Sarah, Hopefully

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Desarrollo

Argh... today hasn´t been a very good day. :P

I haven´t slept well the last two nights even though I´ve been really tired... I keep waking up tired and hot and with eyelids that feel like sandpaper. Yucky. I don´t remember the last time I wrote in here. Did I write yesterday? I think I did.

Anyway... for some reason my left hip and leg have been aching like mofos today. I was sitting in class wincing in pain. We had a test in Conversation, and I was kind of mad about it... she told us last week which vocabulary lists we would be tested on (1a, 2, 4, 5, and 6). I studied really hard, but when I got the test there were a bunch of words and terms that I didn´t know. Why? Because there was vocabulary from list 1b on the test. Um... she didn´t tell us that. I was kind of not happy. I know it will only be a few points off, but still! It´s not fair. I would have had those points if I had known I was supposed to study that list. Grr.

After classes I went over to the building where the Intercambio office is and went into the office for extranjeros (foreigners) to try to register my visa. First she told me I needed a letter from the Intercambio office stating that I am a student at UAG. So I went over to the intercambio office, waited about 20 minutes because people kept cutting ahead of me when it was my turn to talk to the secretary, and finally got the letter. I returned to the extranjero place. I handed her all my things again. She pulled out this big packet of forms and began filling them out in duplicate. Then she hands the packet to me, points to the sheet on top, and says, "You need to bring in these things." It´s a crazy long list. It´s like... I have to go to a Mexican bank and pay some big sum of money (500 some pesos, about $50), bring back the receipt and two copies, get SEVEN pictures taken (I am not exaggerating), have my passport and two complete copies of it (that means photocopying EVERY PAGE of my passport TWICE), have 4 pieces of paper with my proof of address (i.e. telephone/water bills, which I of course don´t have) and if I don´t have those then my roommate (which I guess means my host family) has to fill out this other form in triplicate... And that´s not even the entire list, just what I can remember. And I am supposed to do this within 20 days of entering the country. That means by last Sunday, Whoops! Of course, the woman at the Mexican Consulate in Kansas City told me I had THIRTY days to do this stuff. Greaaat. Oh yeah, and if I don´t do this correctly? I could get kicked out of the country. At this point I am thinking that might not be a bad thing.

So yeah. That sucked. So did walking across campus to get Katie from the computer lab after that fun time in the office of evil and then walking BACK across campus and for a really long way to the bus stop, my hip aching the entire way. Then our bus home didn´t stop when we pushed the button, so we had to walk a longer distance from where it finally did stop to let us off to our house.

I´m tired, I´m frustrated, and it´s pouring rain outside and not looking like it will stop anytime soon. Do I have my raincoat or umbrella? Of course not. They don´t believe in the weather channel down here, I tell ya! :P

Anyway... yeah. Maybe y´all will be seeing me sooner than we thought, if I don´t get all this visa stuff worked out. I hate beaurocracy.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Rainy Day Monday

It was raining a lot this morning. It wasn´t so bad when we left the house and for the first 10 minutes while we waited for the bus, but after our bus passed us by a couple of times it started to pour. Woo woo. Okay, there is this high pitched whining computer noise going on that is DRIVING ME CRAZY. Make it STOP!!!

Seriously. Aaaaaaaah!

Anyway... my weekend was pretty boring, I guess... On Friday night Katie and I went to the mall by our house and watched "The Notebook." Spanish subtitles, yay for english! "I want thum... pancaketh... and thum... pickleth..." hee hee hee. Uh, this guy just walked by me sucking on his cell phone. That´s strange. Anyway... yeah. Movie friday night, then Saturday we slept in until like... noon... that was nice. Katie wanted to go back downtown, but I really didn´t want to go. She was like, "What, do you want to go to the mall? That´s just like America!" I just left the house... it sucks that we have no space of our own to chill out when things get stressful. We never wound up talking about it... by the time I got home she had gone out with Geni and some of her friends (that´s one of the daughters in our house.) I think our house mom talked to both of us about how sometimes the girls that stay there have different interests, etc, and it´s okay if we don´t do the same things. Thank you! Our house mom is really perceptive. Even if I don´t know what to call her other than "our house mom." Hehe.

Anyway... that kinda spoiled my day. I feel like I am really indecisive here... mostly it´s just uncertainty about where to go or what I am doing or how to do things. I think Katie sees my indecision and decides to take control, which is okay most of the time, but sometimes it feels like she´s bullying me into doing things I don´t want to do. I think that I can get a feel for the Mexican culture without going to clubs or going on trips where people are going to drink all weekend. Maybe I´ll be "missing out" on something, but I don´t really think I´ll be missing it. You know? Anyway... Katie was gone all afternoon, so I had some time to sit and think about things, which is always good.

Yesterday we went to wash clothes. There was this guy there who came up to me while Katie was making a phone call and asked me if I spoke English. I guess he just wanted to practice his English or something... he was pretty nice. A lot older than us, though. I think he was about 26. He gave us his phone numbers and e-mail, but I have no intention of getting in contact with him. Nice guy, but I´m not going to take any risks. Katie thought he was nice, too, but also was kinda skeeved out by the prospect of us "coming to visit while he visits his sister in Cancun". Uh, no. Thanks. But... no.

And the horrible ringing continues. I am going to die.

I have to do this oral presentation for my Conversation class next week. It´s our final project or something... hard to believe I´m almost done with an entire unit of classes here. Next friday is the last day, and then we move on to the next level. Hopefully. I´m not really that worried. Anyway... for this presentation I have to make a poster about a state of Mexico. With pictures and stuff. Where am I supposed to print pictures? I guess I could just try to find some white paper and draw stuff. That´s annoying, though.

This should be an okay week, I hope... today I go back to visit my service agency. Let´s hope I don´t have any more mishaps with the bus! Ugh. I´ll try to judge whether they really have enough work for me to be doing or if I should go somewhere else. It sounds like Jordan, the one guy in the IPSL program, is also having problems settling into his service, so at least I´m not the only one.

My parents sent me a package!! It should get here later this week. I´m pretty excited. I think my mom put books in it! Hooray! :)

Okay, the ringing of DEATH is driving me crazy. I´m going to go now. Have a good week, y´all.

Friday, August 27, 2004

99

Woo woo... chillin´in the UAG computer lab for the second time today. I had a test in my first Spanish class today that I finished in 40 minutes, so I had over an hour to kick around before Conversation. First I went to the library, though, to see about getting a library card. Ugh. Very frustrating! Why do these people not understand the concept of an all-in-one card?? I went to the information desk and asked how to get a card. The lady told me to go upstairs where they would take two photos and give me my card. I went upstairs and told them I wanted a library card. The guy asked me if I had my photos. No... I thought they were supposed to take them there? He asked me what university I was from (he had a list.) I said I wasn´t from a university, I was here with a program. I then had to point out my name on this list. Finally he told me to go to the Photo Lab and get two photos and come back. He gave me the extremely useful directions of "down the stairs and to the left" when I asked him where, exactly, the photo lab is. Ugh. I left and cried a bit because it´s the end of the week and I´m tired and I just want to read a book in English that doesn´t use the word "hermeticism," damnit, and I am sick of feeling stupid every time I ask a question here. Geeze.

After that I came here to the computer lab. Nobody wrote me new e-mails since yesterday... que triste... but oh well. I wrote to Mr. Strecker and Mrs. Bushouse yesterday to tell them some of my adventures here in Mexico. I thought they might be interested. This computer is really annoying me because the mouse button barely works. That was off topic. Anyway.

I guess I am doing okay... only 99 days left here. 99 days until I come home! At least I am out of the triple-digits. Man, it took me a long time to spell "digits." I´m trying to stay optimistic. It´s easy to get down when I´m tired, like today. I just feel like I keep making mistakes... it´s frustrating. I want to talk to people. I want to use my Spanish. I want to have a chance to meet and talk to Mexican students. Instead... I don´t know. It´s like exchange students are kept in their own little bubble. We live with familes, but we don´t make close bonds with them because they know we are just going to leave in a few months. We work at agencies, but they don´t let us get too involved because we are just temporary volunteers. We take these classes, but they aren´t real university classes with Mexican students. They are full of Japanese, Korean, German, and British students-- other exchange students. They keep us together in this little bubble and it´s impossible to really feel like we belong here.

I´ve been trying to do something useful with all of my free time... thinking more about college applications, etc. I´ve been checking out the Azusa Pacific website to look more at deadlines and other majors I might consider. I am no longer so sure about Spanish, and if I do major in it I will probably wind up double-majoring in something else. They have both writing and English lit majors, which would be cool, maybe. I don´t know. I also looked at KU´s website to see what it takes to apply there... I need to have a backup or two this time around, I think. I may not have to deal with that stuff until I come home, though. I vaguely remember KU´s deadlines being later? I´m not sure.

I feel so greedy, always asking you guys to write me e-mails and stuff when I hardly have time to write y´all back, but I really do love hearing from you, even if it´s just talking about your day or your classes or what you ate for lunch. If you write me I promise I´ll try to send you a little note back. Send ´em to: shgarlow@yahoo.com

I love you and miss you all.

¡Que tengan un buen fin de semana!

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Adventures in Busland

I went to my service project yesterday for the first "official" time. My house mom and one of the daughters rode the bus down there with me. We got off about 12 blocks late, though, and had to walk back quite a ways to get there. My house mom told me what bus to take back, but she also told me that if I had any questions to just ask the driver if the bus goes to "La Estancia", which is the area where we live. Remember that for later. ;)

The service was... not quite what I expected. The place is REALLY small. They almost have more adults working there than they have kids staying there... and the other girl I am working with has very very bad spanish skills. I was having to translate for her. I´m going to wait and see if things change, but at this point I don´t know that they have enough work for TWO volunteers to do. They were talking about us each coming in one day a week... which is fine on one hand, but on the other hand, I don´t think that´s what our service is really supposed to be about. We´ll see, though. I don´t have to go back there until next Monday.
Anyway... we were only at the agency for about an hour. The other girl immediately hopped on her bus back to her part of town. When the bus my house mother had recommended came, I asked the driver if it went to La Estancia. He said No. Let me explain- to get to my service agency, we took bus 629-2. I was supposed to take back 629-1. That´s the one he said didn´t go by La Estancia. He said that another bus did, but I wasn´t sure if he was saying 629 or 629-A. (There are 10,000 varieties of bus 629!) To be safe, I decided to just hop on the 629-2 and take it back home.
Wroong choice! I rode that bus for an HOUR before I finally saw a street that looked familiar. I managed to hop off right where bus 25 picks us up for school every morning. What an adventure! I took a very long bus tour of Guadalajara- not like I would know how to return to any of those places if I wanted to! Oh well. It could have been much, much worse.

I have been reading everyone´s blogs and diaries, but I don´t usually have the time or a fast enough connection to leave notes. Never fear, though, I am keeping up to date! Courtney´s adventures at GATech crack me up. I wanted to tell Julia that over the weekend I saw a movie version of the book she made me read, Midwives. Sissy Spacek was in it. It wasn´t bad. I just saw the end of it, really.

I´m really excited about having all the channels on our TV now. We have the WB!! I can watch Gilmore Girls!! Katie loves GG too, so it´s doubly awesome.

Okay, these creepy guys on a computer facing mine keep looking at me and saying things. Go away scary mexican boys, go away!! In the US, I would probably be pretty flattered by the attention of someone honking at me or something as they drive by... but it happens SO MUCH here, it is really degrading. Okay, one of the stupid guys just spilled his drink all over himself because he was laughing too hard. Serves him right. :P

Aight... I have lots of free time this week, so I will probably be on in the late afternoons this week. AIM Express doesn´t seem to work on these school computers, but it works (however sporadically) at the internet cafe near our house. I´ll try to chat with some of you guys if you´re around.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Darn slow Mexican internet connection...

I DID have time to write a post, but since it took me 20 minutes to get logged in and open the "new post" page, I now only have time for short blurbs.

I was online for a while on Friday and talked to a few people. I was at the hole-in-the-wall near our house, and the AIM express connection kept getting lost. It was pretty annoying. I wrote half an entry and then it was gone... so sad. Oh well. If I didn´t get to talk to you, sorry.

I didn´t go to class on Friday because I got sick thursday night... a sinus headache that went to my stomach. I was all better after I got some sleep, though. Man, someone reeks of perfume in here. Blech.

So, a nice 3 day weekend... Katie went to Vallarta, so I sat in the house for two straight days doing nothing but watch TV. It was pretty sickening. I am beginning to agree with my dad- I need to find a place to get some BOOKS!

This afternoon I am going to my service project. I don´t know it it is just a meet and greet or if they are dropping me off for my first full day. I haven´t had lunch and I am going to be missing lunchtime.... so that´s no good... I will figure something out, I guess. It stinks, though. After this week I will have done everything this program has to offer. Then I can really make a judgement about how I feel being here, I guess. Toward the end of the week when I get tired it is really hard for me to be optimistic. Unfortunately that´s also when I have the most chances to write or talk to people. It´s pretty messed up.

I´m trying to figure some stuff out about myself... I think there is less than a 2% chance that I will actually come back here for the second semester. I am being more realistic in dealing with staying here for the 4 months I am committed to, though. I know it´s the honorable thing to do. It´s just way harder than I ever thought it would be.

Okay, I gotta run over to the intercambio office so they don´t leave without me or get mad because we are late. Plus, I gotta find a bathroom! Woo.

Have a great week, guys.

Darn slow Mexican internet connection...

I DID have time to write a post, but since it took me 20 minutes to get logged in and open the "new post" page, I now only have time for short blurbs.

I was online for a while on Friday and talked to a few people. I was at the hole-in-the-wall near our house, and the AIM express connection kept getting lost. It was pretty annoying. I wrote half an entry and then it was gone... so sad. Oh well. If I didn´t get to talk to you, sorry.

I didn´t go to class on Friday because I got sick thursday night... a sinus headache that went to my stomach. I was all better after I got some sleep, though. Man, someone reeks of perfume in here. Blech.

So, a nice 3 day weekend... Katie went to Vallarta, so I sat in the house for two straight days doing nothing but watch TV. It was pretty sickening. I am beginning to agree with my dad- I need to find a place to get some BOOKS!

This afternoon I am going to my service project. I don´t know it it is just a meet and greet or if they are dropping me off for my first full day. I haven´t had lunch and I am going to be missing lunchtime.... so that´s no good... I will figure something out, I guess. It stinks, though. After this week I will have done everything this program has to offer. Then I can really make a judgement about how I feel being here, I guess. Toward the end of the week when I get tired it is really hard for me to be optimistic. Unfortunately that´s also when I have the most chances to write or talk to people. It´s pretty messed up.

I´m trying to figure some stuff out about myself... I think there is less than a 2% chance that I will actually come back here for the second semester. I am being more realistic in dealing with staying here for the 4 months I am committed to, though. I know it´s the honorable thing to do. It´s just way harder than I ever thought it would be.

Okay, I gotta run over to the intercambio office so they don´t leave without me or get mad because we are late. Plus, I gotta find a bathroom! Woo.

Have a great week, guys.

Darn slow Mexican internet connection...

I DID have time to write a post, but since it took me 20 minutes to get logged in and open the "new post" page, I now only have time for short blurbs.

I was online for a while on Friday and talked to a few people. I was at the hole-in-the-wall near our house, and the AIM express connection kept getting lost. It was pretty annoying. I wrote half an entry and then it was gone... so sad. Oh well. If I didn´t get to talk to you, sorry.

I didn´t go to class on Friday because I got sick thursday night... a sinus headache that went to my stomach. I was all better after I got some sleep, though. Man, someone reeks of perfume in here. Blech.

So, a nice 3 day weekend... Katie went to Vallarta, so I sat in the house for two straight days doing nothing but watch TV. It was pretty sickening. I am beginning to agree with my dad- I need to find a place to get some BOOKS!

This afternoon I am going to my service project. I don´t know it it is just a meet and greet or if they are dropping me off for my first full day. I haven´t had lunch and I am going to be missing lunchtime.... so that´s no good... I will figure something out, I guess. It stinks, though. After this week I will have done everything this program has to offer. Then I can really make a judgement about how I feel being here, I guess. Toward the end of the week when I get tired it is really hard for me to be optimistic. Unfortunately that´s also when I have the most chances to write or talk to people. It´s pretty messed up.

I´m trying to figure some stuff out about myself... I think there is less than a 2% chance that I will actually come back here for the second semester. I am being more realistic in dealing with staying here for the 4 months I am committed to, though. I know it´s the honorable thing to do. It´s just way harder than I ever thought it would be.

Okay, I gotta run over to the intercambio office so they don´t leave without me or get mad because we are late. Plus, I gotta find a bathroom! Woo.

Have a great week, guys.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

One week and two days

I have been here for a week and two days. Whee.

Last night I tried to make a list of things I enjoy about Mexico. I mean things I really look forward to about being here. Sadly, there were only 3 things on the list.
1. Lala juice
2. Having a TV in our room so I can watch Law and Order every weekday for two hours in a row
3. Mary, my Conversation class teacher.

Yeah. Sad, isn´t it? I´m not saying that I hate everything else. There are a lot of things that fall into the "Okay/Doesn´t but me/I don´t care" category, but only 3 things that really excite me. I feel like I have a serious problem... everyone else here is like, "I LOVE Mexico! This is so great, so fabulous, blah blah..." and they have tons of things they adore about being here. Most everyone else is going on this trip to "kind of near Puerto Vallarta" this weekend. It costs $1900 pesos to go, which is between $175 and $200. Katie kind of made me feel bad about not even looking at the information about it... but I was like, "You know, my family didn´t budget for me to go on a bunch of $200 trips, I don´t have the money right now, and I really don´t feel comfortable going. If I want to go on a trip, I´ll go later in the semester." Even if I´m not allowed to leave the house alone (which I doubt, especially if I´m going somewhere in the neighborhood), I´m fine with staying home and watching TV all weekend or something. I shouldn´t have to feel obligated to do whatever Katie does. It kind of irritated me that she expected me to go just so I wouldn´t be home alone. Whatever. If she´s that concerned for my wellbeing, she could stay home, or at least try to be more understanding.

I´m trying to be patient... this is the first week of classes. I think Martha, the program director, found me a good place to do service. I´m supposed to go visit it tomorrow or maybe next week. I´m going to wait another week or so and see if I feel any more enthusiastic about being here. Right now it´s like I´m doing everything because there´s nothing else to do... Unless I work up some genuine enthusiasm for something, I don´t really see the point of staying here for four months. I think that 3 or 4 weeks is a good amount of time to try something out. We´ll see. I´m not making any promises at this point.

The buses here are crazy. This morning Katie and I got one one that was crammed full of people. People in all the seats, filling the entire aisle... there are these bars overhead to hang on to, and handles on the backs of the seats. There have been a couple of times this week when we could barely get to the back of the bus and ring the bell thing to be let off at the right place, it was so crowded. The bus we take home is a different route than the one we take to school. The afterschool buses are PIMPED OUT. There is all this faux-fur trim on the rearview mirrors and stuff, and they´re painted this pimpalicious light blue on the inside. It is rather amusing.

Yesterday during the 20 minute break in the middle of my 4 hours of Spanish classes, I bought a bag of what I thought were cheese doritos. I found out after one bite, however, that I was wrong. Nacho Cheese is not good enough for the people here- these were Nacho Cheese and Jalapeño. Ew, ew, ew. At least that was better than the chips Katie got, which were these disgusting cheese things. Ugh. I tried one and wanted to spit it out. She put the remaining half of the bag on our bedside table at home "for a day of true desperation." I doubt I will ever be THAT desperate.

This is my last clean t-shirt (YEAH Free State SuperFan!), so today we are definitely going to do some laundry. Oh yeah- that was one of the items on my list of "I feel dumb:". That list had over 20 things on it. I feel dumb for having to do laundry so soon, when Katie apparently hasn´t worn hardly any of her clothes. Maybe she re-wears stuff or something. It gets so hot and sweaty here in the afternoons, though, that the thought of wearing the same jeans or something twice is kind of disgusting. No shorts allowed on campus... they have kind of weird rules. No long hair on guys, tennis shoes or dress sandals on girls. Although, I´ve seen lots of Mexican girls wearing miniskirts and tank tops. Why can´t we? I guess I shouldn´t complain. A truck full of Mexican guys had enough energy at 7:40 this morning to sing and blow kisses as they drove by us. Although, maybe that was for the Japanese girls next to us. You never know. I probably don´t want to be any more tempting than I already am. *shudder*

Time to go home and eat "la comida", which is supposed to be the biggest meal of the day. Super fun-fun, or something. :P

Again, thanks for all the comments and e-mails. If you want to write me privately, send me one at shgarlow@yahoo.com

Okay, the @ symbol here is on the letter Q. And you have to press "Alt Gr" to get it. Whatever that means.


Monday, August 16, 2004

Mexican Time

Woo... everything feels so out of whack right now. When you eat breakfast at 7am, you are REALLY hungry by noon, but lunch isn´t until 3! Waaah. Oh well. I bought a box of granola bars today, so I can stick one in my bag and much during the 20 minute "descanso" between my two sections of Spanish. First is Grammer, which was really easy. Teaching me stuff from Spanish 3? Riiiiiiiight. Then was conversation, with a different teacher. I got to go interview 4 mexican students about dating and relationships. And for your information, Mexican couples resolve arguments with "sexo reconciliatión". Um, yeah.

We visited a couple of the service places today. We didn´t see any of the people, i.e. the kids... we just walked in, stood there while someone in charge talked rapidly in spanish about the agency, and walked out. And we were all really hot and tired, so none of us were really paying that close of attention. Whoops.

Thanks for all the supportive comments and e-mails. I was pretty hysterical on Friday night and Saturday. I´m a lot calmer now, but I still feel pretty discouraged. So far it seems like classes aren´t going to be that interesting, the service agencies aren´t really up my alley, and for being in Mexico, there are suprisingly few chances to talk to Mexican students. I wish there was something about being here that really excited me or made me happy. Thus far everything is rather novel because it´s in a different country, but I don´t know how long that will last. At some point the novelty will wear off, and I am going to need to find something I enjoy to get me through this.

I wouldn´t say I am completely recovered from what I was going through this weekend... I am calm, which is a good change, but I´m still not feeling very upbeat about the entire situation. We´ll see how the rest of this week plays out.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Get me ouuuuuuuuuuuut of here

I don´t want to be in Mexico anymooooooooooooooore.

Seriously.

I called my mom this afternoon and begged her to let me come home. I am supposed to call back tonight and talk to her and my dad. I know they are just going to tell me it is culture shock, that I should give it time, that once I start classes and my service project everything will be okay.

I am exhausted right now. Starting next week, I will have about 3 times as much to do. I am going to die. I will get up at 6:30, eat at 7, catch the bus by 7:30 to be in class at 8, have spanish class from 9-1, then get back on the bus to be home by 2 to eat lunch at 3 so we can go to our service projects at 4 and be there until 8 when we will come home to eat dinner at 8:30 and go to bed by 10. Five days a week.

I am scared to walk down the street. I am scared to ride the bus. I am scared to cross the hugely busy street to get to school. I am scared that I am going to be late to class, insult my host mother, annoy Katie, never make friends, pass out from exhaustion, get sick from the food.

I apparently don´t know that much spanish. I don´t enjoy speaking it or hearing it all day. If I never heard or spoke another word of it, I would be happy for the rest of my life. I don´t want to study Spanish in college. I am not extroverted enough to connect with troubled young boys. I am the completely wrong personality type for this. They never tell me anything. I have to be in class at 8 on monday, but what class? with who? in what building? in what room? what books do I need? I don´t know. Nobody does. They don´t tell us shit.

I know I sound rediculous. I know you think I am just going through a phase and I will get over it and in two weeks I will be having the time of my life.

I don´t want to stay here for another two weeks, or one week, and definitely not for another 16. Screw college credit, screw the money wasted, screw it all. I want to go home. I don´t belong here. I just want everyone to leave me alone and let me go home.

I´m not afraid to admit that I was wrong. I felt all summer like I didn´t really want to do this, but I didn´t let myself think about it for long enough to sort it out beforehand. That was really dumb of me, and I knew it then, and I know it now.

Aargh. I am tired of people trying to give me pep talks. I don´t want pep talks, I want to go home! Why isn´t that acceptable?

Friday, August 13, 2004

I don´t like chiles!

Hola, amigos!

I am back in the lab at UAG. In about 30 minutes there is a taco lunch for all of the international students. Katie and I decided last night that we would eat the tacos and then go home and eat the lunch that our house mother prepares around 2:30 every day. We like to eat! Hehe.

Yesterday I took my spanish placement exam and only placed in level 4. I am kind of annoyed by that. There were 80 multiple choice questions, 10 per level of Spanish. I placed really high in levels 5-7, but because I didn´t score 8 points in the first four sections, I am starting in the lower level to "review some of the basics". Stupid pronouns. Who cares? Oh well. I guess having specific classes is better than having to pick random other ones to take, anyway.

I have an address you can mail me at! Through the exchange department at UAG. Here it is, and remember that you should use FedEx if you can and that whatever you send will probably take from 2-4 weeks to get here, at least.

Sarah Garlow
Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara
Departamento de Intercambio Universitario
Av. Patria #1201
Lomas del Valle
Guadalajara, Jal. 45110 MEXICO

The "departamento de intercambio" part is really important, because that is the only department that would know how to find me! ;)

Last night we went to this club where lots of international students go. The drinking age down here is I think 18. I didn´t have a good time. I didn´t really want to go in the first place, but Katie wanted to go and see if we could become better friends with the other people in our program, which I guess is a good idea. I knew that our house mother wouldn´t want her to go by herself so soon. So, I went... we were there for a couple of hours. I didn´t drink anything and the smoke really bothered me. There was hardly anyone there when we got there, but within an hour the place was jam packed. I didn´t take enough money with me, only enough to get in, but you get a free drink ticket with the entrance fee. I think it´s still in my purse. I didn´t even want to ask for a Coca-Cola. I feel so young and stupid here sometimes... when I have to talk to strangers, when I am around the other girls in this program (not Katie), when they are talking to us in orientation, etc.

Speaking of orientation... this morning we had an hour and a half lecture on Culture Shock by this guy... man. It was weird. A lot of it was stuff we have heard a lot of times before, but this guy says some of the weirdest things! Like he was telling us... if a guy comes up and asks you if you like chiles, don´t answer. He is not just talking about peppers. Heh, heh. No thank you, keep your chiles to yourself!!! Also, if you say¨"estoy caliente!" instead of "tengo calor" when you are saying you are hot, it comes across as " I am hot and horny!" Woo-ee, things are complicated here! ;)

I was kind of homesick last night, I think because I was really tired and annoyed about the club thing. I would really rather not go clubbing all the time like some of the girls here... and I don´t want to take a trip every weekend to random cities everywhere in Mexico. There is one trip that is school sponsored in October, I think, to Mexico City. I may do that one. Otherwise, I am really very content to stay home. I think I am kind of a chicken about some of this, in ways that the other students aren´t. It probably has something to do with me never having been out on my own before... I am still accustomed to my parents looking out for me and having authority over my decisions and such.

I learned to use the bus yesterday. It´s not that hard to do, but I am kind of worried about getting home this afternoon because I don´t have enough money in coins, and handing the bus driver a 20 peso bill is kind of extravagant, I think... bleh. Maybe Katie can loan me some monedas (coins). Walking down the street is annoying. People are always honking their horns at us, staring, or whistling. Also, crossing the street is nearly impossible. They don´t believe in crosswalks and the pedestrian right-of-way down there. They would really love the opportunity to run you over. That´s how the mexicans get their jollies. Pedestrians- 10 points! Hehe.

Okay, it is about time to go eat some tacos. Adios!

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Day 2 in Mexico!

Woo woo. The keyboards here are weird. There are extra keys for the ñ and stuff, and extra ones between the L and the enter key, so I keep hitting the wrong thing. And the apostrophe is in a different place, etc. It will take some getting used to. I will have to stop using so many contractions, eh?

Things here are pretty good. We had yummy tamales for dinner last night. They are cooked in a corn husk or something. Mine was rice with green salsa and chicken. Good stuff. No stomach problems yet, but I am sure that I will have them at some point. I bought a bunch of bottled water at WalMart yesterday so I do not have to drink from the tap so much. At dinner they always have Leche (milk) in a box that is warm. I guess it is okay. It is a box like soy milk comes in. Strange, though. There is also always a pitcher of water and a jug of this stuff called LaLa. It is kind of like tang. It isn´t orange juice, but it´s an orange flavored drink. The air is really dry here, so I am always thirsty. That is kind of annoying. I bought a bottle of Manzanita Sol at WalMart, too. I think that is the kind of Manzana drink that Julia told me to buy. I forget. They also had Manzana Lift. They are carbonated apple drinks. They have Coca-Cola, but they use a different kind of sugar so it tastes funny. They also sell Coca-Cola Lite. They say "lite" instead of diet, but supposedly Coke Lite tastes different than diet. I am not in any big hurry to try it. I am not THAT thirsty yet.

All of the meals here are later than I am used to. Breakfast this morning was at 8:30, before we came here to UAG, but lunch isn´t until around 2 o´clock. Dinner last night wasn´t until after 9. We have a TV in our room. There is an interesting mix of programs. Some are Mexican, some are American with subtitles, some are American dubbed over in Spanish, some are pure english. We watched a bunch of Law and Order yesterday.

Today is 2-for-1 day at the big movie theater in the mall by our house. Katie hasn´t seen SpiderMan 2 yet. She wants to see the new Princess Diaries movie, too. Maybe it will be there today. I am really glad that Katie is my housemate. She and I have fairly similar temperments, I think. We met the other program kids today. There are 3 other girls and one guy. Two of the girls seem like partiers and the third is from New York City and hardly knows any Spanish. She gets really excited when she knows a word. The guy, Jordan, probably has as much Spanish as I do, but everyone else, Katie included, are pretty out of practice or else just plain don´t know it. I am sure that in a couple of weeks we will all be very fluent, though.

They told us about our service agencies today. I don´t think mine is a very good fit- working at a home for extremely troubled young boys- but next week we will tour the agencies and can tell the program director if we would like to work somewhere else. I said today that I would be the most comfortable doing something rather quiet with not too many people, such as arts and crafts or office work. We will see what happens there. We are not supposed to be insulted if the kids at the agencies give us nicknames that seem rude or crass. (At least none of us are of different races. I´d hate to see how some people react to a kid calling them a racial slur all the time.)

We were watching Fox News and the BBC this morning. Lots of stuff about the Scott Peterson case, Bush appointing a new head of the CIA, Kobe Bryant´s lawsuit, etc. It will be interesting to see things like the Olympics and the presidential race from another country. A new perspective, I guess! That was part of what I wanted when I decided to come here.

The "red" here is really slow. (Red = internet.) Patience is a virtue that I am going to have to employ in many areas, and hope that other people have in good measure, as well. It is kind of frustrating not being able to understand everything that goes on around me, but I think I am better off than some of the other kids. (I like how I call them kids even though they are all probably older than me.) They can sometimes figure out the general area being talked about, but any of the finer details are lost. If people speak slowly enough, I can usually understand.

I probably should get going. Katie and I have to walk back across campus to call our host mother so she can come pick us up. Eventually we will ride the bus to school and home, I think, but for the first day or two we are being chauffered around. I am not complaining. :)

I still don´t know all the details of my address. Col. La Estancia is the district... kind of like saying someone lives in Alvamar, I think. Richard Wagner is the street. Other streets near our house: Mozart, Millet, Bach. See a pattern? ;) If there is a zip code of some sort, I do not know it. They don´t do a real good job with the paperwork and information here in the IPSL program. Oooooooh well. I will take what I can get. I know how to walk to WalMart. For now, that is good enough for me.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Hola!

Soy en Mexico! My roommate Katie and I found this little internet cafe as we were walking back from WalMart and the mall. Our house is close to everything: WalMart, CostCo, the mall, a movie theater with 23 screens. Our family is really nice, even if I don´t know any of their names. I was really tired when we got in last night and I don´t think I was paying sufficient attention. I think the girl who is my age is named Jeni, or they call her something that sounds like that.

Okay, so here´s my airport adventure: Got to the Guadalajara airport, was waiting in line to show them my visa and stuff, and this guy comes and tells me I need a red form. What? So he takes me to the side and hands me this form. At this point, I´m almost in tears. I was tired and I didn´t understand why I needed the dumb form, and the form was in Spanish and I was so flustered I didn´t know what to do. The guy came back, filled the form out for me, told me that I have to learn Spanish if I´m going to come to Mexico, and sends me back to the line. I get to the desk and the guy asks where my "big papers with my photo" are. What??? So he sends me to a DIFFERENT desk. By this time I really AM crying, which I guess must do the trick, because then everyone was really nice to me, offering me coffee and water and telling me not to worry. So it took me about an hour total to get through customs or whatever that was, but I finally got my bags and found my host father. Phew!

It´s kind of warm here. We don´t do anything with the university until tomorrow, I think, so today has just been hanging out, going to buy things I forgot, such as a toothbrush, and chillin´. We also bought some snacks. Good stuff.

Okay, this keyboard is annoying and I still need to write e-mails to my family, so that´s all for now. Love yáll, leave me notes!

Sunday, August 08, 2004


The beautiful picture Murl and I took in the portrait booth at the mall. :)  Posted by Hello

My Last Day in America

It really wasn't all that exciting. Tragic, I know. ;) I got up and went to lunch at Chipotle with my parents, swinging by Arby's for a cherry turnover on the way home. Then it was time to PACK! My least favorite thing to do, I assure you. I wound up with a huge suitcase on my parents' bed for packing all of my THINGS (books, school supplies, shoes, etc.) and my bed covered in piles of clothing to go in Julia's big blue duffle bag. So much STUFF!

Had a family dinner... barbequed chicken, some mixed vegetables, bread... nothing too amazing, but I'm sure I'll be pining away for meals like that in a couple of months. Did a bit more packing, and Murl came over around 8 o'clock. He bought me a pretty silver and black frame for the picture we had taken last night at the mall... in one of those goofy booths where you pose, and then "rembrandt" "draws" you and it takes forever? Yeah... I'll post the picture after I'm done writing this; I'm sure you're all dying to see it. ;) It's cute. I'm taking it with me. :) We finished up all my packing. I'm under weight, hallelujah! The suitcase weighs about 62lbs, the duffel only about 45. Since they're both allowed to be 70lbs, I'm in the clear. We ate some yummy peach pie with vanilla ice cream (the only way to eat pie!) The other thing we did was go through some pictures to put in those ghetto little "albums" you get when you donate to the Disabled American Veterans and things like that. I'm taking those plus the scrapbook Julia made for my gradution... I've gotta show everyone the faces of all my people back home! :)

I won't talk about the tough goodbye stuff with Murl... you don't deserve to know. ;)

I'm sure my parents think I've been in here crying, but really it's just me trying to stifle my hilarious laughter at Courtney's quoteboard. Like I told her, I wish I had a hard copy to take with me for when I'm feeling down... it's a definite pick-me-up. :)

Tomorrow I'll get up early and go to breakfast with my parents, then come back here and pack my carry-on bag... a backpack with my CD player, cd's, cameras, film, favoritest stuffed animals, prescriptions, etc. My flight leaves KCI in the early afternoon, and if there are no delays I should reach Guadalajara around 8pm. I have about an hour layover in Houston, so hopefully I'll get some food there or something.

Aaaaaaah, I'm so nervous! I know you guys are all thinking about me. Make sure to leave lots of comments (my blog accepts anonymous notes, so you don't even have to have a blog! Just leave your name at the end of it!)

If you're mailing stuff, here's the homestay info I recieved... see if you can make heads or tails of it, I can't, really.

Sra. María Eugenia Bonilla
Richard Wagner #5209
Col. La Estancia

That's in Guadalajara, Mexico, of course. My dad thinks that "richard wagner" is the building or complex, with Col. La Estancia being the street. Whooooo knows. I don't. Maybe tomorrow I will. :) Aaaaaaah! I need to go to bed before I totally pee my pants or something. But you KNOW I'll be lying there awake for hours anyway. Geeze. :P

And thus ends my last day in America.

Oh! 117 days is how long I'll be gone, with tomorrow being day 117 and the day I come home, December 4, being day 0. :) The countdown begins!


Saturday, August 07, 2004

Topeka Trip

Woo woo! It feels a lot later than it really is. Maybe 'cause I'm used to getting home really late- midnightish- and I got home around 11 tonight. It's only 10-till right now! Geeze. :)

I got up around 1 today, but then I fell asleep on the couch for another hour. Guess I wasn't really ready to wake up. I was supposed to start packing today, but all I really did was lay out all my school supplies on my bed and fold about 7 articles of clothing. Yeah..... I really wasn't very motivated. I'll just pack all 140lbs tomorrow! Hehe. I actually hope I don't have THAT much luggage. If I had to haul it anywhere, it'd be rather difficult.

Murl and I went to Topeka for a fun evening. I drove us over to Olive Garden, where we had tons of yummy food. Then we wandered around the Westridge Mall. I bought MORE clothes, believe it or not... their Old Navy is a lot bigger than ours. I got a fun colored button down shirt, two colorful tank tops, and some really pretty green pajama bottoms. They're striped with flowers and pretty lacy embroidery. :) After the mall we went over to Barnes and Noble and chilled for quite a while. Murl spent lotsa $$$ there... to each his own, I guess. ;) The drive to and from Topeka really isn't that bad. Much less stressful than the one to KC! I should drive that 5 or 6 times to get over my fear of highways. ;)

I feel... squeezed. My heart is suffocating. I'm aching to have more time... to be with the people and things that I love. (Arby's cherry turnovers!!!) I want to spend more time with my parents, with Murl... I want to eat all of my favorite foods... 4 different kinds of toast, 3 different cereals, Arby's, Chipotle, McDonalds, Applebee's. Yesterday I said goodbye to my sistah-sistah... sadly, I was half asleep. I'm gonna miss her, though. We never talked about what to do with Churro... take him with me? Leave him here for Julia? Hm.

I have this huge lump in my throat, and I just want to go curl up between my parents in their bed. Growing up hurts.

Drifting

I understand him, but I don't understand myself. If it were entirely in his hands, I know where it would end up... but I'm a half of this whole. I'm a part of it, too. It's me I don't understand. It's me I don't trust. I'm the one who can't make promises. It's easier for me to break things off than to make promises I don't know that I'll be able to keep.

I think we finally understand one another... I understand how he needs hope to be able to go on. He understands that I am incapable of promising. And so... Monday is the beginning of something new in our relationship: the beginning of uncertainty. Not knowing what lies ahead- no promises, no commitments. Just seeing where life takes us.

I still love him so much. If anyone came up to me and said that it's impossible to love at this age, I would slap them across the face. I'm not joking. I hate that people tie love up in this tiny little box and refuse to see that it's so much bigger. I hate that, because I used to be that way. I used to think that the only kind of love was the "forever" kind. That I could only love the person I married. That's not true, though. I love my family, I love my friends. I love Murl. I'm willing to love and not overanalyze it, not try to decide if it's puppy love or teenage love or forever love... it's all love. I don't think you can say from where you are what kind of love you're living, because the real test, the real proof is the end. When you look back on your life, on all the people you have loved, and say... that was true love. I loved that person, but our love wasn't strong enough. I told myself that I loved that one, but I didn't, really.

I love him. You can't take that away from me. I won't let you. I will continue to love him until it is no longer the time for this love. I don't know when that is. Neither does he. It's hard, I'll admit that. Everyone wants certainty in their lives, but I've decided to live with uncertainty. To not make promises that I may not keep. To see what happens next. It's the best I can do. If that doesn't satisfy you- so be it. It's my life, not yours. Wait until you fall in love for the first time, and then maybe I'll let you offer your opinion. Not before.

I start packing tomorrow. Yippee. I should go to bed.

Thursday, August 05, 2004


The Notebook Files #1! There are 5 of these, with a new post underneath. Feel free to scroll past them and start reading. I just wanted to share my artistic side. This is one of my 2 favorites. I love the colors and the simple statement in the middle.  Posted by Hello


The Notebook Files #2! This one and the first one tie for my favorite. The funny thing is, I cut off the words at the top of the page, thinking I would use them seperately from the rest of the page... but when I was putting stuff together, I realized I'd grabbed both parts! Oh well- I stuck the words on the bottom instead of the top and added the cheerful sun. It fits, I think.  Posted by Hello


The Notebook Files #3! A slightly tropical theme. I cut up my copy of People en Español and used the words on a couple of these. "Time for myself" seemed like a rather tropical concept.  Posted by Hello


The Notebook Files #4! Here's where I realize why Wal-Mart was selling these puppies at 10/$1. I had already noticed that some of these notebooks had their covers on upside down- not a problem, since I planned to collage over them. However, I realized a few minutes ago that this one has THREE covers- and the 2 behind the front one are really messed up, half red and half purple. Crazy.  Posted by Hello


The Notebook Files #5! Don't forget to read the new entry just below. :) Posted by Hello

Super Grr Face!

I wrote out this big long entry, full of insights and wit, and then when I tried to do something simple like put in a link, POOF! It was gone. A tragedy, I say!

Anyway. What I was trying to say (toward the END of the entry I lost, so I'll put it at the BEGINNING here so if I screw up, I won't lose much!) was that for the last few days I have been very seriously involved in reading every comic in the archives of Something*Positive. Hooray! I made the link! Thanks, Julia, for showing my how. I knew big sisters were good for something! ;) It's a funny comic, in my opinion... probably rather dirty for a lot of peoples' taste. Probably the thing I love about it the most is choo-choo bear, the boneless cat. Oh yes. He's pink, can turn into jelly, slides down the drain when you bathe him, steals underwear for his owner to sell on e-bay, tends to randomly grow tentacles and eat things... hehe. The other thing I love about the comic is Pepito, the Spanish-speaking midget. Poor Pepito was abused in the past, but is on the road to recovery. Hehe. Pepito and choo-choo bear are friends. Well... choo-choo ingested Pepito to save him from his abusive master, and when he spit him back out, they were best buds. Go choo-choo and pepito!

I'm listening to an eclectic mix of Steven Curtis Chapman and the Spanish stylings of a couple of my Strecker-fabulous CD's. WooWoo.

I've lost my earlier inspiration, I fear... your loss, I suppose. It was really just me ranting (for the 9347th time) about how I'm in denial about leaving the country (in 3 days) and not returning for 4 months, and how it's easier just not to think about it at all, and how there's lots of random crap for me to worry about if I do begin to think about going, so I don't think about it. Yeah, we've heard all this before. I won't bore you.

I bought more random crap today. When does the insanity end???

I finally got around to decorating my notebooks. Oh, the many wonderous uses of mod podge... I'm pretty proud of them, I must say. They turned out rather cool. I may experiment and see if they scan well, I can post pictures of my favorites here for you lovely people. (Like you REALLY care what pictures I collaged onto my notebooks. Hehe.) I guess this means I don't have many more excuses for putting off the one assignment I've been given to do before arriving in Mexico.

Did I mention that I got an e-mail with my service and family placements this week? Yeah- totally not informative. It gives the name of my service placement ("Los Pinos", which either means "The Pine Trees" or "First Steps") and the name, address, and telephone number of the woman I'll be with. Nothing else, though. Even 2 sentences would be helpful. "Sra. Maria Bonilla is a widower with 3 adult children. She works for the university." or "Sra. Maria Bonilla has an extensive collection of ceramic dog figurines and loves to knit purple sweaters." But no. Nothing. So... I have names, but they're pretty meaningless.

I'm not sure what to do now. I've done just about everything I can do online... no more fun comics to keep me up until 4am... I don't have any books to read, because I'm afraid I'd forget to return them to the library and would therefore incur some SERIOUS late fees. (Yikes!) I could re-read one of the 300 books on my bookshelf, but I've actually done a lot of that this summer... I'm kind of running out of ones that I want to re-read. :P Bleh. Normal people would go to sleep at 1am, but me? I cry out indignantly, "THE NIGHT IS STILL YOUNG!"

I color coordinate today. It makes me proud. :)

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

The Maybe Song

I have the Maybe song stuck in my head. I'm making it up as I go along. Too many ideas to put it together very coherently as of yet... perhaps I never will.

Last night Murl and I went to see "Thunderbirds" at the movie theater. We were the only people in the entire theater. It was really funny. We could laugh and make comments all we wanted without worrying about anyone getting mad. It wasn't a bad movie. I liked Lady Penelope... she kind of reminded me of my sister, except Lady P is British, and Julia isn't. Everything of Lady P's was pink. Her rocket/car, her chauffer's suspenders, all of her clothes... She could knock out the bad guys while wearing strappy pink sandals with three inch heels. Go Lady P! Hehe.

The air conditioner at Murl's house broke, so it's about 87 degrees inside. Yucky! He has to sit around all day waiting for the a/c guys to come put in a new $1000+ air conditioner. I remember when our air conditioner went kaput a couple of summers ago. It was rather miserable. We had just had our floors redone and Julia was out of town for the summer... we had to rent two of those boxy window a/c's-- one for the living room and one for my parents' room. It was not the funnest time ever. No, indeed.

I'm waiting for my mom to get home with an air conditioned car. My dad took Julia's to work, and my mom is out having iced mocha with a friend. Ooh la la. That leaves me at home with the dodge as my only means of conveyance- and in this heat, that is NOT an option. Not like I would drive it anyway... I haven't driven that car since May, and I don't regret it for one minute. :) No, indeed... my days with the Ghetto Car are over!

I don't even notice my haircut anymore. I knew it would just take a few days to get used to... the only times I do really notice it are when I'm in the shower and there's so much less hair to shampoo and when I brush it out, which isn't as often now because it doesn't get all tangled and nasty and in my way anymore. Woo hoo.

I am seriously craving an Arby's cherry turnover right now. I've been hooked on cherry turnovers since Murl's birthday, when I went to brunch with his family at Teller's. Those turnovers were reaaaaaaally good. I'm reaaaaaaaaaally hungry right now.

*walks away humming the Maybe song.*

Monday, August 02, 2004

Let's give 'em something to talk about

I should not take people's advice. People should vanish off the face of the earth. Emotions make logic fall to pieces. I don't know which I prefer. I wish I could vanish. I wish I would learn to keep my mouth shut. I wish... for many impossible things.

Hung out with William today. We drove to lovely downtown Ottawa and walked around in the 90-some degree heat. Fun times. And we got drinks at Sonic. It was good to hang out and talk. There were certain people I wanted to spend more time with all of senior year and never did- William was one of them. A very cool guy, our William. I think he's going to have a lot of success in Oregon.

I'm really ready for this day to be over. I'm going to bed.

Sunday, August 01, 2004


still pretty Posted by Hello


Ooh, pretty Posted by Hello

A picnic, a picnic

The past couple of days have been rather nice. Last night Murl cooked dinner for me (swordfish steaks, lobster bisque, fried potato wedges) at his house and we ate it all candlelight-style. Very romantic. Even more romantic? As we were watching "The Princess Diaries" on the disney channel, he reached in his pocket and pulled out a blue velvet box. Inside was the ring pictured above.

Yeah. I know. It's gorgeous.

Anyway... today we went down to Sunfire Ceramics (how many times have I been there this summer? :P) and I painted him some dishes for his dorm. A plate, a bowl, a big coffee mug. He painted a small tile with some crazy Legends of Zelda theme... very typical Murl. ;) After that we went to Arby's and had a snack (yeaaaah cherry turnover!) and then went home and packed a picnic. We got to the picnic at about 7 and saw Jenny and Becca and some other people. They had filled up about a bajillion water balloons and had a water fight- I didn't participate. I don't really like stuff like water fights. I don't like getting wet or getting smacked by water balloons. You'd think some people would figure that out before participating, so they wouldn't yell at people who hit them with water balloons. Isn't that the point of a water fight? Whatever. Murl got pretty wet, but he likes things like water fights, so that's okay.

I'm kind of itchy right now- I think I got a bit eaten up at the picnic. Oh well. One of the risks of summer, I suppose.

The pudding pops are yummy. Vanilla is my favorite. :)

One week from tomorrow I'll be in Mexico. *silent panic*