Month: December 2013

Shadow Mountain Cross Country Alumni Christmas Eve Run

cross country alumni running on christmas eve

This year, I was introduced to the annual Shadow Mountain Cross Country Christmas caroling run.   For the past 19 years, SMHS cross country alumni runners have met at the high school on Christmas Eve to gather together and run to different places to sing Christmas carols. I ran on the cross country team my senior year in high school but have been out of town for the runs the past two years. However, this year, I joined in and helped keep the tradition alive.

The way I learned how the tradition works is this:

Everyone meets at the front parking lot near the office at Shadow at 8am. We all stretch and wait about 15 minutes until everyone shows up. Then we run as a group and sing a Christmas carol at each store or restaurant. Before heading home, we stop at an alumni’s parents house near Cholla and 36th st for water and homemade cookies. Afterwards, we finish back in the parking lot were we started and sign something(a flag this year) that is given to one of the alumni.

This year we hit Target, Paradise Valley Mall, IHOP and Bashas and Mithc, a freshman at Shadow this year, received the signed flag to take home.

Some of my favorite parts of this experience:

-hearing people chime in and sing along with us

-singing as we ran through the mall

-running with alumni from recent and past years like 1997 and 2013

I wanted to share this tradition because I think it’s really neat and I hope to continue it and keep it alive with the rest of the alumni. Hopefully you enjoyed reading about it! Lastly, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! ūüôā Feel free to share any thoughts or comments below

###

Post-Study Abroad: Observations after one week in Phoenix

It’s been a little over a week since I’ve been back and I’m really enjoying it. A few things have stuck out to me after having been gone for almost half of the year and I thought I’d share those observations:

Car is my main transportation

I was so accustomed to taking the bus and riding the subway everywhere that it felt weird being in a car at first. Now, I can’t imagine how I would get around without a car!

I can pay with cards and leave cash in the bank

Something I definitely feel grateful is being able to pay with a debit card or credit card. Of course there were many stores that accepted debit and credit cards but I didn’t think it was worth it to sign up since I was only there for a short period of time.

It’s easier to talk to people

WOW! While I did feel comfortable speaking Spanish in Argentina everyday for a long period of time, I can’t explain how easy it feels to speak in English now that I’m back. It’s amazing.

I appreciate my dogs more

I have never realized how much I¬†don’t appreciate my dogs until being in Argentina for almost 6 months. It’s such a happy feeling to walk in the door every day and have two over-excited dogs jump up on you because they love you. Now I certainly don’t take them for granted and feel happy to see their fuzzy faces everyday

Christmas spirit in the air

While there are many people in Argentina who celebrate Christmas, it’s nothing like it is in the States. There in Buenos Aires, I noticed some decorations in various stores for Christmas but not like here. Here, you walk into the mall and there is Christmas music playing and there are decorations everywhere. You see Christmas trees for sale around the city and houses are decorated with Christmas lights. It’s wonderful.

Even though I loved Buenos Aires and plan on going back after I graduate, I’m happy to be home and to be able to celebrate the holidays with my friends and family. Well, that’s all. Until next week! Merry Christmas and happy holidays! ūüôā

Reflection on Study Abroad in Buenos Aires: Lessons Learned

joe previte sitting on a mountani in mendoza argentinaI am finally back in Arizona and couldn’t be happier to see my family and friends. I’ve really missed the beautiful desert and the amazing scenery that surrounds me here in Phoenix. After living in the metropolis Buenos Aires for almost six months, I appreciate the suburbs and the proximity to mountains and desert more than ever. Now that I’m back, I’ve had a chance to look over my journal and review a few of the lessons I’ve learned from studying abroad and living in Buenos Aires for the semester. I’ve highlighted the most important ones I’ve taken away from my trip below:

Focus on the now

I didn’t realize it before but I’m the type of the person who is always thinking about the future. I’m always planning what I’m going to do next weekend, next semester, next summer, etc. I like to plan because it’s fun. It’s exciting to pump myself up of the fact that I’m spending the weekend in California with my family or visiting my friends but what I didn’t realize was that thinking about the future¬†can¬†and¬†does take away from the present. If I’m constantly thinking about what I’m going to do¬†next,¬†how can I enjoy what I’m doing¬†now? What I’ve learned to do is to plan whatever I need to plan and then push that thought away so that it can’t consume the attention I should be paying on the present. It can be difficult at times but I think it’s important and I’m trying focusing on the now,¬†now¬†and the later when it comes.

There is no need to rush

I learned that I sometimes put myself in situations where I rush myself to complete 500 tasks in one sitting. This kind of has to do with “having too much on my plate,” which I’ll explain more later but the idea is to slow down sometimes. I think I’ve taken the idea of relaxing a little and not rushing from being immersed in the Argentine culture while abroad. I mentioned this in a blog post but I’ll say it again- from my experience, Argentinians don’t rush. They don’t know when the bus is coming or the subway, it’s okay if someone isn’t right on time, and lunch/dinner/dates/meeting up with friends may last three hours. I realized this last semester when I completed a course assignment where I tracked how I spent my time during the week and learned that I rushed myself every time I ate breakfast, lunch or dinner. ¬†There is no need to rush though. I don’t need to be watching a movie for homework, or reading an article or doing SOMETHING every time I’m eating. Instead, I’ve learned to hit the brakes and take my time when eating a meal, having a conversation with a friend or simply getting ready in the morning. ¬†There’s a Chinese proverb I read in a book I’m reading called¬†The Three Pillers of Zen¬†that says, “Eat when you eat. Walk when you walk.” I try to always remind myself of it when I feel the desire to multitask or speed up things. It’s true. No one ever said you had to rush yourself. However, I try to do too many things at once or put much on my plate, I’m going to find myself scrambling and stressing out, which simply isn’t necessary nor healthy for me.

It’s not always good to have a “full plate”

I mentioned this idea earlier but I wanted to touch back on it because it’s an important lesson I’ve learned. It’s not always the best idea to have several commitments in your life. This didn’t hit me until I realized that I simply didn’t have time to work, study, volunteer and invest in the culture and language in Argentina. Yes, I needed to work because I needed money. Yes, my main priority was to study but I didn’t have a balance at first. I wanted to practice my Spanish all day, every day but also work and have money to spend while abroad but I felt overwhelmed. I’ve realized that if I do all of these things, then I have to sacrifice other areas- like spending time with friends and investing in friendships. If I’m spending 90% of my time studying and working and only 10% with my friends, then I’m not going to be able to become close with my friends. I now know that I shouldn’t try and cover my plate without first thinking about how it will affect the rest of the time I have and how else I’d like to spend my time. Overall, I’ve learned to not commit to more activities than I can handle while still being able to maintain and invest in friendships.

It’s better to have 1 close friend than 10 acquaintances

I had never really considered this until this trip. I’ve always had acquaintances and friends who I’ve hung out with a few times but I never thought about the level of friendship I have with people. I met really amazing people in Argentina but didn’t spend as much time with them as I wish I would have. Yes, I was busy but of course I could have made time- I just didn’t. I realized at the end of the trip that I can meet people once or hangout with them a few times but if I don’t invest into the friendship and make sacrifices to see them and get to know them that they won’t last. For me, I’d rather have a close group of friends that I know well who I enjoy spending time with and who enjoy spending time with me rather than acquaintances who I only know on a shallow level.

Life is beautiful outside

One of the best wake-up calls I received during this trip was the idea that life is beautiful outside. I remember as a kid, watching commercials or PSAs where a kid sits on a couch and watches another kid playing outside and then it pans out and the exact same tree is outside his house yet he decides to watch it on TV instead of going outside to play. Being the type of person that loves playing sports, I never considered the idea that maybe I spend too much time on the computer or inside. However, after becoming friends with a girl named Allie through my girlfriend, I realized I do spend most of my time on the computer and that I’m missing out on the world outside. As much as I love technology and learning on the internet, I don’t want to spend the majority of my day sitting in front of a screen when I should be outside enjoying life and nature and all the wonderful things and people.

The future doesn’t need to be set in stone

Last lesson that I learned is that the future doesn’t need to be set in stone just yet. By that mean, I don’t have to have my life figured out or know exactly what I want to do for a living after I graduate. I remember hearing that when you go abroad for an extended period of time, you figure out what you really are passionate about in life and how you should spend the rest of your life but I still feel ambivalent about the path I want to take. With this trip though, I’ve learned that I don’t need to know yet and there is absolutely no reason to stress right now. All I want to do is focus on dabbling in various fields to figure out where I’ll be the happiest.

Well, that’s it for this post. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading and that you’re convinced to study abroad or at least live abroad. I believe that it’s something everyone should do. Not just for themselves, but to learn, explore, and grow.

###

5 days left: Final week observations in Buenos Aires

joe previte stacey fawthorp friends in chinese restaurant

[Photo in Tao Tao Restaurant with Ivana, Allie, Sam and Stacey.]

I know I’ve said this multiple times in previous posts by WOW. It feels like this entire semester rushed right by me and now it’s finally here. By this time next week, I will be back living life in Phoenix. It’s insane to think that I’ve been in Buenos Aires for 140 days and will be leaving in five. FIVE DAYS! :O

For this blog post, I want to include a few observations that relate specifically to this last week.

The week feels packed fulls of last minute “things to do/see”

You know when you say, “Yeah, I’ll do tomorrow” and then you put that thing off til tomorrow but never do it? Well, our postponing has caught up to us and everyday has been busy this past two weeks. Obviously, we won’t have time to do everything we had wished we had been able to do but I’m happy that we’ve been able to do the numerous activities we’ve planned and done.

Relationships get stronger as the end approaches

I’ve noticed I have become much closer to my friends(Allie, Sam, and Ivana), girlfriend(Stacey) and my family(the two older women that I live with) in these past few weeks and it’s sad to think that we’re all moving on to new things. Though I may be sad I won’t be spending the morning chat Irma or Ruth or the afternoon exploring the city with Allie, Sam, Stacey and Ivana but I do know that this isn’t goodbye but rather an “I’ll see you soon!” farewell as we all move on to the next chapter in life.

Money is tighter and time is more valuable

In the beginning and the middle of the trip, I felt fine on money. Now, I’m down to my last pesos trying to decide how I should spend my money and making sure that I have just enough local currency to last me the last small stretch of this trip. Time also holds more value as the amount of it decreases. There are so many things left to do and so many people to see before I leave. It’s difficult because I can’t do everything unfortunately so I have to really spend my last few days wisely.

Hope you enjoyed reading! Next week’s post will be a reflection and summary of what perspectives of mine have changed and I have learned from studying abroad. See you then! Feel free to leave any thoughts or comments below ūüôā

###