Before I actually start this entry I need to introduce any non-Spanish speakers to the word “entonces” because it has dug itself so far into my oh so language confused brain, that I can no longer form full thoughts without it, even when I’m supposedly thinking in English (more on this confusion later). I’ve already resisted the urge to use it in this paragraph approximately four times, because you don’t know what it means yet and that wouldn’t be fair. It has no literal English translation but it roughly means “and thus” or “therefore” but less formally. It’s kind of similar to saying “like, so” or “okay, so” but not quite. Entonces, you can’t translate it in your mind to “and thus” every time I write it, because you’ll never be able to take any of this seriously (not that it’s really meant to be taken seriously, but you get my point). Entonces, you’re just going to have to let “entonces” happen.
Entonces, now I can begin. Since it already came up, I’ll try to explain how confused my brain is right now. In the morning as soon as I get up I try to start thinking in Spanish because should my host parents get up and out of their room before I leave, I need to be prepared to talk to them in Spanish. I also greet and say goodbye to the concierge-esque guy who sits at the desk in the lobby of my building (and thinks I’m nuts for walking down 12 flights of stairs in the morning instead of taking the elevator [sidenote about the elevators—there are two, and on the way up one stops only on odd floors and one only on evens but on the way down they’re both impartial]) in Spanish. Then I take the bus/train to class with two other girls from my program, and we speak English, but everyone around us is speaking Spanish. Then I have three hours of Spanish class where we only speak Spanish but we have a half an hour break where we speak English. Then we have a lunch break and speak English. Then we’ve been having “thematic orientation” in Spanish, but we break into English sometimes and so does the teacher, because no one knows how to express their opinions about polarizing gender norms en español.
Entonces, my brain is incredibly confused all the time. When I’m thinking in Spanish things are pretty much fine but slow. When I’m trying to listen in Spanish I’ve realized that my critical thinking is shot because all my mental energy goes to comprehension and not much is left for analysis. When I’m thinking in English, Spanish phrases and sentence structures are constantly creeping in. AND when I’m thinking in Spanish but then have to come up with an English word it’s really really hard and I feel like an idiot. I think though, that this is all a good sign and bodes well for my path to fluency. That, or I’ll come home unable to speak at all and will have to result to my very limited ASL vocabulary.
In other news, I’m feeling much more settled and less afraid of being trapped in my apartment separated from the world. Most of that comes from knowing my way around better. I haven’t taken the same route to classes twice yet because I keep trying different things, but now I have two buddies to go to classes with, so the fact that we tried skipping the bus today and ended up walking faster than Sarah Yoss for 50 minutes and still being late was fine. The other SITers and I have even started to figure out where we live in relation to one another. I’ve had friends over, and we’ve walked around our suburb and explored. Yesterday we found a coffee/ice cream place after classes. I feel a lot less isolated now knowing how to navigate the public transportation better and how to get myself to, you know, other people. Tonight I even went to a friend’s house for dinner! (and that was weird because most Chileans don’t actually eat dinner, they just have kind of an evening snack and coffee or tea, or at my house matté).
I’m also becoming more at ease with my host parents. Everyone’s kind of intrigued by them and doesn’t know if they should be jealous of me or not, but they probably should be. The other night we watched youtube videos of people beat boxing into the didgeridoo. They also said they want to go out with me and my friends one weekend, and we have some pretty sweet conversations during once (the evening snack thing. It’s pronounced like the Spanish word for eleven). Last night I introduced them to the idea of putting tomatoes and pesto on the same piece of bread and they were really into that. Everything I say is either really exciting or hilarious to them, and they love when I give them the gossip about what other people think is strange about their host parents because it makes them feel young and cool and like they’re not actually my parents. Little do they know, I also think most of what they say and how they react to me is hilarious. Who’s laughing now? … I guess all three of us are, but for different reasons.
We’ve started to be able to joke and I’ve even managed to be sarcastic in Spanish a few times (although my attempts often fall flat). They’ve been super helpful with orienting me to where things are too. The other night we went out for sushi and walked there, but on the way there and back we stopped at different SIT girls’ houses and at La Plaza Nuñoa, which is where my friends and I found our coffee shop the next day. I know what you’re thinking, “what does she think she’s doing eating sushi in a foreign country? I don’t know if I want to read the poop update after this”. Well for your information I ate a vegetarian sushi and one with cooked chicken in it (I was skeptical too, but it was quite delicious). So don’t worry, I survived. I also think I may have accidentally eaten some beef broth tonight but so far my stomach is in tact.
As for the poop update though, I have been having some trouble tonight. I’ve tried to poop but nothing’s really coming out. My diet isn’t very carb heavy like everyone else’s seem to be. It’s actually quite balanced and includes many vegetables and fiberful fruits. I don’t know if the soup-that-might-have-had-beef-in-it is the culprit or it’s something else. Feel free to weigh in if you have something insightful to say, but not if you’re going to say something obvious like “well, you’re in a new environment”. I think something takes me by the shoulders and shakes me and screams in my face “you’re in a completely new environment!” just about every five minutes, so I don’t really need the extra reminder, but I appreciate the sentiment.
Also along the poop update lines but more related to pee, when my host family and I came back from a walk last night I really really really, like really had to pee, but my host mom got into the bathroom first. Normally I have the self control of an average 20 year old and can, you know, hold it in. For some reason though I have having so much trouble, and my family has absolutely no normal chairs in the apartment, just three stools, none of which provided a sitting position that helped. But I didn’t want my host dad to see me pacing around like a maniac. Entonces, I locked myself in my room and literally jumped up and down to keep from peeing in my pants. I couldn’t even begin to sit down and I absolutely could not sit still. She was in there forever. When she finally came out I didn’t want to be really obvious about how badly I had to go, so I actually waited a minute and then went into the bathroom. This is a pretty typical study abroad story as far as I can tell. We go to ridiculous lengths not to look vulnerable in front of our host families, or be rude, or create what we think will be awkward situations, when in reality it probably wouldn’t be that big of a deal. Oh but it makes everything so much more exciting.