Thursday, June 19, 2008

Long Time No Post!

Let's see...since the last time I posted what has happened...

Well, I'm 17 now. Go me? I went to a nightclub, a first communion, the festa at Serralves, the beach, our last camp. James and Wes came to visit. Nuno informed me he saw my blog. SO HI NUNO!!! How embarrassing...

I only have one more week here. Then it's back to the good ole U.S. of A.

Then what? I don't even know what will happen. I mean I know everyone hasn't forgotten me, but how will it be to be thrust back into the life that I knew, now that I'm so different? I'm almost certain that some friends will expect me to be exactly the same, and will be angry when they see I'm a different person. They'll take it as a personal insult, I've already experienced some of this from my contact back home. I've heard going home is almost worse than coming to the new country. I don't's time to start being pensive and all that.

But summer has been mainly good so far. We had an AFS dinner and got interviewed by a journalist person? Random. buuut...I dunno. I'm a bit embarrassed to write too many details now that I know a bunch of people have seen this. :P But that's the price to pay when you put your life on the internet.

On another note, my host sister got a motor scooter for her birthday. Makes me miss my car...a week and a half and I'll be driving that baby around Virginia! Wo0t!

Longer post coming up later...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Only 4 weeks?...

It shocks me to think I only have 4 weeks left here (plus or minus a few days). This past week was really really strange...but pretty awesome.

Monday and Tuesday were more or less normal, school and what not. Monday I woke up for school as usual (this is my early day). So I got up like 6:20 to get to school at 8:15, only to find out the workers were on strike and we had no classes. So here I am, an hour from home with nothing to do...thankfully Maud was there and said I could hang at her house for a little bit, so we went back and watched TV and got on the internet, and she let me leave my books and gym clothes there so I wouldn't have to drag them around the city. I met Johannes for lunch, which was cool because we got a lot more time than usual, so we just walked around, ate, went to a net cafe. I got home around 4 and Ines and I became catatonic in front of the television. WOO!

Thursday was a holiday, a catholic religious holiday actually - "Corpus Christi", so there was no school. Johannes and I met up at about 9:45 (and he was on time! gasp!) to take a train to Guimaraes, the "birthplace" of portugal. We wandered through the narrow (WET) cobblestoned streets, had lunch at a really nice restaurant - the beef was excellent, up to the palace where they had refurnished the rooms to make it how it would have been around the 16th or 17th century. He wanted to buy a sword but the giftshop didn't sell any, only plates =P. Then we went to the original castle, which was more of a fort/military stronghold, but this one dated from the 11th or 12th century. It was raining and really depressing, and we ended up going back to porto around 5ish, where right as we got off the train the Corpus Christi procession was going down the streets of Baixa. It was fascinating, everything was eerily silent except for the chanting of the priest and the singing of maybe 500 people following them, but I'm not good with numbers, it could have been a lot more. We had some icecream at McDonalds afterwards and walked down to the Ribeira, up the steps, around, across the bridge...just random.

Friday I had an appointment for my Visa, so I only went to my Philosophy class, then I had to hop on the bus/metro down to Estadio do Dragao. I waited for an hour and 45 minutes (even though I had an appointment!) to sit down for 5 minutes and have the lady tell me I didn't have all my papers, and could I please reschedule for the 11th of June? BAHUMBUG!!! was Johannes' birthday too, so we met at Dolce Vita for dinner at Burger King, where we just talked for like, 2 hours. Then we took the metro across the river to look at Porto at night. I had to go home, and ended up being late...stupid metro system.

Saturday was the start of the Geres trip! We were supposed to meet at 8:15 at Campanha and "please don't be late!". So I took the 7 o clock express metro and got to the area around 7:45, and Johannes was already ready! He was early! We both were! It was a miracle. All of the AFSers actually got there before Nuno and Renata. The train didn't even leave until 8:50, Renata said she was counting on all of us being late. We arrived in Braga and had to walk all the way to the bus station, with our bags, in the rain...comfortable, right? Well it wasn't too bad. We met an AFSer from China - Shipping - there. So now it was Me, Johannes (faroe islands), Elif (Turkey), Julia (USA), Maud (Canada - Quebec), Shipping (China), Renata and Nuno (Portugal). Quite a mix of cultures. We arrived at the Camp/Pousada place and put down our bags. We were able to get into the rooms and rested for a while and ate some lunch. After a bit we started out on a hike. This was probably around 2:30. We walked through the village, down a hill, then across the mountain with no path. There was a dam with a resevoir so we walked across the dam to the other side where there was a waterfall and the end of the path, then we went all the way back. We were completely wet and dirty and exhausted when we got back. I changed pants and shoes, and we hung out in the lounge and watched some TV. I fell asleep in a big chair practically on top of bad...but it was so warm and cozy! the meantime Renata, Nuno, and Shipping had gone to buy cake and snacks for Johannes' surprise birthday party.

We had a dinner of Bacalhau com Natas, soooo good. Maybe my favorite Portuguese food, consisting of Bacalhau (salted cod) in a cream sauce with potatoes and pasta. Yummy...After dinner we went back to the lounge to watch this sort of European American Idol thing with a different representative from each country. We went back to the Cabin, took showers (soooo nice after that hike), and convined in the girl's room. The guys were in their PJs, which consisted of tiny shorts...bahhahahahaha. Everyone was supposed to go out of the room one by one until it was only me and him and then I was supposed to ask "hey where'd everyone go?" and so we'd go in the other room. But Johannes kept talking and talking and talking...and i kept trying to ask but he was like "eh, I dunno, doesn't matter where they went, so anyway...". Finally I had to like drag him out of the room. He was really surprised though, and we have it all on video! wooo!!!

Sunday we got to sleep in, had breakfast, and started making a movie. "Scenes from an AFS weekend" or something like that. It was pretty funny I guess...we had lunch, and afterwards walked back through the village filming our movie. We met some Americans from Texas (just south of Austin!) who were hiking through the mountains. We finished the movie then hiked all the way to the top of Geres in about 30 minutes. Go us...then we had to practically run back down to catch the bus and get our things. Everyone fell asleep on the bus and the train ride back was really fun. Getting out in porto was a bit depressing since everything was over...and there is nothing else really big planned besides the end camp until the end of the year. Elif Johannes and I had dinner at McDonalds, then I caught the metro back and talked to my parents on the phone. My host mom had already fallen asleep and my host dad was out, so I had to walk all the way home with my bags. Which sucked...

So that was my super crazy week. Nuno is coming to dinner Thursday, but other than that I have nothing planned really. We'll see where things go...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The week in review. And the start of a FREAKING AWESOME weekend!

Let's see, since Lisboa...

Last Wednesday Nuno, Johannes, and I met to talk after school. Nuno told us some pretty amazing stories, complete with diagrams of how everyone was standing when things happened (during AFS orientation camps). Some were jaw-dropping to say the least, but probably aren't suitable for public consumption on blogger...I will share when I return if you'd like to know ;)

Last Friday I spent at home. Was a bit sick and as my host mom said "BEBE LEITE! QUENTINHA QUETINHA QUETINHA! MAIS MEL! E MUITO BOM PELA GARGANTA!". Ines and I "ummm. I'm a foreigner. Not deaf." This inspired many a humorous comment and representation by Ines, Fernando, and I, practically playing charades for milk, honey, hot, throat.

Saturday I went to Santa Maria de Feiras in the afternoon with Maud, Julia, Johannes, Renanta (AFS volunteer/counselor), and Renata's boyfriend. We climbed to the castle, which was closed, traipsed a bit through the woods (me in my VERY well thought out summer dress...cough). Observed some men playing a game that is basically a mix between horse shoes and bochie ball. These men have to be insane because the metal objects were basically flying RIGHT past their heads. We walked around the town before everything started and there, on the stage warming up, was a french horn player. I dragged the others to the stage jumping up and down yelling in their ears "I PLAY THAT". I suppose I was a bit hysterical after not playing for almost 5 months...

We decided to go get a coffee, which turned into a 2 hour dinner until 9:45 at night. For the first time in my life I tried chicken stomach...which was not half bad I have to say! Reminded me a bit of mushrooms. We had Arroz de Pato (Rice of Duck) for dinner, and after walked through the different expositions (there is a better word for this I cannot remember for the life of me). The main ones were of these people who were painted white with a plasticky substance that grew. There were also concerts, weird, dark shows, people running through the streets with "free hugs" or "abracos gratiz" signs. We waited in a field with a giant light, a bit "strange encounters of the 3rd kind" - esque. As we were leaving (I actually got to stay out late because Renata had a car and could drive me home!) there was a mini parade in the street with a man dressed as a fly doing backflips, people on springy stilts, a giant praying mantus, and a band. Finally got home around 1 a.m. after a VERY long car ride that shouldn't have been long.

Sunday my host cousin Filipe turned 16 and we went to my Tia Rosa's house to celebrate (their house is HUGE). We watched Titanic...but yeah, lots of football watching, eating of francesinhas, drinking of champagne, eating cakes, singing off-key, and loud portuguese familiness. I have so many videos of this day...

Monday and Tuesday I had Portuguese lessons, nothing really special. Today I arrived at school at 8 in the morning after waking up at 6:30, only to find out that the workers are on strike and we have no classes. Thanks for the I talked with some random girls then went with Maud to her house to watch some TV, get on the internet, hang out. She let me leave my things with her and then I met with Johannes for lunch.

Tomorrow Jo and I are going to Guimaraes for the day, then Friday I have to renew my visa and it's his birthday. Saturday and Sunday I'm going camping with Maud, Julia, Johannes, Shipping, Nuno, and Renata in Geres, which I'm really looking forward to. Only 2 more weeks of school!!!!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Last weekend...this one coming in a bit...

Last weekend was pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.Friday night was Queima - basically the biggest college party of the year. There was a huge thing about Johannes eating with us with my host sister...which wasn't fair if you ask me but WHATEVER. Since when have their been rules about dinner with friends...hmph. So anyway we got there at like 11:30 at night (before we saw this really awesome brazilian dance/fight club, it's sort of hard to describe). When we got there me, ines, and her 2 friends met with Elif and Johannes. Trekking through the festival to the concert was like going through a marsh with the stickiness from spilled beer. GROSS. But yea, the concert with the xutes e pontapes started (they're sort of like a Portuguese U2 type band...older guys playing rock). Jo had to leave around 1...10 minutes after the concert started. Stupid...but I say nothing. Queima was intense. SO MANY PEOPLE. They had booths from all the different colleges, food, games, a tent with a nightclub type thing. I had to pull some James Bond moves to lunge a few times from drunken men trying to grab at me. One of them actually almost got me once because I hadn't seen him but I got out pretty quickly...Elif, Ines, Pipa and I sat down in a little circle and different people would come and join us to talk for a while, it was fun. We stayed until 6 in the morning then got in the car to Lisboa.

We got to lisboa around 9:45 in the morning. I took a shower and went to Colombo to meet Alyssa, Ally, and Jeff. Alex and Dodo, 2 german girls, joined us a bit later. We had some coffee at Cafe Roma (I needed it after only 2 hours of sleep) and went to Oeiras for lunch at Jeff's dad's pizzeria. Much hilarity ensued..."is it raining"...not sure. Have a lot on video. We then walked through this park and saw stumpy the pigeon!! I had a coffee (which actually made me really sick later). We took the train back (really cool ride along the ocean) and Ally had to leave. Alyssa and Jeff and I went to another Cafe Roma and they had some iced tea that I'm fairly sure was drugged. Alyssa walked with us almost to the castle then had to go home. Jeff and I got to the castle and there was some sort of market/festival thing going on. We only had about 15-20 minutes there unfortunately, I would have really liked to stay longer. It's a really awesome castle. Originally inhabited by the Arabs in the...12th century? Correct me here Jeff not completely sure...

I rushed home and we went to dinner at my host aunt's house...the chicken was a bit disturbing to eat. Let's just say mine looked remarkable like a part of the male anatomy...but yea. I was crashing completely at this point. That night I slept 11 and a half hours.

Sunday I got up, showered, had lunch. We drove back to porto and had afternoon tea at my other host grandma's house. I talked with home that night. I have been having a lot of problems with getting the metro lately. I've missed class unintentionally a lot lately. Stupid public transportation.

So I guess now we have the opener written, which is exciting. I have my tickets to summer is so booked, but it's exciting! Only 3 ish weeks of school left. And after like 2 we won't even do anything. wo0t!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Sorry it's a bit vague but I'm having a bit of trouble remembering what happened in general...the days are running into each other...

So, I don't know if any of you even read my blog any more...or if you ever did, but I'm trying to keep it up even if it's just for me! =PIt's been a really long time since I wrote in here we go.

Nightwish was fairly legendary. Though looking back it could have been a lot more legendary. I met up with Raven and Johannes after school. We hung out in the metro station and I laughed until I thought I was going to wet my pants (i didn't though, mind you!). We had dinner at the McDonalds in Aliados "Imperial McDonalds" and talked about guys kissing guys, namely if Conan and Rambo would be sexy kissing...I concluded no. We went to a Pingo Doce and were pretty sketchy. Then the concert! Pretty awesome, though noone really got into it until the end. The end was fairly epic though. After the concert we met with Elif and Raven and I went back to her house to spend the night. The next morning we woke up to breakfast, TV, and Turkish Coffee. Elif even read my Tarot in the coffee which was awesome.

That Sunday...what happened?!?! I don't even remember...I think Johannes came to Vila do Conde...we walked around and went to a net Cafe. Yea! That's what happened. much. We had a holiday that friday the 25th. I went to Serralves and the Park with Johannes, and we ate dinner at an Italian restaurante. Was supposed to meet with my host parents for a movie but that fell through, so I was a bit late. Oops...Saturday I had a mochachoc in the afternoon and dinner with Johannes and Nuno, which was really fun, though I could have stayed longer. Sunday Nuno met with my family and I...which was interesting.We had a holiday Thursday so Johannes and I went to a cafe by the Ribeira, took the old electric line up the hill, then walked along the Rio Douro. Friday I hung at home with Ines and Pipa... Saturday I had lunch in Porto with Johannes. I called Nuno...ate dinner at home. Sunday I surfed!!! It was freaking awesome...We had lunch in Porto because it was mother's day, then Johannes and I had dinner out in Vila do Conde and walked along the river.

I've been having a lot of problems connecting with the girls in my class...they've been ignoring me, cutting me off when I talk, walking away in the middle of my sentences. One of the girls from my class was working at the restaurante we ate at the other day, and acted all nicey nice in front of my family, but completely ignores me in school. Maybe I was shy in the beginning but I was never MEAN to them. Not even close! And it's not that I'm not trying, they just aren't responding AT ALL. I only have 6 weeks left anyways and I just don't even know if it's worth the effort at this point. They invited me to a dinner they were having AFTER it started, knowing that I live to far to stay out late in porto, and they all laughed when I wasn't understanding where she was saying the dinner was. Then they were like pinning it on me that I didn't come. I try and start conversations and stuff but it's no use...I'm going to be out of town the next few weekends so I can't do anything with them, but again it isn't that I don't want to, I just can't. Then school will be over...then what? I feel like I've failed with friends.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Another week...another adventure...

Will post more when it isn't 4 in the morning.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Leiria Part 2

So I left off at Friday night, right?

Saturday - This day was soooo long...We started out by meeting at the monastery in Batalha. It's absolutely gorgeous. Giant gothic sanctuary in the form of a latin cross, huge stain glass windows, an arc, tombs of kings and queens, their figures holding hands in death, even a 13th century sculpture of an asian man! Then we walked out to this beautiful courtyard with the most incredible stone carvings you've ever seen. There was a type of "unknown soldier" tomb guarded by soldiers. When we went in this room, the guide told us it had been built by the Masons because they had left 4 carvings as clues at the corners of the room. One was blank, signifying "mystery", one was a man with leaves coming out of his mouth to signify "sharing knowledge", one was a master, signifying "being the master of your trade", and the last was two angels mounting fighting lions, which signified "nobility and brotherhood". Cool huh? After we walked through the coutyard a bit and saw this fountain with gargoyles. Then we all tried our hand at sculpting! Though we didn't really get very far...After we went to more tombs, this time outdoors (my family laughed when I was showing them pictures, because this is the only place Johannes and I actually posed for a picture. The tombs. "Why not a garden with flowers or something?" me: "ummmm it's more nordic?" But it was romantic how they were holding hands even in death...though maybe a bit morbid? whatever =P)

After the monastery we had a coffee in this square and the Thailand kids continued to teach us swear words in Thai! (yet meh! zut!). After the coffee we had lunch, logistical right? Melody - who's a vegetarian - had gotten in an argument earlier with our tour guide about eating meat, and then Johannes followed suit with his "if we didn't kills whales we never would have survived in Faroes". We talked for probably half an hour about one really one in the end. The both of them were giving arguments for naturality and survival.

Anywho after lunch we got on the bus for nazare and spent the afternoon on the chilly, rainy, but none the less gorgeous beach. We played football for a while then went to eat Caracois...aka snails. Check the photobucket for the wonderful pictures for the literal plate full of snails. We boarded the bus for home, I went back and took a shower, changed and got ready for the night out.

This night was legendary. We had an AFS dinner that "started" at at about 10 things got going. Only AFS Europe would serve beer at a proper function...=P. We had a "talent show" where everyone from the different countries sang something (and the girl from iceland and Jo's host brother did the moonwalk?) We then went to the town square where Henning, Jo, me, Ursula, Paraguay girl, and two Portuguese found a bar. We met back in the square at 1 and walked for 45 MINUTES to find this nightclub, all the while joking and generally having a good time. Henning and Jo together are RIDICULOUS. If germany and faroes ever formed an alliance it would be insane. People kept rearranging into fake couples to get in and then I had to go to the bathroom really running to the club. So Johannes and I get there and we get to the front of the line half because I had to use the bathroom and half because we're blonde foreigners. Then the nightclub was a nightclub...dancing...stuff...yeah. Good times. My host sister and I left like 3:30 (early by europe standards) and went home.

Sunday - Woke up fairly late. Chilled with the host family. Jo wanted to leave at 2:30 but wasn't ready, I wanted to leave at 4:30 but bought the 2:30 tickets anyways and explained this to him, then we changed, and then he STILL thought we were leaving at 2:30...frustrating to say the least...everything ended OK and we did eventually get back to Porto.

Today I had a field trip to this house from the Romantic era, was very beautiful, though I kind of zoned out a lot of the time...Nightwish this Friday, totally stoked!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Field Trip and Leiria!

Here's the first part of my trip to Leiria...enjoy

What a weekend…I still don’t think I’m fully recovered.

So I guess I should start with Wednesday, since Tuesday was the last time I quasi-posted? Pronto…

Wednesday – Got up the same time I usually get up on Wednesday, but this time we had a field trip! So we met at the school like 8:30 (our history teacher was wearing jeans and a T-Shirt!! Weird!!). We got on the bus for the Aveiro area and I sat next to Maria Loureiro. She’s really nice, we had a long talk about differences in the US and Portugal, crashing cars, boyfriends…it was cool. The first thing we did getting off the bus was to go to this boat, and it actually made me a bit homesick because it reminded me of the Philly trip and going on boats…only there was no Jennifer and Tim and David to be ridiculous with. We “took a tour” of the boat and watched some awfully cheesy film. It was a boat used for catching bacalhau but I don’t remember the name. Afterwards we went to a maritime museum which was sort of the same thing. We had lunch in the cantina at the Vista Alegre and took a tour of the factory. It’s a ceramics factory and was actually really interesting. We were saying it’s like art class every day if you work there! My Portuguese teacher actually freaked out when there was a broken pot in the corner (it was a very beautiful pot) and they said it was “lixo” or “trash”. I thought she was going to have a heart attack! Around 5 we finally left for Porto. I got home the same time as usual but had to pack for the next day. Had some moments of panic when I couldn’t get a hold of Johannes to check times (WHO HAD OUR BUS TICKETS) but it worked out…

– Woke up, fairly early, but not really. Got my bags together, took a shower, and got on the metro! Johannes and I had planned to meet at 8:45 at the Bolhao metro station to walk to the Rodoviaria bus station to catch our bus that left at 9:30. So I got there at 8:45…and no Johannes. So then it was 8:50…then 8:55…then 9:00…and still no sign. Meanwhile I’m calling frantically, never mind I had gotten a message at 8:38 from him asking whether or not he should bring a bathing suit and towel! He finally calls me at 9 to say he has no change for a metro ticket and could I please come to Campo 24 Agosto to get one for him? You can say I was just a BIT frustrated…all the while he was saying “oh it’s fine, we’ll get there, don’t worry!”. I just told him I’d stop worrying once we were on the bus. So yes, he was right, we did get there in time, but it was a bit of a freak out when it was 9:10 and we were still on the metro.

We got on the bus and who should we meet but Melody! She was going to Leiria as well and happened to be taking the same bus, so we caught up over the bus ride. I hadn’t even seen her for at least 2 months then out of the blue there she is! It was cool though. We stopped in Coimbra but only had time to get a pastry (this is Portugal after all…). We arrived in Leiria and met our host siblings for the weekend there. We had lunch at the cantina at the school then went to the Castle in Leiria. Unfortunately it was raining and not wonderful weather, but it was still awesome. Then we played this “game” – Peddy Paper. It took me a while to figure out what exactly that meant, but then Melody and I figured out it meant a sort of scavenger hunt. So for the rest of the afternoon that we did that, then all met back up at the school. At night, I went with my host sister for the weekend home. We watched the stupid high school soap opera “Morangos com Acucar” and ate dinner. Their house was SO NICE! It was in Batalha and you could basically see the monastery from their porch! So I went to bed in the nice cozy bed and prepared myself for Friday…

Friday – We all met at the school to go to this museum about film. We got to try out a bunch of stuff, I felt like an elementary school kid again! After that we went to this art exposition with a bunch of cartoons. Wes would have loved this, I must say it was pretty cool. We had a café then ate lunch at McDonalds (walking everywhere…yuck!). After lunch we went to this park to play games, hang out, “rock climb” that was NOT rock climbing. Then we all piled in cars to go to LAZER QUEST!! We played Portuguese vs. AFSers…the Portuguese whooped our butts to say the least. Friday night I had dinner with the family again and then all the kids there went to the movies. The movie wasn’t that great but the company was good.
Well I’m really tired…I can’t finish this tonight. I’ll finish later!

Monday, April 7, 2008

I love me some Portugal =)

I found this list online…most of it is true. The ones bolded are things I’ve experienced first hand, my comments in parenthesis.

“You know you’re an exchange student when…”
before waiting to see if anyone understood what you meant, you start acting it out.

you think 100 pounds to pack up your entire life is plenty of space.(100 pounds!?!?!?! That’s twice the amount I got…)
you don’t have preferences anymore, especially when it comes to food. Nothing tastes familiar, thats for sure.(though I never really had preferences…)
you spend a lot of time smiling, nodding, and pretending you understand what’s going on. (basically the definition of foreign exchange…about 95% of my time)
you classify “doing your homework” as translating half of it. And that alone took three hours.
when your grandma asks you what you’ve been learning, you tell her something general, instead of “how to open beer bottles with a 50 cent coin.”
you sometimes use the excuse “Sorry, I don’t understand” to avoid answering a question….even if you do. (and beggars…just say “no speakie portuguese”)
they offer cocktails at the back-to-school party.
you want to hug the people who attempt to speak your native language to you.
you’ve called every person who says “hi” to you your friend… because you don’t really have any yet. (so true)
you’ll read anything in your native language just to have something to read…even packaging labels. (hahaha!!! I thought I was the only one who did this!!!)
you’ve got on the bus and had the driver say “you don’t want to be on this bus” because you got on the same bus the night before and it was wrong then, too.
you sometimes walk around the school during breaks to act like you’re doing something, because you don’t see anyone you recognize and don’t want to stand there awkwardly. (did this TONS in the beginning but not as much anymore…though I did today until I found Pia and Ana Lucia inside. I was just messed up because it was raining and we weren’t sitting outside on the steps)
you know the answer to a question in a class but don’t raise your hand because you don’t want people to expect to much from you.
you’re better than your teacher in your foreign language class. (kind of a given…)
you are a master of pantomime and circumlocution and still can’t have a conversation.
you actually think the language barrier is a good thing when it comes to things like lying to your host parents. (I mean…of course not…)
you’ve ever mispronounced something in your native language (for example, names of products, TV shows, companies) because you know the others will understand it better if you say it with an accent. (all the time)
you’ve tried so many different foods due entirely to the fact that you cannot understand the person asking you what you want so you just nod your head, say “yes”, and hope to god it tastes half-decent.
you’ve tried to order something in your host country’s language only to be answered in english because you did it so badly. (this happens like at least 2 times a day)
you’ve gotten annoyed with said people that automatically answer you in English when you try to speak to them in their language. (AHHH I’M HERE TO LEARN DON’T TALK TO ME IN ENGLISH!!!)
after you come back everybody tells you that you have a weird accent.
your dreams are bilingual. (so weird…)
sometimes it takes you about 5 minutes to remember a word in your native language that you were going to use. (I could not for the life of me remember the word ferris wheel today…I kept wanting to say carousel)
you automatically use words in a foreign language that you cant even translate but they just seem to fit the context.
you watch television shows and movies that you know in your native language, just to understand it for once. (well everything’s still in english so television is easy)

you begin to enjoy foods that you had previously despised at home.
you’ve gotten out of a punishment or being yelled at because you didn’t understand the language, or at least pretended you didn’t.
it becomes a habit to introduce yourself by saying: “I am from (country) and my name is (name).” (Eu chamo-me Caroline e sou dos Estados Unidos…as easy as pie by now…)
you’ve gotten upset because someone assumed you wanted to do something…and then were told you were asked if you wanted too, and you said yes!
you’ve said something like ‘oh yes’ or ‘no thanks’ only to have everyone laugh because your answer made no sense compared to the question.
you actually got a high five when you understood what someone said to you.
you’re never sure if someone’s being your friend, flirting, seducing you, or sexually harassing you. (AHHHH THIS IS SO TRUE!!! ALL THE TIME!!!! Though the other week a guy followed my down the street asking me my name and actually got in my face about it. He’d been asking me for a month but I just always ignored him. This time I was ready though so when he followed me I turned and said “Eu chamo-me Caroline e tenho um namorado que sabe karate!!” or, roughly “My name’s Caroline and I have a boyfriend that knows karate” He backed off then…)
while you’re having a nice conversation with your Gastopa and Oma, your host sister is making out on the same couch. Then her and her boyfriend are always sure to announce when they are going to take a bath together.
you’re not sure whether it’s a children’s book or porn.
you get a little scared before starting a sentence with big words in it in another language. (I used to be scared to start asking someone to pass the water)
you have been put in a one or more classes with the fifth graders, because you’re supposed to understand more there.
you are always counting the time difference between where you are and home.
you always forget the time difference when you call a friend or family member back home…..sorry for waking you up at 4 AM mom.
you do something wrong and people look at you weird, your excuse is “That’s how we do it in my country” even if it isn’t.
you have gone in to greet someone with a shake of hands and find yourself being pulled into an awkward hug/double kiss on the cheek or the other way around. (beijinhos…accidentally kissing old men…blegh!)
you carry a dictionary and a camera in your bag.
you get so used to broken English you finish people’s sentences even though no one else can understand them.
you get into arguments with the foreign language teacher (English) over how to pronounce something. (I’m sorry but the word “chores” is not pronounced like a K!)
you try to speak in the native language and everyone immediately knows “You’re not from around here”.
you can get into the strictest clubs with your ID from you host country, because most people get confused and just let you get in.
you know every cuss word in your host language, but still cant conjugate into past or future tense.
peoples stares don’t bother you anymore.
you’re ready to drink anytime of the day. (but only wine)
you have mastered the arts of deception and sneakery.
you’ve spent more than one night getting drunk with your host parents.
everyone thinks your playing the tough guy when you say you haven’t called your mom yet and don’t miss her too much.

a conversation is going fine, before it suddenly get stuck on some word or phrase which makes you completely forget what you were talking about.
you buy clothes in your country so you don’t look so much like a foreigner.
*From the Facebook group “You know you’ve been an exchange student if”

annnnd cut!

This weekend was pretty awesome, I must say. I last posted Thursday…so here we go!

Friday I woke up, and went to have lunch at Julia’s house and hang out and such. We hung out in her yard/garden to bask in the sun, which we could not think of how to say. There’s “apanhar o sol” but that’s like sun bathing. We ate lunch with her host sister and host mom and talked about Harry Potter and such. Anywho, my Philosophy teacher was missing so the girls in my class and I tanned behind the gym. In Portuguese (which turned out to be my only class that day) they talked about their tests and I played Sudoko…We didn’t have math either because the teacher was missing, just thank goodness the weather was nice!!! Manana let me put my books in her locker for the weekend and we hung out for a bit.

Since I got out a bit early, Johannes and I met at the Campo 24 de Agosto metro station at 6:30. From there we went to Norteshopping for a dinner of KFC and to see the movie “The Bucket List”. So Portuguese right? =P He was so sweet…he even got me earrings! Apparently my mom thought my account of how he did it was funny so I guess I’ll put it here too…this is how the conversation went.

Johannes: So I have something for you…I guess it’s kind of romantic or whatever…
Me: Mmhhmmm?
Johannes: Uhh…yeah…*digs in pocket* *pulls out empty plastic Kleenex wrapper* *awkward Johannes laugh* yeah! No wait. *produces small plastic bag with earrings*

Saturday I slept pretty late in the day and my host parents were a bit worried because I always wake up quasi-early, or at least earlier than Ines. I didn’t really do much at all…we had salmon for lunch (so good…grilled fresh!) then went to a café. Ines was at the hairstylist so then we went to pick her up…I talked with Johannes on the phone. My parents invited him to Sunday lunch so I had to call him and remind him about 50 times what time he should get here. Ines and I went to the beach a bit later and met with some friends at Bea’s Café, and chilled at home the rest of the night.

Sunday I met Johannes at the metro station at 10:30 (only 30 minutes late, a new record!) and we walked to my house…though no one was home, so we walked along the beach a bit and to Bea’s for chocolate and ice cream. Then we came back and finally everyone was home! I introduced them all to Johannes and vice versa, then this other family came and we had this huge lunch. And Jo just had to bring up “matar baleias” or killing whales…which they do in Faroes…my family was a bit taken back but overall they liked him, thought he was very nice. After lunch the two of us went for a walk along the ocean and the river and he got some more ice cream, though I had to decline. We walked back to my house and he talked with Ines and my host dad a bit just about stuff (I was upstairs looking for a CD) and then we got on my computer for a little while. Around 6 he had to go, which is always sad…we don’t have a lot of time together as it is, but this weekend is Leiria, so we get 4 days together! =)

Today…rain. And lots of it. I hung in the library by the heater a lot of the time. It was also my host dad’s birthday so we had a little festa for him with the family at home. It was a lot of fun with really yummy food and a huge cake. Pictures (and a video of our multilingual birthday song!) should be up soon.

I’m really looking forward to Wednesday-Sunday. Wednesday is a fieldtrip with my class in school, then Thursday through Sunday is the “4 dias em Leiria” for AFS. I will take lots of pictures and videos and try and document it as best as I can!Ate ja!

Friday, March 21, 2008


Sorry it's been so long...our internet fried and I just haven't had time to write everything I will try. But I warn you, it will be long...

1st Monday of break: Got up. Was supposed to meet Johannes at 10, so about 10:40 he showed up at Trindade, way to go punctuality. We hopped on the metro, and in the middle of a sentence he yanked me off the train proclaiming "this is the stop!", practically as the doors were closing. Yea, thanks for the warning! We were supposed to meet his sister and her boyfriend to help them switch hotels, but Johannes didn't know where the hotel was. 45 minutes later of wandering up and down the street we finally find the hotel (the first one we'd seen) and meet up with them in a café. I do have to admit their room was awful, purple walls with floral curtains. We spent the next hour searching hotels (and I had a very nice conversation with Freun, Jo's sister's boyfriend about a lot of stuff, thankfully they all speak basically fluent english) until we finally found one near Casa da Musica. We trekked over in the rain to find this very nice hotel. It's funny, Sosannah (the sis) is JUST like Johannes with the cravings, only instead of Chocolate Cake, it's Burberry. We had a lunch at a foodcourt place, then went shopping and basically just wandered Porto (it always ends like this...). I heard some very funny stories about Johannes being spoiled as a kid - and as a teenager too apparently =P - thank god for siblings! So then I had to leave, and met my host-cousin on the metro on the way back. This country is so full of those kinds of coincidences.

Tuesday: Morning was relaxed, then in the afternoon Elif came to visit me in Vila do Conde! She's actually my first friend (besides kip) to come here! We walked up to the mosteiro, then walked along the beach and took about 1000 photos of us trying to jump for the picture, but they all basically failed =P. We got pastries at a pastelaria and talked for a long time. She finally had to leave though, which was quite sad.

Wednesday: Met with Johannes his sister and her boyfriend. We had lunch at this really nice outdoor cafe on the river then went to the coves to see how they make wine. Very interesting day, filled with huge barrels of wine...

Thursday: This day was awesome!!! Well...for the most part. We were all supposed to meet at 12 (raven told johannes 11:45 so he wouldn't be too late). I was the only one actually on time...Raven and Elif showed up about 12:40 and we met with Johannes around 1:15. Another amazing display of punctuality! =P We went to have some mochachocs and then walked across the bridge to this garden in Maia where we just hung out in the grass...rolled down the hill...talked and sang. It was so fun...then Johannes figured out he lost his phone. We looked everywhere in the garden, retraced our steps to mochachoc and the cafe we met him in...but it was nowhere to be found, so we finally just had to get another sim card for him. We actually accidentally asked for free massages instead of free messages though, the guy looked at us like we were crazy...Then we had some mcdonalds and I had to go. =(

Friday: I did nothing basically all day. Didn't even get out of my pjs until 5, but I got an email from Kip saying he would be staying the weekend in Porto! Yay!

Saturday: Met with Kip in Porto, took FOREVER trying to find his hotel. We walked all up and down the city looking for it, finally turned up in the end but yeah, Kip's blog has a better account of this day if you'd like. We had lunch in Gaia with the crazy old woman who kept trying to feed us things and saying she could talk with anyone...then we went to the coves as well, not as good a tour as Wednesday but the same idea. (seriously, check kip's blog it's so much better!)

Sunday: Easter!!! I dressed up and Kip came for the day to our house. We had an amazingly huge lunch and afterwards I gave my family an easter basket and Kip and I watched LOST episodes to catch up at least part of the way. Kip, Inês, Frederico, and I went out for a dinner of francesinhas. When we got home Kip and I attempted to make apple pie, which severely failed. Kip had to go...and it's weird to think the next time I see him we'll both be back in the US...

Monday: The internet fried *NOOOOOOOO!*. It was terrible. I stayed at home most of the day, then went in search of an internet cafe, which I did ultimately find but didn't have enough time to post an entry. My host family and I went to this birthday party that night which was pretty fun, though I only knew like 2 people besides my host family.

Tuesday: Martina came to porto and we met with Johannes, then Brittany and Raven came later...a lot happened that day...but I don't think I'm going to talk about it here. When I come home in June ask me I can tell you then...just not ready to say anything yet.

Wednesday: Martina and I went to Porto...had mochachocs and got on the internet (we were with Johannes). We made cookies when we got home and watched Across the Universe...

Thursday: Martina left...(there is a reason there aren't a lot of details with...some having to do with just...stuff that happened I wish hadn't.'s in the past now and one day I may say but just don't push me now, some sore memories. Let's just say things don't always go the way you want them too, with host family and friends and everything. Things are a lot better now but it's still very fresh)

Friday: Johannes came to vila do conde! We walked on the beach...had lunch...and yes, we are officially going out if anyone cares =). It was so sweet...he just said " you want to be together now?" me: uhhh yea! him: ok now that that's settled...very cute. I saw two videos him and his friends in Faroes made of doing backstreet boys and baywatch. It was funny stuff. I have a very funny boyfriend XD (oh my god, I'm actually allowed to say that?!?! no way!) We tried to get on the internet but the "internet cafe" didn't have internet! What crap! Kind of ironic...

Saturday: Met with this volunteer Ana to talk about "things" that had happened over break, but she thought that they weren't as bad as I thought they were...I guess she's right. After I had lunch with Raven and his girlfriend who'd come to porto (Johannes was still in bed...grr! =P). I got home then Fernanda, Fernando, and I took a trip to the very north of Portugal, I even saw spain on the other side of the river!

Sunday: I spent the whole day with family. We had lunch, then Inês, Fernanda, and I took a walk in Vila do Conde, then we drove to Vila Chã for launche with the extended family.

Monday: Returned to school...blegh! But it was really good to see friends I hadn't seen over break. And they all said they thought my Portuguese had gotten a lot better over break (which is a bit strange because I spent a lot of it with English speakers...) Not really a lot to say. We had a sort of Physical Fitness testing day...I thought I'd escaped that last year!!!

Tuesday: Got on the internet for a bit...went to school...nothing interesting. Road the metro with manana which was fun.

Wednesday: Missed the expresso metro but somehow wasn't late to school...? Awesome anyways. Had German and Math in the morning. Johannes and I met for lunch in sucks I only get to see him 2 or 3 times a week. Just talked with Theresa some after lunch...had history, PE (Theresa, Catarina, Mafalda, and Rita and I hung out outside for a lot of it, the weather here is absolutely gorgeous now!) and English. On the metro back I talked some with Inês and Manana, but we were all tired. I had a latin dance class at night, then watched some TV but I was so exhausted i basically fell asleep on the couch.

Today: FINALLY!!! I am ALMOST done with this update!!!! I had a portuguese lesson in the morning, I'm almost finished with the first level book, and the material is even pretty easy where I am. I had history and the teacher made me read out loud from the book which was very scary, but everyone said I'm doing really well so that was cool. I talked with Maria over the break, it's so cool I'm actually beginning to have real conversations in Portuguese, and I can understand most of what's said to me. I had MACs (math) last period...but the teacher was just dictating examples the students were supposed to write down, but it was a bit fast for me, so that was really boring...and now I'm sitting here in the computer's taken me over an hour to finish this! So if you actually read everything (if anyone even still reads this after 3 weeks of nothing...) don't give up! I'm going to try harder to post more...I even think we're going to have working internet soon! Anywho...até logo! Comment please so I know someone's still reading...or shoot an email. =) have a nice day...

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god. =) x 10000000

I have a boy. I have a CUTE boy. I have a cute, foreign, hilariously random boy who "really likes me".

Am I dreaming? I must be.

Life is so much better than 2 months ago, losing my passport, no friends and all that jazz.

So anywho, as I said. I met Johannes for lunch last wednesday at the McDonalds near Casa da Musica (sometimes there's just no escaping American food). We had a lovely lunch, then just sat on a bench in the rotunda, trading different types of American/Faroese music. We walked to the bus stop and low and behold I got on the wrong bus. Ended up being late to history, but the teacher loves me. And guess what! I got a 16 on a history test!!! They use the 20 point scale and that's actually a really good grade! Probably would correspond to a B or maybe even an A or something here. We had a foro in Gym and we just sat outside talking and singing, it was a really good bonding time with the girls from my class. We hadn't clicked before, but Wednesday we sort of did, it was cool. After school I met with Nuno to talk and he's just so awesome. It was a good day for me and he was like "Exchange is like that, today has been great, and tomorrow could be a waffle day!" Me: "umm you mean awful?" him: "ya!!". He also said something along the lines of "Give me the scoop Caroline! Everyone already knows about you and Johannes!". It was fairly cute.

Tuesday...oh Tuesday. Such a perfect day =). I met with Johannes in the morning for breakfast near his house, (he took my books in his backpack because they were heavy! sweet isn't it?) then we climbed the Torre dos Clerigos, the tallest tower in Portugal (look it up!).

Random divergent story to show how small a world it is: I was wearing my Carnegie Mellon Sweatshirt, and on the way up the steps of the church a man stopped me and said "do you go to Carnegie Mellon?". I said "no, but I'd like to go there, we're exchange students here". He said "oh! I'm a professor there, I just gave a talk in Lisbon and now we're seeing Portugal". I was a bit taken aback and said "oh, do you know Randy Pausch?". He said "Not in drama, but professionally yes, he's a colleauge of mine" I said "oh my god, he's my friend's uncle!". small world eh?

So anywho, back to climbing the tower. It was freaking tall. And when we got to the top we basically were beat. It was a beautiful view though and I took some pictures- don't forget to check the photobucket by the same name! We stayed up there for a bit then went back down...a lot easier! We had lunch at an outdoor cafe, Johannes has this thing about maionaise...don't ask me....But yea. We ended up getting on the wrong train (WTF WHY DOES THIS ALWAYS HAPPEN WHEN WE GET TOGETHER?!?!) Then we were saying goodbye and....

I leave the rest up to you ;)

But I got to school, and we just watched a movie in history. I got my math test back (15.5, one of the highest grades in the class and it was scored the same as everyone else'!!!). German we watched a movie...greaaaat day =)

Friday there was this random strike because people really aren't happy with the government and their education reforms so there was no school. Vacation had begun! I met with three girls from school for lunch in Porto (I got a happy meal!) and some mochachocs, and random hanging out. We left for Lisboa Friday night, got there, had dinner with the avo, and then off to bed.

Saturday I woke up, had some breakfast, then went to this huge mall where I met Alyssa and Martina! Well, I met Alyssa, Martina was really late...but we just talked and quasi-shopped and had icecream. We finally met Martina but only had about half an hour all three together until I had to leave. But now, ALYSSA MIGHT COME NEXT WEEK TOO!!! We have to get it cleared through AFS but I don't see the problem...

After the mall we had lunch at avo's house, then drove past Baixa (didn't stop, so sad) to the rio where the pais registered for this marathon thing. We went to this monument thing and this really beautiful monastary, and tried to go to the Torre de Berem, but could for some reason. Then we drove to Cascais as the sun was setting on the ocean, beautiful drive! Sunday I slept basically forever and stayed in the house all day. Unfortunately I accidentally kissed an old man...damn you beijinhos. The old people here...We were watching a nature show and this one tiny little old lady was yelling at the cheetahs as if it were a futbol game. Then we had "lunch" for about 3 hours...the old people got a little tipsy off some whisky and showed me all this noncirculating money. So random. Then Ines and I went back to the mall so she could buy some shoes and after that we headed back to Porto where we had dinner and now I'm writing this! Actually a very uneventful weekend. I would've liked to see a lot more in Lisboa, but maybe next time!

Anywho I better go sleep, I'm spending tomorrow in Porto and I want to be well rested =)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Only 3 more days til break!!! It's been pretty non-eventful since Sunday...we're going to Lisbon this weekend. And i have no more tests this week! Yay! Tomorrow I'm meeting Johannes for lunch and I dunno...maybe meeting Nuno for an AFS meeting thing. Whatever, non-eventful week, and lots of rain, but yea, I'm feelin' good! =D

Friday, March 7, 2008


Well, today was actually really awesome. Johannes and I met up around 10:45, later than we had planned (but that's typical). We caught a bus to the Pausada de Juventude where they were having an AFS orientation for Portuguese students going abroad next year (and hey, Martina's host sister was there!). Before going, Johannes dragged me into a Pingo Doce, a sort of supermarket, to buy some donuts. Two packs of donuts and a short walk later, we were stuffing our faces in front of the youth hostel when a bunch of the students came out on one of their breaks to smoke cigarrettes (it's Europe). Embarrassed, J and I shuffled inside to try and find Nuno, our counselor. We found him in a sort of lounge area doing an activity with some of the students. We went upstairs and a little while later, and after talking to this one guy who'd been in the US a few years ago and spoke english pretty fluently, all the students came into the room. Johannes and I introduced ourselves (yea, ok, REALLY scary that for the most part we're the only AFSers these students have met). We went outside for a "donut break" for a bit while they were doing this other activity...we were going to try and have lunch with them but it got to be a bit late. While we were waiting though I listened to some Faroese music, and I showed him some Nickelcreek/bluegrass type stuff.

So around 1:45 we went back to the Pingo Doce for some sodas and chocolate (this boy is making me fat) and got on a bus that was supposed to take us to meet Pia at Santa Catarina. I told Johannes to stop when we got to Santa Catarina, but he forgot, despite me reminding him constantly. So we went all the way back to Campanha. We were going to walk to Santa Catarina, but I needed a bathroom first. I stopped at a cafe and got the key for the bathroom, but it didn't work for the women's so I tried the men's which I got in. As soon as I closed and locked the door, the automatic lights shut off, and there was no lightswitch. After using the stall and washing my hands in the dark, I went to leave, to find that I could not get out. Wonderful right? A man finally opened the door and the worker lady proceeded to yell at me about using the men's.

Johannes and I FINALLY got to Santa Catarina, and out of nowhere appears Maud, one of the only 4 porto AFSers besides Johannes and I. We met with Pia too, and Ana Lucia and Theresa. We got lunch in a shopping mall type thing and afterwards met with Julia (the other American AFSer here). I guess we sort of just looked around a bunch of the outside stalls and a store or two in Rua Santa Catarina. We then went to the Camara Municipal and the Rua Aliadas, and after that tried to go to the Torre (the highest point in Porto or something, you can climb to the top), but it was closed, so sad! The three girls from school left and Johannes and I sat on a bench and talked for a while, then he got a Sundae from McDonalds (which he pronounced "Sundee"). We made our way down to the Ribeira where the sun was setting. We sat on the edge by the river and talked some more as it turned to night (and got FREAKING COLD). Very very cool place to be at night. We walked back to the metro station and had to leave =(. Funnily enough, Johannes was a bit distracted and got on the wrong train. 5 minutes later I saw him going the other direction...That's Jo for you.

Got home, had dinner, watched TV, and crashed after my extremely long (extremely wonderful) day. (check photobucket, I'm uploading pics of the day as you read this!)

Sunday, March 2, 2008

An ordinary week

ok well this week has been good

Making some friends and what not...Monday I got a pastry with Manana, a girl from my school. Wednesday I had lunch with Johannes at this cafe near Casa da Musica....

Yesterday I had lunch at an outside cafe by the River with Johannes, it was so nice. We walked across the bridge, had some cake, then he went with me to meet with my friends, and stayed with me since they were late until they showed sweet :) Then I went with two friends from school shopping for clothes and such, then we had crepes.

Today I wanted to go to Porto but my host mom said I needed to study...lajwefakmef;liafj. Because grades really don't count here, and I am trying. I don't see why I needed to be quarantined in the house. More updates later with more detail - but maybe that will hold you off ;)

Monday, February 25, 2008

6 Week Orientation

So this weekend was our 6 week orientation. It was crazy amounts of fun.

Friday morning Johannes and I were supposed to meet at 9:00 for some coffee, but I was 15 minutes late and he was 25 minutes after that, so all we had time for was (you guessed it) a quick pastry/slice of cake. A few awkward chocolatey cheek kisses later, and I was on my way...well sort of. It took me a few minutes to figure out where to go in the street to get to the bus station. I did catch the bus eventually for the 3 hour bus ride to Lisboa. A guy behind me was speaking in English and when I asked him if he was American, he smugly replied "Canadian and British" and ignored me the rest of the trip...stupid prick.

When I arrived in Lisboa, Martina was the first person I saw, followed by Isabel, Adrienne, and Ben. Then I met three of the four Argentinians: Gabriele, Ursula, and Hugo (who WAS esteban from James' musical). We got on the bus and headed to Vila Nova de Milfontes. Alyssa (YAY!!!) and the orther Argentinian Andres met us in Setubal. We met Mariana in Vila Nova de Milfontes and walked to the hotel (there were tons of random slugs on the ground, quite strange). That night we ate dinner, went over rules, then just hung out for the rest of the night. Alyssa and I had this thing about a banana, hilariousness. We stayed up until about 4 in the morning doing random crap and talking. Alyssa's host family is MESSED UP! Her host parents are getting a divorce and they're basically crazy...

Saturday I had to get up for a 9 o clock breakfast (yuck), which the hotel totally skimped out on...all we had was bread, yogurt, and coffee, while in the other part you could have cereal and all this other stuff. We stayed in Camaratas too, which are big rooms filled with about 20 bunks each. All of us were wondering where all this AFS money goes, we spent all this money and don't even get real hotels. The bathrooms were really nice though, Alyssa andI were going to sleep in them...but not really.

Anywho, Saturday we got up for breakfast and then did some really pointless activities. We had lunch and after lunch and after some more pointless activities, they let us wander the town. Alyssa, Ben, and I found a clothes store, a candy store (amazingness...), some supermarkets where we discovered that sour cream just does not exist here, and wandered down to the beach. After the beach we had 30 minutes to go back to the Supermarket to pick up some stuff for my Mac and Cheese dinner dish for the "international dinner". We were running through the streets
of Vila de Milfontes to make it back in time, only to find out we had 30 minutes longer than we thought. After that, we made the Mac and Cheese, ate the dinner (Ursula made Empanadas and Tuna Pie things - both were AMAZING). After dinner we did this talent show thing that was sort of dumb, but somepeople sang and played guitar so it was sort of fun.

The volunteers took us to this Turkish Cafe where we had cappuccinos and just hung out, it was a really cool place, the decorations were awesome. The rest of the night we all just hung out talking a stuff. It was crazy fun...Alyssa and I hung out in the sort of common room, and the night shift nazi kept coming down and telling us to be quiet, even though we were WHISPERING! Then we went to the kitchen to get some cereal, and the night shift nazi FOLLOWED us and kept asking what we were doing, so we just had to tell him we were getting water...nazi...Later we took some videos, I don't remember everything exactly but it was pretty awesome.

Sunday morning we got up for breakfast (which we saw they had set out the night before - teh nast) and took a walk along the beach. We had to do a few more pointless activies unfortunately, but we still had time to eat lunch and hang for a bit. When it was finally time to go, we all parted with beijinhos and promises to meet up again soon.

Those of us going by bus had to take a taxi to Sines, then a bus to Lisboa, and then another bus for me to Porto. It was long, but I had music and phone did die, but whatever, I got home alright...and I did fall out of the bus walking down to meet Ines, equally painful and embarrassing.

Today I had a lesson with my Portuguese tutor, and I must admit that after a weekend of speaking mostly in english, it was a bit hard getting back to speaking mostly in Portuguese. I'm starting to make friends here, Ana Lucia, Pia, and I might hang out in a weekend or two. After school I went with Manana - we had some pastries, went on the metro together, I helped her with her English homework, and her mom gave me a ride home. Tomorrow we're meeting to walk to the metro together, and this weekend I think we may play some Tennis.

Well, I believe that's it...or at least all I had the patience to write. Stay tuned =)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Kip Visit

So, Kip has already written a lovely description of his trip here...and I was lazy and wouldn't be able to write anything this good anyway. Here's an excerpt from his blog, hope he doesn't mind. Enjoy...

Well, basic outline: I found Kip eating in my kitchen Saturday morning looking a bit worse for wear. He apparently had gotten semi-mugged in Porto. And honestly I think he might have gotten the wrong idea of Porto, it is probably as safe or unsafe as any big city. (comments by Caroline in green)

"After my lovely post-arrival nap, Caroline and I talked a little bit with her host-padre about my cooking and apparantly Caroline had been setting high expectations that I would be cooking there. Hehe, well I am not one to disappoint with food so I agreed one of the days to make an American meal and afterwards we headed out to Porto where Caroline was supposed to meet one of her friends.

After a long metro ride and some catching up Caroline and I arrived to find a tall thin blonde-streaked guy looking just a little younger than me (actually Kip, he's 17, so not much older than I am) dressed in a nice European style. This apparantly was Johannes from the Ferro Islands, which come to find out is a territory of the Dutch, with its own language and mythology and songbooks! We fascinated ourselves by taking a little tour of Porto complete with a trip to a coffee shop where I tried a Mokachok - served in layers, I think it included whipped cream (chantilly in Portuguese), thick thick chocolate and something else. It tasted like chocolate gravy, outrageously thick and chocolatey with a light and ever so slightly spicy flavor. I personally got a mixture of this chocolate drink with coffee, since I needed a good waking up.After enjoying this refreshment, we toured around a bit.

Porto I would describe as similar to the London of the movie Sweeney Todd just with more monuments - same sketchy people all over and really dark and dank with stone streets and buildings. Several times I asked the two of them where we were and very nonchalantly they would say 'eh, I have no idea... where does that alleyway go?' (hey, it wasn't that bad! We knew our general area...maybe). I was not feeling good about this. But we stayed out of trouble and spent a good amount of time hanging out by the riverside, which was pretty wide open and nice (hah, and you guys sat in birdpoop and Johannes FREAKED OUT). I liked having open space with good lightinig and not-sketchy looking people around. Across the river we could see the buildings of different Porto wine producers, and as well there were some boats in the river and as we crossed to the other side, we amused each other with international swear words and the various translations thereof. I think Johannes won out with his Ferroese phrase meaning something like 'damn you to the flames of hell' (I'm so learning that language someday). It had a nice ring to it. But we circled around a couple of times, found some Spanish speaking girls from Catalunya to take pictures of us, got some Portuguese pastries (Johannes wanted chocolate cake... and he wanted it right then. It was very out of the blue... C: '...yeah, so I told him I wasn´t interested...' J: 'I want chocolate cake.' K:'What?' J: 'I want chocolate cake, is there a cafe around here?' ) (so true...he was after that chocolate cake all day). We had a nice time walking around Porto and Caroline and Johannes even bought tickets to the Nightwish show in Porto for mid April (hellz yes).

I had told Caroline that I wanted Chinese food for dinner, but her host Padre had told us we needed to be back home by 9pm which in Spanish time is dinner time, so we just went home and discussed food options. Her host Padre of course was very friendly and pointed out some nice places we could visit along the seashore. Well we went out looking and toured around the beautiful plazas and seashore and eventually settled on a café reasonably close to her house that had pizzas. (yay random pizza) I got a pizza wth egg on it while Caroline got a tropical pizza.The whole time we were walking and talking, we discussed what we missed from home, who we missed from home and crazy things for the future - for instance Micajah, he is the first child to kind of enter into our group at home, the 'View Crew' if you will (or VC for short... not VietCong, none of us is named Charlie... or Asian for that matter). In as short as 5 or 6 years, some of us in the VC may be getting married or even begin having children! That´s just too soon! We discussed it at length and heck I couldn´t even decide who my best man would be at a wedding. The point is, we´re getting older and even though we still get together as much as we can, the dynamics will continue to change and I don´t know if I´m ready to be called Uncle Kip, you know? We talked also about what it will be like when we got back to the US, and as we talked about it, there aren´t any hangout places or cafés in Forest. So Caroline and I talked at great length about a café that we would like to make in Forest, a place with enough space for a dance floor and a band, good tapas and snack foods for students and people on a hurry, good generally inexpensive coffee for people on the go (there is no such thing as a to go cup here, we miss that). My thought for the name was Iberia, but who knows. We could have pastries and scones and good bread and tapas and snack foods (not junk, real food), it would be an awesome meeting place and hangout place, especially if it were out by Sonic or Carol´s or something.

We entertained ourselves a great deal talking about that until we finally got home late and got some rest before the next day.I was a little bit lazy after all my travels and so I got up about 11am to shower and be ready for the day. We resolved to be cooking lunch which could be ready about 2:30 and so we went out to tour the Vilha do Conde area. We went out to the seashore where we hungout on a pier above some rocks. We watched the waves and admired the shells, it was a beautiful and peaceful place, not to mention the pretty awesome weather. I commented that sometime we should come out for a little cookout of all the mussels hanging out on the shore. There were also tons of little gastropods such as limpets and tiny conch-like snails with curled shells. It was beautiful and peaceful, and we also went out to see a 16th century high seas exploration ship called the Nau. It had realistic mannequins inside that were for lack of better words creepy, but all in all it was an interesting boat with lots of robe and barrels and rocks in the bottom (supposedly for road paving in the 'New World').

When we got back, it was time to decide what lunch would be! We had already told them that we wanted chicken, spinach and a couple of other things, but we finalized the menu to: grilled barbeque chicken, roasted potatoes with onions, spinach salad and my fruit parfait dessert. There were two interesting things about this meal. First was my invention of a barbeque sauce, the second was their complete revulsion to the idea of eating spinach raw. To create a barbeque sauce, I pretty much rounded up everything in the kitchen that looked like it could fit and cooked it together for a little while. I think I used apple cider vinegar, ketchup, sugar, salt, black pepper, hot chile powder, oregano, and some other stuff I couldn´t name. But you know what, it actually turned out pretty good! I was very surprised and pleased with myself, it could have maybe used some mustard or brown sugar or molasses or cumin, but it worked! Then the host madre had already very nicely cut up the chicken for me, so I just let the sauce marinade with the chicken for a little bit while we prepped the potatoes. Caroline, of course was my very deft and helpful assistant every step of the way. I quite enjoyed being able to cook again and have my own dominion of flavors and construction of something delicious and beautiful. It was a very freeing and lovely feeling to be creative with what I know best. Caroline even added to the atmosphere by bringing down her laptop and playing some musical songs that we could sing along to. It was just like being back at home cooking :-). We cut the potatoes into cubes about an inch wide, along with semi-circle thin slices of onion and a dressing of olive oil, salt and this pesto that the family had (it could have used more salt all in all I think). That we just tossed together and put into the oven at 400ºF, which as it turns out is 205ºC. Then I made a little vinagrette for the spinach salad. The spinach, I should note, was much tougher and darker in flavor than American spinach. By itself I could understand why they were not very pelased with the idea of raw spinach, but I think with my dressing it was going to turn out just fine, and I was excited to have them try something completely new to them. I whisked together some apple cider vinegar with olive oil and honey to emulsify it, then I added some slices of tomato meat to give it some body and texture. Then it was time to face the chicken. Some of the pieces that were cut off the whole chicken were definitely not what we would be interested in eating grilled in the US - chicken ribs, the keel bone, the neck and several other things I could not even recognize. I asked the host dad if I could give the neck to the dog, and he very vehemently (though friendly) insisted that he would eat it himself.

I must point out that this family has a dog in their little back yard, he´s a very friendly golden retriever that generally seems to not be treated with love (I must's true). The family hardly ever pets the dog, much less lets him in the house and never gives him treats and the host padre at least handles him very roughly, by the collar and with harsh words and always dismisses the dog from anything. Meanwhile, Caroline and I are generally hoping the dog can come over so we can pet him and give him little snacks and stuff. It was very different treatment from what I´ve even seen in Spain. All across Spain, dogs I´ve seen were treated very nicely, usually even without a collar, just running around free. All the while Spanish dogs are generally really really well trained to voice and signals to stay and come and get down and all that. Caroline´s host family seemed to really enjoy the trick of having the dog shake their hands... but other than that he only had commands to go away or get back in his little area of the yard or to be pulled over and chained to a tree. I did not really agree with the handling of the dog, but he is under their care and seemed to still like people and very healthy, so it´s not a great violation of anything I guess.

Anyways, after sifting through a couple of methods, the host padre showed me that they do have something similar to a grill - it´s very much like a cooling rack set right on top of a heating element, set overtop a pan to catch the runoff juices. Having the heating element set right underneath the rack on which the food was set made for lots of charring, but in general it looked very good and cooked nicely through. The smell of it and the music and the company of Caroline brought both of us back to our summer tradition of fourth of July festivities at the Ballard house (gotta love it, eh?), which we tried to describe to the host Padre who was most curious about our yankee culinary creations.

So there it was! We had a nice salad dressing for the spinach, which they seemed most curious about, as well as beautiful grilled barbeque chicken and roasted potatoes and onions. It made me miss my mother´s home cooking but at the same time I was satisfied to be there with this beautiful home food with Caroline to enjoy and also the wonderfully pleasant and welcoming company of Caroline´s host family. The entire family was very very receptive to the meal and even rather enjoyed the spinach salad, despite their preoccupations! (they have cooked spinach here ALL THE TIME. I must say I will be happy to get home and never have to see that mushy crap ever again. Please mom, if you read this, I am never eating mushing warm spinach when I get home) Then it was time for dessert!

The night before they had brought out some frozen raspberries which were by this time thawed with some liquid. They then had some fresh strawberried which we sliced up. All of this we macerated in the liquid with a good deal of sugar and a little salt to taste, to let thicken and marinade (I guess) in the fridge. We then crushed up some portuguese cookies (hey I did this!) (important note here... the Iberian peninsula does not have soft gooey cookies. They do not exist. There is no such thing as a hot soft chocolate chip cookie to eat with hot chocolate or milk or whatever. It is a sad state of affairs, and something that everyone mentions from time to time missing from home. I think some day I may simply make a lot of soft chocolate chip cookies to bring to the JMU office. They will be gone in a flash, but it would be nice I think.) and we set the cookies in the bottom of single serving bowls. Then we whipped up some Portuguese natas (it went everywhere with that blender...), which I guess is like heavy cream into chantilly, or whipped cream. This was laced with sugar and a little bit of vanilla, then set on top of the crushed cookies. Then we brought out the macerated fruit and spooned that on top of the whipped cream, then topped it all off with a swirl of honey, just for that extra touch of home. If I do say so myself, it was my favorite part of the meal, and very well received by the family. In response, they told me that 'next time I come' I should bake some bread, too! I can definitely do that. I think they liked it, and I do dearly miss my bread.

The rest of the day we just spent walking around and discussing our future café for Forest and relationship stuff. It was just nice to have a friend to talk to who knows me well enough to finish sentences and knows exactly who I´m talking about and what I mean, not to mention what I miss. Then again Caroline is kind of a special case in any way since she´s my little sister (aw yay...), eu ermão (btw- it's spelled irmã) or mi hermana.It was sad to go since Vilha do Conde was such a beautiful and open place, not to mention friendly. I hope to go back sometime and actually I might be dropping by at the end of my spring break to Santiago de Compostela and then maybe later again on my last weekend free, the first weekend of April.

It´s nice to see your friends."

OK- this week has been good so far. Today two of my teachers didn't show up to class so yea, menos muitas aulas...I had lunch with Johannes near Casa da Musica and then we just hung out, talking and such on a bench in the Rotunda park thing. Hanging out is a precious thing...a lot of the time it's like you always have to be doing something to have fun, it's nice to be comfortable with someone to "just hang". He's really fun to talk with, I'm glad we both go to school in Porto. Anywho, yea. We went to a McDonalds for lunch, got some Sundays, and talked about Family, Politics, Friends, Activites, was good.

Once I got back to school I went to the bibliotecha with these girls from my class Raffa and Mariana. They were really nice and we showed each other pictures and talked about stuff. Then there was English...very easy.

When I got home I went to the gym stressout and I think I'm going to start taking a latin dance class there or something - que fixe! I feel like I'm starting to fit into the family a bit more and this weekend is the 6 week orientation which I'm pretty excited about. Here's to a good rest of the week! Don't forget to check my photobucket - worldtravelercaro - for pictures!

Friday, February 15, 2008

A week in review, and a rollercoaster of one at that!

Another week, another post…

Yet again I apologize for the time in between posts, it’s ridiculous that I should have so much time and not be able to post…then again most of that time is spent on train rides. Now let’s go over this week shall we?

Friday – Some friends of the Nunes’ arrived. They had two daughters and a son. After dinner Ines, Fred, their daughter Raquel and I went out to get coffees with some of their friends. It was cold and I felt sick and they wouldn’t leave until like, 1:30 in the morning, which really sucked because we had to get up early the next day. Not exactly a very fun night.

Saturday – We went to Ponte de Lima, which is a medieval town where Fernando works as a professor. His school was originally a monastery built in the 12th century, so we went on a little tour. After the tour of the school we went to the town to see some of the architecture and monuments and things. They had a bridge built by Romans! And there’s a market here that’s been taking place every other Monday for 2000 years! That’s how much history is here…Once we had eaten lunch we went to this nature walk thing, and the landscape here reminds me a lot of New Mexico or El Paso…dry with the sort of piney trees and rocky mountains. Saturday night I went out again with the other kids and this time was a lot more fun. People talked to me and I could talk back.

– I went to Porto with some of the other AFSers. It was so much fun. We ended up eating a late lunch/early dinner at this Turkish restaurant (Elif helped us with the names of the foods), got some Mochachocs, and walked across this bridge overlooking the River and all the wine factories and stuff. I love hanging out with them, they’re the only people who really get me here…And Johannes and I and maybe Raven might go to a Nightwish concert in April!!! That would be soooo awesome.

Monday – gosh…I don’t even remember what happened Monday…a whole lot of nothing! But I did get two packages from home – AND MY PASSPORT!!!!

Tuesday – yea…kind of the same…nothing happened, except I picked up my passport at the post office

Wednesday – this is the day that I have all day at school…leave the house at 10 ‘til 7 and get to school at 8:15…I hate it. After school though we had an AFS group meeting with my counselor (Nuno, he’s awesome- sort of like chic nerd, he's got the emo glasses and everything!) and some other Porto AFSers, and we went to eat and just talked. Nuno said that I’m progressing fast with the language and if I try really hard I might be able to become fluent by the end! But when I told this to my host dad, he said he didn’t think that was the most important part and that he didn’t think I could do it. When I got home I really had to go to the bathroom so I said a quick hello and went upstairs…unknowingly I apparently offended them though…

– I got up and didn’t have any clean clothes and my host parents got kind of angry that I hadn’t taken my laundry sooner, but I didn’t know! Thursday night they sat me down for a sort of “serious talk” and I asked me if I was happy here…and you know…I’m not really, but I couldn’t bring myself to tell them. I don’t like taking 2-3 hours just commuting to school every day, and I feel like it’s hampering my ability to make friends. But my host family said I’m not making enough of an effort and that I’m too passive with friends and school and activities. I felt so cornered and accused. My host mom was just spitting out one “I don’t understand why you do this!!” after another. She said she didn’t understand why I had to go to Porto Sunday to be with the other AFSers instead of staying with the family. And that she didn’t know why if I was bored I hadn’t tried to look for anything to do BUT I HAVE!!! I went to the Centro de Juventude to see if they had anything to do but they said they didn’t and I’ve been asking about dance schools… They kept mentioning that it was okay if I wanted to switch families, like they wanted me to or something. I’m kind of confused about all of this, and Nuno is going to be gone to Switzerland for 2 weeks so I’m not going to have him to ask what to do or to talk to. I have a lot to think about…

Friday – today I vowed to be positive and keep an open mind – and it was so much fun! I talked to this girl Manana on the way to school. She lives in Vila do Conde but is the only other person here who goes to Garcia da Orta. She’s really nice and invited me to play tennis with her on Saturdays. Even she said it's hard to live so far from the school, and she's Portuguese. I can see myself being friends with her though, and it’s cool she lives close! We even like some of the same movies, and I think maybe she'd like to have a friend in Vila do Conde as well. And thankfully she’s one of those people who are really patient with my language skills…hopefully that can grow into a friendship or something…I might even meet up with her this weekend and introduce her to Kip.

Later, my stupid Filosofia teacher made me do the test, which I had no idea what to do for it, let alone what the material was about. Estupida…

After school, Julia and I went to her house and had a snack and just talked for probably an hour. It was so nice…then her friend Sara came and the three of us and her family had dinner. Afterwards, Julia, her family, and I went to see a small concert of Fado! It was held at a Jesuit center and was raising money for a charity. We walked up this stone path lit was candles into a dim room with curtains and scarves and pillows and candles everywhere. First was a group from Coimbra, 3 men with guitars and 3 men singing. They wore the traditional black fado scarves and sang very melancholy songs. Then there was a break and Julia, me, and a few girls from my class at school and their friends went outside to talk. It’s a lot nicer being in an environment away from school, it’s easier to open up to people. Then there was a group playing music more typical of Lisbon, which is a brighter sound and louder…but that could be because we moved to the front where you could sit on pillows on the floor instead of in folding chairs. Unfortunately I had to leave around 11:45 (I hate being so far from Porto…) and came home…AND KIP IS COMING TOMORROW!!! I’M SO EXCITED!!!!

I miss home so much…every last one of you!!!!

(by the way - I have a photobucket now, just go to and search for worldtravelercaro, the same name as this blog)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

new post coming tonight so don't forget to check later today!!!....Happy Valentine's Day (blegh)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Carnaval...and the insane way these people party

I can’t believe I’ve been here almost a month. It seems like an eternity and no time at all at the same time. It’s hard to describe…the other exchange students feel it too though. You live in this place where time and money have no significance…both seem not to exist. You either have too much or too little of both.

The past few days have been Carnaval, which means no school. Just as a bit of background info, Carnaval is sort of like our Halloween. Everyone dresses up in costumes and goes out, though minus the trick or treating and plus parades. Today’s my last day of break, but school hasn’t seemed like school yet, so there’s not a lot of difference. Lots of free time as usual.

Saturday – went shopping in Baixa (the downtown) with Ines and her friend Pipa. The weather was great. Didn’t buy anything though, just looked and went to a café. And when were outside the mall, this crazy guy came up to me, mumbled some stuff in Portuguese, touched my hair and walked away. It was so creepy!!! I was supposed to have dinner with some AFSers but it didn’t work out, so I came home and watched Phantom of the Opera. I also found out the word for ladybugs = Joaninhas, which means “little Joanna”. Thought some of you Sweeney Todd fans might appreciate that.

Sunday – Ugh, the weather was terrible! Rained a ton in the morning. By afternoon it had cleared a bit, and Ines and I went to a café with her friend Joanna (everyone here is named Joanna! Seriously!). After the café, Fernando and Fernanda picked us up and we went to Vila da Cha for launche at Fernanda’s parents house with a bunch of family. Kind of boring for me, since my language skills are limited.

Monday – I woke up, had breakfast, took a shower. I went with Ines to the Centro de Juventude to see if I could join an orchestra or choir or have lessons or ANYTHING. But alas, nothing. You can only start anything if you sign up in June or September. So I seriously don’t know what I’m going to do for the next few months without music at all and no extra curriculars. Extra curriculars (music and arts) are my LIFE! Around 6 pm, Ines and I took the subway to Porto where we went to Pipa’s house to get ready. I was meeting up with Raven and Andi (a Hungarian AFSer), but a lot got lost in translation. At first we were going to meet at the Sao Bento metro station, then at a bus stop, but they eventually called a cab and came to Pipa’s house.

We then went to Pipa’s friend Ana’s house for dinner. Very yummy actually, sort of like
a Portuguese version of Mac and Cheese. I actually found the Super Bowl on TV, broadcast in Portuguese…though I only watched for about 5 minutes…so sad I missed it =(.

After eating, we walked to this place called Mario’s Bar that was right by the Ocean. It was really cool, if not extremely windy. I got a vodka and raspberry and a vodka and something limey while I was there, really good. It was a bit small, but they played some Latin music, which was fun to dance to. At about 2 am we left the bar. Andi had to leave (sad, she’s really awesome) so we went up to the street to meet her dad, and found this outdoor bathroom that was really hilarious, but beside the point.

When she had left, Ines, Pipa, Sara, Raven, and I went to the nightclub Industria, which was in this shopping mall thing. Raven and I swing danced a bit (though it’s freaking cramped in a club) and I got this coconut rum thing – might have been my favorite of all. A live band played, and they weren’t great, but OK. Not good dancing music though, which kind of sucked. They had two dance floors with two DJs, so we sort of went between the two all night. Unfortunately, someone spilled their drink on me (yuck) and it was really smokey. I’m still feeling it in my vocal chords.

I was really surprised at how many people I saw that I knew. A few from my class, a girl from my German class, and even Maud – one of the other two AFSers at my school! We finally left the nightclub at 7:30 and went back to Pipa’s house to crash.

Tuesday - Fernando and Fernanda came and picked us up around 1 pm on Tuesday. We went back to the house and there was a parade! We watched it from Ines’ window. It reminded me a lot of the Bedford Christmas parade, only no marching bands, and way better floats – though they were all schools and organizations and such. At night, I got my webcam hooked up and Chris Woolley and I fiddled for an hour or two with how to get it to work. At one point, Chris couldn’t hear me and I couldn’t hear him, then I tried with Fuzz, and Fuzz could hear me and I couldn’t hear him. VERY FRUSTRATING. But finally, Chris and I finally got it to work, but at that point only had 10 or 15 minutes to talk. At least now I (think) I know how to make it work, so it won’t be a problem.

Wednesday – woke up, had breakfast, read a bit, watched some TV, took a shower, had lunch…writing this. Really boring. *yawn* I think I’ll take a walk soon. The weather is gorgeous, almost hot here, like 70s and sunny. Maybe spring is on its way? Hopefully!!

Kip is (I think) going to visit in a week and a half (the weekend of February 15 through 17). I’m so excited!!!! Unfortunately though, I’ve had a toothache the past couple of days. Not good…I just hope it gets better and I don’t have to go to a dentist here.

Miss you all so much…please comment, or email, or IM, or write…anything! I love news from home, it gets me through the week!

Saturday, February 2, 2008


It never ceases to amaze me how a Portuguese woman can come home after a long days' work and whip up a meal that looks like it belongs at Crown Sterling. Seriously. Last night I came home from school (it was pouring, blech) and Fernanda whipped up a meal of chicken courden-bleu, greens, vegetables, pie, chocolate fondue, and homemade whipped cream. It's absolutely ridiculous.

Today I thought I was going to go to dinner with some other AFSers, but no one could I went shopping with Ines and her friend Pipa. I came home and had dinner (fabulous as usual, fresh fish, spinach, rice). We watched Phantom of the Opera...yet again, funny how snippets of a previous life can catch you off guard. So many memories are associated with that music for me. Now I'm here. It's Carnaval, which means tons of little kids dressed in costumes, and (hopefully) going out on the town.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Getting LOST

I just want to watch LOST =(

But the free ABC online is only for people in the US, and iTunes downloading takes hours and costs my host family money.

It's just one TV show!! It shouldn't be this hard to find!!!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Trains, Planes, and Automobiles

Sorry it's been a week, I just haven't had a lot of time to sit down and write. I'll do a bit of a quick overview for now, and go and elaborate perhaps a bit more tomorrow.

Thursday - My German teacher exiled me from the class for drawing too much attention for being a foreigner...whoops. =)

Friday - We had a family friend come and visit, so of course the dinner was out of this world. Salad, Bacalhau, Dessert...yummy.

Saturday - Started out feeling pretty lonely and homesick. Then it got a LOT worse. I was stuck in the house and not able to receive my package from home, which was very aggrivating. Finally I was about to lose it when Ines and I took off for NorteShopping at last. We met up with a few of her friends for dinner (they're really nice) and went to FNAC where I got a few English books. After dinner I went bowling with some kids from school for two of their birthdays. Can you believe they have AMF bowling in Portugal?!?! Well they do! I even rolled a strike, but we all did terrible. No one got higher than an 86. It was one of those nights where they do blacklights and disco balls and strobes and stuff. The kids were all nice to me. Sometimes it pays to be the cute foreigner! (though with all these pastries I'm getting fatter every day...)

Sunday - I woke up on Sunday and ate breakfast with the host Pais. I then proceeded to go around Vila do Conde taking some video. It was a gorgeous day - wonderful walking weather. Expect videos soon...I'm still figuring out how to change them so I can put them on the internet. After I came home, I headed to Porto to meet with some of the AFSers (Raven, Johannes, Elif, Melody, Christina, Svenja). We did the usual of AFS kids - wander around the city looking for good cafes. However, we did stop to look around Casa da Musica - this strange place that's a concert hall but also weird with design and architecture. We had lunch on the other side of the river where I tried francisinha. It's a porto specialty, but I probably wouldn't have it again. Basically it's Texas toast, sausage, ham, beef, cheese, special sauce, and french fries all on a plate...I felt like a beached whale afterwards. We then traipsed back across the bridge to Porto and went to this AMAZING chocolate place with these things called Mocha-chocs. AKA heaven on earth. It's sort of a thinner version of hot fudge, condensed milk, and whipped cream. Oh my after Porto I went to Vila da Cha to my host grandparents' house. Where we had afternoon tea (launche) and cake. Fatness.

Monday - The day of chasing trains. I woke up on time. Got ready. And the damn metro was 20 minutes late...never mind I had to catch a train to Lisboa!!! So anyway, it finally got to the station and I had to SPRINT to my platform (which I had no idea where it was). I got on the train about 5 minutes before it left. It was a good trainride, about 3 hours more or less. When I got to Lisboa I met Nadia, this really cool volunteer. We went to lunch in this huge mall and then to the American Embassy. And now I can finally have some piece of mind about the should be in the mail in 2 weeks! Then we had a few hours, so we went to the AFS headquarters in Lisboa and baixa, the downtown. What a small world, but Kip was leaving baixa, Lisboa about exactly the same time as I was coming into baixa! If only we could have met up! I didn't even know!! But I did get to see Martina, and the three of us talked about exchanges and pastries (I need to stop!) and walked around. Then I realized I was late for my train. Again. So I parted with Martina (so sad!) and Nadia and an AFS staff and I ran to station...where they weren't selling anymore tickets. So I had to buy a ticket for a later train and wait another hour...but eventually I did get back to Porto!

Tuesday - Finally got that package! Lots of goodies. Getting mail here is like Christmas in an envelope. Write if you want! I also met another American who said he's here because his wife is Portuguese and has daughters my age.

Today - Long day! Wednesdays are my only day with morning classes so I have to leave the house at ten til seven. I had all my classes except Filosofia (probably a good thing since the teacher wasn't too happy when I had the Portuguese lesson yesterday instead). I went to Casa da Musica for breakfast with Maria Joao. My classes can be a bit boring and I tend to daydream sometimes...but that's ok. I had lunch alone, but after everyone heard they were like "next time you'll eat with us". I came home...we had salmon for dinner...yum.

Hopefully this weekend/Carnaval I will get the chance to go to some discos/bars with Ines, other AFSers, kids from school...we'll see where the weekend takes me! And Kip might visit soon!!!

One thing that does bother me a bit about the Portuguese is that they don't have a lot of regard for personal possessions. So if you have a book on your desk, they'll take it off and flip through it without asking. It just sort of bugs me, especially if I have stuff I've written and they start looking through it. Today I was passing a note with this guy Joao in my class, and there wasn't anything really in it. Just sort of like "oh where do you eat lunch? You live in porto? what are you doing for carnival?". But still people (who I like, they're nice but...) just picked it up and read it and started passing it around. I guess I just have to get used to it, and keep personal things WAY personal.