Tag Archives: family

New year, new possibilities

Happy New Year! / ¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

How do you feel about 2014? I’m excited. I like the number. My favorite numbers end in 4 and 8, so I already have a good feeling. Besides that, it’s just a big year! I graduate from college in May. MAY. Four months away. Uhh, when did that happen?! Just yesterday I was a homesick freshman, then a once-again actress sophomore, then abroad as a junior, and now…I don’t know what this year will bring me. And there’s something kind of terrifying but exhilarating about that.

The last sunset of the year. Hazy and subtle.

The last sunset of the year. Hazy and subtle.

I spent the end of the year with my family. My immediate family is the only one that lives in the Midwest- everyone else lives in in New York State (no, not the city). So between Christmas and the New Year is a very important time of year for us to get together and catch up. My dad’s family in particular has made New Year’s Eve THE family party of the year. And since I’d completely missed our summer reunions while I was working in Chile this year, I was especially excited to get back on the road.

A round of Mexican Train with my maternal grandparents. We play to win.

A round of Mexican Train with my maternal grandparents. We play to win.

It’s probably how I’ve been raised, but I’ve never been to into the kind of New Year’s where you get super dressed-up and spend all night drinking and dancing in a big party with lots of strangers. I prefer to drink and dance with those I love the most, and that’s my family.

My dad, uncle, and brother built a huge fire. They used up a whole cord of wood, and then some. It was freezing outside, but you couldn’t stand closer than a foot from the fire and have to shut your eyes from the heat.

Can you feel the heat? The picture doesn't do justice to its actual size.

Can you feel the heat? The picture doesn’t do justice to its actual size.

I made a chocolate cream slab pie, courtesy of How Sweet Eats. Jess is one of my favorite bloggers! And if you have questions or comments about her posts,  she’s pretty awesome about responding! If you’re looking for a dessert that will feed a crowd and impress them too, this is a good one to try.

Pre-made pie crust, rolled out to fit a 9 x 13 foil pan. It's a little bit broken, but it works.

Pre-made pie crust, rolled out to fit a 9 x 13 foil pan. It’s a little bit broken, but it works.

Chocolate pudding filling, from scratch. Don't let the boiling and the cheesy smell before the chocolate is added freak you out. It's okay. Just keep stirring it!

Chocolate pudding filling, from scratch. Don’t let the boiling and the cheesy smell before the chocolate is added freak you out. It’s okay. Just keep stirring it!

Ta-da! It was creamy and rich and not too sweet. If you want to get really fancy, use chocolate shavings, not sprinkles.

Ta-da! It was creamy and rich and not too sweet. If you want to get really fancy, use chocolate shavings, not sprinkles.

On New Year’s Day, it was brilliantly sunny, and I took a few trips down my aunt and uncle’s hill on the tobaggon. In an effort to avoid sledding into trees and pricklebushes, and away from a newly frozen lake, I wiped out every time.

The view from the top.

The view from the top.

We ate a lot of food in seven days. A lot. Of course I took pictures.

When in New York, get your fill of pizza and wings.

When in New York, get your fill of pizza and wings.

Ted's Fish Fry. A must-have when in the Capitol District.

Ted’s Fish Fry. A must-have when in the Capitol District.

On our second to last night, we made steak and boiled live lobsters. The salad makes us feel better about ourselves.

On our second to last night, we made steak and boiled live lobsters. The salad makes us feel better about ourselves.

Prosciutto and Goat Cheese Pizza. The leftovers stayed at my aunt and uncle's house. I wish I'd remembered them.

Prosciutto and Goat Cheese Pizza. The leftovers stayed at my aunt and uncle’s house. I wish I’d remembered them.

I took the time that I had in the car on the way home allowed me to think about my resolutions for the year. I’m still deciding whether or not I want to call them “resolutions.” Another aunt is calling them “possibilities-” it’s a possibility and YOU have to make it happen! Tracy at Shutterbean is calling them intentions, which is another nice way to think of whatever else you want to do differently this year. I came up with three categories: physical, academic/professional, and spiritual/mental. I then decided on five resolutions/possibilities/intentions for each category, bringing me to a grand total of fifteen. Does that sound like a lot? I’m pretty sure that last year I had about four pages worth of resolutions last year. And I’m also pretty sure that I accomplished almost none of them. I’ve read in various places that it’s much easier and more beneficial to pick smaller, simpler goals rather than try to overhaul every aspect of your life starting on January 1st.

A few examples? My university hosts a half-marathon each year- and I’m going to run it! I also want to try Meatless Mondays, which I may step up to Meatless Wednesdays and Fridays during Lent. I live by my planner to begin with, but I think I’m going to use it more wisely and try to schedule my work very specifically each day and each week. I have a thesis to write, and scheduling blocks of time for that, and blocks of time for all of my other work, will help me be more efficient and focused. My mental and spiritual goals include limiting Facebook time to just twice a day, visiting the Grotto on campus at least five times per week, and journaling every day, even if just for five minutes.

For physical goals, it’s about pushing my limits and working harder. For academic and professional goals, it’s about being more efficient and more successful, and avoiding those last-minute waves of work. For mental and spiritual goals, it’s about being more reflective and self-enforcing quiet time. Because you can make time for anything if you want to.

Do you have any resolutions? Any suggestions as to how you’ve found success with your resolutions in the past? Let me know in the comments! And if you’re new here, say hi!

If you’re in the US, and particularly in the Midwest, stay warm in this icebox. And please pray for those who are homeless or can’t stay cuddled up inside. If you’re in Chile or another region where it’s summer…just. Don’t even.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, and may 2014 be your best year yet.

With love,

Gaby

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En fin

And here we are.

I leave tomorrow night. At about 10 PM Santiago time, we should be taxi-ing/in the air on our way to Miami. We did the same thing 5 months ago: we took off in summer and landed in winter.

I remember that first morning surprisingly well considering how sleep-deprived and disoriented I was. I remember being rushed through customs and the impatience of the officer. I remember coming through customs, being approached by a man who I thought said something that sounded like my university’s name, and then his taking my bags and leading me out to my group. I remember buying a water and paying for it in pesos for the first time. I remember that it really was colder than we thought it was going to be. I remember we had two lunches that day and we were so unbelievably full. I remember a scalding hot stream of water in the shower, contrasted by the chill of my room in the retreat house.

There was Linares, which I wrote about extensively. And then, after what felt like a long two weeks, we came to Santiago. I remember how quiet I was during my first couple weeks in my house as I tried to figure out my family and my place there; trying not to fall over on my first metro ride; getting back into a school routine, but in another language; and learning some of the in’s and out’s of Chilean night life.

This is a little bit of what a normal morning looked like here in Santiago:

What the mountains looked like on a late winter morning.

What the mountains looked like on a late winter morning.

I love these egg pans. I had scrambled eggs most mornings for about three months. Also, it took me until October to light the stove by myself. Please don't judge.

I love these egg pans. I had scrambled eggs most mornings for about three months. Also, it took me until October to light the stove by myself. Please don’t judge.

My metro stop. The farthest east the metro goes.

My metro stop. The farthest east the metro goes.

Campus. Not a very descriptive photo, but then again, I never found campus all that pretty nor interesting. But I thought the way the trees lined the sidewalks was nice.

Campus. Not a very descriptive photo, but then again, I never found campus all that pretty nor interesting. But I thought the way the trees lined the sidewalks was nice.

And here’s what the end of the day looked like on one of my last days here:

Heading west on the carretera. This is the daylight at about 8:15 PM. Coming home to darkness at 5 will be hard.

Heading west on the carretera. This is the daylight at about 8:15 PM. Coming home to darkness at 5 will be hard.

End of the day sun over el Río Mapocho.

End of the day sun over el Río Mapocho.

Here’s a quick photo recap of the different places I visited over these 5 months:

Outside of Linares.

Outside of Linares.

Embalse Ancoa, Linares.

Embalse Ancoa, Linares.

Rabones.

Rabones.

Constitución.

Constitución.

A view of Santiago from Cerro Santa Lucía.

A view of Santiago from Cerro Santa Lucía.

View of the sea from La Isla Negra.

View of the sea from La Isla Negra.

Late winter sunset, Santiago.

Late winter sunset, Santiago.

Viña Concha y Toro, Santiago.

Viña Concha y Toro, Santiago.

Pomaire.

Pomaire.

A very rainy Valparaíso.

A very rainy Valparaíso.

Pintué.

Pintué.

Cajón de Maipo.

Cajón de Maipo.

La Ermita, on horseback.

La Ermita, on horseback.

Chiloé.

Chiloé.

Valdivia.

Valdivia.

And that, my friends, was a little bit of what I saw on study abroad, Fall 2012.

I’ve taken it easy my last few days. Some people like to blow it out. I, however, considering how close I feel to my family and that I am just now getting over that darn cold, have kept close to home. I went out with a few people I hadn’t been able to get together with yet. I went to Mass for the last time with my family. I made pancakes and muffins. I said goodbye to my program directors on campus. I packed. And I cried about five times in the process. (Thank you, F., for coming by and helping out! I would not be as close to done as I am now if you had not been there.)

I think I’m going through a lot of the same emotions I felt when I left the States. That I was leaving home, that it was going to be a long time until I saw my family, that I had so much left still to do. I’m glad I have all of these mixed emotions, though. I think it’s a good sign. I should be this excited to go home, and this sad to leave. Obviously, there’d be something wrong if I weren’t happy to go home and see my family after- again- 5 months. And I think it points to how great an experience I’ve had that I’m so sad to go, when it feels like things could just be getting started.

But that’s a little how life is, isn’t it? I will write more about this around New Year’s (more about that in a later post), but I had a long conversation with my host mom the other night, and she gave me some very good advice, which comes down to this: say yes more. You really do only get so much time in one place. Make the most of it. I wouldn’t change my experience and the relationships I’ve formed for anything. But the way the time has flown has reminded me, in a very hard way, how you’ve gotta take your chances when you have them. I think that’s going to be a kind of mantra for me in the next year.

Before I get too sappy, I want to let you know that the blog will continue. The transition back home is indeed a part of the study abroad experience. And we all know how I love transitions. I also love (probably too much) baking and cooking things and then talking about it and posting pictures of it. I have up to 15 cookie recipes I’d like to try for Christmas, plus other things. So that’ll be happening here as well. Beyond that, we’ll just see how it goes!

I went to theater camp almost every summer of my life from when I was 5 until I was 18. We ended every summer by saying thank you to the people who had supported us throughout the summer. It was very emotional and sometimes a little cheesy, but I always loved it. Doing that kind of thing remains very important to me, and I would like to do that right here, right now.

Thank you to all of my readers! Thank you for letting me share my adventures and everyday life with you. I hope you’ll stick around once I’m back stateside doing less interesting things like baking and being a college student.

Thank you to the blogs that I follow for being such a big inspiration and brightening my day when I needed a distraction or a pick-me-up. (My top three favorites are on the blogroll sidebar.)

Thank you to my friends and groupmates. We were very lucky to be together and get along the way we did. Thanks for being you.

Thank you, F. Something bigger put us here together. We were made friends for a reason. I will miss you like crazy when you are back here next semester and I…am not.

Thank you to our program directors. Not everybody gets someone on-site who handles problems with classes, finds them a family, organizes field trips, and so on. Thanks for all of your hard work!

Thank you to my Chilean friends and acquaintances. Thanks for your patience with my Spanish when it doesn’t always come out the way it should, and thanks for bringing around places gringos don’t usually get to see. I hope to come back as soon as I can so I can spend more time with you!

Thank you to my host family. You were pretty much just what I needed you to be this semester. Thank you for replacing the down key on my computer; for taking me to Mass; for rejoicing in the deliciousness that is s’mores; for teasing me; for dragging me into your room when I clearly needed to talk but was too scared to bother to you; for letting me borrow your nail polish and hair products; for making my lunch every day; for being entirely too worried by my colds; for bringing me breakfast in bed; for making me café con leche exactly the way I like it; for giving me an iPhone, for my safety, of course; for showing me how the metro works; for eating chocolate and talking forever after dinner; for reviewing my papers; for letting me study with you; for making me feel like a real part of your family. The tears you will see in the airport tomorrow will hopefully show you how much I love the three of you and how much I will miss you.

Thank you, most of all, to my real family. I can’t even attempt to list all the things you do for me. You support me in more ways that I even know, and without that, I could not have gone away and had this experience. I cannot wait to see you and make you more cookies than you will want to eat.

Santiago. Chile. South America: I’m coming back for you. And that’s a promise.

My cup overflows. Time to get off the internet and drink up what’s left.

With love,

Gaby

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Dulce y amargo

Bittersweet. That’s what this is. I’ve got four days left until I go home. Or, until I go back to my home in the States.

This house has become another home. I am at home here. I am at home in the language, in the culture (minus the machismo, but I think if I were brunette, it’d be better), in the city. Do I know my way around? Meh, not that well. Is my Spanish perfect? Ni cerca (or is it ni lejos?). By which I mean, not even close. And there’s still so much more exploring to do of this place that I already love so much and am going to hate to leave.

But it’s about time. I’ve been gone about 5 months now. 5 whole months that I haven’t seen my real blood family, the family that raised me. It’s been just about 5 months since my host sister had her parents really and truly to herself. 5 months since I ate my dad’s cooking. 5 months since I have slept in my own room, the one I had painted the color I wanted for my 13th birthday. 5 months since I have been inside of a Target or a Culver’s or Old Navy. 5 months since I’ve been able to pick up the phone and call my mom just to say hi. 5 months since I got on a plane and thought that December 11th was going to take forever to get here.

Well, it didn’t. And there are good things about that, and sad things too. Here’s what I’m looking forward to when I come home:

Celebrating the holidays in the winter. This is proof that I cannot celebrate Christmas in a warm climate. With the lights off, at night when it’s cooler, and with Christmas music playing, it kind of feels like the holidays. Just a little. During the day? When it’s 80 and brilliantly sunny? HA.

Text messaging. It’s expensive here. Not to mention I miss just texting people to say hi.

Public bathrooms with toilet paper, soap, and paper towels/functioning hand dryers. Oh, and public bathrooms you don’t have to pay for to enter.

Not using hours of public transportation daily. For real, I miss being able to get anywhere and everywhere in 20 minutes.

Feeling safer walking around, especially at night. Which goes along with another thing: I’m looking forward to not standing out for being blonde.

The TV. Oh, I miss American TV. Not that there’s any shortage of it here. But really, I miss my local network news! And not having to use sketchy sites to watch my TV shows.

Baking. I’ll talk more about this later, but I’m keeping the blog going after I return. And oh, will there be cookies. And bread. And cookies. And so many cookies.

My own city. Maybe eventually I’ll reveal where I live (to the 5 of you who don’t know me personally). But for real, it’s a great place. And I miss it. I miss knowing where I’m going and being able to give directions and knowing landmarks.

Real orange juice. No more of this nectar stuff. Watt’s Nectar de Durazno, how I love you, but please, someone give me some Minute Maid or Florida’s Own no-pulp real orange juice to eat with my breakfast right now.

Good gum. Even the American brands that I’ve found here aren’t as good somehow.

The Mass in English. I’ve been  to some great Masses here, but still. I don’t know all the prayers and responses here, and I don’t always feel like I’m participating 100% then.

Now here are the things I’m going to miss:

My host family. I could not have gotten luckier. I’m not going to go into details quite yet, but yeah. They’re pretty fantastic.

Having a sister. Sisters are different from brothers, obviously. And while there are lots things I really love about having brothers, having a girly little sister has generally been a blast.

A slower pace of life. I’ve become accustomed to having lots of time to relax and just hang out. Next semester could be pretty rough in terms of work and activities. I’ll be incredibly busy. Which sometimes I love, when I feel like I’m really getting stuff done and doing a lot, but other times I hate, when I need four cups of coffee to get through the day and I can barely get 6 hours of sleep per night.

Spanish. I love this language. ¡Me encanta el idioma! And I know that now that I’ve become fluent, in Chile of all places, I can speak it pretty much wherever I want, except for the slang. I’d better be Skyping my host family often- not just because I will miss them, but because I worked hard to learn this language and no way am I just going to let it go.

The convenience of public transportation. Granted, I had to take very few buses this semester. But still. It’s kind of nice just being able to walk to the metro and get on and go. No relying on anybody for a ride.

The religiosity or spirituality here, especially en el campo. It’s more open, more reverent. I’m not saying that they’re doing it “right,” or the US is doing it “wrong,” but the day-to-day practice of Catholicism here, in general, seems a little more meaningful.

Watt’s Nectar de Durazno. Tea and agua de hierbas all over the place. Bread. Avocado (palta). Bread and palta together. Manjar. So many delicious foods.

Summer weather and long daylight hours.

My service site.

The view of the mountains I had every day, almost everywhere I went.

Living in a big city.

Pisco and very good wine on the cheap.

Living something different from what I’d ever lived before.

Dulce y amargo. Bittersweet. So happy to go home, and yet so sad and tearful to leave. How am I coping? With baking and family time, of course:

Christmas cut-out cookies, round 1, with the help of my host sister.

Christmas cut-out cookies, round 1, with the help of my host sister.

With love,

Gaby

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What I’ve Learned about Chileans Thus Far

First off: this post was inspired by this blog, which was such a huge inspiration and comfort during this journey. The inspiration specifically comes from this post. My list will not be nearly as comprehensive, considering that I have lived here barely 5 months, and I’m in Santiago- it’s not exactly a bastion of traditional Chilean culture. But I figured I’d just give it a shot.

Chileans are typically more spontaneous than Americans. Americans like email and plans and planning to meet up to plan things and iCal reminders, and things of that nature. Chileans? Not so much. I was invited to various things- a day trip to the beach, going around el centro and sleeping over- that I had to turn down because I had already made plans, and it seemed like the Chileans who invited me had a little trouble dealing with that. You mean, you knew that you were doing something this far in advance? Yes, I did. It’s a gringo thing.

Along with that, Chileans tend to be a little late. Not very late- I’ve heard they’re pretty good in comparison with other Latin American countries. But unless someone has specifically told me that I must absolutely be on time to something, I know that I always have a leeway of about 15 minutes. This was even truer in Linares. We never left on time for anything. I think we departed for Santiago an hour later than we said we would. So the next morning at breakfast when my host dad suggested we leave, 15 minutes earlier than he said we would leave, I was stunned and not ready.

Chileans are a little fatalistic. This whole American dream thing we have in the States? There’s really not a sense of that here, probably because for 99% of the population, it doesn’t exist. The class division here is astounding. It affects every part of life: where you go to school, where you live, what kind of job you can get, what you eat, where you shop, how you practice your religion, even where you will end up in the cemetery. It’s incredibly difficult to move upward, and Chileans know that. They also don’t trust the success of their economy. Chile is currently in a great situation: lots of consistent growth, major reductions in poverty (although there’s even higher income inequality), and solid trade relationships. But most of this is based on the exportation of natural resources, like copper, wood, fish, and fruit. That kind of economy is unsustainable, and I think Chileans worry about when the other shoe will drop.

Family is very, very important to Chileans. My host mom in Linares told me that she doesn’t have many friends and doesn’t need them, because she has her family. My host grandfather stops by the house several times a week. My host grandmother stayed with us during my first few days while my host mom was in the States. I think I’ve met most of the family that lives nearby. The importance of the family is probably one of my favorite things about being here. Both of my host families took that title seriously: they took me in like their own daughter, and I was never treated otherwise. Which is exactly what I wanted.

There’s a big divide between the culture in the country/the south (el campo y el Sur). Santiago is a big, modern city. The people, especially in the professional world, run all day long. They wouldn’t be out of place in New York. But in the country, kids still come home for lunch. As I’ve said before, life is just slower. Another thing related to this: everybody wants to be south, except santiaguinos. The city folk (generally) look at the country as boring and too quiet. In Linares, however, they tried their darnedest to instill this fear in me that life in Santiago was too crazy, that crime was rampant and that they were going to steal the shoes off my feet in the metro (not even kidding. That was actually something we were warned about.). And even in Linares, they didn’t want to be there. They wanted to be even further south, Puerto Montt and beyond into Chiloé. With the exception of the various leers and catcalls my blonde friend and I received while south, which happens in Santiago too, the people in the south were noticeably warmer and friendlier. They took more time to be with you. They were interested. They were very willing to offer whatever kind of help they could. Muy buena onda- good people.

Particularly in the city, people (especially young people) are friendly, but fairly closed-off. This goes back to the class division thing. Everybody goes to school together their whole lives and maintain very tight social circles. My Chilean classmates were very nice and interested in what I was doing here, but not enough to want to hang out, establish a friendship, etc. It takes a special Chilean (and a special extranjero) to make the effort to take you out, introduce you to people, and keep hanging out. That’s another Chilean thing: they’ll make you offers, say they’ll take you to this and that, but a lot of times there’s no follow-through. It’s not mean or purposeful at all. It’s just the way it is.

They drink a lot of juice, a lot of tea, a lot of agua de hierbas, and a lot of Coke (so. much. Coca-Cola.). And do they love their bread. And French fries. Oh, and chocolate. I have never seen king-size chocolate bars sold as the standard size. They don’t do the little normal Hershey’s bar. They do the huge bar, or a little single-serving. No in-between. I don’t know how my clothes still fit. But they do and I’m not going to ask why.

They’re more likely to go the doctor for little things. I’ve had two colds this semester- about two weeks after I arrived in Santiago, and one right now. After two days, my host dad has suggested, once again, that I go to the doctor. I leave in 5 days. No way am I going to the doctor. Besides, I just have a stuffy nose and a cough. I feel just fine. Just give me some agua de hierbas and confort (Kleenex). (All right, I cracked and asked for cough medicine. And it was the nastiest medicine I have ever taken.) (On the other hand, the agua de hierbas we have for colds is like drinking a tree. I think it has actual pine needles in it.)

As far as the Spanish goes, it’s just not a good place to go if you want an easy immersion. They speak so quickly. They drop letters and slur things together. They use the diminutive (-ito or -ita at the end of words), but it never actually makes anything “little.” If they say “tecito” or “pancito,” they’re gonna give you a whole cup of tea or a whole piece of bread. If they say “rapidito,” they mean really fast, like right now fast. They use an absurd amount of idioms and slang (especially outside of the city). Who knows how much I missed during my first couple of weeks in Linares. My host uncle down there was making a lot of jokes, and probably about me. It’s probably just better that I don’t know what he said, considering the one thing I understood was that he loved my hair.

They love the Simpsons. And The Big Bang Theory. And Phineas and Ferb, apparently- I saw Perry the Platypus t-shirts everywhere I went. They love American music maybe too much. I probably heard more music in English than in Spanish this semester. And a couple extremely popular songs in Brazilian Portuguese. Lady Gaga came and it was front-page news. Oh, and they call LMFAO “Limfow,” because saying out the letters in Spanish takes way too much effort.

I know that I felt fairly at home in this culture. They do appreciate meaningful relationships: family time is serious. Dating someone isn’t a casual thing; it’s a big commitment. They’re very “de piel”: literally, “of skin;” better translated, they’re a lot more touchy-feely. They smother their children with hugs and kisses far later than we usually do in the States. You greet everyone with a kiss on the cheek (all women), or with a handshake (between men, although some very good man-friends will kiss on the cheek and hug). There’s no just waving or head nodding. You get up close and personal with la gente. I was talking with a friend of mine recently. She studied here last year. We were talking in Spanish, but then she said in English, “Well, I’ll let you go now,” because she couldn’t figure out the phrase in Spanish. You know why? In Chile, at least, it doesn’t exist. I have never heard any Chilean say that. They don’t worry if they’re taking up too much of your time. And I hope that as the Internet and smart phones and social networking continue to sweep Chile, that that closeness and personal interaction and effort doesn’t disappear.

Coming soon: how I am and am not Chilean. What I am excited for at home. What I will miss about being here.

With love,

Gaby

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Gracias

¡Feliz Día de Acción de Gracias! Happy Thanksgiving!

Pardon the belated Thanksgiving wishes. I did not have a long, work-free weekend like many weekends- well, I know a lot of American college kids were actually up to here with pre-finals work this weekend. But still. I had class on the third Thursday of November for the first time in my life. Like my host dad said, it was just another Thursday in Chile.

But we gringos made sure to celebrate. One of the guys was generous enough to offer his house for the evening. He bought us two turkeys and we contributed the rest of the food and drinks. I have to admit, I was doubtful. Everyone was incredibly busy that week with final exams and papers (because the school year has pretty much ended at my university here), and people were actually buying the ingredients for their dishes at 5 on Thursday afternoon. But not only did everyone contribute a dish, we had more than enough food, and it was all really delicious!

Of course, what was most important was that we were all together. I think for many of us it was our first Thanksgiving away from our families. I know that for me, the day was a little poignant, knowing my family was all together sharing the same meal we’ve had for years, and I was “missing out.” But once I was with all my friends, just sitting and talking and stuffing ourselves with food as the night got cooler, it really did feel like Thanksgiving.

Turkey, sweet carrots, gravy, homemade mac and cheese, stuffing, and mashed potatoes. There was also a salad, and fried ice cream with pumpkin bread and cinnamon rolls for dessert. It was delicious.

The aftermath. Believe it or not, two medium turkeys were just enough for around 20 people!

Oh, and the next day I baked up an apple pie. It was pretty spectacular.

Muy, muy rico.

I have a lot to be thankful for this year. I am thankful that I had a place to celebrate Thanksgiving with some really great people. I’m thankful that I came down here with such a good group. I’m thankful that I have a host family who makes me feel like one of their own. I’m thankful for all the love and support of my real family. I’m thankful for the Internet, because when people went abroad not that many years ago, they couldn’t keep in touch with their loved ones as easily as we can now. I’m thankful for my friends who have listened to all of my study abroad stories and have been there for me when it’s been hard. I’m thankful for a second summer. I’m thankful for for this opportunity to live in another country for five months. I’m thankful that I still have a little time left.

And I’m thankful for everyone who has read this blog! Your comments have been so appreciated. Thank you for letting me share my experience with you!

I’ve got just about two weeks left before I get on a plane to Miami once again. In that time, I am taking a trip, my first and only real big trip of the semester. It’s not actually that big of a trip. I’m going to the south of Chile, which I’ve heard is where I have to go to truly say that I’ve experience Chile. In the next week, I will be bussing around to Puerto Montt, the island of Chiloé, and Valdivia. I’ll probably be pretty disconnected except email and phone for that week. It’s going to be a lot of sightseeing kind of stuff: there’s a national park in Chiloé, a lot of historic architecture, yummy seafood, chocolate, and just general seeing another side of this big country of which I’ve seen so little. Hopefully I will have lots of good stories and photos for you when I come back!

And after that, maybe I’ll take a day at the beach, and then…a week. One more week.

Thank you for coming along for the ride, and thanks for waiting to see what happens next.

Chao chao! Cuídense mucho! (Take care!)

With love,

Gaby

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1 month down

Time flies, doesn’t it?

One month ago today I landed in Chile. At this time a month ago, I was settling into the retreat house in Linares. I was incredibly stuffed with food and freezing cold. Now I’m in a regular house in Santiago, enjoying excellent WiFi and not wearing a jacket.

I can’t decide if I feel like I’ve been here a long time or like I’ve just gotten here. I’ve lived in two very different parts of Chile for about an equal amount of time now. Linares seems like it was forever ago- but Santiago is still so new to me.

I haven’t had any big adventures to tell you about since I last wrote, so I’m just going to ramble for a bit.

The hard thing about living with another family is that sometimes you see them being a family. Which is exactly what you wanted. Except that seeing them be a family makes you miss your own family.

The crowd on the subway is so diverse. In the mornings it’s suits, uniforms, teenagers, couples, kids, the elderly, all kinds. I’ve also noticed that it gets progressively more eclectic the further west and south I travel. I live in the east, and in the mornings, it’s all professionals getting on. When I get back on from campus in the afternoon, it’s people my age, moms with little kids, every kind of style you could see.

Two o’ clock is a weird hour to start classes. And 6:30 is a rough time to get on the metro.

I need better maps of my campus. And far better signage/directions.

Things study abroad is teaching me about myself: I’m okay with change. I do not like transitions. I’m not a fan of in-between places. This whole process of settling in, assimilating, learning my way around, getting close to people, is just that- a process. And it’s not a Point A to Point B process. It’s more like Point A to Point M. And I’m maybe at Point D? I just really really want to be at Point M right now.

You know what a big part of my frustration is? Castellano. It’s the language barrier. I have lots to contribute to conversations. But these Chileans- they’re quick. It can be difficult to break in, especially when you’re worried that you’re going to slow things down. This is just a hurdle I have to get over, though, if I really want to be a part of things. It’s a challenge. A big challenge. But I must surmount it. (Yup. I used the word surmount. It felt right.) (Surmount in Spanish? Superar. ¡Voy a superar este desafío!)

Things will fall into place. I will feel truly settled. I will be able to converse normally in another language. It all takes time.

I just hope not very much more!

Oh, in food notes: I was moving right along, eating all the ensalada and pan integral (whole wheat bread) that my family could throw at me, and then I found hallulla on the counter. Hallulla. Hallelujah for hallulla. I had it with homemade strawberry jam and queso fresco for breakfast this morning, and boy, was I happy.

I hope you are all well! Thank you for supporting me thus far on my journey. All of your comments and thoughts mean a lot, and they do me a whole lot of good.

With love,

Gaby

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