Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Hello friends! I didn´t write in a very long time... But I´m back in Spain, I´am a senior now and my graduation is going to be next May. A lot of things have changed in my life, now I live in Madrid with two of my friends, I go to class in the mornings, I have an internship in the afternoons in a newspaper and I have to talk in Spanish almost all the time.
I miss the United States and China so much! But thanks to Facebook, Skype and MSN I can talk with the people. Two of my classmates in China are now in Madrid learning Spanish and I went with them to my hometown. And now it´s Tuesday already! And I have to go to my work!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Take advantage of the opportunities

Today is the international orientation day! I was helping the new international students. I talked with internationals from last year, I saw some members of the staff and I have a lot of good and sad memories.
It is really nice to welcome the new students and help them telling where are the buildings on campus but it is also really sad to realize that my year is over and I'm going back to Spain in less than a week.
We meet at 8.30 am at Olmsted and we started to meet the new students. They are from all over the world, including France, Spain, Italy, China, Japan, Kenya, South Africa, Mexico, etc.
I met two students from my home university who are going to study here for one year.
During the morning, Leslie Mamoorian, the Associate Director of Admission, talked about education in the States and gave examples about how to study, attend to class and asked me to give an advice to the new students.
I just said to do the readings before class because it helps you a lot and you don't feel lost when the professor is talking about it.Then I gave a campus tour with stops at Bell Center, Cowles library, Health Center, FAC, Old Main, Meredith and Olmsted.
The best part was when I introduced them to the Journalism School facculty. I had lunch with Carla McCrea and Professor Wright and we were talking about my first days at Drake and how everything worked with work and talking with people.
They told me to talk about how I success on campus and I just told them to take advantage of all the opportunities and do as many things as possible.I gave the example of the newspaper, The Times-Delphic, and how writing and taking pictures I met new people and my English improved.

Picture from last year meeting with American host families

Monday, August 13, 2007

Coming back to Iowa

I arrived on Saturday night, after taking three planes, a panic moment at Beijing airport, a lost plane in Minneapolis, another lost baggage and 13 hours of difference.
On Saturday morning, while I was checking in at the airport I had some trouble with inmigration. I had to buy a plane ticket from the States to Spain so I could probe that I'm going to be here less than 90 days as a tourist. I bought my ticket and then the computer chose me to do a security checking. I almost lost the first plane.
The stop in Japan was cool and nothing unexpected happened. But when I arrived in Minneapolis more things happened. I was waiting at the immigration line for more than one hour, then I spoke some words in Chinese when I was supposed to be speaking English, and I was at gate B and my plane to Des Moines was from gate G. I tried my best to take it but I didn't make it. When I arrived at the gate my plane was leaving the airport. I had to wait for another couple of hours until the next flight.
I arrived in Des Moines around 7pm and one of my suitcases didn't arrive! I went to the help desk and the assistant told me that my baggage was in Beijing, but I just saw it a few hours before in Minneapolis. I was so confused, disappointed and worried that I couldn't believe why my baggage was lost again.
But I have good news. On Sunday they called me and they found my baggage, they delivered it at home and everything is perfect again.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

My Chinese graduation

Last Friday it was my graduation from IES Beijing. All the students and the staff members went to a Chinese restaurant to have lunch together. After the lunch we received our diplomas, there were some awards, people talked about their experiences and then time for pictures.
In this one all the IES Beijing members: they were really nice and helpful. My Chinese class with our professor, Zhong Laoshi: she was very helpful. My first two weeks I couldn't differentiate the Chinese sounds she was teaching us and I couldn't memorize the characters for our daily exams.
Our calligraphy class, our teacher didn't speak any English but thanks to Anne-Reed and Connie everything worked. Fang Laoshi is a man full of culture and knowledge who can teach you amazing things about China, specially calligraphy!
It was really cool that some students were wearing Chinese dresses during the graduation. The silk looks so pretty.
Next destination: Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Just one more week in China!!

At the end of April I was sad because the year at Drake was almost over, then I keep my international experience abroad one more month with a Drake Summer Seminar in China, then I applied for a two month program with IES Beijing & Chengde and now: FIVE MORE DAYS and this course is over too.
Why does time fly? Why the summer was so great and fast? It was like yesterday when I was doing all the applications, applying for a visa at the China Embassy in Chicago, moving out of Carpenter Hall. But now, it isn't May 16th.
It is already August 6th. I have travel all over China, I have met many Americans and Chinese people, I have learned Chinese, I have improved my English, I have read some books, I have visited almost everything in Shanghai and Beijing, I have taken thousands of pictures, I have taken calligraphy classes, I have gone to a Chinese soccer game, I have gone to a Beijing Opera, I have lived with a Chinese family, I have gone to the coolest place in the world: Tibet, and I have missed Drake family a lot. I have learned so much this summer!!
And yes I'm Spanish, as it appears written in the Chinese calligraphy in the picture, 西班牙人: xībānyá rén, and I miss my family, friends and home, but this have been the year of the opportunities and the year of my dreams and I don't want to say goodbye to it.
I don't like goodbyes and I'm next to another one. But at least on Saturday morning (Chinese time), I'm going to take three planes and arrived 24 hours later and with a 13-hour difference in Des Moines and see all of you again. I can't wait to share stories, go to Kansas City, walk around Drake campus, go to Drake Dinner, go to Mars Cafe, go to an Iowa Cubs game, visit the Iowa State Fair, etc.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Woody Allen in my hometown!!

Yes, the movie director Woody Allen is in Oviedo, a city in the north of Spain, my hometown.
Allen is doing his new movie next to my mother's job in the center of the city, Mercado el Fontan. But he also has been in Barcelona and other places in Asturias next to the ocean.
There are some movie stars like Scarlett Johansson, Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem with him. I hope it is as good as Match Point, my favorite until this moment.
Penelope Cruz riding a bike in Oviedo.
Photos: my friend Juan and Reuters.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Trip to Xi'an I

Last weekend I went to Xi'an. It is located in the center of China, around 12 hours by train from Beijing. It is a place full of history and it has been the capital of 13 dynasties.
We left Beijing on Thursday afternoon after our Chinese midterm. We went by taxi to the West Railway Station to take the train that departed at 7 p.m. When we started to plan the trip we were going to be just four people but at the end we were ten. We bought our tickets very late and we only found hard seats!! The trip was long, we couldn't sleep for more than three hours and the train was crowded and hot at dinner time. Everybody was eating noodles. We arrived at Xi'an around 6 a.m. and we tried to buy train tickets to go back to Beijing on Saturday night but all the tickets were sold out, so after two hours waiting in the train station, we decided to go to our hotel.
We asked a taxi driver about it and he said that our hotel was very closed and we could walk. We started to walk, we get lost, it started to rain, etc. It took us around 45 minutes to arrive in our hotel... By this time we just wanted to sleep, but it was too early and our rooms weren't ready yet.After a long nap, we went out for lunch and we found some Starbucks coffee. I really miss coffee in China, but there are Starbucks everywhere in Shanghai, Beijing and Xi'an.We explored Xi'an all the afternoon and night. We visited the Forest of Stones Steles Museum, the Bell Tower, the Drum Tower, the City Wall, etc.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Calligraphy classes

On Mondays and Wednesdays I attend to calligraphy classes in Beijing. It is really cool although it is hard too. You have to keep doing it many times until it works.
Our professor is Chinese and has a lot of experience, but he doesn't speak any English, so one of the top Chinese level students has to make translations during class. The last day was really cool because we were talking about classic music singers that he like and I could understand some of the Chinese.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Back in Beijing

Since one week ago, I am back in Beijing. We are living at the Beijing Foreign Studies University located in the third ring, very close to the zoo and the Summer Palace, where I want to go very soon.
Everyday I have class in the morning, I visit places around Beijing, I meet with my language partner, I go to calligraphy classes and I study Chinese in the afternoons.
I also bought a bike so I can go by bike from one side of the campus to the other, to have lunch, and to some streets around. I really like. I was afraid about the traffic but now I am used to it.Other thing that I really like is the Beijing Opera and the costumes they wear. I hope I can find cheap tickets and go to one performance.
This is my room in the dorm. It is decorated with Spanish flag colors (yellow and red), some notes, flowers, the Asturias flag, and Fernando Alonso flag (my favorite F1 driver who is from my hometown).
And this is the door of my room. It has my name (Rita), my Chinese name (Ai Litai) and some flags from China, the United States, Spain, Asturias, and of course Iowa. I really miss the white board that I had when I was at Drake. I hope I can find one soon!!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Clean water

While we were in Chengde we made a trip to the countryside. Everything was pretty, specially the water that was very clean.
Here you can see some pictures:

We have a great time fishing in the river, playing badminton and talking with people around there.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Learning Chinese

Chinese is in my opinion one of the most difficult languages to learn. I have studied English, French, German and now Chinese and I think this one is the hardest.
It was very difficult the first week, when we were working with pronunciation and listening to some sounds and I couldn't even differentiate them. But thanks to the help of the teacher, my language partners and some classmates, everything is better now.
I would like to continue studying Chinese when I'm back in Spain and come back to this city next year for the Olympic Games.
One of the songs we have learned in classMy classmates and our Chinese professors

Friday, July 6, 2007

I love travelling all over the world!!

Yeah, the more I travel, the more I like it. I started when I was a little girl of 10 years old. I went to many cities in Spain during the weekends with my grandparents, following the soccer team of my hometown. Thanks to them I visited a lot of cool places and I enjoy soccer games.
Then, I started to travel with my classmates to Europe and I did a school exchange with Westlake High School in the USA. Since then, I couldn't stop traveling.
Why do I like it so much? Because I meet new people, I visit beautiful places, I take lots of pictures, and the most important: I learn a lot of things everyday, every second.
And this is what is happening now in China. I love this country, I met new people from the States and China, I visited beautiful places, I took a lot of pictures and I have learned so much.
That's is probably why I want to be a correspondent, so I can keep traveling, taking pictures, and share my experiences and the information about what is going on all over the world.
One of my last experiences was to celebrate for first time the 4th of July with Americans in China. It was incredible to be with people from two countries, having fun and making new friends.
With some Chinese friends in Chengde
Celebration of the 4th of July in Chengde

Monday, June 25, 2007

Some pictures

Having lunch with Americans and our tutors
With my tutor and other friends
A man cooking at the street
A Mongolian tent
With my tutor Hatty


I'm in Chengde, living with a Chinese family since yesterday until next Friday.
Chengde is a summer retreat around 200 km outside of Beijing. We took a bus on Monday and it took us more than 4 hours to arrive. There was a lot of traffic and they were working on the highway.
On Tuesday I started with my Chinese classes from 8 am to 12.30 pm. I got a tutor (like a language partner at DULAP), her name is Hatty and she studies at Chengde Nursery University, we meet everyday one hour and she is very nice.
The Chinese classes are really intense. I am in the beginner level and we are seven. Our professor is really good and we were working with tones and pronunciation the first week and then today we started to learn some characters. I really like the characters and writing them, but they are really difficult to memorize, and in a few minutes I forgot them.
This weekend we made a trip to Inner Mongolia and it was great. We visited a National Park, we ride horses, we met Mongolians, they made a Mongolian BBQ, they played cool music, we play some games and we walk around the forest and countryside.
Now I am living with a Chinese family. Yesterday when we came back from Inner Mongolia we met them and I came to their house. They had to change my family because the first one didn't know any English and I don't know any Chinese to communicate with them. I felt bad because the mother and her daughter were really nice, but I couldn't understand them.
In my new family the mother doesn't know English either, but I can speak with the father and her daughter who is a junior at high school.
Today I woke up at 5 a.m. because it was very light, then we had breakfast together at 6 a.m. and the mother came with me to take the bus. It was weird because we couldn't talk during the trip but we smiled to each other.
Then, I had Chinese class, we went for lunch, we met our tutors and I took a bus back to downtown. In the morning it was really sunny, but on my way back to home it was raining a lot and I didn't have an umbrella.
Now it is time to go and learn more characters because we have a test everyday at the beginning of each class.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

June 17th in Beijing

It's June 17th in China, and today it's my birthday! 21 years! :D I never thought about celebrate my birthday outside of Spain and less in China, but here I am.
On Friday I took a plane from Shanghai to Beijing. Some people from IES went to the airport to pick me up and then, we came to the BFSU campus where IES has its offices and our dorm.
We are going to stay here until Monday that we are going to Chengde for three weeks. On Tuesday I am to start with my Chinese lessons, five hours a week, and I have to weak up early again because the classes start at 8 a.m.
Today and yesterday I met the group of Americans that are going to study with me and all the IES staff in Beijng. We have some orientation meetings and I made some Chinese friends! So cool!

Monday, June 11, 2007

A year at Drake in pictures

Dinner at president's houseDrake choir concertBen & Jerry on campus
Prudence's birthday party
First snow at Drake
Apples & Caramel at Carpenter
Halloween party with friends from Spain at Drake!! :)
Cowboys party
Trip to Madison County Bridges
ISA nightBasketball game at Knapp Center! Let's go Bulldogs!
Yolanda, Marion, Andrea, and Muna in a basketball game
At Carpenter bridge going for a floor dinner
With Shilpa, Daphne and Prudence playing with the snow
With Spike
Barack Obama in downtown Des Moines
Going for the Red Hot Chili Peppers concert
ISA formal!!
With Emrah, Miryam and a bulldog
With Megan and Fiona at the foam party
With Laura at street painting
Miryam's birthday at Mars Cafe
Playing with refugees
Next to the library
Surprise goodbye dinner!! thank youu!
Las coffee at Mars Cafe
With Emrah, Fiona, Miryam and Christen.
With Jason, Christy and Christen in Pella.
With Pooja, Angel and Isabelle in a party.
With Fiona and Ling Ling at Carpenter Dorm.
Spanish coffee with my DULAP students: Jasmine, Marisa and Sherly
Last morning at Drake with an American flag signed by all my friends.

This is not an official page of Drake University. Content, comments and information are not necessarily those of Drake University.