Tag Archives: People to People

Ciao. Bonjour. Hola (Part 2)

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Photo credit: Natalie Ruiz

Photo credit: Natalie Ruiz

‘Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That’

To me it seemed as if my days flew by, but to others that was not the case. Several people were feeling homesick and totally forgot that they were experiencing the opportunity of a life time. A few even wanted to go back home and demanded their parents to fly them back to U.S. ground.  Maybe it was culture shock. Maybe they felt attached to what they knew, what was comfortable to them . I really did not understand how they could feel that way though. There I was, trying to absorb as much as I could.

Since I did not feel homesick at all, I helped them cope. Sometimes it worked, while at times it did not. All I was certain of was that I was that I would not let this experience pass me by. In way it is a little strange, now that I am reflecting on it a few years later. Think about it. I was 14 years old in a continent that I had never been to before, and I was without my parents. This made me realize that I was actually pretty independent. Maybe not financially, but emotionally. It was pretty cool learning about myself.

Parlez-vous français ?

Bonjour!

I had to  say bye (not goodbye) to Italy, for I was moving on to France. Throughout middle school, I took french. I may not have been great, but I thought I could defend myself. In France, all of us stayed with a family for a couple days. We were in the coach bus, waiting for our names to be called. It felt as if time was not moving. I waited for what seemed to be an eternity for my name to be called. Looking at the window, I gazed at other students meet and greet the families they would stay with. Finally, my name was called.

They were the most adorable human beings. A grown couple greeted me and spoke to me in english. I quickly told them I knew a little bit of french, and we conversed throughout the ride home. I befriended their family and did a few things I never saw myself doing. Nothing bad, or anything, I just experimented.

While outside one night, they led me to this box. They opened it and there they were — the escargots. At first I was hesitant, but after a few minutes passed, I opened my mind up. In the end, I ended up trying them. They were quite delicious. 

Photo credit: Natalie Ruiz

Photo credit: Natalie Ruiz

Sadly, my days with the home stay family were over. I wish I saved their address. I regret that so much, I would have loved for them to come visit me in the U.S. now. Maybe one day I will see them again.

No Language Barrier

BarcelonaToledoMadrid. I was in Spain. The last country I would visit during my adventure. I now was able to speak the language and it was nice to do so. Spain was my favorite. I immediately fell in love with Madrid in particular. The city life seemed wonderful. I people watched and looked at the city from the outside-in, and told my self one day I would look at it from the inside-out.

Photo Credit: Natalie Ruiz

Photo Credit: Natalie Ruiz

A New Beginning

My passion for traveling blossomed. Blessed and thankful for the opportunity, I knew that one day I would travel the world. Whether it be with someone or alone, nothing would stop me from experiencing they beauty of being abroad.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
― Augustine of Hippo

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Ciao. Bonjour. Hola (Part 1)

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Don't Stop Believing

Don’t Stop Believing- Credit: Juhan Sonin

Where There is a Will there is a Way

2007 brought me one huge and  unexpected opportunity. Early January, I received a letter from People to People. People to People is a student ambassador program that gives students the opportunity to travel abroad, meet other cultures, and teach others of their own culture. Now, this sounds too good to be true does it not? Well in a way it was. After opening the letter I quickly glanced at the price tag and I closed the letter immediately.

Everything has a price tag right? Well for me, that price tag was too high. There was absolutely no way my mom could afford such trip. To my surprise, my mom convinced me during the following days, saying that I should not let this opportunity pass me by. Opportunities come and go, and they come the most to those who take risks and chances. As I accepted the invitation to the program, my mentality changed. My mom showed me that one has to just go for it. Whatever it is, one cannot limit themselves. One has to believe in themselves and ultimately understand that one really does deserve it and owe it to themselves to live with their desires.

To Europe I Go

Once again it was time to pack my bags, but this time it was different. It was my choice, it was done voluntarily. With hard work I was able to go to, and so to Europe I went. The trip consisted of just less than 3 weeks. Oh, I almost forgot that during this trip no parents would be around.

So at the age of 14, I flew over the Atlantic Ocean and landed in Europe.

First Stop- First Adventure

A couple naps later and I woke up in Rome, Italy.  It was hot, hotter than Miami actually. We did not take any breaks whatsoever and started exploring with our team delegates. Astonished at everything I noticed around me, I could not help but to be a tourist. I took pictures of everything and anything I saw. I entered a new world. Surrounded with beauty and history, I knew I was lucky.

Rome, Italy. Credit: Natalie Ruiz

Rome, Italy. Credit: Natalie Ruiz

Unfortunately, my luck ran out that same day. We went off to see the Vatican City. After that, our team delegates gave us an hour of free time before lunch. My friend and I decided we would buddy up and hunt a few good souvenir deals during that time. After the team leader gave instructions we all separated for the time being. An hour passed by and I asked my friend where we were supposed to meet up with the group, she had no idea. We were lost. Clueless. Neither of us paid attention, thinking the other one would have when we were given instructions. Emotions quickly escalated and we were both freaking out and breaking out in tears. I had no idea what to do. Thankfully, a nearby bank let us borrow their phone so that we could call our team leaders. I will never forget that day. I quickly learned with just that one lesson. Now, I understand the meaning behind:

To get lost is to find the way

Getting lost taught me the importance of staying calm. Clearly, my friend and I messed up, but us freaking out, running around did not help the situation. It was not until we stopped to catch our breaths that we decided to ask for help. Nonetheless, that first adventure definitely made me grow some tough skin. Which would be useful later on during my trip…

Leaning Tower of Pisa. Credit: Natalie Ruiz

Leaning Tower of Pisa. Credit: Natalie Ruiz