I MADE IT. I made it to Chile, just like I said I would. I am currently attempting to get settled and deal with the abrupt exodus that is/was my life. For those of you who don’t know, I decided to blindly move from Colorado to Chile to pursue… Adventure/wanderlust/something/anything? So, here I sit in my “new life”, where my days are filled with running on the beach, trying to learn the language, getting lost in the city, doing yoga in Spanish, drinking vino, writing, reading, and falling in love. It’s a really tough life, but someone’s gotta do it. I’ve compiled a list of things you “sometimes” have to do when you uproot your life and move to Chile. Clearly, this topic reaches a MASSIVE audience of people in a similar boat (sarcasm). Regardless, feel free to live vicariously though this weird and reckless adventure I call my life….
…Sometimes you have to swallow your hipster pride and go to Starbucks
A bit of my hipster soul died yesterday when I resorted to the epitome of corporatism and went to Starbucks. (Which is fine, because no one really wants to classify themselves as the ever-ambigious “hipster….) Also, sorry that I am not that sorry. Sometimes you need a little bit of home in your foreign life. Sometimes you have to suck up the outrageous price of a decent (at best) Americano to use the wifi for 4.7 hours (actual time spent there). Sometimes you just gotta do it. Here’s the deal: when you are a world away from home, you need a little safe haven that takes you back to your comfort zone. You can’t always be in difficult and different situations. You’ll die. Okay, you won’t die, but you’ll develop an unhealthy wine habit or start using heroin. It’s serious. As terrible as Starbucks is, sometimes it’s not so terrible. It is on every continent of the world, and no matter where you go, you are probably not too far from one. Inside this tiny corporate coffee island, you are likely to find at least one obnoxious American and some beverages and items that are not like Russian roulette. So, sorry hipster dream/soul of mine, I had to do it. And I’ll do it again and I won’t regret it.
…Sometimes you have to be away from your family during the holidays.
Yes, I know zero holidays have passed since my departure, but I am already sad I won’t be able to partake in spooning with my dog in a sweater while drinking something peppermint. I am already craving family and holiday treats and friends and festivities. I actually really don’t care about the treats or festivities, because I know holidays are all about that fam-clan, and being away is making me see that more clearly. Thus, when you are away from your people during holidays, you have to just make it work. You have to take whatever you have and make the best out of it. I was invited to a “Gringo Thanksgiving” celebration last weekend, where most of the expats gathered and made somewhat traditional Thanksgiving dishes. We sealed in the Thanksgiving deal by getting absolutely wine hammered and outwardly expressing how thankful we were for life. Sometimes, you have to take the family you can get. Either that, or drink enough veen to forget what day it is. Kidding (ish).
…Sometimes you have to just LISTEN.
My Spanish skills resemble that of an infant at this point in my adventure. I usually have no idea what anyone is saying until about the 3rd time, after a repeated plea of ” HABLE DESPACIO POR FAVOR”/ “please slow the eff down when you are talking”. So thus, when I am around a group of friends, my only job is to listen. Listen to the words, watch how people interact, and laugh at appropriate times. This is a huge switch from my normal mode of operation, in which I am the loudest and usually most offensive participant (unless Claire is present) in any and every conversation within earshot. It is a humbling experience to only listen and not interject. It makes me realize how much I depend on asserting my opinion to feel fulfilled. Like, I am sooooo good at interrupting and always think my point of view is necessary, regardless of topic or scenario. This experience has already taught me that I am not in fact necessary to every conversation. You can learn so much by just opening your ears instead of your mouth. Allegedly, that’s why we have two ears and only one mouth. Allegedly.
…Sometimes being foreign does not automatically make you attractive/ HELP.
Like, am I the only one still struggling with this concept? I am like a giddy school girl on the first day of school here. My friend(s) think I am chico-crazy I’m sure. It’s serious though. Walking down the street, I see many (many, many) potential lovers. What’s even worse, is the dread/mullet is super in right now and I am still not turned off. I have to repeat the mantra: “not everyone is attractive as they seem, you are just a new little gringa in the world, it will wear off”, to myself each and every minute. Regardless, it’s a tough job. I feel really bad for myself. There is really no moral to this point, I just want you guys to know how much I am struggling with the exoticism of this world. 100% chance that my children will not be one race. Sorry? Not.
…Sometimes sarcasm is not translatable.
And I am officially the least funny person in this country. I literally run off of sarcasm and dry humor. Here, this type of humor is met with crickets and sympathetic pat on the back. Anything you say will be taken as literal, and thus you better not say you are only 18 and have lived here for 3 years, or you will be sitting by yourself for the rest of the eve. Ughh you gringa baby. In all seriousness, I remember this phenomena when I studied abroad a few years ago. Even my cohorts with almost perfect english and a good sense of humor had a hard time with sarcasm. I think it’s just a terrible form of humor brought to the world by the Land of the Free. And by terrible, I mean I will continue to use it each and everyday, even if I get shot down each time. This entire point is basically me just crying that I am not as funny as I was in the States. I guess I will have to use my decently-pretty face and animated hand signals to bring some humor.
….Sometimes unemployment is the best job on earth/ I hate it.
My unemployment has simply transferred from the States to Chile. Actually, considering oneself “unemployed” would imply that I want and am avidly searching for a job. I am not. My days consist of sleeping in, going for a jog, doing a personal yoga practice, writing, exploring, taking pictures, attempting to get lost in the city, drinking veen (vino), and sleeping. It’s so tough. But seriously, it doesn’t feel right. The ritual of spending money that you know is finite without making ANY money is a hard pill to swallow. At least in the States, I made like $125 a week doing the best job on earth (i.e. teaching yoga) and basically did whatever I wanted to for the rest of the time. I made a bit and felt like I was contributing to the world. Here, I am just receiving/taking. In my defense, I snagged a job at the little bagel shop close to Jenn’s house BUT found out I have to be a legal worker and get an expensive Visa in order to get paid pebbles for work, so…. Whatever. All I want to do is get paid for sleeping-in, being awesome, and writing stupid sh*t on this blog. Shoot for the stars with this new college degree!!
…Sometimes a kind gesture goes a LONG way.
Kind gestures, unlike sarcasm, are recognized worldwide. It never ceases to amaze me how a smile or a door-hold can change a strangers demeanor. The smallest things can brighten someone’s day, and really, nothing negative can come from it. In the U.S., we are in our own world even if we are among hundreds of others on the street. We knock into one another, refuse to give up our seats for the elderly or people in need, we don’t hold doors, we look down instead of making eye contact, and basically just survive in a bubble. But, when your communication is at the level of an infant and all you have are gestures, kindness goes a long way. Try offering your seat up to an old(er) person. Try holding the door for the person behind you. Try making eye contact and smiling at others. It brightens both of your worlds. Promise. Gawwwd this blog is getting emotional. Stop.
…Sometimes you can’t underestimate the power of booze
I have to redeem the crude quality of this piece somehow. In my highly calculated and scientific endeavors, I’ve found the best way to get to know a culture is to go out drinking in it. You get to see the true inter-workings of the youth in the society in which you are living. You will also find that you’ve been raised in a culture that binge drinks unnecessarily and does not know the true meaning of casual alcohol consumption. Like, it’s really not okay to take shots before you go out. It’s not super classy to try to be the top 3 drunkest people at the establishment. It’s just not right. For reasons unknown, this is how we were “taught” to drink. Other cultures somehow do not feel the need to be the most intoxicated person in 3 districts on a Tuesday evening. But back to the point: a bar setting is the absolute best place to practice your language skills and meet the people. Everyone is more friendly and willing to communicate in this environment, rather than the crowded bus stop during the day. Do it.
…Sometimes you have to do things you do not want to do/Bikram yoga
…And not because it’s your favorite, but because it’s accessible and you need it in your weird life. I’ve been taking Bikram classes in 100% Spanish lately. And by 100% Spanish, I mean except for when I get called out for sticking my tongue out when I concentrate and for having a sunburn. I’ve learned to laugh off these terrifying events, as most of the people write me off as the “stupid gringa” anyways AND I need the yoga time. It’s not that Bikram is like pulling teeth, it’s just not my steeze, if you will. Sometimes you have to do things you don’t exactly want to do because you know it will make you feel better. It’s like attempting to exercise with a raging hang over: you want to cry/curl up in the fetal position almost the entire time, but afterwards you can be a real person in your life. So, although I miss the sentimental music and lavender-lemon wash cloths of my old yoga practice, sometimes you have to take what you can get.
…Sometimes you have to grow–up a little… but not a lot.
Life is finding the delicate balance of “maturity” and “youthfulness”. It seems our entire childhood/adolescence is a race to adulthood, and once we are considered “adults” it’s the desire to be a child again. The grass is ALWAYS greener on the other side. The ambigious label of “growing up” is troubling because it assumes you have to give up everything youthful in order to live. When is this turning point of youth to adult? When you decide to buy a throw pillow instead of drugs and a bottle of vino with your extra money? When you start watching the news instead of a trashy reality show? When you find one grey hair? I think not. We are ever evolving and growing and changing and are not considered one single identity. Thus, sometimes we have to make grown-up decisions and life choices, but not in trade of our youthful minds. You have to find the balance between responsibility and recklessness. Between seriousness and chaos. Appropriate and borderline offensive. It’s a delicate balance; one that I deal with everyday when deciding to go out on a Monday night or stay in and read a book. I’ve learned to choose reading a book at a bar. Success? Questionable.
…Sometimes you have to just pick up your life and move. Sometimes you have to stay put and find contentment. Sometimes life is hard and you hate it. Sometimes it’s beautiful and you would not change a single thing. It’s the ebb and the flow. Life goes on. I hope all people enjoy their day of gorging and giving thanks (also known as Thanksgiving). Miss and love all peepzzzzzz.