In the Spirit of Thanksgiving

This season came and went so quickly, I barely had time to process it. Living in Chile, it seemed just like any other week to me. I had 7 hours worth of classes on Thanksgiving day alone. I missed getting to be with family, and I really missed all things pumpkin! That being said, I actually did get the chance to celebrate the holiday with other fellow Americans, and it was such a wonderful time.

Grateful for the opportunity to celebrate out of the country, I also want to take a moment to verbalize other things I’m thankful for. There’s a reason we ask our students every year to write down things they’re thankful for. Not only is it holiday tradition, but it’s good practice, and a habit we want to instill in young children as their teachers. Being able to count your blessings keeps you from taking things for granted and also makes you realize all the good things you have that you don’t deserve. Ultimately, nothing really belongs to us, and in Job’s words, the Lord gives and takes away (Job 1:21). I don’t ever want to take what I have for granted!

So here is my list:

  1. I am in Chile! Sometimes I just stop and think about how surreal it all is. I’m in South America, surrounded by South Americans, completely immersed in another culture. I love getting acquainted with all things Chilean: the food, the culture, the customs, the language, the people…it’s truly an incredible experience. I have learned so much in just the four months I’ve lived here, and I wouldn’t have it any other way! Getting to live in another country is such an amazing experience that grows you as a person. I highly recommend it to anyone who is able!
  2. I have a Chilean roommate. Not just any Chilean roommate, but one who feels very much like a big sister. She’s taken care of me, included me in on various social events, and has really helped me with the language. Just a couple examples of how awesome she’s been: after my phone was stolen, she helped me set up my new one with a prepaid plan and even called the provider on my behalf. When I was sick, she personally took me to the pharmacy and advised me as to which medicine I should take for my symptoms. She took me into her apartment, even with the language barrier, and chooses to talk to me and be my friend (even though I’m very slow with Spanish). Some days we even hang out just the two of us. Not every foreigner is so lucky! Thanks Cote!
  3. I live in a nice apartment in a good location in the city. Because of where I am, it is very common for me to walk to and from work. I love how much more active I am down here, even if it’s just from all the walking! It’s really made a huge difference. I’m also about 20 minutes walking distance from Cerro San Cristobal, one of the most popular hills in Santiago (with a beautiful view and running trails). Here’s to living more fit!
  4. I have friends in the city. My roommate has connected me with other Chileans, so I have many acquaintances who are natives (and that’s just awesome!) As a foreigner, it’s very common to get involved in a foreigner community, which is great, but it doesn’t necessarily help with the language or customs. I also have a good friend from Texas and another from Australia, both of which have really nice Chilean boyfriends with a great sense of humor. I feel very comfortable around these great people, and I’m so grateful for their friendship!
  5. I have a Brazilian boyfriend. Yes, it is as cool as it sounds. When I came down here, I hardly expected to meet someone so soon, but lo and behold, I crossed paths with Carlos my third day in Santiago. We have a really fun little story of how everything started with us, and now I get the chance to go to RIO in January! He has been so sweet, surpassing my expectations, and has even managed to return to Santiago twice just to see me! I can’t believe I met this guy – it’s definitely a blessing.
  6. I get to go home for the holidays. The chorus to the popular Christmas song was playing in my head this past week: “Oh there’s no place like home for the holidays, for no matter how far away you roam…” December is just around the corner and I get to go back home and see everybody! I didn’t know when I came down here in July if I would be able to do that, but now I have a long vacation planned (that worked out with my institute no problem) where I get to spend time in Texas and then Rio! It’s unreal, and I can’t wait!
  7. My institute is flexible and gracious. You know how I just mentioned my long vacation (a little over a month’s time)? The institute I work for down here is very flexible with their teachers and any time they want to spend traveling. I’ve never heard of a place that would let you take that much time off and come back, but I will have my classes when I return! It’s amazing and it keeps me from stressing about making travel plans!
  8. My Spanish is getting better. It is! Yo prometo! I’m gradually gaining some confidence in my communication ability. I even just had the opportunity to complete 2 weeks of intensive Spanish courses (on top of my work schedule) at a Spanish school I really like in Santiago. I’ve made some new friends and have learned some invaluable things about Spanish (or should I say Chileno?)!

 

And so, I may be a day late in posting, but I’m very grateful for all the things I’ve been blessed with in my life down here. It can be easy sometimes to be caught up in the uncomfortable moments that are just a given when you struggle with the language, but at the end of the day, I have nothing to complain about. Plus, if you learn to laugh at yourself, you end up with tons of great stories for later!

I hope everybody had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Hugs,
Heidi

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