week. This week and past weekend, the homesickness has fallen back into my lap again along with the lost puppy feeling. I'll have times during the day when I feel lost and then other times when I feel like I'm right were I am suppose to be. Its an uncontrolled roller coaster that I highly doubt will end until long after I've arrived back on my home turf.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Winds Are A Changing

Well the first month of 2011 is over, and I've still been writing 2010 in my journal. I haven't quite gotten my head wrapped around the idea that its a new year and now a new month, it seems as though postponing my new years rituals has thrown my mind frame a little off cue.
I've had a lot on my mind lately, yet getting it out of my mind and putting it in my fingers has taken longer than it should have. I have urges to write, but whenever I sit down, nothing seems to be put on the page, and a boring post is something I don't want you guys to be reading.

The past few weeks I've been feeling as though my Spanish has been going down the drain a bit. I've had trouble speaking, forming correct sentences and getting words out, however something changed yesterday, I had multiple conversations. Now when I say conversations, I mean one on one or just a few people and me adding to the conversation which is something I haven't done for a long time.

I've been in a good mood the past few days, which for me isn't exactly something that happens everyday, and when it does I enjoy it. As I've been here for close to 5 months now, I've established a place in my host family's life and also a position on the team. Yesterday something entered this picture and I'm not sure where to place it...her. She is a sophomore from Kentucky, whose here for 3 months (April) and is also a swimmer. I don't know how to feel, in a way I'm excited to have a "buddy" but on the same level, its bad for my Spanish and my "immersion." What made me smile the most was how excited everyone was the day of her arrival, it got me thinking if people were that excited when I was arriving, after all I was and still am the first exchange student this team has ever hosted.
The teams website designer took a picture of the "two American" and it will go on the web site. Once it is up I will post the link so that you all can see two tall, very pale Americans, fighting for survival on a foreign team. Not literally of course, but some days it sure does feel like that.