Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Adventurous Michelle

Michelle in the Netherlands
My darling niece is off on another adventure.  If you have been following me for a long time, you may remember a couple of years ago, when Michelle went to Germany for a year of study, prior to entering College. She adapted so well, emerging herself into the German culture. Learning, growing, and even falling in love. 
Since there she has been to multiple countries, embracing all she can. She attends Depauw University, in Indiana, and takes advantage of all the opportunities she can to travel abroad.  Earlier this year she even traveled to Israel.  Michelle knows four languages. English, French, German, and Latin.

Recently she went back to Germany to visit her Host Family and see her Dominic (the charming German she has fallen for). She visited a few places including Paris, before starting her next adventure.

She is currently studying abroad in Madagascar...
from her flight, viewing the beautiful island of Madagascar
My Sister, Julie, shared a recent letter from Michelle.  She seems to be adjusting well to this interesting place.  She is quite the minority... Not just as an American, but her delicate frame, with blond hair & blue eyes.  Something that is not seen often there. 
Here is an insert of her letter:
here is a description of the city (first impressions) i wrote right after the ride from the airport to our hotel. It was about 45 minutes down small city streets, with vendors and markets, people selling whatever they can sell (from vegetables to car seats..). Children walking barefoot, women carrying bundles on their heads, men pulling extremely heavy carts of wood. Chickens (both dead as meat and alive walking around on the street) were surprisingly skinny. I've never seen chickens that scrawny before. Hundreds of people out on the streets, in open air shops, walking, sitting, cramming together in vans (somewhere between carpooling and hitchhiking, that's how a lot of people get around i think), and not one single white person
a view of the countryside in Madagascar
a city view of Madagascar
another insert:
They have electricity and running water, they even have internet (which is surprising). Not wifi though, so I won't send this until tomorrow (right now I'm lying in bed typing on my netbook). It's not nice by american/european standards (in slight disrepair), but I'm pretty sure it's nice by malagasy standards. It's the first malagasy house I've been in though, so I can't rightly say. Running water is a luxury though. I have my own room, which I'm rather grateful for. It's nice to have some personal space.

I'm surprised at how well I can communicate in french! Not to say I can speak french well, so much as to say that I had very low expectations. But understand what the other is saying about 75% of the time which is not bad at all for the first day. It really helps that I'm in Madagascar, not in France, because it's their 2nd language, so they speak slower than French people do and use less vocab. That's good. We haven't started learning very much Malagasy yet. I know some basic words like excuse me and thank you. Other than that, shamefully, I only know how to say "No, I don't want to buy that" and "No, I can't give you money" because I get hassled a lot from venders and beggars because of the color of my skin. About giving money, little kids, who are otherwise happily playing a game, upon seeing the color of my skin, will hold out their hands for money! It's depressing to see the way race is socially constructed. I feel apologetic for the color of my skin, knowing the atrocities that my people have committed. What can I do, though? Also I've gotten more "cat calls" from young men in the past few days than I have otherwise in the entirety of my life. Having long blonde hair makes me stand out even among the americans. I get a lot of coy smiles and "bonjour madamoiselle!" and a lot of "vasa vasa!!" (malagasy for "foreigner"), and a lot of snickers. But people are just amused, not hostile.
view from the Host Family home Michelle is staying with
 I look forward to hearing more of this adventure. And as I find it fascinating, I will share with you bits and pieces.  Michelle has told me she doesn't mind me Blogging about her before, so hopefully she will still feel the same.
Sis~ I know you are reading this so just say the word if you think I should keep private & not share it.

It is so interesting how brave and adventurous Julies kids have always been.  My Girls are more like Hubby & I, not as curious about the world. We'd rather explore the many places here in the states we haven't seen.  Or just hang at a beach...

However... Annie is getting the travel bug and moving forward to her plans of traveling abroad for a Journalism program this summer to cover the Olympics in the United Kingdom. (I just wish this wasn't so costly!)

For now, I will continue to pray for my amazing Niece and this journey she is on.  If you are reading this Chelle~ I LOVE YOU♥


Linda said...

Very neat! :)

Yea, I don't think there's an adventurous bone in my body - adventure for me is going in the exit door, lol. Sadly, I'm serious about that. I'm very much a rule follower for the most part.

But then again, as I write this - I did fall in love with a guy I had never met before in person who lived in another country, and who I agreed to meet up with having known nothing of him really since we hadn't met before in real life. And. I married him! lol, so I guess I might have an adventurous streak afterall.

I just haven't travelled outside the country - it's too expensive and I've never seem to have the extra means to do so or wanted to finance it.

Anyway - this was an interesting read. All the best to your niece in her adventures.
Love, Linda

Julie Harward said...

How awesome that would be to go off traveling and studying...she is a lucky girl and I am sure will gain so much from all of this! ;D

Bee Lady said...

My husband and I had a choice to make....move to the country and build a new house....or travel. We couldn't afford both. We are building a house, in the same town we both lived in most of our lives. I admire your niece.

Cindy Bee

janis said...

she's pretty amazing♥

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

It sounds so interesting, definitely on My Wishlist of places I would love to visit.