Buenos Noches! Ah it is finally my favorite time of the day, when you can finally relax and lay in bed after a long day.
Today was just another long, tiring Monday in Santiago consisting of waking up around 8 am to the construction 10 feet from my apartment, stray dogs yelping, fighting and mating extremely loudly and my host madre knocking on my door with the exact same tray of cereal, yogurt and fruit juice saying ” ocho y media mi niña, buenos dias!” Ah de mi…
Then I was off to my 45 minute transit to the university, a 15 minute walk to the Metro stop and then a 30 minute Metro ride, Alberto Hurtado reminds me a little bit of Loyola how it is so beautiful but nestled in a not so nice part of town. There are usually a spattering of homeless people, litter and homeless dogs galore outside of the university but inside, it is so beautiful! With brick walls, large oak tree INSIDE the cafeteria, palm trees galore, fountains and such great architecture! Oh the irony of Catholicism.
We had 4 hours of class today, then we walked over to Avenue Brasil for lunch, I had Pesto Pizza and it was delicious although not the best that is for sure, hard to compete when my mom at home is the master of homemade pizza
I would be lying horribly if I said I didn’t miss the food at home, sorry Chile you just don’t compare to my mom’s cooking.
We spent almost 4 hours just sitting at a table outside planning out our trip that is coming up in 10 days! It’s crazy thinking about it, we are going to buy the plane tickets and all of the bus tickets tomorrow after school after even more planning! Who knew that planning a 3 week vacation could be so complicated. But, once it is all set in stone I will let ya’ll know where we are going! Let’s just say..get ready to be extremely envious.
On Sunday my friend Teresa and I went hiking for a few hours and ended up talking about my experiences in Africa and what I want to do with my life, which brought me to feverishly writing in my journal at home, in yet another effort to keep the flame lit in my heart that Africa gave me.. and I really do believe that this journey is going to do the same for me! Get ready for yet another Shirley rant, of my typical journalistic, and social justice ramblings.
It has been a struggle adjusting to this new culture, family and just the blatantly unfamiliar. I’ve always been able to express myself in class perfectly and my strength has been my charisma and vocabulary. But here, I am constantly translating Spanish in my head and struggling just to say the right words. I usually end up just nodding and pretending I have nothing to say, when secretly I want to say a million things that I have no clue how to say in Spanish- so at the end of the day my brain feels like mush from translating constantly and at the same time holding in so many thoughts I can’t express.
I have come to realize that no matter where you are in the world, construction men are HUGE creeps, little old ladies who own cats are not just an American thing and great for asking directions when you are a gringa lost in a sprawling city, just because I’m living in a country called Chile doesn’t mean the food is spicy, and that finally in every single person’s life they forget what is important. Somewhere along the line people end up valuing test scores over character, money over the true value of life and the material objects over the condition of others. Somehow I lost sense of what was important to me, and only when I am reminded of the dreadful conditions people face, am I compelled to make a difference. Everyone is vulnerable, no one is as strong as they think they are and at the end of the day my true strength doesn’t lie in my bank account, new camera, or lap top.. it lies in my compassion and tenacity to carry on with what I feel compelled to do.
These past 2 weeks also have made me realize the significance of and power of providing comfort and compassion when you and others need it most, solidarity, friendship and support are the counter-solutions to the myriad of problems that the world faces.
” You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own and you know what you know, and you are the one who’ll decide where to go.” -Dr. Seuss