Less than 5 months left to go, over half way, and I feel like the best of my exchange is only just beginning! Since the 27th of January many things have changed and I couldn´t be happier with my decision to move!
So on the 27th of January I finally had all my bags packed (after a lot of struggle and repacking)and I left my first placement for good. Turns out that I have bought and some how collected more clothes and things than I had expected! I wouldn´t think I would be too far wrong if I guessed that my suitcase weighed around 35kg (maximum allowed on my flight is 30kg)and I had about 3 other bags containing my shoes, shower and bathroom products and my books that I have for school and for leisure. I still plan on doing a little more shopping within the next few months before i leave so I am going to have to sort some things out and maybe leave some things behind :(
So the first stop I made on leaving my house in Castelldefels was a temporary spanish family in Barcelona. I was picked up by an AFS volunteer and dropped off there on the 27th of January, a Monday, and i was to live there until the Friday (until the family that would host me for 5 months was ready to host me). This family was really lovely! On my arrival I was greeted by a girl my age who had recently done a student exchange to South Africa so she understood my situation, plus she spoke English (not that I needed her to speak English anymore :p)She made me feel welcome straight away as I said I was a little bit hungry so she took me to a wee cafe where she bought me a nice croissant.
Since the family were opening up their home to me for a few days and made me feel so welcome, i felt like i should do something in return, so on my first night in the house I cooked them all dinner and made myself useful.
Whilst living in the temporary family I didn´t have to go to school so I had the opportunity to do some shopping by myself and to visit some touristy locations! One of these locations included the "La Sagrada Familia" which is a really famous church is a work on a grand scale which was begun on 19 March 1882 from a project by the diocesan architect Francisco de Paula del Villar (1828-1901). At the end of 1883 Gaudí was commissioned to carry on the works, a task which he did not abandon until his death in 1926. Since then different architects have continued the work after his original idea. The building is still going on and could be finished some time in the first third of the 21st century. I went by myself to visit the church as my lovely temporary host mum (who couldn´t come because she had to work) bought me a ticket with entrance and also a voice audio to listen to. I was absolutely amazed by the church and it was a sight that I think everyone should see if they ever go to Spain! I took plenty of photos but the photos give it no justice, the intimate and delicate design of aboslutely every detail in the church can not be caught by a small Iphone camera and should really be only seen by the eyes! Just one of those once in a lifetime kind of things ;)
Some other things I got up to whilst staying with the family included grocery shopping and going out for lunch with my host mum. This actually made me feel so so happy. I didn´t have a great relationship with my previous host mum and I was really missing the "mum-like" company. I really enjoyed just chatting and having someone who was interested in what I had done for the day, and just how I was. Another thing that was very sweet was when I woke up for the day and found a nice wee note from my host mum to me and my breakfast things out all ready. Of course some might just roll their eyes at the cheesy saying here - "it´s the little things that count" but Spain has really made me believe it.
Just something interesting I thought I would mention, my temporary host parents, for their career, they own an animation business called "Tomavistas" which you can check out at this website: http://www.tomavistas.com/ . They have designed and created some pretty cool and original animations that they have managed to show in a lot of places in the world and are still working on reaching every country :)#nottryingtoadvertise
On the Friday, 31st of January, I was packing up my things again and leaving to meet the people who would be my new family for the next 5 months of my life! I was super nervous as I didn´t know what they were like (hadn´t met them before) and I was really praying that everything would be so much better for me! On my arrival I felt a really good vibe straight away, meeting my host mum (host dad was at work)and 3 host brothers, 10, 14 and 16 years old. I can just say that they are a really genuine family, and it is a much better environment for me - it feels a lot more like home with 5 people in the family (I like the busyness and having many different personalities in the house).
On the first day of my arrival I was there for about 3 hours before I was told that we were heading off to their house in the mountains (La Molina) for the weekend to Ski and as a special thing to do for my birthday which was on Sunday. I had nothing to complain about! :)
So after unpacking all my things and putting my stuff away in my new room, I had to repack, again, a small bag to take with me (I forgot my pjammas and had to wear my host dad´s old shirt and skiing leggings hahaha)to the mountains. My host family had ski clothes for me to wear so that was handy because skiing wasn´t really something I was prepared for!
In the car ride (2 hours) to La Molina, i was with the family and we were using the time to find out new things about each other. They knew quite a bit already as they had read my AFS profile but we still had plenty to talk about. One thing I have to mention is that the family usually speaks Catalan, and up until now I have not been learning Catalan... My previous host family only ever spoke Spanish. They speak with me in Spanish but it can be quite frustrating when I don't understand what everyone is talking about in Catalan - when they mention my name or when someone tells a joke, I want to know what's going on! I can pick up bits of pieces of what they say however.
When we got to La Molina we went to sleep and the next day we went skiing! It was second ever proper day of skiing! I had skiied when I was around 10 years old in NZ and I didn't enjoy it that much because I failed at it. I was a little nervous at first because of the fact that I couldn't ski very well last time but it turns out that I'm quite a natural now??
I had a really great time and the slopes were amazing! It snowed for most of the day but was still enjoyable. After skiing we all had lunch together and chilled out for the afternoon. The whole family is super nice and I have a host cousin that is my age.
That Saturday night my host parents organised for me to go with the youngsters of the family and meet 2 other AFS girls for dinner for an early birthday thing. We had a nice dinner and then went to the only hangout place in La Molina to play pool and chill out.
The next day, February 2nd, was my birthday and I woke up to a homemade birthday cake :) it was very sweet! For my present, it really was the gift of spending a day in the mountains, skiing and admiring beautiful views. I had a great time with the family and really enjoyed just chatting with my new host mum and joining in with a sport that they are all so passionate about :)
I arrived back Sunday night and Monday was my first day at my new school! I was really nervous but was soon okay after meeting my class mates who were nice to me straight away. This time round I had someone to sit with in every class unlike in my old school where I had to sit alone for the majority of the time. Mondays are my favourite days at school because, now that I've changed from segundo bachillerato to primero, I get to have 2 hours of physical education. We spent our first class of P.E. dancing a Spanish dance and then doing a workout circuit, I thought it was pretty fun!
Already I have made a group of friends to hang around but after 2 weeks I only feel actually close to one person, I am hoping that it will be a lot easier to make friends this time round :) I have hung out with them once so far and they are a great, crazy group of people and I think that if I can force myself to speak up more, I could fit in just fine.
Now I'm in Barcelona I have had to leave my hockey team in Castelldefels, I wanted to continue playing but it would be about 50 mins each way for hockey practices and games. It turns out that grass hockey isn't that popular here and it's hard to find a team. So at the present moment I haven't played hockey for 3 weeks which isn't cool :/ I'm looking into getting a gym and pool membership to fill in time and to keep my exercise up! I had to walk to school for about 25 mins in Castelldefels but here I only walk for 5 so I really need to find some activities to do!
So all and all I am very happy with the changes that have come from my difficult but needed decision! It has brought mostly benefits and at this point of my exchange I am just trying to live it up and enjoy the time I have left (less than 5 months?!)
Hope I have covered everything :3
Thanks for reading and thanks for everyone's continuous encouragement and support :)
Lots of love,
The Spanish girl ;)