Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Today, after a month of class, we finally learned past tense. It feels wonderful to actually have the tools to express myself. Words. They are all written down in my notebook. They haven't even become familiar tools yet. I just know that if I go over them they will become mine. When I was 15 years old I participated in a foreign exchange program. It wasn't really an exchange unless you consider money an exchange for a person. I spent a year in Spain, and a buttload of money was spent by me and my parents for that permission. Of course, looking back, I wouldn't change a thing. You might wonder how I got it in my 14 year old mind to actually do one of these things (foreign exchange programs). No one in my immediate family had really ever done this. My mom had travelled to Europe when she was young but it was a few months and she went all over not really staying long in one place. My father hitchiked across America and went to Vietnam. But that's it. No foreign languages, although my parents would argue that. Here are my parents' foreign language skills.

Father- "I can't tell if she's gordamente or not?" as he squinted at one of my mission companions in a photo.

Mother- "Fermey la boosh!" to us kids when we were being impertinent.

Anyway, I went with my mom to the Los Gatos library one evening. She would go there on a regular basis to stock up on her Regency romance books (which are supposed to be much tamer than the usual romance novel). She actually has a small, but very thick binder full of reviews she writes about them. The pages are yellowing and the ink is fading. I think she should post these reviews on a blog for us all to read. Here is a sample entry.

Arrogant but handsome Mr. X comes to Tipton to visit rich aunt. He meets his cousins' poor but beautiful governess and is smitten beyond his control. He is humbled as he tries to woo her. She inherits a mysterious fortune and they are able to be married, since he was about to be disinherited if he united himself with such low connections!

Sound familiar? Hmmmm. Well, they're all more or less the same.

Back to the story. So while she was getting her books I was wandering around the teen section. My eye caught this book about adventures abroad. It had all kinds of programs. Habitat for Humanity, Working on a cruise ship, Volunteers for Peace, Amigos de las Americas, and American Field Service which is the one I eventually chose. It was really expensive. My parents upon hearing the idea didn't really think I would persist. But I did. I saved up all my babysitting money. I saved over a thousand dollars over the course of a year to do this program. My parents generously went into debt to provide the rest. I'm sure they can see now that the investment was worth the initial price. It was almost 15 years ago that this happened. It was the first turning point of my life. I wasn't satisfied with my life at age 14. I hated going to school. I did well in school. I had friends from school that I hung out with after school, but I didn't like swarming around in my corresponding clique during school. It was sooooo uncomfortable to me. It wasn't a sure thing. In High School nothing is ever a sure thing. You never knew when you would be the target of everyone's laughter. For some reason that really scared me then. Now it seems so dumb, but because of my fear I never hung around with anyone during recesses. I would eat my lunch with my friends. There was strength in numbers right? Then I would leave the group and try to be as invisible as possible. Sure glad that's over. Anyway, this opportunity to go to Spain was my opportunity to be a different person. And I was. I was able to turn into a friendly outgoing girl. Learning Spanish just happened. When you're that young, with some basics, it can just happen. Now, in Turkey, it doesn't just happen. And that's why I love my class so much.


Aimee said...

On accident, I just read my first romance noveltitled Jane Millionaire. It was given to us during our farewell party in the U.S. right before moving here. I asked everyone to please bring a used book for our home library. Reading the book jacket, it sounded like a book that would equate to reading a reality T.V. show. Nope. It was page after page of the "heroine" lusting after the t.v. show producer. What did I learn? That I don't plan to ever read another romance. It was painful to get through. But I know lots of people love 'em. But not me. I wonder what I'll think of Twilight when Santa brings it to me this Christmas?

Hillary said...

How cool that you get to learn Turkish! And by the by, I love the anecdote about your mom and her romance novels--too funny!

Taranani said...

Hey Christine I thought you did foreign exchange because me and Clayton teased you so bad. I think you had a bad case of boredom too. By the way Christine can you get a good variety of Turkish coins and set them aside for your brother Cameron.

Sonja said...

This was such an enlightening post, Christine! I'm glad the Turkish is coming. The more I learn about your mom the more I like her. :)

I hope I will be as willing and open minded to sacrifice (or go in to debt) to provide a turning point for my kids when they ask.