Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tid-bits of the last week

Nothing to exciting has happened here lately, maybe its because I've started to adjust to my life here. Things are starting to feel more normal, the school uniform, the rush to school... but not to rushed because I'm on Chilean time now, the attempts at speaking Spanish at school (still not very successful, only some of my friends can understand me), the teachers telling me to be quiet (that should be good right?!), public transit, my room, once with the host-fam, exchange student hangouts... just stuff.

Last Friday I was approached by some younger girls in my school because they heard I was a cheerleader (porrista) in Canada and they wanted me to help them with their group at school - why not! So I skipped the last hour of my class on Friday to start helping some of the girls with basic stunts, and then spotted some back-walkovers... all those hours of coaching birthday parties at Cheersport really helped! Then on Monday I helped again but this time armed with a picture of my team back home and some drawings of what I wanted to girls to learn eventually. It's really difficult, frustrating, and a little scary when I can't fully communicate what to do and how to do it safely - but at least I can just grab the little ones and say to "No, put her down that's not safe." But we've made progress on technique and of course they wanted me back again the next day, and the next day... but maybe tomorrow!

Cheersport Shark influence... had to be done!

Sometimes I get a little panic-attack when I see a World map, like the other day in the mall... and you realize how far away your are from your home country... but then again it's so amazing that your able to live this far away for 11 months!

Life gets more normal when you bake a batch of your real-Mom's AMAZING chocolate chip cookies, and they don't turn out the same, but your host-Mom wants the recipe in Spanish!

One the cookie-note it's time to start getting my butt-in-gear again... the affects of bread, potatoes, manjar and lack of strenuous physical activity are starting to have an affect. I've been trying for about a month now to find a field hockey team here. The first one I approached was very recreational, and an hour into the practice they had done nothing. I've also e-mail two other clubs (more competitive) and one responded, eventually, so I went to see the practice tonight but no one was there. It's frustrating when I don't get replies or no one shows up for the time of the practice shown because I can't have the opportunity to talk with a coach, talking on the phone is still not an option with my limited language. So I may just find a regular gym here hopefully!

Only 12 more days until I travel to Argentina with my class!

Why there's a Quebec flag for sale in the market in Santa Lucia I will never know!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Unexpected

Sometimes during exchange there's things that happen in which you would have never bargained for when you left your normal and comfortable life in your home country. Things that you never even thought would happen, never crossed your mind about a "what if" when your not in your own country. I know I wrote earlier that I didn't want to write about the sad things but it's truly just another part of exchange. The last 2 weeks have been extremely difficult for me especially being out of Canada. I have had to deal with the death of a very close and beloved Uncle in which no one had expected to happen. Also going along with the passing was Thanksgiving, a big family holiday back home. These last couple of weeks have truly made myself stronger as I have had to deal with the grief and flood of different emotions along with the regular exchange frustrations/emotions. But life also goes on here in Chile, and having to deal with other frustrations and difficulties/situations here as well has sure kept my mind occupied for a couple of weeks and restless nights. But like one of my exchange student friends told me, "life still happens, no matter where you are, life things still happen." It's so true and you truly can't do much about things back home other than staying in contact with those who you love and can help you. I've also been lucky enough to have great exchange friends here, Chilean friends, and other supporters who have helped me to deal with an unexpected occurrence or have been sympathetic to my situation. The other problem is that I feel like my Spanish hasn't progressed within the last few weeks which is not a good sign, and adds more stress and pressure to my situation... but that's just a short fall-back.

That being said you have to continue on with your new life, new people, new surroundings, and new culture because you truly can't stay preoccupied for to long or else you'll be wasting all your energy and thoughts on things that you can't fix. The other day I got a library card for this cute library/cultural center here in Las Condes (don't know how useful it'll be once I switch houses.) There's a lot of green-space which is nice in the city, so I've taken advantage of the children's books and I have the opportunity to sit under a tree, read or listen to music when I need some alone time not in my room. It's a hopeful thought that I'll be able to understand the books soon without my dictionary... it'll come in time!

On a good note this past Saturday I went to Fantasilandia with a group of exchange students. Fantasilandia is like Canada's Wonderland - but much smaller with a lot of flaites and english names used for all of the rides... weird. It was a good day and I even managed to get soaked on the second last ride!

The Gang: Me, Emily, Rachel, Billy, Katie, Ayrton, Jo-Ellen (missing Stephen and Sam)

I've also been here in Chile now for 2 months! I can honestly say that I really like Chile, I'm still finding my life here but I truly do enjoy living here and would not go back to Canada right now even if you shoved a one-way ticket in my face.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Los 33 Mineros

As it was huge world news everyone knows that the 33 trapped miners are now free! The news coverage has always been pretty big here but it started to be continous 1-2 days before the start of the mission. I watched the first miner come to the surface with my host-family, we were clapping and so happy! Every news channel was constantly coverage on the mission. I also watched the last miner come up and that was real emotional as well. It's such an amazing thing to have these men survive, they were so far down with little contact and supplies for so long, and with a small chance of digging down to the right place... truly a miracle! It was really cool to be in a country when something like this happened. Not that it was a good thing that happened, but to see the whole country come together as one for these strangers trapped in the mine.

chi chi chi le le le los mineros de chile!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Not-So-Typical Thanksgiving

It was more difficult than I thought to be missing Thanksgiving this year. I'm usually accustomed to at least 2, maybe 3 Thanksgiving dinners back home but this year no big bird, stuffing, or pumpkin pie for me! On Sunday my good exchange friend/fellow Canadian met me in Santiago and we went out for sushi and walked around Providencia. A lot of stores and restaurants were closed, I think it must be a Sunday thing, possibly for religious reasons. We decided that we would make our own Thanksgiving dinner for my host-family for once. So we bought some sliced turkey, mashed-up some potatoes, cooked some squash, made some gravy and BAM - Thanksgiving dinner!

I don't think my host-family fully understood what Thanksgiving was but it was a good meal!

Things that I am thankful for but not limited to...
  • My family in Canada
  • My friends - Canadian, Exchange, Chilean
  • My host-family
  • Rotary and my exchange
  • Opportunity and freedom
  • Food - even if it does make me gain "exchange weight"
  • A roof over my head
  • Skype

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Amusing Things

The huge flag in front of The Moneda

The other day I went to Santa Lucia to a feria with my Kiwi friend and I bought colourful Chile pants - much needed, once you buy Chile pants... you never go back!
I also purchased some things for special people's birthdays and even some Christmas presents early!

At the top of Cerro Santa Lucia

Before that we went to another market in Los Dominicos and saw these miniature trees... so weird!

This tree was planted in 1975

Saw some Japanese-esque or something dressed girls... it was un poco extraño to say the least!

I also ate my first Big Mac in my life... an accomplishment which my friends back home are proud of - one more thing off my "to do in Chile" list!

Today I wandered around the city solo
Purchased a much needed Chile purse and walked a lot then headed to Plaza de Armas
I saw a bunch of old men playing chess, it was intense!

I love it when men try to "compliment the gringa" but end-up making no sense because they can't even pronounce "gorgeous" properly

I finally found chocolate chips to make my mom's sacred chocolate chip cookies one day, and they were also selling Canadian Maple Syrup... only for $25 CDN! (Rip-off!)

I find it hilarious when my host-grandma insults my host-dad, because now I can understand it!

The other day I was looking at the new match box that we use to light our hot water and when I turned it over there was a picture of Pamela Anderson... uhhhhh?!

My host-dad bought a torta (birthday cake) because the neighbors have a pre-teen birthday party going on... really random, but awesome!

Happy Thanksgiving back home!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

City Tour

This past weekend I went with all the exchange student from my district to the coast - Pacific that is! We all travelled by bus to Valparaíso, Viña del Mar, and San Antonio. At Valparaíso we went on a boat ride around the port, saw some sea lions, did some shopping with all sorts of artesian things, and had lunch. We then went on travelling again and with all honesty I cannot remember the chain or events, just that exchange students are awesome!

I also purchased my first alpaca sweater and some new bracelets. I go crazy for bracelets here, and so do a lot of exchange students, its just this obsession we have, no big deal.

On Sunday we stopped at a few more places including Isla Negro with one of Pablo Neruda's houses (famous Chilean poet with GORGEOUS houses), San Antonio and went through the feria where I was told to carry my backpack on my front (what a tourist), and then we headed back to have an asado.

Edit: I forgot to mention about our bus hitting a wall... yep, our trusty coach bus was turning and ran right into a cliff... oh Chile you make me laugh way too much!