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Thursday, 27 February 2014

Time passes by

Day 174: 25/02/14

In my calender I have worked out that there are 121 days left... Still in the three digits when it comes to days but that's only 16 weeks ... And 4 months?!
It seems that as soon as you start enjoying yourself time seems to get a boost and go full speed ahead! Woah. I am thinking about things I still need to achieve before I leave and wondering if I will get the chance! One thing I really am not looking forward to is having to say good byes, especially to my best friends Katy and Žanete who have been part of my journey every step of the way. Maybe if I didn't have so much stuff I could bring them back to NZ with me :( 

So in my last blog I wrote about all the new things in my life but skipped out some of the things I got up to, soo this blog is going to be about the past few weeks.

First up, after my first week of school went swimmingly well, I met up with Žanete and Katerina on Friday the 7th of Feb to catch up and because they wanted to give me my birthday presents :3 like always I was so happy just being around my girls and walking around Barcelona like we belonged there! To quench our thirst, we went to Starbucks where Katerina shouted me a drink and we made ourselves cosy whilst we chatted and laughed about everything and anything! The girls whipped out two bags of gifts for me and I was clapping my hands excitedly hahaha what a weirdo. From Žanete I got a wee bag of random bits and bobs including nice smelling lip balm and eye shadow :) the next part of her gift was a bit more exciting though... A bag filled with sweets! No, I'm not saying a bag of sweets ... I mean ... a bag full of sweets, as in, a cake made of lollies, candy floss, chocolate bar, packet of chocolate biscuits and lollies. Gosh, everything looked yummy but in all honesty my first thought was - "is she trying to make me fat?!" Turns out the answer was yes ;) (but dont worry, i took the sweets to the AFS camp the next week and shared with everyone) Katerina's present was also delicious and fattening! A packet of different kinds of chocolate that she got sent from Swizerland just for me :) It is such a pain, liking chocolate, as you are never not in the mood for it and it just means more sugar, more calories!

On the Saturday I was with my host family for the afternoon and for the night I went to Cristina´s surprise 18th birthday party in Castelldefels. I was looking forward to catching up with Cristina and her family and seeing Cristina´s reaction when she came home to find everyone waiting for her. I actually nearly missed out on this... things didn´t quite go to plan. I got dropped off at the Barcelona Sants train station by my family, which i knew quite well, and I already knew which train i was going to catch and at what time. I had to be in Castelldefels at 7.30pm, as my classmate was going to pick me up, and the train went for about 20 minutes, so I was going to catch the 7.07pm train. When I got there, i discovered that there was no train until 7.15pm and so this would mean that I would be late, I had no internet and no way of contacting my friend to say I would be late, they had told me that they wouldn´t wait for me if I was late :S I was a bit stressed but decided that there was nothing to do but wait for the train. So I waited for the train and when my train was next on the list to arrive and it arrived 2 minutes early, i had hope that i would get there on time. I got on the train with 4 other people and the train took off down the track but suddenly all the lights turned off and there was no voice on the speakers letting us know when the next stops were. The train starting going really slow and I was really confused as to what was going on when all of sudden the train stopped completely. The other people on the train and myself didn´t know what was happening until the train driver came down the aisle to tell us that we had caught a train that was out of service (parking up for the night)... you can imagine how devastated i was. I looked at my watch, not knowing where i was, and saw that it was already 7.30pm. I must admit I felt like crying, I just have the worst luck when it comes to trains and metros, and I was so stupid not to have internet on my phone. One of the guys lent me his phone to call Cristina´s mum and tell her what had happened, she told me that she would pick me up when I arrived in Castelldefels - turns out we had to wait 30 minutes for another train to stop and pick us up. 

When I arrived in Castelldefels it was about 8.10pm and Cristina was due to arrive home at 8.15pm for her surprise, I called her mum and she said she would pick me up even though I tell she wasn´t happy about it :/ Very unexpectedly, walking out of the train station I saw my best friend from school (in castelldefels), Florencia, and we were shocked to see each other. I waited with her until Cristina´s mum picked me up and we made plans to meet up the next day before I left back to Barcelona.
Zooming to the house in the car, we were so worried that Cristina had already arrived but were pleased to see that the car was not there and we hurriedly rushed down to the party room where, embarrassingly, everybody shouted "Surpise!!!" as i walked in, thinking it was Cristina. It turned out to be a great night and it was such a nice night for Cristina as i can imagine it would be great to know how loved you are by your friends! Presents were given, videos were shared and lots of photos taken. Cristina´s friendship is definitely one I value here in Spain. Now I just really hope i get a surprise party some day!

Later on in February, the weekend of the 14th-16th, I had an AFS camp in Manresa with all the AFS students and a few volunteers. After catching a train for about 1 hour, we arrived in Manresa and had to lug our heavy bags on this, surprisingly, hot day up the streets to the hostel. I wasn´t impressed - nearly died hahaha. Now with AFS, you never know what is going to happen, what there going to make you do, nor what the accomodation will be like! The thing I was most worried about was whether we would have hygenic bathrooms and beds! The first thing we did was play a game to determine what rooms we would be sleeping, with who, you would think that since AFS is pretty strict with things they wouldn´t put girls and boys together, but sure, we were mixed rooms.
Turns out that yes, the bathrooms weren´t gross and the bunk beds didn´t have any inappropriate graffiti or marked sheets hahaha thank goodness.
At this orientation there were 4 new girls who had arrived for a half year program from Austria, I really can imagine that they would just be thinking that we were all crazy because at this point us AFS students are very relaxed around each other, to the point where we probably seem a bit weeeird. I can just remember how unknown and different everything was for me when I first arrived. For the first activity we were suppose to draw a picture of ourselves and everyone was to write something nice about each other, but we were interrupted by loud drums and voices coming from the streets. Turns out that there was a traditional spanish parade going on, so we all ran off out of the hostel and into the winding, old style streets, following the music. What we came across, to my surprise, was actually like a devil parade, and i felt very uncomfortable. I mean some people thought it was really fun, with loud music, fireworks getting thrown everywhere and people shouting but me and my friends just felt a bit out of our comfort zones. I had never seen a parade where people dressed up as devils with evil looking faces, shouting about, New Zealand parades are a bit more child-friendly i guess :S

Only a few of us returned to the hostel early and completed the activity and after that we just did our own thing for the rest of the night ( i think we had dinner before the first activity).

Saturday morning came and we had to get up at around 8am for breakfast by 8:30 AM. I think that I only got to sleep at 1am? AFter breakfast we went into the activity room to play an early morning game. We were separated into two groups and were given the task of standing on a small blanket and having to turn it over without anyone touching the ground. This was pretty amusing but nearly impossible with the amount of people we had in each team, you get the picture by these photos.  

As far as i can remember, after this activity we went off to visit the streets for a while and to check out the big church up on the hill. It was a beautiful church just like all of the churches here in Spain and we got to check out a nice view of Manresa from the big hill. We also attempted to play the game "Ninja" but that all failed when someone skidded through dog poo and the smell scared everyone off!! I saw the accident coming and it was like slow motion "nooooo!!" hahaha, lucky it wasn´t me :L

Arriving back from the church we had more free time and I just spent the time with my girls, we went into the town and looked around and bought really nice frozen yogurts with lots of toppings! We said hello to all the town folk, browsed the cute wee shops and were just singing and dancing and I just realised (not for the first time) how great it is to have friends who you can completely be yourself around. No judgement, no worries, just friends :)

After this we returned back to the hostel for dinner and we were all anticipating what activity AFS had planned for the night... as we had been told we had to all bring fiesta/party clothes!We had to set up the activity room with all the chairs set up in rows, which i guessed we were going to have to do some sort of show... but turns out it was something a little bit crazier! We got split into groups of 4, 3 girls and 2 boys and were told that we had to swap clothes amongst ourselves - the boys in the girl´s fiesta clothes and vice versa! Damn the boys looked better as girls I reckon! What do you think? :p

After dressing up, each team had to do a skit for a TV news show, which consisted of weird events. My group had to give news about a little girl who got attacked by a giant ant? I´ve got to admit that i wasn´t feeling very well and my group didn´t do much planning for the skit, bit of a fail, but some of the other group´s skits were very amusing! 

Next we played a game where all the boys, still dressed as girls, left the room while the girls prepared a bench (three chairs covered with a blanket) and one girl sat on each end. The boys outside were told to do who knows what, I guess act like a girl to their best ability, while we were literally just told to sit there. After the boy sat down once on the bench he was told he was doing a bad job and had to leave to try again. After he left the room we would pull out the middle chair of the bench so that when he returned he would fall straight down. NOT ONE BOY KNEW WHAT WAS GOING ON! We literally had four or five different guys come in and do it and not one of them had a clue he was going to fall to the floor. No two reactions were the same, but all of them were completely priceless!
The last activity for that night was called "Looking for my princess". For this one, one guy had to leave the room. While he was gone some volunteers were chosen to sit in a row. Each had to chose somewhere to point to on their person where the boy would have to kiss them. The last person in the line had to point to their mouth, and would have water in their mouth to spit out at the last second. Water went all over the place but not without good humour.

Saturday night I got to sleep at about 2am and everyone was pretty zonked out (haha zonked is a funny word). Again, on Sunday morning, we had to get up at about 8am to shower and be ready for breakfast. I actually quite enjoyed breakfast, a few croissants, cereal, orange juice and a coffee.
Right after breakfast we had to pack up our bags and beds and be all ready to leave before we played our last activities. The first game we played was like freeze tag and it was inside a stone like auditorium with massive steps - pretty dangerous to play a running around game if you ask me, but hey.
After this game we played a game that I would never think to play in anywhere but Spain! A game that involved touching and kissing! We all sat in a circle and all the boys were each given a letter and the girls were each given a number. I was the first one that was chosen to sit in the middle of the circle because i was the last one to sit down... i didn´t know what we were going to play at that point. To start the game a volunteer called out a letter and a number. If the person sitting in the middle was a girl (me), the boy whose letter it was had to run and kiss her anywhere on the face before the girl (chasing after him) could kiss him on the face. I thought I had to sit their the whole time but was relieved to find that the person who didn´t manage to kiss their victim had to change and be in the middle.
I´ve got to admit, even though it was weird to be getting kissed and kissing people, it was one of the funniest and funnest games I have ever played! It was so intense with people leaping on each other, dragging them to the floor, tackling and kisses! Far our, i was amused. The most entertaining part was watching the shy people get so aggressive and into the game! Great way to break the ice i guess!

At 4pm we were catching the train and heading back to Sants train station before all heading our seperate ways. I was glad to find my family waiting for me so that i didn´t have to carry my big bag with me on the metro and then on the bus. I really feel like the family does look out for my needs and wants! :)

Last weekend i spent most of my time with the family, and met more of the family from Holland. Such a sweet family and they all get along really well. There is my host dad who has 3 siblings and each sibling has 3 kids, all around the same ages which makes it great for all of the family. There was even a girl cousin of my age which was nice! i mean its okay living with boys but sometimes i miss girl/sister company! Together, we visited some nice places in Barcelona, a gorgeous park and a really beautiful placed called Monduic. I love getting the opportunity to see more of Spain and only wish that I had a camera that was as good as my own eyes! 

All and all things are still going great here in my family and school. I have managed to find some great people to be around and have a good relationship with my host parents! Also, I eat a lot healthier here and there was always vegetables or salads with the meal where possible. My host dad never stops mentioning how the vegetables and fruits are economical (most comes from their vegetable garden that they grow). I think that he wants me to go with him to the vegetable garden this weekend to check it out!

I´ll keep you all in touch,

Lots of Love,


The spanish girl ;)

P.s. here's a photo to end with a wee laugh ;) 

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

New beginnings

Day 160: 11/02/14

Less than 5 months left to go, over half way, and I feel like the best of my exchange is only just beginning! Since the 27th of January many things have changed and I couldn´t be happier with my decision to move! 

So on the 27th of January I finally had all my bags packed (after a lot of struggle and repacking)and I left my first placement for good. Turns out that I have bought and some how collected more clothes and things than I had expected! I wouldn´t think I would be too far wrong if I guessed that my suitcase weighed around 35kg (maximum allowed on my flight is 30kg)and I had about 3 other bags containing my shoes, shower and bathroom products and my books that I have for school and for leisure. I still plan on doing a little more shopping within the next few months before i leave so I am going to have to sort some things out and maybe leave some things behind :(

So the first stop I made on leaving my house in Castelldefels was a temporary spanish family in Barcelona. I was picked up by an AFS volunteer and dropped off there on the 27th of January, a Monday, and i was to live there until the Friday (until the family that would host me for 5 months was ready to host me). This family was really lovely! On my arrival I was greeted by a girl my age who had recently done a student exchange to South Africa so she understood my situation, plus she spoke English (not that I needed her to speak English anymore :p)She made me feel welcome straight away as I said I was a little bit hungry so she took me to a wee cafe where she bought me a nice croissant.

Since the family were opening up their home to me for a few days and made me feel so welcome, i felt like i should do something in return, so on my first night in the house I cooked them all dinner and made myself useful. 

Whilst living in the temporary family I didn´t have to go to school so I had the opportunity to do some shopping by myself and to visit some touristy locations! One of these locations included the "La Sagrada Familia" which is a really famous church is a work on a grand scale which was begun on 19 March 1882 from a project by the diocesan architect Francisco de Paula del Villar (1828-1901). At the end of 1883 Gaudí was commissioned to carry on the works, a task which he did not abandon until his death in 1926. Since then different architects have continued the work after his original idea. The building is still going on and could be finished some time in the first third of the 21st century. I went by myself to visit the church as my lovely temporary host mum (who couldn´t come because she had to work) bought me a ticket with entrance and also a voice audio to listen to. I was absolutely amazed by the church and it was a sight that I think everyone should see if they ever go to Spain! I took plenty of photos but the photos give it no justice, the intimate and delicate design of aboslutely every detail in the church can not be caught by a small Iphone camera and should really be only seen by the eyes! Just one of those once in a lifetime kind of things ;)

Some other things I got up to whilst staying with the family included grocery shopping and going out for lunch with my host mum. This actually made me feel so so happy. I didn´t have a great relationship with my previous host mum and I was really missing the "mum-like" company. I really enjoyed just chatting and having someone who was interested in what I had done for the day, and just how I was. Another thing that was very sweet was when I woke up for the day and found a nice wee note from my host mum to me and my breakfast things out all ready. Of course some might just roll their eyes at the cheesy saying here - "it´s the little things that count" but Spain has really made me believe it. 

Just something interesting I thought I would mention, my temporary host parents, for their career, they own an animation business called "Tomavistas" which you can check out at this website: . They have designed and created some pretty cool and original animations that they have managed to show in a lot of places in the world and are still working on reaching every country :)#nottryingtoadvertise

On the Friday, 31st of January, I was packing up my things again and leaving to meet the people who would be my new family for the next 5 months of my life! I was super nervous as I didn´t know what they were like (hadn´t met them before) and I was really praying that everything would be so much better for me! On my arrival I felt a really good vibe straight away, meeting my host mum (host dad was at work)and 3 host brothers, 10, 14 and 16 years old. I can just say that they are a really genuine family, and it is a much better environment for me - it feels a lot more like home with 5 people in the family (I like the busyness and having many different personalities in the house).

On the first day of my arrival I was there for about 3 hours before I was told that we were heading off to their house in the mountains (La Molina) for the weekend to Ski and as a special thing to do for my birthday which was on Sunday. I had nothing to complain about! :)
So after unpacking all my things and putting my stuff away in my new room, I had to repack, again, a small bag to take with me (I forgot my pjammas and had to wear my host dad´s old shirt and skiing leggings hahaha)to the mountains. My host family had ski clothes for me to wear so that was handy because skiing wasn´t really something I was prepared for!
In the car ride (2 hours) to La Molina, i was with the family and we were using the time to find out new things about each other. They knew quite a bit already as they had read my AFS profile but we still had plenty to talk about. One thing I have to mention is that the family usually speaks Catalan, and up until now I have not been learning Catalan... My previous host family only ever spoke Spanish. They speak with me in Spanish but it can be quite frustrating when I don't understand what everyone is talking about in Catalan - when they mention my name or when someone tells a joke, I want to know what's going on! I can pick up bits of pieces of what they say however.
When we got to La Molina we went to sleep and the next day we went skiing! It was second ever proper day of skiing! I had skiied when I was around 10 years old in NZ and I didn't enjoy it that much because I failed at it. I was a little nervous at first because of the fact that I couldn't ski very well last time but it turns out that I'm quite a natural now?? 

I had a really great time and the slopes were amazing! It snowed for most of the day but was still enjoyable. After skiing we all had lunch together and chilled out for the afternoon. The whole family is super nice and I have a host cousin that is my age. 
That Saturday night my host parents organised for me to go with the youngsters of the family and meet 2 other AFS girls for dinner for an early birthday thing. We had a nice dinner and then went to the only hangout place in La Molina to play pool and chill out.

The next day, February 2nd, was my birthday and I woke up to a homemade birthday cake :) it was very sweet! For my present, it really was the gift of spending a day in the mountains, skiing and admiring beautiful views. I had a great time with the family and really enjoyed just chatting with my new host mum and joining in with a sport that they are all so passionate about :) 

I arrived back Sunday night and Monday was my first day at my new school! I was really nervous but was soon okay after meeting my class mates who were nice to me straight away. This time round I had someone to sit with in every class unlike in my old school where I had to sit alone for the majority of the time. Mondays are my favourite days at school because, now that I've changed from segundo bachillerato to primero, I get to have 2 hours of physical education. We spent our first class of P.E. dancing a Spanish dance and then doing a workout circuit, I thought it was pretty fun! 

Already I have made a group of friends to hang around but after 2 weeks I only feel actually close to one person, I am hoping that it will be a lot easier to make friends this time round :) I have hung out with them once so far and they are a great, crazy group of people and I think that if I can force myself to speak up more, I could fit in just fine.
(Closest friend at school, Marta)

Now I'm in Barcelona I have had to leave my hockey team in Castelldefels, I wanted to continue playing but it would be about 50 mins each way for hockey practices and games. It turns out that grass hockey isn't that popular here and it's hard to find a team. So at the present moment I haven't played hockey for 3 weeks which isn't cool :/ I'm looking into getting a gym and pool membership to fill in time and to keep my exercise up! I had to walk to school for about 25 mins in Castelldefels but here I only walk for 5 so I really need to find some activities to do! 

So all and all I am very happy with the changes that have come from my difficult but needed decision! It has brought mostly benefits and at this point of my exchange I am just trying to live it up and enjoy the time I have left (less than 5 months?!) 

Hope I have covered everything :3 
Thanks for reading and thanks for everyone's continuous encouragement and support :)

Lots of love,

The Spanish girl ;)