Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The Final Countdown!

Goodbye Colegio Santa Maria

The week involved a whole host of goodbye celebrations. Essentially went through a whole box of Kleenex during the week and realised how tough it was going to be to say bye to all the wonderful people that had made my experience so special. The week kicked off with Monday assembly where two of my favourite students sang Maroon 5, She Will be Loved (which so happens to be one of my favourite songs). I was an absolute mess the whole way through crying my eyes out, and afterwards was invited to the stage to make a speech in Spanish in front of the ENTIRE school. I immediately informed the students I would be speaking in Spanglish to hopefully make them more forgiving to the mistakes that followed, but I think it made a smidgen of sense. I received a very snazzy school blazer as a leaving present which was a pretty awesome memento. 


English World Cup 

For my last week of classes I decided we would have a little competition to summarise everything learnt this semester. This culminated in The English World Cup. The classes assembled into four English speaking countries, England, NZ, Australia and the USA to compete for the coveted title and were put through a series of challenges. Of course the competition got underway after singing God Save the Queen, which the kids sang very patriotically. The first round was underway and the students had to quickly label body parts on a team member, round two involved a game of stand up bingo, round 3 the quick fire fact round, and round 4 "Who am I"? This had to be one of the funnier rounds where the students had to guess their famous identity stuck to their head through a series of Yes/No Questions. Things got a bit tricky when Michael Jackson was involved, with the students flummoxed as how to answer when asked "Am I Black"? The hardest round really tested the top teams in the late stages of the competition when the students were asked to give a goal commentary on Ronaldinho's classic World Cup goal where he chipped David Seaman. The competition was close so the winners were decided with a kick-up competition. I was delighted to announce England as World Cup winners, I'm sure this will be a rarity in real life for the foreseeable future. 


It was not just saying goodbye to the students. I was treated to a lil tea party by all the staff which involved another terrible speech on my behalf in Spanish. In my defence this one was a surprise event so I definitely had not prepared anything. On Thursday night a few of the teachers threw me a little leaving party complete with fajitas, cafe helados and snacks which was really sweet of them. 

4th Grade Leaving

It was not just my final weeks at the school the fourth graders were preparing to graduate from the school. In true Chilean style this involved a graduation breakfast with a whole host of lovely foods and an 80's themed musical, where thankfully 90% of the songs were in English. The kids were phenomenal but I felt slightly less out of it with the language as I was one of the only people in the audience who could properly sing along with the English lyrics.

Hasta Pronto mi familia Chilena

As if the week could not get any more emotional I had to say bye to the family that had put up with me for four months. We celebrated with an asado one night and I was showered in gifts including a beautiful elephant necklace, photos and a Chilean cookery book. It is sooo strange how close you can get to people that you do not even share a common language with. Further still I am sure on several occasions they must have questioned my sanity when any attempt to communicate was accompanied with a strange mime act to try and add clarity to my message alongside my broken Spanish. There was a lot of crying and my little brother Emiliano took several attempts to avoid me leaving including managing to squeeze himself into my suitcase.

Closing Ceremony

As well as saying goodbye to our schools and families we attended a posh goodbye ceremony at a nice hotel in La Serena hosted by the Ministry of Education. We enjoyed a meal and watched presentations by our teachers. Alejandro and Jany had made me a lovely collage of pictures. I had to laugh that the other girls had lovely presentations set to classical music, and my photo presentation was accompanied with a Beyonce track, could not have been any more appropriate haha! :D I made a speech to describe my experience in typical Laura style I was completely winging it. It was a nice occasion and we received diplomas and a really cool personalised sports bottle as a gift (easily pleased)! 

Ovalle Scavenger Hunt 

We decided to enjoy our last weekend in Chile by doing a lil scavenger hunt in our city to take pictures of all the most notable aspects of Chilean culture. These included pictures with street performers, cowboy men, all of our schools, with a collectivo (taxi driver) and with various traditional chilean foods. My favourite definitely had to be dancing cueca (the traditional chilean dance) with an old lady in a random bakery. Was uncertain how successful we would be but she was more willing to oblige in our lil photo shoot- LEGEND! After a scavenger hunt we enjoyed our last pollo y papas frittas from the Completo King Restaurant in Town with the family. Emiliano was on top form entertaining as usual teaching me how to dance tango in the middle of the street.

Back to the UK

After the most long and boring journey home including a very stressful flight change at JFK and my one hour late transfer to the airport I made it home. The cold definitely hit me the minute I landed and it felt very strange to be re-united with Chris and my family. Two of my girls made me the most amazing welcome home cake complete with the Chilean and English flag, and Chris listened to my repeat warnings to meet me armed with a box of Weetabix. Yum! I was very happy to relive old times and play in a Model UN football game, and although we lost, it felt good to be back.

It feels great to be back particularly for the following reasons:
  • not having to consider my sleeping outfit in the event of an earthquake during the evening and the need to evacuate 
  • not having to light the gas boiler and nearly blowing myself to smithereens every time I want a shower 
  • I do not miss the absolute carb fest of bread about 17 times a day 
  • Earthquakes- although I can now tick experiencing an earthquake of my life experiences list, I do not wish to repeat it. 

Things I miss from Chile
  • My amazing family and friends in Chile- could not have asked to meet such beautiful, caring, warm hearted people.
  • My students at Colegio Santa Maria who were so welcoming and amused me every day with their funny questions and enthusiasm for my activities. 
  • Palta- Avocado is just not the same in England, Never ripe, too expensive and tiny! Chilean friends please send some to England! 
  • The Scenery- perhaps some of the most beautiful places I have every seen in the world all in one country. 
Until my next adventure

Laura Xxx

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