What I was told before my exchange is completely true in practice: boredom and tiredness are the enemies of exchange students. When I´m bored, I´m 3 times more likely to be pessimistic about my exchange. When I´m tired, I´m 3 times more likely to be homesick. But I am getting creative about talking myself out of down moments and putting everything in perspective...it´s all part of the experience. Actually track is the source of the majority of my stressing out, so if I can solve that problem I think I would be happier.
Next week is Chile´s independence day on the 18th. People here are so much more enthusiastic about their country! My experience in the U.S. has been that people only make a big deal of the Fourth of July on the actual 4th of July. Here, the Independence Day is a 1 week+ occasion. Yesterday was a big deal at school, because each curso gets judged on their Chilean decorations and my curso went all out. We decked out the room with 12 foot palm leaves, streamers, balloons, traditional Chilean dresses and saddles and shells and coconuts (for Isla de Pascua), and blasted Chilean Cueca music all day long. I wasn´t surprised when we won out of the whole school, but I was glad! A lot of students participate in different Chilean dances like the Cueca, Pascuense, etc, to be performed next week, and it´s a really big deal. Everyone here has been learning and dancing the cueca since they were little, which is embarrasing for me to say the least. The P.E. teacher took pity on me and said I didn´t have to dance, but not until after I passed a few humiliating minutes of them trying to teach me. I didn´t object to getting to dance with Rodrigo, but the actual dancing part I did object to! Whatever you believe, neither God nor genetics intended for me to be a dancer and with the teacher´s permission I accepted this with considerable relief.
Holy cow, my grandma here is a good cook. She made sopaipillas. I have consumed more than is entirely healthy in the past week...maybe one with breakfast, a couple during the first recreo at school, a couple more during the second recreo... Also she´s making homemade empanadas for the big day next week, and my whole family has been telling me how good they are so I can´t wait. Today was the Saint´s Day for everyone named Maria, which I´d estimate to be about half of the Chilean population. Since that half includes my host mom, we got a manjar cake to celebrate. It doesn´t take much to justify buying a manjar cake, which is just fine with me.
School is fun- it is so different from CSG! It is really relaxed in comparison, though for Chile my school is considered demanding. I try not to look incredulous when people tell me that. The other students here don´t believe me when I tell them how much schoolwork I have in the States. Here they actually have time to hang out during the school week, go out, even get enough sleep, etc. Didn´t do the homework? No big deal, you can just copy it off someone else and the profe probably won´t check it anyway. Prueba you didn´t study for? No problema, you can just use the answers written on your arm! I couldn´t believe it the first time one of my classmates showed me their cheat sheet! The only thing that is more intense than the U.S. is the choir- we won first place in a national competition in another city last week, and we are going to another in Santiago in October that I am excited for.
I would really like to thank Ms. Dickman and Ms. Leonard. Biology and Matematicas are the only classes here that I almost always understand. The biology teacher here takes pleasure in singling me out by asking me bio questions to see if I understand, which is nervewracking. However thanks to biology and Ms. Leonard I´ve known almost all the answers, once I can figure out what he is asking! And in math I´m actually the one explaining things to my classmates because none of them pay attention and they haven´t learned the most basic things so when we have a practice problem to do they are lost. I would probably say that one of the things I miss most about home is knowing what is going on and feeling confident of what I´m supposed to do. Here I almost never am sure of what´s going on and the only thing I´m good at is choir and track.
The stars here are amazing. You can see so many more than in Columbus. I could do with some calmer cows, though. There is one mooing loudly outside my window right now. Also whoever said roosters crow at dawn never lived within a mile of a real one. They don´t crow at dawn, they crow whenever they feel like it, which includes 1 o´clock in the morning or 7 or 3 in the afternoon. My mom here throws things at the birds when they get too loud, which I found really funny. She likes her sleep.
I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying America. Take care and carpe diem. Cuidense! Chao!
A classmate and I demonstrating one of the many reasons I stick out in Chile
Decorating the sala
My host family took me to a lookout point over Talca