Only two weeks left! Solo faltan dos semanas. So of course I have been spending a lot of time reflecting on my experience thus far, and there are so many feelings.
Last night, the ladies and I were speaking with a couple friends we have made here and they kept telling us, “ah, but it’s such a short time, 4 months!” And I agree with them. But it is also a long time, and that is how time works. They both have had the opportunity to live abroad, one for a year in New York, and one for 5 years in Paris. When we discussed the homesickness—which I only just learned the word for in Spanish the other day: la morriña—they responded skeptically, again noting how minimal our time is here in comparison. “At about a year,” they said, “maybe two, then you will know homesickness.”
Another friend, who is from the States but whose father is Chilean and who has been living here in Santiago for about a year, asked me recently, during my first real bout of homesickness, “if you had the opportunity to be here longer, to stay, would you?” I hesitated only for a moment before answering, “yes, yes I absolutely would.”
It seems that there is an unspoken rule, or pattern, for situations like this, an unwritten graph of emotions that occur. But it also seems marked by the amount of time one knows they will be gone. That is to say that it is defined by one’s own perception of time. There are students here that are doing the year long program, which started in the fall, and I have a feeling that even though their time here has been double, they are feeling similar emotions to those of us who are doing a semester: we all know we will be leaving soon.
And this is what I told our friends last night. This pattern, this so called wave-graph of emotions wouldn’t necessarily change, but rather would seem less compressed.
Rudimentary, I know. But there really does seem to be something like a collective emotional response among us students. A few of us were also discussing the other day how our professor Marcela, who has been working with exchange students for a very long time, appears to be fully aware of this wave pattern, because she somehow manages to talk about certain subjects or bring up certain things in class that directly correspond, almost precisely, to the thoughts and emotions were are experiencing at that moment. For example, during the very week when the ladies and I, separately but simultaneously, all started missing certain foods from the states, Marcela held two conversation classes all about food—Chilean food and as well as our favorite foods from back home. It’s almost as if she has an acute awareness of this process, from experience, and knows when we need to express, to share, what we are experiencing. And this has happened with culture shock, with politics, with machismo, with pop culture, with racism, with music, with the struggles of learning a language, etc. She just somehow knows.
This is certainly not to say that everyone’s experience is the same. No no no. And of course, this is merely my perception of the whole thing.
All that said, everyday as of late, I experience an overwhelming excitement to come home and a profound sadness to be leaving. Every day. So it goes.
And to put it in more concrete terms, I will be posting a Two Weeks Left : Part Two.