Once again I’ll be posting a bunch of entries at the same time, but thank you starbucks for allowing me to use your internet. These ones aren’t really as well constructed as I’d like. Oh well, time doesn’t really work the same way in Chile and I had to wait twenty minutes for the bus to take me here so things got a little rushed.
1) On living with host nonparents
My host parents are very nice people. They like alternative healing, and were cleansed through vibration therapy last weekend. They’re down to earth and chill. They’re good cooks. We’ve had some really good conversations in which they have explained a lot to me about Chile. They even do my laundry. But, they are not parents.
I basically live with host roommates (who make me lunch and do my laundry—real roommates for next semester take note, this is much appreciated). It’s been very different from what I expected. On the one hand, I have a lot of freedom and independence. There are evenings when they’re not there, and I’ll invite my friends over to get ready to go out or to drink some tea and we can let loose a little because we don’t have to feel like we’re infringing on someone else’s space. We don’t have to whisper because someone’s sleeping, or feel awkward hanging out with a set of host parents watching TV in bed in the next room. They don’t make me feel guilty when I come home late on weekends (they’re often out later). We cook together. But on the other hand, living with host roommates in practice who are host parents in name creates its own set of issues. I never know if I’m being rude by turning down an invitation to do something with their friends. And when I do go hang out with their friends, while it’s a good challenge for my Spanish skills and it takes me outside my comfort zone, it’s boring. No one really talks to me and the conversation moves too fast for me to jump in myself. I don’t feel like I’m getting the real homestay experience because I don’t really have to work myself around the family. I don’t have to be home for dinner. I’m not a member of a unit. I live with a couple. They do their thing and I do mine, and I barely saw them this week. Feeling like this was my fault, I made sure to stay in the house until they woke up this morning so we could hang out before they left for their friend’s going away party. When they got up they asked if I’d gone to the gym yet and I said no, I wanted to be here before you left so I waited. Great, they said, and took some food into their room to eat. A few minutes later they asked if I’d eaten yet. No. Oh, there’s palta and cheese in the kitchen, you should have some. Great, thanks. I’m leaving tonight for a week. They left shortly after that conversation with a goodbye and buen viaje, and I won’t see them again until I get back next Sunday.
I think I’d feel smothered if I lived with people who expected me to be with them all the time. I have a pretty strong guilt complex, so I might’ve missed out on half the adventures I’ve had if I felt like I needed to be home for dinner, or I had to go to dance recitals on the weekend. Still, it would be nice to feel like I mattered to my host parents a little more, and not to have to wonder if I did something to make myself not matter. I do, however, feel well prepared now to travel South American living alone, or with one or two companions, since I’ve been close to that for the past six weeks anyway.