I got an e-mail saying The Rotary Club of Talagante would like to invite you to a meeting seeing as I have been in Chile for 5 weeks now this invitation is semi-late but I wasn't expecting to go to a meeting at all, because I was told that Rotary doesn't expect you to do anything. Compared to in North America where the exchange student has to go to every meeting and join in on all the Rotary Club's activities. So here I have an invitation as with the rest of the 3 other exchange students that are hosted by the same club. Phillip from Germany, Liz from U.S.A (Oklahoma), and Clea from U.S.A (Arizona).
I had to arrive by 8:30pm thinking that this is when the meeting would start but of course here in Chile nothing happens on time. My sister and I were actually the second group to arrive along with Phillip and his host parents and the president of the club. I wore multiple sweaters to the meeting thinking that it might be freezing but instead they had a fire going (in Chile you never know if the place will be freezing cold or sweltering) so I was dying of heat. The other exchange students eventually arrived and we made some awkward Spanish conversations with the other Rotarians. It does get quite annoying when someone asks you a question, and you answer it, and they re ask you it, and you re answer, then finally someone will say something lengthy just to cover all the basis, so the Rotarian will finally leave. As in I swear this lady was saying "How long have you been in Chile" so I said "One month" then she re asked the same thing, so I said the same thing, then my good friend Liz jumps in and says we arrived this date we leave this date, so we are here for almost a year, that answer is good enough to make them leave. Ahah after they leave I make sure I was hearing the right question, which I was ..... or so says the other students. Situations like these make you think you are really dumb but you arn't...just other people are really dumb.
Eventually we had our own circle of English going on, didn't last for too long seeing as how Sofia (our consellor) insisted that we had to speak in Spanish. So when I wanted to ask a question it had to be in Spanish. My first one to Tety was to ask Sofia if he had to switch host families because I don't want too. Of course Sofia said yes, but Tety started to argue just a little bit saying how I shouldn't have to leave ahaha. Sofia then joined our circle, so english vanished and spanish appeared. It is the weirdest thing talking to someone in Spanish to a person who is natively fluent in English. It just seems wrong. But, we were actually able to talk quite fast about certain things and understand eachother. It is a lot easier talking to adults in a quiet room than it is to teenagers who speak fast and with lots of slang and in a noisy classroom. At one point I thought that I wasn't learning Spanish fast enough but coming to the meeting really showed I was learning it and speaking it, it's just hard to make yourself understood with teenagers. Compared to Rotarians you can understand most of what they say.
We also asked Sofia the dreaded question if the rumor was true that we are going to have to switch schools after the summer. She said yes. We are all horrified. The fact that we have to move host families but also move schools!!! We were not happy. The reason is because the host families live too far away from the different schools, but still they could find different host families not just ones that have children on exchange, or they could just not switch us at all. We are all not happy about this arrangement seeing as how some of us are actually going to have to live in different cities which is not fair to us at all, when we were just getting settled. We are all going to try and protest it, i.e talk to people back home. Seeing as how we all thought the rule was that you never never never were supposed to switch schools. Maybe I could convince my host aunt and uncle to host me so I can still go to the same school ;) seeing as how they were very unhappy with the news that I may be leaving the school. Even though I am going into a new grade, I love my school, and I have friends in the next grade, and my school is family run by my host family so I know everyone in the school.
Eventually the Rotary meeting got started, a whole lot of reading, and ringing the bell. Whereas in Canada you ring the bell once to begin, and once to end, and perhaps to shut people up. Here it was ring to being, ring to end, eat some more and talk, ring to begin again, ring to end, then you could talk....this happened so many times. It was so different to back home because there was less people, and no exciting things like Happy or Sad Dollars (where if osmething happened over the week you pay a dollar to tell everyone) plus this gives you a chance to know what people have been doing and raise money at the same time. No jokes made about people or nothing. No one had to sing the national anthem or the 4 truths (Is it the truth, is it fair to all concerned, does it create good will and friendship...etc.) There was none of that. The food was delicious though and having it at night seemed odd compared to in Canada it is bright and early in the morning. And the wine on the table was a big joke with the exchangers seeing as how we are not allowed to drink, we thought this could be a test, and made sure at toasts we promptly grabbed the water and not the wine ahah. However I sat through it all and it wasn't boring since it was new to me and I got to talk in english with my friends that I hardly see. It was even cooler that my host sister could understand most of what we said (she did study in England for 5 months) but couldn't talk back quite as much (sounds like me here) but I was actually able to translate what she didn't know which was quite awesome since I knew enough Spanish to do that. However it was getting late as in 11:30 so me and Tety were allowed to leave "early" because Tety had to study ...of course we thought we could get away with just saying good bye to the exchange students and Juan and Sofia my consellors, but no this is Chile..we had to kiss everyone in the room. So it took forever to get away. Which we laughed about it outside.
The meeting overall was pretty awesome, it was so good to see the other exchangers and talk in english and make fun about things that happen in school, and whatnot. We are still not happy about having to move cities, families, and schools. It is like starting an exchange all over again. Except for the fact that we will know the language and the general culture. But the hardest part of an exchange I find is not the language or culture it is fitting in and knowing you feel comfortable somewhere and that you belong and that you are no longer that "gringa". That feeling will be gone when we all move I think.
So I think we will all do some researching and see what we can do about it. :)
Don't worry I am staying positive!