Monday, July 20, 2009

---> Holidays! (At last!)

I am in the second week of the school holidays in Chile and I already don't want to go back to school! Well I do, but these holidays are going so well too, and unlike in NZ, we only get one two week holiday during the year, not three. So everyone is really getting into the spirit of things.

On Wednesday (I updated on Tuesday) I went out with a friend. This day turned out to be one of my best and worst days here - I got what I
 had been waiting for then is was suddenly gone - it's the feeling you get when all the possibility you have is gone, a horrible let down feeling. It came for a multitude of reasons I won't get into here, but I can say I am very lucky to have my friends back in NZ and one of my good friends here to be here for me when I needed them. 

Thursday passed as a quiet day, but at night I went to 
a party for the birthday of one of my host sister's friends, who has become a friend of mine too. A lot of here friends have nicknames, like El Gato (the cat), El embarazado (the pregnant one, and it's a guy too), El Negro (negro is Spanish for black, it's not meant as anything offensive here), and this party was for El Tata (the Grandpa). It's interesting how these people get their names too. Luis (El Tata) is called that because at times he resembles and old man. So for his gift we gave him a blanket with Tata sewed on it. The party went well, although it is very, very cold at night - about 5ÂșC or below normally! 

On Friday my host uncle and host Grandad came for lunch, so everyone has to help out preparing things and cleaning up the dishes (as per usual, but there are more). Saturday was the 18th birthday of my friend Carolina. It was at her house with her friends and classmates from school. Her family had made a slideshow with baby photos and members of her family and friends giving her their wellwishes. The food was sopaipillas, which are like circles of friend dough made with pumpkin, cheese empanadas, pizza and birthday cake. It's a Chilean tradition to stuff your head in the birthday cake, but Caro didn't want to so only put her chin in. We talked, danced and played cards. Somehow the hours that you spend at a party seem to go by quite fast. Somthing that I don't understand is that, as long as I give my host parents plenty of notice about a party, they don't seem to mind too much picking me up and dropping me off. I always thank them for doing this too, but I don't like to ask too often. They prefer to do this so they can see where the party is, and although I could go home, like many do, in a colectivo, this is Chile, and it is dangerous, so like for all my siblings they prefer to come by and pick me up rather than me go in a colectivo.  

Francyn, Marcelo, Caro, Ferry, me and Mauricio at the party

On Sunday, my host grandmother (La Lela) and a host cousin arrived from Quillota, a city near Santiago. With them arrived a huge carton of little cakes, like sponge cakes with manjar in between, and also a huge heavy torta, made from layers of home made pastry with manjar between each layer. 

Today is Monday and I went to see Ice Age 3 with my host sibs, Lela and cousin. I also played Ping Pong with my host brother and lost horribly - when my host sister's boyfriend was playing with the Lela, the ball landed in my mug of coffee. 

My five month point is coming up so soon. Thinking about leaving is something that I find simply weird. I don't want to think about it too much, making the most of my time here is what I am doing. Some of my good exchange friends here will finish their semester exchange shortly. I am glad I'm here for a year - at this point I have a fairly good grasp of the language, I have friends, I fit in well with my family - but if I was leaving I would feel like I was losing something. And the advice I will give to all students considering exchange, is unless your school really really won't let you go for a year, unless you have a serious relationship or a really strong reason to go for a semester. A lot of the semester students I have talked to don't want to return and wish they were here for a year. Although it seems like a long time at first, time goes by a different clock during exchange - you're always learning something, doing something, achieving something - so it seems to zoom by. 

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