Before I begin, some disclaimers about this blog. We’ll call them ground rules, for your reading and for my writing.
- I will write posts fairly quickly, maybe look over them once, and then post. I’m in Mexico, and have much better things to do with my time than proofread!
- Because I have this once of a lifetime chance of studying in an immersion Spanish program in Oaxaca, Mexico for a full month, updating my blog will not be my first priority. For one, I don’t want to spend too much time thinking and writing in English, and I also want to make the most of this experience by staying busy and exploring. So I will make it my goal to post 2-3 (maybe 1) times per week, and we’ll see how it goes.
So let’s get started!
Today, Friday August 29, is my 6th day in Mexico. Getting to Oaxaca city proved to be a bit difficult, as a rendezvous in the Mexico City Airport taxi station didn’t work out quite as planned. After much waiting, worry, Spanglish, and unsuccessfully trying to use public phones, Chloe, another girl in my group, and I boarded a bus to Oaxaca from Mexico City at 8 pm and arrived at 2 am instead of our previously-planned 8 pm, while Sydney and Janet (unbeknownst to us) waited at the bus station and took the midnight bus to Oaxaca, to arrive around 6 am. That night I stayed with Chloe’s host family, and in the morning my host mom picked me up and took me to our house.
After the semi- disastrous journey here, I have settled in quite nicely and am very happy with pretty much everything about this program and this city. I’ve connected very well with my host family, my house is very nice with a wonderful room of my own (and a talking parrot!), the Instituto where I take classes is beautiful, my group is full of fun and kind people, and I can feel my Spanish improving every day.
Our days are packed with activity, so these 6 days have gone by very quickly. This is more or less my schedule for the next three weeks, Monday through Friday:
6:40 AM- Wake up and run/ work out with Sydney, Madeline, and whoever else wants to come. I’m not usually a morning workout person, or a workout person at all, so we’ll see if this trend continues. But a short run in the morning is a great way to explore the city!
7:40 AM- Return to my house, shower, etc.
8:15 AM- eat breakfast with my family. This usually consists of a plate of fruit (mango, melon, apple, papaya, or banana) with yogurt for a “first course” and eggs, beans, and tortillas for the “main course.” Breakfast (Desayuno) is one of two main meals of the day and I don’t eat lunch until around 2, so I’ve been getting used to eating a much bigger breakfast.
9 AM- Spanish class begins at the Instituto Cultural Oaxaca (ICO) which is about a 5 minute walk from my house. The class is from 9-1 every day, and in the first three hours we discuss grammar, learn new vocabulary, read “lecturas” and talk about them, and do other classroom- like things. The last hour is our “hora de conversacion” where we talk about cultural differences, get to know one another better, play games (yesterday we played Spanish trivial pursuit- very difficult!), and practice our vocabulary and grammar from that day. I have a great teacher and only 6 people in my class, all from our PLU group.
1 PM- Spanish class ends and I walk back to my house for lunch and a mid-day break, one of the only times of the day I can sit and relax in my room, talk with my family, or do some homework. Lunch (almuerzo or just “comida”) is the largest meal of the day. In this family it usually consists of a soup as the first course (tomato, vegetable, calabaza, etc.) and then some sort of meat dish with rice as the main course. For example, yesterday I had tomato soup with fresh bread and pork with salsa verde and rice. Yum!
3 PM- I walk back to the ICO and have an hour of conversation with my intercambio, a girl from Oaxaca who is studying English. We talk for a half hour in Spanish and a half hour in English. She teaches me fun words and phrases and the best places to go in the city, and I help her with English vocabulary and grammar. I think it’s helpful and fun for us both!
4 PM- 2 solid hours of Salsa class! So far we know most of the basic steps and moves, including turns to the “derecha” and “izquierda,” the cross, basico adelante and basico detras, and some other combinations. It’s very fun, and also very culturally and historically “educational.” But mostly just fun.
6 PM- We are free! After Salsa we go to dinner somewhere in the city and have some time to explore. Dinner (cena) is much smaller here, consisting just of a sandwich or salad (or churros and ice cream 🙂 ). After dinner we explore the city of Oaxaca and usually find some event to go to. For example, every Thursday a local café shows independent movies for free, so yesterday we ate dinner there and watched a very moving and artistic movie called “Purgatorario: Viaje al Corazon de la fronterra” (Purgatory: Journey to the Heart of the Border).
9 PM- I usually return to my house around 8:30 or 9, talk to my family for a bit, and then finish my homework for the night and get ready for bed.
10:30- I’ve been getting to bed around 10:30, with my alarm set to get up early in the morning and continue this adventure!
So, that’s pretty much what I’ve been up to these past few days! I’m feeling very excited for the months ahead, although I already miss my family and friends, and the transition to being completely immersed in Spanish is definitely difficult. Well, I have to go eat lunch now (I think we’re having Chile Relleno and Mole Negro today– very Oaxacan!). Thanks for reading!