24 June, 2006

1st term over!!!

It's official...I have completed one term here in Castellon! I can't believe how fast it went by and how much I have learned. It was a real eye-opener and made me realize how little I know about the world and especially how little I knew about the influence (mostly negative) that the US has on the rest of the world. Tears were a commonplace in many classes, the stories coming from other students, documentaries and readings were sometimes overwhelming. I would walk the 40 minutes home with friends and we would talk about just what in the hell can be done. Other times, I would walk home alone and just reflect on "everything".

The hatred for other countries, cultures and people is so devistating as well as the millions and millions of refugees around the world or internally displaced people (think New Orleans). The fact that "my" own country is one of the top "leaders" or driving forces behind the devestation in hard to stomach. I often get the comment "what can I do? I'm just one person". That question has been on my mind constantly and I have finally come to the conclusion that for me personally, the fact is that I cannot live without trying...Anything I do now or in the future is better than doing nothing! Ignorance is not an option for me.. Even if a person decides to physically do nothing there is always the ability to be mentally aware of what is going on at least in your own country and make your own decisions about what you believe in. Change can only come about with awareness.

13 June, 2006

Miss Mattie...

I miss my puppy!!! Yes, yes, I miss my family and friends too, but they all have the ability to communicate with me electronically. My wonderful niece, Emily snapped this photo of her and sent it to me. I know she is having a wonderful time running, playing and rolling in stinky stuff in KS (I'm talking about Mattie not Emily) and she has been taken care of sooo well that she may not remember living with me, but I think she looks sad in this photo and I wish I could reach out and give her a big fat hug (even if she smelled like cow dung!) I think she would really love Spain, since there are sooo many dogs here, Everywhere! People are walking them from morning to night and she would love being here and I would love having her.

Oh well, a girl can dream can't she...

12 June, 2006

umm...maybe I spoke too soon!

Okay, in the last post I may have been a little hasty in my "good student" status....you see, last Friday, I "volunteered" to do my presentation on Monday, since I was all caught up and everyone was grumbling about not having their last paper written (also due on Monday) and they wouldn't have time to do the presentation research over the weekend. Since I had my paper finished, it seemed like a nice thing to do to my friends + every little nice gesture ups their view of Americans in a postitive way!

I stayed home on Friday night so I Hilary and I could go to the beach on Saturday. Well it rained all day on Sat. so I stayed in and researched stuff for the presentation (which is over truth commissions in 5 different countries). It's hard to stick to just the commissions because of my lack of knowledge on the whole concept. What is a Truth Commission? Why are they needed? Do they work? ect.. Since this is a subject I dont' know that much about, everytime I would get to an internet page or interesting article, I would get sucked into reading more or going much deeper than I need to, so most of the day was spent aquainting myself with the whole idea of Truth Commissions, which by the way the US doesn't have, hmm...I wonder why....anyway, I finished Argentina and Chile on Saturday and felt pretty good about it. I had dinner with the roomies (simply fabulous Fish Soup, Ben cooks as good as he snores!) & then went over to a friend's house so we could study together. Well we ended up playing on my computer since he doesn't have one (google earth is SO cool!) and looking at pictures, copying CD's and stuff. I got to bed around 2AM and figured that I would have time on Sunday to finish , El Salvador, South Africa & Guatamela.

I was abruptly awoken on Sunday morning and told that the sailing crew was short people and my assistance was needed in the regatta (race) that they were in and I had 15 minutes to get ready. I know more about sitting and relaxing on a boat than actually making it go, so they must have been really desperate when trying to replace the missing crew members. I ended up sailing all day and didn't get home until 8:30 PM which brings me to my confession: It is now 1:20 AM and I am finally finishing Guatemala, the last of the countries I must present on tomorrow...er...today. I desprately needed a break from reading about the mass killings, torture and other human rights violations that come along with political unrest, but now I better get back to it, so I can have a little sleep before my alarm goes off!

Ill post about the regatta tomorrow...er...tonight...

10 June, 2006

I like being a "good student".

Okay, I have to make something clear! First of all, I realize on this blog, I have only been talking about all the fun I am having in Spain. (well, except for the occasional kitchen malfunction or roommate complaint) I do want everyone to know that it is not all fun and games here. I work my bum off all during the week so I can have a little fun on occasion.

Just to give you a week in the life of Melinda...I have class Monday-Friday from 10AM - 1PM. I get up in the morning at 7AM because 1.) I like mornings and 2.) I can have an hour or more of "quiet time" to myself to eat breakfast and get ready or just enjoy a coffee on the terrace before anyone else gets up . Some mornings I leave the flat at a little past 8 and stop at a cafe on the way to school to have a coffee (sometimes my 2nd of the day) and read or study before walking the 40 minutes to school. On rainy or lazy days I take the bus which is about a 15 minute ride.

Each class is 3 weeks long and during those 3 weeks I have to give 1 or 2 presentations (PP or other), read between 20-30 pages each night to prepare for the discussions the next day and then write a 10 page class paper at the end of the class. 1 term consists of 4 of these classes and at the end of the term I have to turn in a 20-30 page research paper, SOOOO I spend most of my time after school and on into the evening reading and writing and researching on the internet. I am quite anal about keeping up with my studies, so my much younger & sometimes-slacker roommates call me "the good student" in a sarcastic way...as in "Melinda's probably in her room studying since she's a "good student" or "Shit, I can't go to the beach, since I haven't written my class paper yet, but I bet Melinda has finished hers because she's a "good student". I just smile, tell them that "someday they might be a good student like me", put on my swimsuit and then skip out the door :-)

Oh and by the way just in case anyone is wondering the truth in this post, it is now after 10PM on a Friday night and I'm at home...yes, I'm writing on my blog, but I allow myself a 10 minute break after each written page. I only have 6 more to go and the paper isn't even due for another 2 weeks! I like being a "good student".

05 June, 2006

Sailing on the Mediterranean

Yesterday was a beautiful day! A little too windy on the beach, but perfect on the boat. We left the port in Castellon and sailed for about 3 hours. It was my second time sailing in Spain and I truly hope it's not my last.

It was too rough to anchor and swim like we did last time although the suggestion was made that swimming is possible as long as I held onto rope to secure myself to the boat. I am quite adventurous, but being drug behind a boat without a wakeboard attached to my feet did not appeal to me.

After sailing...

After sailing ejoying a drink at the port (el Grau).

03 June, 2006

I miss the Martin Family!

Since you have requested that I "post more often" I thought I would share who exactly is making this request... I do believe that these photo were taken in May of 05 and are of the one and only wonderful Rachel Martin and were snapped one morning before and after her usual cup o' joe. I am a better person because Rachel is in my life.

I had the absolute pleasure of spending time with Rachel, Josh, Jake and Sam Martin when they lived in Houston. I would pack up Mattie, my faithful four-footed traveling companion and head to the Martin's. We both relished in the loving reception, hugs (me), brushing (Mattie) and unending compliments. While I enjoyed the comfy (meticulously organized) home, Miss Mattie thoroughly enjoy rubbing her belly on the soft green grass. It was always a sad drive home, but thoughts of our next trip would always brighten our mood.

mas Martins

I took the photo above of Jake, it's a very interesting symmetrical photo as Jake is a very interesting symmetrical boy.
This was taken of Josh before he took off to Medical School, I would catch a flash of him as he left early each morning. He would say a quick good morning to Mattie and I before starting the long drive to class.

The right photo is Mr. Sam and he's as rambunctious as his photo, which is a little blurry and off center, because it's hard to get him to sit still.