Thoughts on May 4, 2013 otherwise known as Graduation Day!
Graduation marks the end of a new beginning. A beginning acquired when we began our journey into higher education. A journey filled with books, concepts, and theories we’d never heard of. And sometimes had to spend sleepless nights in the library trying to understand. But ask me now about Jane Austen, Shakespeare, cultural anthropology, social exchange theory, even Chinese trade policies and I am confident in my ability to teach you a thing or two.
As a new graduate I look toward the future with hope. But if you think about it, the future quickly becomes the past. And then we get here, to the point where the past and the future collide and become the present. As I stand here, I can’t help but think of the events and people in my past that led me to this point, which once seemed like a very distant future.
A year ago today I was planning my trip to Italy. My friend Chelsea and I went around different places collecting recycling items to make some extra money. While in Italy we had to be very mindful of our budget. There were times when I wanted to buy something frivolous or eat at the fancy restaurant and on these occasions Chelsea would pose a simple question, “Did you wake up rich?” Just like that, I would be brought back from my cloud and realize that no, unfortunately like every other day in my life I did not wake up rich. I would then proceeded to have a one sided argument with God as to why I didn’t wake up rich.
Yet, one day that summer I woke up and I realized I had been lying to Chelsea and myself—I wake up rich everyday! After all, I was in Italy, learning Italian, meeting locals, and visiting places I’d only ever seen via Internet or movies. To top it off in a few weeks I would travel around Europe to visit friends I had met while studying abroad in Argentina. It was that summer when discovered I may not wake up money rich, but I do wake up experience rich everyday.
I grew up money poor, shopping at second hand stores before “vintage” became a thing. It meant growing up not always getting everything I wanted, not wearing what the other kids were wearing, growing up with a desire for something better. But while growing up poor I can say I never went hungry, I grew up knowing the value of a dollar and with a sense of unique strength. I also grew up with the idea that education is invaluable because unlike material things it will never go away and no one can take it from you.
And while money has caused me headaches, heartaches, and sleepless nights, thanks to friends, family, mentors, professors and supporters it has never stopped me from achieving my dreams. My professors, my peers, and the opportunities presented to me during my college experience helped me accumulate a palette filled with diverse experiences.
In 2010 my wanderlust was ignited after COP awarded me a Pacific Fund grant so I could travel to Guatemala where I would work towards perfecting my Spanish writing and learn about Mayan culture. I’ll always be grateful to Dr. Golsan, the trip advisor who guided me through the whole process and contributed greatly to my success in the program. In the spring of 2011, I studied abroad in Argentina and in the summer of 2012, I participated in COP’s Italy Immersion program. I’ll also never forget the day I woke up in Italy and realized I was rich.
Along with my travel opportunities I also think about professors like Dr. Zhou who taught me about Ethnic Studies, Multi-Ethnic American Literature and who never doubted me even when I doubted myself. Or my PACS II professor Dr. Garcia-Sheets, who helped me find my voice and the courage to speak up and contribute in class. I think also of Dr. Bates who taught me about rhetorical thinking and criticism, and ruined entertainment for me because everything has a message sometimes obvious sometimes hidden. And also Dr. Ramos and Dr. Lehmann who always made time to talk to me whether it was about academics or troubles of the heart.
And as I reminisce about my years at Pacific I think not only of the English classes, the Communication classes, the Spanish classes; the novels I read, the papers I wrote, the discussions I led but I also think of my professors. They not only taught me about literature, writing, or communication techniques but they also challenged my ideas and supported my decisions. And above all they helped me have a better understanding of not just the world but also myself.
Nobel Peace Prize recipient Kofi Annan said “To live is to choose. But to choose well, you must know who you are and what you stand for, where you want to go and why you want to get there.” College of the Pacific gave me an outstanding education, a palette filled with diverse experiences, experiences that with support and encouragement, I chose for myself. I am thankful for that, because I as I enter the “real world” I know I am ready to live and make a difference.
Hello Everyone, My name is Ana Laura & I am trying to raise money so that I can relocate to New York. I recently graduated from University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. I was accepted into the NYC Teaching Fellowship, a very competitive program (2012 Stats: Around 11,800 applicants, 1,…
In 16 days I will be making the move from CA-NY! I am beyond excited because not only is NY a great city but I will be kickstarting my “adult” life. The best part is I get to kickstart my life by being able to do something I love! I feel absolutely blessed since I know that not many people get to do what they love right out of college. So what will I be doing exactly? I will be teaching Bilingual Special Education in a high need school in Brooklyn, NY! And in addition I will be working towards a Master of Science in Teaching Urban Adolescents with Disabilities and I get to add a Bilingual Extension!! I never knew where life would take me after graduation and I sometimes doubted I would accomplish anything, but I DID IT! SI SE PUDO!! & with every step I take I am one step closer to making a change for the better! 16 more days!!!! <3
068 A Day of Relaxation & A Day of Travel
Yesterday, I spent most of the day sleeping or hanging out with Agathe. The day started off rainy and then BAM the sun came out and it was super bright! I woke up before Agathe and state breakfast and talked to Damien (her brother). He was getting ready to go up to the mountains to ski. He is such a goofball he kept messing with the orange cat and tapping on the window to say his to his mom who was gardening outside.
After we had lunch Agathe and I woke up R— at 4AM his time to Skype. I wanted him and Agathe to meet and she had to tell him the story of how Paprika kicked her in the face by accident. LOL. He ended up meeting Agathe and Agathe’s dad who didn’t know that we were Skyping. It was great. After Agathe and I talked about R—. To which she said “You fancy him and he fancies you too.” She’s crazy! Then she went on to tell me I should try to be more than friends with R— to which I asked how? And she went on with her great words of wisdom, ultimately her most ridiculous and hilarious comment was that the last thing could be get drunk and kiss him! So classy! -_- And then she proceeded to tell me she didn’t know how it all worked in the States but that’s what she assumed. LOL. Finally, she concluded with “he seems to fancy you and he is a nice guy because he likes dogs so you will regret it if you do not go for it.” All it takes for Agathe to think you are the greatest person in the world is for you to have some dogs apparently. Haha.
After Agathe, her dad and I drove out to what Agathe calls “the village.” We went to the train station to try to book my reservation for the train to Bayonne for which we were told they couldn’t do it there…later we found out that lady lied! We went to the center of the village and visited St. John the Baptist church. Agathe told me about the Nativity scene and pointed out the grass, wheat, and lavender/rosemary embedded into the scenes to show some of the traditions from this region of France.
After we went back to Chateau Piquet (the Piquet Castle) to have dinner and relax. I ended up sleeping some more and then having dinner. For dinner we had left overs from Christmas which was delicious. And Agathe showed me about Mediterranean plants from a book that was given as a gift to her mom. Agathe, is always teaching me something new! And I think that is one of the things I like about her and admire too, that she knows too much! She absolutely loves France and she wants me to know as much as I can about her country so she will always tell me her fun facts and ask me if I know this or that and even teaches me the words in French.
After dinner we watched the news and then attempted to watch a movie. We ended up watching The Mentalist. I ended up looking at the Trailblazers and Knicks schedule to see if I would be able to make a game. Which I might be able to make the game against Miami at the Rose Garden. We’ll see!
Now I find myself on a train which I will be on for 10 hours on my way to Bayonne. I still have about 5 hours to go. My phone is almost dead and I do not have a charger so I am a bit sad since I will not be able to Whatsapp R—. But I am SUPER excited to see Maitaneruda and share with her all that has been happening in my life. I am also planning to contact Yann and see if we can meet up somewhere, hopefully we can! Well mon amie I have to go for now I think it’s a good time to take a nap! Happy two days after Christmas yo should know there is only 362 Days until Christmas 2013! ;)
067 X-Mas in France = AMAZING Food! <3
It’s FINALLY Christmas!!!!!!!!!! My x-mas countdown clock says so!!! WOOT WOOT!!!
I just want to take a moment to say that it is Christmas and I am in France with one of my best friends, Agathe and her family! I feel so thankful that they have allowed me to come share this holiday with them, and I feel so welcomed and accepted despite the language differences. I am going to learn French for sure now because I want to be able to more properly communicate with them. I woke up at around 8AM and staying in bed until about 10AM. Finally, I went down fro breakfast and talked for a little with Cami. Eventually, Agathe came down and told me we were going to Marjorie’s place for lunch. I didn’t know that lunch was going to be a full on meal!
It smelled delicious when I first walked into Marjorie’s place! I was also so hungry but played it cool. As Marjorie and her boyfriend finished preparing lunch we all sat around the living room and had a small appetizer. It was little pancakes with some creamy sauce and salmon. As we waited Agathe told me about the small village that he sister is living in. It is known for a turtle sanctuary and because of a magic donkey with wings. This is also the place where they bought Papaya—one of their donkeys, she’s nicer than Paprika.
For lunch we started with Shrimp for Agathe, Marjorie and Me, and scallops for everyone else. They were delicious. We then moved on to duck with sides of apples, sweet potatoes, and regular PURPLE potatoes!!! Yes, that it right! PURPLE potatoes!!!!!!!!! Naturally, purple! They looked soo cool and so weird! In front of me again a glass for white wine and one for red. I had some very strong but delicious red wine from 1990, me and Agathe’s birth year! <3 Dessert was the most delicious thing ever!! Seriously, BEST dessert I have ever had in my whole life!!!!!!!!!!! We had a raspberry tiramisu, with a sweet almond biscuit and chocolate fondant with a melted chocolate center! The best part was that the fondant was still so warm and mixed with the raspberry tiramisu it was just INCREDIBLE!! I didn’t even care if I was a million pounds I would eat this all day everyday!
After lunch, Agathe showed me the basement where there was a wine cellar, and she told me all about how you could make wine down there and what the whole set up would look like. And then she told me we would be walking up to a church where you could see the whole village. It was a great view of the village and also nice to have a walk in the cool air after such a heavy meal!
I definitely was not going to eat anything anymore but soon enough dinner was here!! I had to eat once more—this time a much lighter meal! Salad with an onion tart and then bread & cheese and fruit for dessert! After dinner we watched the news and the movie Hachi. Dolly one of the dogs was sooo cute! She sat near the television and watched the whole thing. Agathe told me that Dolly loves to watch animal movies.
After the movie we called it a night and I went to bed. I ended up not being able to sleep very long and at 4AM I was awake. I tossed and turned and tossed and turned and nothing. -_- It ended up not being such a bad thing since timing worked out and I ended up on Skype with R— for a while. I honestly don’t even remember what we talked about probably some pretty random things. And so Christmas came and went and I never watched The Grinch, or Grandma got ran over by a reindeer, but I did spend some quality time with Agathe and her family and even R— through skype! It was quite perfect. <3
P.S. I think it was also today when Cami showed Agathe and me the video Dumb Ways to Die! Look it up, it’s catchy!
066 Christmas w/the Piquets
Christmas at ma Cheri’s was more than amazing. I really have very few words to describe how AMAZING it was!
I woke up Christmas eve and Agathe told me we would be going Christmas shopping. Her brother had just returned from Brussels so he had not purchased any gifts yet. Agathe and I ended up at Ikea at one point, which I had never been to. Then I realized and remember that pillows in France are more like cushions! I tried to show Agathe what my brand new bed back at home was like but none of the one’s we saw at Ikea were the right size. -_-
We then went to a different store where I bought a GIANT Kinder Egg and a few small ones to take back home. I hope they do not break!
When we went home we chilled for a while. Agathe showed me their nativity scene, I played with Cookies and Dolly and then we watched her parents prepare dinner. I really wished that I could help but I really had no idea what to do so it was for the best that I didn’t. Agathe then sent me off to start getting ready for dinner.
With Agathe Christmas is a celebration that lasts two days. Christmas eve there is a big dinner and after you have 13 desserts!!!!!
As we were getting ready Agathe’s little sister Camille who I am sharing a room with asked me if I could help her curl her hair. I was really excited to do it because it felt like a nice gesture to also say thanks for sharing your room with me. As I did her hair we talked about her studies. She is currently doing her preparatories in France because she wants to go to Business School.
After we finished we went downstairs and then all the presents were under the Christmas tree. I was not expecting to get any Christmas presents, and if I did I expected just one from Agathe but instead I got a bunch. We opened the presents and all said thanks to each other.
I got a Scratch Map (you scratch off the places you have been to!! I ALWAYS wanted one!), Foie Gras (SO DELICIOUS), Nail Polish, Little Cupackes, and the most comfortable, squishy bunny slippers ever!!! BEST Christmas ever!! After opening presents we drank champagne and talked. Mostly I listened and Agathe translated what was going on. I also found out Marjorie’s boyfriend is a HUGE Giants Fan! We talked baseball and the he told me about when he spent sometime in Manhattan, Kansas! Bahahahaha We all made fun of him for that!
Dinner was just a whole new definition and level of being wined and dined! We started off with bread and thin pieces of salmon with lemon. Then Chicken with a side of whatever went inside it, potatoes, and another side that I forgot the name. In front of me a I had a glass for water, white wine, red wine and champagne! Pretty much pampered until the end. Because for dessert there is a tradition that there is supposed to be 13 desserts!! I ate so much that night, I definitely had a food baby! But it was all too delicious!
After dinner, we sat around the fireplace and the room and all just talked. I was dozing off so Agathe had me put the baby Jesus on the Nativity scene and then sent me off to bed. She is definitely like my mother. I still remember Argentina how many times she acted protective over me and continues to do so. LOVE HER!!! I went upstairs but didn’t sleep right away instead I Skyped w/R—for a while. It was definitely a great way to end Christmas Eve and start Christmas. I think this is also the time when R—sang a couple of songs! It was great!
Merry Christmas! <3
065 Leaving Italy w/the Pope’s Blessing
I was leaving Italy, finally at 16 hours and so I had some time to kill.
My checkout time was 11 so after buying a new small carry on I decided I would go back to the Vatican and try to make it to mass. I failed at the mass thing.
BUT I read in the internet that at noon the pope wwould come out and blessed the people in St. Peter’s square. After the fiasco from the previous night I figured a blessing from the Pope could definitely not hurt my karma!
As it began to get closer to twelve more and more people started to fill the square. It was really interesting experience to be there. The pope looked like a tiny dot from where I was standing but I could hear his voice.
One of the things that astonished me was that the small blessing was delivered in multiple languages—English, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Italian.
During the English portion one of the things that stuck with me was when he said “During this holiday season let us make room in our hearts to accept Christ the child which was such a high gift from above.” It reminded me once again about what Christmas is about—hope, forgiveness, and progress for a better and more peaceful world. I really hope to one day be able to use all of my experiences to help others and help make this a more peaceful world.
After the blessing the Pope left and I roamed around St. Peter’s Square for a while people watching and such. I wanted to grab something to eat but I couldn’t figure out where. At this point I was also a bit paranoid I didn’t want to get lost, and every policeman I saw creeped me out. I didn’t want to bump into the officer from yesterday, chances of that were low but still… So instead I went back to my hotel, grabbed my things and headed for the station.
Once in the airport I decided to eat lunch before boarding at this great little place whose specialty was buffalo mozzarella! =) I had buffalo mozzarella and pasta, so the cheese was melted into the Pasta—It was so delicious! Afterwards, I had Tiramisu and a glass of dry white wine. When I went to pay for my meal, I found out some stranger had already paid for it, leaving a note on my check saying I was “bellisima” and safe travels. =/ I am not sure how I am starting to feel about all these free things, and men being so forward. But alas there was nothing I could do, so I tipped my waitress and ran to my gate, because I was running late . I got there just as the last few people were boarding. I ended up having to sit all the way in the back in the middle seat. I met a nice old man from Venezuela who was teaching literature in Nice and also a man from Columbia who was a priest in Toulon.
Eventually, I made it to Nice and finally Toulon where I saw Ma Cheri and her family. It was GREAT! I was to spend the night in her sister’s room because Marjorie (the other sister) was going to sleep over. Cami had a nice Welcome sign and a few Cosmos next to my bed. And well Christmas is another blog post so stay tuned! <3
064 Trying to make friends w/Rome
So as many of you may know Rome and I are not on good terms. We started off on the wrong foot 6 months ago when Chelsea and I were stuck outside the Rome terminal for a night. Things just never really improved from there.
The last time I was in Rome—excuse for a moment while I squeal because I am saying this sentence, YES me, I’ve been in Rome before, a little nobody, who always dreamed of Italy, is here for her second time…OMG—Okay anyway, the last time the one thing I really wanted to do and missed out on was going to the Vatican. I went to the vatican museum but not the Vatican itself or St. Peter’s Square. So since I was going to be in Rome for 2 half days, one evening and one morning, I decided I should try and get there.
Let me just say I DOMINATED!! I was all by myself with a huge traveling backpack and a broken bag BUT I managed to find my hotel. I got on the red line metro and just followed some directions. I stayed at a descent hotel, I did pay only 16€ so I cannot complain. I went in and changed into a dress with leggings, Rome was warmer than Assisi. Soon after map in hand I headed out to find the Metro once again and see the Vatican. Finding the Vatican was quite easy in less than 15 minutes I was in the center of St. Peter’s Square!
Also small side note—best way to avoid being attacked by vendors, put in your headphones and walk like you have a purpose.
The line to go inside the Vatican seemed to be long but once you made it through the security point you were golden! The Vatican is AMAZING!!! It has so many marble statues and they are HUGE! Also Michelangelo’s Pietà is beautiful! OMG this man is just a genius and I am in love with him. I walked around for about 2 hours and then I met a very nice family from Seattle who was living in Italy for a year. They invited me to join them for dinner but at this point I had 15€ to my name and so I didn’t feel comfortable. I think maybe if I had I could have avoided the fiasco that came next.
I tried to take money out of the ATM but Discover had blocked my card since I was using it all over Italy. After I called them I decided I needed some food. I walked around to the Trevi Fountain and then found a place called Thats Amore—That’s Love— and decided it would do. I had the most delicious bruschette, lasagna and white wine. Since I was there alone the waiter tried to set me up and so he sat two canadian men next to me. They were very cool, with a few flaws—one a fan of the bluejays over Giants -_- and the other an iPhone hater!
Nonetheless after dinner we walked around and I walked back to what I thought was my hotel. I WAS SOOO WRONG! My map had a circle on it and I assumed without making sure that this was the location of my hotel. It was not. So I was lost. I roamed around for a while, just looking around and trying to find an ATM. Things got sketch so I figured I should ask for help. At this point I need to be careful with how I write the next portion because of the delicacy of the subject.
I thought I could rely on authorities to help me find my way back to a Metro station. I was told by one of them that it would take 10/15 minutes walking and that I was not in a safe area, I was then offered a vespa ride to my hotel. See here I think my naiveness comes from being able to rely on public safety at school, say all you want about Stockton, but Public Safety at Pacific has always come through for me. So I agreed, because 1) this is the authorities and 2) a vespa ride in Rome? Hell Yeah! AAHHHH I was so wrong.
So on this vespa ride I was taken to see the Colosseum at night and then this piazza where I looked through this peep hole and saw the top of St. Peter’s Basilica, it was legit! And then it all went terribly wrong, I thanked that guy and asked when he would take me to the metro. The officer said that he was helping me and he showed me some nice things so I should show him some good times. And BAM his penis was out of his pants and I flipped out. I was so scared because there was literally no people around and so I just ran for it, with this guy chasing me and by some miracle I found a homeless man who helped me. He yelled at the police officer and so the officer backed off. The homeless man asked me about a million times if I was okay or if I needed a hospital, I said not just the metro. He walked with me for about 10 minutes until we go to the metro. I thanked him and gave him 20€ which he did not want to accept. He told me to be very careful, because I was a beautiful girl and men would try to take advantage of that. I just said I would took the metro to my hotel’s stop and then ran inside.
It was literally the most shocking experience I have encountered while traveling It made me sick to my stomach to where I wanted to vomit and cry all at once. I felt and still fee quite angry that someone abused their authority to torment me in such a way.
Luckily for me R— was a sweetheart and Skyped with me. So I was able to work through some of the emotions and essentially get some sleep.
And so in the end Rome and I will did not become friends. It’s just not going to work out.