Buenos días mis amigos, y saludos de Uruguay.
It’s only been a little over a week since my study abroad group landed in Montevideo, but it feels like a lifetime. With plenty of midday naps, an abundance of coffee and an herbal drink called maté, time passes differently on this side of the equator.
The strange thing is, it’s easy to forget I’m not home. Except for that whole “only speak in Spanish from sun-up to sun-down” rule. That hampers things a bit.
But once you find a routine, it’s easy to relax. And maybe that’s where most people go wrong.
I may think I fit in, but I don’t. I can’t.
Where I’m blonde, everyone else has luscious, dark locks. My blue eyes contrast to the common brown. I’m fluent in English. Everyone here is fluent in Spanish.
And I’m stuck in the unfortunate situation of only having brought over-sized t-shirts, Nike shorts and a few pair of jeans. It’s winter here. Thank you for that one, college culture.
My stomach starts to growl at 6 p.m., while everyone here waits to eat dinner around 8.
They greet each other with a peck on the cheek, and if you don’t greet someone with a kiss, or shy away, it’s considered rude. I mean come on, hugging strangers was already awkward enough for me back in the States.
There’s public transportation. Coming from Abilene, where you’re usually only crammed in a car with people you know, to Montevideo and riding a bus that’s packed like a can of sardines, was a tricky adjustment.
So yes, I stick out, whether I realize it all the time or not.
Which is why I have to pay attention to everything.
I know how the women wear their hair– loose and long– and how they cradle their purses on public transit. I know how everyone walks down the street, eyes searching for nothing in particular, and never keeping contact with another person for too long.
I’m slowly picking up on the favorite phrases of Uruguayans. So far Dale takes the cake, and yes, you’re probably saying it wrong.
I’m also learning more on grammatical structuring of sentences in Spanish. Which sounds dull, but is mandatory for everyday life here.
I’m standing out, but I think I’m getting the hang of this foreign life, one day at a time.
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