Farewelling friends, changing houses and my birthday
Life in quarantine can be very boring, but I’m going to try to write about a few things that have been keeping me busy. :))
Part of an exchange student’s exchange experience is having ‘oldies’, which refers to exchange students that were already living in your host country for about 5-6 months before you arrive. Your oldies will know all of the slang and help teach it to you, they’ll show you around your area, introduce you to more people, help you with your language and so much more. Whatever struggles you’ve been going through, they know exactly how you’re feeling because they’ve lived through them before and they are the only people who can truly relate to everything you’re feeling. Your oldies are often your first friends in your host countries and not before long, become an extension of your family.
However, the time you have with your oldies is often very limited, as their exchanges come to end and they have to return back to their home countries. These goodbyes are never easy, as you are saying goodbye to some of the best friends of your life that you might not ever get to see again because of the distance.
Due to COVID-19, a lot of my oldies and kiwi friends have had to end their exchanges early, which is sad enough as it is, as it means there was less time to see them than expected. However as well, due to the quarantine, it hasn’t been possible to farewell my friends in person at the airport, which has made it even harder to say goodbye. What I wouldn’t give to have been able to know that the last time I saw my friends would be the last goodbye, and how I would’ve hugged them so much tighter.
I was so unbelievably lucky to have had the greatest host club of exchange students, and I’m so thankful to have met everyone. Aya, JJ, Tine, Niels, Chad, Chiara, Anton, Zoe, Ebbe, Justina, Ulrikke, all of you, I love you all and I miss you all, Peña kids always <3. To my kiwi mates, Jess and Lachlan, I miss you both so much, and we’ll find a way to meet again. I need a tissue haha.
Cambiando casa y familias anfitrionas
Changing houses and host families
Another very important exchange experience is changing host families. I’ve been with my first host family, Familia Ravanal, for 5 months now, and now it’s time to move to my next host family. I thought I would write a bit of a journal type thing to capture everything and give a glimpse into what life as an exchange student is like.
I was just chilling with my host fam in the arvo when I got a message on Whatsapp saying that I was changing families the following Friday. I knew I was due to change around June but I didn’t know very much more than that, so a random Whatsapp message saying I was changing so soon was a bit of a shock.
I’m currently living in Peñalolen, however, my next host family lives in Puente Alto, which is about a half-hour south of my current host family and school. I don’t know much about my next host family, just that my host dad is called Andres, my host mum is Monica and my host sister is Veronica. Veronica was on exchange to the US but had to come home early due to the coronavirus.
I packed most of my stuff up ready for Friday, I wanted to have it done early so that tomorrow I can just spend the evening with my host fam before I go and not spend time packing. I’ve accumulated a bit more baggage than what I had at the beginning of my exchange, but that because I have all of my school uniforms and school stuff, which I won’t be taking back to Aus, so hopefully everything will be okay.
I love my current host fam and I’m very sad to leave them, and I’m nervous to change, but also excited. I know it’s an experience that I want to have, and it’s going to be interesting. It’ll be good to meet new people, and hopefully, break up some of that monotony of quarantine. It doesn’t make leaving my current host family any easier though, especially since I don’t know if this will be the last time I will get to see them all before I go back to Australia, with all of the uncertainty of corona. That’s a really daunting thought that’s just occurring to me; I might be saying goodbye to people for forever.
I’ve cried every night since Saturday because I have to change. I’m crying writing this. That makes it sound like it’s a horrible experience, I promise it isn’t, it just isn’t an easy experience. It’s bittersweet, that’s the best way I can manage to describe it.
I had breakfast with all of my family and it was all really nice, and soon after my next host dad, Andres, came over to take me to my new host families house. It was an emotional goodbye, I cried and so did my host mum and we all hugged goodbye.
It was interesting on the drive over, it was the first time I had actually seen the outside world properly in 3 months. There weren’t too many people outside, and everyone that was outside was wearing a mask. We had to get permission from the police to be outside, and normally there would be controls here and there to check your permission, but we made it by without getting checked.
In my new host family, I have my host parents Andres and Monica, and my host sister Veronica. Veronica was on exchange in Seattle in the US this year but had to come home early due to corona. I really like my new host family, they’re all really nice. They also have two little dachshund dogs which are so cute!
Mi cumpleaños (Tengo 17 ahora! Estoy vieja!)
My birthday (I’m 17 now! I’m old!)
So, I was really dumb this year, and I actually got the day for my birthday wrong. I told my host parents that it was Tuesday, when it actually was the Wednesday, and so we ended up celebrating everything a day early.
My host dad made choripan, which is a Chilean type of sausage sandwich barbecue thing basically, which was absolutely delicious, and we all had lunch together. My YEO and her daughter also came over for lunch, and we all had a good time.
My host family also bought a large cake and sang happy birthday (in Spanish, of course), and it was really sweet.
After lunch, I went for a walk with my host sister and the daughter of my YEO, Camila, and her dog as well. We went to a park up in the hills, so we had an amazing view of the sunset, and we played fetch with the dog.
So far, 17 doesn’t feel that different from 16, but we’ll see what this year brings. It’s a bit of a shame that I wasn’t able to celebrate my birthday with my friends here, but we’ll find another time once quarantine and lockdown are over to meet up and see each other.
As for now, thank you for reading and have a nice day :)) Chau!!