Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Let the Advetura Begin

Hello! I am a junior at Black Hills State University and am Studying abroad in Xalapa, Mexico for 5 months! I want to teach Spanish in the United States when I graduate, but I am still undecided at what level. Originally, I wanted to teach high school Spanish, and then I learned about Immersion schools starting at the elementary level and I have been thinking more about teaching that level lately. In order to better my language skills, it was in important decision for me to study abroad. I am writing this to keep track of my journey as I experience the Mexican culture full-on for the first time! I hope that by sharing my adventures, family, friends, and anyone else who stumbles across this will get a new point of view of the Mexican culture and of an American student immersed in it. And so it begins….

The Arrival:

On January 7th, 2010 I flew out of the Denver International Airport, shot through Dallas-Fortworth airport without problems, and arrived in Mexico City in the afternoon. This was the first test. At first, I was nervous because I knew that I HAD to use my Spanish for the first time alone. The airport was really busy, and confusing. I just started asking lots of questions at information desks and at terminals where I thought my flight might be. Eventually, I found my way through customs and to the Mexicana Click terminal where they told me to wait until my flight was assigned its own terminal. Finally, I got on the plane heading for Veracruz, the city inside the state of Veracruz. As the plane took off, I saw Mexico City underneath me: Lots of colorful houses, all really close together, small streets with lots of cars, and Tons of tiny little people! I met my family Javier and his mom Licha at the Veracruz airport in the evening with both my suitcases, about the same size as me! One as I was waiting, there were men shining shoes, it amazed me that people had time to sit, relax, and get their shoes shined because in the U.S airports, people are usually very stressed out and do not have time to smile or say hello. I was glad to have finally arrived.

The Family:

I was introduced to Javier through my good friend Lyndsie, who lived with him and his family the past Spring when she studied here in Xalapa. Javier is a civil engineering student and has 3 semesters left, about the same as me. His mom Licha works with computers for hospitals in Xalapa. Juan, Javier’s dad, is a dentist. The live in 4 bedroom house, with an apartment and garage below. They have a small personal gym in another area of the house, above the dental lab where Juan works. They have three dogs, that live outside most of the time. I got a baby pet turtle with the permission of Licha. Named him Dedo de pies, or toes :D. The house is located about 30 minutes walking time from el centro, or the downtown area, where my school, La Escuela para Estudiantes Extranjeros (EEE), is located. It is a very calm part of town.

(photos: Mi hermano Mexicano, Mi calle, Los perros, y Mi Casa)

The School:

The school is small and everyone who works there is very helpful. During the normal semester there will be only about 100 foreign students. My first class was a small 2 person intensive Spanish class consisting of mostly grammar work and some vocabulary practice. It was 3-4 hours of class a day for two weeks; now we have 2 weeks of vacatons. The other student, Elisebeth, is a Human Geography student from Norway. It is her first time in Mexico also, however she has studied abroad in Cuba for 4 months as well as in California for a year when she was in high school. We became quick friends, p

racticing our Spanish and continue to explore the city together. In class, we practiced in direct and direct object pronouns and practiced using them together as well as the uses and conjugations of present subjunctive verbs, as well as career and body parts vocabulary. Most of this was a review of things I already learned but with additional new information and Mexico-specific examples that have already been put to use when speaking.

The first week I was in Mexico I visited Cempoala with my family. Here is a photo of the civilization that lived there many many years ago:

Also, I've had the pleasure of visiting the Jardin de esculturas in Xalapa. My aunt Tei has an exhibit. We arrived late in the evening and didn't have enough time. We couldn't find her art but found Lots of other really amazing work. I will return for sure!

In Addition, this past weekend, I went to my first Salsa Club. I think this was my real first dose of culture shouck. Not only have I never been to any sort of dance club, but one with live Salsa music form a Cuban band and people dancing Salsa together in between tables! It was truly amazing, I was aw struck and couldn't do much at all. I just had to sit back and take it all in for awhile. I danced a bit and felt really silly because it was the first time I really had NO clue what to do! I just had fun with it and tried not to notice how terrible of a dancer I was compaired to everyone else. I had a lot of fun and plan on going back, as soon as I get some practice in front of the mirror in ; )

Also, I went to the beach this past Saturday. It was Beautiful. The first time I've swam in the ocean with a sandy beach! I swam in Italy but it was a totally different experience. It was very realaxing to lay down, take in the sun and listen to the waves. Or jump in and flop over the waves as they passed! : P I caught a glipse of two fish swimming together INSIDE a rolling wave: It was incredible! I saw some cute sea birds and some big scary ones trying to eat the little ones too. :l There were lots of tiny little crabs racing on in the sand, they were really cute!

Then on Sunday, I went with Javier and his Biking team to the tallest Mountain in Mexico: Pico de Orizaba! It took about 2 hours to drive there! We piled over 18 people, bikes, backpacks, food and more into 3 vehciles and made the journey to a small town at the base of the mountain. From here we met up with a guide to follow to the top of the mountain! It took another 1 or 1.5 to get there, four-wheeling it the entire way! We spent about an hour taking in the beauty at the top, and then Headed down on Bicycle! It was such an adreniln rush! I have never done anything close to that before!!

I’ve only been here for 3 weeks and I already know my Spanish has improved. I learn more and more every day. I have learned lots from my family and have taught them a lot already too. Just a little taste of my adventures, Many More to come!


  1. Desi, This is an incredible writing of your time in Mexico. You did a great job! I know it will take some time to keep the blog going but it will be worth it to be able to look back years from now and see your memories. Thanks for sharing the pictures. There are a few here I havn't seen yet. I hope Tei looks at this because I am sure it will bring back memories of her own! The one picture of the pink statue made with sticks reminds me so much of something she would love! Or even create! Love you girlie! Keep having fun!

  2. Desi this is incredible and really enjoyed readig it. You are such a inspiration and full of life and spirit! I look forward to reading more of your experience and journey! You did a awesome job! Can't wait to read more and loved the pictures too.

  3. Hey Mom, The beach we went to is called Villa Rica :D

  4. What a great experience. We haven't met, but I'm a relative on your Uncle Bill's side from the Arizona clan. I haven't actually seen your mom in at least 10 years, but when she put this up on FB so we could follow, I just had to check in. You are going places young lady!! I mean that both literally and figuratively.

    Kim Kane
    Northern California

  5. Hey, Desi - I follow your insanely diligent, fit-minded man, and saw your comment. Congrats on your adventures! These are awesome pics, too! Have a blast!

  6. Thankkkkkks for checkin' in Everyone!!! I've had a few more adventures! Not quite as intense as this first blog, but hopefully you guys will all be intertained with my next blog toooooooooo :D

  7. I hope I finally figured out how to post on here!! I Love love love your blog! Thank you for sharing your own unique experience with us and continue to grab every moment out of life that you can. So proud of you, Desi!

  8. Waiting...patiently....for the next chapter. :)