I got 2 exams and a paper out of the way this week, so now the only things I have left are a 5 page Poverty and Social Exclusion paper, a Public Projects oral presentation and final community partner meeting, and a Seminar of Latin America in the 20th century oral exam. It all looks very manageable heading into my last week and a half, and I feel like I see the finish line in sight. Most people that I’ve talked to on my program are ready to be finished with the academics part of study abroad—between the weird grading methods employed by our university and seeing everyone’s facebook status’s letting me know that I could be sitting on the terrace with the sun on my shoulders, I also feel ready to return to summer!
But it’s winter here! While skyping with Carybeth the other day I noted her tank top and sunburned face, and she said to me: “You’re wearing so many clothes.” Which I was: a thermal, a jacket, and scarf, sweatpants, and smartwool socks layered with another pair inside. Since there aren’t central heating systems here you could see my breath INSIDE my house the other day.
Oh, I forgot, I got the flu, that’s why I didn’t post for so long. I was stuck in my bed with my bones feeling like I was ninety for about a week—made me cherish my youth. I’m pretty sure that it was just common flu, but apparently there are some people in my classes at my University that have H1N1—so maybe it was that, who knows?
So in the spirit of cherishing my youth I went out for a friend from Mexico’s birthday at an Irish Pub last night. There was karaoke, so I got up on stage with 2 other gringas to sing “Livin’ La Vida Loca” by Ricky Martin. To our surprise, the words that came up on the screen first were NOT: “She’s into superstition, black cats, and voo doo dolls.” They played the Spanish version—which I had never heard before…until this moment in a bar full of 100 native Spanish speakers….excellent. I think we would have been more of a crowd favorite if we’d been able to sing the English version, but we still got an applause.
Afterwards, we headed to a bar called La Esquina do Samba [Samba’s a Brazilian dance]. While there were quite a few Brazilians in the group we went with, I was not one of them [obviously]—however the doorman did not know this as he started giving directions to me for the whole group in Portuguese. While I had to tell him that I didn’t understand in Spanish, I felt impressed with myself for that few seconds. My Brazilian friend Lizi that I met in Colombia always told me that I could probably pull off Brazilian. That’s probably only 50% true, but I’ll take it.
Through a crazy twist of events, my professor’s wife ended up in my living room last Wednesday for a girl’s night [she’s an old family friend of the duena of my house]. So here I was drinking a Pisco Sour with the wife of my professor of my class where I’ve had issues with the girls in my group [such as last week where they “forgot” to tell me about the mandatory meeting we had with our professor and project assistant, and then just talked about me at the meeting—this is a very small incident in a much larger story] Anyways, my duena, who I had been talking to about the issue all semester, talked to the professor’s wife, and then I met her and she was like “Don’t worry, I’m going to talk to him, and we’ll get this all worked out.” All of the women who were there [all were Chilean] heard parts of the story and were talking about how they have seen a lot of different situations where Chileans will be mean to people from the U.S. just because that’s where they’re from—when people won’t separate the politics and foreign policy of the country from the people. I some how found it reassuring to hear this from all of them, I think because they agreed that I didn’t deserve to be treated that way [“It’s not like you personally created the policies”].
That night totally changed how I had been operating as of late because I realized I was taking things way too seriously. Any problem that can be solved in an hour with a Pisco Sour probably wasn’t that big of a problem to begin with [granted it wasn’t really resolved right there, I just felt more at peace with the situation]. It’s really important to me to not confirm people’s negative stereotypes [because I totally understand people not liking U.S. foreign policy, etc.], so I was investing a lot of emotional thought and energy into worrying about why these girls disliked me when I felt like I hadn’t done anything wrong. In the end I guess it’s not that big of a deal what they think of me.
Walking down the streets in Santiago and my neighborhood here feels very comfortable, it’s amazing to compare how I feel now with when I first got here. So, for now I am just content to enjoy my last week and a half in Chile, and also really excited to get back to a Wisconsin Summer and my family.