As strange as it was, I celebrated the 4th of July in the middle of winter. It was slightly nostalgic seeing my friends and family in the US posting pictures of their holiday in in the sun while relaxing at a lake in Minnesota, but my South American friends were more than happy to help me celebrate the 4th of July! I hosted an once (pronounced own-say, more or less), which is a small afternoon social event where you eat food and chat around 4-5pm. I wanted to bring in some typical summer foods we like to eat in the states, so naturally I served BBQ pulled chicken sandwiches, potato salad, chocolate-dipped pretzel sticks, and since we couldn’t have an actual fire in the office: s’mores bars. I would have loved to make a flag fruit tray but sadly strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries are out of season & super expensive right now.
After serving the food, everyone wanted to know what kinds of things American’s do on their independence holiday. Besides fireworks, I told them people I know just get to take the day off and usually go to their lake cabins for the weekend to hang out, eat food, and have drinks with everyone. They were surprised to hear that some people spend thousands of dollars on fireworks for one night. Everyone really liked the food, but I found that the word “pretzel” does not make any sense in Spanish. You have to call them salzstix, or literally, salt sticks. I also made sure to let everyone know that s’mores are 100 times better over the fire than in bar form because very few South American’s had even heard of roasting marshmallows. We also listened to a 4th of July playlist on you tube which further solidified the idea that every person in the US loves country music and knows how to dance to it. Overall it was really fun to be able to share such an iconic US holiday with my South American friends, who are always eager to learn about the traditions of other countries.
Things have been slowing down at the university lately, which has been a little weird since today is officially the last day of the fall semester. The “paro”, or the stopping of classes due to the student protests have really decreased activity at the university. It just means that they will probably have classes into their summer vacation in December or January, but that’s just what I’ve been told will happen if the students vote to continue the protest at the start of the spring semester, which begins around August 1st. The students seem really motivated to keep the paro going.
Yesterday a bunch of us from the office went to Romina’s birthday party, who turned 2. She is Jorge’s daughter, and has a lot of attitude. It was so funny because any time someone said they wanted to take her picture she got extremely upset and started crying. The theme of the party was “Buscando a Dory” or Finding Dory, and the multiuse room in Jorge’s apartment was decorated with tons of fish, streamers, and balloons. Andrea and I made the cake and cupcakes and we had completos (hot dogs) for food. It was a fun party complete with a pinata and lots of candy.
Lately I have been doing really well with my Spanish, and I don’t have to think too much before talking to people or responding to a question. Put me in a larger group in a restaurant with loud music, though, and I get lost pretty quickly. It is extremely tiring working to not only hear but understand everything in a conversation. It’s times like those when I really miss the easy conversation with my friends in the US, but when I think about how far I’ve come since I got here I can appreciate my improvements even more.