Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Five days in Mexico...

I had a BLAST in Guadalajara visiting the Mexican Trackers for a few days. We did everything from hiking in el Bosque de Primavera, to swimming in hot springs, to seeing ruins at Guachimontones, to dancing all night at La Mutualista, to spending all day in the cute Tlaquepaque suburb, going to Spanish class at Tec with the IMBAs and eating AMAZING food the whole time. It was my very first time in Mexico and I was amazed at how kind the people were. There was never a rude could go on for hours with the taxi drivers, and they constantly encourage people learning Spanish, no matter what the level.

I bought two oranges from this guy just so I could film him doing his sales pitch in the fruit market! The market and the plaza in the centro of Guadalajara were gorgeous.
This next video is the second part of Casa Bariachi's birthday routine. We told them that it was Anand's birthday and they did everything they could to "shake him up" a little bit.

This is the picture that some Mexican trackers hope will win the photo contest! I got the honors of yelling "1,2,3,Jump!" and taking the picture.

A night out at Dali:

I once read that every person is a new door to a different world. I am thankful for so many different and wonderful friends that can teach me so much. I am going to miss those Mexican trackers! Thanks to you all for being such great hosts...I enjoyed every minute!

- Heading to China in exactly 29 hours!!!
- If you didn't get enough and need just a little more to waste your time, you can always check out more photos on Flickr:

Friday, February 16, 2007

Just a little side-trip...

I know that I am leaving in 9 days for Beijing, but I couldn't help stopping by Guadalajara, Mexico for one last hoo-rah with the Spanish Trackers. It's Alex's fault. He made me start thinking about this a while ago and I decided that I simply must hang out with them one more time before I go to China and they graduate before I get back! [Most of my classmates (everyone except Chinese and Japanese track students) graduate in May 2008, but I don't even come back from China until August 2008 to begin my final two semesters. ]
So I am now in the Charlotte airport waiting for my flight. When I show up in Guadalajara, everyone will be at a corporate visit and unable to come to the airport. It will be an adventure! I am excited to buy a phone card, figure out how to use it, grab a taxi, find a Starbucks in the middle of the city, meet Paco's sister for a chat and await their arrival. What a day it will be. As you know, there will be many photos and videos to come! :-)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

More "Last" Events

My parents came up this afternoon to help me move out. Only 6 months in this apartment...3 weeks in the last month in the one before that. Does anyone hate moving more than me? I think Beijing will be my longest time in an apartment since I started this program! Looking forward to it :-)
All of the Asian trackers went out last week with a couple of friends and some 3rd year Chinese track friends. The advice was great, laughs were many, and the Thai food delicious. We are already plotting how to get the authentic made-in-Thailand food while we are in Asia!After Thai food came Goat Feathers...a plush little hang-out in Five Points. It was the last visit to Five Points on a Thursday night...Last, but not least...last Friday was our last trip to Salsa Cabana! Indeed the saddest "Last." We danced until we couldn't move anymore and it was a good send-off. Hopefully the dance floor will still be there when we get back!

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Emotions Building...

There have been soooo many conversations about China between us and it is so neat to see all of the different thoughts racing through everyone's heads. It is such a mixture of excitement, expectations, nervousness, anticipation, and even a little anxiety. Technically, out of everyone going from USC, I should have the best idea of what to expect because I'm the only one that's been there before. But my two trips were only 6 weeks and 4 months long and I still find myself wondering what 18 whole months will feel like. How will we all be different? How deep will we sink our teeth into the culture? Will I uncover so many cultural nuances that I overlooked last time? I hope so. I look forward to being stretched and challenged beyond expectations and to coming back different from the person that left. I think our challenge is to follow the advice of Confucius: "Wherever you go, go with all your heart."

Monday, February 5, 2007

Last China Track Meeting

Today we had a conference call with Janet, a woman from the company that will be helping get settled in, find an apartment, secure an internship, etc. Everything is a little vague right now, especially because we are arriving in the middle of Chinese New Year. Who knows if we will be able to find our ideal living situation. All I want is internet and a Western toilet, S'il vous plaƮt!

My fellow Chinese trackers are, from left to right: Adam, Sarah, Brock, Shaun (actually a global tracker doing his internship in Shanghai), Adrian and Malte.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Farewell Weekends

This weekend was one of two "farewell" weekends where I got to see close friends before I go to China. Jessica and Josh came all the way from Clemson to spend the weekend in Columbia. We had some great times and took thousands of pictures! We had fajita night on Friday with a few other IMBAs, ate brunch at Panera's on Saturday and then went shopping in all the cute stores on Devine street!

We might have had too much fun with the hats. Saturday night was a fun suprise when someone gave us three tickets to the ballet in Columbia. After the ballet, we spent the night in British accents and ate fabulous dessert and coffee at Nonnah's in the Vista. I will miss them terribly, but am so glad that I got a chance to see them again before they left!

Also, two weeks ago was my visit to DC to see Courtey, Jason and the new baby. Aunt Stephanie couldn't go two years without seeing Jac! We spent a lot of quality time hanging out, went to the Smithsonian, and hung out with Jason's family. Courtney is such a good Mom. I can't wait to visit again after China!