Today was much better than yesterday.
Being reunited with the rest of SIT was really helpful. I suddenly feel much less isolated now that I know that everyone else was feeling similarly alone over the weekend. Weird how being alone together isn´t quite so much of an oximoron as it seems. We also strategized a bit about how to meet up, especially the girls who live within the same suburb as me (Nuñoa). Coming back tonight at about 8 pm and spending 2 hours talking to my host parents instead of alllllllllllll day, was also a lot less overwhelming. The Spanish word for overwhelming, by the way, is abrumador(a). Another fun fact, there´s a key on the keyboard for ñ here. I guess that shouldn´t be suprising.
The reason I called this post pokemones is that today we learned a lot of slang through an interesting anthropological exercise. In pairs, we were given landmarks, lists of slang words, and lists of food names. We were then released on Santiago and charged with finding the place, figuring out the meanings of the words and foods, and reporting back. With the time limit and everything it almost could´ve been a challenge on a reality show, but it was somewhat less exciting. Still cool though.
Kate (my partner) and I were trying diligently to follow the directions and spend our first fifteen minutes on Paseo Ahumada (a car-free shopping district that looked exactely, and I mean exactely, like Downtown Crossing in Boston) without talking to anyone. Our efforts, however, were in vane (or vein? I can´t spell, sorry). A bunch of guys around our age came over and started talking to us, asking where we were from and stuff. One guy in particular was actually talking to us, and whenever his friends came over he would curse at them in English to show off. When we asked him to help us with the slang words he told us that one word, which actually means to be a smartass, meant to ask someone to kiss you, and he asked me to kiss him. Don´t worry though, I resisted the urge. When we were back with the group, it was explained to us that the word for young people like these guys who dress in black, wear their hair greasy, sometimes wear makeup, and appreciate imported Japanese culture (aka anime) is pokemones, like pokemon! That was my favorite slang word of the day.
The other excitement of the day was probably being taught to use the metro/migro system (the trains and buses) in Santiago. My host dad took me to class on the bus and train, and then I came back with another girl for most of the way and by myself for part of it. I managed well enough, made it home alive, and only had to knife one would be mugger in the process… just kidding mom and dad. No one tried to mug me and I don´t carry a knife… yet.
Other than my poop update, which I know all my diligent readers are awaiting and which is coming shortly, the only thing worth reporting is that my Spanish is improving really really fast, out of necessity. Yesterday we went to lunch with my host mom´s parents, sister, and niece, and they asked me all about religion and the university system in the US and we had the whole conversation in Spanish. Tonight my host parents and I talked about politics and how their views differ from those of their parents. And last night I learned all the words for the different ingredients in pesto because we made some. I´m learning lots of food words. But yeah, everyone wants to have pretty intense conversations and compare cultures, so I have no choice but to dive in and say what I can in Spanish. It´s pretty cool, I must say, but also mentally exhausting. It was nice to speak some English today with the SIT kids. But even with Kate we had about half our conversation in Spanish.
Okay, enough with the dry stuff about my mad Spanish skillz (which, can definitely use a whole lot of improvement. I make some pretty ridiculous mistakes and I think I make every word feminine, pero no importa). Now the real down and dirty, the poop report. Nothing too out of the ordinary yet, but I used a really funny bathroom today in the city. They have these public restrooms underground that aren´t connected to any store or anything. They´re just there on the street and you go down the stairs and pay 280 pesos (about 50 cents) and they give you a reciept with a bar code. Then you scan the barcode like a T ticket and go through a turnstyle to get into the bathroom. Apparently sometimes they even give you rationed toiletpaper when you pay. It was really clean and a nice bathroom. Def worth the 280 pesos. I hope you enjoyed that.