Hi guys, thehanster here!!!!!!! Sorry it has been a long time since a post, I have been super busy with my research paper, but I will be printing it in one hour, so that stress is gone! Yay! Right now we are on our “vacation” in Morondava! We presented our research papers right before we left and we just have a few mini assignments to work on during our 5 days here. Our flight was delayed 6 hours coming here, so we arrived just in time for sunset with on the Avenue of Baobabs! Morondava is famous for baobabs, beautiful trees with enourmous trunks and no branches except for on the very top. They don’t grow in clumps except for on the Avenue of Baobabs, usually each one is about 200 yards away from the next one. They are so so cool, I actually like them more than lemurs (Oh la la!). THANK YOU MARGARET BROUGHTON for the pictures!! I want to give her so much credit because they are amazing, and I still cannot take any pictures because my camera is still broken. The photos are the avenue of baobabs, me hugging a baobab(they are HUGE!!)(I want one), and our family in Andasibe! We were in Andasibe(rural village on east coast of Madagascar) two weeks ago, and I think this was my favorite week of the program, it was two people per host family and Margaret and I got such a great family, we also were assigned Malagasy pharmacology students to work with for our research papers and we had a lot of fun with them(much basketball and dancing!!). Okay that was a quick post, but I must enjoy my last day of vacation, we return to Antananarivo tomorrow to complete and present our final projects. I am really getting excited to come home! One week everybody! This Saturday, I will be in Madagascar, next Saturday I will be camping and the next Saturday I will be in Michigan! I am extremely excited for the next few weeks and the rest of the Summer!! IMG_1734IMG_1734


I Can’t Wait for Cookies.

Hello Readers, the Carrotster here! Its been a long time since I’ve been in Washington for the 4th of July and it’s quite a bit different than good old Trenary! This morning i sent good thoughts to Mark, who will probably be manning the ring toss without us this year. Don’t worry Mark the rings don’t hurt that bad, as i have been hit many times. Hannah usually tells the kids that i am a target. Im sure you’ll do great Mark and maybe you can recruit Karl and Joe to help with it. Plus its now your responsibility to do the chicken dance with the little kids, I’d like to see that🙂

Today started off early at 7 and Dave picked up Hena and I and brought us to Carnation for the annual run for the pies! Kathy was going to run it with us too but unfortunately she is not feeling well and had to pass. Hopefully we will see them at the fireworks tonight! We registered and got our shirts and then dropped everything off at the car. Hena and i ran the race together and she was delighted to hear that Hannah had seen lemurs. During the race i cheered and whooped and had a one sided conversation with myself to keep us moving. It worked out well and after the race was done they had those huge otterpops that are so yummy!!! We walked around a bit and got some kettle corn and then came back for awards. Dave wanted us to stay for the raffle because apparently he won a cool jacket once and gave it to one of us. i dont remember it but we stayed anyway. They gave out a lot of cool things, and i got picked! The people called before me all got compression socks, yes, $65 compression socks, but i felt just as rewarded because i won a coupon for $5 strawberry shortcake. that was sarcasm by the way. So we had strawberry shortcake after the race because the coupon expired that day, it was kind of good. Then we left as the parade was getting started and Dave dropped us off.

Mom and Dad and i had a nice salad for lunch when i got home and now moms making cookies and ice cream (hence the title). they smell very good and i may have already had 5, don’t worry they’re small. Were also listening to harry potter, Xenophilius is showing off his improved diadem of Ravenclaw…yay for billywig propellers!  were going to the neighborhood party later this evening and then to the fireworks.

Rewinding a bit, last week mom and i were in Michigan and it was SO HOT there. We made it with assistance from Dairy Deluxe. I was basically a book worm the whole time, i read the entire divergent trilogy in 4 days. it was awesome and im now obsessed. We hung out with Jen and Brian and Baby Connor quite a few times. Connor didn’t like my the first time i tried to hold him but the second time he fell right asleep. my personality does that to people…:) Bill and Suzie came by for dinner a couple times and mom and grandma went through a lot of closets. We watched funny girl one night which was very good and mom and grandma watched Magnum PI on netflix. They were swooning over the main guy Tom Selleck, but i didn’t think he was very cute so why watch it, you know? I watched divergent instead and i assure you there were many more cuties in that movie.

Well mom and i just put the ice cream maker going with all the ice and rock salt and stuff so now im looking forward to licking the spoon in 45 minutes or so. but i have cookies to hold me till then!!!

The Carrotster

June 30, 2014

(Written Sunday, posted tuesday)

Hi guys! I’m back! You thought you got rid of me for a few days, but it turns out there is a cybercafé down the street from here, so I will be able to post this in the morning on the way to lecture!

Today was super amazing!!!! I was sad to leave my host family in Tana, but we gave hugs and I kept saying “ Je vais retourner!!” I’m coming back! The drive to Andasibe(pronounced And-da-see-bay) took 3 hours, it on the east coast of Madagascar, and Antananarivo is in the center so we drove straight east.

Driving anywhere is super entertaining in Madagascar because if you are driving slow in the city, every house and store front is different, and it appears like baskets of live ducks and chickens, fruit and giant sacks of granulated grains/rice/sugars are floating by the bus, but in reality people are walking by with stuff on their heads. Plus everything is a different color and there are the most beautiful gates for every house! That is in the city. Today we drove out of the city, passing many rice fields, zebu, and as we got closer to Andasibe, rainforests!!!!!!

Sadly my camera broke yesterday (it was in my pocket and I accidentally turned it on and the lens couldn’t extend ecetera(it may not have been in its case, Dave…) so I do not have any pictures of Andasibe, but my roommate here (Dear Margaret from Kentucky!) has a great camera and said she will take enough pictures for both of us!

We got to Andasibe this afternoon/evening, and met our new mother and sister and started walking to our village. We were pretty tired, so we didn’t say too much except “I love this village” and “this is beautiful” in as many different ways we could in French and Malagasy. And It was SO beautiful!!! Walking to the village we went over two little wooden bridges with no railings over rushing muddy water(I will have to fully experience this tomorrow, as today I was preoccupied with staying balanced and avoiding the cracks) and the village is in a little valley surrounded by hills of rainforest. Its so pretty!! In the village there are big, leafy jungle plants everywhere, I already have a favorite kind of jungle plant which I will post soon! The village just has one windy street with a stone path about 2-3 people wide.

Then our mom showed us our room and it is so awesome!!! We have our own little cabin, a room for sleeping and a room for studying!! We were so shocked because we had all been preparing to really rough it in Andasibe-mosquito tents, squat toilets, people not speaking English or French at all. However, so far squat toilets are the only accurate rough-it item, because we already have mosquito nets over our beds and I talked to our Mom, Soholy, a lot today in French, and we understand each other quite well. And even squat toilets are not too bad, we have one outside our little cabin that looks right out of Shrek. (side note: tonight when I walked out there, I looked up and the stars were so bright!! Tomorrow I’m going to see if there is a safe way to climb onto the roof of our cabin to stargaze. I’ll let you know how it goes)

Our room is so cute, they decorated it with 6 posters-1 of Britney Spears, Beyonce, and Rihanna, then another one of Rihanna, then one of fruit, 2 of the Barcelona soccer team and one of a giant house and race car. We adored all of these and just loved the room. Then it was time for dinner-We had zebu, rice and tomatoes and met our dad who works at the National park. He told us there are 14 different types of lemurs there! He may have been referring to Madagascar, but we will find out tomorrow! I think it is pretty definite that I will see at least one lemur tomorrow! I will not take a picture, as my camera is broken, but I will describe it in many words so that you will be there for my first lemur experience!

Thanks for hanging in there for this post! I think it is my longest yet-so kudos to you, go grab yourself a cookie or something! Also please forgive all grammar errors and lack of synonyms, all the different languages here have not really benefited my English. Also as my teachers will tell you, my organization is out the window, so try to self organize this post. Thank you! Misoatra!! Merci!

Hello dear friends!!

Hello dear friends!!

Hi guys!!!!! Things are still going really well here!!
Meet Alicia! She is eight and a half years old, speaks very fast french, and has been living at our house the last three days! My host parents are her grandparents so I guess she is my host-niece. Weird. Anyway I adore her. We bonded the first day because her parents were teasing her and telling her that their new car was her new brother, and that her mom loved the car more. Alicia was definitely not liking the joke and started crying. No one else was comforting her so I patted my lap and just held her for awhile. I think I needed a hug too. Ever since then, she barrages me with questions, waits a second for me to respond, when I come up with nothing or “Oui!” she just keeps right on going! I feel bad, Neny(my host mom) keeps shushing her and telling her she talks too much. Anyway, last night Alicia and I had a long chat/drawing contest/Malagasy lesson. I had a Malagasy test the next day, so I started writing out sentences for her to correct. She loved that especially when I began to refer to her as L’expert Malgache. Then I got tired of learning so I demanded that she tell me the english words she knows(you really start to miss good ole english after awhile). I laughed really hard because the first words she said were “school” and “washing machine”. She even wrote them out in cursive and I started explaining that I didn’t even know what washing machine was in french (machine a laver btw) so then I continued to ask her for the english words she knew. Her favorite word is “food”(good choice). I started learning the body parts in Malagasy and was laughing because in my manual they literally list everything, there are ears, fingers and feet, but also ankle, liver and kidney. Hmmm I guess no such thing as too much knowledge. Then I started teaching Alicia body parts in english and she said “eye” sounded too similar to “hi” and I was a bit relieved because so many words in Malagasy sound the same to me. Moral of the paragraph: Alicia is great
Everything else is going pretty well-We are all hard at work on our research papers. Ugh work. I definitely feel like I am learning way more on the cultural front, but I am also very interested in my research topic: “Reforming the United States Healthcare system by Applying Madagascar Traditional Methods” I am way more interested on the US side of things and how to go about even starting to change it, but we have VERY limited wifi access here so I have realized I’m not going to get to do as much research as I had hoped, and instead I am just restating a lot of what we have learned about the Madagascar system. Every day this week after school, we have to spend three hours at a mall using their limited wifi to do research. This has been kind of a weird experience, because outside there is crazy traffic involving cars, bikes, cows and chickens as well as a very African market. But you walk into the mall and hear One Direction and buy mocha frappacinos. It is weird, but just adds to the experience I guess! Tomorrow we are leaving for the town of Andasibe, it is on the Northwest coast of Madagascar, and that is where we will see the lemurs! We are there for ten days-It is going to be colder, in the middle of a forest, 2 people per homestay(I’m with Margaret! Yay!!), all squat toilets, more animals, and that is literally the sum of my knowledge of Andasibe! I am very excited and will fill you in when I get back(no internet there).
I’m going to miss Neny and Papa here, it has been an amazing two weeks. However we will spend four more days with our host families here in Antananarivo once we get back from Andasibe.
Also, in my next post I think I will type up a few excerpts from my journal-I still journal every night for about an hour and it has been such a great time for me to reflect on every day and get all my thoughts down. I will definitely do that next time because I feel like I hardly get anything down when I sit down to write a blog post!
Thanks so much for reading! See you in 4 weeks! Also thanks for all of the comments!!!!!!!!! I responded to most of them!

On the Washington End…

Sup Guys, well hannah mostly. she’s going to give me her login stuff so i can approve my posts after i write them because they dont get published without approval from the hanster, and i know you are all dying to read about my extraordinarily exciting life. Schools out now so netflix has kind of made me a blob but i made it my goal to do something cool or non-blob-like everyday this summer. So we start off with Thursday. Well, thursday was a rest day so there wasnt a run so i called Dave and he, Kathy and I went on a 18ish mile bike ride. to Panera. Because there must always be food at the end of bike rides. It felt good except i got a huge case of bike butt for the rest of the day, which was not made easier by the fact that thursday was the first day of summer lifting. Suffice to say, the bike ride plus lifting made it very painful to put on deodorant the next morning, or do anything really…on Friday i went on a run around Beaver lake and then Dave and I had a Jamba juice  for breakfast. Then, to stop myself from being a blob the whole day i went to Hena’s to help her pack for her mission trip to Tijuana. Then Hena and i went to an end of the year lake house party that kstin invited us too. while i was there i ate a ton of the really good cookies that are totally white and then have a ton of frosting. it was heaven. After eating our fill of cookies, chips, cheese and grapes, H-na, Kstin and i took the canoe out (in lake Sammamish). we need to start our own rowing team because we were very successful in our quest to go out a touch the buoy. (wow i had no idea thats how you spell boo-ie, like the boat thing. wow i sound stupid, anyway..) Canoeing was perfect because it wasnt too hot and the sunset was beautiful, plus you cant beat kstin and hena as canoeing buddies. so that was fun, and we left early because Hena had to wake at 4 the next morning to catch the plane.

Moving on to saturday….well, i was part of the group that “tested” the new youth director candidates so i went to church early and, Fredric, Alice, mini demarealgood (Scott) and i, acted like it was youth group to evaluate the candidates. we also played ping pong and belly badminton ( badminton when your too lazy to stand up). then we had lunch after the evaluation and i almost wet myself with laughter when i accidentally drop kicked my slice of watermelon in the session room. you kinda had to be there but it was hilarious. then after that, i drove mom and myself to DQ to meet dad for lunch part two. we caught up on the day and then mom and i went home and dad went to get a car part (he’s fixing the black truck). well i think that was it for saturday…oh no never mind, there was more excitement! (if thats even possible). well mom and i decided to enjoy the sunny afternoon by taking a nice, incredibly long walk. We had to take care of other Kirsten’s kitties this weekend so we thought it would be nice to walk there instead of drive. it turns out that her house is a lot farther away walking than driving, so now we both have blisters and Queso (the cat) tried to eat my sunglasses. But nevertheless, we walked there and back and when we got home, Thai food seemed like a good idea for dinner, dont worry im getting to the exciting part. Anyway, we ordered Thai food and on our way home from picking it up, i was driving up the Hairpin hill and BEHOLD! the black bear was lumbering across the street!! i almost ran him over. jk, i came to a full and complete stop after performing foot to break-eye to mirror #swervisms. no i didn’t do that either but me and mom have never actually seen the neighborhood bear before so we were quite freaked and mom didn’t manage to get a picture because, as i said, we were freaked. we had just been walking were he was a half hour before we saw him. creepy. anyway, mother and i remained spooked for the rest of the night. although spring rolls and West Wing did help quite a lot.

ON to sunday. Well, i read scripture and then helped Alice with the brand new espresso machine, its pretty cool. i can do everything but steam the milk…anyway…that was it for sunday morning. In the evening, Becki and i had dinner and then ice cream, which was yummy and then we went to youth group. Since the weather was nice, we played outside the whole time and ddems got stung twice by some bees, which of course ended my time outside. im not fond of bees. After youth group, Becki took me to her house and mom picked me up and i drove home. that doesnt make any sense but i bet you understand H. on our way home mom and i were commenting that it was about this time that we had seen the bear the previous night…as we came into our neighborhood, looking around carefully, there happened to be a women, in all black, on her hands and knees, weeding her garden. Mom and i both mistook her for the bear and almost went into freak mode but then we remembered that black bears don’t wear sun hats so it was all good.

Monday was a good day, starting out with a run and mom got me a jamba juice afterwards. oh yeah, and we called you monday morning!! i almost forgot about that. thank you for posting the picture of your host family, they look very nice!! anywho, after jamba juice i came home and took a shower and then, the unthinkable happened. i cleaned the bathroom. yes, you heard me right. it was starting to bug me so i cleaned out the shower and the floor and, well, the whole bathroom really. plus i reorganized it so i have more counter space. you guys totally didn’t have to read that because hannah’s probably to only one who would care about this amazing feat. actually she probably doesn’t care either but whatever, im proud of myself. while i attacked the bathroom, mom cleaned out the pantry (i really don’t know whats gotten into us). it was actually quite enjoyable. then i mowed the lawn, not our lawn, Greg’s lawn. and from there, i went right to lifting. we had a really good dinner and mom and i started packing for Michigan, we leave on Wednesday. I thought i was all done packing until mom reminded me of everything i forgot so this morning (Tuesday)  i packed up the last few things and got our bags down from the attic.

yup, well thats my life since school got out, in way too much detail…farewell all,


The Carrotster


My host family!!!

My host family!!!

Left to Right, Clarisse(our kitchen helper), Neny(host mother), Sitraka (host brother), and Papa (host father). This was right before we left for church on Sunday. It was a three hour long service, a tad long for me especially since I didn’t know the language, but I loved the music. There were multiple choirs and a beat and background music playing from speakers. There was definitely a lot of energy-I hummed along to the songs and then felt awkward so sang the word watermelon over and over again. I did recognize one song “This is my savior, this is my song” so I didn’t watermelon that one.
Also thank you for all your comments, I just realized how to check and will try to reply to you! Right now I have to get to work on my 20 page research paper that is due in three weeks… We are all a little confused at how we will be able to do the research part of it with limited internet access, but hopefully we will figure it out. I will keep you posted!

First Week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hi guys! Day two with wifi, post two on Madagascarrot(tsk tsk carrotster)! Everything is going really well so far, I journal for about an hour every night and could probably go longer. I really only journal about the 5 hours in the evening I spend with my host family because each day is so special and so different from anything I have ever experienced. That was a very bold statement so I will give you some details!! I moved in with my host family on Sunday. All the host parents came to our hotel, each of them knew which student they would be living with, but none of the students knew which families they would belong to. When our Academic Director (Dear Nat!) read the students name, their new family came and greeted them. When my name was called, I greeted my family in Malagasy (Manahoana! Faly Malala anao!) and then we started speaking French. My dad immediately said my French was very good and that this would be a lot easier than they had thought! That immediately made my day and I tried to tell them that, but ironically I could not think of how to say it.

On the car ride home I had an overpowering déjà vu of the movie Stuart Little. I was sitting between my parents in the back seat( I am about a head taller than both of them), and they introduced me to my host brother Sitraka and told me to call them Neny(Mom in Malagasy) and Papa. Seeing my new neighborhood and walking to our house was so different and surreal to me. I have known foreign exchange students before, but I never really thought I would do it. I was also surprised how relaxed I was about it. This is normally the kind of thing that I worry about a lot, but instead I was excited to see everything and learn from my family. I really need to watch Stuart Little again when I get home because it all felt exactly the same, except for the me-not-being-a-rodent part.

I have been with my family for four nights now. During the day I am at the University of Antananarivo with the other 17 students in the program. I find this time pretty dull, except for Nibbles(Snack time), Lunch and Malagasy class. Most of our lectures are on the practice of Traditional Medicine in Madagascar. Traditional Medicine is like Naturopathic system in the U.S., using only plants and natural cures as opposed to Modern Medicine with pills and chemicals. That is a pretty dumbed down definition, but I think you got it. Some things are interesting, but mostly I feel like the lectures overlap.I have learned a lot, but it seems a bit repetitive sometimes.

The homestay is where I really feel like I am getting my moneys worth. Neny picks me up at the bus stop everyday and we walk home(even walking home is exciting because we take random turns, go through ornate gates, a lot of narrow alleys, random chickens, cats and dogs, and there are sudden amazing views of the valley and the city). Not to mention all of the Malagasy people staring at us. Our group has seen literally two other white people in the week we have been here, you honestly feel like you are famous or something, it is weird. But they are all super friendly and very excited when you speak the language. I have had many conversations with random strangers that are staring, and then I say “Manahoana!” and we start talking. As of today I have been learning Malagasy for a week, and I already feel pretty comfortable, I know about 30 verbs, know the past, present and future tenses, and can say most basic phrases (Unlike learning French where it took two years for us to learn “You’re welcome”:).

I’m kind of rambling now, I hope you are still interested! I love my homestay family! Papa is extremely energetic and loves helping me learn Malagasy. Sometimes I have to almost yell “Je comprends!” (I understand!) because he loves explaining things. I have been really lucky to have a family that really encourages e to practice my Malagasy, but I also feel like I have gotten so much practice with french which is the main reason I came. Because speaking french was not a requirement for the program, I was kind of worried I wouldn’t get much practice unless I just walked up to people and spoke. However I speak mainly french every evening, except for my malagasy practice. I was so excited, yesterday Neny asked if I could say the family prayer before dinner. I was all excited to say it in french (never prayed in french!) but she said I could say it in english, so I did and it felt super weird to speak english there especially when no one except my brother could understand me. Shout out to church people: I forgot to say “only the hands”(thank you for the food and the hands that prepared it.)! How many times to you get to pray “only the hands!” in Madagascar? Anyway all that was very great. I have kind of rambled about the languages because that is definitely my favorite part of being here. And sorry if I sound very full of myself because this sounds a lot like my journal entries, in which I must constantly be encouraging!

Okay all of that was very fast, please skip over any grammar and spelling issues(fun fact, I forgot how to spell vegetable yesterday)

Love you all so much!! I have not gotten homesick yet and definitely love being here, but I do have an eye on the calendar, exactly 5 weeks left! Thanks for reading!