Thursday, August 30, 2012

Mallory Richey - I am here!!!!

Hello everyone!
I made it to France! It has been great so far. It has been a whirlwind couple of days!
When I first arrived, my host family had some chocolate croissants waiting...mmmmmmm tasty.
Right out of the airport I got a quick tour of Paris with stops at Chanel, Dior, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, The Arc de Triomphe, the Champs Elysees! It was insane...the whole time I was like...I am in Paris...I am in Paris...I AM IN PARISSS! On the way home, (which was about an hour and a half drive with traffic) I slept because I just could not keep my eyes open. That night, I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. I have a room at the top of the house, with a big window that looks over the village, it is très magnifique. The next day we did a little tour of the town. It is about the size of Boulder but seems bigger because there are two other towns right next to it. That day I went to the Rotary meeting as well and gave a little speech, I was so nervous and practiced the majority of the afternoon pacing the entire house. Once I got there all the nerves went away though because all the Rotarians are so nice. It is a pretty small rotary compared to the size of the town. Another difference is that the meetings are a lot shorter and you only have some snacks instead of a big meal  (which were très bon by the way) because the meeting is at about 8 at night. I start school on monday, and I am a little nervous because it is HUGE, but I do have a meeting with the headmaster tomorrow so I feel like that will help ease the nerves a bit. Today, we went to the coast and I could see England! It was exactly what you would picture France to look like. After we went and saw the England-France ferries in the town of Calais. Calais is really cool because it is an old coast city with tons of beautiful old buildings and restaurants. My french is coming along ok. Today was the day I felt the most comfortable, probably because I am not as tired, but I am improving quicker than I thought I would, especially with the patience and help of my host family. I will keep you all updated...have a good weekend:)
a bientôt


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Kestral Johnston - Two weeks!

Hey Everyone!
So I have now been here about two weeks, and wow, time goes by fast! I've experienced many things, such as my first week of school, futebol (soccer), and a waterfall. My first week of school was very different than what I am used to. Here, I have all of the subjects, and you can't choose your classes. The teachers are the ones that move rooms, while the students have their own classroom. I have 12 meninos (boys) and 4 meninas (girls) in my class including me. And let me say, it does get very, very loud! The teachers here seem fine with the noise at times, and it's very laid back here. They have also been very patient with me and my slowly progressing Portuguese. Whenever I need help, I can ask the teacher or another classmate to explain to me, which is very nice. I have about 14 classes, but some classes are the same subject, just divided.  For example, Portuguese language is divided up into literature, grammar, and writing. School only goes until 1 PM here, so after it ends I go home and eat lunch. Lunch is the big meal of the day here, similar to dinner in the USA.

On Sunday, I went to a waterfall about three hours from where I live. The river that creates the falls is called Rio Piracicaba. It flows through the state of Sao Paulo into the Tiete River. This is the river that flows through both Campinas and Sao Paulo, both are cities of over a million people.

I started soccer this week with my school, and I hope to be able to attend many practices. I tend to be very busy, especially because my host sister, Livia, is leaving soon for her exchange in Turkey. We are going to Belo Horizonte on Thursday. It is located in another state to the east of Sao Paulo called Minas Gerais.

The language is getting easier as I am being completely surrounded by it everyday. I'm trying to learn just something small or basic each day, and I believe that is helping a lot. It's much easier to focus on one small task than a million at once.

I have also gone to two Rotary meetings. The city here has two clubs much like Steamboat, one on Tuesday and the other Wednesday. In true South American fashion, the meetings start at about 9 PM and go until 11:30 PM! All the people have been very friendly, and I even met an exchange-student-to-be and a rebound (one that just came back. That's all for now! Tchau

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Mallory Richey - Hey There!

Hi everyone,
 First of all,  if you happen to be a Rotarian reading this post, thank you so much for this amazing experience, I cannot express my appreciation enough! I am the third student to be traveling abroad this year with the Rotary Youth Exchange Program. I am 18 years old and this will be a gap year for me as I graduated high school this spring. Like Hope, I will be living in France but in a northern city called Bruay la Buissière. It is a little more than an hour north of Paris and is located in the Pas De Calais region. I have been doing some research and the town looks fabulous with a population of about 25,000! I have talked to all three of my host families and have skyped the first a few times, and already can tell that we are going to get along just fine. My french was a little rusty at first but talking to them beforehand has helped a lot. I am looking forward to finally meeting them in person! The current students have also been great with helping me out too, so thanks guys!
Through this exchange I hope to enhance my sense of the French culture by improving in the language and taking the time to immerse myself completely (and maybe do a little eating along the way). I feel that through this I will not only find a degree of self discovery but also improve my perception of the world outside of the United States. In the grand scheme of things, I think that everyone should take advantage of opportunities such as these to improve a sense of communication and understanding with the other cultures of the world. Having said that, I hope that through this program I can do my part to contribute to this idea. As they say travel is the only thing you can buy that will make you richer.
I will face challenges, but also I think a lot of joy...and through this blog I hope to share with you all a little piece of my experience.
Bisous et à bientôt
PS I leave the 27th so plan to get my arrival post soon:)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Kestral Johnston - Arriving in Atibaia, Sao Paulo

 A Igreja Matriz de Atibaia in the town square of Atibaia.

My arrival in Atibaia was extremley exciting and very tiring. After about a 4 hour plane ride from Denver to New York, I had a 9 hour plan ride from New York and an hour and a half delay. I was definitely ready to sleep, but it was only about noon here on Thursday. The first thing I noticed here was how all the people are so friendly. Everyone greets everyone with a hug and a kiss on your right cheek. They also have told me that "minha casa é sua casa" which loosely translated is "my house is your house". The weather is super nice here, about 23.5 C during the day, which is about 74 F. It isn't too hot, or too cold, and the best part is that this is winter here! Of course the biggest difference here is the language. At the beginning I was only understanding like a couple of words, one of which was my name, but now I'm starting to get what everyone is saying. The hardest part is being able to answer people. Spanish is only slightly helpful. My host sister speak a little English which helps, and I have a private tutor which I will start on Monday. I also start school on segunda-feira, Monday. I'll probably start playing soccer, futebol, here with my school too. My first Rotary meeting is on Wednesday night, and that should be fun.

My host sister Lívia and I in a town square in Atibaia.

The first thing I ate here was Brigadeiro, which is a sweet dessert type thing that is slightly like pudding.

That's all for now. Beijos!