Saturday, March 29, 2014

Out of your comfort zone

I know, I missed last weeks post, but when you read why, I think you will actually be proud of me. Plus where I was, there was no service so even if I had time, I would not have been able to post anyway.

As most of you know, I tried out for the university orchestra. What most of you don't know, is that I made it! I am an official member of the Murcia university orchestra. Also, when I auditioned, I was placed into a small chamber group! I was/am ecstatic that I made it!

Two weeks ago, we started our rehearsals. Generally, the first rehearsal is the most nerve racking one because your coming into a group that have know one another for a long time and you also don't know your skill level in comparison to theirs. Some people don't get nervous by these things, but these types of things are things that I worry about even in my home orchestra.

On top of all of those reasons, the fact that everybody except me speaks fluent Spanish (obviously). After all of those nerves passed, I was able to look past all of these silly little things and just focus on the one thing we all have in common...the music. Music knows no language. Even if the lyrics are not in someone's native language, just the flow and rhythm of the music alone can help the person interpret how to feel or what emotion the artist was feeling or trying to portray when the song was written/performed.

Last week, we had our first concert in AbarĂ¡n. It was such a neat experience. We stayed overnight in an old school/church. The first night we didn't have any water but the next morning it was up and running. I was really nervous because I was worried that people would not try to include me and that I would not try to include myself due to the language barrier. Yet again, I was over reacting. Everyone was very excited to have me there and were more than willing to help me when I didn't understand. They even invited me to stay up late with them to play games and perform some silly pieces on our instruments.

That Saturday, we had two concerts. One in the morning for the community kids and another in the evening for general public. I enjoyed both of the concerts very much. They were very fun and everybody loved the concerts.

From that weekend alone I feel I broke a little of my walls down. I was forced to communicate and participate and once I got over the nerves I met new people, made a few friends and now I have been invited to play in more concerts this up coming week!

What a great week!

Until next time!

I will be catching up on work for a bit!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Thank GOODNESS for the beach


This week has been a bit stressful for all of us internationals in my class. For some reason out professors are unsatisfied with our work that we have been doing.

Our history/literature teacher was very upset with our class last week. For literature we had to do an analysis of a poem that we read in class. A side note: when it comes to analyzing poems or anything really, I can not say it is one of my strong points even in English. I digress, but anyway, the week before we had a discussion about what an analysis was and how to do one properly, which was great because ever teacher wants an analysis done differently. So the next week we turned in our papers and the day after turning them in, we recieved them back and our teacher was very disappointed. No one got 100% but no one failed either but he was very dissatisfied with our work. He began yelling at us telling us we don't care about our work and didn't take time to do the assignment, we just wrote whatever we wanted and handed it in. He told us that we were the worst group of internationals and that we are lazy.

Now, how he got all this information from one assignment I don't know but, I can't speak for everyone in my class, but I personally worked very hard on my analysis. Sure, there were things in there that may not have been exactly what he was looking for, but that does not by any means mean that I did not try my best on the assignment. I am bad at analyses in English as it is so I knew this one was not going to be much easier. If I were lazy, I would not have even bothered to do the assignment. 

The next class was not much better. The next week, we had the same teacher and he proceeded to tell us that all of our teachers had a meeting about our class about how we need to change our attitudes and how they think we are only studying abroad to travel and don't actually care about learning Spanish. The next class we had written and oral expression. This is a different professor and she came in and showed us an example of a badly written paper. It said, "Tengo una hermana, el es guapo y simpactico." For those of you who don't speak Spanish that means, "I have a sister, he is handsome and he is nice." Our teacher proceeded to tell us that this is a mistake that a person in level one Spanish would make and we all agreed. Then she continued and said that we had made those kind of mistakes on our assignments for her.

Pause: I know my Spanish is not that great, however, there is no possible way, that I would make this kind of mistake at my level of Spanish. If I did, I would ask to be sent home because I was probably very ill to even think that was correct.

Continuing, she too began telling us how much we don't care about our work and how our attitudes need to change about our work. She said she could not even grade our papers because we would have all failed and proceeded to hand back our papers. Generally when a teacher hands back a paper, even if it is not for a grade, there is some sort of marking on the paper. In this case, there was nothing. I raised my hand and said, " how are we supposed to know what mistakes we made, if there are no marks on the paper? It is impossible to make corrections to something that when we turned in we thought was correct but you are telling us there are tons of mistakes." So she took them back and graded them in class. Again, I don't know about everyone else, but my paper only had two marks on it and they had nothing to do with the problem she was indicating. According to what everyone else was saying, none of them had that problem either. 

In my head I was appalled (and probably on my face too) that she would even think it was okay to hand back a paper that she said has so many mistakes but has not marked anything on the paper. If when I turn in the paper, We think is perfect, and it gets returned to us after being told it was terrible but there are no marks, how are we supposed to know what our mistakes are? That is a terrible teaching tactic to me. Furthermore, if we had made mistakes like that on our papers, that is a reflections on her teaching skills because she is the one who is supposed to be teaching us how to write correctly.

These teachers are going to drive me insane. 

If I truly did not care about these classes, I would not wake up every morning at 8:30am to go to a bunch of classes that I am 85% sure won't even transfer over because I have taken them already, I wouldn't be doing assignments in advance, I wouldn't be taking notes/participating in class. Yes, there are 2 out of the 10 of us who truly do not care enough to either show up or when they do show up, they are disruptive or high on weed, or both. I understand that sometimes we make silly mistakes sometimes yes, but Spanish is not our first language. If it were, would I be in these classes in the first place? No. 

None the less, I think it is very unprofessional to tell students that they do not care and tell them they are lazy and that teachers are having meetings about how they are only in Spain to travel and need to change their attitudes. Especially when there are only a few students who actually fit the bill.

If they think that me showing up, participating, doing homework, and asking questions when I don't understand in class is me not caring, I obviously don't know how to care about class. If they truly think I do not care about class, I will show them what not caring looks like: I am not even going to bother showing up to class and I am going to travel like they think I do.

Thank goodness for the beach, because if I was not able to get away this weekend and relax with friends, I would have been stressed out for the weekend.

Hasta luego,

Thanks for reading :) hopefully this next week will be better (it is only two days long!!!!)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Putting trust in others

Hello everyone,

I know this is the second week that I am late making a post, but I had so many awesome adventures last week that I was unable to stop and blog about it.

Last week was probably one of the most stressful/fun experiences that I have had so far. Me and three friends traveled. Before traveling we had to start off with the basics of research. We had to research how to get there, how much it would cost, what we wanted to do once we got there, and how to get back. The easiest way to research how to get there, was to have one person look up different methods of travel and report back to the others costs and efficiency. That was the first trust test. We had to trust that the person researching actually sifted through everything and found the best/price reasonable method of travel, in return since they were paying for everyone's ticket, they had to trust that everyone had the funds to pay them back. That also trickled into how much it cost. 

What we were doing once we got there was a little more difficult. Some people had specific things they wanted to see. In one instance, we had a tour guide at the colosseum and after that we wanted to go to Vatican City to see the Sistine chapel. After the tour at the colosseum, we asked the tour guide the best way to get to the chapel and she proceeded to tell us that we would not make it there in time to see it. Then suddenly she had the idea to take us herself to the museum because she could get us in a little after hours because she is a tour guide. We talked it over then accepted the offer, however, we really took a big leap because she had to take us across the city to get there.


Four American girls, in a completely different country, who have no idea where they are going...

It would have been so easy to lead us to some back alley and rob us or worse. We literally had our lives in her hands...we took a big step trusting her to take us to some place we had never been. 

Luckily she was very trustworthy and took us where we wanted to go. It was amazing! She took us all around the city and showed us where the pope worked and a ton of different exhibits withing the city then finally we made it to the Sistine chapel! It was amazing! We weren't aloud to take pictures, we actually weren't even aloud to talk, while we were there! It was absolutely breath taking. After the tour our tour guide gave us directions of how to get back to our hostel. She was very nice. 

Also on our travel, I got to hang out with my awesome CFAB Ally. It was her birthday so that is originally I decided to meet up with her. We did so many things. We walked around the city, shopped a bit in the street shops, ate tons of gelato and went to the palace pitti (it was closed, but we were still technically there). We saw the duomo, the burial place of Michael Angelo, and the David statue (the copy). I was sad to only have gotten to see her for 2 days, but it was better than not seeing her at all. 

After the trip was over was when the real trust happened. When at the airport, the plain was delayed an hour, so we were left to trust the pilot to get us to the next airport to get our bus. Unfortunately, that did not work out because we arrived at the airport and had to look up more bus schedules. Everyone had to trust me, because I was the only one who had a phone that could access internet. Eventually I found a new bus. Once we got on the bus, once again everyone had trusted me to let them know when our stop was was, that was harder because we were all tired and slept so whenever they asked, it was difficult but we figured it out. 

Eventually we made back to Murcia in one piece. We got to the pantheon, the colosseum, the trevy fountain, the Sistine chapel, the palace pitti, the duomo, the burial place of Michael Angelo, go sing, and eat as much gelato, pizza and pasta as we wanted.

Rome and Florence are/were amazing!

Oh, we were in Italy...did I forget to tell you that?

Traveling is such a fun experience. Having to trust complete strangers or even the judgements of people you know can be difficult, but you have to do it and once you do, it will hopefully/most likely turn into one of the most enjoyable experiences of your life.

That's all I got as far as fun stuff goes. I went to class, went to a museum, went out with some friends, and played pool with some really cool Spaniards. Life continues to treat me well and I am greateful!

Until next time