Thursday, April 30, 2009

---> It's how I roll

Yesterday, my host mum called me into her room. So I paused writing my speech in Spanish on Vladimir Bechterev, ran downstairs to my host parents' room, and looked at what was happening on TV.
The National Anthem for Chile was playing, along with video clips from all around Chile. But it wasn't just playing on once channel, every single channel had the national anthem on it. This was because the president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, was about to speak. And guess wat she spoke about? The Porcine Flu. Which currently, up to my knowledge, isn't in Chile, but it's pretty close, because now Peru has it. So stay safe everyone.

What also happened yesterday is I made a complete goofball out of myself in my Theory (of Music) class. We were in the Audiovisual room (eg, the room with the projector), to watch a powerpoint and youtube videos of Arabic music. I was sitting on a chair, so were my friends, and some were on the floor (carpet, in there!) and so we were all spread about, and pretty relaxed because it was the last class of the day. So we're all sitting there, and the teacher is playing Arabic music, so me and my friends bust out the gangster as dance moves while sitting down - you know the ones, like the Indian one, when you clasp your hands above your head and move your head, and then I busted out the Sprinkler as well (one hand on ear, other stretched out in front and moving to the side to the beat of the music). Obviously I must have been busting out some pretty mean moves, because the next thing I hear, is practically the WHOLE ENTIRE CLASS chanting 'Anita! Anita! Anita! Baile! Baile! Baile!' (dance). And guess what? The exchange student turned bright red. And they didn't just say my name three times and the word dance three times, it went on for quite a while, and included the English version on 'Baile'. So I couldn't feign not understanding that time. 

That embarrassing moment eclipsed the time I was walking past my classroom, and did a double take, then carried on walking ahead, while looking back, and walked into the fire hose. Aren't I cool?

Aside from that little bit of excitement, this week has probably been one of the more stressful weeks for me in Chile, mainly thanks to a man that wears apple-green striped polo shirts, tucked into blue jeans, with brown leather shoes, black framed glasses, a gold necklace of the Crucifiction, has a round face and brown hair brushed to the side. Mr Filosofía Teacher. Who I swear has it in for every student in the school. On Monday, me, along with my group consisting of Juan Pablo and Sebastian, were supposed to present about Psicologia Reflexologia Rusa (Soviet Reflexology Psychology), but we hadn't started (having only been given the task the previous Thursday, and me being sick, not having a cellphone, etc, we hadn't been able to work on it.) So on Monday he called me up to see him, and said in Spanish, in a mean way, why I (yup, just me) hadn't done the work . . . And to be honest, I had no idea what we had to do, since (Welcome To Chile, Anita), all classes are taught in Spanish. So I spent the next few days researching the topic, which was VERY hard to do, even in English, and living in fear of this horrible monster. On Wednesday, after school, Juan Pablo, Sebastian and I met and since the school has no computers students can use, we went to the public library, where there were no books on the topic, but luckily managed to plan our presentation, so I went home and wrote a talk in Spanish about Bechterev.
One of the reasons why I was so scared of the teacher is that, the girls that did present their project, did so with a Powerpoint presentation, and were wearing formal uniform, and did what I thought was a brilliant job of it. Then the teacher basically critized the beep out of it. And my group couldn't do a powerpoint, not to mention lack of information about the topic.
Today was the day we presented it, and well . . . we did our best. We wrote key point on sheets of paper, Juan Pablo presented his information by heart, Sebastian . . . well, read straight from the sheet of paper in a low voice (but he can't help being shy!) and I said the introduction and my bit about Bechterev. Then came the critiquing time. Which I'm sure went very well for the teacher, but that means it didn't go well for us. The thing was, I absolutely love my class, they may be a bit crazier than classes in New Zealand, but I think part of the critiquing was quite unfair (that I could understand, because I had researched a lot of information, and not been able to translate it, and the other information in Spanish, not been able to understand the ideas, only some words). But one girl got angry and the teacher, and I'm pretty sure she was standing up for me, because I understood the words '2 months', and I have been here for that long. But still, talking in a raised voice at a teacher probably isn't the best way to go about things, especially when he was telling her to be quiet. So she got up and left the room. Then about five more people did the same. Then the inspector came. And after school I saw those people come out of the office, and the girls were crying. I'm not quite sure exactly what happened, but it was a very dramatic day. But I still said 'Hola, Profe' to the teacher when I passed him on the way to the English Conversation. 

The English Conversation was . . . well, a conversation in English. My school is public, and we have two Californians volunteering as part of a government programme to teach English. They're married (to each other), young, and are here for about 6 months. A friend from my class asked if I'd like to go along, so I did, and there were three of my classmate there, and another girl from a lower class. We introduced ourselves, and talked about what we like and don't like. Jason and Anna, the gringos, basically organised it to help the students who want to get better at English. I must say I was rathered challenged, but I think I did okay. . . It was actually really fun, and I had a chance to get out my panoramic postcard that my aunt gave me, which is a view of my town in New Zealand, and everyone was awed by the beauty of my town (so I think I boosted the tourism there too, because the gringos said they wanted to visit), and after we talked about food. And it was good to speak english again, and know not only the words, but manner of saying them, is being understood (by the gringos though). You do miss being sure of how you communicate.

Every Tuesday and Friday, I have band practice. And unlike my band in New Zealand, I play in a marching band here. Although the music is a lot easier, I have to learn 4 pieces by memory. the first time we went outside to practice playing our instruments while walking in form, all the music went out of my head, because I had to concentrate on making sure I was walking with the correct foot at the correct time. And we walked round and round the courtyard. Which was different. Not to mention, I'm in the first line. But I'm getting used to it now, just have to learn the pieces better.

I'm enjoying having flute lessons here. My flute teacher is really nice, and especially in my first few weeks here, I looked forward to the lessons, because music at least is an international language (although the notes are called Doh-Re-Mi-Fa-Sol-La-Te, not A B C D E F G). But last week, which I don't think I played too well because I was still suffering the aftershocks of the migraine I had last Tuesday, while I was packing away my flute, my teacher said to me 'Your grade, Anita. Six point eight.' And I thought . . . what? my grade? in a flute lesson? so I said "My grade?" And he said, "This week was a test". So I thought "Oh." Luckily, a 6.8 out of seven is actually a high grade, one of the highest that the flute students got, so I was quite happy. Unlike in English, when I got a 6.6, only because the two questions I got wrong, were badly written questions. 

Here's some photos of me and my friends at school. 
Me, Andrea and Eileen

Erica and I

By the way, do leave a comment! I do read them, although I might not reply to them (limited time, my friends). But it is rather discouraging to go to the effort to write a blog, if nobody is going to leave a little comment of feedback, or just a little comment. You don't need to have an account to do so, just click the 'anonymous' button. I swear I will turn emo if I do not get at least 2 comments on this post. 

Saturday, April 25, 2009

---> In the hands of Time

This is my official 2-month mark. I honestly cannot believe that time could have flown this fast. There have been times when I wished it would hurry up, but if it's gone by this fast, the day I will leave this country is going to pop up at me out of nowhere like an unexpected visitor. 

My Spanish is improving, and it makes life a lot more easier and fun to be able to talk and joke again. Sarcasm doesn't exist here, however, but that's okay because it's not that funny anyway. 

I'm feeling a lot closer to my classmates, and I think Chileans can be so sweet at times. One of my classmates, Pedro, left the class last Friday because he is moving to another city in Chile, and his friends bought a banner to school that everyone was decorating and leaving messages on, and I didn't think they would be the type of people to do that. But it was so lovely, and after class everyone stayed behind to wish him luck and take final photos, and several of the girls were crying. And they presented him with the banner. Then yesterday was the birthday of one of the boys in my class, and his best friend in the class walked in late to our Lenguaje lesson with a birthday cake for him, and e
veryone started singing 'Cumpleanos Feliz' and hugging him on his birthday.
Us farewelling 'Peggy'
Me and som of my friends at school (Emily, me, Sofia, Erica and Andrea)

I have also made a few more language mistakes. On Thursday I was feeling really tired, despite having slept for a good eight hours the night before, and one of the girls in my class asked me what was the matter. I told her I was so tired, but I have had a lot of sleep last night. But my pronounciation wasn't right, so it ended up sounding like I said I was tired because I'd drank too much last night!
The other one was today, when my host sisters and I were joking about how much percent certain my 14yr old host sister was that she didn't like a guy. We were going up in percentages, 100%, 150%, 200%, 250%, so I meant to say 'one million percent', but my pronounciation sucked, and instead I said 'a melon percent'. 

This month I've felt myself become much more accustomed to the ways of my host family and of Chilean culture in general. 

I've learnt to fold the socks differently, unplug appliances when they're not in use all the time, to get up to wash my face then go back to bed because I don't want to be using the bathroom when my host sister has her shower, and it's too early to get up. I'm used to breakfasting on either cereal and coffe, or jam rolls and coffee. I am used to taking my lunch to school and heating it up in the microwave, I'm used to kissing my friends on the cheek to greet them, I'm used to not knowing what is going to happen and just going along with what does happen, but most of all, I feel I'm getting used to considering myself a New Zealand-Chilean. And dealing with the fact that although I've only been here two months, the day that I leave is going to be a sad, sad, day.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

---> It gets better

To completely change the tone of my last post, I have to say that I had a fantastic weekend. 

On Saturday, I went to a soccer tournament for the school that my host sister Andrea and brother Pablo go to. Their school had a separate sports ground, with a pool, field, stands and cafeteria. It wasn't that exciting, but I spent a good bit of the time helping Andrea make the fire for the barbeque, which took a bit of effort! The fire kept going out. 

That night, although I wasn't too sure if I was going to enjoy myself or not, I was invited to go to a carrete (little party) with Andrea and her boyfriend Rafa. It wasn't what I would call a little party, there were about 15 or so people there, but it was crazy fun! Although I go to a different school from the others, all the people there were really nice to me. Chilean parties are great.
 Unlike in New Zealand, where it is normal to bring your own drink, for only you to drink, in Chile, they put forward some money, and someone goes and buys drinks for everyone, and some of the friends were bartenders/DJ's for the night. I don't drink alcohol, but was perfectly content with my class of lemonade. There were a few others that didn't drink as well. 

So what sort of things do you do at parties here? There was music, reggaeton and cumbia. At this party, we didn't dance much, but for one of the songs, a Metallica song, all of the guys were absolutely hilarious because they did what I would call a 'fake' fight - they were running around pretending to fight each other, but it was so funny to watch. There are also the typical party songs, which everyone sings along to. Two of the guys had guitars, and played on them also, and after we sung happy birthday to the birthday boy, they played another song, and everyone sung along to it, which sounds cheesy but it wasn't, there was a great sense of friendship and fun. People also played cards, and simply talked. (And smoked). I found it a lot easier to communicate at this party than at my first one, and spent all the night talking in Spanish. 

Some of us at the carrete

On Sunday, a friend from school, Emily, invited me to her house for lunch. I had met her family before, and while they aren't rich in money, they are one of the nicest, most hospitable families I have ever met. Emily tried to teach me to play guitar, which I have decided is not my forte, then we had Chinese for lunch (which her mum cooked herself, it was delicious!), and her younger brother told us hilarious stories, he is the kind of person that tells stories and everyone at the table is in fits of laughter - and he's only seven! His expression was so funny. After lunch I played Jenka (Tumbling Towers) with her brother and dad while Emily got ready for church, then thanked her mum for lunch as was dropped of at home. 

Because I wasn't the best last week, I decided this week that I would make a goal to put more effort into interacting with my class friends, so on Monday I came to school ready to come out of my shell a bit more, and it's true when they say, the more you give, the more you get. So I had a really good day at school on Monday. 

Unfortunately, today, at about 1pm, in my Civics class, I noticed something wasn't right when I could only see half the Civics teacher's head. I started having trouble reading, and seeing - it was like I was looking at something, but parts of it were missing. This, I realised with fear, was a sign I was about to get a migraine. And sure enough, after half an hour I'd started to feel dizzy and the pain on the left side of my forehead had increased. I found my host sister Valeria in the cafeteria and she took me to the inspector, and it was really difficult trying to explain what was wrong, because somehow my Spanish wasn't funcioning either, and she was asking if I had eaten something funny, if I was getting a cold, and I just wanted to tell her that I don't get migraines from anything, the only other two that I have had, have just happened. After I had a panadol, I went back to the cafeteria, but I just felt worse so went to the office, where Valeria tried to get hold of someone to give me permission to leave the school. I ended up leaving with her at 3.15pm, when her classes finished, after my host dad spoke to the school. We went home in a colectivo, and I got into my pajamas and went straight to bed. The thing is, with a migraine, I can't read or do anything, even sleep, so I get really bored, which makes time pass slower. I think I did sleep however, luckily.
I really love the kindness and caring ness (sorry if that's not a word, my English is getting worser and worser) of the Chilean people though. While I was sitting, dazed out on the sofa in the office, Emily was stroking my hair and keeping me company, and my friends Eileen and Nicole somehow managed to get out of physics to come and sit with my for a bit. My English teacher also asked what was wrong, and my Biology teacher checked my glands and my throat and diagnosed me with the flu, then said I would have to have an injection - and in Chile, they give you injections, not in your arm, but in your buttock. So I'm glad I don't have the flu!

I'm feeling much better now, and I'm going to get an early night tonight. I can't believe I've been here for nearly two months now!


Thursday, April 16, 2009

---> Mountains

'Can we climb this mountain? I don't know, higher now than ever before'

I'm climbing a figurative mountain here. It's uphill, so it's hard. Exchange is hard. 

When you first think 'yes, I would like to climb that moutain', you think, 'wow, I am going to do something amazing, it's going to be amazing, I know it will be hard, but it will be amazing and exciting and I want to do it.'

So I'm climbing this mountain. There are times when I can stop for a breather, and look out at the view and it's beautiful, and you thank yourself for making the effort to climb the mountain.

Then there are the other times, when it's just so hard you want to give up, but the slope is so steep and gravelly that you have to keep going or you'll slip down too far, and you wonder why you are putting yourself through it, but you just keep climbing because there's no way you can do anything else.

You reach the top of the mountain, and you've made it!!! You've accomplished something huge. And then you miss the views you could see from the rest stops you made coming up the mountain. The hard times have faded a bit in your memory.

For other exchangers, it was different. Some were fitter than others, so the climb was easier. Others climbed mountains that were harder to conquer. And because everyone's mountains are different, when you are climbing one of those steep gravelly slopes, and other exchangers are staring transfixed at their views, it's useless to compare. Using walky-talkies, you can share how tough a time you're having, and be encouraged by others who tell you it's not all the time steep and gravelly, but it's your individual pursuit. But when you all make it, you can proudly think, in the words of Sir Edmund Hilary, '...we knocked the bastard off'.

I'm nearly 1/5 of the way into my exchange now, but the reality is, I have been writing a lot about the good stuff, when there's not-so-good stuff to do with exchange as well, and to be realistic about exchange, it's not good times all the time. Everything does not stay new and exciting, there's a point when it settles into familiarity. Of course the familiarity includes the good times, but there are points when I am homesick, when I'm tired, when the language barrier becomes frustrating, and other times like that. 

Homesickness is a normal part of every exchange. I was very homesick when I first got here, other exchangers were experiencing a 'honeymoon' phase, when everything was new and exciting. But everyone is different. I am going through one of my homesick phases now. There are funny little things that I miss, for example, 750ml water bottles and having a room of my own. There are also the more obvious things that I miss, like my family, friends, routine back home and the delicious meals my mum prepares nearly every night. It's harder to find a private space here, my room is shared, and bedrooms are generally the 'private' rooms of the house. But I'll get used to that. It's things like that that you think of when you're homesick. 

The language barrier is slowing coming away. I am really glad I had taken Spanish for three years before I cam here, because it definitely helps to know how verbs are conjugated. I never thought I'd think this at the time, but I am thankful for the tests my Spanish teacher gave us, when we had to memorise irregular verbs and 80 words per week. I have been able to communicate more and more. At the start it was frustrating, because I knew I could say more in Spanish, it was just that if I said something, I would not be able to understand the response. I'm used to the accent and the pace of speaking now.

When I am feeling homesick, I do know that I am in one of the low points, and it will only get better. I really believe in myself now, I have faith that it will get better, and that's something I thought I had before exchange, but I really believe that I have now. This past week, I was finding mornings really tough, probably partly because I think I'm coming down with a cold, so I was going to bed earlier and still waking up tired and dreading the day ahead, I would cry a bit in the bathroom while washing my face, and in my first two classes I'd just be really tired and sad and want to sleep. But that's the low points, and at the end of the day, I don't feel like that anymore, school gets better and I feel better and happy, and have been through the low point, and when I feel better, when I have a next low point, I know that given some time, it will get better.

For example, yesterday I was just feeling really homesick. I was also worried because we had a test, and everyone seemed to be studying for it, so I went into the classroom to study, and was reading the notes and listening to my iPod, when a song came on that reminded me of home, and that set off the waterworks. A friend noticed I was crying, and came over and hugged me, then led me to the bathrooms, where more friends saw and they all hugged me and we had a big group hug, and even though I was sad, it was so nice to see how my new friends were supportive and caring. And like I knew at 6.40 in the morning, I started to feel better and it turned out to be a pretty good day. 

But the reality of exchange is, like climbing a mountain, it's not going to be easy and fun and amazing all the time. It will settle into normality, it will be harder at times, but it will get better and there are always the good times to look forward to.

'I know we can make it if we take it slow, that's takin' easy, easy now, watch it go' 

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

---> the Great Marmite Taste Test

---> One-month orientation

It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right…

I can’t begin to describe how much I enjoyed the one-month orientation that I went to last weekend. It was one of those times that you measure how fun they were by how you feel when it’s over. Which was, for me, and surprisingly too, that when my friends at school here asked me how the weekend was, I started to cry. The bond that exchangers’ form is an incredibly close one, it’s like having a best friend that you share everything with, after knowing them for two days. My ‘group’ of friends at orientation was Ashleigh from New Zealand (Punta Arenas), Connor from the USA and Ananda from Brazil (Copiapó), Captain Awesome from the USA (San Bernando) and Angela from the USA (Linares). Of course I didn’t only hang out with those people, but we spent the most time together when orientation activities weren’t taking place, and sat next to each other nearly every mealtime, not to mention all the ‘inside jokes’ that we share.

On the whole, everyone was a lot more relaxed than at our arrival orientation, when we were all jetlagged and nervous to meet our host families and our new homes. My orientation was for students from the Central area, so there were about 50 of us, and the two from Punta Arenas and one from Coyhaique, as it was easier for them to come to the central one. There were two other orientations, one in the north for the 10 students, and one in the south for about 15.

So here’s how the orientation went:

The Copiapó people (me, Connor, Ananda and Fabian) left the Copiapó bus terminal at 10pm on Thursday night, for an overnight bus ride on those incredibly comfortable seats again. We weren’t all sitting together, so it kind of sucked, but being an overnighter, sleep is more necessary anyway. And for me that was about 2 hours of sleep. Which was ok, I mean, I got to see more of the countryside, and a bit of La Serena as we drove through. We arrived at the bus station and Rodrigo from AFS was there to greet us, and drove to the orientation place in a taxi, and the two of us in the car of another volunteer. This orientation place was different, it was still nunnery-ish, but this time with more a hint of Harry Potter – there was a Harry Potter staircase! It was two-storeyed, the rooms were bigger – Ashleigh and I scored on getting one of the bigger bedrooms – and the garden had more shade.

Day One
The only students who arrived so early were the Copiapó students, and the three from the far south who arrived the night before. And because of that, we got to see a bit more of Santiago than the others who arrived that evening. On arrival, we had time to take our bags to our rooms, change/shower and unpack a bit, and then one of the volunteers took us for a trip to the mall! We had to catch a metro, which was a first for me. 

On the metro
The mall we went to was absolutely huge, and really fancy. Why don’t they have cinemas and 10-pin-bowling in malls here? First we went 10-pin-bowling, and were one of the only two groups using it.
Bowling, me and the Germans
Happyland! Where the bowling alley was

After that, it was lunch in the food court, so four of us got DoggiS, which was completes, fries, processed empanadas, coke, and a sundae, for about 2000 pesos, or $6 NZD. And it was good value for money – we could have had McD’s, but chose the Chilean take-out place. Connor was in charge of ordering the food, and when it came time to give his name, the lady looked at him funny, so he ended up calling himself ‘Pablo’. Which became his new name.
After lunch, we went to see a movie, and the Germans chose Underworld, which was a vampire/lycon fantasy gothic flick, and after it, I don’t think anyone found it that great, but the cinema was! The seats were elevated in levels, the screen was huge, and yet again, it was practically to ourselves.
We returned to the orientation place, and more students had begun to arrive – the part we had all been waiting for, seeing one another again! We had an orientation activity in groups – my group was the Kiwis, the Austrians, and Icelandic, and the Finns. The other groups were only the Germans, the Thais and the Japanese girl, and the USA people. So I got a mix of cultures!

There was a dinner, and the rule with AFS is now, I think ‘thy exchange student shall never be underfed’. I can’t remember what it was, but all of the meals were delicioso.

And after dinner, what do exchange students like to do – talk! We talked so much; you find that when you haven’t been able to communicate for 5 weeks, you have quite a bit to say! My playing cards came in handy too, but there was a lot of talking!

Day 2
Breakfast was rolls, ham, cheese, coffee or tea. And chatter as well! We went straight to orientation activities, talking about our first month in Chile, and how much we knew about our routine, host family birthdays, where to put dirty laundry, etc. There was a break, then an activity on the cycles of adaption, and we got a chance to share if we were having problems with our host family. Luckily only one of us was. But for the rest of us, no problems. 
Then it was lunchtime, as usual it was delicious, and after that we piled onto two double-decker buses for a tour of the city. As Santiago is so huge (6 million people, 1 ½ times the population of New Zealand), we got to see downtown, including the main plaza, a lot of the amazing architecture, the Presidential Palace, and we also saw Jesus, in an outdoor performance of Jesus Christ Superstar.
Outside the Presidential Palace
Ananda, Alvaro, Connor, Me and Captain Awesome outside the Presidential Palace
Jesus, and the Jesus Christ Superstar Performers

They wanted a photo with us!

About 30 minutes into the tour, the tour bus behind us crashed into our tour bus, and it was only after the tour when I found out why. Turns out, a girl from the USA tour bus was waving at her bus driver, and the bus driver waved back at her – and therefore wasn’t looking at the road!
There were so many people in Santiago downtown! I’d never seen to many people congregate in one place. It was absolutely crowded, and when people had a turn to cross the streets, they kept crossing well after the traffic light was green. 

Some photos of Santiago, and the architecture

We did another orientation activity about different ways of adapting, had another delicious meal. Before the meal we had a little random corridor conversation, which turned into a huge discussion about kebabs, marmite, cities, and other things like that. I swear that there were no awkward silences ever at this camp. It was great.

But this meal came with a difference – the day before I left, I had received a package from home, and in it came none other than MARMITE!!! So we had the Great Marmite Taste Test. Connor liked it, none of the volunteers did, and Captain Awesome with his dual USA/Australian citizenship told me it tasted like vegemite. I have a video of it too!

The dinner table  - Me, Ashleigh, Felix (Germany), Angela, Simon (France), Captain Awesome/Alex (USA) and Connor

After that, and another orientation activity, we had to announce the King, the Queen, the nicest person, and the nicest volunteer. Thor from Iceland was the King, Olga from Finland the Queen, Erika from the USA the nicest person, and Jorge the nicest volunteer. The volunteers had decorated the place with balloons, and the winners got cute hats and chocolate. Then, we had 
to sing happy birthday to Leonie from Switzerland, and everyone sang it in different languages, which was really sweet. Afterwards we had a little party and cake, which was, yet again, delicious.
The King and Queen (Rey and Reina)

That night went into early morning, as my group just talked and talked and talked, and about serious stuff too, like what we had been worrying about, that kind of thing, but it was a lot of laughs too, as when we went into Angela’s room to mime out an awkward scene that had taken place (or just see where everyone was sitting), we heard footsteps, and thought it was the people we were talking about, but it was Captain Awesome. 
It was just one of those funny moments, nonetheless. Later that night, when Ananda and I were brushing our teeth, the German boys thought it would be funny to use the girls’ bathrooms, and when a volunteer noticed something was up, she waited for them to come out, but they didn’t, they had perched on the loos in the cubicles to no feet would show, but then a German head popped up, and they all got caught out. It was absolutely hilarious, the whole scene, and especially when all the volunteers gathered round to wait for them to come out.

Playing cards in Ashleigh and my room
Day 3
This was the last day, and everyone was really tired from the night before, but breakfast still managed to be cheerful and funny. We had our final orientation activity, then played an obstacle course game outside, which involved being spun around 10 times, doing the egg-and-spoon race thing, except with water balloons, fishing a lolly out of a plate of water with your hands behind your back, doing the same afterwards, except with a balloon in flour, blowing up the balloon, then jumping over something, army-crawling under chairs, doing the limbo (all with the balloon in your hands) and finally sitting on the next person’s lap with the balloon
 underneath to pop the balloon. Afterwards, we all had beards of flour, but it was huge fun.

The obstacle course:

And after! Olga (Finland), Thor (Iceland), Emily (USA), Me, Mollie (USA) and Marrta (Finland)
Getting funky with the water balloons!

Ashleigh, Anita and Angela

People’s host families in Santiago arrived, so goodbyes were said. After we had the ultimate lunch, first of fruit and bread and salad, then huge, delicious empanadas, then pasta and chicken. The empanadas were amazing. And finally, at 3pm, the bus station group said their goodbyes and headed off to the bus station.

Us Copiapó people were the 3rd to last to go, which meant waiting in the bus station for 7 hours. And yet again, my cards came in handy. Finally the only students left were the Copiapó four, the Punta Arenas two, and the Thai girl in Coyhaique. The other three had to stay the night at the bus station hotel and catch planes early in the morning, so we went to McDonald’s to have dinner. And for my first McDonald’s burger in ages, it was actually quite delicious! At 10pm the Copiapó students said our sad goodbyes to the others, and boarded the bus to reality.

I hope you had the time of your life.

And this is me, Felix and Emily, Felix had the most adorable tee shirt