Thursday, May 31, 2012

La transformación del idioma español

septiembre 2011

La historia española e hispana son muy interesantea para estudiar en mi opinión. Pero, lo más interesante es estudiar el idioma de los siglos pasados. Los dos siempre han ido cambiando en cualquier idioma, por supuesto, pero es curioso ver las diferencias específicas. He visto en los documentos originales de Bartolomé de las Casas que hay varias palabras que están combinadas como “dellos” y “traellas” respectivamente hoy en día son “de ellos” y “traerlas.” Creo que la razón es, cuando se comenzó a escribir el idioma, escribían como hablaban. Solo había un porcentaje muy pequeño de gente educada en España, que eran los nobles. Por lo demás, lo más importante era hablar el idioma y no escribirlo. Por eso, había muchas palabras diferentes deletreadas y variaciones de escribir por mano.

Para un estudiante de español es menos difícil entender el español del pasado pero tiene que estudiar el idioma mucho. Para los estudiantes de historia, que trabajan con y transcriben muchos documentos en un idioma extranjero, es más difícil para ellos no conocer cada detalle de la lengua española. Enseño a una mujer, Natalie*, que es estudiante de historia, a entender mejor el español y los documentos del pasado en el siglo XVII. Veamos las diferentes maneras escribir e interpretar la escritura de los autores y el español del hoy. Las dos formas son el mismo idioma en la superficie pero debajo de todo, cuentan la historia de dos épocas muy únicas. Entonces, aquí tenemos el misterio sin final de los idiomas. . .

Espero que os guste leer sobre esto! Enviadme cualquier duda o comentario que tengáis (tengan Uds.) sobre este tema. Y por favorrrr, corregidme con la gramática española! Os echo de menos mucho pero este es otra forma para mantenernos en contacto y también compartir ideas, sueños, dudas, consejos y practicar nuestros idiomas!

My apologies to my English-only speaking friends. I write in English all day, everyday, so once in awhile I will have to post in Spanish to balance things out. Kudos to you if you don't have very good Spanish skills and read and generally understood all of this post! :)

Hasta la próxima! (Until next time!)

Future Connotations

In 16 days one of my very best college friends will be getting married. When she asked me last fall to be in her wedding, we played a little guessing game about what day in June her wedding would take place. She hadn't given me very many details, just: some weekend in June. I wanted to guess because I love seeing what date couples pick. So I looked up June 2012 on the calendar function on my phone and took note of all the Saturday dates for the month. At that moment in time it was nine months before her big day. I noticed that my half birthday, which I don't celebrate anymore, fell on a Saturday this year. So, my guess was this: "Is it June 16th? That's one of my favorite days." Mary Grace thought I was psychic and freaked out and told me, "YES! How did you know?!" I told her that I just had a feeling but more so I would love for her to get married on a day in which I used to always be excited to see. That, and me being from Dayton, Ohio and her from Daytona Beach, Florida, was another reason why I knew we were destined to be friends. :) (She rarely says the city's full name so I just say she's from Dayton with an "a". ;)
Isn't it funny how a day, time, year or place that always meant one thing to you suddenly assimilates a new meaning for someone else? If you've ever shared a birthday or anniversary with someone, then you know what I'm talking about. What about those days or moments that have special meaning only to you? For starters, one big one comes to mind for me right now. Tomorrow marks five years to the day since I graduated from high school in 2007. June 8th is also an important date. It was the day I left for my second and final mission trip with Xenia Christian High School to Baja California, Mexico. Of course, Sevilla, Spain will always hold a very special place in my heart and mind--and I talk about it a lot--, but Mexico was a unique experience for me too. What about the start date of a spring break trip or a school field trip day you always remember? As far as spring break trips go, I'll always remember the week of March 12th-18th, 2011. That's when I really got to know Mary Grace and our friend Amanda on a BCM Spring Break Mission Trip to New Orleans, Louisiana with about 14 other students and 3 leaders. I can't even begin to count how many things we laughed at and shared secret looks about certain things. Or how I, with the help of Mary Grace, woke up our whole van just by the sound of my laughter. She helped pry open my shell another 12 inches during that trip and I will always be grateful that she did. I am initially reserved around people I don't know too well when I first meet them, but thanks to that trip, (plus, going away to college and living in a foreign country) I now stand outside of that shell. Everyone has a unique personality and it's not fair to just keep it to yourself. Be proud of the one and only you! There isn't another like you.
Not all days and places have good connotations in our minds. Along with good days there are bad days. Sometimes one person's birthday might be another person's date of death. Or the anniversary of a car accident. Or the former anniversary with an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse.
On a lighter note, time can be another element that holds individual importance. Maybe you like seeing the clock change from 11:10 to 11:11 so that you can make a wish. Or your go-to number might be 1:11 or 2:22. (For European time keepers, you would only be able to make wishes in the mornings according to these times ;) I personally love 12:16AM/PM because it reminds me of my birthday. What's more, I also just love the number 16. It's ironic because, even my full name has exactly sixteen letters. Regardless if you wish upon a number or not, times are also one of those things that stick with us in good times and bad.
Perhaps you don't remember numbers, days, months or years quite like I do. Maybe you've never had a knack for remembering important days. Try looking at it this way, though: in the future, you might remember your birthday is also your wedding anniversary. Or your wedding anniversary might become the birthday of your first child. Or maybe your first child will be born on Christmas Day, New Year's Day or Easter. Maybe they won't be born in the United States. Maybe you'll get married in another country and in another language. Or you might graduate from college or graduate school on your birthday or the day when the world ends. (Kidding on that last one.) Anyway, my point is that the possibilities are endless. I'm sure once you experience one of those, the day will be forever cemented in your mind.
In about two weeks June 16th will hold a new significance for me. I will probably continue to remember a couple of the parties I threw for some friends when I was younger because I did enjoy them. However, I'll remember a new event, too. June 16th will soon become the day that one of my very best friends started her new life with the man God had chosen for her and I was there to share in the celebration. It's a little early, but here's to you, Mary Grace and Jonathan! I know that God has many good things in store for you two and that He will richly bless you as you both seek Him!
Mary Grace (and Amanda): ICFs forever. <3

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

It Hit Me

I was in the Main Library in downtown Jacksonville early this afternoon and checked out a study room which is a pretty normal occurrence for me.

Opening the door and walking into the room was a completely different story. As soon as I walked into it, I was overwhelmed by a familiar smell that I hadn't experienced in what seemed like years. Instantly I was transported back to my old next-door neighbor's house whom my family and I lived next to for 12 years. I can't quite describe the scent (it's an odd mixture of cats, perfume and maybe a hint of cigarettes) and I can't tell you how happy it made me feel.

Next-door neighbors can be one of God's most greatest blessings here on earth. It doesn't matter if they live in the house, apartment, condo or the shack right next to you. What matters is whether or not you seized the opportunity to get to know the people who physically live near you during any given chapter of your life. You may have become best friends with one of their kids or even fallen in love with the boy-next-door. Regardless of the connection, each next-door neighbor story is unique, including mine.

My mom was the first person in our family who got to know our next-door neighbors, Beverly and Larry. Even though my family moved into that house in June 1988, they didn't meet until 1992 or 1993. (Note that in June 1988, I was resting comfortably in my mom's tummy and wouldn't make my appearance until later that year in December.) Anyway, the story behind it is this: they met by way of my brother. He had wandered into Beverly's backyard one day and started to "play" in her garden. He only was a few years old at the time and was able to play outside by himself for a short time. When my mom came back out to check on him she had to apologize to Beverly what he had done. She had two older boys of her own so she understood his need to explore and get into mischief. They got to talking, though and realized that they had a lot in common: cooking, faith, soap operas, nature, gardening and family among others.

The soap opera interest thankfully didn't stick around for very long (they actually helped each other get unhooked on the junk) but the friendship grew in leaps and bounds each year. Nathan and I did go through a phase where we didn't like her that much. I think it was mainly because she would call my mom on the phone every other day to talk, even though, you know, they lived like 50 feet from each other. Again, this phase didn't last too long either. Soon Nathan was like another son to her and I was like the daughter she never had.

Our families were able to be such blessings in each other's lives. In a way, Beverly might have been the first person who opened my mind to other cultures and planted a seed that has now grown into a full-fledged adoration for foreign countries, languages, foods and international travel. She and her husband at one point lived in Egypt. Larry went on a trip there a couple times during our friendship with them and brought back a couple gifts for Nathan and I. I thought they were one of the coolest people my parents were ever friends with. I also have memories of exploring her basement, playing with her cats, Beverly styling my hair into pigtails when I was in kindergarten, carving silly things into the tree that stood between our two houses, burying and making tombstones for a couple birds and a robin by her deck, playing beneath the deck and using various items in her backyard for hide-in-seek in the dark.

Beverly also did one thing for my family that I will never ever forget. She took her cats to a local vet in Huber Heights, Ohio and inside the office there was a bulletin board. Off and on they would have various fliers tacked up on it stating free kittens/cats. In late 1999 and early 2000, we were finally looking for a kitty. My mom was super picky about finding "the one" but looking back on it, I am definitely grateful that she was so picky. Beverly had said she would keep her eyes peeled for any fliers she might see at her vet's office. It's a good thing she did. In mid April 2000, Beverly told my mom about a family near our house that was giving away five kittens: one male and four females. After my mom got the contact info, I vividly remember her talking to the lady on the phone and writing down some more information on the kittens. She had written "tan and gray striped calico" and before I even met him, I knew that I wanted him. I was only 11 years old at the time, mind you, but still. My parents were set on getting a male cat so after looking at and interacting with all of the cats, we had made our decision: he was "the one."

I often think of my selection process as how God "chose" us, but that's another story. In the end, though my parents actually decided which kitten we would bring home, I had the privilege of naming him Tigger. :) He has been with us ever since April 15th, 2000 and is the most affectionate, youthful, playful, obedient watch-cat that I have ever had. :) It was divine intervention that Beverly saw the flier at the time she did and that we were able to have first pick at the kittens. The other bonus was that we told old family friends of ours about these kittens because they were also looking for their first pet. Funny thing, their daughter, my friend Shannon, picked out one of Tigger's black and white "tuxedo" sisters and named her Buttons. These two cats have seen each other a few times since being separated but they have always lived within 40 minutes of each other.

We liked going over to her house to talk and visit with her but there was one thing about it that bugged us and our parents a lot. You see, Beverly smoked cigarettes; sometimes packs a day. There was no doubt that she was a wonderful person and neighbor. She was a wonderful person who just happened to be addicted to smoking. Don't think my mom didn't try to encourage her to quit many, many times. She finally did more than a decade after we had met her, but it was too late. In 2004 she was diagnosed with lung cancer. Our families were no longer next to each other at that point, as 3 years earlier we had moved 35 minutes away, but the news was still terribly heartbreaking. It deeply affected my mom because she had imagined remaining friends with her through so many more seasons of life. My brother and I were in our mid-to-late teens at the time and were confused as to how to accept the news. She had had one of her lungs removed which got rid of a lot of the cancer but unfortunately the remaining amount of the disease spread quickly. Towards the end her voice got much more gravelly than it had been when she smoked, but I still liked to talk to her sometimes when she called our house from her home phone and later from the hospital.

The last thing we ever spoke about, for just a few moments before I gave the phone to my mom, was about something hilarious. Beverly liked both superficial and deep conversations of all kinds, but she really enjoyed keeping up with the stars. Mostly this was because she liked laughing at the next dumb things they would say or do. That night she asked if I had heard about Paris Hilton's engagement ring. I was 16 at the time but hadn't heard the latest news about her yet. I will always remember that news tidbit though. Apparently her ring was so heavy, that instead of wearing it on her finger she strung it on a chain and wore it around her neck. We both had a really good laugh about the absurdity of it all.

Before she asked me about that, though, she complimented me on my voice. She said that to her it sounded low and sexy and exclaimed that I must be growing up! She also reaffirmed that I was such a pretty girl and that, with that voice, I would attract many boys. I often think of our conversation when I'm feeling self-conscious of my physical flaws, get too much unwanted attention or on days when I just don't feel beautiful.
Sadly, one day after school in October 2005, I came home to find my mom in tears. Earlier that day she had received a call from Larry saying that Beverly's organs shut down that morning and she had passed away. I had lost my grandfather years before and was even younger at the time so this was my first experience being old enough to process grief for the loss of someone close as a young adult. My mom and I were the only ones who were able to attend to her funeral. We saw Larry and her two sons, Cory and Jason--whom we hadn't seen in years. I was 16 and it was the first funeral I had ever attended. I did my best to be strong for my mom but I cried during some parts of it. I can't believe that it's nearly been 7 years since that day. So much has changed since then.

I can just imagine how proud Beverly would be of the people Nathan and I have become and how modest I would be about anything she might compliment me on. A part of me still wishes that I had been able to send her postcard while I was in Spain two years ago. Or invite her to my high school or college graduations. Or one day happily send her an invitation to my wedding.

There are many "if onlys" that float around in our minds after a loved one passes away. In the end it's futile to run them over in our minds countless times because it cannot bring them back. I do know for sure that since Beverly was a believer I will see her again and will have the chance to catch her up on my life and hear her fabulous stories as well.

I'm grateful that I was reminded of her today. Her memory gives me some much needed motivation to continue with my job search and know that she too would not want me to be discouraged. I have come along way since that one October afternoon but, while her life may be over, there is still much more to be written about mine. If I act passive towards the next chapter of my life, a career, I will cheat myself of all the life I could really put into it.

If you're reading this (wherever you are) and are not friends with any of your neighbors, take that first step and initiate contact. If you're lucky enough to develop a good friendship with them, you won't regret it. Besides, not all your neighbors are as crazy as the media likes to say they are. :P

Monday, May 21, 2012

Never forget the journey

One's destination is never a place, but rather a new way of looking at things.
-Henry Miller

I'm going to share a story about one of the worst flights of my life during Thanksgiving break back in November 2011. At that point in time I was about three weeks away from achieving one of my ultimate goals in life--a college degree. However, November 25th, 2011 marked the start of my continued hard-fought journey to graduation. The events of that day showed me that there was huge opposition against me and only God could get me through those following three weeks.

The day started off normally as far as departure days go. I wasn't leaving until the afternoon so I still had some time to do a few last favorite things at home. I slept in a little, had breakfast and spent time with my kitty, Tigger. Like usual, though, I didn't have 100% of my things packed. I rushed around in the late morning and early afternoon trying to pack, clean and set aside several things I wanted my family to take with them in the car when they drove to Jacksonville in December. Slight problem: As I was doing all of these tasks, I was starting to feel the beginnings of some usual monthly cramps. :/

The rest of this post is not graphic and disgusting (well, it is a little bit), but please continue reading :)

I had to drop something off at a friend's house before I left but in hindsight that should not have been a top priority. Before I left for Ohio, I had checked in and printed my boarding passes 24 hours ahead of time and I prepared my bags a week prior to my trip. I was ready for anything that came my way. The opposite was true for the way back. During lunch with my mom, the cramps were getting slightly irritating so I took some 24K (an amazing energy that actually relieves headaches, cramps and more! :). It seemed to have done the trick while I ran the errand and then later headed for the airport. Then, about fifteen minutes from the airport, I felt things take a turn for the worse. With about forty five minutes before the plane departed, the stress was settling in. I tried drinking some water and focused on talking to my mom while she drove, but it only helped minimally. We made it to the airport shortly after my condition had started to worsen. We both thought that as soon as I was checked in, had passed through security and was at my gate, my body would start to calm down. Naturally, that would have happened had I not almost boarded at the very last second.

I went as quickly as I could to the check-in counter for United Airlines with my small wheeled bag and medium-sized shoulder bag. The man quickly checked me in and printed my tickets but told me that I had exactly enough time to go through security and get to my gate--with absolutely no stops. He also precisely explained where my gate was located in order for me to arrive there before the doors shut. I went through security in record time (a PR for me by the way-haha) and was so short on time that I had to just slip my shoes on my feet, without re-tying the laces, and run to the gate with all of my stuff. Here's a step-by-step rundown of how the cramps went from annoying to almost crippling in less than 10 minutes: Running to the gate = tired and hot, talking to annoyed people at the gate and the stewardess on the plane = irritable and abrupt, and last but not least, trying to cool off and calm down in a back row seat in a corner while wearing jeans, a scarf and sweater = almost hot flashes. Ugh.

Anyway, long story short, I was assigned the last seat in row 17 at the window seat which turned out to be the last and most claustrophobic place I had wanted to be. I was the last one boarding but at least I knew my seat assignment...however, I was not aware that it was the very last row. The stewardess asked me, "Is 17A alright?" (NO, I thought firmly). "Yes, it's fine," I replied. My original seat, 17B, was stolen by some guy who wanted to sit by his family in the row next to mine. It would have been perfectly alright had I not been feeling under the weather, but on that day it was not fine. Still, I fully understood that I had to continue to comply with the airline's policies even though I wasn't feeling so hot (when in reality I was burning up :P). Nevertheless, seat 17B was not the seat I was truly assigned and I was not meant to see my first aerial view of Chicago from that window either. The cramps were hurting so bad that I actually threw up before the plane even took off. I had expressed to the stewardess beforehand, as she passed by my seat a couple times, that I was not feeling well. She went to get me some water for the initial taxiing but by the time she returned, it was too late. I had the dry heaves in between the times I talked to her but those quickly gave way to the real thing. On a slightly optimistic note, at that moment I could cross off: "Used an airline barf bag on a plane," off my list, but that thought came much later. I know that I definitely made my neighbor very uncomfortable and grossed out but there was nothing I could honestly do. The stewardess ironically came back with the water bottle but she was too late. She asked me, since we had not taken off yet, if I was able to travel today and I said "Yes, I have to get to my destination." It was imperative.

I survived the take-off but I just wanted to dig myself a hole and hide from everyone on that plane. I somehow managed to talk the stewardess into letting me go into the lavatory (at my own risk mind you) and spent half the flight in there. Physically things got a bit worse in there but after taking advantage of a little time to myself I calmed down and turned things around--and was praying and pleading with God the whole time as well. The flight took 20 minutes less time than usual to get to Chicago which overjoyed me. Yet, the best news or rather sights were to come as I summoned up my courage and stepped out of the lavatory. A mere ten to fifteen minutes before we landed.

I stepped out of the lavatory almost at the same time the stewardess went to the back of the plane to check on me. I started to move back to my seat but she instead directed me to the front of economy class and seated me in row 3 at the window. She was also very kind enough to grab my belongings and stick the bag in front of an empty seat. When she returned to my row she handed me another barf bag which I think slightly freaked out the man who was sitting next me. :P

About five minutes later we started our descent into Chicagoland. With it came the most out of this world view of downtown proper and the Chicago skyline. After all that I had been through on that flight, God brought me to my destination: seat 3D on a United flight to Chicago. What it took to get there paled in comparison to the view out my window. I hadn't been to Chicago since I was nine and I definitely hadn't seen the skyline from the air. It was absolutely incredible to have a front row seat to one of the biggest and most unique cities in the country. I loved seeing the bridges all in a row starting from downtown and stretching out to connect to the rest of the city. I kept my eyes glued to the window for as long as I could, enchanted with what God had blessed me.

I recounted this story (albeit in less detail) to my friend Kara after she picked me up from the airport in Jacksonville later that night. Something she said got me thinking about how to apply this experience to my current situation. She said something like this: "You enjoyed what you saw but you didn't like how you had to get there to see it."

Sometimes the worst storms in life produce some of the most amazing blessings that we could ever imagine. As I was boarding that plane I did not think things would improve at all during my flight; I only pictured them getting worse. I could also apply this situation to my road to road to graduation. I could have given up so many times during my last semester but I didn't. I chose to keep fighting because I knew the reward would far outweigh the roadblocks I faced along the way. Little did I know that, in both situations, God had something else in store. He takes us through the fire in order to refine our character, carefully crafting us into the person He created us to be. He also takes us through the harshest storms in order to better appreciate the good weather in our lives.
Embrace the mountaintops and end-of-the-rainbow blessings, but always keep the journey in the forefront of your mind. If you constantly forget the pain of the journey, the next storm you face will threaten to drain you of both your strength and faith. The storms of life will always come, this we can be certain, but how you face them is always up to you. Write the lessons you learned on the inside of your eyelids as well as the Word of God and as you go through the valley--no matter how long it may last--God will faithfully bring you back to the top of the mountain once again.

Have you found this to be true in your own life? How has God shown himself to be faithful recently?

Monday, May 7, 2012

My Launch Pad, for lack of a better word

Jacksonville, Florida. To be honest, I didn't know this city existed until six years ago. I received a postcard highlighting information about my alma-mater-to-be in October 2006. However, I didn't make the official decision to attend Jacksonville University until February 2007.

Now, nearly six years later, I could not imagine spending my late teen and early twenties anywhere but Jacksonville. Do I want to stay here long-term? That is a rather complex question.

Well, let me explain.

The town or city where you attended college will always be a big part of your life regardless if you stay there for four or forty years. As you navigate through the new chapters of your life after college, your mind may take you back countless times to that college campus and all the challenges you overcame and experiences you had that enriched your life.

This is true for my post-grad experience. For two months after my college graduation, I still could not get away from the campus. Namely because I still lived in the apartments across the street. Regardless, I, an out-of-state student, was lucky enough to still have access to her college campus and friends. While I am currently enjoying living in Jacksonville now, post-grad, I don't see myself settling down here. I don't have family here nor was I successful in snagging a pretty diamond during college. I do have friends, a church family and professional contacts here, but there is something more. For the last few months I have been making plans to obtain Florida residency in order to attend the University of North Florida, my school's rival, for graduate school. In the fall of 2010, a friend told me about the Global and Latin American focused MBAs that UNF offers. I was intrigued so I researched and learned all I could about the Spanish language focused MBA, more formally known as the IberoAmerican MBA. As soon as I learned the MBA program or cohort, requires you to travel and study at universities in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Madrid, Spain, I was hooked. The only thing was, I was not a Florida resident. I was not about to give up once I saw that I would be forced to pay out-of-state graduate level prices for credit hours. No, I just merely prayed and thought of ways to stay in Jacksonville the following summer as a permanent resident. Getting an apartment and having bills in my name definitely put me on the fast track towards residency. Still, I could not successfully apply for the 2011-2012 program because my offical residency could not be confirmed until this May. May 5th, 2012 to be exact. :)

Having said all that, in the past year I have made a lot of sacrifices for this program and I have not even been accepted for this years cohort, 2013-2014. But I am preparing to take the GRE and apply this summer. Interviews are held in the summer and the program commences in the Winter/Spring. Neither my undergraduate education nor my future graduate education could have been possible if it had not been for this city.

When I leave Jacksonville, which I will at some point in the next 3 years, I will not simply kiss everything about it and everyone goodbye for good. Instead, I will hold this city in my heart for the rest of my life. For without it, its people, universities, organizations, churches, events, concerts, celebrations, I would not be who I am today. Jacksonville, where Florida begins? Well, for me, it's where my life truly began. :)