Friday, May 6, 2011


So, with a little more than a week till I fly out, I'm finally resting a bit.

As of Wednesday night (well, Thursday morning at 3:00AM) I am done with my job at the Minnesota Daily. I am so sad to see this leave my life. It's been a great experience, professionally as well as personally. I've learned a lot about myself, gotten a lot of great job skills and made some amazing friends. I'm really going to miss it, even the late nights and endless computers-failings around midnight each night.

As of yesterday, I'm done with all my classes at the U. I finished my Spanish debates, wrote a last paper for my European politics class and attended my other final classes.

Later today I'll be finishing my final paper for my Democracy and Citizenship class (which is also my Sr. paper for my Bachelor of Individualized Studies) and presenting my Activist Portfolio with my Social Justice class (which is a little strange because mine is about how I'm not a traditional activist, and how my work for social change is much different than what others would expect or imagine.) A final, a language proficiency exam, and I'm complete!

Of course, I will be taking classes in Venezuela, but as far as I'm concerned this is more of a technicality compared to the experience I'll be having. I expect speaking in Spanish day to day will be much more challenging than any of the classes I'll be taking while there.

A quick summary of what I know is going on in the next few weeks:

Sunday May 15th I'll be flying to Miami where I'll spend the night
Monday May 16th I'll be flying to Caracas, purposefully not leaving the airport, then El Vigia, then taking a bus the last hour to Merida. In Merida, I will be picked up by my host family, meet my roommate and go back to the house I'll be living until June 27th.
Tuesday I'll have orientation at the VENUSA, the Venezuela-USA language exchange school where I'll be studying.

Merida is a smallish city in the Andes. It's a University town where I've been told people are more or less not too happy about Chavez and crime is low. I don't know where my homestay will be in relation to the school, but there are buses and taxis are cheap. I will be taking classes in English, mostly because I didn't want to challenge myself TOO bad, it being my last semester and all. Right now I feel OK about my Spanish abilities. We had a debate in class on Monday and I felt pretty decent about it. I think I am finally getting to the point where I don't have to think hard about most of the major words or uses. It will be a challenge though. One of the things I'm most excited for about this trip is getting a good handle on my Spanish abilities so that I feel like I'm actually using this skill I picked up in school. Language has always been hard for me and I think I've done all I can in the classroom. I'm very excited to really get into it and feel confident. Of course, that will take a few weeks.

I'll have my American cell phone that will work for receiving calls. It wont cost you any money to call me while I'm there, but it'll cost me (I mean, my mom) an arm and a leg for me to make calls. I'll also buy a pay-as-you-go Venezuelan phone for texting and calling my friends there. I'll also have Skype and email and other devices for communication though I've been warned internet is not as reliable as in the US. I'll be in classes Monday-Thursday, which means every weekend is a long weekend and I'll be making friends who I will be traveling with. Apparently there are overnight buses to the beach, so many students will leave on Thursday night, spend the weekend on the coast and come back Sunday night for school. Right now I'm signed up for Latin American Literature and Field Botany of the Andes (so I can go on field trips into the mountains) both taught in English.

Before I can leave, I have to move out of my apartment. I've taken everything off the walls, which makes the place seem huge and empty, but most of everything is still in it's place. Most of my books were taken up to Duluth last week when I visited one last time before I left. I'll be getting a storage shed for the summer for the rest of my things, since I'm not yet sure what's going to happen to me come August. I could be going... pretty much anywhere.

However, resting time is over. I need to edit this paper and prepare my presentation for the final Social Justice class. Then I'm spending every extra second with people I love and have not seen all semester because I've been so busy.

So far, so good.

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