Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Asados in Chile

So I´m in another internet ciber in Curacautin, Chile, and I can´t upload any fotos. The computer won´t recognize my USB, and the one time it did it said that there was something wrong with the connection. Oh well, it was in castellano.

Anyway, so last week I was in San Martin de los Andes, which is a popular vacation spot for the residents of Neuquen. We went to a different playa everyday, and the water everywhere was really nice. I burned my back really bad though, even though I put on sunblock every 20 minutes and I was wearing a shirt when I wasn´t in the water, so I don´t know how that happened. We stayed in a really nice hotel, it had two floors, with a kitchen, 2 bathrooms, and 5 beds. We also went to the centro a lot too, and it´s bigger than downtown SC. In general the trip was really fun, but it was also really hard. Argentine families are uber uber close, and right now I still don´t feel completely part of the family, although it gets better everyday. It was really hard to watch how close they all were, and not be able to communicate everything I wanted to. I´m not really sure if my spanish is improving yet, one minute I feel like I´m getting better or that I will get better if I put in more effort, and the next minute I feel like I´ll never learn spanish and that I´m completely lost and helpless. I´m just hoping that my spanish will really improve once I start school (March 3rd).

Anyway, so now I´m in Chile visiting my host families relatives. If I wasn´t confused with Spanish before, now I certainly am, because I had to adjust to a different accent. It was slightly easier than beffore, because the accent here is more similar to the way were taught in spanish class, but people talk so fast. Another thing I noticed is that people sometimes just leave off the last syllable of a word. Like, my cousin was telling me something about school, and she was saying the words viernes and domingo, days of the week. But when she said it, she said viern and domin. It is all just so utterly confusing I don´t know what to do. Yesterday, my tio was teaching us card games, and after an hour of trying to understand I felt like I was going to pass out.

Chile isn´t that different from Argentina culturally, at least from what I´ve seen. They also do asados, which are barbeques. Today we went to the ´campo´or the field, of one of my tias, and we had an asado of lamb. The thing though is, here, since we were on a farm, we had one of the lambs from their farm. When we arrived, we went to pick out which one we were going to have. They wrangled it and put it in a wheel barrel, and brought it out. And then they killed it. Here, in Chile, its a local specialty to have sheep blood with lemon juice and bread. So instead of just killing it straight away, they bled it into this pan of herbs and lemon juice. After about 15 minutes I think it was dead, but it was still twitching a little. After that they skinned it and stuff, and a few hours later we were eating lamb asado.

And I tried the lamb blood. Is it bad that I kind of liked it? Seriously, a little cilantro and lemon juice and you can´t even tell its blood. The only thing I didn´t like was that some of the blood clotted at the bottom of the pan, so there was a sort of clotted bloody jello at the bottom. It was kind of chewy. Anyway, I had 3 spoonfuls and some with bread. If I hadn´t known it was blood, I probably would have had more than that. I have lots of great fotos of that...

I really hope that this post makes some kind of sense. I´m really exhausted for some reason and I can´t really think straight.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Estoy en Chile!

Well, I successfully crossed the border from Argentina to Chile, after lots of drama from Chilean immigration/border control. AFS had told us all we needed was to pay some extra money to get me in, then my host parents talked to Chile and they said I need official permission from my parents and an official translation of the document, which would have taken too long. We weren´t sure if I was going to get in or not, but we drove to the border, and with no trouble or having to pay anything, I got in. I´m really glad that I did though, because it´s so beautiful here and Vicky´s family is really nice. Yesterday we went to a pool that was fed by a waterfall, and on the way we saw two volcanoes. Chile is lots of fun! Hopefully I´ll be able to get some fotos up soon, Chile and San Martin are absolutely gorgeous.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Manzanitas y sal

HOLAAAA A TODOS!!!! Now that I have more time to write, i´ll tell you about what ive been up to so far. So first, orientation. Overall, Id have to say that the orientation experience wasnt really that great. After waiting in the Bs As airport for over 4 hours, AFS split all of us into two groups to go to different orientation camps. When we got there, we threw all of our bags down and went to eat lunch. The Thai kids were already there, and we met them. During the rest of the day other students from different countries arrived. The thing I was probably most disapointed with was the orientation activities. Before coming on exchange, everyone has to read this book called Culture Trek, its a bunch of stories you have to interpret about communication and cultural differences. Basically, they took that book and made us do all of that material again. It was pretty tedious and pointless, mostly becasue all of the information is common sense. But anyway, another thing I didnt like was the fact that all of the volunteers spoke in English. Some of the Thai kids only spoke Thai and some English, so during discussions we all had to speek in English. There was this girl, Mizuho, from Japan in my group, and the only language she spoke was Japanese. It was really hard for her to understand what was going on. It is amazing though, all of the things you can communicate just by miming and moving your hands, as we figured out. I understand that some things needed to be said in English, just so everybody knows what was going on, but the volunteers didnt speak to us in Spanish at all. I feel as if they transition process from orientation to our families would have been a little easier, especially for the Thai kids and Mizuho, if Spanish was spoken as well as English. But anyway, there were some good parts of orientation. On Saturday we took a tour of Bs As; we got to see Evitas grave, the Casa Rosa, the Plaza de Mayo, and La Boca. When we got to the Plaza de Mayo, there was a protest going on. In Argentina protests are very common, because there is still a lot of corruption in the city and maybe even the government, I suppose. But anyway, the only thing that made orientation tolerable were the other kids that I met. It was really weird how strong a bond we all had after just a few days together. I find that Im missing the other exchange students more than home right now, just because we can all relate to eachother about this experience. So orientation wasnt all that bad, I suppose. There was a good end to it, too, on the last night there was a talent show. We did it by country, and I have to say the Americans put on an amazing performance of I want it that way by the Backstreet boys. Theres a guy from Sweden playing the guitar, and the girl from Finland does a pretty sweet flute solo. Ill put up the video of that and other performances when I find a computer that I can upload to...So then on Sunday we all went to the airport and had to say goodbye. It was actually pretty sad saying goodbye, especially to Isabelle and Ellen, and then to Olivia, our favorite volunteer <3 Then I was on a plane to Neuquen with my chapter group. When I got off the plane I could see my host family past the security. We were all really excited and nervous, because we could see them past the gate and they had a bunch of AFS signs with our names. There was a quick goodbye, and I didnt get to say goodbye to Eai, my favorite Thailander, and to some others, which was sad, but I forgot about that pretty quickly when I realized how much spanish I couldnt understand with my host family. My host family is really really nice and I like them a lot. When we got back to the house, I unpacked, and then we went to meet my host moms brother. At his house, we sat around and talked, and then I went outside with Victoria and her uncle and we picked grapes in their yard. When we left, we took like three bags of grapes, and we still have a bunch left after almost a week. After that we drove to Martas house, Vickys granmother. She owns the neighborhood kiosco, its like a general store. There are always a lot of kids and people there because its basically a candy store, jaja. After that, we walked back to the house, which is about a block away. I finished unpacking, and then around 10 we all had dinner. One thing that was really hard to adjust to is the eating schedule and the day. We wake up pretty early, and then we dont go to bed until at least 12. Also, it gets dark here around 10, so it could be 8 but it feels like is 3 or oclock. Afer dinner we went to the centro, and there was a huge festival going on. It was kind of like arts fest except much much bigger, with arts and crafts and performances and magic and such. It was pretty cool, but i think I was a little to tired to fully appreciate it. I´ve had to adjust to the different sleeping-eating habits here. In the morning we eat breakfast, which is milk, tea, or coffee and pastries and cookies. Then lunch is around 12, and its the biggest meal of the day. Then theres a snack at 7 or 8, which consists of milk, tea, mate and facturas, the pastrie-like things with dulce de leche or pate. I think pate is kind of like spam, but its actually really good. Then dinner is around 10 or 11, which is really strange for me, because we go to sleep right after dinner.

This is getting pretty long, so Ill stop here right now. Next time Ill talk about San Martin de los Andes, where we are right now for vacation. Ill try and put up fotos, because it is absolutely gorgeous. Besos <3<3

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

¡Hola a todos!

My first post from Argentina! It will be short because I am at a cyber cafe in San Martin de los Andes with my family. I arrived in Miami around 9 last Wednesday. The next morning we did orientation activities until 4, and then left for the airport. The flight to BA wasn´t the best; none of us could sleep so we were really jet-lagged. We waited at the airport for other exchange students, there were kids from France, Sweden, Japan, a lot from Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, and many other countries. Then we went to a camp an hour outside the city. Orientation wasn´t the best experience I´ve ever had; all of the information they gave us we already knew-was common sense, and pretty boring. The volunteers never spoke to us in castellano because all of the kids from Asia didn´t speak spanish. Anyway, it was hard to say goodbye to some of the xchange students, but now I´m with my host family and theyre really really really nice. There´s lots of other stuff, but right now I think were going to the lago. More later, hopefullly with fotos!

Oh, and I got a cell phone! My family already had it, we got ¨un chip¨ for it. For any other exchangers reading this, my number is 0056 2995275106! Hasta tarde,
<3 Bethany

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


So Delta called awhile ago to tell me that my flight tomorrow morning was cancelled due to the weather. They rescheduled me for like 9:00 Thursday night, which means I'll miss orientation and my connecting flight to BA. Luckily, though, my mom called Delta a few times and she somehow got me onto a flight a little after noon tomorrow...so I'll be a little late for orientation, but I'll still be with the group over night and for the flight to BA. Now I just have to cross my fingers and hope that my new flight isn't cancelled tomorrow, seeing as the forecast calls for freezing rain when my flight is scheduled to depart...

Well, I'm off to finish packing! Here's to my last night in State College.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Cinco dias mas....

So tomorrow, Friday, will be the official 5 day marker until my departure...and I'm not quite sure how I feel about that. For the past few months I had been looking forward to this so so much, just wishing that I could just drop everything and go. But now, with less than a week left, I'm definately starting to realize everything that I'm leaving behind. For some reason I had assumed that just leaving State College for five months would be easy. I guess not. I'm trying to not think too much about everything that I'm leaving behind, everything I'm going to miss. I guess right now I'm just trying to focus on the good parts the excitement and anticipation, and looking forward to what a great exchange it's going to be. I haven't even considered what it's going to be like during the bads times though...when I'm not fully assimilated into the culture, when I feel like nobody likes me and I feel confused and out of place. And there's still so much to do before I go away. I need to pack my whole life into a bag for the next 5 months, I need to get my host family some gifts, I have the party on Saturday, I have a math test tomorrow ( I already know I'm failing that one), and then last but not least, there's saying goodbye to everyone. I'll probably be sobbing all the way to Miami.