Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Apartment

I wanted to tap into my Thanksgiving spirit today and say that I'm thankful for a lot of things in my life: my family, my friends, my job, my amazing boyfriend, my education, my dog, free podcasts in the morning, Chilean wine, and Felicity reruns on Sony, but that post would get too cheesy. So I'd like focus on one thing and declare that I am shamelessly and forever grateful for MY APARTMENT!*

It may sound materialistic and shallow, but I am totally, as in 100%, obsessed with my apartment and neighborhood. So much so that I had to write about it and clearly, i don't get inspired to write that much so it truly is a great place, hah.

But back to the place. Each time I walk out the door I feel lucky to live where I live with the new coffee shop with good wifi literally 3 steps from my door and my pal across the street at the liquor store who sells us overpriced bottles of wine almost daily (yikes, we drink a lot of wine!). And every time I walk in the door I think, "I'm so lucky to have this huge patio and honest and friendly doormen."

And yes, I'm a Santiago Centro girl and proud of it. I love the convenience of living near tons of banks, restaurants, servipags and sencillitos. I wouldn't want to live anywhere else in the all...ever. And I've lived in Las Condes, Providencia and San Ramon so it's not that I don't know what I'm missing or in the case of San Ramon, not missing (sorry suegra!).

OK, I know that no one would be jealous of my siutico landlord or the absurd gastos comunes we pay, but there's no way I could afford our place in the U.S., especially not smack dab in the center of the city and I'm eternally thankful that I can here.

I guess I can't say that with a straight face since all you have to do is read back a few months to read about my bitching and moaning, but it's partly true.

Anyway, happy Thanksgiving and happy eating to everyone, and a special shoutout to my adorable little place: I appreciate you (and of course my family, friends and Italo).

*After reading Lydia's mi mama/nuestra mama post, I feel Chilean saying my apartment since it's OUR apartment, but it's MY post :) and it's riddled with the word my to prove it

Friday, November 13, 2009

Culture Shock?

I was talking to my best friend from home the other day about how much happier I've been lately when it comes to my life in Chile. Granted, I attribute a lot of this to the fact that I love my new job and hated the old one, but he attributed it to my having finally gotten over my culture shock.

At first, all I could think about was the silly seminar on culture shock all study abroad students at my school had to attend before they left for whichever country the had chosen. Then, I took offense and thought, "Hey, I've lived here for more than two years now. I'm way past that study abroad stage.". But I thought about it more and I think he was right. I think I've moved on to another level of what I like to call "cultural comfiness".

I really resisted Chile when I first moved back here without realizing it, but it manifested itself in my never doing "permanent" things here. I never got health insurance, I never bothered to get a cuenta rut and I was always planning for when I left in a year or two. Now, I'm making up for that lost time by really living here.

I think my job change factors in here again because not only do I like it, but I also think the experience I'm getting there will help me in the future regardless of where I end up living and working. Also, the people there are more settled here. There's no group of foreigners here to teach for 6 month or a year and then leave. Everyone's here now and maybe for good if they're not already from here. It's a really good feeling to know your boss hired you to stay as long as you want instead of until your 1-year contract expires.

Also, I don't know what changed but I've been able to get closer to Italo's family, especially his mom and sister. Our relationship is stronger and a lot less tense, but I can't explain it well beyond that. All I know is we're communicating so much better now when before, I was always frustrated because there was always a barrier that made it really hard for us to see eye-to-eye.

Going along with this idea, I'm able to think about Chile on its own, not compared to the U.S. Instead of thinking how it would be in the U.S. and bitching about how it is here, I can (sometimes!) avoid that entirely. For example, Italo and I went to Oktoberfest in Malloco last weekend and I had the best time ever. Normally, I don't like big events like that here because the lines are a mess and it's impossible to get water (see my Cumbre de Rock Chileno post) and good food. And to top it off, getting back by bus takes forever. This time, I not only didn't mind any of that, I hardly noticed. And I remember thinking, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else but here right now (I only tried 3 beers the entire day so it wasn't the alcohol talking).

Lastly, I'm not as anxious about being away from my friends and family back in the U.S. I was having a really difficult time feeling at ease knowing I was so far away from "home". This made me a nervous wreck at the strangest times because I always thought something bad was going to happen. I still feel like that because bad things have happened, but I have a much more grounded and logical approach to it.

I guess my friend was right that it was a sort of culture shock I had to get over to get to this point because I've never hated Chile, I've just never felt completely comfortable here. Now, I can honestly say that it feels like home for the time being. Maybe it's because we might be leaving next year?