06 August 2008

Story: Studying Abroad, Prologue

Part of the Carlos/Danielle series.  The introduction to Danielle's trip abroad.

Studying Abroad

The table was littered with empty Corona bottles as I danced to the pulsating music with the most gorgeous Mexican I'd ever seen. I had a beer in one hand and with the other I was touching his side. He was smiling big and we were just dancing and having fun.

"You are so hott," I told him.

"I know," he replied. At that point it seemed like everything was being sucked away and suddenly I realized it was just a dream. I sighed but smiled anyway. My eyes were still closed and I tried to go back to sleep but started feeling really uncomfortable for some reason. I shifted then peeled my eyes open only to find my step-brother over me grinning wildly.

"Holyshit," I said, jumping up and putting my hand over my thumping heart. "Give me a heart attack why dontcha..."

He was still smirking and I idly wondered why he was in my room when it was still dark outside. "But I'm so hott I'd have given you a heart attack anyway," he teased.

I blushed and chunked a pillow at him. "Leave me alone!" I whined.

He giggled and threw it back at me. "It's 4:30 and our plane leaves in about two and a half hours. Which means you have, like, five minutes to get ready."

"Ohmigod!" I yelped, jumping out of bed. "It's Tuesday! We're going to Mexico!" I danced around the room happily then hugged Carlos. "Yay! I'll be ready really really soon!" I assured him, pushing him out of the room and blinding myself with the light. I'd lain out my clothes the night before (or a few hours ago, actually) so I scooped them into my arms and hopped into the shower. I washed off quickly then dressed myself and met my family in the kitchen in no time.

"That *was* quick," Carlos said. "If only you were that fast every morning!"

"Shut up," I muttered.

"Danielle, are you sure you want to go?" my mom asked for the thousandth time. "You could just stay a couple of weeks then transfer back here..."

"Mom, chill. I'll be fine. And besides, I'll have dear old Carlos and family around." Of course, I knew her concern wasn't my support system but rather that I'd be spending the entire semester in Mexico and she'd miss me terribly.

"You know if you get homesick you can just come home, right?"

"Yes, Mom, I know..." I groaned, rolling my eyes.

My mom opened her mouth to continue, but Juan, my step dad, stopped her. "She'll be okay," he assured.

"I know, I've just never been without her this long before," mom replied, near tears.

"But you're coming to visit. It'll be fine, Mom."

She smiled, wiped a tear away and sat a plate of eggs and bacon in front of me. "And listen to your brother while you're there, okay? And Mr. and Mrs. Rivas. And don't go out too much."

"Mom, you're freaking out. I'll be fine..." I promised, eating my breakfast. Carlos just laughed at the whole situation and I wished that Juan would start giving him a hard time. After all, Carlos was the college student and would probably party more than me! (Yeah right..)

We finished breakfast then drove to the airport. On the way there we got another speech and Carlos and I acted ten years younger as we mimicked our parents. When we finally got there my mom was almost to tears. Carlos and I were so ecstatic that we just grabbed our luggage and headed inside. We said our last teary goodbyes, showed our IDs, then headed to our terminal. I was shaking with anxiety -- I wasn't a big fan of airplanes and I'd never been away from home for this long before. Although Carlos's grandparents were as much family as ayone else that I'm actually related to. They'd kept in touch with Carlos and Juan after their daughter, Carlos's mom, died, and had always been a big part of my life. So when Carlos decided to study abroad and stay with them, I looked into an exchange program, too, then practiced my Spanish as much as possible. And now the day was here -- we were about to go to Guanajuato, Mexico, and we'd be gone from English-speakers and fast food for months... only not so much. There are so many Americanized cities in Mexico that I wasn't even worried about being homesick.

The plane touched down about two hours after we'd taken off. I, for one, was ecstatic. I'd only visited the Rivas's once at their house in Guanajuato and didn't even get to stay very long. Not to mention there's hardly any mountains remotely close to where I live so I was jumping in my seat and hitting Carlos. He was doing a really good job of pretending that he didn't know me.

I followed my step-brother through the airport, mouth dropped, letting him do all of the work. I got stopped at customs and they started speaking to me so quickly that I didn't understand what was going on. Luckily they had enough experience with Americans and pointed me to a table for someone to check my bags. I swore that I'd kill Carlos if he ever made me do anything like that again.

We took a taxi from the airport to his grandparents' house. I was really nervous (as I had been with most drivers since I'd acquired my own license) but dealt okay. In no time we were in front of the house.

This'll be my home for the next four months, I thought to myself as Carlos knocked on the gate. I clutched tightly onto my suitcases, heart pounding. Maybe this was a mistake.

Mrs. Rivas opened the door and upon seeing us, ran towards the gate. "Carlos! Daniela!" she shrieked, allowing our entry and kissing us both. I peered up at her two story house which was so awesome to me -- I'd never lived in one before! She rushed us inside and called to her husband to help me with my things, all the while talking to Carlos so quickly that I could only understand bits and pieces.

I lugged my suitcases into my room. It was upstairs, at the end of the hallway and had a picture window facing the street. They let me have some time to rest up and unpack mythings. I put away some clothes and put pictures around the room. I dug out the snackfood that I'd smuggled in my suitcase. Then I plopped on my bed and stretched out, soaking everything in. Nope, coming here definitely wasn't a mistake.

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