Back A Week, Gone Again

While on one hand, I wish I had set aside the time to blog more on the tail end of my trip, it was very luxurious to spend the week and a half or so after my internship relaxing and slimming down the priorities to just my online tech writing class (which I finished with a B+ which isn’t bad for taking it halfway around the world and needing it for both Baccalaureate Core and my major). On the other hand, I have been back in Oregon for a week now which was when I intended on doing a follow up about my adventures, so you win some, you lose some.

Since I last wrote, all the way back on August 2nd: my dad and step-mom joined me in Cebu and I wrapped up my internship and turned in my keys to my little apartment, the lovely 1105. I completed 300 hours in about six weeks at my internship, which will eventually count as college credit, said goodbye to the cockroaches and left the island of Cebu. I will miss my work family a lot (I miss them a lot now) but in class Miranda tradition, I hop from one thing to the next.

From Cebu we took a ferry to Bohol, where my step-mom is from and spent a lovely week there, with an intermission to see Panglao and hang at one of the beach resorts for two nights. I got to see some of the famous Philippines sand and the beautiful blue water. All in all, I visited five of the some 1,107 islands that make up the archipelago. I was treated to amazing home cooked meals while staying with my step-mom’s family, like sweet potato flour fried chicken and lots of rice. I was fortunate enough to see the tarsier, which were at the top of my list of things to do while in the Philippines. There was lots of local ice cream, made with coconut instead of dairy and beats the pants of Ben and Jerry’s. It is called cab-cab and comes in a cone made of cassava (tapioca) instead of a waffle or sugar cone and WAS AMAZING; I may have just eaten it every day we were in Bohol. Our week in Bohol was to relax, and I did a lot of that, I even got a little bit of a tan. The whole point was to do nothing but be with family and I did just that.

From Bohol we took a flight to Manila, which is the capital of the Philippines. We were there for three full days staying in the walled city of Intramuros- part of the old Fort Santiago which had been used continually up until World War II by the British, although throughout its history, it has been used by no fewer than the Spanish, the British, the Americans, and the Filipinos. We church hopped- I saw the breath taking gates of Saint Augustine Church, the Manila Cathedral, and the Qiapo (Key-opp-oh) which houses the Black Nazarene. We went to local markets and haggled on goodies. I saw drastically contrasting wealth and poverty – the poorest of the poor and the glitz and glamour. My dad tried explaining exactly what Metropolitan Manila is. The city has just sort of expanded uncontrollably and is different districts. I concluded that the twelve ‘districts’ or so that make up the unofficial population of over 25 million people can be described as a bigger and burlier New York. NYC has five burrows- Staten Island, Queens, Brooklyn, The Bronx, and Manhattan. Manila has a half dozen or so I can’t pronounce and the rest I can take a confident whack at.

I’ve been back in Oregon for a week now and missed it so much. I’ve hung out and caught up with all my college friends, making three trips to the old CVO in six days and holy smokes it’s gorgeous in Oregon. Very flammable, but gorgeous. The sky has been clear most nights and I can find all my favorite stars. I’ve been sleeping off weird hours of jet lag and reintroducing myself to coffee (such a miracle). The weather has been weird for the last few days and I’m coming to terms with the very real possibility that I may be affected by pressure related headaches and I hope they don’t turn into full blown migraines. I’ve been off for the better part of the last 36 hours and have been cycling through migraine meds, caffeine, eating well, lots of water, ibuprofen, and ice cream “for the pain”.

Unfortunately the headache I was dealing with lasted until through the better part of Friday the 21st and I’ve slowly been recovering. Taking in the beauty of Oregon sure does help the healing process. I have a weekend left before I’m Corvallis bound for training and could not be more ready to get on to the next thing on the list.

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Hello August!

Sorry for the radio silence guys (all three of you who read my blog on a regular basis). The last few days I’ve just been busy and writing dropped in priority as I was working on my tech writing class in the evenings and just felt ‘meh’. Today I’m feeling a lot more ‘with it’ and I’ll tell you why.

Six Sundays ago I left Oregon and said goodbye to everyone. My dad, step mom, and sister dropped me off at the airport and I was on my way. Six weeks by yourself is a long time to go without your family when you’re somewhere new. I made plenty of friends at work and on the weekends we went out and adventured, but at work we worked and chilled during lunch and breaks so it wasn’t social hour, unlike college where just about everything makes way for socializing. Here I spend most of my time outside of work working on my online class or writing for my blog, and if neither of those are happening, there’s a good chance I’m sleeping. Being a nineteen year old American college student hardwired in for “June through August means summer” I’ve been sleeping a lot. Today I slept in until 11:15. If I don’t, I’m a walking zombie, especially with this humidity; it’s still a lot to adjust to. Average water consumption is 2-3 liters or more a day since you sweat so much so being awake takes a little more out of you here than it does at home. So that has been my day to day.

However, today has been the day I’ve been looking forward to for the better part of the last two or so weeks. The day my dad and stepmom arrived in Cebu. I love it here. It’s a great place to be and this is an amazing way to spend a summer. But in some ways, you miss the old, especially when you can’t just decide at 10am on a Friday you want to go home for the weekend and within an hour after being done with class you’re already home. It was great seeing the city through the eyes of my dad who’s been coming to the Philippines for the better part of ten years and my step mom who has spent all but three of the last years of her life in this country. It’s like when you’re running and you’re ready to be done but you know you need to finish the hour and you’re miserable but then Eye of the Tiger comes on and suddenly every fiber in your being finds new motivation and you power through. I have eleven more days in the Philippines and while not all of it is lounging on a white sand beach with a do-nothing attitude, everything coming will be different than spending my whole day at a desk working. Life has shifted from down a gear from fifth and I’m excited for a change of pace even though I will miss my new work family.

Being here for six weeks is long enough to say I ‘lived’ somewhere other than Oregon and has helped me find that I may not want to spend a term abroad in Hong Kong or Thailand or Singapore. At ten to eleven weeks, I think it just wouldn’t be the right fit even though all three places are on my “to see before I die list”. With the program I will be working with I have a couple options and I think I may be looking into Austria or elsewhere in Europe (Germany, Denmark or Norway seems a little more my speed).

Just observing people here I notice how much I stand out from people, even fellow Westerners, than how little you blend in. I’m inches taller than a lot of people, I have blue eyes and curly blond hair, I’m white, and I speak American English. When people stare, I usually make sure I’m wearing my sunglasses and try not to stare back, the ‘Glancing away and quick check back to see if they’re still looking at you and keep looking away’ game. To a degree, you feel somewhat violated because in America we believe staring is rude. I believe in the idea that it is very important to be a stranger in a strange land and be as alienated as possible several times throughout life, but I think if this was the caliber of my travels related to school, I would be a little too uncomfortable for too long. I could do it and endure, but like picking the college you attend for undergrad, I feel like being as ‘at home’ as possible is worth considering. There is only so many times you can endure, “For you- white girl price” when you’re trying to buy something off a vendor on the street before you are ready to up and quit and keep walking.

It’s very possible I change my mind between now and then and I know having experienced this kind of environment for two weeks in 2009 when I spent two weeks in China with my dad (For perspective, I was in the 8th grade and was 14). Now, six years later, I’m a lot more aware of the world and some of the finer workings and I think it takes several trips where you’re this far out of your comfort zone to actually not mind things as much. Bottom line is I don’t know what is happening between now and my term abroad and some things could change.

On two fronts, the end is near and everything is set to coast. It’s August and the month named after Augustus is fairly jammed pack and busy and now it is here, and that my family is here I feel a little better about everything and I can just power through, even if Eye of the Tiger is only playing in my head.

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