After my little vacation, I’m back to work and back to reality. Hilarious that my reality is living and working in Patagonia but there you have it. My Facebook is filled with people finishing exams, end of uni celebrations and grad scheme offers and I am trying to understand Argentinians and get them to understand me.
Before my little hol I had a very weird week indeed. A local newspaper shared my humble year abroad blog and it got a lot more attention than I had anticipated. An article was written translating several of the statements I made. I learnt the hard way (channeling my inner Kelly Clarkson) that word spreads very fast on the Internet. My intention was never to offend or annoy anybody. The bus service I use each day does the job perfectly but is extremely different to the one at home. English public transport undeniably has its flaws. We long for reliable timetables; a late commuter train causes considerable angst and audible tutting, although it’s hardly the end of the world. Here I enjoy leaving the house and not knowing that I have approximately 24 seconds before I miss my bus. I waltz to my stop and wait there for a while and the bus comes.
As I’ve already mentioned, Argentinian people are great. I have had lots of nice comments from people interested in what I had to say. No autographs but some new people disfrutando my tweets. The Argentinians are happy to chat to anyone and people sometimes chat to me on the bus which is a pleasant surprise. I got the bus to school every day in Sixth Form and only spoke to one of my fellow commuters once when I accidentally stood on his foot. Another time, one man spoke out to the the bus squad complaining that the bus was now six minutes late, and we were all so surprised he had spoken after two years of pretending there was nobody else at the bus stop, we couldn’t muster a reply. Here, people smile at one another and even say good day or good morning which is wonderful. What’s more, since moaning about the lack of timetable, I have found one detailing the bus’ arrival time at 4 of the 70 bus stops on the route. Next task is to work out where those 4 bus stops are.
Anyway, enough about buses, please.
Teaching continues. It is very weird to be on the other side of the teaching process. Major respect to teachers, I must have been to hundreds of language lessons over the course of my schooling and still find myself struggling for ideas. There are only so many times you can ask students what they did at the weekend, and I have definitely exhausted that limit. I have had to do several different classes about England and am repeatedly telling students that the English drinking tea is no myth, if there’s one word worth learning it’s sorry and that Queen E recently celebrated her 90th birthday, whether they want to hear it or not. Do you know the origin of afternoon tea, why Henry VIII killed all his wives or how many people use the tube each day because I do, and so should my students.
We are three exchange students working at my institute. Jodie and Ailbhe are from Ireland and keep me company at work and in most social and food related endeavours. It’s lovely to have them there as generally one of the three of us understands what’s going on. Vamos is a problematic expression for us all. Whilst we understand that vamos means let’s go, understanding the destination or reason for going is significantly rarer. My favourite example still really tickles me and this was over a month ago. Jodie’s host mum told her to vamos and Jodie put on her shoes, bag and coat ready to vamos. Turns out she was supposed to vamos to the dinner table where they were about to eat. Another frequent cause for misunderstanding is when somebody asks what something is like in my country. They won’t say ‘In England do you..’, they’ll ask a question and then say alla meaning there at the end. Alla refers to the entirety of the United Kingdom. Duh. When asked a question ending in ‘there’, I have turned around to see what is behind me an embarrassing number of time.
Dinner parties are another great source of linguistic struggle. More than one conversation and no direct eye contact and I’m out of the game. I am quite content trying to understand and am over the moon when I correctly follow the conversation. Everyone knows that I am smiling inanely and laughing along but there is a good chance I don’t really understand what has just been said. Although, everywhere we go the food is delicious, so even though the other guests could be plotting my assassination, I’m none the wiser and happy chomping away. We went to our grandma’s house and I think they were discussing politics (maybe) when one of the aunts tapped me on the shoulder and asked me if I like dogs – definitely more my conversational ability!
In Latin America, a girl’s 15th birthday is an extremely special day in her life. It marks the day that she becomes a woman. My host sister will be celebrating her 15th birthday next week and preparations for her quinceñera are very much underway. There is so much that goes into the party organisation and lots of excitement in the house, it’s like a wedding with about 200 people on the guest list. The invitations went out recently and they are easily the coolest invites I have ever seen. It is a really big occasion which I will quite possibly be attending in my pyjamas because I have nothing suitably elegant and I despise shopping.
The lovely Golden Retriever in my family had beautiful puppies before my week away. My Snapchat friends are no doubt aware of this because they are so cute I can’t resist. Poor Clarita has had a tough old time and has had to be operated on and still has to feed 6 very hungry cachorros. I was woken at 2am by loud meowing. I takes a lot to wake me as I am an excellently proficient sleeper but puppy no.1 did the job. The puppies were each born about an hour apart. It was both gross and beautiful. We pulled up chairs and sat watching Clara as if we were at the cinema until I crashed at 6am. The puppies live in the room next to me, apparently they are very noisy during the night but I am always dead to the world (all the thinking is still taking its toll).
Chau for now x