Thursday, 25 February 2016

Settling in

Some time passed since I wrote the last post but while a lot of stuff was going on, nothing really extraordinary happened. Most of the time I feel like I am thrown into a different world that is somehow quite similar but then again pretty different from what I am used to. I guess that is because I arrived late and the semester already started, so I kind of jumped into the ongoing semester, into the group of international students that have already been there for three weeks and as well, of course, into a host family that also has known each other for a long time. Fortunately, I am quite adaptable and everybody is very supportive.

It took me three days to go grocery shopping for the first time because, well, I was in the supermarket but everything was so overwhelming that I bought like three things and got out again. While on the first glance everything is the same, everything you get is completely different from Europe. There are way more fruits and vegetables and they look quite different - like the huge banana I found. A friend from university was so nice to explain me all the fruits and how to eat them - which isn't always so obvious. And they have no real bread. Just sweet stuff with dough like our brioche. I am glad I am not that much into eating bread but it's still weird. Also, there are like 50 different ketchups, even "spaghetti con ketchup" but only one kind of tomato passata.

While you can get clothes, cosmetics and even TVs in the supermarkets, there are no books, no DVDs, not even extension cords for my power plug in the room that is behind the bed which I would have really liked to use. It took me a trip of more than 8km (which is actually considered "close" here) to find this huge store called "Panamerican" that sells all those stuff missing at the supermarket. Books, movies, extension cords, tools, even painting stuff for all kinds of artists. And I found the movie I was longing to watch in spanish for a long time. There are not many movies and series I have watched in german and english and also in spanish and this one totally needed to be added on that list. You probably see how glad I was I could find and buy it (if you are female and haven't watched it yet - do it!).

Another aspect is the money here. It's worth very little - 1 € is about 3600 Colombian Pesos, but still, the biggest banknote is 50000 Pesos, not even 15 €. And they told me only to pay with that note in secure places which was quite strange because it is really not that much money. But true enough, most of the things are cheaper. Like a quite long taxi ride for 6000 Pesos. A huge glass of fruit juice (I love!! those juices) for 2000 Pesos. In the right spots you can even find a full meal for 5000 Pesos and it's really good. So apparently I just don't need that much money. Also, through hard work (I had to walk to the cash dispenser twice because once it would only allow me 600000 Pesos) I can proudly call myself millionaire now! And still 23. I guess that makes me quite a young millionaire.

My spanish is advancing step by step due to most of the other international students that only speak spanish and as well my classes that are only in spanish. I am only glad that all the appointments are made by writing in whatsapp chats because else I am absolutely sure that I would be at the wrong place at the wrong time or I wouldn't get that I have to be anywhere. But it totally improved since last week so I am positive the improving keeps going! By now I even understand the argentinian spanish which was really hard to understand for me at first. Also, sometimes I even start thinking in spanish (but I quickly reach my limits when I don't know a word). All this mixture of languages is quite funny for me - sometimes my classmates try talking to me in english because they also want to improve their english and then they ask me to say something in german and I get totally confused of all the languages and who understands what and what language am I currently talking in and so on. But I guess I will also improve that. Here you see a picture of us international students when we were going out. On the table is aguardientes - never drink that! Just don't do it, believe me. You might see me being a little contrast in the picture.

And of course, there is my flat. Like I wrote, I am living with a couple, he is 26 and she is 18. I found out they are married about one and a half years ago and, like you might have guessed from her age, they are quite religious. It is really funny how I seem to be always surrounded by highly religious people. Must be something about me. Living here is quite different. First, there are securities at the door letting you in only when you live there. Also, they watch out for the swimming pool. I really need to go swim there soon, but it got a little colder, something inbetween 25 and 30 degrees (which is great, now the temperature is just perfect for me) so the need to go swimming is not that urgent anymore. But it will be great because in comparison to the people living here, I am able to swim. So another difference is the noise. I hear almost everything going on in the flats around me and then there are many different sounds coming from the surrounding area like car alarms or dogs or other things I can't classify. I am just glad I am a deep sleeper. But I can have breakfast on the balcony everyday which is quite nice.

For some reason, right now the hot water does not work so until now I had to take only cold showers and, because this somehow affects the washing machine, I had to wash the washing powder out of my laundry and wring it out by hand - piece by piece. I really did not expect that. And the kitchen is really badly equipped, it doesn't even have a colander and the oven seems to be only for decoration. The stove is powered by gas that needs to be lightened up by a lighter to work. But by now I managed to cook without burning everything so I guess I am almost settled which means I can start looking forward to new adventures!

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