Monday, April 27, 2009

Despedida de los Intercambios (Goodbye Exchange Student Get-Together)

Last weekend all the exchange students in my district reunited for the last time in Los Angeles. While most of us are leaving in the middle of June/early July, our friend Taylor McCurdy is leaving on May 8th. He lives in Connecticut and starts a job as a backpacking instructor in Montana on June 1st, so he is going back earlier to spend time with his family and friends.We all arrived on Friday night and had once (pronounced "own-say") at a Rotarian's house. They had the most delicious nut pastries---it was like candied nut pastry wow it was fabulous.

The next day we got up really early and left Los Angeles at 8 AM to go to Lota, a town 2 hours away. There, we toured an old coal mine, "El Chiflón del Diablo", that stretches underneath the ocean. The mine went out of commission in the late seventies, but old miners give tours still.

We rode a rusty cage-like elevator down into the mine and walked the passageways. It was really interesting to see how the miners worked and just how dangerous it was.

<--Emil getting into the cage elevator and a tour guide.

We put on the actual equipment they used to use in the mine--the hard hats and the headlamps imported from Germany in the 1950s. They also had really cool telephones in the mines that were installed in the 1930s that still worked and were the only way to communicate with the outside world from inside the mine.

<--Taylor, Kasey, me, Nizhoni, Emil, Margaux, and Johanna with our authentic mining gear

After we toured the mine, we went to a beautiful park called Parque de Isidora.
An English couple moved to the city and the wife (whose name was Isidora) loved plants so much that she built a beautiful garden/park overlooking the ocean. They had converted their old house into a museum where we could see the old tools they used in the mines in the early 1900s and some other period artifacts.

<-- Listening to our tour guide was dressed in authentic dress.

<--View of the ocean from the park

That night we all ate dinner together at a barbecue restaurant. They brought out bowls piled high with meat and boiled potatoes in the center of the table and we served ourselves all the meat we wanted. After we finished eating dinner, the Rotarians gave us a decorative copper plate with our name and home Rotary district on it and a huge Chilean flag.

<--The whole table! Exchange students and Rotarians <-- Left side, front to back: Margaux (CT), Nizhoni (CA), Tyler (AZ), Emil (Denmark) Right side, front to back: Emily (NY), Kasey (AZ), Taylor (CT), Lee (ME)

As is custom in Chile, we all got up and said a few sentences about our exchange and what we have learned and experienced. My friend Tyler stood up and gave a very moving speech about how love is universal and distances don't matter. At the end, half the people in the room were tearing up.

Later that night we all got together in Emily's house as one last hurrah. Taylor took out his guitar and we sang along and talked for hours. Lee and I had to leave early (at 4 AM) because we were staying in a house far away and needed to call to get picked up but the rest of them stayed up until 8 AM talking and eating.

Rotarian in the Making

After I got back from Argentina, I was all set to go back to school regularly and go back to the routine of seeing Rotarians once a month at meetings. However, a few days later, my host dad Cristian asked me, "Jennie, are you busy this weekend? Because some gringos from Ohio with the Rotary Group Study Exchange (GSE) are coming to Chillán for a week and the four Rotary clubs in Chillán are going to be taking turns hosting their daily activities. My Rotary club is in charge of them over the weekend and we are going to take them to a rodeo and Las Termas de Chillán. Would you be interested in coming with us and translate? None of them speak Spanish." And of course I said "yes" because I hadn't been to Las Termas before to go in the natural thermal pools--I had only gone when I went hiking to the Laguna Huemul and I still hadn't seen a lot of the cool things there. Plus, since my own dad is going to go to Russia on a Group Study Exchange with Rotary, I thought it would be cool to see what the program was like.

<--These are the famous natural thermal pools of Las Termas, a tourist spot owned by my city, Chillán with the mountains in the background. After swimming we had a delicious lunch at a nearby restaurant--it was amazing.

That was how it began. Then my host mom, Cristina, asked me to go to the bus station on Wednesday night to meet the GSE people so that I could translate and explain to them which Rotarian's house they were going to and what time they had to be ready in the morning, etc. She said, "It will take less than an hour". Well, the Rotarian that gave me a ride to the bus station thought it would be a fantastic idea to take me back to his house with the gringo he was hosting for dinner so that I could keep translating. He then invited me to pack a suitcase and stay in his house for the rest of the week while the GSE group was there and when I politely said that it would be better for me to stay in my own house, he insisted that I at least come in the morning to his house before the scheduled daily activities to eat breakfast with them. As I might have mentioned before, Chileans are very welcoming and warm people.

The GSE team was comprised of 4 people, one Rotarian in his fifties named Chris and three "young professionals": Kieran Hurley (lawyer), Joshua Roark (professor), and Sonja Johnson (teacher). They were all nice, and we got along really well. It was so cool to see them go through the same phases of adjustment that we as exchange students went through when you still haven't gotten used to the culture and are discovering new things every day. They had a hard time understanding that "gordo" (fat/fat person) is used as a term of endearment. Many couples call each other "gordo/a" affectionately.

<--The GSE team in the local newspaper building seated at their newscaster desk. From left to right: Sonja, Chris, Josh, and Kieran. Sonja definitely noticed the lack of diversity in Chile. In Chile there are hardly any foreign-looking people; they all basically look the same.

So Sonja got some pretty hard stares walking the streets of Chillán. I was personally ecstatic to see a black person for a week after going eight and a half months seeing only one ethicity: Chilean.

However, I
could definitely understand why the Chileans were upset that they were allowed to participate in the GSE without knowing a shred of Spanish. If I hadn't been there to translate while they were touring, it would have been a painful experience to try and get the point across.

<--One of the tours we did was of a celulose plant where they process wood to make paper products and wood products. This plant is one of the biggest in Chile and is very environmentally conscious. To prove how "green" they are, they grow wine vines right next to the factory.

To make a long story slightly less long, I was hired by all four Rotary clubs to be the desginated translator for the whole week the GSE team was there. At first the whole thing caught me by surprise and overwhelmed me, but as I got to know the team better and participated in their activities, I really enjoyed it. First of all, I had been here for eight months and hadn't seen hardly ANY of the local touristy things, so I got to do those things with the GSE team.

<-- Me with a statue of Bernardo O'Higgins (Chile's George Washington) in Chillán Viejo's municipal building

I met the mayor of Chillán and Chillán Viejo (Old Chillán), toured the famous Cathedral in Chillán's square, saw the new Claudio Arrau Museum, toured the local newspaper building (and talked on their radio station and was in their newspaper), swam in Las Termas's natural thermal springs, saw Chile's biggest distribution company's storehouse, and toured the biggest celulose/paper plant in the region. Definitely not a bad way to spend a week!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Semana Santa en Argentina (Holy Week in Argentina)

Ever since I had moved into my new house, I had known that my host parents were going to be spending Holy Week on a Rotary trip to Mendoza and Rio Cuarto, Argentina. They were going with 34 other Rotarians to their "brother Rotary club" in Rio Cuarto for a few days and chose Holy Week because it was the only time when they had vacation time to do so.

<--My host parents, Cristian, Cristina and I

The trip began on Tuesday night and on Thursday at lunch, my parents asked me if I would like to come with them. I knew I would be the only teenager going (everyone in Rotary is in their late fifties to mid seventies), but I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to see parts of Argentina that I hadn't been to before.

We set off at 10:30 PM on Tuesday and 36 of us drove the twelve hours to Mendoza in a chartered bus. Once we got there, I was starving but by the time we checked into the hotel and wandered the streets of Mendoza in search of a good restaurant, it was two hours later and I was famished. All I really wanted was some pasta or a good piece of chicken, but I knew that my dad would never forgive me for going to a nice Argentenian restaurant and not ordering their world-renowned beef. In the end, I was very glad I chose the beef loin because it was absolutely delicous!!! The meat was incredibly tender and juicy--and I am not even that big a red meat fan. But what was even more incredible was that my meal cost USD$11, easily one third the price of what the same meal would have cost me in the United States.

<--The group I ate lunch with sitting in Mendoza's plaza

That afternoon was completely devoted to shopping. I swear, I have never seen a more avid group of shoppers in my life. As soon as the shops opened in the afternoon (Argentina closes its stores from 2--5 because they take naps) all thirty-five Rotarians spread throughout Mendoza's center, hunting through leather shops, peering in shoe stores, scrutinizing every store window and mumbling about prices. Needless to say after three and a half hours of walking all over Mendoza I was exhausted and went back to the hotel to rest before dinner.

That night we got back from dinner late, around 1:30 AM. I'm not sure if you all have picked up on this after reading my blog for eight months now, but South Americans' schedule is about two to three hours behind ours, especially when it comes to mealtimes. Breakfast is before school or work, which is usually between 7:30 and 8 on weekdays and around 11 on weekends. Lunch is usually around 2 or 3 and dinner between 8 and 10 PM. So we left the hotel in Mendoza to look for a good restaurant at 10 PM. Now, I thought Chilean restaurants were slow but Argentenians definitely beat them. Our pizzas and sandwiches took around 40 minutes to come and only because the Rotarians began banging their knives and forks on the tables, singing and complaining simultaneously. The one good thing is that the pizzas were excellent since Argentineans are from Italian descent and are well known for their pastas and pizzas.

The next day we headed out early in the morning to drive to Rio Cuarto, a city about 5 hours away from Mendoza.
We were welcomed on the side of the road first by a handful of Rotarians and the local firefighter squad.

<--Our welcome crew in Rio Cuarto

My host mom and a bunch of other lively Chilean Rotarians climbed up the firefighter truck and road in the open air in the back the rest of the five kilometers into Rio Cuarto.

After checking into our hotel which was right across from the town square, we had a few hours to rest before our big welcome dinner. The dinner was excellent but the company was even better. The average age for the Rio Cuarto Rotary Club was seventy-six, but the majority were so lively and energetic that they seemed decades younger. An eighty-two year old man lovingly called Bicho ("bug") and the woman at my table, Marta, were particularly vivacious and energetic. Marta's raspy voice carried across the whole table and was telling stories and jokes the entire meal. These events, however, have a very formal protocol that can be very tiring. They said "welcome" and "thank you for having us" fifty times throughout the night and at one-thirty in the morning, I was very happy to board our bus again and head back to the hotel.

The next two days in Rio Cuarto were very much like the first one--we had lunches and dinners with the Rotary Club there and the free time that was left was mostly dedicated to shopping. There was a special ceremony on Friday morning when the Argentenians dedicated a section of a park to the city of Chillan, Chile in which--and I kid you not--FOUR elderly people fainted.

<--Dedicating the Chillan plaza in Mendoza's park

It was fairly hot out and during the whole hour-long ceremony everyone was standing.
It was very lucky that one of the Chilean Rotarians is a doctor and the captain of the firefighter squad was there because they were very much needed. After the third fainting, I whispered to one of the women next to me, "Wow, they are just dropping like flies!". Apparently all of the Rotarians thought this comment was hilarious because when the ceremony was over and we piled back into the bus to go to lunch, at least five Rotarians chuckled, "Están cayendo como moscas!" when they passed me.

A few years ago, the Rio Cuarto Rotarians came to visit Chillan and they had stayed in Rotarians' houses. So one evening, those Argentenians invited the Chileans who had hosted them to their hosues for dinner.

<--My dinner group

As the tagalong American teenager, I got invited to go to a house, too. I went to Bicho's house and it was so nice to see a typical Argentenian house and meet his wife and daughter.

<--Easily two of the most characteristic people I have ever met, Bicho from Argentina and Enrique (a.k.a. Quique) from Chillan

Bicho really impressed me because in spite of his eighty-two years, he is as full of life and sprightly as an eager eleven-year-old. His fidgety movements and bubbling laughter were infectious, and it was impossible to be bored. Bicho is one of those rare people that truly applies the Rotary message of "service above self" to every aspect of his life. He told me that before he
joined Rotary fifty-seven years ago, he researched the organization thoroughly so as to know exactly what it was that he was getting into. He read every article, book, and pamphlet about Rotary that he could get his hands on and has the most extensive, organized collection of Rotary materials I have ever seen. His Rotarian magazine collection includes every issue since 1952 and is annotated and indexed, so that if he ever wants to reference an article, he can access it in less than a minute.

<--The Rio Cuarto Rotarians singing a farewell song, led by the vivacious Marta

Our farewell dinner was especially touching because it was clear that although this trip could have been a stuffy, rehearsed, empty visit, it was the exact opposite. My favorite moment was when at the very end of the dinner we all stood up, holding hands, and sang a Rotary song. It was the epitome of Rotarianism that I had ever seen--these two countries that had been on the brink of war in 1979 were now singing and holding hands and eating pizza.

<--Me singing "Sweet Baby James" by James Taylor. The sharing of cultures continued...

The biggest downside to the trip was definitely the return journey home. I spent all of Easter Sunday on a bus traveling back to Chillan. We left Rio Cuarto at 6:30 AM and pulled into my driveway at 2:45 AM the next day. It was exhausting, but during our forty-five minute break in Santiago I got to meet my "host sister" Tamara, her husband José Manuel and their two little kids, Cote and Trini. They were so cute and reminded me of the way my family was sixteen years ago--parents trying to enjoy a meal and conversation while running after little kids in rest stops.

So even though I was thoroughly bored at times and had longed for company my own age, I was really happy that I got the chance to go on the trip. Now I have a better idea of Argentenian culture and can manage five languages now: English, French, Spanish, Chilean and Argentenian.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Host Family Switch

So about a week and a half ago I switched host families. I now live with Cristian and Cristina Sepulveda, a really nice couple who live only one street away from my old house. I was so relieved when I found out that they lived in the same neighborhood because my neighborhood is so convenient--I am within walking distance to school, running distance to my gym, and right on the public transportation line.

Cristian is an engineer for a major phone company in Chile, Entel, and Cristina is the co-owner of a local café. Although they work a lot, they are very social. We always eat lunch and dinner together and stay for an hour to two hours at the table, talking. The Sepulvedas are also very active Rotarians, and Cristina is president of the Women's Rotary Club (here the Rotary clubs are segregated by sex). They used to be very active in their church and even though they aren't so involved anymore, they still go regularly and always get together with their group of church friends (sound familiar?).

I was a little nervous on Moving Day because first of all, they changed my moving date about five times because the Sepulvedas were visiting their children in Santiago (their two kids, Tamara and Mati, are 30 and 22 and live in Santiago) and weren't sure of their return date. I finally ended up moving in at 11:30 PM on Sunday, March 8th and was greeted by Cristian. Cristina was still in Santiago, but Cristian made me feel right at home. We ended up talking until 1 AM until I said that I needed to go to sleep since I had school the next day.

But I have settled into life in my new house--their lifestyle really suits me a lot better than my old house, just because they interact a lot more with each other and have a much broader social life. And not much else has changed because I still go to the same school and still have the same activities--only now I get to practice Spanish a lot more because I easily get 2 more hours of Spanish conversation in a day.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hiking in Las Termas de Chillán!

This past weekend I went hiking with some friends close to Chillán to the Laguna Huemul. I went with my good friends Emil, Claudio, Seba and his friends Cristián (a.k.a. Kuko) and Simón. Claudio's niece, Karla, and her boyfriend Jesús, also came. Seba told us to meet at his house at 12 PM on Saturday, only in true Chilean fashion we didn't leave until 3:15 and drove to Las Termas de Chillán, which are about an hour away.

By the time we got on the trail at 5:30 we didn't have enough daylight left to hike the four hours up to the laguna (pond) so Simón said we would just camp at the refugio. Now, I am thinking that refugio is like a lean-to or something we are going to sleep in, but it's actually this decrepit house that was clearly a handsome mansion in its hayday. So, obviously, we didn't sleep there but in a campsite nearby. On our way to the refugio, we passed through a really cool field of black, volcanic rocks.

Right near the moutain we hiked is Volcán Chillán that is dormant now, but years and years ago it errupted and we walked through its lava trail (lovingly dubbed "Mordor") and saw the immensity of it as we hiked up. The volcanic rocks look insanely cool, exactly like the Mordor depicted in Peter Jackson's
Lord of the Rings.

<-- Mordor from above
I was so excited to be camping again!

And my favorite part was that at night we all gathered around the campfire and sang songs along with the old acoustic guitar Claudio brought along.
It reminded me of all the 1990s Maholchic family reunions and the experience was completed with marshmallows roasting on the fire (although graham crackers are almost impossible to find here, we didn't have s'mores).

<-- Emil, Seba and Claudio singing by the fire

The next day, we got up and hiked about two hours up to the laguna. Now, this might
sound easy, but I assure you it was not. It was a steep climb to the top of the mountain and the way was paved with loose rocks, so one had to be very careful where he put his feet. It also didn't help that we climbed up at the hottest part of the day, around noon.

Just before we got to the pond, we ran into one of Seba's friends, Cristian who was supposed to meet up with us the day before but had never showed up. Apparently he had gotten his act together wayy before us and had taken a bus to Las Termas. He had slept at the pond the night before and was on his way down, assuming that our group decided not to go but quickly turned around and stayed with us that night.

Emil, Claudio and I hiked faster than the others and were the first ones to make it to the pond. As soon as we got there, we jumped in its icy waters--you cannot imagine how refreshing it was!! Half an hour later, the others joined us and we set up camp.

<-- Laguna Huemul

That night everyone was really tired, so we headed to bed much earlier than the previous night, around 10:30 PM and slept soundly (although a little uncomfortably, because if you can believe it, ground is HARD and no one had brought a foam pad). The next morning we had to "move quickly" because we had to hike back down in time to catch the bus back to Chillán.

Before we left however, we squeezed in a hike to this amazing cliff overlooking the pond. It was tricky to climb up--at one point we had to brace our backs against a rock and stick our legs out in front against another rock and shimmy ourselves up. But the view at the top was well worth it, we could see everything from up there.

<--Me, Seba, Emil, Claudio, and Jesús before hiking up the precipice

We were late heading out of camp (surprise! not.) and I was getting worried because the trail coming up was full of loose rocks and very steep, which I knew would not be fun to go down. Luckily for us, just as we were about to leave a guide came up and told us about an alternate route down through the forest that had no rocks and would get us to the town much faster. I was so relieved! The descent still wasn't a piece of cake because the ground was so dry that there was a good inch of loose dirt that would rise in clouds, blinding us and making us cough like hard-core smokers.

Everything turned out well, though. We got down in time to catch a bus back to Chillán. I have to say, I felt bad for everyone else on the bus having to ride an hour back to Chillán with eight dirty, dusty, sweaty teenagers.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Patagonia--Round Two

On December 29th, I flew back to Punta Arenas to spend three weeks with my friend, Romina Ojeda. Romina was a Rotary exchange student in Plymouth, Mass last year and since my dad was her Rotary coordinator she had come to my house multiple times. We kept in touch and she invited me to spend some of my summer vacation at her house.

<--Romina, her mom Gina and her dad Ovaldo

It was great to go back to Punta Arenas because it is absolutely gorgeous down south and my first trip had been so rushed and crammed full of things and my second visit was much more relaxed. Also, I was speaking in Spanish the entire time because I was hanging out with only Chileans, while in Chillán I see the other exchange students fairly often and we usually speak in English. So while I was down south my Spanish improved even more because Romina's family is very talkative and friendly. Her parents, 28-year-old sister Shol and she live in a cozy house only a fifteen minute walk from Punta Arenas's town center.
For New Year's, we had a midnight family dinner in her house--her brother, Ariel, and his girlfriend also joined us and we had an absurd amount of food ranging from meat to sushi. On New Year's in Chile, everyone generally has a family dinner around midnight and then around 1 or 2 AM people ages 15 to 30 go out and party until 6 or 7 AM. We didn't stay out that late, we came home from Romina's friend's house around 5:30 AM.
In addition to hanging out around Punta Arenas with Romina's friends and family, we went on a few family field trips to places like Monte León, a sheep shearing town founded in 1872 by English settlers that is abandoned now but the original buildings are still standing.

I went with Shol and her boyfriend, José, who actually knew quite a lot about the history of Monte León so it was a little bit like having a guide come with us.
<--José showing us a sheep-shearing factory. These pens are where the newly sheared sheep were held.

We also went to Río Gallegos, Argentina for the afternoon which is only a two and a half hour drive from Punta Arenas, although crossing the Argentinean border took a full hour. The first thing we did in Río Gallegos was go eat brick-oven pizza, which was absolutely delicious. In Chile, the pizza is pretty substandard so it was especially wonderful since it was the first piece of delicious pizza I had had in five months. While Romina's dad went off to the casino to try his luck at the slot machines, I went shopping with Romina's mother for painting supplies (she is an avid oil painter) and books. I bought the book Twilight in Spanish and for the record, it is just as good in Spanish and it is in English.

Another day the Ojeda family took me to see Fuerte Bulnes, a fort built by President Bulnes in the late nineteenth century.

<-- Fuerte Bulnes

<--Suppedly the fort has a clear view of the sea from the North and the South.

It was really cool to walk around this wooden town that didn't only have armories but also day-to-day buildings such as a church, a prison, and commerce building.
My two Danish friends from Chillán, Claudio and Frederick, ended up coming to Punta Arenas a few days before I had to fly back to Chillán and announced they were going to go backpacking in the Torres del Paine mountains for eight days. They didn't have any equiptment, not even hiking boots. So, of course, we spent an afternoon shopping in the centro the day before they went and while we were in a cute café taking refuge from the bitter wind, Claudio turns to me and says, "Jennie! Why don't you come with us to the Torres del Paine??" And after thinking about it for a second, I realized that I had brought my hiking boots and quick-dry clothes to Punta Arenas just in case I were to go hiking. I knew I wouldn't have another chance to do this, so after talking it over with Romina's parents and my parents in the U.S. I decided to go with them and it was incredible!

I could only go for two nights because I had to come back to Punta Arenas to catch my flight, but I got to see the Torres up close at the lookout spot which was amazing.

<--On my way up the mountain

<--Me, Claudio and Frederick at the Torres del Paine lookout! The Torres are the three tower-shaped rocks in the background. This mountain used to be a volcano and after an erruption, the tower-like rocks were pushed up.

It did rain the entire second night and day, but the important thing was that our tent and sleeping bags were nice and dry (trust me, that is imperative for having a good night's sleep). The hikers on the trail were almost all foreigners and the Danes got really excited when we came across a group of 14 Danish hikers because as Denmark only has 5 million people in the whole country, it is quite rare to come across a Dane by chance.

<--One of the rivers we had to cross to get back down the mountain on the second day post-rain. It took an hour and a collaborative effort from 10 hikers from around the world to lay logs across so we could cross.

I really didn't want to leave the gorgeous mountains, but I had to come back to Punta Arenas to catch my flight and luckily, I made all three bus connections to get from the Torres del Paine National Park to Punta Arenas.

Christmastime! Who Brought the Sunblock?

I came back from my Punta Areans trip with Rotary on December 22nd, and in true Jennie fashion, I had not bought any of my Christmas presents yet. So I enlisted two of the other exchange students, Kasey and Tyler from Arizona as reinforcements and went to the centro.

<--Later, Kasey and I went back to her house and made Christmas cookies and listened to Christmas carols.

Chileans celebrate Christmas with a big family meal on the 24th and then they open the presents afterwards, usually around midnight. But my Christmas Eve was insanely hectic! I had to make two apple pies, go to the centro before noon to mail postcards, and meet up with Kasey in the centro to finish Christmas shopping. I pretty much ran around like a chicken with my head cut off all morning and afternoon, so it was really nice when I got to my aunt's house that night just to relax and talk to the whole family.

Waiting for the meat to cook...

Clockwise from top left: Tía Jacquie, Tío Miguel, Josefa, Tía Gabriela, cousin Lelo, my grandma Lela, me, Tío Marco.

We went to my host mom's sister's house in Coihueco for Christmas, the farm town about 25 minutes away from Chillán around 8 PM and had another asado, which was delicious! For our Christmas dinner we grilled beef, chicken, lorganiza (spiced sausage) and had a wide variety of salads. Dinner was served around 10:30 PM and we all sat outside in the fresh night air at a long wooden table, talking, sharing food and laughing.

After dinner we went inside, opened presents, had a Christmas drink and ate my apple pie (which was a big hit and very exciting, mainly because pies don't exist here). Around 12:30 AM, my host mom and I were fading fast and came back to Chillán to our comfy beds...

<--My host mom, Doris and host brother, Nacho, distributing presents

Christmas Day was definitely different than any other Christmas Day I have ever had. Normally I am the first one up, rush down the stairs at around 7 AM in my fuzzy bathrobe and spend the morning eating cinnamon rolls in front of the fire and opening presents. This year however, I woke up around noon, called my parents quickly in the U.S. and spent the broiling afternoon tanning alongside my host mom. Because the sun is so hot here, wearing sunblock is imperative and even with SPF 55 I got a pretty nice tan from sitting out for a few hours.
<--Me and my host mom!