Life, Thoughts, travel

First 24 hours in Spain!

I have been in Spain now for over 24 hours, and what a crazy trip so far!

I left on Friday, March 1st at 12:00pm from Portland, Oregon. My flight was on Alaskan Airlines and was 2 hours to Los Angeles, where I had a layover until I boarded at 7:30pm. I booked my flight from LA to Madrid using Norwegian Air, which is a great airline that connects the US to a lot of European countries for relatively cheap (it was ~$400 for a one way trip).

While waiting to board I had met a few girls that had studied abroad in Spain for a semester, and they reassured me a lot with their experiences. They said that Spain is very safe and I had nothing to worry about, and the only thing that happened to them was that they got their phones stolen at a club (which, they admitted, was probably their fault anyway because they were really drunk while they were there).

My flight from LA to Madrid was about 11 hours long, so I killed the time by watching Crazy Rich Asians and going to sleep. Crazy Rich Asians was an alright movie. I had put off watching it for so long because I thought it would be a sell-out with zero substance in plot, and I was unfortunately right for the most part. I cried with happiness seeing so many fellow Asians cast and starring in the movie, but I was unimpressed by the plot and substance. I felt that it was just another Cinderella story with little character development and predictable scenes. Anyways – back to the trip!

I landed in Madrid at 3:30pm local time. I went through customs with my passport, which was relatively easy as I had my student visa approved and ready to go. Then I went to baggage claim, where I got my bags and followed two other American ladies through another door that led to the arrivals entrance. I realized after I passed through the door that I did to not declare anything in my luggage, and was stopped by an immigration officer who asked me where I was coming from. After telling him I was coming from LA, he let me through. So I’m not entirely sure if I should have gone through the other door to declare the contents of my luggage, or if I was okay by following the other American ladies through the arrivals door. Either way, I made it through with no problems. I met with two members of my host family, Jose Carlos (father) and Maria Angeles (mother) on the other side. They greeted me with open arms and the traditional kiss-kiss-on-the-cheek greeting that they give to women.

The city that I am staying in, Badajoz, is 3 hours west of Madrid. After loading up the car, we made our way to a diner/truck stop on the way to Badajoz and got lunch. I don’t remember the names of the dishes that we ate, but we had potatoes, beef, and cod with tomatoes. It was delicious! During the remainder of the 3 hour drive we talked about various things in English, from the family to what my hobbies were to the history of Spain. Finally we made it to Jose Carlos’ house to unpack and eat dinner before the next part of my night – The Carnival.

Apparently in Spain there are a lot of different festivals that happen, and the Carnival is a festival in Badajoz that happens on the first week of March. They prepared a costume for me beforehand – I was to dress up as the local Spanish police with their eldest son, Jose Carlos Jr. (also known as “Joseka”). The Carnival had lots of different people dressed up in various costumes, from political figures to crossdressers to pop culture references. We left around 10:45pm to go to the downtown area where the Carnival was taking place. Joseka bought rum and coke for us to enjoy at the festival, because drinking on the street in festivals is common and celebrated. We got dropped off right outside the Carnival entrance, where we waited for Joseka to meet up with his brother Alejandro, dressed in a bathrobe, to give him another rum and coke. We then saw their sisters, Irene and Maria, who were dressed up as two devils. Joseka and I walked around until we found his friends, who were dressed up in suits, oreo costumes, and a witch costume. I realized after meeting up with all these various people that I will need to learn Spanish quickly, as the majority of the conversations were spoken in Spanish (with a little English thrown in here and there to include me in the conversation).

The night went very well! Joseka’s friends drank a lot and danced and sang various Spanish songs, and they showed me a good time. The Spanish party hard – I saw many people get very drunk and accidentally break bottles of alcohol. They also party late into the night – Joseka brought me home “early” around 2am, but he went back out to party with his friends until 5 am. When Joseka told his parents he got back at 5am the next day, they responded by saying “Oh, that’s not too early or too late”!

This morning was very pleasant as well. Jose Carlo’s mother gave me a tour of Jose Carlos’ house in Spanish, where I saw the 7 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, kitchen, washing room, exercise room, backyard with two dogs, and pool. I can safely say that I’ll be living a pretty good life while staying and studying in Spain! We had breakfast around 11am, where they served the traditional dish “Migas”, a peasant dish made of bread and various proteins and vegetables. Once we finished breakfast we went to the nearby countryside to visit their 6 horses. Jose Carlos, Joseka, and Alejandro all ride horses competitively and have won various awards and ribbons. After visiting the boys and the horses, we went to Maria Angeles’ townhouse nearby to pick up food.IMG_5684.JPGIMG_5702.JPG

Maria Angeles and Jose Carlos are each other’s second marriages, with children from different spouses. They are a combined household, which is similar to mine at home. Maria Angeles and her daughter Irene live in a townhouse for 4 days out of the week (Mon-Thu). I will be staying with them in this townhouse as well Mon-Thu, and will stay at Jose Carlos’ house during the weekends. This townhouse is relatively close to the other house, about 5 min driving distance and 15-20 min walking distance. Maria Angeles told me that she had moved into Jose Carlos’ house for 5 years before, but after a while she realized she needed her own space and moved back into her old townhouse. Moving from house to house will be no problem for me, as I am used to this kind of arrangement. Since I grew up between four different households at any given time, I’m familiar with packing things for trips back and forth.

We grabbed the food from the townhouse and made our way back to Jose Carlos’ house, where we had lunch. Jose Carlos made a kind of paella with octopus for lunch, which was served with wine, roast beef, and roast chicken. Our meal ended with ice cream and a shot of liquor to “digest the meat”. I’m starting to think that drinking is a lot more common throughout the day than in the United States! Now it is time for the siesta, which I have used to write this diary entry. At around 5:30pm local time we will walk around the city, stop by the river and then make our way back home.

So far Spain and my host family have been wonderful and hospitable! There is definitely a language barrier, but nothing I am unfamiliar with. When I visited the Philippines with my mom, my relatives over there had the same amount of exposure to English as my friends and host family I’ve met here. I can understand what they are saying even though their English is not perfect, and we are able to communicate and hold conversations. I am very happy with everything that has happened so far, and am excited to continue my travels and experiences here! Adios, until next time!

Book Reviews, philosophy, Review, Writing

“Being and Time” by Martin Heidegger

The following is an exploration into the question: How does thinking relate to saying? It is a philosophical essay I had written in the past about Martin Heidegger’s thoughts in his book Being and Time. I don’t remember which book I used to get the quotes from so I am unsure if the page numbers coincide directly with every version of his book. Alternatively, if you are having trouble finding the quotes in your version of the book, I would suggest copy and pasting a section of the quotes I used into Google and looking up which sections correspond to which quote. This article by James Fieser has some of the quotes I use with the sections cited with them, along with other notes.

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How does thinking relate to saying?

Saying is the verbal manifestation of thinking. Thinking is primarily concerned in the subconscious, while saying is in the realm of conscious effort as it takes reflection and deliberate intention in order to communicate what one says. Heidegger references Dasein, or “there-being”, where all modes of thinking originate and exist. Dasein requires world-relation in order to exist, as its relationship and interaction with the world is what colors all its worldview. Dasein seeks to understand and comes to understanding through an introspective reflection on the subjects at hand, continually and ceaselessly rearranging its own contents. A conscious being not only thinks about things to come to an understanding of it, but also expresses its understanding externally in order to communicate its own knowledge and engage in discourse for more knowledge. Heidegger expresses this in the following passage: “[…] Understanding in itself has the existential structure which we call project[ion]. […] The project[ive] character of understanding constitutes [Dasein’s] being-in-the-world with regard to the disclosedness of its there as the there of a [possible being]. And, as thrown, Dasein is thrown into the [way] of being of projecting. Projecting has nothing to do with [relating oneself] to a plan thought out, according to which Dasein arranges its being, but [rather], as Dasein, it has always already projected itself and is, as long as it is, projecting. As long as it is, Dasein has understood itself and will understand itself in terms of possibilities” (Heidegger 136). Understanding is in the realm of possibility, where there will be no complete or infinitely objective Truth as Dasein has sense-perceptive, cognitive, situational, and time-constricted limitations that affect understanding.

Phenomenology is the only way to approach the ontological questions; the questions about fundamental being. This is a nod to traditional metaphysics while also trying to deconstruct the tradition itself, re-contextualizing the information to come to a deeper understanding of it. I acknowledge that the purpose of Heidegger’s phenomenology is to approach the ontological questions in an attempt to deconstruct and revitalize the claim, however I critique that there is no need to do this when it comes to thinking and saying.

By consciously thinking something into being, Dasein has already interacted with “saying” as it says to itself what it thinks. Dasein also already “says” about a subject when it thinks about it, as Dasein is constantly relating to whatever is at hand: ““Understanding is the existential being of Dasein’s own[most] possible being, [such that] this being discloses in itself what its [very] being is about” (Heidegger 135). Any public discourse that stems from the individualized thinking, or in other words, any external “saying” that happens between two individuals, is presupposed by the individuals’ subjective thinking. Therefore, saying is permanently tied to thinking in the sense that one must think a subject in order to have anything to say about it. It’s hard to argue against this, but I also see no reason to question or differentiate between the two. Why posit that saying is in a different realm from thinking? It is interesting to dissect the importance of thinking in what one says, but to say that thinking is different than saying or work in separate ways is to say that an almond is not a nut, or is different than a nut. One is a subsection of another, encompassed in the mode of being that is Dasein.

Finally, Heidegger makes interesting points to listening as an integral existential part of Dasein: “Listening to … is the existential being-open of Dasein as being-with for the other” (Heidegger 153). By listening to what another individual is saying, there is an exchange of understanding of each other’s being. It is primarily through saying what one thinks to another individual, and having that individual listen to the content of what is being said, that defines its understanding of being-in-the-world. As we have already established that the act of relating is imperative to Dasein’s existence, the act of listening is imperative in relating. It is through an open inquiry of the other’s words and self-reflection of what is being said that Dasein maintains its own sense of authenticity in the world: “Hearing even constitutes the primary and authentic openness of Dasein for its ownmost [possible being], as in hearing the voice of the friend whom every Dasein carries with it. Dasein hears because it understands. As [understanding] being-in-the-world [with others], it ‘listens to’ [and is bound to, hörig] itself and to Mitdasein [being-there with], and in this listening [being bound] belongs to these” (Heidegger 153).

Book Reviews, philosophy, Review, Writing

“Philosophical Investigations” by Ludwig Wittgenstein

The following is an exploration into Ludwig Wittgenstein’s “Philosophical Investigations“. This was an explanation I had presented as an essay to my philosophy class, “Language, Meaning, and Understanding”. Hopefully this provides some sort of insight into this work. In particular, I explore the question: How does meaning relate to use?

 

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Wittgenstein claims in his “Philosophical Investigations” that meaning is how a word is “use[d] in language” (Wittgenstein 20). Meaning is contingent on usage, as it is grounded in the reality or ideality in which the word is used. Usage is imperative to meaning, as sense-perception is how one comes into contact with the context of a phrase. There is the tendency to problematize the relationship between knowledge of a word and usage; however, it is necessary that there is the acknowledgement of something referenced in order for a word to be created in the first place: “What I really see must surely be what is produced in me by the influence of the object..a sort of a copy, something that in its turn can be looked at, can be before one; almost something like a materialisation …” (Wittgenstein 199). It is not an argument of whether or not the subjects are, in the present moment, coming into physical sensory contact with a word. It is an argument towards what a word means in the context of the reality it is being used. In order to determine meaning, there are several foundations upon which it must be established; a normative linguistic stage, and an exchange between a receiver of the information and the giver of the information.

The normative linguistic stage this paper refers to is described by Wittgenstein as the rules of interpretation. He claims that all that is said and communicated “is, on some interpretation, in accord with the rule” and that “interpretation still hangs in the air along with what it interprets” (Wittgenstein 80). The main rule of interpretation has to do with how a word is societally accepted and established, and also serves as the foundation for how meaning is created.

A word’s meaning is inherently embedded in usage within a society. Words in it of themselves are tools in language to express ideas and interpretations to other folks who are on the same normative linguistic stage. This stage is determined by the culture of the society in which the individuals interact: “Certainly. From time to time he gives [them] the right tip.—This is what ‘learning’ and ‘teaching’ are like here.—What one acquires here is not a technique; one learns correct judgements. There are also rules, but they do not form a system, and only experienced people can apply them right,” (Wittgenstein 227). The two characters on either end of the bridge, the giver of information on one end and the receiver of information on the other, play on this normative linguistic stage. Play or word usage is not completely open-ended, it relies on already-established and societally subconscious rules of interpretation. Words serve as the bridge in which one crosses over to meaning, always on a journey forward towards closer levels of understanding with the other. It is important to note in this metaphor that both characters must be on the same bridge in order to interact: “What happens when we make an effort—say in writing a letter—to find the right expression for our thoughts?—This phrase compares the process to one of translating or describing: the thoughts are already there (perhaps were there in advance) and we merely look for their expression” (Wittgenstein 108). There are many instances of miscommunication based off of not starting from the same place; there is a humorous image of two characters on two different bridges crossing two separate streams, where both assume that they are getting closer to the other, but aren’t even close to getting across the same bridge.

Both the giver and the receiver of the information must be clear on their intent on interpretation in order to be playing the same game and understanding the same rules of word usage. Without these things, meaning cannot be completely transferred from either party. Both must make it clear where there is any disconnect in their own subjective usage or meaning of a word. It is impossible to use the correct string of words to perfectly communicate one’s own ideas, as the mind already abstracts itself in the process of conferring a phrase to say. In understanding how a word is being used and under what context, general meaning is easier to discern.

Thrift, Tips

School Supplies Shopping Tips (High School and College)

Summer is winding down, and for a lot of you, that means school is fast approaching (for some of you, school has already started). If you’re starting high school/college, you might not know what exactly to buy or bring on your first day of school. If you’re going back to high school/college, you might’ve pushed the idea of “school” so far back in the recesses of your brain that you can’t remember what you need for the year. Or if you’re a parent who has to help pay for a student’s supplies, you might not know what to buy. Have no fear, that’s why I’m here- to give you a guide for what to buy for the school year. In this post, I’ll give you my tips and tricks for buying school supplies and suggestions for where you can buy them (especially if you are on a budget) as well as a list of supplies that I’ve made from past experiences and the most-suggested items on the internet.

TIPS AND TRICKS

1. (If you’re starting school) Buy them after school starts

Most high schools and colleges don’t give you a list of school supplies you should buy. Chances are, the first day/week of school your teachers will list off everything you’ll need for the year. If you’re lucky, the teacher will be kind enough to post what you’ll need on your class schedule online, or will go over it in your open house. If they don’t, my advice is that you should buy most of your supplies after you know exactly what you need, but to always have certain necessities on hand (I’ll go over this in “List of Supplies You’ll Need”).

2. (If you’re going back to school) Buy them at the beginning of summer

If you’ve bought school supplies from any retail store during the END of summer, you might’ve noticed that school supplies can get really expensive and hard to find. At the beginning of summer, retail stores don’t sell as many supplies and don’t put out as many ads for them. If you buy your supplies at the beginning of summer, then you’ll most likely find more of them for less money. This tip is also especially useful if you are going BACK to school at the end of summer. You already know how many notebooks you need, how many binders you used, and how many stacks of filler paper you had to buy throughout the school year. Before throwing away or recycling all of those old school supplies, keep a list of the things you needed most. If, for example, you noticed that you went through dozens of pencils and had to keep buying/borrowing them after the beginning of the year, make sure that you get more pencils for next year. Also list off the things you didn’t use as much. If you bought four packs of glue sticks and only used one, then you know that you probably won’t need to get any for next year. Which brings me to my next point…

3. Re-use old supplies

This one is pretty much a given. Don’t just throw away things you didn’t use- save them for the following year. If you didn’t use up every sheet of paper in your notebook, reuse that notebook. Even notebooks I’ve used up and there’s maybe a fifth of it left- I cut out that fifth and use it as filler/scratch paper. If you also happen to have a parent who works at an office, ask them to bring home a pencil or two throughout the summer or go through the supplies they brought home but didn’t use.

4. Buy quality things that will last

Also a given. It might be tempting to go to your local dollar store and buy cheaply-made notebooks, but (trust me) they will fall apart within the first month or so, and then all your notes about the theory of relativity will have to be re-written and re-organized.

5. Buy them at places you wouldn’t think had school supplies

I’m talking Goodwill, Goodwill Outlet, most other thrift stores, and garage sales. Most Goodwills have sections dedicated to office supplies, where they come in little “goodie bags” or sold separately. It’s common to find a stapler for $1.99 or three/four packets of brand new filler paper for $2-3 as a bundle with a half-off sticker color. Their bundles can be a little tricky, though. I found a bundle that had a bunch of stuff I needed in it – pencils, pens, erasers, filler paper, and a couple of folders – but it also had a Hello Kitty notebook in it, too. I didn’t need or want the Hello Kitty notebook, but with the half-off sticker it was only $1.99, so I bought it anyway and gave the notebook to a cousin of mine. Goodwill Outlet is VERY tricky when it comes to buying school supplies, because a lot of it gets damaged and because they’re hard to find. But I’ve found a nice, brand-new (in it’s original wrapping) 3-ring fabric binder in there, and for only $1.50 a pound, that binder cost me like a quarter. Garage sales are also a great place to go for school supplies as you can haggle the prices and (typically) buy them in bulk. If you live in the Portland/Vancouver area, try SCRAP on MLK street. They sell used office and art supplies for dirt cheap, you just have to work a little to get the good stuff.

And now… onto the list! This list names all of the BASIC ESSENTIALS you will need for college or high school. Any list out there will give you things you “could” need, but this list is what you will definitely need while going to school. If you are a minimalist like me, then you will be able to go through your whole school year without needing anything else. If you need things to keep you organized or whatever, then you might need more than just these items.

LIST OF SUPPLIES YOU’LL NEED:

  1. A backpack/bag of some sort
  2. Pencils/pens
  3. Erasers/white out
  4. Filler paper
  5. Notebooks
  6. Folders
  7. Planner
  8. Scissors
  9. Tape/glue
  10. Pencil sharpener
  11. Flashdrive/Laptop
  12. Calculator
  13. Lock
  14. Stapler/Paperclips
  15. Emergency things (i.e. deodorant, pads/tampons, hand sanitizer, tissues)