Tuesday, January 20, 2009

my new family

ok. so a lot has happened since i last blogged. and just so everybody knows, those pictures were not of a convent, that is my new room here in portugal and my own connected bathroom as well. i will try to take more pictures soon, i am just slightly shy with a camera. So I left the orientation camp on Sunday along with the rest of the kids. Our families came to pick us up. I only live about 20 min. from the heart of Lisbon by car, or 15 by train. Cristina, my host mom, and Maria, my 17 yr. old host sister came to pick me up. They are both very kind and were very excited about having a exchange student. Maria would have actually gone somewhere herself, but she decided she needed to find out what she wants to study in College, which she will attend next year. Cristina owns a garden center and reminds me of a Venezuelan in many ways. When we arrived at the house I met the rest of the family along with a cousin and many friends. Jose is the father, he is a doctor and very formal, Tiago is also 17 and loves to surf and watch futbol, and Ines (pronounced Inesh) is 16 and a more typical teenager. It was all a little overwhelming to meet so many people at once, but Cristina suggested I just relax. Cristina, Maria, and Jose all speak English very well, but I try to speak Portuguese more. Maria, Ines, and Tiago attend a private Catholic high school, but I will attend the public high school. That will not be a problem, though, because the family has many good friends from the public high school and there are 4 other exchange students already there as well as Pedro, who is an exchange student from South America and a friend from the orientation camp. There is also a portuguese language class for foreigners that i hope to go to.
The house is very large and well decorated, and there is a maid, Vita, who cooks, cleans, and does the laundry.
The first day i emailed and blogged a little, then we went to mass. The family is fairly religious, but they are fine with having an agnostic exchange student. Mass was interesting. Its a good chance to practice picking out words of Portuguese that i understand. I can't speak back well at all, but i can mostly understand what is being said if i concentrate, which is very tiring.
After mass we came back to the house and had dinner. Portuguese eat with their fork in their left hand and their knife in their right at all times. and they even eat apples with a fork and knife... I have been trying to learn how to do this, and i think i made a fool of myself by eating very slowly. AFter dinner the whole family went to the "den" and watched tv or played on the computer. TV here is mainly in english with subtitles.
The next day Cristina took me to her work in the morning, and then we walked to my new school. The walk is fairly long, so Cristina will probably drive me in the morning, and then i will take a train or walk back to the house.
The temperature here in Portugal is about 10ÂșC, but it will only get warmer. The weather from AK seems to have followed me here. There has been rain since the day i arrived. Which is very unusual for Portugal. Usually there is sun and it is slightly warmer, though there was snow the other week.
I will try to get some pictures. I miss everybody, and i hope everything is going well.


  1. helloo hellooo
    so far so good. it sounds pretty cool what you tell :)
    have you learned some of the language before you came there? i imagine it being pretty hard not to know how to speak the language.
    and do portugese people really eat with fork and knife in the same left hand? that would be very chinese, i guess, just without the chopsticks ;]
    i hope youll post some pictures as soon that is possible. enjoy your time

  2. okay that explains it! well i'm still highly jealous of you at the moment, and increasingly nervous. Why are you shy of cameras? as far as I know they aren't known to bite? well anyways lol keep safe and keep us updated dear!
    love love

  3. im with annika on the very chinese of them to eat with the fork and knife in the left hand. how do you cut things? do you use your spoon to keep things from moving? it would seem like that every time you take a bite you would stab yourself in the face with the knife.

  4. great blog,i like the details!sounds like your having an interesting and fun experience.

  5. wow, you made it! fantastic. Sounds like a very nice family. I am jealous. You're in a climate I'd like to be in right now! (still no new snow here...arrgghhhh!). Anyway, we will be tracking your blog!

    uncle charlie

  6. ok,, so a little mistake, i mean with the fork in the left and the knife in the right... i think that makes a fair amount more sense. sorry!

  7. Hi Alli, This is your Aunt Helen writing under Uncle Charlie's blog. I was so excited to read everything and to hear how it all has gone. We'll be following you regularly, I promise. Does your family have a computer at home that you can Skype on? Anna's Skype name is alaskanna. Charlie's is charlie.barnwell--I think. I can't remember. Anyway, Anna is often on so if you see her, call us!!! We'd love to talk to you. You are an amazing young lady and we love you!!! Hugs and kisses, Aunt Helen