Thursday, November 11, 2010


Hey, guys. This is my blog for when, starting in January 2011, I become a foreign exchange student. I will be living in Minde, Santarém, Portugal from January to June 2011, as a part of AFS Intercultural Programs. Most of my friends that I tell about going on exchange say something along the lines of "6 months in a foreign country without your parents? That's awesome!" I am surprised when they say this, because that's not what exchange is about. I'm going because I want to discover myself. I want to let go of my misconceptions and stereotypes, and change my mind. I want to know that all humans are the same, and also somewhat connected--whether we live in the U.S. or Portugal. I want to go outside my comfort zone and be uncomfortable for once; something most people have no desire to do. I want to gain independence, but also a realization of how much we rely on one another. I want to understand the human condition, and myself. And I only have six months. Not only that, but it's going to be hard. I will be leaving everything I know in New Mexico, and that is never easy.
Right now I'm working on getting all my visa documents together. I have to get a few things notarized, and a certificate of good conduct from the local police station, which hasn't had a receptionist this week so I haven't been able to get it. I also need a certificate of good health from my doctor. What a pain. But it's all worth it!
I got my host family about 2 weeks ago -- there's the mother, Elsa, the father, João Paulo, and three kids: João, 14, Rita, 12, and Pedro, 9. This is a picture of them at Pedro's first communion. They live in Minde, which is north of the capital city Lisbon, and about 20 miles away from the coast. I was supposed to Skype with them today, but that didn't end up happening. We've IMed quite a bit this week, though. They speak English to me because it takes me forever to write anything in Portuguese, and I imagine it's very hard for them to figure out what I'm trying to say.