One of the hardest things to get my head around, in fact I would almost go so far as to say it’s incomprehensible, is that it’s been over a month since I left home. It sounds terrible but in all honesty I’m still waiting to get homesick, granted I miss it now and again when I happen to see something that reminds me of home but I can’t say that’s it’s a constant feeling, or even that strong when I do get it. I have no idea why, maybe it’s because I love it here so much, and I have really been blessed with the best; I love my family so much, and the fact that I can talk about them in a way that requieres me to clarify I mean my Argentine family goes to show how close to them I’ve already become, Amalia is like my second mum, it feels like Valen has been my brother forever, and I’m sure Chino will be the same as soon as we can understand each other… I am so incredibly grateful for them, and even though we’ve only known each other for less than 6 weeks, I would call them my family in a heart beat.
As soon as I finished my last post, yes I needed (and still do, in real time it was only last night) to add photos but Writing Jacqui was already planning what she was going next. You might be wondering what it was I was planning but to be honest I can’t for the life of me remember what it was, but I do know that it wasn’t this, but I had some free time on my hands, with no wifi, and I thought what better way to pass the time than by doing something actually productive.
I have no idea what I’m going to write about next but I think it might end up being like a month at a glance, looking back at some of my favourite stories, you’ll probably have read about them before but they’re my favourite for a reason, and I’ll probably add in some other tidbits too, little interesting things, like how I still haven’t adjusted to the sleeping pattern, usually waking up late and staying awake for the rest of the day without a nap in the afternoon, or how much pizza we get to eat, which I’m definitely not saying is a bad thing I need to get used to, a life with pizza is a good life after all.
Moment of truth, I hadn’t quite realised the toll typing so much takes on my phone battery so maybe I won’t be making the most of the time. Why am I on my phone you ask? Well currently we’re sitting in a field, where, I don’t know, but somewhere about 2 hours from home, because Valen is racing his quad here today. While it’s considerably louder, it reminds me strangely of BMX days, the constant stream of riders going past, sitting under a gazebo listening to the same music which always seems to be on a three song loop. Ok so I had good intentions I promise, but this paragraph alone has cost me 7 valuable percent of my battery, and since I forgot my charger when we left at 5:45 this morning, I’m not exactly looking to burn anymore just yet considering it’s only 9am and we still have the whole day ahead of us. So until either a charger appears in front of me or I get home to my laptop, chau for now…
None of the above has happened but I’ve decided I’m going only going to write when I need to fill in the time, now being one of those times. Every time I start to write I wonder what I should talk about, but never before has it occurred to me to look at the blogs of other exchange students but that’s exactly what I did the other day. Reading them, I can help but notice how similar they are to each other yet quite different to mine which makes me wonder, am I doing this whole blog thing right? I mean obviously I’ve got the part where I talk about what I’m doing, but am I missing some things? Should I be talking about the things I’m noticing here? Maybe I should focus less on what I’m doing and more on how it’s different to what I would be doing in New Zealand… instead of talking about the places, perhaps I’d be better talking about the people? I assume you’re making up your own opinion as you’re reading this, wether it be along the lines of don’t worry it’s fine, or actually I wish she talked more about such and such. Whatever it may be I’d love to know so please make the most of the comments section and if you want to go that extra mile, send me a message while you’re at it! You’re probably getting sick of me waffling on and on, and that’s the perfect example of what you should write in your comment! But long story short, I know I complain sometimes and make it seem like it’s a big deal, but I love writing, and I love knowing people are enjoying what I write so I want to make sure it’s the best blog possible, and I need your help to make sure it is! It’s great fun telling you all about my adventures but I’d love some feedback as well so let’s help each other out and make the world a better place…
Well moving on, I said this was going to be a bit different and I think I’ve nailed that part, now let’s see where part II takes us… it’s at least once a day that I have to remind myself where I am, obviously it’s not home but it’s become familiar enough that it doesn’t scream, Jacqui you’re in Argentina, and one of the strangest things is the thought that just like I’m from New Zealand, these people around me are from Argentina. Their home is Argentina, this is where they live. It’s such a strange concept and wrapping my head around it is even harder, Argentina is such a foreign country to me, on the other side of the world, and yet they’re probably thinking the same thing about me and New Zealand. I think what’s different than being on holiday in a foreign country is for those two weeks or so that you’re away from home, there’s always the knowledge that sooner or later you’re coming home so you don’t take in quite as many of the little details, at least that’s what it seems like, whereas coming to live somewhere for a year you quickly become acutely aware of the way people are living their lives around you, picking up on their mannerisms and the way they act knowing for them it’s just another day in their life, yet for you 90% of what you’re seeing is different, sometimes fascinating, sometimes worrying, sometimes it’s something absolutely incredible. I don’t know what it’s like for other people who have been on an exchange, or lived abroad for extended periods of time but while this is time is a strange one for want of a better word, I’m not entirely sure I want it to end because who knows what comes next, although taking into account the experiences I’ve had already I’m sure the next chapter is going to be a good one.
In the beginning I touched on the things that I haven’t got used to like sleeping and pizza, ironic because those are two of my favourite things, but there’s a whole lot of little things that mess me up sometimes, like the literal embodiment of living on South American time. A typical Friday for me is usually as follows, wake up about 9, go to my Spanish lesson at 10:15, fill in the day with whatever I fancy, catch the bus to hockey at 3:30 for hockey at 4:30 then come home and probably go out somewhere. Let me demonstrate the difference between what that means in Argentina and what that means in New Zealand. If this was my day in NZ it would mean waking up at 9 because I’m not going to waste time getting up any earlier than I have to, get ready, have breakfast about 9:30 and be heading out the door about 10 just in drive somehow ends up 10 rather than 2 minutes. I would be early of course, but that’s ok. Then I’d come home, still do whatever the day brought, and then start getting ready for hockey about 2:30, leaving for the bus 5 minutes down the road at 3:15 and I would come home from hockey knowing exactly where I’m going when. In Argentina this is not the case, yes I wake up about 9 but this looks more like setting an alarm for 9 and then another 5 between 9 and 9:30, when I’ll usually start psyching myself to get out of bed which I do about 9:45. NZ Jacqui is half panicking but ARG Jacqui is there saying don’t worry, you can be having breakfast at 10 because Amalia won’t be here to pick you up until at least 10:14 which is fine and you’ll get to Carola’s house at 10:18 at the latest. I’ll finish my lesson at 11:30, ish of course, and wait for Amalia to pick me up, filling in the time struggling to talk with Lucas, whose learning English, exchanging more apologetic confused looks than words in the anywhere between 2 and 10 minutes it takes for Amalia to arrive. Then it’s home for whatever until lunch about 1, and whatever until getting ready for hockey about 2:30 then waiting for whoever it may be to take me to the bus stop about 3:27 so I can buy a ticket at 3:29 as the bus is pulling in and be on it at 3:30. Just. Then I come home, have a shower, eat (maybe) evaluate what everyone else is wearing, then try to match it in the anywhere between 5 and 55 minutes until we leave. And that is life in Argentina. And another thing that didn’t even cross my mind until I realised I probably couldn’t have been more stupid: the taps in the shower and everywhere else for that matter don’t say H or C. I also thought that was strange for the first week I was here, how can you tell the difference? Then I realised that the taps don’t speak English either and the random letters, C and F are in fact hot and cold, they just happen to be in the language that everyone speaks… Also fun are the words that sound like completely different words, which makes trying to understand things very fun when you’re relying on being able to pick out the words you do know and figure out the rest of the sentence from there. It soon becomes clear that you’ve heard something wrong when you put the words together and you end up with something like look me the water please… and it takes a few seconds before realising that actually 3 seconds ago they asked you to please pass the water and they’re now looking at you while you both have the same confused look on your faces, only theirs is from wondering why you’re giving them a strange look while yours is from wondering what the heck they just to you. Such fun. It gets even more interesting when words sound like something in English. I would like to give you an example but I’m still trying to work out what the word actually was, unless people go around saying random things like ‘thats enough’ in the middle of lunch, or ‘please stop’ when lying by the pool.
I could probably say that I’ve noticed so many different things about life here, but in all honesty I can’t think of that many on the spot, apart from the time, taps, dirt roads, driving on the other side of the dirt roads (!!!) but I am pleased to say I’ve only physically gone round the wrong side of the car once, the other 473 times were only in my head. People are always asking me if I like it here, and they always give me strange looks when I say how much I love it. Why?? They ask me, but most of the time I can’t explain why. I don’t think it’s the individual elements that they expect me to talk about, like how the Main Street is closed in the evening, or how the majority of cars are old, or even the fascinating weather, it’s all of these things coming together that make Capilla so different from my first home that make me love it so much. It might not be anything incredible to the people who live here but for me, coming from a relatively big town, living on a road that might see 1000 cars drive it in a day, to somewhere with less than a third of Papakura’s population and a street home to 10 people with half as many cars, makes my experience all the more interesting and exciting in a way, because I never know what’s going to surprise me next, but most of the time it’s something that makes me love it here even more.
Even though a month is only 30 or so days, it’s unfathomable when I think about everything I’ve done since getting here. From being in Buenos Aires for three days, experiencing one of the best days of my life at Santa Susana, to arriving and settling in here, returning to Buenos Aires not once but twice, making my count more than Amalia and Valen, to all the things we’ve done here, the ones that I’ve told you about as well as the ones that I still haven’t got around to, all the dinners with everyone, riding horses in the mountains with Valen, discovering my previously undiscovered slight claustrophobia climbing between two rocks while also negotiating my dislike of heights, and all the other things I don’t have time to talk about. I’ve had such a great time here that I’m worried I’m not making the most of the time with my amazing family, and it’s hitting me that I have limited time here, and it’s in those moments that I realise how much I truly feel at home and I could stay here for another 11 months. I know that the whole point of moving families is to get a better perspective and a deeper understanding of where you are, and I’m sure once I’m there I’ll be saying the same things as I am now, but there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to move. I’m yet to find out but I was thinking to myself that maybe that’s going to be even harder than leaving home, having to leave your first family, the first ones who welcomed you here, who took you in and introduced you to everyone and everything, the ones who are now, in my case, the people closest to you, your true home away from home. Something I do know is whatever happens and however it turns out, I will have a home here for life, and don’t worry, I’ll keep you updated no matter the outcome.
I think, and hope, I’ve covered everything I wanted to say… it’s hard to tell since it’s been such a crazy month and besides, there’s nothing stopping me from adding something later if I suddenly think of something I think you really should know. I’ve typed all of this on my phone, so it seems like it’s a lot, but I’m probably going to look at it on my laptop and think wow, you really got ahead of yourself, it’s only 10 (small at that) paragraphs, compared to the usual 34! (I guess theres not photos like there usually is, and they tend to make it seem like I’m scrolling forever)(Speaking of images, what am I meant to use as a cover for this one?? If only there was a way for you to leave a comment and tell me…) What’s the writing equivalent to chewing someone’s ear off? Whatever it is I’ve somehow managed to do it yet again so I’m going to wrap it up here, but congrats to me because I only started this yesterday (so if the date makes you think, no fool it’s a month and a day, the thought was there)! It seems strange ending in a random place but I’m living kind of a random life right now. Random but good that’s for sure…
Chau – Jacqui Philp