As I mentioned in my last post, seeing all the families together during Fiestas Patrias caused a bout of homesickness. And it still isn’t quite over. It’s been 2 months since I arrived in Chile, and the honeymoon stage is coming to end. We’re now in the daily grind of school and all the initial excitement is starting to wear off. Please keep in mind throughout this entire post that I am extremely and eternally grateful for this opportunity to be abroad, and I wouldn’t change anything for the world. But as this is also very much a journey, I figured I would share with you the good and the not so good.
I absolutely love my host family. There is no doubt about that. But I also really love my independence. As time goes on, I’m realizing just how much I love it. Back in the States, I’m used to eating what I want, when I want. I’m used to going to bed when I want without saying goodnight, and I’m used to getting up at random times at the morning free of human interaction (as anyone who has lived with me will attest, mornings are not for me). I’m used to having the option to drive to Target at 9pm to buy mac and cheese. I’m used to doing what I want, when I want, without any sort of obligation to other people. Here, things are different. I feel like I can’t do anything or go anywhere without letting my host family know. I feel obligated to spend time in the living room with them, even though I’m not always sure what to talk about. Sometimes, I’m late to other gatherings because my host family easily loses track of time. These couple weeks, groceries have been a little thin, and I’ve been eating the same thing for lunch and dinner. Don’t get me wrong, the food is absolutely delicious. But the repetition sometimes gets tiring, especially when I’m eating lentil soup over and over again. It’s especially hard since my host mom is gone, and our nana is constantly telling me that she feels abandoned and wants her to come home because she misses her so much. I feel like I’m not doing a good job supporting her, but I don’t know how to. Sometimes I feel like a burden, since I’m not always on top of cleaning my room, especially during the week (things can get pretty hectic), and suddenly I come home and everything is clean.
Back home, my longest commute was maybe 30 minutes. Here, it frequently takes me at least an hour to get anywhere. An hour on a very crowded public transportation system. It’s hard to motivate myself sometimes to go out with friends or anything knowing that it’s going to take me a year to get there and it’s going to cost me an arm and a leg to go home in a taxi. I’m used to having the freedom that comes along with having car. I can take random trips to Target at 9:30pm because I really want Mac and Cheese, and hey, might as well frivolously spend some money. I can go to cool places a little out of the way because I have a car that can get me there. Here, I’m pretty limited between needing to go where there’s public transportation and trying to be somewhat financially savvy. (Tarzan, I miss ya).
Here, I can only talk to my parents and friends back home when I have internet access. Internet access, although it exists here, is kind of unreliable. There are certain places in the house where I can’t get a connection. I will be sitting in the same place on campus and the internet connection will suddenly disappear. And while I am not a chatty Kathy, the fact that my communication is limited can be difficult sometimes. Sometimes on my commute home, I just really wish I could randomly text people the funny or weird things I see.
Like I said before, I recognize that I am extremely privileged to be in this situation. It has been so wonderful and every day I learn something new about myself. And while this is an exciting journey, it is not without its challenges. Some days are better than others. Some days I’m over the moon happy and others I feel pretty blue. But I wouldn’t change a single thing. I have a wonderful support system. And this is an experience of a lifetime.