Thursday, July 1, 2010

Arrival and Orientations

So. I left Corvallis Wednesday around 2:30. We got to the airport, checked my bag, and headed towards the plane. My dad had a business meeting in San Francisco, so he flew with me. We met Granny Jeanie at the airport and had dinner at this nice little Italian restaurant, Buno Gusto (or something like that). Then i got back on a plane and flew to Miami, which is where the orientation was. It was a five hour flight and i got about 2 hours of sleep, so i was exausted when i got there at 8 in the morning. I had to go get my luggage and then catch a small hotel bus to the Embassy Suites in Miami. the bus comes every 20 minutes or so, but i was lucky and only had to wait about 5 minutes, though most of that time was spent figuring out where to stand, etc. Confusing.

I got to the hotel, and they had an AFS table set up, so it was easy to know where to go. They didn´t have rooms for us yet cause Argentina and Chile hadn´t left yet, so i got to sleep on the couch in the lobby. Yay! plus, i was the first AFS-er going to Paraguay or Costa Rica. But when i woke up, there were a whole bunch of people there.

The orientation stuff was super boring. And basically was what we went over at the PDO. But, we did watch a movie in Spanish. i think it was argentinian, but it was super confusing, even with subtitles, and everyone was lost. costa rica had to get up at 5:30 to go to the airport, so we had to cram all the important stuff into 7 hours (4 - 11). But, in the morning we got to sleep in, and didn´t start until 11. and all that we did was some surveys and watch the movie. We left at 4:30 for the airport. We had an AFS person take all 19 of us to the airport and help us check our bags. Then she gave us our passports, sent us through security, and we were alone. Everything went well, and we had lots of extra time getting to the plane (about 2 hours, but international flights board an hour before departure instead of 30 minutes).

It was a 8 hour flight to Sao Paulo, but we had a really nice plane. We flew Tam, which is a really big Brazilian airline, kinda like Lufthansia, if you fly to Europe. There were 3 rows (2,4,2), and i sat on the aisle, which was nice cause there wasn´t much space and my legs are long. The man sitting next to me was Brazilian, but lived in the U.S. He was very nice, and we talked about AFS for awhile. Across the ailse from me was a woman who went on an exchange to Spokane,WA for a year when she was in high school. i don´t think she went with AFS, but some Brazilian program. She lives in Florida now, but was going back to visit.

Airplane food is pretty weird. The dinner was good (i had pasta and salad), but the breakfast had the strangest eggs i´ve ever had. i have no way to describe them, except for that they were super weird. someone said that they add cream cheese to them. We got into Sao Paulo at 5 in the morning, which is 4 in the morning in Miami. We were all super tired, but luckily we didn´t have to go through customs. We had about 2 1/2 hours to kill, and i just sat around the whole time. but we did meet this man who is from Paraguay and went to the UK for a year with AFS. He talked to us for awhile and all his info was super helpful. He said that he now goes to Georgia Tech, i think. Then we also met a woman who went to Paraguay for an exchange two years ago. She is from the U.S., and did community service for a year. i think she said that she worked in a school. but, she was coming back to visit.

we got to Asunción at 10 in the morning, went through customs, and met an AFS woman who had gotten most of our bags for us already (they all had yellow AFS luggage tags). The whole time that we were flying from Miami to Asuncion we got these funny looks cause there were 19 of us all wearing bright yellow AFS t-shirts (but it got people to ask what we were doing, which spreads the word about AFS). Anyways, the Asuncion airport is tiny. it seemed smaller than the Eugene airport, but i don´t really know. We all climbed on a bus and were taken to the retreat-ish place in Asuncion for ANOTHER orientation. But this one was actually useful and was all about Paraguay. we were there for a night and then our host families picked us up.

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