The GoGlobal Blog

Month: February 2011

Meet the Johnson’s

Meet the Johnson’s

So I moved in with my host family a few days ago. To help protect their anonymity I’m giving them ironic American names. There’s George, the father, Rachel, the mother, Billy-Ray, 11, Max, 10, Elizabeth, 6, and of course little Hannah Montana, 4. The house itself is mostly outside, surrounded by large cement walls. Then there’s the bathroom, the kitchen, the Den, and the bedrooms which all stem from the primary courtyard.

It’s a modest house, but fine for my needs.

My first impressions of the family?

Well, I’ve been spending most of my time with the kids, the house kind of serves as the hub for all the children in the ‘hood. They say the best way to learn a foreign language is to talk to kids, and I can definitely attest to that.

What I’m really starting to notice is that the family, both the kids and the adults, don’t really know how to interpret Western culture. Just 40 years ago the country had virtually no access to the modern technology. So much foreign culture has just been piled on them. So for example, when I’m in the car with George, he’ll be listening to really gaudy hip hop.

The kids love Biggie Smalls, Bob Marley, and John Cena…       …as they should.

On the negative side, there are like EIGHT MILLION kids everywhere. I think at any given moment someone’s wearing my headphones, taking pictures with my camera, using my laptop, going through my backpack, recording something with my tape recorder, and hanging on my back. It’s…..new.

JUMP!

JUMP!

As my Facebook homepage becomes bombarded with Chicago “Snowcalypse” pictures and my roommates tell me about their hibernation into our ground level apartment complete with tea and incense burning I can’t help but feel a little jealous I’m missing out on Loyola’s snow day.  However my jealousy faded while remembering the past weekend and the great time I had in the sun with my new friends.  This Friday I went to a coffee farm and sugar plantation with my most charismatic professor here and some students.  We ate raw sugar cane, tried world renowned coffee, talked with some of the farmers, and even got away with swimming in a silo full of coffee beans! Since I grew up on an Iowa corn and soybean farm I found it very interesting to see the agricultural similarities and differences.  Also, I learned about the industry of fair trade Costa Rican coffee.   Costa Rica’s ability to sustain itself and fairly export its resources is the backbone behind the nation’s relative prosperity.  This made me appreciate the numerous amounts of Metropolis coffee I consume on Loyola’s campus even more than I did before.

The rest of my weekend was spent in Montezuma, a town on the tip of the Nicoya Peninsula.  A group of us students arose at 4:30am to catch the ferry at 5am and I saw my first Costa Rican sunrise over the Pacific.  After arriving to our hotel we ditched our backpacks and started Montezuma’s challenge: a half hour hike to the top of a waterfall followed by a daring jump down!  The waterfall is 40 feet high and while that does not seem extremely high, building up the courage to plummet down is no easy task.  After watching some Tico’s show us their tricks we started to line up for our own jump.  I absolutely loved free falling into the cold, fresh water.  We spent all morning taking turns jumping, filming, taking pictures and encouraging our more timid friends to take the dare.

After hiking back and getting a good lunch at a beach side cafe our day was spent dozing on the beach then dancing the night away at a local bar. Overall, the weekend was a definite success and I’m very glad I can look back with no regrets that I took the jump!

Welcome to Oman

Welcome to Oman

Ahlan wa Sahlan! I’ve been in Oman for three days now, and it is something else. This past summer I spent a month in France with a Loyola study abroad program. After my time here, I can say that I feel more welcome in Oman than I ever did in France. Everyone is here is welcoming and more than eager to tolerate my bumbling attempts to communicate in Arabic.

On my Arabic: I took two semesters of Arabic during the 2008-09 school year. I took them post-secondary at Baldwin-Wallace College while I was still a señor in high school. Since that was about two years ago, I’ve become a little rusty. Give me a few weeks and I should be refreshed.

Winter Oman is one of those times when it is just simply perfect weather. There is nothing quite like reading how your colleagues in Chicago are freezing their toes off as you are basking in the sun in a comfortable 77 degrees.

Classes still haven’t started, nor have I moved in with my homestay family yet – that comes tomorrow. Right now it is just the orientation: buzzing around the city hanging out, and having simple lectures.

I’ll update in a few days once the real work starts.

Oh, and by the way – Mountain Dew, my favorite soft drink, is known colloquially as the “beer of Omanis” – they just call it ‘dew.