Monthly Archives: May 2013

Asentándome

Two posts in one day. I feel like writing today.

As I mentioned previously, I’m back. And I am loving it. LOVING it. I had a wonderful week at home, don’t get me wrong. I certainly had my moments where I wondered if I just shouldn’t stay at home all summer and relax, enjoy the good weather, bake. And I’m sure there will be moments in the next ten weeks where I’ll get homesick, and frustrated with the metro, and livid with the micro (the bus), and be absolutely done with rain and cold and 5:00 PM sunsets.

But for now, I am living up this honeymoon phase. I’m eating palta with almost everything. Every cup of tea and even Nescafé is delicious. I love the hubbub and the smell of the centro. It’s so exciting to be walking around everywhere and know where things are. I walked to and from the metro yesterday almost without thinking (don’t worry, I was aware of my surroundings, I was not being unsafe). I remembered how to get to the mall from the metro! I even went to the park to work out yesterday! Certain words and phrases are coming back to me, so I’m sounding a little more Chilean as I get settled back in. All right, so I kind of sound like a gringa who’s seeing everything for the first time and anything that’s not United States means it’s AWESOME. But that’s not how I feel. I feel like someone who is really excited to be home.

There were moments during the first day that were surreal. One second I was in Milwaukee. The next I was on a plane. The next thing I knew, I was walking out of customs with my bags, I turned the corner, and there was my host mom! Then I was in the car and we’re flying down the carretera, and the sun wasn’t even up yet. Then we got home, and it blew my mind how everything smelled exactly the same, most everything was in the same place, and here I was, eating breakfast at the table, in the same seat I sat in at every meal. The sameness has been mind-boggling, but also incredibly comforting. I get to come back knowing everything I learned over five months! There’s almost no awkwardness this time. I’ve come home, to my other house, my other family.

I was making sandwiches last night for dinner, and my host mom suddenly looked up from her work and said, you know, it’s like no time has passed at all. It’s true! It is just like coming home from college at the end of a semester. And I’ve done it twice now, in two weeks. You know you belong somewhere when you can come back and it’s like you’ve never been gone at all. And I am blessed enough to be able to do that in two places.

Here is what the first couple of days have looked like. (I am sorry for the lack of gorgeous food photos. I have mostly been eating with my family, and my best, prettiest meal was shared with our extended family. I didn’t want to be the rude gringa photographing her meal.)

Guys! Look! MOUNTAINS! The world is not flat!

Guys! Look! MOUNTAINS! The world is not flat!

I wonder how many times the neighbors have seen me taking this picture...

I wonder how many times the neighbors have seen me taking this picture…

One of my favorite things about this house: laying around in bed all morning.

One of my favorite things about this house: laying around in bed all morning.

It is fall here. Which makes me want all things pumpkin and cinnamon. And Thanksgiving.

It is fall here. Which makes me want all things pumpkin and cinnamon. And Thanksgiving.

Can I just say that I missed out on fall last year, so the sight of fall leaves is pretty dang great.

And yet, the roses are still in bloom.

And yet, the roses are still in bloom. Makes up for missing the start of rose season at home.

I start my internship tomorrow- yes, my job, which is the real reason why I am here. I hope you are all having fabulous weeks, and thanks for following along so far!

With love,

Gaby

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Things I’m Learning about Traveling

I’M BACK.

It was all so easy! I got all of my things packed into two bags, and one was just slightly over the limit- and they didn’t charge me for it. My airline printed my boarding pass for me when I checked my luggage, even though I was taking another airline to Santiago.

I made the smart decision of eating a salad for lunch before I got on my first flight. Trust me on this: do not eat a huge fast food meal before getting on a plane. And drink a lot of water. Yeah, you’ll probably have to get up and use the bathroom on the plane. But you need to move around anyways, and hydration is key. Plane air is so dehydrating. If you add salt to that, you’ll feel icky. Travel tip #1.

Travel tip #2: be good to the couple with the screaming baby. I was eating my lunch in the terminal and there was a 1-year-old throwing a pretty monumental tantrum. You could just tell that everyone was praying that that baby would not be on their flight. But listen. My parents flew me everywhere when I was that little. I flew from Milwaukee to LA at that age. Then they took me to the UK about a year later. I don’t know if I was a screamer, but when you are tempted to glare at those parents for even daring to take their baby on a trip, remember that a) those parents could have been your parents, and b) those parents could be you someday!

Travel tip #3: you can live without Wi-Fi for a day. It’s okay. Try to save the battery on your electronics, because docking stations may be hard to find, and you don’t want to arrive at your destination with dead gadgets in case you need them. Take advantage of in-flight entertainment options and save your money on the shoddy Wi-Fi. Use that money to buy magazines or newspapers instead.

Tip #4: if you’re on an overnight flight, don’t caffeinate. Caffeine is dehydrating, and I’ve already discussed how uncomfortable dehydration can be. It will also keep you awake. You do not want to be awake for an entire overnight flight, especially if you’re changing time zones. I wasn’t. But. That brings me to tip #5:

Sleep! Oh good gracious, I hope you can sleep on planes. I can’t. And it drives me nuts. And I refuse to take anything to help me sleep. I didn’t even have a seat partner this time, and I still couldn’t get comfortable. The people sitting behind me probably hated me for how many times I moved around and tried to settle in. Thank goodness my airline had tons of movies and TV shows available on personal screens (in economy!), because that is what I did all night long. I dozed off for maybe half an hour in total. Oy.

Even if you’re not changing time zones, you need to sleep. If you don’t, your clock will still be messed up. I had conveniently forgotten just how tired I was after my first day in Chile last time. I think maybe I thought that since I already knew the language and would just be with my family all day, it’d be nothing. I’d be tired, but not beat. I was BEAT. I got off the plane, flew through customs, and was suddenly in the car with my host mother and on the way home. It wasn’t even light out yet! It was wonderful, don’t get me wrong, but then it was 10 AM and it felt like it was 1 PM. That is what happens with sleep deprivation, my friends. So I took a two-hour nap and then forced myself to get up, because otherwise I could have slept all day and not slept at all that night, thus repeating the cycle.

Tip #6: don’t drink if you’re tired! Frankly, that’s a life tip, not just a travel tip. But alcohol + no sleep = whoa. I had half of a pisco sour at lunch, and it felt like the world was rocking a little bit. It went away as I kept eating, but man. I knew I should have said no to that drink. But when you’ve been five months without something as great as the pisco sour, how could I say no? (P.S. I never fell over. I always walked straight. I was fine.)

Tip #7: make yourself stay awake until a reasonable bedtime. Unless you are a champion sleeper and can sleep for nine or more hours solid,  don’t go to bed earlier than you usually would. Trust me on this. I cannot sleep more than eight hours at a time. If I had gone to bed at 9 o’ clock, as I so desperately wanted to, I would have been up at 5 in the morning. Not a good idea. Host mom and I went to the mall to drop my sister off at a movie, and we walked around for a while. It was hard, but it was necessary. I slept great that night and woke up at a decent hour the next morning, and my cycle was reset.

Tip #8: this is for returning travelers. Just because you’ve done it before doesn’t mean it will be easy the second time around! I’m really talking about language reacquisition and readjustment here. At about 5:30 the day I arrived, I couldn’t find my Spanish words anymore. I was done talking for the day. I had probably run most of the day on pure excitement and the little bit of rest I managed to sneak in here and there. But once everything was quiet again, my brain was done. I had totally forgotten about the effort it takes to live in another language and culture. Granted, I wasn’t thrown into the culture quite yet, since I was just with la familia all day, but I was definitely in the language. I am happy to report that the next day, after a good night’s sleep, it was a lot easier.

Tip #9: keep drinking water. If you have safe tap water, it’s still probably different from your water at home. Drink it up, mix it with bottled water if you have to, so your body gets used to it. It will also help your body cope with any lack of rest, and any new foods you may be encountering.

Tip #10: last one! Take it easy with exotic foods your first couple of days, even if you’re a returning traveler. This might seem obvious- if you’ve never eaten goat or guinea pig or squid before, your body might not be ready to handle it. We went out for a buffet lunch the first day. I wasn’t that hungry. So I didn’t eat too much. The next day, we celebrated host dad’s birthday with a big lunch. It consisted of pan con pebre; a massive seafood salad packed with shrimp, scallops, clams, crab legs, and topped with avocado and lettuce, plus homemade mayonnaise on the side (I SO wish I had taken a picture of it! It was BEAUTIFUL.); and two desserts. That lunch was a risk, friends. Not because I don’t love seafood, not because I didn’t trust how fresh it was or how it was prepared. But I rarely eat a pound of cold shellfish in one sitting. I’ve never tried homemade mayo before. As big of a sweet tooth as I have, I almost never eat two full desserts. Had this not been a special family event, trust me- I would not have eaten like that, and I’m glad I didn’t finish my plate.

Well that was longer than I expected! Another post about settling back in will be coming soon.

With love,

Gaby

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A la vuelta

And I’m off again, friends! My bags are packed, my passport and boarding passes are ready, and my backpack is loaded up with lots of things to keep me occupied over 11 hours of flights and a three hour layover.

I am so blessed to have the chance to go back. Stay tuned for all of my new adventures!

Chau chau, cuídense mucho!

Much love,

Gaby

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Here we go again

Guys. Guys. GUYYYYSSSSS.

I’m going back to Chile in four days. That’s like no time at all. That’s so little time that they need to overnight ship your contact lenses to get them in time (that happened today). That’s so little time that if it turns out I’m missing any paperwork…I’m absolutely out of luck.

I’m like 99.9999% sure that all I need is my passport and my boarding passes. Let’s hope.

Four days out and I’ve already got some clothes in my suitcase. There’s some shopping that needs to be done. I’d like new jeans and I need some toiletry stuff to at least get started, so I’m not running to the store my first day there. I also need ot finish up gift buying for the host family. But the fact that I have things organized and even some stuff packed is a huge improvement over last July, when I didn’t have anything packed until the night before. That was a horrible decision. There were tears. Not this time around! I’m gonna get it done by Thursday night, so I can sleep well and not be stressing out Friday morning as I get ready to go to the airport. Good news of today: my airline now allows you to check TWO bags to Chile for free!

It is indeed winter in Chile, and the weather has warmed up enough here that I can actually put away my winter clothes. It was cool for a few days, and it runs a little cool in my house, so I’ve been learning to love layers and hot food and beverages again. It will be summery here right up through my departure. And rainy and cool in Santiago when I arrive!

I’ve spent a decent amount of time thinking, writing, and reading in Spanish lately. Re-immersion is critical. I’ve had a couple of chances to speak it recently, too, and I’m pretty happy with how I’ve done. But it’s one thing to speak Spanish during a Skype conversation with your host family when you know that you can switch into English any time you want, and it’s another thing entirely to be working full-time in your second language. I just need to trust that I’ve done it before, and know that I don’t need to do as much work this time around to get there.

Even if I’m totally packed the night before, Friday will still be a long day. I have to get through security and check my bags first. Then I have my domestic flight. Then I’ve got a few hours to hang out and wander at my connecting airport. Then it’s on the plane for my third eight-hour flight. I will cry when I say goodbye to my parents again. I just will. It’s just how I am. I’ll be done by the time I’m close to security, and then before they even serve dinner on my Santiago flight (which is only about an hour into it), I’ll be sick of the plane and be ready to be in Chile.

So besides all of the travel preparations, I’ve been doing some baking and catching up on sleep. My body loves sleep. Who knew?

These went into a delicious cake. I could have eaten them on their own.

These went into a delicious cake. I could have eaten them on their own.

This is that cake.

This is that cake.

This was pretty great.

This was pretty great.

Mother's Day breakfast. I could eat this every day. Unfortunately, I don't want to run five miles every day.

Mother’s Day breakfast. I could eat this every day. Unfortunately, I don’t want to run five miles every day.

On a food-related note: this was supposed to be a reset week before I go back to the land of empanadas and carbs on carbs. Instead, this has been the week of eating ALL the things! (For those of you who don’t know, that phrase comes from this awesome blog. If you don’t like your comedy a little dark and absurd, though, I wouldn’t recommend it.) I mean, at least I won’t be wearing a swimsuit any time soon.

Going back will not be the same as my first time there. My host family has welcomed another gringa into the house. I’ll be in a different room. Work is a lot different from school. I’ll be busy all day long but then I won’t have work to do at night. I’m going to be there with a new group of people. The weather will be worse and daylight hours will be getting shorter. A repeated piece of advice has been to keep my expectations low- not to expect things to be bad, of course, but not to create incredible, specific hopes about what my experience will be like. Nothing ever goes as planned. I love my expectations, of course, but instead I’m trying to remember that this experience will be unique. It will not be like the last time. It will be something new- just in a lot of the same places and with some of the same wonderful people as before.

¡Nos vemos en el camino, po!

Besos,

Gaby

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I’m still here!

Oh hi there!

I’m still here. But see, I’m also a college student, which means that if I’m posting really often, I’m probably not doing the things that I should be doing. And yeah, it’s finals week, so in theory this is the least likely time for me to be posting. But I have my finals under control, my schedule for the day is planned out, and I have time for this right now!

Fun story: I go back to Chile in less than two weeks. That’s right. For those of you who may have forgotten, I have an internship this summer with an NGO in Santiago! I will be working full-time, from 9 to 6:30 every day, like a real adult. I get to enjoy both rush hours on the metro AND the bus, in the dark, in the cold, both ways. Yes, friends, it’s very quickly turning into winter in Chile. I’ve been following their weather, and right now we’re actually at the point where the weather here in the Midwest is very similar to the weather in Santiago: lows in the 40’s and highs in the 70’s with lots of sun and occasional rain. The difference is that by the time I leave my dorm for the day and am walking around outside, it’s usually warmed up to the 60’s, so I can dress for the high temperature. That will not be the case in Santiago. I will need to dress for all of the temperatures, ranging from 45 degrees (with no central heat!), all the way to 75 and sunny. In the same day. Layers are key, friends. The first time I realized that I’d have to dress for that range of temperatures, I asked my host mother what to wear, and she said, “todo tu closet.” Helpful.

But change in seasons aside, I’m very excited to be going back. I have my moments, as I do before any major event or travel, where I wonder if I’ve made the right choice, if I’m qualified for this job, or if I should be home this summer. But then I remember a few things:

1) This is a huge opportunity. It’s fully funded, so while I’m not getting paid, I shouldn’t lose any money on this either. This internship will show me if I really want to work in this international development gig or not.

2) My university and the NGO chose ME, just ME, out of all the other applicants in a highly competitive pool. They saw something there that they liked, and they think that I can do this job. So I can! And I will!

3) Yes, I’ll miss my family tons. But I miss  them no matter where I am, whether it’s here at school a few hours away or 11 hours of flights away. And I get to go back to my Chilean family, which should make the whole resettlement process that much easier.

There are tons of other reasons I’m excited to go back, of course. I miss speaking in Spanish. I miss living in a big city. I miss my friends who are down there studying. All of this should add up to one memorable summer- well, winter.

As we all move on to the summer, to the next school year, to new jobs or new schools for those who are graduating, here’s a quote I saw on Facebook the other day:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson

Don’t play small! Play big! Don’t let insecurity and uncertainty hold you back. We were made to be awesome and do awesome things- so go out and do them!

Here is what life looks like lately:

The tabernacle in the Basilica at school, after the Easter Vigil.

The tabernacle in the Basilica at school, after the Easter Vigil.

We spent a lot of time in here during Holy Week.

We spent a lot of time in here during Holy Week.

Graffiti on the side of a restaurant downtown.

Graffiti on the side of a restaurant downtown.

Pretty accidents.

A gift from someone in my office. Dangerous.

Downtown on a Thursday night.

Proof that you can make your own Oreos in a dorm kitchen!

The magnolias trying to bloom on a cloudy day.

Another excellent finals week/general life quote.

More baking! These are cake mix snickerdoodles. They mostly tasted like cake and not a lot like snickerdoodles.

The magnolias in full bloom on a beautiful blue day.

I live in a really pretty place.

Get in there and smell those flowers!

Teensy and pink. Just a happy thing to see.

Kudos to whoever it was that put this motivation outside of the library before finals week!

Good luck with finals, friends! Make time to enjoy the beautiful weather- spring has finally, finally sprung!

Expect pre-departure updates soon. 🙂

With love,

Gaby

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