I’ve spent months preparing to launch this blog, but now that I’m in Montevideo, I’m somehow completely unsure how to begin. The last 24 hours has honestly been one of the most dramatic emotional roller coasters of my life, and it still feels a little bizarre to have completely switched time zones, continents, and languages in less than a day.
The reality didn’t set in until I got to the airport in Tulsa, where I indulged in my normal airport ritual – a venti iced coffee and totally unnecessary magazine purchases – and decided to savor the last few hours of routine that I had.
I’ve probably mentioned this to most of you, but I’ve never traveled out of the country before, and I don’t actually think I’ve even done a domestic trip alone. I also have some well managed but pretty potent anxiety. I wasn’t really worried about the trip, but I was worried that I would get worried and panic. Thankfully, my trip went really smoothly despite one totally minor hiccup where I tried to go through customs in Rio de Janeiro even though I didn’t need to. (And, on the plus side, I now know that most Brazilians are trilingual and I can understand when they say “you don’t speak Portuguese, do you?”.) I really don’t like long flights and multiple connections, but I had a great experience with all the United representatives I interacted with on this trip.
My host mom was gracious enough to pick me up at the airport, which was a huge relief. I’m proud of myself for keeping it together, but I’m not sure if I could have handled hauling myself and my giant suitcase (46 lbs, thank you very much) onto a bus. She is absolutely wonderful, and my new bedroom is adorable.
I haven’t been here very long, but I’ve definitely noticed some of the cultural differences that friends or my studies told me about. For one thing, dinner is super late, which I honestly don’t have any problem with. Apartments (at least ones like my host mom’s place) rely on natural cross-ventilation rather than air conditioning, which is another thing that I’m totally down for (at least for now; it hasn’t been too hot yet). Going to the beach to tan appears to be the national pastime, and I think my host mom and I are both glad that my skin magically inherited some of my Mexican genetics, otherwise I’d be a lobster right now. The conversation about my extreme paleness came up on the way to the beach, which isn’t quite pronounced playa here – it’s more like plyzzhhhuh. Double Ls, Ys, and some other consonants have a strong SH/ZH sound here, which almost sounds a bit Portuguese to me.
The real test will be in two weeks, when I start classes, but I have a bit of time to ease into school again with my pre-semester Spanish course. I probably could have skipped it, but it got me here two weeks earlier and will help me switch my vocabulary from “19th century literature” to “where does this go in the fridge, and also I broke a light bulb earlier.” (Bombilla. The word for light bulb is bombilla.)
That’s about it for now. This is sort of the quick and dirty version, but I want to be clear – yesterday was hard emotionally. I love it here already, but speaking completely in Spanish and sometimes struggling to be understood can be taxing. Like I said, though, it’s a roller coaster – and I’m definitely on the upswing right now.