Sunday, 24 July 2016

Mini UBES, changing families and general update!

I haven’t written in ages, just basically because I have not had time. I am so crazy crazy busy and I can’t believe that I started off writing 1 per week. The weeks are flying by and I can’t believe that my family from NZ arrive in less than a week!!

I guess I should start with the fact that I have changed families. I was really nervous about moving and felt a little bit apprehensive but now that I am here with my family and we have had over a month together, I love them so much. They are honestly just such great people. I am living with a couple who are quite a bit younger than my previous host family and they have 2 sons although neither of them are living in Bell Ville. One of these sons is in NZ in Tauranga on exchange (it’s so crazy talking to him over Skype and having him experiencing the things I’ve grown up accustomed to, and hearing how he is seeing them, as an exchange student in a completely different light, and I am sure vice versa) and the other son is living in Cordoba although he often comes home on the weekends. I really love my brother who lives in Cordoba and we are honestly already like siblings, like we are always joking around with each other and like after the boliche’s if he is there, he will drive home with me. My host mum is diabetic and so being gluten free is a lot easier as she doesn’t eat a lot of carbohydrates, so for me that’s really nice as I feel less of a burden in that respect! My family are also super social and always doing things which is nice! We always have people coming in and out of the house, whether it’s family or friends. It’s so weird because I can’t compare my two families (which is probably a good thing) just simply because they are so different and I love them both for very different reasons. 

Honestly with my school friends, every week just seems to get better and better. I think I have been so lucky though with my group of friends as I have been talking to some of the other exchange students here and it seems quite different for them and a lot of them are really struggling with having real friends. While it’s easy at the start of exchange to make friends as you’re the new person and everyone wants to get to know you because you're interesting as you’re an exchange student, often the hype fades after about a month. Then you also have the rotary trips and you miss school and miss spending time with them. Also here it’s interesting because the majority of the students have known each other since they were in pre school and so not only are you fighting with the language barrier but also to fit into a very tight knit group of friends. I remember before I came here everyone said to me that Argentinians were really open and that it was really easy to make friends, I think that is true to an extent. I think it is really easy to make friends but really hard to be 100% integrated and apart of the group and you really have to push to get there. I think the fact that I always say yes to doing things with people really helped for me, and also my willingness to try and talk to people, one on one or in groups, without really worrying about if I made mistakes with my spanish. I think now I am starting to feel as if I am really apart of the group and like I am always considered and not just an after thought. An example of this is that people will now call me to ask me if I am coming out or to so and so’s ouse and invite me to come early to go with them to another place. It’s honestly such an amazing feeling to be apart of it and not just looking in from the outside.

The weather here has just taken this awful turn for the worse and it is so ridiculously cold, although I have heard that it is like that in NZ at the moment as well! Everyone is wrapped up in massive jackets and polar fleeces whenever they go out and the streets are often empty as people don’t want to leave their houses because it is so cold! This is so different to summer as I remember that when I arrived their was always people in the streets and the cafes were always filled with people. I already can’t wait for spring to come and just for the weather to warm up a little bit.

School has been quite stressful recently as I missed 3 weeks for the north trip and here I am so involved in school and with some teachers especially I am treated as a normal student and have expectations of doing all homework and tests (right from the get go, even when I was struggling with my spanish). This meant that I got back and had missed a whole load of tests and had to catch up on it all. So I have had quite a hectic time since being back trying to catch up on everything, however it has also been good as I have really missed learning. I was talking about this today with my friend and last year I had so much pressure to do well and study heaps that I didn’t think I enjoyed learning, but now that I am here and before this week haven’t really been studying a lot or doing much in class, I’ve realised how much I’ve missed learning. Like obviously everyday my brain is being exercised as I learn more and more spanish but it’s more just learning in school by studying that I miss.

I also had one of my best exchange student friends come and visit me one of the last weekends. It was so lovely as I got to show her around my town and introduce her to all my friends and it was just great to spend time with her. It’s weird because there are people who spend so much time with their exchange friends as they have so many in their town and for me I think it’s better that I didn’t have any in my town as I had to integrate myself and couldn’t rely on the exchange students to be my friends. It also means it is such a treat whenever I get to see them! However on the topic of exchange students, I have 3 new exchange students coming to my town in July/August. One is only coming for a month, but the other 2 (an American boy and a German girl) are coming for a year! Neither of them are going to my school but I am already so excited to get to know them. It will be cool to be the “oldie”, showing everyone the ropes hahaha. We have also made a group chat now with all the new exchange students coming to my rotary district in July/August and I honestly love them all already!! They are so so funny and I just know that we are going to have such an amazing time on the South Trip together.

Another exciting and spontaneous thing that happened, was that I got a chance to go up in a private plane here in Bell Ville! I was with my current host family and they were showing me where Fede (their son in NZ) played rugby and right next to it as an aeroplane club. We saw that their was a party type thing going on and so we went over to have a look and bumped into one of my host dads friends who is a pilot. Next thing I knew he was asking if we wanted to go up in a plane and go for a little trip to have a look at Bell Ville from above! It was so so cool and he showed me all the mechanisms of the plane!

I also had a rotary conference in “La Falda” with all of the exchange students and a lot of important rotary people. The conference took place on the Saturday afternoon but we got the chance to meet up with all the exchange students early on Saturday morning and then spend all day Saturday and then Sunday morning together. This was super great as it was like a final weekend for us all to spend together before all the oldies went home! The rotary conference itself was held in this old historic building on the top of a massive hill and it was a super gorgeous setting! We listened to loads of speeches and then got up and sang a song for everyone, and Caro (one of the exchange students from Mexico) spoke in front of everyone. It was a really nice afternoon and a really great chance to get to know a whole bunch of Rotarians! The only thing was, was that it was very very very cold without any heating. Other than the conference part during the afternoon, we basically all just hung out together, played games and generally just enjoyed each others company! It was a lovely weekend. 

Something else very exciting, is that we had mini UBES! UBES is the massive inter school competition (that only exists here in Bell Ville) where we compete to win a cup with sports, dance, singing, theatre, chess etc and that is in August/September. Mini UBES is basically UBES but for those from primero to tercero año (year 8-10), and it’s only sports. So the first weekend we had basketball and football. We lost in basketball with both the boys and the girls but with football we made it to the final. The second weekend we had handball and volleyball! The Saturday of volleyball was probably my favourite day as I was there all day and we ended up winning with both the boys and the girls! With handball (the final day) the boys lost in the third round but the girls won the final, and because of that we won UBES with the females!! The vibe at UBES is so so crazy! We all dance, scream, shout and sing until our voices are hoarse, supporting our school. It is also very very competitive between schools and many friendships become strained because of UBES. After we won with the girls we went and took photos outside the schools with the cup and it was such a big deal... I can't even imagine how UBES is going to be, as I am told it is 100000000x more important.. Crazy Argentinians!

This last weekend was a long weekend and both Friday and Monday were public holidays (we have a lot of public holidays here) and so on Friday we made the most of the nice weather and went to my families farm. We went at about 12pm and I spent the afternoon riding horses, getting to know the farm and it’s different aspects (where the cows are milked, where they have corn, soy and wheat etc.), spending time with the 4 and 8 year old nieces of my host mum, eating an asado (bbq) and just spending time in the fresh air. It was super great and we didn't return home until about 8:30pm. 

I think that's about it for now. For those who are still reading my blog, I hope it's not too boring and same old same old! <3