Saturday, July 16, 2011

Aqui estoy ... con MTEL

Today I took my fifth (and hopefully last) MTEL, the Massachusetts teacher licensure exams.
This one was the Spanish one.
Waiting to be let in provided some nice people-watching.

The crowd of people looked like a scatterplot with clusters in the shade but everyone else with their personal bubble radius of a few feet. As more people arrived they inserted themselves where there was space but never invading this buffer zone. Quite a difference from the Latin American sense of personal space, especially on micros!

I wish I could comment on some of the strange questions but that probably breaks all kinds of potentially-voiding-your-test rules. Thus, suffice it to say that I far preferred the Latin American Peruvian-ish accent over the others, Argentine and Peninsular Spanish in particular, on the listening section. And that Machu Picchu is apparently all of Peru that the test-makers have heard of, despite their apparently in-depth knowledge of other areas. :(
Oh well, ya fue.

Hasta la proxima

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Aqui estoy ... en casa 1

I'm home!
What a concept
I have several 'homes' now, but this one is my first and longest.
My flights were fine
(Except for the confiscation of my snack... since when is peanut butter a liquid?)

My flight from Lima was overnight and the best part was watching as we literally flew into daybreak. It went from dark night to a rainbow, red on the horizon stretching to the still-dark sky with stars.

And then my awesome brother picked me up at the airport and took me out for lunch - for some delicious clam chowder that I had been craving.
Thus far, it's good to be home.

Hasta la proxima

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Aqui estoy ... en mi ultimo dia

It's been a bittersweet week, filled with lasts and goodbyes but also looking forward to things I've missed.
My taxi comes in 6 hours and it still doesn't feel real that tomorrow I will not wake up in Lima and go off to la Cato.

Studying abroad started out as something that I had to do, a requirement of my major that took me away from my friends, family and comfort zone. At I felt like I was missing from my own life. But now I have a life here too. I have met many amazing people, Peruvians and not, and have a lovely familia peruana. The whole experience has turned out to be a blessing and filled with lots of opportunities to try to new things, take chances, step out of my comfort zone, and see what I can do.
This vaguely-introverted small-town homebody who is known to sit in the same spot in class and order the same thing every time at certain restaurants has now traveled alone, lived in a city of 9 million, can navigate the micro system, has friends that only speak my second language, has tried foods from lucuma to cuy and doesn't (usually) get annoyed with la hora peruana.

I won't say it was the easiest 5 months of my life but I am absolutely glad that I studied abroad and that I went to Peru. So if any out there is on the fence about studying abroad, DO IT. (And go to Peru, because it's clearly the best)

And now I am off to spend my last half day with my lovely Peruvian family :)
Hasta la proxima

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Aqui estoy ... ensuciada

Winter in Lima means dirty.
It rains just enough to make all the dirt into mud but not enough to clean anything.
So all the sidewalks have new designs,
my building has cardboard mud mats,
I have to dump sand out of my shoes after Deporte y Vida,
and micros look like this:
Yes, it's dark because it's at night...but look at the white part on look at the bottom. That used to be white.
Now you can't even read the place names on the side.

Hasta la proxima

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Aqui estoy ... de casualidad

Today I revisited Centro de Lima with my family...
And we happened to walk into an Andean festival of some sort.
I'm still not certain exactly.
There were various dance groups all decked out in their colorful and feather-ful costumes
They brought icons and banners out of the church and paraded them around the square with dancers in between each. The festival was definitely Andean and from Cuzco area; I asked a crowd-neighbor and he said it wasn't Corpus Cristi but similar. Who knows.

Oh, and then the president showed up - Alan Garcia, the current president of Peru. So we saw him enter the cathedral from his motorcade and then leave later. Cool.
(He's there in the middle below, the tall one next to the white-haired one, surrounded by all his people)
And now my parents know what I meant when I said random things just happen in Lima.

Hasta la proxima

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Aqui estoy ... con familia

Family visiting is a good excuse to
- revisit my favorite restaurants
- do some touristy things I haven't done
- wander around the artesania market some more
- put off studying
- send an extra suitcase of stuff home so the rest fits later

Oh, and hang out with the family I've missed for four months.
That too.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Aqui estoy ... acabando

They keep making me do things with "final" in the name...
Final dinner
Final presentation
Final exams
I don't think I like this.

Tonight was our cocktail with all the host families. Me and my lovely host mom and sister :)
Other program chicos
Sure, I'm looking forward to things I miss in the US, but I'm not quite ready to leave Peru just yet.
No matter where I am, CT-home, Gordon-home or Lima-home, I'm missing someone.

Thus, I have decided to build a moon colony and bring you all so I can have everyone at once.
Get your spacesuits ready :D
It's an even longer flight than to Lima!

Hasta la proxima

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Aqui estoy ... cumpliendo

Had a great day having breakfast and lunch with the awesome people of my program and my wonderful host family.

(We'll ignore the subsequent obligatory homework time)

Is it cake time yet?

Hasta la proxima

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Aqui estoy ... con dilema

(A serious post that I really would like input/thoughts on:)

Today I brought pencils to give out at Deporte y Vida. Useful, fun and school-related, right?

This caused more problems than I anticipated.

My plan was to give them to kids as they finished their work.

And that worked, for a bit, until word started getting around that somebody was giving out pencils.

And then suddenly the whole neighborhood showed up.

I required them to show me finished homework, but then there were some who "didn't have any" or "already took it home" or "had to wait to do the other part" and "no they didn't have any other subjects." Kid a was telling me that kid b was lying and that kid c already had gotten a pencil. Kid d was shoving kid e and claiming he didn't even attend the program. They were crawling on the table, standing on the bench and generally causing a ruckus. What was supposed to be a reward for doing good work was disrupting others from working. :(

Suddenly I found myself doubting everyone, looking into young kids' eyes and trying to tell if they were lying to me. And I found myself wondering how this could be. Am I really accusing this 8 year old of trying to con me? Is this 8 year old actually trying to cheat for a pencil? Have I seen this kid before? Does he really need a pencil that bad that he would try to fake homework to get one? Who am I to decide who gets one of these pencils?

I don't want to be just another gringa handing out stuff, perpetuating a stereotype. I don't ask that they remember me forever but I would rather that they remember the time spent with them than just pencils.

On the plus side, I found that my teacher voice works in Spanish too.

What do you think people? Could I have done this better? Should I have not done it at all?

How can you reconcile rewarding hard workers with giving to kids who clearly need it?

Hasta la proxima

Aqui estoy ... el martes

Les cuento mi dia martes:
Let me tell you of my Tuesday, day 2 of crazy finals week

(It's not any different in Peru, all final things manage to be scheduled the same week)

First: yet another reason my mom is awesome - she brought me goldfish. My study snack food just in time for studying. (That's my super-attractive I-love-goldfish face there)

Deporte y Vida. Oh yah know, just lighting fires. It's a different life for these kids.

The cutie I worked with today.

My first plate at our delicious program final dinner. I can't believe it's our FINAL dinner. Aaaah!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Aqui estoy ... con palabras

I've learned a lot of new words this semester, from simple to complicated, universal to Lima slang.

Above is just a smattering of them.

(The list I was writing in Incas class when my professor was tangenting about Chile having something to do with Siberia. Shhh)

I like words in general. (If I didn't already have two majors I'd study linguistics too) I like figuring out their multiple meanings and nuances and who uses which ones when.
Some interesting tidbits:

- Lots of Peru-specific words start with ch-. I'm not sure if this is a quechua/aymara influence or just coincidence. Chompa, chalina, chevere, chichon...I could go on.

- Oveja, oreja and abeja are very different things (sheep, ear, bee), despite the fact that the three words can de difficult to distinguish on the fly. Just try to avoid saying the sheep stung you instead of the bee. Or that the ear stung the sheep of your bee. ;)

- The sound similarity difficulty happens in English too. We spent several minutes explaining the difference between live (I live here) and live (a live show) to a Peruvian friend only to find out she was trying to say life and live.

- I'm still figuring out nuances, outerwear for example. Chompa is apparently more of a sweater or fleece. Casaca is of windbreaker fabric. Chaqueta varies. There was also something to do with the having or not of buttons but I've already gotten in confused.

- I will never again forget chalina because I ended up "it" in a musical chairs sort of game for not moving for wearing a chalina. Woops.

- It actually felt a little strange to speak only English to my family rather than Spanish or Spanglish. I think my brain officially functions in Spanglish. (Just wait until I try to learn a third language. Then we'll have something attractive like Sp-ital-ish or Spa-germ-ish)

Hasta la proxima

PS: word cloud thanks to Wordle

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Aqui estoy ... con mi familia!

My gringos have come to visit me
They arrived last night and spent today with me. We walked around my district, along the malecon (cliffwalk) and up Larco (my main street) and had lunch with my host family. Lima even broke the clouds to let them see a sunset.

My not-so-little, now-high-school-graduate brother

Lima conveniently supplied them examples of some of its best randomness:
Some sort of VW Beetle convention.
I didn't know that many Beetles existed in Lima!

The strange new statue of Jesus that lights up and changes color.
Also, kid with a balloon in the shape of a mace.
Thanks Lima.

I'm looking forward to showing them around more of my Lima, my life for this semester

Hasta la proxima

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Aqui estoy ... siguiendo vuelo

Yesterday I skyped with friends and went to Deporte y Vida.

Today I successfully studied 8 chapters of my book about Incas.

Tomorrow I get to spend with my parents!

Life is good.

Hasta la proxima

Friday, June 24, 2011

Aqui estoy ... con foto

I'm not feeling eloquent and I should be studying, so you get a picture.

Jumping in Cusco between Inca walls.
Because we're just that epic.

Speaking of Incas, I should be studying several hundred years of history.

Yay for imperial expansion and fratricide.

News which is way more fun:

My family is coming to visit


But I'm not excited or anything


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Aqui estoy ... con hermanito no tan "ito"

My little brother is a high school graduate and he's going to college in the fall.

I can't believe it.

Love you brother boy


I wish I could've been there

And by the way, even if you're taller than me, you'll still always be my little brother <3

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Aqui estoy ... con pedacitos

Moments of the last couple in Peru

- a leftover Keiko poster, now with horns and Yupi written on it

- micro walls with preschool designs - merry-go-rounds and umbrellas and swingsets

- children who didn't believe my nails were real and tried to pull them off

- the high-maintenance little old lady who tried to get the other little old lady on the micro to give her the seat

- the lady selling q-tips on the micro. Caramelos, chocolate, ice cream, newspapers, jewelry ...but q-tips is a new one

- the guys outside la Cato with bright colored turbans. I think they're selling something. I don't know what.

- Hearing Semi-Charmed Life on the micro. Followed by Message in a Bottle and Under Pressure.

- The guitarrists on the micro...not just guitarrists but electric guitarrists. They had little amps that they clipped onto their belts.

- The Arequipa-Javier Prado underpass-bridge was apparently the first bypass in Peru, at least according to the plaque that I read as my micro was stopped there.

- realizing how thankful I am that I can sit on grass at Gordon. I swear the sprinklers are there to water the grass but to keep la cato students off it :(

- talking about cars with Daniel the taxista to Deporte y Vida. Some things I don't know in English or Spanish.

Aqui estoy ... con arte y IKB

In Historia del Arte we have finally made it to siglo XX, the twentieth century.
(Which means, by the way, that we've covered over 500 years of history just since the midterm)

It also means modern art.
Now I usually try to keep an open mind on these things. Art can be lots of things and it doesn't have to be pretty. I like some and I don't like some, but never have I been quite so bewildered as by the one we saw today:

Yves Klein
He patented his own color.
International Klein Blue

How can you patent a color? What form do you even fill out for that?
And then he paints things all blue. Just blue. Straight up, plain blue.
Apparently some of them have texture, but still, just plain blue.
I mean, I love blue, it's my favorite color. But that's a lot of blue there.

I think I might have to stick with Jackson Pollack on this one.
We looked at Dali too.
But this variation seems appropriate for Peru
(Even it was originally titled Salvador Dali Llama. Whatever)
Can you believe tomorrow is my last day of class?
Me neither.

Hasta la proxima!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Aqui estoy ... en Deporte y Vida

Deporte y Vida is the afterschool program in Villa El Salvador where I go to volunteer. I took my camera today and like most children, they loved having their pictures taken. It was difficult to get a still picture because there were constantly more kids jumping in or running through or sticking bunny ears in or shoving one another.

Classic anywhere
Little model
Another little model


Love them :)
Hasta la proxima

Monday, June 20, 2011

Aqui estoy ... con costumbres de la cocina

Peruvian kitchen customs have turned out to be a little different than those in the US. Maybe it's a family-to-family thing, maybe it's cultural, maybe it's climate-related. I don't know. All I know is some strike me as a little strange.

Putting plates over things and then leaving them on the counter is a perfectly acceptable way to store them. That bowl contains salad, by the way.

Eggs don't need to be refrigerated. In the grocery, they are on a shelf by the register. In my house, they do go in the refri, but if there's extras, they go here, in the cupboard.

Butter and jelly don't need covered

Freezer burn is not a concept. Those plain old shopping bags have raw chicken and hamburgers in them.

All things must be unplugged after use. That includes toaster, blender, rice-maker and stove.

Putting cheese in a tupperware instead of lightly wrapping it back up in its saran wrap?

Closing the bread bag so it doesn't go stale?

Not washing pans until they cool down?

Not concepts here.


Anyone else have other-culture kitchen thoughts?

Hasta la proxima

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Aqui estoy ... con otra biblioteca

Today I went to help clean the library at the Casa AGEUP. Basically, it's a house where students from around Peru stay, who belong to the Christian group AGEUP. CBU, the group I go to on campus is part of AGEUP and I like libraries and cleaning and organizing. Thus, perfect.

Even more fun, we found some funny, strange and just plain random books.

Death education...upon further inspection it turns out to be to study for counseling, but still a little startling initially in bright purple.
And Get your hands off my throat...well, what can I even say about that one?
Group guide = good. But penguins?
And, if you can't read it, the little tagline at the bottom says "You want to know what we need around here? I'll tell you what we need around here. We need name tags around here."
Something about Portuguese!
Was Karl Marx a satanist? I don't know but that's an awfully harsh question.
The Evangelization of the planet Koyat. Which is apparently a fictional planet. I have no idea how that works.
Random...Microsoft Works 3 (3!)
And, possibly the best one: Philosophic Problems of Nuclear Science. I hope I never have to read such a thing.

Now off to read my rather more useful book for my paper.
Hasta la proxima

Aqui estoy ... con nuevo diseno

As you can see, I suppose, I changed the look of the blog a bit.
I figured you deserve a picture of a real llama, not just a stuffed one.
That is a Machu Picchu llama, posing nicely in front of Wayna Picchu.
The background went red because now it's red, white, red - Peruvian flag colors.
Just figured I mix it up a bit.

Hasta la proxima!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Aqui estoy ... con el clasico

Truth be told ... I am tiring of this Peruvian classic.

White rice, puree of something and an egg. Lunch and dinner today appeared to be puree of beans. Earlier this week was puree of peas.

Appetizing, eh?

Is it possible that after a week at home in the States I will be missing rice? Will I want to put eggs on everything? Will I even wonder where the blender is? It's certainly possible, even likely dare I say.

(The grass is always greener, right? Although I'd have to say the grass probably is greener seeing as how Lima is built in a desert, despite all their water-wasting efforts to the contrary. But I digress)

Maybe I'll have to borrow my roommate's rice maker this year.

What am I hungry for?

New England seafood!! Clam chowder, clam strips, lobster bisque, shrimp, fish...ceviche is good but just not the same

Real milk. A glass of milk that has to be refrigerated and doesn't need water added or come in a bag or box. And a bowl of cereal with said milk.

Peanut butter. Without having to worry about when I'm going to run out and am I really going to pay 17 soles for another little jar.

My mom's bread. Peru has lots of different kinds of bread. And we get it fresh each day. But it's still not my mom's.

mmm, I'm hungry just thinking about this

Hasta la proxima!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Aqui estoy ... en la noche

I may not be a city girl, but I do like lights at night.




Hasta la proxima