Journal #1

Venezuela

8° 35′ 60″ N71° 9′ 0″ W

I’m finally settled in and I want to catch you all up on what’s going on!Participants of Study Abroad

I’ve officially been here a month and a couple days and it feels like it’s only been a week! Mérida is a gorgeous city filled with tons of fun stuff to do! But let me give you the low down on where I’m living and what I’m doing here.

So I live in a beautiful house with two girls from America, Brittany and Sarah, and our host mom’s name is Coromoto. Which by the sound of it seems Japanese, but is actually a very popular, Catholic name here. She has two daughters who also live there, Manuela and Maria, and they each have a son! Maria’s husband is named David and they have a 23 year old son named Andres and Manuela has a 4 year old son named Edgar (who wakes me up by screaming “MAMI!” Every morning at 7:30 AM). Oh wait, there’s more! Coro, as we call her, has a sister named “Tia” Dulce who lives right behind us and makes all of our food, which is so yummy! And we all live in the same house!

Now I go to school at VENUSA College and I’m taking five classes all in Spanish! Politics, Civilization, Communication, Children’s Literature (I wish you guys were here for that because we just read books and act out stories!), and Phonetics (just a fancy word to say “the study of how you say a word”). But guess what? We only have school Monday through Thursday and Friday we have off! But you know what’s been really tough? The shortest class I have is an hour and 55 minutes and the longest is two and a half hours! Think about being stuck in a room for that long, you just want to jump around after about an hour.  But I’m getting more and more used to it because the teachers are so cool. We get ten minute breaks for each class and they have hammocks that you can take naps in! I know, how crazy is that? Nap time for a 20 year old, but it’s awesome!

Surprisingly I’ve been able to get used to life here pretty easily. Some of the parts that have been the most difficult is not to be around my sisters. I have a twin Claire and a younger sister Katherine and I talk about them all the time and think about how much fun they would have here. But I get to Skype them so it’s all okay.

Also, the traffic here is busy all the time and there is so much exhaust. Here’s the thing, gas here is so cheap, you can get 25 gallons of gas… for 30 cents! So everyone has a car. For example, say you have four people living in your house, you have four cars! But the thing is here is that their laws on how cars work are not as strict as ours, so their exhaust is really bad to breathe in. So I want you all, yep all of you, right now to take in a huge breath of air! Be thankful for that! No matter if it doesn’t smell that great, I promise it’s horrible here. I tried to go running around my neighborhood the second week I was here at 6:30 AM, when I thought the air would be cleaner and after a half an hour my throat was soar for the next three days from all the pollution I breathed in.

And the food, obviously the food here is different but I didn’t expect to be craving American food so much here. How funny is that, that something so simple as food can affect me so much? So for breakfast I usually have anarepa. Think of a 10 corn tortillas stacked on top of themselves and only about the size of a bagel. What I love to do if it’s filled with a white cheese that’s shredded and melted is to put durazno, or peach jam, on top! That sweet and salty contrast is the best! You can also put eggs and a type of salami that has pistachios on the inside. Or today, she made us one pancake (they don’t eat big breakfasts or dinners, only big lunches) and I put butter on top and then rhubarb and cherry jam (that was from Wisconsin! It was from a girl who stayed in her house in the fall) and put it in the microwave for 30 seconds and it was all warm and gooey!

Other days we have two pieces of bread with a piece of pan dulce, which just means it’s sweet! But we always have freshly squeezed juice every day, for example, melon, pineapple, berry, or watermelon! And then for dinner there’s always white rice and some sort of meat and then sometimes platanos  which are like bananas that taste more like potatoes. Then I have to pay for lunch, and since I don’t like to spend a lot of money every Friday morning I go to the farmers market and get really cheap food- so I have a bag of oatmeal, tomatoes, an avocado, sandwich bread, a ton of bananas, and some small oranges and it will last me for over a week and it only cost me about 60 bolivars which is about $3! But I’ve been craving peanut butter because they don’t have it here (no one likes it!) and also Oreos, but any snacks here are expensive. But I will not let that control me! So I’m getting used to it!

Otherwise, I love it here. the people I’m here with are so fun and nice and I love speaking Spanish. But it has been tough because there are so many Americans around me and it’s so easy to speak English. I hope you chamos are loving school and I can’t wait to keep you updated!

Chao,

Anna

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