Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Just a Brief Update and Details

So, I have been with the Machados, Isabel and Maria, for 14 days and have had a fabulous time. I have been to the Old Lisboa, the Expo section (or new Lisboa), Viseu in the north, and many of Isabel's friends houses for parties and talking and such. I am also in vacations right now for Carnival, although the Portuguese don't celebrate quite like the Brazilians. Mainly the little kids dress up and play games in parks. And I am going to an Orientation Camp in Viseu this weekend. Otherwise, here are some details about Portuguese life that I have been meaning to post:

1) Portuguese love to talk and be around each other always. This means Sundays are typically spent with family. Around noon families gather at a house and begin eating bread with cheese as an appetizer (really good cheese), and talking and drinking coffee. Lunch is a huge affair and desserts are always plentiful. Afterwards there is more coffee and talking and then Church or if not (not everybody is Catholic here) home.

2) The classrooms and houses are almost always freezing in the winter! There is usually not central heating, and schools are not heated either. The temperature when I arrived was around 45º and colder in houses. Now it has warmed up, but houses are still cold.

3) My first day of math class was a little funny becuase x is prounounced "sheesh". I walked in and there was a whole bunch of people saying sheesh, and x also are written different as well so I was so confused! I thought everybody really disliked the class or something.

4) Mustard and Pizza are different here. Not to say that I don't eat them at all, but I definitely prefer them in the US. The mustard is very mild, not sour at all, and pizza is made with a different type of sauce i think and the toppings are nearly always cheese and ham. No pepperoni!

5) Most of the music and tv here is American. Nobody likes rap, surprise surprise. Movies and shows have subtitles in Portuguese, or if they are cartoons they are in Portuguese.

I know I have a whole bunch more to tell, but I can't seem to think of it all now.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Little Bit of Bad News, a lot of Good

Well, Mr. Marshall, I dont know if you are going to read this but I will definitely send you an email, but I will not be able to race/run the half marathon i was planning on doing here in Cascais. There is a mandatory orientation camp in the North of Portugal that I am supposed to attend, and even though I have petitioned AFS they are saying that I have to be there that Saturday. But, there is another marathon in the Lisboa area, the Lisbon Marathon, which is huge and lots of high class European runners come to do it. So maybe I will be able to do that!
In other news, I found this lovely garden area that I may able to run in, Im not sure I still have to check it out.
I am now staying temporarily with another family while my real host family is away on vacations in Tanzania. They will come back on the 27th. My new family is Isabel and Maria. Isabel is the mom, and Maria is the 14 year old daughter. They are both the sweetest people possible and are trying to show me all the sights in the area. I have been to Lisbon now to see the Geronimo Church, a huge baroque style church with the tombs of Portugal's most famous author and Vasco de Gama, the explorer. I also saw some of the Moorish influence in the Castelo São George, where the nature is mixed with the simple architecture and it overlooks the city. Both sights were breathtaking.
I also went sailing! I now have sailing lessons each Friday. There are about 10 other highschoolers who sail as well, all of us in lasers, alone! This Friday I was in a different type of boat, much larger, just to see what it all is like, and it was so relaxing. The sailing people here are completely down to earth, in fact the lady i was in the boat with loves to play bluegrass music, something that nobody so far has ever heard of here in Portugal.
I will post some pictures of Lisbon as soon as i find the time and the place, but for now I hope everybody is enjoying the winter weather and skiing lots!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

This is just one of the many Roman Catholic traces of religion in the house.

The sitting room where my host parents receive guests. Its pretty fancy.

This is the walkway to leave the house.

There is a pool! Its not filled for the winter, but I can´t wait till it will be.

And this is the house. Its pretty large, for Portuguese standards as well. There is also a small gym on the house connected, and tables out in the garden for eating at. The garden is fairly large and from where I took the picture, and the driveway is to either side of the house.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Few More Pictures

As promised, here are a few more pictures, but I will definitely take more because these are fairly silly. Portuguese do not like to have their pictures taken in the winter, because they say that they are too pale, though I find that funny because most people here are at least as tan as the tannest person in Seward.

This is Pintas (which means spots) the family dog. He is slightly crazy, but cute, and runs around the house and garden all day long.

This is my school, São João do Estoril. This is not a good shot, but basically the rest of the school looks similar. The campus is fairly large and the buildings are all spaced out. There are 4 buildings with classrooms and another with two gyms. I can't quite find my way around it yet, but my class is always there to help.

The roads here are typically pavement, but the sidewalks are all made of the smaller stones. The older roads, in the areas with more shops or in Lisboa (Lisbon) are all made of the small stones on top of sand. There are trees all over.