Pipa is my homestay mother. And she is one of the greatest women on the planet, no exaggeration. I feel like I've really started breaking out of my shell because Pipa is so genuinely nice to all of us and really wants to see us succeed with our Spanish.
Yesterday I had orientation for my group, and it was really great to be together. I love having roommates because it keeps me from feeling so alone, but being with my group is also really great because it means that we're out in the city doing something and there are so many interesting stories to hear from all over the United States. We legitimately span coast to coast. Today I had my placement test (which didn't go exactly as I had planned and really put a damper on my day, but with help from CEA staff and a little assertiveness from Pipa, I'm sure things will work out for the best), and then I watched the world cup game (Argentina vs. Greece) with my group and a bunch of other students and faculty in the University's cafeteria.
After each day out I get "home" and I hang my keys up on the wall, so Pipa and Atilio can keep attendance. Then I drop all my stuff off and head into the kitchen to sit with Pipa and talk about my day. It's so great because she helps correct me with my Spanish, and ... I don't know, she always makes me feel really good about trying and she's just so understanding about everything.
Last night I finally gave Pipa my gifts: two Durham CT mugs (one for her and one for Atilio), Silly Bandz for Elina, and postcards of Durham. She loooved seeing the pictures of Durham because I got to explain to her how small Durham is, especially compared to the city.
While it's hard to see how close the students who live in the residence hall are, it's great living here, and so far, I wouldn't change a thing. So what that my room is small and it's a 25 minute bus ride to school? Pipa is such an excellent homestay mother and is really pushing me to help me excel in Spanish, and not only speaking. She actually gave me one of Elina's books today so that I can practice reading more often.