7 Things I Dare You To Do While Studying Abroad

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My classmate and I are in class playing a board game to help us practice our Spanish.  We are holding our list of items we needed to get, such as 1 kg of jamón and 1.5 kg of azucar.

No entiendo is a Spanish phrase I often say when I do not understand what the other person is saying to me while I am here in Spain as part of Centennial’s SIPs.  It is also the same phrase I hear from the other person as well.  In Oviedo, where I am doing my SIPs, I gain more Spanish because the majority of the people you interact with are locals.  One day, my homestay mom wanted to accompany me to places to help with translation.  But I kindly refused and thinking I could do it on my own.  Well, after being laughed at numerous times, receiving all kinds of facial expression from the other person, and even one person stared at me blankly and walked away.  These are the kinds of reactions I received from the locals when we are not interacting with the same language, me with Spanglish, a word derived from English and Spanish, and the other person with Spanish.  But it is when you get out there to self improve on learning Spanish that these attitudes from people will result.  Its actually vale, okay in Spanish!  So, I hope to help you put your newly learn-ing language to functionality by daring you what I had dared myself to do.  I present to you 7 things I dare you to do while studying abroad in Oviedo.

  1. Sign up for a library card at the local library:  I am thankful that it is accessible to sign up for a library card in Oviedo, so I could borrow books to read on my break time at school and bus rides on school trips.  But, it was definitely a challenge when I tried this.  How will this help with your Spanish?  It will help you by giving the experience in signing forms and speaking…attempting Spanish.  There are common words that you can learn as well, such as nombre, apellidarse, and dirección: name, family name, and address.
  2. Ask 2o people in the first week of school, their name and where they are from..in Spanish:  ¿Como te llama? y ¿De donde eres? (You are asking for their name and the country they are from)  Encantado/a means nice to meet you. This will help you practice the basic introduction to others in Spanish and also making new friends 🙂
  3. Order tarrón helado:  I dare you to order something or this typical flavor known in Oviedo at the local ice cream shop. It is an almond ice cream and during the winter holiday, the tarrón fruit dessert is popular as a gift.  In general, I dare you to order food, because my first time ordering croissants, I ended up with 6 croissants and costing me more then what I intend.  The experience will help you practice numbers and ordering.  Such as when you enter the shop it is polite and typical to greet the people with buenas or hola, bueno días.  To order you could use me gusta… or necesito (I like and I need).
  4. Attend the festival de verano:  During the summer month, the province will have summer festivals.  In Oviedo, the festival of summer offers free concerts in historical monuments, and discounted tickets to theatrical performances.  I had the chance to attend several musicals.  So, how will this help you?   I had to find the location of the place, so I practice my Spanish by asking for directions.  You could use hola, señor/a, donde es.  As well as, everyone I heard when I was in line or seated were speaking Spanish.  That way, I am immersing myself in listening to Spanish.
  5. Watch television:  The local channels offers news, and local tv shows.  I found this helpful in learning Spanish because I start hearing repeated words and phrases, such as tambien, entonces, pero, and mañana. (also, so, but, and tomorrow).
  6. Wonder the streets:  I dare you to wonder the local streets, read the street names, names of shops, and listen on people’s conversations.  This will help you be acquainted to some words and activate your hearing and seeing cues.
  7. Go out on a group trip 

!Hasta luego!

Sherry Ing

Massage Therapy student studying at the Universidad de Oviedo intensive Spanish classes as part of Centennial College’s SIPs this summer.

Rosy walls, Wedding Bells, Mountain Peaks, Cowbells, Vibrant Hues…Buen Días!

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I went on a school field trip to Picos de Europa, a national park in northern Spain.  There were never ending peaks of mountains and cows roaming the hills.

Its my third week studying Spanish at the University of Oviedo as part of Centennial College’s SIPs, and I just finished the weekend off with a school trip to Covadonga, Picos de Europa, and Congas de Onís.  These trips shows the history of Asturias according to my professor and locals.  Our first stop was the Congas de Onís, which had the Puente Romano.  It is a bridge built in the medieval times from the reign of Alfonso XI of Castille and Leon.  In the middle of the reconstructed bridge, hangs the Victoria Cross, that relates to the battle of Covadonga.  On our way to Picos de Europa, a national park in Northern coast of Spain, we had to stop for passing cows, that lived in these mountains.  The cow bells rang in the background, as I hiked up and down the paved path along these mountain peaks.  Beyond these inlands were lakes, Ercina and Enol, that glowed with a deep blue hues.  It was quite a magnificent view!  What I also saw and learn was that it was a site for mining.

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Lucky day for my school, we witnessed part of a wedding ceremony.  In the picture, you can see the four musicians, the bag pipe is a traditional instrument you will hear in Asturias.

Covadonga was our next location, and it has a history that relates to religions; Christianity and Muslim.  I am not verse in history, but before choosing the SIPs, I researched Oviedo, and found this part interesting.  On train and bus rides in Spain, each region and cities I pass by, I start noticing geographical, cultural and religious influences.  Another note, I had a chance to see the elegantly dressed guests of a wedding in the rosie wall, Basilica of Santa María la Real of Covadonga.  The traditional bag pipe was played.  According to my professor, it is custom for a Spanish wedding guests to gift about 150€ each when they do accept their invites.  I guest I will be sending my best wishes to any future Spanish weddings.

¡Hasta luego!

Sherry Ing, currently enjoying the Spanish course in Centennial College’s SIPs at the University of Oviedo this summer.

Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Choose Homestay

TOP 5 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD CHOOSE HOMESTAY

Its the second week that I am studying at the University of Oviedo intensive spanish course as part of Centennial College’s SIPs in Spain.  It is important to know the living choices when studying abroad, you have the option of staying in homestay or student resident, etc.  These living choices has some benefits and advantages when learning a new language.  Here is my top 5 reasons why you should choose homestay.

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5.FAMILIA.  

I get to live with a homestay family who is based in Oviedo.  They know the Catalan Romance language, and also Spanish. They know the city well and  I can ask many questions, such as locations of monuments, the hours of operation of stores, etc.

4.FOOD, FOOD, FOOD.  

Did I mention about food?  My homestay family makes what they usually eat here in Oviedo.  I get to live the way they do through their culinary.  Though my stomach protested in the first week to have some vegetables, I made progress to negotiate with my homestay that VERDE is a must for me. For dessert, I enjoy the fresh local cherries that they have here, its very delicious.  I have lunch very late in the afternoon, that I am not used to, which is around 2pm.  Negotiation with my homestay family is in process to have an earlier breakfast…so I can leave early to school because I still get lost on my way to school.

3. TURN DOWN THE VOLUME.  

When living in a homestay, I can focus more on my studies, so I can be one step closer to my goals of fluency in Spanish.  I do not have to worry about random weeknights parties from roommates.  Hilariously, my upstair neighbours likes to walk in their heels, I think its time for them to invest in carpets, no?

2.SIESTA, YES PLEASE!

I get a chance to do what my family do and learn their way of living.  In the afternoon,  I enjoy my siesta, cat nap, which I find helps me reenergize.

1.SPANISH 24/7.

My homestay family makes an effort to speak to me, despite the communication challenges of not fully understanding each others native language.  In this way, I am in an immersive environment that allows me to  listen and try my best to communicate verbally in Spanish, so I can practice my Spanish.

¡Hasta luego!

Sherry Ing

Centennial College Massage Therapy student, currently studying Spanish at the University of Oviedo in Spain for the summer.

 

3 THINGS TO DO ON YOUR FIRST WEEK OF THE SUMMER INTERNATIONAL PROGRAM IN OVIEDO, SPAIN

What am I up to this summer break?  I am excited to say that I am doing a Centennial College summer international program at the University of Oviedo in the province of Asturias in Spain.  It is where I will be spending the next three weeks learning Spanish.  Often, the first week can be nerve racking, not knowing anyone yet, the new time shift, and unfamiliar customs.  Thats why its important to try these 3 things in the first week of your summer international program in Spain that can help you transition smoothly to the new setting.

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A cage of pan, it displayed their breads that were sliced evenly and served with our pinchos.
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A cage of pan, it displayed their breads that were sliced evenly and served with our pinchos.

1.ESPICHA FIESTA:

In the first week, I had my first espicha welcoming party and sipped sidra from an interesting technique.  This is an event you do not want to miss out on your first week in the Universiad de Oviedo intensive Spanish course.  This is where you can meet some of your classmate in a social setting and also try something new. What is an espicha?  It is a festive, social event in Asturia and sidra is usually consumed at the local sidrería, such as Tierra Astur, in which you would not have a difficult time finding in Oviedo.  Sidra is cider and is a popular alcoholic beverage in Asturias, that is made from fermented apple juices.  The person usually pour it from a height so the sidra becomes foamy and sparkling.  As well as, it is drank at a short amount of time, as it will get warm.  An 1/2 inch residue of the sidra is left at the bottom of the drinking glass, so to rinse and clean it out.

2. SIDRA:  

The video above shows me making my first attempt at pouring the sidra from the large wooden barrel.  This is a must try when in your first week in Oviedo, Spain.  I and others had the same feelings when we hesitate to try this technique.  We were worry about it getting all over ourselves, spill it every where or it might pour the wrong way. To my surprise, it was not what I thought, I only had some sidra on my hands, but was easy to clean up.  The night finished off with traditional music, usually the bag pipe musical instrument is played, along with singing, and dancing.  They also served tasting of a walnut dessert.

3. CITY HALL: 

Ayuntamiento de Oviedo is the city hall of Oviedo, where the municipality decisions are made.  Its one of the places you can go inside with your school group.  The meeting table is where the council communicate with each other in order to make important decisions on the municipal level.

Hasta luego!

Sherry Ing

Centennial College Massage Therapy Student

Summer International Program 2016 Oviedo, Spain

 

Finding A Voice and Becoming a Leader

It took me a while to find my voice in Nicaragua. In a group of 23 leaders, it was difficult to feel like I had a say or could sway an opinion. We had a few group members who were obviously born to be leaders; They had strong, confident and inclusive personalities that made everyone feel heard. I have always found that when no one is willing to step up and take a lead, I will happily take on the role. However, with so many people eager to fill that position, I was finding it hard to speak up. Throughout the week I began to remember that I was chosen to take part in this GCELE for a reason.  I grew more confident as the week went on, and began to feel more comfortable speaking up and working as a leader. I remembered that I am a good public speaker, and fortunately, I had plenty of opportunities to use that sIMG_5499kill on this trip. It was very rewarding to collaborate with all of the unique and inspiring personalities involved with this GCELE, and we all had a chance to merge as leaders throughout the week. Despite all of our different leadership styles, we worked together and taught our health initiatives successfully. Not only were we able to help a community, we were also able to grow as a group and as individuals.

  • Amy Mepham, Nicaragua 2015

Guatemala: Heart of Maya World

I was thrilled to hear my professor Marg announce that she would be going back to Guatemala to continue her work. I submitted my application on the very first day, and was already planning my trip before the acceptance letter. A few months later, I landed at Flores airport. That was unreal.

The purpose of our trip was to teach the local midwives how to use a birthing simulator MamaNatalie, teach the local women how to make reusable menstrual pads, and provide First Aid training to the local health promoters. We visited six different communities throughout our stay, and each community was unique in its own way. Most of the communities we visited are Q’eqchi’, the Maya people, hence it requires double translation from English to Español, then to Kekchi. It was challenging, but in a positive way.

I didn’t really experience “culture shock,” definitely some “culture surprises” during our stay in Guatemala. Photos speak a thousand words, hence I will walk you through our wonderful journey through photos. Have some tortilla chips ready, sit back and relax.

Day 1: Our flight is TO -> Miami -> Guatemala city -> Flores, then finally a two-hour bus ride to Sayaxche, It was tiring, but we were warmly greeted by the heat wave in Guatemala.

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Landed at Flores airport at night. Finally! Everyone was exhausted after a long ride.

Day 2: Flores -2 hours smooth bus ride to Sayaxche
Meeting with Apidec (Programa Integral de desarrollo Christiano) & World Renew staffs. Had a crazy ride in a “cage” to our first village. I was chosen to be the first to do MamaNatalie (meaning I have to fake birthing). I knew I did an awesome job because everyone outside heard my screams from the classroom. Some said my hysterical screams scared some babies and kids oops. There is  no bridge to cross the river in Sayaxche, so we had to take the ferry. Unfortunately on our way back to the hotel, a truck was stuck on the ferry and we waited for an hour before crossing a small river. Apparently the government made big profits from the ferry, so bridges are unnecessary. We had to hide in the jungle for toilet break! We were still full of awesomeness but began to feel the heat wave eating away our energy.

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Typical Guatemala food: red beans, rich, eggs and salad. Thank all the communities for the lunches 🙂

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I was demonstrating MamaNatalie, a birthing simulator helps to create realistic training scenarios, it was awkward doing it but so much fun!

Day 3: Meeting with the Ministry of Health of Guatemala (Gobiernode Guatemala Ministerio de Salud Publica y Assistencia Social) in the morning. Visited our second village “San Juan Acul” in the afternoon. This village has a huge shelter outside. Sweat was pouring down, but the hot & humid breeze meant so much to us! I’ve said “mi nombre Beidi” so many times. Awesome but the heat was unbearable. We definitely had an awesome time at this community all thanks to the shelter that they have.

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Meeting with Ministry of Health. Learned a lot about Guatemala from this meeting.
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Roya was teaching First Aids to the local health promoters.
Muchas gracias shelter!
Muchas gracias shelter!

Day 4: Third village “Herencia Maya” meaning Heritage Maya. Most residents only know Kekchi, a Mayan language, so we have to translate from English to Spanish then to Kekchi (most communities we visited are Q’eqchi’ so triple translations hence triple the fun, and most of the communities were receiving visitors for the very first time, not to mention first foreign visitors). I used leftover fabrics to make  and stars to the kids and they love it so much. This heat was overwhelming… people were starting to get sick 😦

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DSC_0882 Both girls and boys were so helping with menstrual pads. Muy bien! 🙂
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Group photo time! Wearing scrubs wasn’t that bad at all. Slowly getting used to the heat.

Day 5: Visit to Tikal, the Mayan ruins! Everyone was excited though we were not feeling well. The heat was not bad, bearable. Awesome day!

Scary stairs, took us forever to get down.
Scary stairs, took us forever to get down.
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Guatemala national tree: Ceiba

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Amazing view of Tikal

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Tour guide & selfie stick

Day 6: Boating to the zoo in the morning, and had a fabulous view of Flores from far. Was a little upset that we had to cancel our afternoon trip to another ruin 😦 but at least we went to a good restaurant and I got a super yummy chicken sandwich and a Jamaican Rose drink. Got a super-itchy spider bite, and the rash was crystal-like. Finally started raining on the way back to Sayaxche, it cooled down the heat.

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Flores island

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Day 7 & 8: Can’t remember what exactly happened during these two days. I was drained, and totally shutting down. I remembered the tables were so small and low, I have to bend down all the time while surrounded by groups of women and children. The noise, the heat, and the environment was sweeping over me like waves after waves. Due to the heat and long bus ride, more people felt unwell. I forced myself to drink lots and lots of water, and I survived the hardest period during this trip.

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UV light our water
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Teaching CPR

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Day 9: Visited the last community! The kids there were overwhelming. They dragged you everywhere, touched your hair, put their little hands in your pocket digging for stuffs. I went to the bathroom with ten kids surrounding the door. Last time using MamaNatalie, my energy level left only 10% while doing it. A long day ended with kids holding my hands, grabbing my leg, and singing my name.

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Day 10: Meeting with Ministry of Health again with reporters, and many cameras. Seemed like we’ll all be in Peten news! Our efforts had been paid off. Our MamaNatalie, menstrual pads, and First Aid sessions benefited the locals so much that the MOH will continue teaching the midwives and women with MamaNatalie and menstrual pad making. I felt so grateful. Drove back to Flores and finally SHOPPING TIME!!! (didn’t buy a lot because I was… exhausted). Day ended with a two-dollar ice cream.

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Team work makes the dream works!

Day 11: Guatemala City was raining and flight was delayed. Almost missed our Miami flight back to Toronto because of that. One American said “look at those crazy Canadian girls running in airport.” First thing back home is feeling extremely cold in 20ish temperature, but home sweet home :”)

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5am at Flores, adios Guatemala!

I have to thank Centennial College for this amazing opportunity.Thank all the staffs from World Renew. Thank you Marg, Roya & Jo! Although we faced many ups and downs in this trip, extreme deprivation of veggies, tears and laughter, it was an experience that could only be experienced. It made me question my values, tested my limits, and forced me to grow. Thank you Guatemala! Someone told me this quote during this trip “You have to do other won’t, so you can have other can’t.” and of course my own quote “IT’S ONCE IN A LIFETIME!!!

Cheers hasta la próxima!

Beidi Zong

Nursing Student Centennial/Ryerson

here’s a little more amazing photos, enjoy 🙂

Last day at Guatemala
Last day in Guatemala

DSC_0974 (2)our daily breakfast

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first night!
first night!
Halo Marg!
Halo Marg!

Flores street

Even the Pastor was working with us making the menstrual pads. A big THANK YOU to you Sir :)
Even the Pastor was working with us making the menstrual pads. A big THANK YOU to you Sir 🙂
hahahaha our feet were swollen, have to lift it UP!
hahahaha our feet were swollen, have to lift it UP!

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Waking Up with the Natural Universe

My first video blog and moving images that I had captured while I am here in Llano Bonito.  I invite you to listen and see what I am experiencing and be apart of it as well.

Waking Up with the Natural Universe

Every morning I arise to the sound of the Rooster in LLano Bonito.  My first morning here, I was woken up by the sound of the Rooster, house cats, the school children, and cars zooming by the house.  I live in front of an elementary school, and the students usually starts class at 7am in the morning.  I can hear them recite and repeat speeches in unison.  This school is also where I will be assisting the students.  I had attended a bullying intervention at this school.  The activity was an hour long and was facilitated by the University students of Costa Rica.  I had visited two other schools as well.  One of the school, I will be helping the students with an upcoming English festival, that includes a spelling bee, an impromptu, and a theatrical speech.

Early in the morning around 5 am here, birds are singing and chirping happily.  There are many hummingbirds, tiny creatures that flutters their wings in lightning speed while drinking the nectars of the purple butterfly bush.  I also wake up to freshly new insect and mosquito bites.  What is helpful is wearing light clothing, long pants, shirts and pants helps to deter them from doing this.  Living higher in the mountains, it gets cold here at night and early mornings.  But the late mornings and afternoons temperature increases.  The sounds, sight, taste, and smell while living here is new to me but is very natural.  What senses that trigger special moments in your life?

Until next time, Hasta Luego!

Sherry Ing

Massage Therapy student at Centennial College