In Nicaragua, it was ALWAYS hot. I had never sweat as much as I did while in Nicaragua those three weeks. It probably didn’t help that the classrooms were outside, but what can one do?
Every morning started out by 6:45AM breakfast with Amandita, Morgan, and I. Literally the moment Morgan and I woke up, breakfast was all set out on the table ready for us to eat. Amandita, my host mother, made a killer breakfast, along with her other meals as well. For breakfast, she made us either a fried or scrambled egg, gallo pintos (rice and beans), either a banana or pineapple slice, pan (their bread that actually looks like a hot dog bun) and hamayaca jelly that I am totally obsessed with! We always had a glass of orange juice along with a cup of coffee that had milk and sugar in it. The cup of coffee didn’t taste like coffee, but more like a hot chocolate mocha.
Morgan and I left for school, which was conveniently right next to our house. We started class at 8AM and had it till 9:40ish. This period was where Nohelia, our professor, taught Spanish grammar and that sort of stuff. Once 9:40 came around, we had a 10-minute break to just relax and chill. Cookies and coffee were always provided during these 10-minute breaks, which I loved! Then, from around 10AM-12PM, we had two other classes that were solely based on the culture of Nicaragua by communicating in Spanish. The three teachers that taught this were Bayardo, Cecellia, and Fernando. We would rotate with these teachers; for example, the first week I had Bayardo and Cecellia, but next week I had Bayardo and Fernando. Bayardo was probably the most difficult of the three because he never got off topic and hammered us pretty hard with our schoolwork. The other two, Fernando and Cecellia, are actually married so it was so funny watching them talk to each other and flirt from across the classroom. Fernando and Cecellia were a lot of fun and made the class very enjoyable. All three professors were great with us and really gave us an opportunity to learn conversational skills in Spanish. Class was over a little bit before noon and we all returned back to our houses for lunch, the biggest meal of the day.
Morgan and I would always say, "Amandita can do no wrong," especially when it came down to her cooking. She could seriously make anything and everything! Frijoles, plantains, and arroz were a must have at every lunch, but she would switch up her salads and main dishes everyday. Carne is Amandita's favorite meat, so we had that a lot, but she did give us a lot of pollo as well. Her salads usually contained avocados, beats, lettuce, tomatoes, etc. Every time I left lunch, I felt like I gained ten pounds because I was so full. Lunchtime was another way for Morgan and I to practice on our Spanish. The first week was a little rough when trying to talk to Amandita. We didn't know how to say many of the things that we wanted to say, but I was so thankful that I had Morgan there with me. Regardless, Amandita was so patient with us and tried her best to comprehend what we were saying throughout the whole lunch period. She was an awesome teacher and listener.
Once lunch was over, Morgan and I would walk to a hotel where we would meet the rest of our group and drive to Sor Maria Romero, a school with kids that ranged from four to eleven years old. The hotel was the central meeting spot for literally everything. If we wanted to all go out to eat, study, or go out together for some fun, the hotel would be the designated place to meet at. Pablo, our van driver, would pick us up a little bit before 2:00 p.m. so that we could drop off some of the students at Carita Feliz, another school in Granada. The rest of the group would go to Sor Maria Romero.
Sor Maria Romero was on the very edge of the city where there seemed to be a lot of poverty. We arrived through the gates of the school and had no idea what to expect or what to do. We walked out of the bus, walked into the large building and saw a huge group of students sitting on the picnic-like tables staring at us. They were all full of energy and I could tell that they were really excited to see us. We signed in and found our students that we were assigned to. I was assigned to five children, all of them being boys under the age of 8. This meant that I had to help these boys with was addition, subtraction, and writing out words in cursive. In each of their notebooks they would have multiple practice problems that they would have to finish before they were allowed to go outside and play. There were some people in our group, such as MK, that had older kids and had to help them with multiplication and division. She even bought division/multiplication flashcards and made a competition between her and the students.
Once their homework and the "work" part was over, we got to play with the kids for the remainder of the time. Prior to arriving to Nicaragua, we all were told to bring different items for the school, such as coloring books, soccer balls, volleyballs, markers, crayons, etc. Everyday, we brought one or two of the items we bought and played with them. I brought a volleyball, which happened to be a HUGE hit! A group of us would try to keep the volleyball off the ground for as long as possible and count how many times we passed it to one another. Not only was this fun, but it definitely improved my counting skills in Spanish! Others were either playing soccer, running around playing random games with the kids, or coloring inside. We legitimately played with these kids the WHOLE TIME; and let me tell you, we were sweaty, stinky, and completely worn out by the end! Pablo would pick us up at 5:00 p.m. and we would enter the van as smelly as can be... it was actually disgusting. Pablo took us back to the hotel, and from the hotel, we went home for our dinner.
We would get home at around 5:15-5:30, so we had time to do homework or other things before dinner at 7:00 p.m. Luckily, Morgan and I were together to help each other out with the assignments and homework we were given each day. Once we were done with our work, we would eat with Amandita. Dinner was a lot lighter than the other meals, which I actually preferred. She had a corn tortilla layered with beans, meat (sometimes carne, pollo, or even juevos, which was my favorite), lettuce, tomato, and a sauce that had yogurt and carrots (the sauce was surprisingly really good!).
After dinner, Morgan and I would sometimes go out with the rest of our classmates and have a little fun after the long day, go to our dance class (the funniest and most fun thing we did every Tuesday night), or else we would just go straight to bed because we were so exhausted. We did this whole routine everyday of the week minus Saturdays and Sundays; and on those days, we would go on more fancy, extravagant excursions. The week days definitely wore us out and had us really excited for the weekends, but I loved every single minute of it!
I can’t think of anything I would have changed about our trip. We were consistently busy and always had something to do, but I think that’s the whole point of a study abroad program: to take in as much of their culture and experience as much as one can within the short amount of time given, and in Granada with our study abroad program, I definitely did that.
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