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.

Time flies

Today I was thinking while I was answering an email about how was my experience at Drake than just a few months ago I was looking videos of Drake and thinking how it was going to be. And now it's over.
I want to summarize why my experience was so good, and in the case that any international student is reading this blog you can do it to:
- Speak English all the time, don't worry about mistakes: when I arrived my pronunciation was terrible, awesome, picture or choir were some of these words that nobody could understood!!
- Try to meet new people since the first day: I only knew one person at Drake when I arrived, but I tried to meet new people since the first day.
- If you have questions ask them or just send an email: everybody at Drake uses the email and they always answer you very fast.
- Be involve in all the activities you can: I try to take part in the International Students and Journalism School activities but I went to almost all the events on campus.
- Write for the university's newspaper or the magazine: you learn a lot, you meet new people, you take experience, you have some clips for your resume, etc.
- Go to class everyday: in Spain is not so common to go to all the classes, and it was hard to wake up to go to 8 a.m. classes! But there is so much participation in the class that when you miss one class, you miss a lot.
- Go to the professors office hours: I had problems with some classes, JMC 59, JMC 30 and JMC 119 specially, but professor Wright, Renkoski and Flansburg were always very helpful with me.
- Go to the library: I went to Cowles library a lot. I made good friends there, people there know a lot and always can help you finding books and material, we were almost the same group, we help each other, we took smalls breaks and coffee together, and they helped a lot at my nervous moments!!
- Go to all the events: don't be afraid, even if you are going alone, then you will find someone familiar there, or in the same situation as you are.
- Enjoy Relays: yes, it is crazy, the week before final exams and final papers. There are so many things going on! Relays, street painting, parade, foam party, fraternity parties, games, etc.
- Go to the International night and ISA Formal: the best events ever! They are organized by the International Student Association and there are people from all over the world. You learn a lot from other people and it is so much fun! Everybody is so excited and happy!
- Share your language and culture with DULAP: I was working teaching Spanish all the year and it was a great experience. I learn about American culture and students and I share my culture and language with them. I think it was a good idea to do it. Probably I will be a professor one day in the future.
- Work on campus: you meet more people, you earn some money (in my case to travel around the States)... I work for The Times-Delphic, at Lois Santi office, at this blog, for DULAP and with professor Priscila Piper.
- Travel around Iowa and the Unites States: I made a lot of weekend trips with friends from Drake and to visit other friends in other states. It was amazing. I have never traveled so much in all my life: Las Vegas, Chicago, Miami, New York, Maryland, Washington D.C., etc.
- Visit the International Center: you can ask them for international issues, visas, summer courses, study abroad, etc. I'm in China thanks to all Lauren Derebey help!!
- Live on campus: in my opinion it is better for the first year because you meet more people and you are very close to the buildings. I lived at Carpenter dorm and it was good. My roommate was from Zimbabwe and we are good friends now. Also I did activities with my RA, mine was Duhita and we did painting, cooking, bowling, snow fighting, lunch & dinners together, etc.
- Make international and American friends: don't be only with internationals! Americans are nice too, probably it's harder because of the language, culture and because they are at home, but you can have fun with them too.
- Go to the basketball games, American football, and tennis games: the basketball games were great, male and female games.
- Go to international restaurants next to Drake: specially El Rodeo and El Aguila Real, for me The Cheesecake Factory is international too.
- Volunteer with refugees on Tuesdays: I discovered it the last few weeks and it was great to spend time with these children. I miss them so much now!
- Visit The Des Moines Register newspaper and Juice magazine in downtown Des Moines.
- Go to musicals like the Phantom of the Opera and Mamma Mia at the Civic Center
- Go to see some presidential candidates as Obama in downtown...
- And more things that I don't remember now...

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Pictures from Beijing

I have made an album in Slide so you can see all the pictures I took during the trip with Drake. This is the first one, while we were in Beijing:

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Exploring Shanghai

Last Tuesday I was afraid. When my friends left and I stayed alone in the middle of huge Shanghai. First time alone in an Asian country. I don't know Chinese and not everybody speaks English.
After being talking with my family and my professors, I decided to stay and wait until June 15, when I'm moving to Beijing to start a summer program with IES.
After one week I can say that everything has worked. I have been busy working with pictures I took during the trip in China, I wrote a lot for my Spanish blog, I worked on my intellectual journal and I explore Shanghai.
I went to the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center, I visited the Shanghai Art Museum, I walked a lot everyday, I visited some libraries, I'm reading an amazing book about women in China, I bought some American movies, I visited other Chinese gardens, I read a newspaper in English called "Shanghai Daily" and I wrote some postcards.

Shanghai Television tower
Shanghai Daily, Shanghai's newspaper written in English
With Angel, a friend from Drake who is working in ShanghaiSome paintings from the Shanghai Art Museum
With one of the mascots of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The seminar around Chinas has finished

On Tuesday the travel seminar around China finished. The group of professors and students went back to Iowa and I am staying in Shanghai for 10 days until my program with IES starts in Beijing & Chengde.
The trip was amazing, the 23 days were very fast and I meet another group of very nice Americans. I hope I can see them around Drake in August or they came to visit me in Spain one day.
In my opinion, the most beautiful places we have visited during this trip were Lhasa and Tibet. It was amazing the Potala Palace, a temple that we went to visit and the highest lake in the world.
I also enjoyed the Shaolin Temple, the Confucius Temple, the Longmen Rock Carving, the White Horse Temple and historical places in Beijing.
Now I am in Shanghai exploring the city by myself. One friend from Drake is also in this city doing an internship and hopefully I will meet with her tomorrow.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Hello from Shanghai

We are in Shanghai. The last few days we were in Chongqing, most of the days we have lectures about Chinese Arts, the silk road, Chinese Traditional Medical Science, Chinese History and Chinese Religion and Beliefs. The ones that I like the most were the lectures about arts and architecture.
Today we had some classes in the morning and in the afternoon we took a plane to Shanghai. After checking in at the hotel we met with a Chinese journalist and we were talking about Chinese media and differences with American media. Later I went to explore a little of Shanghai, the streets next to our hotel.
Now I am going to bed because I am very tired and tomorrow we are going to see the gardens in Suzhou.

Friday, June 1, 2007

The trip is almost over

In the past few days a lot of things have happened. We went to see the pandas in Chengdu and they were so cute and then we went to one of the best places in the world, Tibet. The landscape was beautiful, we visit some temples, the Potala Palace and we visited a lake, the highest in the world.
Everything was great until my mum phoned me from Spain telling me some bad news. My grandfather went into coma. Then we took a plane to Chongching and after checking in the hotel, some friends and I decided to watch a movie. After just 20 minutes, my mother phoned me again with worst news, my grandfather died.
I tried to find a plane to go to Spain but the trip included three stops before my arrival in Spain and I will not arrive until Saturday, so I would miss his funeral today. Finally I decided not to go and stay here learning more things with this program and the next one. His dream was to give me the education that he didn't have and to be in my graduation next year in Madrid. He is not going to be there in person, but he is going to be with me always.
I grew up with him. He was the best grandfather ever. We travel together, we played ludo, we sang traditional Spanish songs together, we took care of his cows and horse, we enjoyed my grandmother's food, we watched soccer games on television, we went to the bar on Sunday with his friends, we talked on Skype wearing cowboys hats and the best, he asked for hugs and kisses all the time. Probably the most important thing that I have learned from him was his love to our family. My grandparents were together for almost 50 years.

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