Thursday, October 23, 2008

I am meat, to be measured.

Today was one of those days were you just go "Wow, that was messed up!"
Although since I am an exchange student I am able to take that statement and not let it bother me and just accept it as just part of the culture no matter how wrong or how inethical today was.

So what did happen today?

Basically, it was a meat show.

Things have started to become mundane and I know what to expect each day. So, when I walked into the gymnasium I was expecting to run a lot of laps around the gym, then stretch, then do some random sprints, then play "soccer" if you could even call it that with the girls in the class. Most times the teams will consist of one team against me. But today was a different story. I was handed a sheet that reminded me of the sheets that I am given in gym in Canada, where I have to write down my flexibility, vertical jump and other measurements of strength. This sheet was slightly different. It didn't ask me about my strength, or my flexibilty or even how my cardio was. Instead it named body parts. Because here, strength and what your body can do is not important its what it looks like.

First they measured my height which was slightly a problem seeing as how I am the tallest girl by far. Then they had to measure my weight, I was not entered into a private room so I could see the number by myself, nor was this whole process in a private manner seeing as it was on the stage in the gym for everyone to see. Of course when they told me my weight it didn't mean anything to me since it was in kilograms but it turns out I have gained a little bit of weight but nothing noticable and it hasn't forced me to buy new clothes. We then had to do some calculations to see how much fat we have in kilograms, which doesn't work because it doesn't take into account for how much muscle you have. They don't use newer machines that send a very tiny electrical shock to see much fat and how muscle you have. So most of the numbers are completely false.

Anyhow, I thought this whole thing was over and that we might actually do something physical. But, it wasn't over. We then went to using a skinfold measurer (google it) to measure the rest of the fat on our bodies. Our male gym teacher proceded to measure the fat on the back of our arm (he also gets part of the tricep as well), also on our shoulder blade area on our back, and then on our lower abdomen. Of course it was conducted in a professional manner but after I was measured I was in such a state of shock because that should just never happen. It just felt so wrong, and I knew in Canada numerous parents would have contacted the school about it, but here it was treated like nothing different. Nothing about that day to them was wrong or insanely different.

The next step was to measure around our bust, the smallest part of our belly and our hips. Not really sure what the bust can say about your fat seeing as how everyone has a different ribcage size. It just seemed so weird. I am so used to having a machine telling me my body fat precentage that having a bunch of false measurements seemed so.........incorrect. Not to mention all the "healthy body talks" I have had and all the self body image conversations I have gone through, so when I was 'analyzing' this situation I couldn't help but think of all the negative body thoughts and images that these girls could have. Especially when one of my friends actually said "Hahaha my arm fat is lower than yours" who says that. I was so surprised so I just laughed along and excepted that this is Chile.

Well, it wasn't over yet. We then did some abdominal exercises, the basic ones you would expect but then they got weirder and weirder as went furthur along. It probably wouldn't have been so bad if the all the guys in our class wasn't watching us (the guys were expected to do nothing the whole gym class so watching us was some entertainment). One of our exercises was in a bent over position while lifting our leg like a dog. I am sure there is merit to this exercise but it is rather embarrasing when the whole class is watching you, and calling your name, namely only mine.

Today was weird. Today was messed up. Today was different. Today I was culture shocked for the first time since I have been here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


SO, my internet was broken (well, not broken, but my host-dad just didn't pay the bill so it got disconnected for a week). Having no internet for a week sucked. But, I survived?
The real problem was that I am used to talking to my Chilean friends via MSN, and I couldn't do that anymore. (sniff sniff). As well as it is so much easier to understand them when I can read what they are saying and I tend to learn more on MSN. So it was a bummer not having it.

But some updates;

a) I have now joined an actual GIRLS soccer team. It's called Soccer Girls. I still don't get why they insist on english names for certain things, and they still have the grammar wrong. So I play Saturday mornings, the field is a bit smaller and we play 9 aside. I play central defense now, and I thought I was going to be like a "sub" since I am new but I was put on right away and for the whole game I wasn't taken off at all. Hah, and my jersey on the back says "T.James" I think we won the game like 5-0 but I wasn't really paying attention to the score. Oh and of course I am like the tallest girl on the field.

b) Apparently I have been told that there is only like 20 days left of school until it is summer break. Well, at least for my grade since I am "graduating" we get more time off since everyone has 2 days to write their PSU its like SAT's they are entrance exams to university and you get certain points on your tests. But, I don't have to take them! Then we go to the beach for like a grad trip. Woot. But I am sad its ending because I won't see most of thos people again, only some of them.

c) It's getting warmer here. As in I don't have to wear socks to bed anymore or a sweater. I am actually starting to sweat with all the blankets that I have on my bed.

d) I don't have to switch schools. At least my consellor gave me that, but I still have to switch families. And, the idea is to switch me to a family that is known to be very overprotective with the boy they have now, so I can only imagine what they would do with a gringa girl like me. So we'll see, I need my freedom, especially since I have to switch in the summer I don't want to be locked up in a house all day!

e) Today, I received my first letter! Tis sad my first letter came two months into my exchange. Well except for my package from my mom. Hurrah for Carly (Platypus) to be the first one, and it was great to get a letter!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Rotary Weekend

The past three days have been fun-filled Rotary adventures.

Friday all the inbounds had dinner at a restuarant in Santiago.
Saturday we toured Santiago and at night we went to Vina del Mar.
Sunday we toured around Vina del Mar and Valparaiso.

So, Friday night we ate at "Buenos Muchachos" which was a rather fancy looking restuarant compared to what we were used to so we all looked under dressed. But we had some good times just hanging out with the other exchangers (speaking english) and dancing. We had to leave at 2am and the next morning we had to meet up at the bus at 9am. So, seeing as how by the time I got home at 3am and I had to wake up at 7:30am none of the exchangers got much sleep.

In Santiago we toured Pablo Neruda's House which is a famous Chilean who wrote a lot of important pieces of writing. He had the coolest house. Parts of it reminded me of the Hobbit House in Lord of the Rings because the ceiling were so short and it had circluar doorways. He also had two houses, we were told that the second one was for his mistress. It was super cool because from the kitchen there as a secret doorway to the stairs and a whole upper floor. Devious but awesome.

We then went to the La Moneda which is where the President lives (and by the way the President is a woman) It's basically the equivalent of the white house but this is located right in the middle of Santiago. Like try placing a building that big on like Queen Street in Toronto. After the Moneda we went up the hill "Santa Lucia" to eat lunch, we also had to climb halfway up to the lift cars so that it could take us up the rest of the way. This hill was the hill that the first Spanish conquerer climbed to claim Chile for Spain. On the top of the hill there is a big statue of the Virgin Mary.

Santiago behind me, it was a cloudy day but most of that is smog. It hadn't rained in awhile so the smog gets pretty bad as in you can't see some of the hills that should be easily visible.
On a lift car, Santiago behind me again.

After Santiago we went to Vina del Mar. By the time we got there it was night time. So we went out for dinner which turned out to be at a mall at a fast food place that just made 50 orders of everything. Quite the change compared to last night. We then went to a disco, but only for us students Mady and I had to talk to the D.J about getting rid of the gringo music and playing some reggaeton instead. Just because we are gringos doesn't mean we can't dance. We then went to our rooms in the hostel. Which was pretty nice for a hostel seeing as we all got our own bed.

The next morning we went to Valparaiso which is the city next to Vina, and we went up a cable car to the upper portion of the city seeing as how the cities are on a hill. It reminds me of San Fransisco. We walked around a bit. The Rotarians would lead us around and then be like oops wrong way we should have gone this way. Needless to say no one knew what we were doing. I love Valparaiso though its so cute. All the houses are colourful and adorable. This is Valparaiso behind me. Cloudy again.
This is a typical street with all the colours.
This is Vina del Mar in the background it's less colourful and more touristy with it's beaches where Valparaiso is a port so I find it more cultural.

The rest of the day was spent on the water in a boat, and we also had lunch somewhere else just north of Vina. Then we all had to leave, so we could go back to Santiago.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

You May Say that I'm a Dreamer...

Since my Spanish is obviously not fluent (yet) and I have definately not even created a dent in the second language of Chile ( yes, there is a second unknown language that "Lonely Planet" didn't tell you about it's called Castellano which is basically Chilean slang but it might as well be a second language) So whenever my friends want me to do something they tell me the bare minimum.

This is what happened on a Tuesday;

My good friend Marcelo (who is totally into Guns N' Roses and rock & roll galore) asked me do I want to sing with him while he plays and then Saturday we would play together, seeing as how it totally doesn't matter what you sound like as long as you know the english words, I was like sure. I won't get embarrased singing with one my best friends so might as well go out and do something. Of course by Wednesday I told my brother about it, and he said "Oh, you're doing it for that festival in the school on Saturday right" I am not quite sure actually. So of course I ask Marcelo and it turns out that yes, it is for the festival, and yes there are going to be people watching. This is not what I had in mind, seeing as how I only sing when no one is in the house. But, I guess that means nothing now. Thursday during music class (which I hope I can go to everytime seeing as how I chose art which turned out to be a very boring class) we went up to a locked music room to practice, the three songs they chose, well I didn't really know the words all to well or where I was even supposed to come in to sing. We were basically starting from scratch. I had papers of lyrics I had to read from, it was not so pretty. By Friday we were basically allowed to skip school to practice for the day, by then I had 2 of the songs memorized. With a piano, and 2 guitars going and me with no microphone I can't hear myself and I was rather getting annoyed by all the noise. But with luck, one of the guitar players had to write a history test which apparently took forever. So it was the Pedro playing the piano, and Mela playing the guitar....but a lot quieter this time. It was great I could hear myself, and I actually made progress on where to come in to sing. Seeing as how the singer and piano have more in common then the guitars. In a band the guitars are almost like selfish little children creating all the noise and getting all the attention (solos anyone?) where as the piano and the singer are quiet and are more to keep the song on track. So, with only one guitar it was great. I even had to sing "less pretty and more gritty" in a part of a song which really does hurt your voice.

Saturday we had to be at the school by 2:30 to get some practice time in which really didn't work seeing as how we never really got the stage to practice. Or at least for me I didn't get to practice with the microphone at all. Our drumist was like we don't have time to pracitce with the microphone but your awesome so you don't need too. Haha I basically said "Screw you all on the stage I am using that microphone" and once someone turned it on I did just that. I sang bits and pieces of the songs ...and even some of our guitar players joined in on some parts. So for the 4 hours of waiting for the show to start we basically sat around talked, tried to practice but we eventually went up to the music room to practice each song twice, and they basically told me this "If you mess up, keep singing, cause no one really knows english anyways" Which is true because when we were listening to other people singing we couldn't tell if it was spanish or english because there english pronounciation was so bad.

While waiting to play, I had invited Clea and Liz (other exchange students) to come and watch me. At first I was thinking it might be awkward for all my friends to be with my exchanger friends just because we would be speaking english, but it wasn't it was actually pretty great. Since we would talk in English and we would actually translate almost every thing we said. It helped us practice since we were talking a lot more. As well as I find translating things a lot easier than just speaking Spanish to someone. So, Fabi was my main friend that we talked to and it was pretty awesome. As well as Pedro, Marcelo and Mela. Hahah in Clea's school she apparently only has one good-looking guy whereas in my school they arn't as few. I introduced her to the Baeza Brothers, her jaw dropped. She hadn't seen three good-looking guys at once in her entire time at her school, whereas in one moment I can show her three ahahah. It was hilarious. Everytime she would turn around and she would see Pedro (yes, I do have a friend named Pedro, but not like the guy from Napolean Dynamite, this one has a jew fro) she would gasp and be omg this is so not fair ahhaa. Of course I had to shuffle them around and make them kiss a bunch of people they don't know, but that is the Chilean thing to do. But, it was awesome how my very two different groups of friends came together so well. It does help that they are gringas as well!

We were the last people to officially go on the stage, and our band name was named "T-james" yeah it was named after my nickname I was very embarrased. As well as the master of ceremonies had to announce that I was the foreign exchange student from Canada. When we were finally ready and all the sound checks were done, we first sang November Rain the hardest song for me to sing because of all the entries but I nailed almost all of them and even when I didn't no one could tell. The hardest song was done with. Then came Patience. It went fine and dandy. We were then told to get off even though we were supposed to do 2 more songs....but then they said "Oh well do one more" so we did Imagine. This is basically just the singer and a piano song, with a slight hint of a guitar. It was going really well when we came to the last chorus.

"You may say that I'm a dreamer" ....the piano got disconnected by someone. In this song the piano is the main instrument, so the guitar stopped as well. Ugh after a couple seconds of fumbling through words I decided to go solo (accapalo? I can't spell) I did the rest of the song by myself, and I got the biggest around of applause through the whole section. It was amazing. When we got off the stage I was greeted by Liz and Clea and gave them the biggest hugs ever (they already call them Taylor hugs because they are so big). I was also greeted by like 6-8 10year old girls. Who ran after me. They asked me questions about the usually things. I couldn't even congratulate my band mates since they swarmed me. Since Clea and Liz were there as well they swarmed us. They first only talked to Liz and me since we have coloured eyes and stick out a lot whereas Clea has dark hair and eyes. She was lucky for a couple of minutes when my brother came over to hug me. (This of course made the girls scream "pololo. pololo.pololo"[boyfriend] I had to explain to them that he was my brother and he was Chilean) Lucky that he did that because it got me away from the girls. And since we had to talk to Marcelo on the bleachers I was even luckier that I was able to climb on the bleachers and hop over them to get away ...for awhile. Liz got away as well, and Clea got backed into a corner we couldn't even see her since the girls had pretty much attacked her. Liz and me may have been bad friends for not helping her but we weren't going to risk our lives ahahha. We had some time to talk with people for 5 minutes when Clea came back with our fan club. Finally Fabi told them to leave and we had some peace.

We eventually had to go. We were getting a ride from The Baeza Family (if you haven't noticed the Baeza family and the Perez family are very close they know everything of the other family and they both love they other family to death) Of course another Chilean thing is that the number of seats in the car doesn not define the number of people that can fit in it. Seeing as how it was suppose to seat 7 people and we fit 10 people. All the girls in the back and the boys in the middle. We were able to talk in all Spanish except for a couple of inside jokes which is going to happen when you know a different language and you want to make a secret comment. We eventually arrived at our house, and Liz, Clea and me were talking about our different experiences with Chileans that only other exchangers understand. Jose joined in on the english. Even though we should be speaking Spanish but I thought we deserved it since we translated everything and talked to a bunch of fanatical girls in Spanish when we couldn't even hear them properly from the music.

That day, was just such an awesome day, since you combined an event I worked hard for, with being able to speak Spanish and be understood most of the time, and have both your Spanish friends and exchanger friends come together and be able to talk to one another and conjoin. It was just plain AWESOME!!

These are the days that I love..