100 Days!

As of today, I have been in Spain for 100 days which is also exactly 1/3 of my exchange. It's kinda crazy to think about. It doesn't feel like I've been here that long, but at the same time, it feels like I've been here forever. Since my Rotary district in Minnesota asked us to schedule our flights home in December, I've already emailed them to figure out my flights. I don't have my official itinerary yet but I'll be leaving Pamplona on June 30th, which means that my exchange will be 300 days long.

A while back, I posted a post on my Facebook page asking what I should write about in my next blog post. By the time I received responses, I had already written my next blog post, but some of the suggestions were so good that I decided to honor my first hundred days in Spain by writing a blog post answering them.

The first response suggested that I write about the other exchange students in Pamplona. There are four Rotary exchange students in Pamplona, including me. We come from 3 different countries: Australia, Belgium and the US. Their names are Antonio (Australian), Valentine (Belgian), and Sebastian (US).

Since Antonio is from Australia/Southern Hemisphere, his exchange year is January to January, which means that he will be leaving in the beginning of January. I think I speak for all the other "newbies" when I say it's been nice having an "oldie" to show us around the city and to show us the ropes. After exchange, he is going to return to Australia and complete two different degrees in University.

Valentine is from Belgium, so her exchange year is the same as mine (September to June). She has already completed high school, so this is a gap year for her before she goes to University. Valentine plans to become a social worker. One question she receives often when she tells people that she is from Belgium is if she is from Brussels. The answer is that she is not from Brussels, but instead from the south of Belgium where they speak French.

Sebastian is from the US and has lived in many states including Iowa and Delaware. This is his senior year of high school, so he is busy filling out college applications and studying so that he can pass all his classes. Somehow he still has time to explore Pamplona and experience what life in Spain is like.

Me, Valentine, Antonio, Sebastian

The second response to my question suggested that I write about my day to day life in Spain and how it compares to my normal life in Minnesota. The third response suggested that I write about food. Without realizing it, I already covered both those topics in one of my previous blog posts (First Two Months).

The fourth response asked me to write about many things including my Spanish family and friends, what it's like to have to use another language all the time, and if I've noticed any changes in myself. This suggestion was submitted by a Rotarian from my host club in Minneapolis.

My Host Family
My current host family lives in Mendebaldea, which is a neighborhood of Pamplona. I have three siblings, but one is on exchange in Germany. Their names are Eduardo (13), Jacobo (17), and Alfonso (19). Jacobo is on exchange in Germany. My host parents names are Tuti and Rafa. They are both very nice and I feel like I am truly their adopted daughter and part of the family. Since they are from Santander, which is a city about 2.5 hours from Pamplona, we go there every time we have a break from school or during holidays. Speaking of Santander, I just spent 5 days there this past week, where I got to explore the city and meet my extended host family.

My Friends
Finding friends at school was difficult and I knew that it would be, but in a different way than I imagined. It's hard to describe how it was different. It was different because I had the exchange student reputation, which made a lot of people interested in me, and because making friends with a language barrier is different than just switching schools but still speaking the same language. I have to admit, the first few weeks of school consisted of me following around random groups of people until I met Naia who decided to take me under her wing. I'm naturally shy when it comes to meeting new people and making friends, so that made it even harder.
When I met Naia, she let me follow her around and actively included me whenever she could. The first recreo that I spent with her and her friend group was very overwhelming. She introduced me to everyone and they all told me their names but honestly, I couldn't remember any of their names at first. It took a few days, but eventually I learned all their names and started being able to connect their names to their faces. There are 10 of us in the friend group (including me). Their names are Alba, Celia, Clara, Irene, Leyre, Marina, Naia, Natalia, and Sara. They are all so amazing and so incredibly nice. I feel incredibly lucky that they accepted me into their friend group and include me. I am closer friends with some of them more than others, but that's normal. However, I feel like I could talk with any of them about anything I want to. I'm so glad to have these amazing girls as my friends. I know they will always be there for me and I will always be there for them. I've told them this before, but they will always have a place to stay in Minnesota (Chicas, os he dicho esto antes, pero siempre tendrĂ¡s una casa en Minnesota).
Irene, Celia, Sara, Marina
Natalia, Me, Clara
Missing: Naia, Leyre and Alba

Speaking Another Lang
uage 24/7
I gotta say, speaking a language that's not my native language is tiring. Thankfully, when I arrived, I had a good level of Spanish already, which made it easier but it was still hard. Understanding the accent is pretty easy and I haven't really had problems with that. I have had problems understanding some of the local words or slang/phrases that people use in everyday language. It's a lot better now, but sometimes my friends say something and I have no idea what they said because the direct translation of the phrase doesn't make any sense. It's all part of learning the language, so it's expected. I've already started to think and dream in Spanish and sometimes I talk to myself out loud in Spanish without meaning to. It's pretty easy to switch between the two languages but sometimes I'll be writing or talking in English and not be able to remember a word or how to spell correctly. If I'm really exhausted, I'll accidentally speak in both English and Spanish, but it doesn't happen often. Sometimes in English class, people will ask me what a Spanish word is in English or what it means and I'll be unable to explain or translate the word. When that happens, many exchange students say that we are "unable to English right now". It's kinda funny because even though English is my native language, I'm starting to forget some of it.

I'm sure that I've changed a lot since I arrived in Spain, but I haven't really noticed any significant changes. However, when I go shopping for clothes, I'm drawn to boysenberry, plum, magenta and jam colored clothes and I have no idea why. (See below for the colors) I'm also a lot more open to trying new foods, and I've been eating a wider variety of food. Other than that, I haven't really noticed any changes.