26 February 2009


I started school on wednesday. It´s called "Colegio Nacional Italiano Santo Tomas¨but everyone just calls it Santo Tomas. The "Italiano" in the name just means that there´s an Italian flag in the school seal, and it was probably founded by an italian; it´s not like the classes are in Italian or anything. The schedule is really different. I don´t even know what Monday or Tuesday´s schedule will be. Wednesday we had an assembly-thing in the morning, and it felt like I was back at Sacred Heart, between the uniforms, and the 2 hours of religion class. After, 2 periods of Math, 2 periods of Chemistry, a period of history, and a period of art. That goes from 7 to 11:50. Then lunch at home. At 2:30, we go back to school for 2 hours of religion, 2 hours of Biology, and 2 hours of general Sciences. That doesn´t get done until almost 6 PM. Thursdays I have 2 hours of Spanish, 2 hours of something called orientación (no idea what it is), and three hours of Physics. That´s it. The hours aren´t actually hours, there more like 40-minute periods, if that. Tomorrow I have Math, "lógica", and religion in the morning, a lunch break, than statistics and psychology. Also, the kids stay in the same room all day, and the teachers change. The desks are sized for elementary schoolers, and are in a horseshoe around the room. I think I have 30-some kids in my class, but supposedly no more than 20 or so are there on any given day. The school is arranged around a courtyard, with two floors of classrooms and outdoor hallways. There´s a sitting area and a basketball court in the courtyard. The uniform is a gray skirt, school polo, and some of the ugliest shoes you´ve ever seen. My classmates are actually really disruptive, for the most part. I can´t hear ANYTHING most of the time. Not that I could understand it if I could hear it. There are a couple people I already know in my class though, so they´ve been helping me.

The weather is still HOT. It´s been raining more this week though, so I think it´s cooled down a bit. There´s been one GREAT thunderstorm, and a few showers. They´re still trying to teach me Guaraní too, but it´s not exactly working out. I know a few common words, but I still can´t understand Jopará. I´m also starting to understand ¨Paraguayan Time.¨What that means is that when my spanish teacher says she´ll be there at 2, don´t bother showing up til 20 after because she won´t be there until at least 2:30. Unfortunately, school actually DOES start at 7.

I have my next AFS camp March 13-15 in San Bernadino, near Asunción.

19 February 2009

Still hot...

It´s been ridiculously hot! School starts next Wednesday. I get my uniform tomorrow- a gray skirt and white blouse. I´m going to be in the general class, rather than trying to do something specialized for just a semester. That means I´ll have a ton of classes, but for a short time, and not every day. Here, the kids stay in the same room and the teachers change rooms. I´ll have Spanish, English, Guaraní, Math, Physics, Chemistry, some sort of History, Gym, Art, Choir, and who knows what else.

Everything here is so cheap! An hour of internet is less than a dollar. A pizza is about $1.50. Soda is $0.25. Phone calls are expensieve though.

Everything´s going great so far!

16 February 2009

I´m here

So I´m finally here. After 3 flights, 2 days in a hotel, a crazy van ride through asuncion, two days in a hostel-type thing, and a 6 hour bus ride through the campo, I´m finally here. The people are all really nice. The orientation in Miami was decent, and I got to meet some really great people who are also in Paraguay (or brazil or costa rica) but nobody else is anywhere near my city.

The hostel-thing where I had orientation was really nice. It´s called Quinta Ykua Sati, and is kinda secluded from the rest of Asuncion. I had roommates from Thailand and Germany there, and there were also kids from Belgium, France, Austria, and Switzerland. I had to leave pretty abruptly to catch my bus to Pilar though. My sister, Paty, met me at the terminal for the 6-hour bus ride to Pilar. The colectiva (bus) we were on was really nice- nicer than most coach busses. The drive was almost entirely through campo (countryside) and it was realy pretty. I think Paraguay has more cows than Wisconsin! Parts of the road were almost impassable, but most of it was fairly smooth, compared to city streets. After the long hours on the bus, I was greeted by a group of people (mostly my sisters´friends) screaming ¨¡feliz cumpleaños Hannah Montana!¨ After that, we all got into an SUV and drove around Pilar blasting some bizzare mix of reggaeton and traditional music until we got to my house.

The city of Pilar is pretty small, and it seems like everyone knows everybody. My family is really nice, I have parents, a sister, two brothers, and a live-in cousin. There are always a ton of kids though, and we´re always with their friends. School starts in 9 days. The weather is HOT! Usually in the mid thirties celsius. My house is small, but it´s nice. I´ll post pictures some other time. Everyone here drives mopeds (motos) unless there are too many people for a moto. Traffick in asuncion is CRAZY. People pile into cars on laps, and I saw 5 people on one moto. There are a ton of street kids (little kids) that run up to your car and try to wash your window or sell you coke. They dart out into traffic all the time; it´s amazing they don´t get hit. Pilar is different though. There aren´t really any traffic laws, but people drive slower, and almost everyone uses motos instead of cars. Also no street kids so far.

Yesterday was part of carnaval (I think) and it was a ton of fun. In the afternoon, basically everyone in the city had a massive waterballoon fight. First, we went over to a neighbors house, and threw them at all the other kids that went by, and they returned fire. Some people stand on corners, some people pile into camionetas (pickup trucks) or take backpacks full of chupitas (the balloons) with them on their motos (mopeds) to throw at people in other cars or in the street. After throwing them from the sidewalk for a while, we piled into an ancient landrover with about 15 or 20 gallons of chupitas and drove around throwing them and dodging them. It was so much fun! It started raining in the evening, so we rented some movies. Definitely Maybe (In Spanish with English subtitles for me) and Blind Date (In English with Spanish subtitiles). Today was calmer, we walked around town, and hung out at a neighbor´s house. I´m in an internet cafe right now, about a 10-minute walk from my house.

I understand more than I thought I would, and most of the time I can communicate what I need to. I´ve only used my dictionaries a few times, and most people are pretty patient with me when I have no clue what they´re talking about. The accent is pretty different, but I´m getting used to it. Jopara drives me insane though. Jopara is a mixture of Spanish and Guaraní, the native language that is spoken just as much as Spanish in a lot of areas. People don´t speak pure Guaraní that much, but tons of people speak in Jopara. Paty and some of her friends were trying to teach me Guaraní today, and it´s insane. They have letters that I´ve never seen before. It´s going to be taught in school, so we´ll see how that goes.

Gotta go, time´s up on the computer

02 February 2009

10 days...

11 February I go from Chicago to Miami for an orientation..
13 February I fly to Santiago, Chile.
Later that day I fly to Asunción.
I stay in Asunción for 2-3 days for an orientation.
Then I go to Pilar, probably by bus, to meet my family.

I've officially started packing.