Las cosas importantes

By Caroline M., CE Adviser in Chile

So, in about a month and a week I’ll be on my way to Santiago. Am I jazzed beyond belief? Yes. Am I in any way prepared? Not hardly. I tend to be one of those wait-til-the-last-minute kind of gals, so it’s not surprising that I haven’t done too much. Starting this week, I’m going to try to pick up the pace a little bit though. That “Culture Kit” that Cultural Embrace sent me contained a fairly detailed packing list, gracias a Dios. I’m sure this will be invaluable for someone as disorganized as myself.

I remember that when I was in Spain for 5 months last year, there were some very specific things that I missed terribly from the US (not including my friends and family… that’s a given). Since I only have about a month before I pack up and head off to Chile, I feel the need to make a list of those things so that I can make a point to enjoy them to the fullest before I fly out.

1) Carpet – My Señora in Spain only had tiled floor… and so help me if my feet weren’t cold most of the time. You don’t realize how precious warm feet are until they are taken from you. My sock monkey house slippers just couldn’t compare to some nice warm carpet. I’m not sure what the Chilean policy is on carpet, but I am definitely hoping that they are pro-carpet.

2) Tex-Mex Food – Anyone who has ever had a truly amazing Tex-Mex meal knows what I’m talking about. Sure, Madrid had a few “Tex-Mex” restaurants, but when you’re that far away from the real thing, the authenticity suffers. Now, I’ve not been to Asia (yet), but I’m sure my Tex-Mex problem can be compared to living in China your whole life and then coming to the middle of Texas and having a meal at a “Chinese” restaurant and being served Sweet and Sour Chicken swimming in unnaturally red translucent sauce. Delicious? Yes. Authentic? Probably not… that color of red doesn’t exist in nature. Anyways, Tex-Mex food is something that is near and dear to my heart. I thought about it weekly while in Spain and demanded that my family immediately take me to the closest Tex-Mex restaurant possible once they picked me up from the airport. They did and it was amazing. I’m hoping that since we’re on the same hemisphere, Chile will know a thing or two about some decent Tex-Mex… but if not, está bien… distance only makes the heart grow fonder.

My first Tex-Mex meal back in the States after I left the airport. Sublime.

3) My Weenie Dog – His name is Buddy and he’s the best dog in the world. I know you probably think your dog is pretty awesome, and maybe even the best in the world. However, since you’ve never met Buddy, your ignorance is understandable. His cuteness is only rivaled by his ability to love unconditionally. He’s melted the hearts of many a grown man, and I’m quite confident that no one is immune to his charms. My Señora in Spain didn’t have any pets, but she did have a stuffed turtle named Juanita. Unfortunately, Juanita was not familiar with the art of loving unconditionally. If I’m lucky, my Chilean family will have some sort of pet (hopefully not a bird… I can’t handle the squawking). Anything will do really, just something that is lovable enough to lessen the pain of my Buddy withdrawal. At least Buddy has already agreed to Skype with me often…

Two great things in one picture: The Magnificent Buddy and the fantastic carpet from my Grandparent’s house.

4) My Car – Don’t get me wrong; I love to walk and, provided that it’s reasonably clean and safe, I’m a big fan of public transportation (global warming and all that…) I didn’t really miss driving during the first few months of being abroad, but I came to find out that there was really no private place for me to belt out singing without there being people nearby to annoy. Bad singing is one of the perks of driving around, although most people don’t consciously recognize its significance. The desire to belt-out only became more painfully strong when I was walking the streets of Madrid while listening to my iPod. Without a car to encapsulate the rocking-out, one runs the risk of blowing the minds of others with sheer talent. Being a visitor to a foreign country, I wasn’t sure of the consequences of mind-blowing, so I refrained from public singing. You can bet that when I got back home to my car (it’s name is Corollatron: by day it’s a mild-mannered Toyota Corolla, by night it’s a Transformer), I used the majority of a tank of gas to perform the highlights from Les Miserables. I’m sure that Chile will pose a similar problem, but I’m not opposed to shower singing if my host family can handle it.

A typical Rock-Out session in the car. Don’t worry, I wasn’t driving.

Although there were many more things that I found myself missing terribly, these were the most obvious. I’m sure that while I’m down there I’ll start reminiscing over other things that are just as random and I will inevitably talk about them in this blog, so get excited. So, until next time, here’s the philosophical question of the day:

Whose cruel idea was it for the word lisp to have an “s” in it?

-Caroline
Advisor Abroad in Chile

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