The Ups and Downs of the South
My blog has been mostly about travels and awesome touristy things, and I’ve been thinking that it could use a little bit of a reality check. Studying abroad is all about new adventures, finding yourself, practicing a foreign language and getting out of your comfort zone. They say that at first you are so in love with the new country that everything seems awesome, then you get culture shock and everything sucks, and then you settle in. I think for all of us the everything sucking week was when we were picking classes, but I noticed too that some of us have been more homesick in this third month. I particularly am missing autumn. I want my color changing leaves and hot apple cider. It´s weird to think that my year this year is going from summer to winter to spring to summer to winter and back to spring again. All in the course of a year, 6 seasons! Anyway, I was going to let you guys know a couple things to expect to get upset about so that you don´t have to feel like you are upset alone once your hear. At first, I had problems with how relaxed it is here. When I was nervous about an assignment or upset about being late somewhere, I always got ¨Tranquila¨ or calm, and sometimes this ¨don´t make drama¨comment. Apparently it means don´t make drama for yourself and is similar to don´t worry, but the consoling effect is lost in translation. The micros, or buses, are very rarely on time, and for this and other cultural reasons, neither are the people. Luckily, the majority of people here understand this and are pretty excepting. I have learned this now and am no longer so worried all the time. I can walk into class late, and it´s normal. If I show up to a doctor´s appointment 45 minutes late because my bus never came (last Tuesday), it´s all good, he just gives me an appointment for the next day. But, be careful, there are a few people that still manage to be punctual and cranky when your ten minutes late, even though their friends kept you waiting an hour or so the night before. Aside from these cultural shocks, you should also be prepared for the food availability shocks. There is no brown sugar here. Apparently they have red sugar which is comparable, but not in the supermarket near my house. There is black sugar, which is normal granulated sugar mixed with caramel and apparently kills whatever cookies you use it in. Also, it seems like hardly anyone cooks with vegetables here. I´m pretty sure my diet is 70% meat, 20% bread or rice, 5% fruit and 5% dulce de leche.
On a high note, I´m finally starting to understand the humor here. Oh, yea, don´t expect the new culture to get your jokes for a while. Argentina, for example, has a really hard time understanding sarcasm. I, in return, had a really hard time understanding why little things they said which weren´t snarkily clever or particularly ironic were so darn funny. Now I´m getting the hang of it. The first time my latin american friends laughed (actually laughed) at one of my jokes felt so good!! There is something accomplishing about understanding the humor of a place.
Well, I hope you guys are enjoying following all the blogs and that everything is going well in preparing to study abroad. I can´t believe how fast the time flies once you are here. It seems like I am just starting to settle into a routine and feel as if I were at home. I can´t believe I´ve got less than two months left.