Sunday, June 23, 2013

The week I realized what the word "intensive" means

Two weeks ago, tonight, I was relaxing in Texas (watching Country Strong – probably eating bbq – enjoying air conditioning). One week ago, tonight, I was relaxing in California (surfing the net – eating farmers market strawberries – cuddling in my electric lime colored sheets). That was the life – oh the sweet, sweet life.

Let’s talk about tonight. June 23, 2013. 9:33 p.m., Pacific time. Tonight I am the opposite of relaxed – my brain is frazzled, my tongue feels heavy, and I haven’t checked my hair in a while (it might be sticking in every direction.) My fingers are aching, my feet are crunched up, my eyes are crossing, my back just cracked and made a sound I haven’t heard before.  I am one hot ticket – I tell you what!
According to the Merriam Webster online dictionary, the definition for the word intensive is as follows, “highly concentrated <intensive study>. Ok, so what. OK SO EVERYTHING. Capital letters are a must because right now, I would yell if I was a yeller, but I’m not a yeller so I won’t yell.

This past week was my first week of my Summer Intensive Language Program (SILP) Spanish class. It was also the week I realized what the word intensive truly means.
Intensive means:

-          Waking up at 6:24 a.m. and spending the next two hours sucking down coffee and enjoying the only free time you will have that day.

-          Walking 25 minutes from your apartment to MIIS and trying not to get frostbite. People who said that Monterey, California is a warm, tropical paradise were not telling the truth (actually, it was probably just me who said that.) Monterey, California is a very cold place. It is risky to leave the house in sandals. Wearing shorts is probably the worst idea ever. Not having a jacket with you when you are already wearing a long sleeve shirt is an instant invitation to freezing. I have never ending goosebumps.

-          Sitting down in your seat in class, taking out your notebook, binder of paper, textbook, pencil, pen, and highlighter.

-          Trying to understand a teacher who has a very thick Cuban accent and talks so fast my head almost spins off my neck.

-          Trying to understand the Spanish language when you don’t speak Spanish.

-          Trying to speak Spanish when you don’t speak Spanish.

-          Spending your fifteen minute breaks standing in the sun spots because your classroom is an icebox.

-          Spending your hour long lunch sprawled on a bench, in the sun, inhaling food, and remembering that your first language is English.

-          Walking home from school and listening to music so you can remember that you do enjoy the English language.

-          Entering your household, walking to your room, dropping your backpack on the floor, and face planting onto your bed in pure exhaustion.

-          Getting up two seconds later because free time doesn’t exist.

-          Sitting on your floor, sitting at your desk, sitting somewhere with books, paper, and pencils in front of you.

-          Spending 5.5 hours completing your first night of homework.

-          Trying not to squeal with joy when 5:30 p.m. rolls around and it is time to take a break and make dinner.

-          Falling asleep and waking up at 2:39 a.m. to find yourself thinking in Spanish. Every.Darn.Night.

-          Life in Monterey, California

Oh, how I just enjoyed writing all that out. I am living such an intense life right now. You should probably start calling me SuperQuinn or Quinn the Spanish Extraordinaire or even Doctor Quinn Spanish Woman. I am all those things and more. I am a Spanish champion. I am a Spanish professional. {Okay those last two things are definitely not true. Not even close.}
SILP Spanish is the most challenging thing I have ever done in my entire life. That’s really saying something because I have done things like crawled in a very small cave, taught 105 sixteen year olds, reeled in red snappers and puked off a boat, etc. I think I have such an interesting life and I am constantly amused at what I find happening to me. I am currently amused that I am learning Spanish at such an intense level. I am surprised I am still sitting here typing this and not in my bed passed out.

In my first four days of class, I learned four weeks worth of Spanish. FOUR WEEKS. 4. FOUR. Holy smokes. The crazy thing is, I am actually learning Spanish. Last week at this time, I could say things like “Hola!” “Me gusta la playa.” “Si.” I can now say things like, “Hola. Me llamo Quinn. Soy de Sycamore, Illinois. Yo soy la estudiante. Son las doce de la noche. Hay cincuenta gatos en mi casa {falso.} Traeme una cerveza, ahora.” Okay, I have learned a lot more than that, but those are some of the basics.
For all the work that my brain has been put through the last week, I must say that I am really enjoying learning the language. I am constantly amazed at the little connections between Spanish and English. I am also constantly amazed that learning a language is extremely difficult. With every day, I push forward and try my hardest to learn as much as I can. I also fall backwards and feel my eyes crossing because I am trying my hardest to learn as much as I can.

Besides all that, I’m still alive! I’m still enjoying farmers market strawberries (SO DARN GOOD). I’m still cuddling in my electric lime sheets. I’m still being Quinn, just a little more intense version of Quinn.
On another note, I had a great weekend! Who remembers Abby? Who remembers the countless adventures of Abby and Quinn? Who remembers the time we slid down a mountain, or the time we were a forty minute walk from home, next to the ocean, and heard the tsunami warning go off, or even the time we visited another island and jumped off a bridge into the beautiful, turquoise blue waters of the Pacific Ocean? I DO, I DO! Abby was frequently spoken about over on QuinninAmSam. Abby is one of my closest friends, one of my most favorite people, and someone I would gladly travel anywhere and everywhere with just so we could eat allllllll the scrumptious food this world has to offer. ABBY CAME TO VISIT ME! I was one happy Spanish learning lady.

Abby and her incredibly nice, fun, and hilarious boyfriend, Doug, appeared on my doorstop on Friday afternoon and we spent the next 24 hours having an absolute blast! Here’s a little sneak peek of our time together:

Enjoying the beach in Monterey (a 10 minute walk from my apartment!)
Slurping on the most delicious clam chowder while watching seals and sea lions play and swim in the ocean.
Enjoying the Fisherman's Wharf and wondering if seals and sea lions ever lose their voices? They make the oddest sounds - but oh how cute they are! You can find them in the middle right of the picture, sun bathing and piling on top of each other - how comfortable.
So many boats. So many cool photos.
Night beaching it because we could!
Every single time I have lived outside of Illinois, I have lived in this zone. This is getting ridiculous.
We spent all day Saturday at Point Lobos State Park.

I forgot to mention that my friend, Drew, is also here in Monterey! He is taking the same Spanish class as me and is the best study buddy. I don't know what I would do without him! You may recognize him because he was the WorldTeach field director (my boss!) in American Samoa last year! I have loved reuniting with him!

All that brown stuff is kelp. Holy kelp!

One minute you are walking through a luscious green forest and the next you are in the desert. Huh?

Pebble beaches are probably in my top 10 favorite things, ever. Pebble beaches have all sorts of fun creatures that I love to play with.

Whales are my favorite. I would now like a bench with whales on it.

Point Lobos was smothered with Poison Oak (Poison Ivy’s west coast friend, I guess). Let’s hope that five days from now I’m not scratching my eyeballs out. I tried to not touch anything green.
Over the weekend, we saw 2 pods of dolphins, 2 otters, 2 starfish, sea urchins, seals, sea lions, a doe and her 2 fawns, and a whole lot of birds who’s name I can’t remember.
It was a great weekend on the west coast and I am so happy to have reunited with Abby! Now it’s time for me to sleep – I have intensive Spanish in the morning. J


  1. Sigh. You were right. I do love this blog.

    1. Hola Srta. Quinn! Me encanta tu fotos y historias de su aventuras. No sé si me estoy refiriendo a la derecha española, pero sí sé que me encanta la cerveza también (y ballenas, cada uno ama ballenas.)

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