"Ok, so today isn't the tomorrow I was talking about in my last post, but, at least it's in the same week, not"
when I hear a buzzing at the door, and real life starts back up again. Finding time to myself, now that everyone is on holidays, and everyone has the same amount of free time as me is becoming difficult! I am currently sitting in my bedroom, listening to the thunder roll over our house, as the clouds darken the summery sky, with the vuvuzelas humming in the background while I watch the Ghana against Uruguay game (currently 1-1!)
I have been absolutely loving these past couple of weeks of holidays, relaxing, exploring, hanging out with Spanish friends...
I finished school on the 11th of June, and from the 11th until the 18th, I was the only one on school holidays. I spent this time wandering around the streets of Tudela, having coffee after coffee, and watching the world cup, and preparing for Fiesta de la Eti! Fiesta de la Eti, is a celebration of the end of university (Eti is the name of the university in Tudela), and with this, the end of schooling for another year. Every year is made up of different classes. For example, in primero bachillerto (the equivalent of year 11) there were six classes, 1A, 1B, 1C,1D, 1E (my class!) and 1F. For Fiesta de la Eti, each of the classes have a class dinner, and then go to a botellón. Our class met at the Plaza Nueva for dinner at 10pm. Adjowa and I came at around 10:30, after finishing watching the world cup game of Ghana against Serbia... a disappointing draw. We had all previously paid 6 euros for alcohol, and then had a really cheap dinner (I had pizza... for 2 euros!) before trekking to a random (I really have no idea where we were!) little grassy spot to start our botellón. A botellón directly translates to bottle. It is where a group of people go to a specific place, for us it was the grassy hill, for others it may be by the river where I live, and socialise... After the botellón, we all made our way to El Tubo, which is a street in Tudela, filled with bars, where people can go and dance, drink and socialise. I left quite early, around 2:45 am, because I was heading to Madrid the next morning, but I had a really lovely time spending a good couple of quality hours with my class outside of the classroom.
I got home at around 3, and was in bed and sleeping by 3:05! I slept like a baby until I heard my alarm clock waking me up at 5:50 am. A couple of days beforehand, my host sister told me that she was going to Madrid with her class on the Saturday, the day after Fiesta de la Eti. I immediately asked why, and was told that she was going to a theme park. For those of you who know me, I love going to things like Zoos, theme parks, going on adventures, so I immediately wanted to go with her... María Antonia (my host mum) was supposed to go as a parent helper, but she let me go instead of her. We left at 6:15 in the morning, and I slept the whole bus trip down there. I felt a little out of it, cause I didn't really feel like one of the kids, as I'm 8 years older than all of them, but not quite one of the adults. At the park it was scorching hot, and because of the bad weather we'd been having, I had dressed in pants. I sat down, rolled my pants up, joined to the group of María, her two friends and the parents of her friends, and started wandering around.
In Spain, when you go on wet water rides, you wear rain coats! No one bothers on getting wet, they prefer to stay dry.
I loved going to Warner Bros. Movie World, as it reminded me so much of family holidays and of America. We went on the rides, watched the shows, ate greasy food, laughed and had fun. It was an extremely rewarding day, which I really loved, and a day where I got to speak a lot of Spanish, which was a really nice change! We ended up getting home at 4am in the morning the next day, 22 hours after we had left. How crazy that they return children home from an excursion at four in the morning!
Since then, I haven't really done much, but hang out by the pool. My family are part of a club called Arenas, which I can only really describe to you as a country club. To give you some understanding of it, it costs 250ish euros per month to be a member of it. It has two pools, saunas, tennis courts, paddle courts, a gym, a cafetería, a ludoteca (childcare place) and I get to go for free! My pass is a pass where I can only go with the kids, so I go most days with a towel, some board games or card games, my book, my music, and a euro. I spend about four hours there a day, hanging out with the kids, swimming, sitting under the thatched roofed umbrellas, sipping my hot coffee, reading my book, enjoying the summer vibes. It really is lovely most of the time. My daily routine at the moment is getting up at 9, going to Arenas at around 10:30 or 11, come home for lunch at 3, relax a little then at five play with Javier, or go out with Ana or María, or go back to Arenas, go swimming in our pool, fit in a game or two of soccer, have dinner, talk to people back at home, and go to bed. Although it seems like a day of just relaxing, it is a full day of relaxing, all the time with other people, which can get a little tiring on its own.
I have finally finished the sixth book of Harry Potter. A little sad I must say, as I now realise I only have one more book left in the series, and then I won't know what to read! Any suggestions anyone? SPOILERS: I still cried when Dumbledore died, but it made me smile that Spanish can still bring out such sadness, that I can understand, and understand what's being written and be affected by it, but in Spanish!
This week will be a little different for me, as I'm preparing for my summer holidays to really start. I have been extremely blessed with a host family that has the travelling bug! This Thursday I am getting to go to the famous Running of the Bulls, also known as San Fermines. San Fermines is the festival celebrating the saint of Pamplona, San Fermin (San = Saint). It runs from the 6th of July until the 14th of July. We get to dress up in the typical Navarra dress, which is all white with a red scarf around your neck and waist. I'm really excited to be able to participate in such a typical fiesta of Spain and of Navarra. On Saturday, my host family and I are packing up house, and driving to France. I still can't get over the fact that I'm in Europe and that everything is so close. We can drive to another country! We will be staying in an area called Angers, about an hour and a half south of Paris. We will be visiting Paris, and eating French bread, and growing french mustaches. (I just had to look up the word mustache on the internet to see if mustache actually was the hair that grew on your upper lip... ahhh Spanish, what are you doing to me!) We will be staying in France until the 20th, when I will be travelling to England to visit some old family friends. I'm really excited for the next couple of weeks, and will definitely be keeping you updated in what I'm doing!
I definitely feel like this year has been planned out and mapped out by God. There have been so many things that have happened, some that I've liked, some that I've definitely struggled with, but all have helped shape and grow me in a way that could have only been by God's hand. I feel so blessed to have been placed in this family, to have been challenged and to have felt so many emotions here. I have begun to understand what it is like being the oldest, and I only wish that every person could experience what I have: to be placed in a family completely different to your own, to be completely challenged by how you want to live, to be able to experience life through another culture, another language, another world view. I believe that exchange is an incredible opportunity, and is something that can only really be beneficial. I have been here for five months, and I am somewhere completely different to where I thought I'd be. I have been living for five months in a place where eating dinner at 11pm is normal, and I'm a little frightened to say the least, to enter back into the world of English speakers, and lunch and dinner at a reasonable hour for ten days before re-entering the Spanish culture. I don't know how it will affect me, if I'll prefer the Spanish way or the English way, or if I'll just fall back into my English ways straight away. I wonder if I'll be overwhelmed by all the English in England, or if I'll find it normal? I have all these uncertain feelings in me right now... which for me is exciting. I like the unknown. I like being surprised.
This post has been extremely crazy and unjointed. It is now the 5th of July, my five month anniversary in Spain, and I started this post 10 days ago. But, I hope that within the jumble you can see a little glimpse of my life right now, and a little bit of how I am feeling, and the greatness of God, and how he has guided me through my life and this exchange thus far!