¡Vamos a Nicaragua!

Bienvenidos a Nicaragua

Hello. It’s me, Olivia, a rising senior at Seattle University. My major is Humanities for Teaching, with minors in Spanish (duh) and Psychology. I’ve made it safely to Managua, Nicaragua, where I will be studying Spanish for the next 6 weeks at the UCA (Universidad Centroamericana). For those of you who don’t know, Managua is the Capital of Nicaragua with a population just over 1 million people. It’s a beautiful place, filled with large plants, insects, colorful birds, heat and humidity. Fingers crossed I will become accustomed to the humidity.

Although I arrived early, early (1 a.m.) Saturday morning, I met my host mother, Marcia, today. The house is beautiful, complete with a hammock in the sunroom. Marcia has been wonderful and made us (there will be four of us staying here) a yummy dinner of soup, salad and the most delicious juice I’ve had. I can’t tell you what fruit it came from but I loved it. Even though I have only been here for a short two days, I have been enjoying my time and excited to see what else I will discover while here.

 

Advertisements

Getting my Feet Wet – Week One in Nicaragua

Tuesday marks one week in Nicaragua. So far I am loving being here! I often catch myself in awe of the fact that I am finally here! While I want to dive right in to all things Nicaraguan, my transition so far has been more like slowly getting my feet wet.

Here are some highlights of my experience so far:

I am staying with a host family here in Managua. They host international students often, as they have a building on the back of the property with about eight small, individual rooms. I have a bed, a desk, a closet, a bathroom, and a fan (which I am very thankful for because it is humid!) The property is large and colorful; it used to be a preschool! My family is very nice, but they are pretty hands-off. My host mom makes breakfast and dinner for me and the three other girls staying here, but we don’t eat with the family. They like to keep the family space separate, which I can understand.

walking up towards my house
walking up towards the house

My room
My room

The other three girls I am staying with are from Connecticut, and they speak fluent Spanish. Unfortunately, they prefer to speak English when  we are at home, so I don’t get much opportunity to practice my Spanish. I was hoping to use this first week before classes start to practicing my Spanish here at home, but it looks like I will just have to do my best once classes start. I can be guaranteed the chance to improve my Spanish then!

The university is practically right across the street from my house! That is good news because I have a tendency to get lost! It also means I don’t have to wake up super early to walk to class.

I have class Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Kind of a weird schedule, right? Two of my classes are only taught on Saturdays and are 2 hours and 50 minutes each. Yikes!

The campus is beautiful! I would say it is about the size of Seattle U, and its landscaping is just as pretty! There are lots of places to sit and study outside in the shade. I went exploring the other day! One of my favorite places so far is the chapel. I went to mass on Thursday, and it really reminded me of the St. Ignatius chapel at Seattle U. I got kind of nostalgic when the choir was practicing before mass. It reminded me of going to student mass and seeing my friends in the choir at home.

Cathedral in Granada
The Cathedral in Granada

Hmm…Managua…I think it will probably grow on me. It’s not exactly the most beautiful place. The 1972 earthquake did some serious damage here, and the city has not recovered its former glory. It’s also a little bit difficult to get around. There are a lot of wide streets without crosswalks, and the drivers totally ignore pedestrians, so you have to sprint across the street. There is also a lot of poverty here, which is difficult to witness everyday. The majority of universities are here, though, and it is very easy to get to other cities by bus. My housemates and I took a trip to Granada is past weekend, in fact! ¡Súper fácil!

In reality, since I have only been here for a week, I have so much more of Nicaragua to experience! I start class on Thursday, which will add a new component to life here. I am excited to meet some Nicaraguan students and improve my Spanish!

Favorite Meal
My favorite meal so far, Gallo Pinto!

Lindsay

Nine Days ’til Nicaragua

Hi! My name is Lindsay Mannion. I am a senior Humanities for Teaching and Spanish double major. While originally from the East Coast, I have called Seattle home for the last eight years. I have always wanted to study abroad, and now the time is finally here. I leave for Nicaragua in just over a week!

I will be spending seven months in Nicaragua in total: September–December I will be studying at la Universidad Centroamericana (la UCA) in Managua and January–March I will be interning with a non-profit in the province of Rivas.

I have had the opportunity to do a little bit of traveling before this. Last December I went with SU’s Professionals Without Borders to Nicaragua, and in June I went on a research trip to Guatemala with SU professors and students—check out the event we are holding in September to see the results! I hope these experiences will lessen my culture shock at least a little bit, but I know being on my own will be a very different experience from being with other American students.

I have to admit there is one thing (among many) that I am really excited about: being as immersed in Nicaraguan life as possible. I think that is one of the best ways to grow as a person. Being outside of your comfort zone and forced to engage with others offers learning opportunities nothing else can.

Before I can have those awesome learning experiences, though, I have to pack…

I have been told to pack like I am going for three weeks (not seven months). And it is going to be HOT in Nicaragua, so at least I won’t have to pack any big jackets or sweaters. Think I can get everything in one bag? I’m off to go try!

Thanks for reading!

Lindsay