Saturday, May 21, 2011


I know, I had a little lapse there in my blogging, but I have an exciting thing for you this fine weekend: Alianzas! From what I can tell, the vast majority of high schools in Chile put on this thing called an Alianza. I had a lot of trouble finding a good translation for it when I was talking to friends and family until I had a conversation with my English teacher, and she pointed out that it was a lot like a field day. So then: an Alianza is sort of like a field day with competitions between the grades, and it was last Saturday.

Usually, the Alianzas are held twice a year, and like I said, are a competition. In my school, the school is split into two: one half is on the team of the Cuartos (senior year equivalent) and the other have is the Terceros (junior year, my grade!). Some of the competitions this year included eating spaghetti, making a dress out of recycled materials, blowing ping pong balls from one cup filled with water to another, impersonating Lady Gaga...the list goes on. But every year there are two things that are the same: a competition to decorate the gym, and a 10 minute or so choreographed dance.

Each group picked a theme, and because of me, my grade decided that our theme was to be "USA". That's sort of awkward! But it had a really key color group that made decorating fantastic.

We spent the entire week leading up to the Alianza at school after classes blowing up balloons, painting banners, and learning the dances. I can't tell you how many red, white, and blue balloons I blew up and tied together, but by the end, everything looked fantastic. We had a New York skyline and everything.

One of the weirder things about the USA theme was that it made me really aware of the stereotypes everyone has towards the US. A lot of people think that the only places worth visiting are California, New York, and Miami, that we treat Obama as a god figure...everyone is appalled that I've never been to Las Vegas. It was sort of weird. I've never been that much of a patriotic person, but by the end of the week, EVERYONE was fired up to represent the US at the Alianza--a lot of them more than I was!

After the week of preparing that I was talking about, we stayed at school until 10 on Friday to decorate before going to a classmate's house to practice the dances even more. After a full week of school, that was pretty exhausting, but I ended up learning most of them to perform the following day.

Saturday, I woke up at 7 (that's earlier than I wake up for school here!) to go BACK to school to put the final touches on everything, and before we knew it, it was 9 and time to perform the dance! The "dance" isn't a very good way to describe what we had to do--it had to be a medley of songs that told a story relating to the theme, and it was worth a BUNCH of points in the competition so it was super important that we did a good job. And lucky for all of you, someone recorded it and put it on youtube so you all can watch us/me!

So there you go. Go watch it. In case you can't find me, I'm the only one that's a normal height and light hair. I'm wearing a red shirt and jean shorts.

But overall, it went really well, and all the dances "left" me (me salieron in spanish, and I can't think of a way to say that in English). The rest of the morning was spent watching the other Alianza perform, cheering during the competitions, and chatting in the bleachers.

Finally, at about 1, the Alianza was over, and they said the scores: 14500 to 16500 points. We thought we had lost--there was some drama earlier in the week regarding point values and we weren't looking too good. But then they announced it: we had won! Everyone was screaming, jumping up and down, and some people were crying. It was quite the happy environment.

After that, the place was trashed, so we spent some time cleaning up before I finally got to head home and lay down for a bit. That night, we went to a different classmate's house to celebrate, which was really fun. It was an exhausting weekend but completely worth it--all the hard work everyone, including me, put in made me really feel like part of the Terceros, which is a great feeling.

What else is new in my life? I officially passed the halfway mark last week, which completely freaked me out. I'm feeling a lot more confident about my Spanish but still have days where I feel like I can't say anything. I officially grew out of a pair of pants, it's getting colder, and life is getting more and more "normal" here every day. It's crazy. I can't adequately describe to you the emotions you feel on one of these exchanges, especially because it changes practically every minute. But overall, everything is incredible. I'm doing so many fun things, like participating in the Alianza. It's a blast.

And to wrap it up, I wanted to announce the birth of my child, "501 Spanish Verbs". He has a stroller and everything!

Haha, or should i say "jaja", like they say here. I joke with my friends that when I carry it around it's just a sign that says "Hey, I'm a foreigner!", not that I'm not obvious enough already. He's quite helpful, though--for all of you potential exchangers out there: GO TO YOUR COUNTRY WITH A VERY GOOD DICTIONARY. That's key--I don't know how people could forget one! Also, if Barron's offers a "501 ______ Verbs" in the language, I'd really reccomend getting it. It's super helpful to have the verb forms just laid out in front of you when you're confused about something.

Hope you're all still doing well and enjoying the great weather up north. It's just getting colder and colder here....


PS: Shout out to Grandma, I'm glad someone's still reading this thing! A letter will be in the mail in the next week.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Weekend in Chile

I recently realized that no one really knows how I spend my free time. In general, I do a lot of the same things I do in the States--eat, sleep, do homework, and hang out with my friends (yep, I have friends!). But this weekend was full of fun things, so I've decided to give a play-by-play so you can all see how I spend my time!

Friday: I get out of school at 2:30 which is nice and early. I just chilled during the afternoon and went to spinning at the gym at 8:30 with my sister and her friend. The spinning instructor's name is Antonio, and to be honest, I have a little crush. (We've never talked, though).
When we got out of spinning and after I did my planks (I'm trying to stay in shape a bit here...) we took our showers and then Paula (sister) and Valeria (friend) started talking about the party at one of the other schools downtown. Paula really wanted to go, but no one would go with her, but we mutually decided in about 15 minutes to go! Why not? We all said.

So Paula and I came home (Valeria's family was going to pick us up a little later), had a snack, and got dressed. We got picked up at 11, a normal time for going out, danced and hung out, and got picked up at 1 ("early" because we had things to do the next day at school). Valeria and I even got in one of the pictures that the people who put on the party take, which was quite the accomplishment. It's a horrible picture of me, but here it is:

So we got home at around 1:20 and I was absolutely exhausted so I went right to bed.

Saturday: My alarm went off bright and early at 8:15, more than three hours earlier than my normal wake up time on a Saturday. But I had to go to Dia Del Libro at school, or Book Day! Let's just say it was pretty un-epic. The math and humanities kids had booths, but me, a science kid, didn't, so I alternated my time between the other two groups, socializing and just hanging out.

Dia Del Libro ended at 1, and after that I went to McDonald's with three classmates. I know, it's pathetic, but they like it a lot and being the American that I am they assume I eat it all the time. A secret? I can't remember the last time I had a hamburger at McDonald's, but I had one on Saturday, and it was delicious. I had a lot of fun with them, just hanging out and eating--after nine weeks here it's really rewarding to be able to participate in a normal conversation with classmates, gossiping, laughing, and just hanging out.

Javiera and me with our hamburgers
After McDonald's, we were planning on going over to another classmate's house to work on a history project, but had some time to burn so we went over to a plaza nearby and played on the playground (which I've definitely done in the States too). It was a nice day (it's been starting to get a little cold) so it was wonderful to just sit outside and enjoy the weather. 

 At three we headed over to the classmate's house to "work on history" but we ended up watching a soccer game (University of Chile vs. Colo Colo. U of Chile won in like the last five minutes and one of the boys was super upset the rest of the afternoon). So we didn't get too much work done, but it was fun!

At 7ish, the boys left, and the girls stayed back to have Onces (which is like a teatime but dinner too). It's usually tea or coffee and bread with some sort of topping. At 9, we went over to another classmate's house for a get together where ate snack food and just sat around talking. I was exhausted by then, but participated in the conversation when I could, and felt happy curled up next to the fire with my classmate's cat in my lap.

Javiera's mom came to pick us up at midnight, and I got home about 12:20. After such a long day, I went straight to bed again, waking up at 11:30 the next morning. Now that's more like it!

Sunday: After waking up, I caught up on my journalling, and decided to go to the gym about 12:25 (it closes at 2 on Sundays). But being the very intelligent person that I am, I forgot that it was "Dia del Trabajador" or Worker's day (May Day). I walk into the gym parking lot and the guard stopped me and said "Where are you going?". "To the gym?" I responded, and he told me it was closed for Dia del Trabajador. I felt a little sad but I was proud for having that whole entire conversation in Spanish without asking him to repeat himself. I even called him "usted" which is a problem I've been having lately!

Anyways, I headed back home, did homework, ate lunch, watched some TV, did some more homework, and skyped with my family and a few friends (Sunday night is usually my skype time). I ended the weekend watching my favorite TV show "Mi Nombre Es" where Chileans dress up as celebrity singers and sing and get judged about how close they are in appearance and voice. It's quite entertaining. Last week was Miley Cyrus, and I had to take a picture she looked so similar.
HOW SCARY IS THAT!??! I was screaming to my host brother in the other room (watching the same program) I was so excited.

But there you go--just an average weekend in Chile! I'm still enjoying myself ridiculously and my English is falling apart. It's crazy that in two weeks I'm halfway done with this crazy trip. I'm having the time of my life. I really am.