Sunday, August 31, 2008

Day 11

Sometimes, I think about home and how easy everything is. I can´t imagine having an effortless conversation with someone, it would be so strange and foreign at the moment. Even if I AM barely speaking spanish, there´s still the effort put into trying to understand everything. ´The thought of home is just too simple! I woke up this morning and found out that we were going somewhere. I understood that it wasn´t to church, but that´s it. So we got in the car and started to drive. We ended up in this little town about 20mins outside of Santa Cruz called Cotoca. We wandered around and ended up at church. We didn´t stay too long, wandering out into the courtyard. My dad tried to explain the story of the Virgin of Cotoca, but I didn´t really understand (do I ever?!). We lit some candles, and then looked around at the other displays (of Mary, Jesus etc) and then went to go eat some `traditional cruceño food´. I swear it all consists of two things: your basic carb (either bread, potatoe or corn) and cheese (YES, children of Ecuador, it is the infamous squeedgey cheese!). The morning was exciting yes, but Sundays are for relaxing. So I am off to spend the rest of the day in lounge mode. Chau chau!

Day 10

A few interesting things to mention, that happened this week. 1- I had a conversation with this girl in my class from Michigan. We were talking about our countries etc, and she turns and asks me `Canada is Socialist, right?´. I said nooo and she asked me if I was sure. Hahaha it was so entertaining. 2- The girl from NZ that has been here for 7 months was telling me about how her and two other exchange students out of the last group got Dengue Fever last year. OH NO, I do NOT want to be getting that! So I´m a little freaked out. 3- I figured out how to use my shower!! The whole time I´ve been here, trying to have a shower when I wake up, and it´s FREEZING, even with the hot water tap switched on (electric). I came home the other day from school and had a warm shower! Apparently it takes a while for the water to heat up, and doesn´t get warm till about midday! Today, we had our inbound orientation. I got to meet all of the exchange students in Santa Cruz. They´re mostly all Americans, except for a french girl (who speaks NO english and NO spanish) and this other girl from Castlegar (WOO BC!). Apparently there are som Belgian girls in the other club, but they weren´t at the meeting so I don´t know. The meeting was extremely dry, mostly information for the parents, rules and responsibilities that we already knew about. But it was good to find out that there are some kids struggling more that I am haha. I went out for icecream with Maija, Brodie and Lauren afterwards. It was nice to have some free, alone time to wander around and just get to BE in the city. I then went to a DeMolay meeting with the family. If you don´t know what it is, look it up. It´s like the Free Masons, for boys ages 14-25 or something. I swear it was the strangest thing I have done in quite some time. The meeting was public (aka people could come) and this is apparently unusual, because they usualy have SECRET meetings. So very culty! But I´m glad I got to go, and experience it. Something I might never get the chance to do again in my life. I only wish that I could´ve understood a bit more of what was going on and what they were talking about. We then went to an aunt´s party, where Alan, Oliver and I could barely keep our eyes open. I plan on going out SOME weekend, but lately I have just been so TIRED!

Day 9

It was today that I realized that I´m a little upset with the advancement of my spanish skills. I´m still not very comfortable talking to people, thinking that they´ll judge how well I can speak. I know they aren´t, but nonetheless, it´s impeding any progress in my spanish. Comparing myself to the other few exchange students I know at my school (even though I know I shouldn´t).. Now, I know that everyone progresses at their own pace, but it´s hard to get into your head. It´s hard not being comfortable enough to communicate with people. You´re so dependant upon others, and very isolated in your own thoughts. I was thinking about the stages of your exchange, and I am obviously out of the `honeymoon, sightseer´stage.. back to being stuck about the language. I know that I´ll get it eventually, but I´m in a rut! I can´t work on my relationships with people until I can talk to them, so this is very difficult. Hahah umm.. Classes are boring. Computer class was a waste of time, we played games the whole class. I´m a little surprised at the new experience of overprotective parenting. I mean, it´s understandable, being their first girl, it being a new experience for them and not knowing how to deal with it... but sometimes.. Like today, I was dropped off at the school and I saw my friend Brodie up the street, so I started walking up to meet her. My host dad then whistled to get my attention, and started pointing into the school, telling me to go straightaway inside. He didn´t leave until I was safely in the school. It´s not like the area is really dangerous, a lot of kids walk to school.. it just hurts a little not to be trusted. We went to my bro´s final `fútsol´game tonight. It´s called fútbol de salon, and it´s a little different that soccer (less players, played in a gym, smaller ball etc). They tied the gam 4 all, but apparently had won the previous game and had therefore won the championship! We went to a restaurant to celebrate later that night. The family thought I was crazy because I didn´t want to eat dinner at 11pm. I tried explaining how we eat dinner at 5 or 6pm, but this is their tea time, so they didn´t really understand. The restaurant was TEEMING with cockroaches, so no matter what, I couldn´t have eaten anyways. It was so disgusting, I could barely sit there and watch them crawl all over the walls. I don´t even get that creeped out by bugs!!! Lovely Friday night..

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Day 7

Wow, here we are already, the one week mark. I guess it went by pretty quickly, yet it feels like I´ve been here for much longer. Pretty soon, it´ll feel like I´ve always been here. One thing I have to add to another post, when I was talking about the driving here in Bolivia, is that you have to be quite agressive (I´ve discovered). You decide when it´s your turn, and therefore cross over the submissive drivers. Today was day two at school. I had to be there quite early, because my dad needed to be somewhere, and OH NO.. I was stuck at the school before a lot of kids got there (aka my friends) and had to sit there awkwardly until someone I knew came along. It wasn´t as horrible as I thought though. I found out that learning verb tenses in language classes is a waste of time, because you never use anything other than present, past and future. The english teacher was trying to ask me what the past participle of past perfect (I think that´s what she said) and I had NO CLUE what it was. So therefore, to all the immersion kids, doing futur simple etc was a waste of our time!! The french wouldn´t even know what it is hahahaa. I also have a new buddy in english that teaches me spanish, and when I learn some spanish, I´m supposed to help him with his english. Sounds like a pretty decent deal to me. There is a girl in my school from the states that is going back on Friday, and we had a going away party for her. But it was a surprise, so we took her out after school (all the gringas, and another exchange student from another school) to go shopping. I bought a phone, for anyone that wants to know, my new number is 70032464 (I don´t know the long distance #s). We then took her to the house, where all of our school friends were. She was very very surprised, which was surprising to us because Bolivians seem to be horrible liars. It was good to see and talk to people from school without being in the school situation. Even though I wasn´t there too long, I am completely grateful.. The family let me go out, by myself with friends for the whole afternoon and part of the evening. Bit by bit I will gain their trust, and as soon as I can speak spanish properly, will be given new freedoms. Not that they´re horribly strict here, but it´s definitely a change from back at home. Makes me very grateful to have been brought up in the family that I was..

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Day 6

First day of school: Finally home, almost an hour and a half after getting out. I´ve been in class more or less 10hrs today. 730-1230, 215-630. I have days like this Tuesdays and Fridays, and only till 1230 the rest of the days. My classes that I had today were Civics, Math, English (advanced hahaha), Chemistry (instead, we had an assembly about a mililtary college), Philosophy (with a test!) and Biology (also with test). I am exhaused beyond belief. But at least I made some friends. There are two exchange students in my class, one from NZ, the other from Arkansas. There are also.. about another 3 or 4 people in the class that speak very good english. The class stays together, moving from classroom to classroom, so I didn´t meet everyone at first. But the english speakers switched to the other class of grade twelves to take their advanced english course, so I met even more kids, more of which spoke english. Which I guess is good for my first day, but in the long run, I hope doesn´t impede my learning. I´ve realized that I this family is the perfect family for me to have come to, being a vegetarian. They´ve found this restaurant that has a vegetarian buffet, and they buy me lunch from there every day. Yet, I think about the `All girls gain weight on their exchange´ situation. I don´t know if that´ll be true for me. It seems this family doesn´t really have much of a schedule to eat (other than lunch), so I find my own food. Which is awesome for me, because I can just go into the fridge and find something I´m in the mood for. Aka, a lot of yogurt, fruit etc.. Nothing TOO unhealthy. Except for the tons of icecream that is everywhere. You know, sometimes I stop what I´m doing, and take a step back to think about everything that is going on. It´s weird. I forget how strange it is that I´m here, that I´m living with another family (strangers). Forget that I´m in South America, trying my heart out to learn another language. It is definitely very surreal. Almost unbelievable taken from another perspective. But I have to remember that when I don´t over analyze everything, I seem to be coping quite fine. Enjoying myself, making friends (I even got invited to a schoolmate´s going away party tomorrow), learning new things every day. Even though there are things that I definitely miss from home, there´s so much here that fills in those gaps in a whole new way. Every day this just gets easier...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Day 5

I guess I have a few things to catch you up on. One thing I must first mention (and cannot believe I have yet to mention this) is traffic in Bolivia. It is incredibly NUTS. I would never be able to drive here, because I think I would get into an accident. Most traffic laws, lines etc are completely disregarded. Intersections don´t have stop signs, it´s more of a whoever gets there first goes through. You honk to say you got there first.. I´ve decided that even if I was expecting soccer to be an integral part of life, I don´t think I was expecting this. I´ve been to a game of sorts every day that I´ve been here. Two games at the stadium (professional soccer), brothers´game and my dad´s soccer game as well. It was a quiet weekend, late nights, learning some spanish and hanging out with bros. I went to a family friends birthday party at our other house (they use it as a place to relax..). The place is amazingly nice, nicer than their actual house come to think of it. I was extrememly tired and ready to go to bed, when they come in at 930pm to tell me that we´re going to a party. Lot´s of loud latin music, and trying to learn how to dance merengue. I SUCK at dancing hahaha, but hopefully I will learn soon enough. I also had my first church experience yesterday. Nuns, altar boys, and an old pastor that looked like the pope. I didn´t understand anything except for the words sins, and the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. All you really need to know to get by ;) . Sunday is family day, and we walked around town to this little market, selling jewlery etc. It´s quite entertaining to see homemade leather bracelets with brandnames like Hollister and AE drawn into them. I tried this corn drink, one that had nasty lumps in it (looked a bit like bubble tea), and this other that tastes a bit cinnamon-y. We also had a sitdown with the parents (Christian as translator hahaha), with a list of example questions you would ask the host family on your first night (yeah yeah, I know we´re a few days off). Things like curfews, phone rules etc. Just to make sure there are no misconceptions etc. The thing is, the rules are not that bad. It´s pretty much the same as what I would have at home (minus the religious half of it). But it´s something I think I´ll be able to deal with. Today was the day to go to school for the first time, since I didn´t get there on Friday. I walked in the door, and immediately located the few exchange students (some who seem to have extremely good spanish, DAMN). Apparently I was only there to have a chat with the principal, get my papers and go home. Therefor, TOMORROW will be the first day of school. I go to school 730-230, Mon-SATURDAY and then Tuesdays and Fridays I also go 430-830pm. Quite the change change. I looked at my courses, and most of them look decent (Bio, Chem etc). But then there are the courses like Philosophy. I don´t know how I´ll manage that. I don´t think I´d be able to in English, let alone a new language. We shall see soon hmm? Now, as I feel I am up too early (and stayed up too late), I think I shall run off for a nap!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Day 2

Hello everyone! Last night, I went to a huge soccer game at the stadium in town.. It was pretty impressive. Teams: Blooming (Santa Cruz) vs. Olimpia (Paraguay). The away team had a full band with them as the cheering squad. Everyone was pretty dang intense about the game too. I learned new swear words hahahaha. In the end, there were police dressed up, seeming to be all ready for a mob of sorts. We got out, right before Blooming scored the only goal (apparently it was a really bad game). Today, was quite the lazy day with no one home except for grandma and Alan, who seemed to be sleeping in the new hammaca :D We ended up going to see a few of his friends, which was really intimidating at first (FRIENDS?! They´ll know I´m the weird foreign kid!!!). But it was awesome. He spoke english better than Alan, and was super nice.. Lived in Spain, had been a vegetarian. Reminded me of the typical spanish hippie hahaha. Which reminds me, being a hippie here is a huge insult. They´re the bums that sit on the corner, dirty, selling homemade jewlery. I then drove around, dropping people off, picking them up and going to Alan and Oliver´s soccer(ish) game. I know sit at home, where Christian and I try to figure out what is wrong with my broken laptop. Off to a good weekend hopefully.. chau!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Day 1

Good morning good morning. Today is my first day here in SCZ.. The planes were hectic. I spent way too much time in airports. Especially Miami (9+ hrs).. When I finally found my gate a few hours before take off, I finally let myself get a little excited. I made friends with a man names Juan Carlos (apparently an extremely common name), and with this hilarious big black flight attendant that said I looked like a movie star. He ended up hitting on me the whole flight, telling me he loved me everytime he walked by or I smiled hahaha. He even tried to sneak me some free booze, but I politely declined ;) I got in late last night, about 10:30 or so.. The fam had a sign for me at the airport and everything! I was surprised at home comfortable I felt around everyone, especially since Christian, mi hermano, speaks ENGLISH. He is a lifesaver. We went home, set up my room.. and surprise surprise, It´s decorated for a girl! Pink waste baskets and sheets.. LOOOOVE IT hahaha. I slept in until about lunch time yet.. there was a dog outside barking all mornig, it felt like the movie Keeping Mum, where she goes and kills the dog (I hope I don´t..). I made a complete fool of myself at lunch today. Mostly because I didn´t understand a word they were saying. I ended up taking the salad as what I thought was my main dish. OH WELL. Then Alan (19) and his cousin took me out for a drive. I saw my school, and then picked up Oliver (14 I think). Now, I`m just hanging out with Alan because he´s the only one that can attempt to translate for me and my immense confusion. But I think I´ve been on the computer long enough, so I´ll give another update soon!