Monday, May 14, 2018

Erica in Uruguay!

¡Hola todos! ¿Cómo andan? *leans in for a hug and kiss on the cheek*

My name is Erica Yepiz, and I am a Spanish (K-12 Teacher Licensure) major and a Latin American and Caribbean Studies minor.
As I type this, all of my friends back home are posting on social media about final exams and graduation. My friends abroad are currently winding down and making plans to come home or travel after finals. Meanwhile, I just took my midterms. I didn’t arrive in Uruguay until March, so I spent nearly three months waiting and watching as all of my friends either went back to school or went on their own journeys abroad -  Delvin and Ethan to Japan, Christian to Spain, Hannah to Denmark, and, lastly, Lillian to Australia. It honestly got to be stressful and lonely, but, when I finally got here, I was so excited to begin this chapter of my life (also because it was technically mid-summer here, and I live a five-minute walk from the beach).

I had two main goals before I left the United States. One, improve my Spanish. Two, learn to relax a little.

As a Latina, I always hated that I didn’t grow up speaking Spanish, so this goal wasn’t just for career purposes; it was very personal. I felt very confident in my reading and writing skills in Spanish, but I felt that my conversation skills greatly lacked. HOWEVER, just a few weeks in Montevideo, I automatically felt the improvement. Obviously, I still stutter or mispronounce something, but I have been able to communicate with locals pretty smoothly. (But I haven’t adopted the interesting way they pronounce their “ll” and “y” or use “Vos” and “Ta”).

I think that I’ve relaxed a little. I generally stress and overthink anyway, so I knew A LOT wasn’t going to change, but I was hopeful. Mostly I’ve learned that I have to adapt and go with the flow. And, finally, that voice in my head turned on to give me advice when I needed it. I missed a connecting flight. There is nothing you can do in this moment except buy a new ticket to get to Uruguay. I didn’t read the bus route correctly, so I got lost. Just walk until you recognize some street signs or buildings. I don’t know exactly how to translate what I want to say. Stick to what you do know because you know more than you sometimes give yourself credit for. These experiences were frustrating and a bit scary in the moment, but they have helped me to not be so discouraged when doing something for the first time.

Considering I still have about two and a half months in this small country, I still have time to grow and learn. I plan to go to Argentina soon and, even though it’s getting colder, hopefully Punta del Este is in my future, too. Maybe even a trip to Chile if my bank account is looking up for it.

¡Que la pasen bien, chicos! ¡Chau! *leans back in for a hug and kiss on the cheek*

Erica Yepiz
Universidad Católica del Uruguay
Montevideo, Uruguay
One of the first big events CBU (welcoming committee) held for the international students to get to know each other. Asados are very common here, and the food tasted amazing!

Like all tourists, we just had to take a picture with the Montevideo sign.

Fun Fact: There are 3 million people in Uruguay, but 10 million cows! So meat is a pretty big deal here. Chivito literally means little goat, but this sandwich is just steak, ham, cheese, lettuce, egg (hard-boiled or fried), bacon, and mayo. Some people like tomatoes, olives, and peppers on their chivitos, but I'll pass.

View of the city from Playa Ramírez

When I was picking the name for my dragon, i anted something very Uruguayan (or reuruguayo). I decided on Gaucho because Gauchos, similar to cowboys, are an important part of Uruguay's history. I got a chance to go to Museo del Gaucho, and I brought my dragon to meet his people. 

 Murals and graffiti can be found on pretty much every building of the city. "The difference between who we are and what we say is what we do."

 International students from the US, Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Peru, Venezuela, Spain, France, and Germany.

Mate (pronounced mah-TAY) is a very common drink here. In this photo, some friends and I are sitting in a circle looking at the sunset by the beach and drinking mate.