And then there was warmth

Big news: I finally found a heating pad for my bed! Although I am greatly enjoying it now, it might have been an awful thing to buy, simply because it’s just going to make it that much harder to get out of bed…

Not much to report from down here. I only had one class today that went from 4:30-6pm. It’s kind of nice having later classes, mostly because I enjoy my beauty sleep, but it’s also weird just because my day basically starts when class does because I don’t really do anything before. Oh well. I e-mailed a professor in the Recreation Department to see if I might be able to take a rec class, so we’ll see how that goes!

I don’t have any classes on Fridays, so it’s the weekend!

To kick off the weekend, here’s a group picture of all the international students at UCU:

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If you haven’t figured it out yet, you can click on the picture to make it bigger!

Saludos!

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Is it summer yet?

Let’s not forget, Uruguay is in the southern hemisphere, which means it is winter down here.

Day 2 & 3 of classes and I am still alive!

Yesterday, I had my first day of Uruguayan literature. Since I have already taken two literature classes back at Western, I am already actually pretty familiar with the authors, themes, terminology, and movements we will be discussing. I’m really excited for this class though because I really enjoy Spanish literature! Also, last night was my first official night of homework.

My lovely workplace

My lovely workplace

Today, I had my second Idioma Español class, and it went well! As part of today’s discussion, we were required to tell the class about a legend that exists in our country. Of course, being from the Pacific Northwest, the only legend I could think of was that of Bigfoot. Afterward, I had my Uruguayan literature class again until 6pm.

Not too much homework to do tonight. Since I do not have classes on Fridays, only one more day until the weekend! For now, I can relax a little bit and enjoy my lemon coffee, which is exactly what it sounds like…coffee with lemon wedges. It’s definitely one of the stranger flavors I have ever tasted, but it was worth a try!

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Hopefully my lemon coffee will prevent me from napping later…

Saludos!

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Back to the old grind

After a relaxing weekend of catching up on sleep, trying some new food, and sampling the local nightlife, it was finally time to start classes.

The international students are given a two week grace period where we are allowed to go to any classes that we might be interested and basically try them out to see if we want to take them. The first class that I wanted to attend did not start until 1:30pm, and I got to the Universidad Católica del Uruguay about forty-five minutes early, so I went to the library for a little bit.

Library at Universidad Católica del Uruguay

Library at Universidad Católica del Uruguay

Finally, at 1:30pm I headed to my first class: “Idioma Español B2”, basically a Spanish language class. Also, I was placed in the more advanced language class, hooray! It is a class with the exchange program, so it was all international students. It seems like it will be a good opportunity to really solidify my grammar skills and practice speaking through a few presentations we will be required to give. The class ended at 3:45pm.

The next class that I went to that I think I am really going to like is called “Pensamiento en América Latina y Uruguay”, which basically seems like it will be a history class about Uruguay. Again, this is a class offered only for international students and is two days a week from 4:30-6pm.

After class, I walked home. For now, I really don’t think I will mind having later classes, especially when the walk home looks like this:

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Tomorrow, I am planning on talking to the office that offers of community service to see if there are any opportunities available to help teach English. After that, I am going to attend an exchange student class about Uruguayan literature. No worries though, I am planning on attending a “regular” class with other Uruguayan students on Thursday, just to see how it goes and if it seems like something I would not only be interested in, but something that I would be able to follow and understand.

I guess I should start trying to go to bed earlier, too…

Chao!

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An obvious foreigner

Today, I started to feel more at home…and by that, I mean it rained all day.

I successfully made it the the university again by bus and all of the international students were given an hour and a half long presentation on how to register for classes, which is a lot more complicated than anyone could have imagined. We are given two weeks to submit a paper stating which classes we are going to take, but classes begin on Monday, so the obvious dilemma is that we aren’t sure if we are just supposed to show up to classes next week without having officially registered or what exactly. Lots of questions to ask tomorrow.

After a short day at the university, I explored more. I walked for about an hour to one of Montevideo’s most popular shopping malls and had lunch. A sandwich called a Napolitano, which is basically lots of mozzarella, tomatoes, ham, and oregano. Delicious!

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I found a store where I could buy some towels and an extra blanket to stay warm. To pay, I wanted to use my debit card, and this was the first time I had tried doing so. The lady at the register asked me for a form of documentation so I showed her my driver’s license. No problem there. However, when you sign the receipt, you’re supposed to write down the documentation’s number, and clearly, I had no idea what this was. Three of the workers also looked at my license and had no idea what to write, so they just wrote “Washington”.

Afterwards, I wanted to get some coffee, so I made my way to a nice little cafe. Apparently at such cafes, or at least the one I was at, you’re supposed to sit down at a table and a barista will bring you the coffee and snack menu. Being a foreigner, of course I did not know, so I just stood in front of the cashier until they asked me if I needed help and they explained how it all worked. At least their coffee was really good!

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Despite the miscommunications, the rain, and obvious lack of knowledge of local customs on my part, it was all a good learning experience for future endeavors.

Tomorrow, all of the non-native Spanish speaking international students are required to take an oral and written exam to test our level of Spanish. Wish me luck!

Chao chao!

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On my own now

Orientation began today!

I successfully made it to the university by myself by bus and was able to easily find the classroom. The orientation sessions for the next two days are for all of the international students at the Universidad Católica del Uruguay. There are many students from Germany, Spain, the US (but no one else from Washington!), and also students from France, Belgium, Mexico, Brazil, Italy, and more. Just like any other orientation session, the day began with getting to know one other followed by a quick tour of the university and information sessions regarding extracurricular activities. Tomorrow will be the big day where we register for our classes.

Instead of taking the bus back home, I decided to walk because it was a really nice day out. For now, my plan is to take the bus in the morning and walk back home after classes, weather depending of course. Here is basically what my forty minute walk looks like:

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I walk along a major road through the city with lots of cool little shops around

Susana made me a sandwich for lunch which I ate at the park close to where I am living. Once I got back to the home, a nap followed…

After some much needed rest, I decided to go for a walk along the ramblas, which is basically a large walking area next to the beach. This fantastic view is only a five minute walk from the home:

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Montevideo at sunset

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After returning home before it got too dark, I ate a fantastic meal of chicken, salad, and something similar to an omelette with potato, egg, and corn.

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I can’t wait to register for classes and finally get things going. Let’s hope I can stay warm tonight!

Chao!

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A quick glance at the next four and a half months

I finally managed to snap some pictures of where I am living:

My bed

My bed with no less than four comforters

The extra bed along with my desk in the corner

The extra bed along with my desk in the corner

The door in my room that goes out to the patio area. See that glowing orange thing? That is what heats my room...

The door in my room that goes out to the patio area. See that glowing orange thing? That is what heats my room…

Outside of my room; bathroom would be on the right, but there's no need for pictures of that

Outside of my room; bathroom would be on the right, but there’s no need for pictures of that

The kitchen and small table where I eat my meals

The kitchen and small table where I eat my meals

The living area. Very simple, includes a piano.

The living area. Very simple, includes a piano. There’s a set of stairs to the right that lead to Susana’s room and the room of her daughter, Ana

Bonus photo! Here is my dinner. Very delicious pasta.

Bonus photo! Here is my dinner. Very delicious pasta.

In addition, I learned how to use the bus to get to my university. It is a fifteen minute ride on a very, very, jam-packed bus, otherwise it is a forty minute walk.

The Universidad Católica del Uruguay is much bigger than I imagined, and certainly a lot nicer, too. The inside reminds me a lot of what some of the older buildings at Western look like, but the entire university is contained in one large, three-story building with a few newer additional buildings. It also has its own chapel and I was able to peek inside while they were having a daily mass. There’s also a really nice library, outdoor patio area, bookstore, a place for students to relax along with a ping-pong table, and a cafeteria to have lunch or purchase something to eat.

Orientation for the international students begins tomorrow, so I am excited to begin acquainting myself more with the university as well as other students.

Chao chao!

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Hola from Uruguay!

Twenty-two hours, three flights, and too many mishaps later, I have finally arrived at my new home in Montevideo! I’m pretty eager to get to bed, so for now I will just mention some of the day’s highlights…

My host mother, Susana, warmly greeted me at the airport. Unfortunately, one of my bags didn’t make it to Montevideo, so we will have to get it another time…very, very soon, I hope. A taxi drove us about twenty minutes from the airport to the home, which is unlike any home I have ever seen in the states. There is one large door on the street, and then you enter into an outdoor courtyard-type area, and in this area are the different apartments. I am fortunate to have my own spacious, but very cold, room. I’ll upload pictures in the near future.

After a much needed nap, I ate a rice, bean, and corn dish with a soup made with onion, pumpkin, and various other vegetables. Definitely some foods I am not accustomed to eating, but I am trying to be more open and try new dishes.

Susana and I walked around Montevideo during the evening and she kindly pointed out popular restaurants, cafes, shopping areas, and gave me some advice about the city, such as taking a taxi at night and avoiding the park when it gets dark. I guess one of the main hubs of the city is only a ten minute walk from the home, which is very convenient!

Tomorrow, Susana will show me how to use the bus and how to get to my university. I am very excited to be here and to finally begin my new adventure, but for now, I am very ready to curl up in bed, get warm, and get some sleep!

Saludos!

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The countdown begins…

Hola a todos!

I can’t believe it is already July, and in a few short weeks I will be living and studying in Montevideo, Uruguay. When I first began telling people about my opportunity to study abroad, it surprised me how many people did not know where Uruguay is or what language they speak. Just so we are all on the same page, their official language is Spanish, and here is where Uruguay is located:

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I will be living in the capital city of Montevideo, and I will attend la Universidad Católica del Uruguay beginning late July to mid-December. When I first began applying for study abroad opportunities, Uruguay was my number one desired destination, so I am very excited to begin my adventure!

Throughout my trip, I will try my best to update this blog frequently, but of course I will be very busy with classes, making new friends, trying new foods, exploring the city, learning about the culture, and much more.

And now, the countdown to July 28th begins…

Saludos!

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