Missing home

I know you’ve heard of the big wide world too

the promise of bigger things, better things

Life changing things

So you stand on the shore,

after all has been done and said

The big blue expanse stretching between you and happiness

Adventure with a capital A, is all that lies ahead.

Soon this precious heart that yearns to drift with the breeze

equally it yearns for home,

And to tread those well worn streets filled with memories

familiar ones, with cracks that can be jumped with corners easily turned.

It yearns to scale mountain paths of intoxicating air, up where the keas soar

knowing that at the top it’ll look upon the world it knows

It yearns to look somewhere and say, ‘I’ve been here before’

12 years old

9 years old

5…

4…

This once far off land is seen,

laying draped in clouds, and forever they seem to last

A fog that viels reality

and whispers the best times of the past

Whatever you have here, darling, you’d be happier at home’

And the first familiar thing is this voice, you’ve heard it speak before,

A voice that held a promise of better if only you dared to roam

Rays pierce the cloud, bouncing from one blinding particle to another

It dissipates, slowly but surely

Finally your open eyes are free to gaze around in wonder

They stop looking for better,

And realise what you have,

Well it’s pretty f***ing awesome.

Uruguay🇺🇾🇺🇾

Until I came here I can’t say I’d ever heard much about Uruguay. Infact until today I couldn´t have picked the right flag emoji to put in the title. I’ve never heard the words ‘Oh I really want to go to Uruguay’ or the answer to the question of where someone wants to travel be ‘ Well, Uruguay is at the top of my bucket list!’ Which is a shame because this place is so cool!! I guess it must just get swallowed up in South America a bit, it’s a country half the size of New Zealand smothered between Brazil and Argentina, 2 of the largest countries in the world. Having only been here one night I guess I can’t have too much of a say about the entire country and the things to do outside of Colonia but what I have seen so far is the most beautiful town, full of amazing buildings and cobblestone streets and people that follow the road rules unlike some other countries (I’m looking at you Argentina!) Its so nice being able to cross a road without the imenent fear of death every time you do so. Here, if you cross at the corner, the cars stop and wait for you to cross! It doesn’t even have to be on a pedestrian crossing!

The cobblestone streets and colonial architecture are so amazing and make you feel like you’ve been sucked back in time. With different colour buildings decorating the streets and plumes of vibrant flowers on the trees. Interestingly Colonia was actaully a portuguese colony before it was taken over by the Spanish so there are a lot of portuguese style buildgins too. I learnt that on the tour we did, and it was pretty much the only thing I did learn because the tour was in Spanish. It´s so hard to concentrate on someone talking in Spanish for a full 2 hours and if I zoned out for even a second I´d loose the meaning of the entire bit of infomation!

Another thing I found super interesting here was how the people are even more obssesed with Mate than they are in Argentina, they carry it around on the streets while they´re walking- with a thermas full of hot water under on arm and Mate in the other.

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Stella

Mar Del Plata

*This was originally 2 posts but I thought it would make more sense to just combine them. Hope you enjoy!*

A dream come true:

So I’m on my way to Mar del Plata currently on a bus. The bus ride was supposed to take about 5 hours and it’s been 5 hours and we’re about 2 thirds of the way there because of traffic. I’m sitting on the bus bored. Annoyed at the traffic. Questioning my decision to travel on Easter weekend when I take a step back. I look out the window and think wow. Not cause of the view because it’s just been dry grass since we left Buenos Aires but because I’m in Argentina, travelling. It’s been my dream to travel when I left school for so long and since I came to South America last time it’s been my dream to return and explore more. And I am.

I’m so proud of myself. Like I didn’t put it in the too hard box or say ‘when I’m older’. As we were sitting in the 5km line for the toll box I was thinking what a waste of my day but that’s not even true. It about the journey not the destination right? Like yes I would love to get some food and be at the beach right about now but the very fact that I’m able to be on this bus heading on an adventure is something amazing.

It’s just a little reminder to myself that it’s all about perspective and a positive attitude can work wonders.

Mar del Plata:

Its really hard to capture the essence of an experience within words. No matter how you describe it, it’s difficult to express ‘the vibe’ I guess. This weekend was amazing.

From walking 16km in one day in order to see as much of the city as possible to touch games on Argentinian beaches, it was just one adventure after another.

Argentinians that I had spoken to about Mar del Plata seemed to not have high hopes for our weekend. They just recited about how crowded the beaches are and how at this time of the year the water is freezing. How the city beaches aren’t very nice, not natural. And this was true. The beaches were crowded, but not as crowded as during summer! However for us this was such a cool experience in itself, to have only one square of sand for our space and to be surrounded by other people was very different from what we’re used to back in New Zealand. It gives the place such a good vibe! Everyone is just relaxing, chatting or kicking a football around. I’m not saying I’d like to have this every day but it’s amazing to just be able to see a different way of doing things. In terms of the water being freezing- it wasn’t haha. New Zealand is a little further south than Mar del Plata and therefore we’re used to water even colder. The beaches themselves seemed man made, I’m not sure of the history around them but I might look into it. They were also very commercialised and touristy with umbrellas set out and chairs and little beach couches which was interesting.

The CHURROS!!! So I thought I’d had churros before but I hadn’t. These were churros. Crispy on the outside, light on the inside and filled with he most delicious array of different fillings-chocolate, cream and dulce de leche. Everyone had told us to go to Manolo churros and I’m glad we did. It was especially amazing sitting there eating them on the side of a hill overlooking the sea, having walked for an hour to get there.

The most amazing moment for me however was when we brought a bit of kiwi to Argentina. Having carried a rugby ball through a bus station(cause we didn’t already look enough like tourists haha) it was necessary that we put that rugby ball to use. We brought it down to the beach and were throwing it around but then decided to have a little game of touch so went over to the neighbouring little bay with less people and played as the tide came in, which resulted in soaked clothes, the ball floating on the waves as they surged into shore rather than sitting on the ground and a lot of fun. As we were already soaking we just went for another swim as the sun set and it was so magical. It really hit me just how much my home has shaped me and how it will always be part of me no matter where I am in the world. Also that no matter the differences between places there are always little similarities. For me this evening was a classic ‘New Zealand’ evening. Touch on the beach and swims as the sun sets. You may be far away, may be swimming in a different ocean and be surrounded by a different language but there will always be commonalities as long as you realise home is from within.

Stella

Time and Communication

It is said that time is subjective but I’ve never realised just how true that is before these past 2 and half weeks. If I think about 2 and half weeks during the school year- when I have a routine and each day is the same as the next, possibly with a slight variation in what sport I have on after school or the quantity of homework I have to do- I would think it’s a reasonably short amount of time. However these past 2 and half weeks have felt more like 2 and half months. I guess that’s what happens when you’re constantly learning, constantly having new experiences and most notably constantly concentrating!!

Back in Christchurch I’d come home from a long day and just relax, have a conversation with my brothers, or mum and dad. However now when I come home the challenges are just beginning. At school, here in Argentina, I’m speaking English for a large amount of the day, except with the little kids when I have to explain things in Spanish, however when I get home I speak with my host family in Spanish. Now, this is challenging! Sometimes I find myself listening to what someone says how I would if I was listening to some speaking in English before realising that I didn’t understand a single thing! I can understand however it just takes a lot of concentration and sometimes I just can’t Spanish!

Recently I realised something, that I’ve been saying I know ‘un poquito’ (a little) Spanish for about 3 years now. It’s not that I haven’t improved, it’s just that the more I learn the more I realise I don’t know. I think I’ve graduated from knowing just a little now, but still I prefer to keep people’s expectations low so they don’t come at me with some rapid fire Castellano. When I have time I’ve just started saying ‘yo puedo entender pero es más difícil para hablar’- I can understand but it’s more difficult to speak. Because that’s the truth of it!! Never judge someone’s ability to understand a language by the amount they can speak!

Another thing I’ve come to realise about languages while I’ve been here is how inpatient and rude some New Zelanders can be to non-english speakers! I’ve maybe encountered one person, serving at McDonald’s who spoke to me super fast and then got annoyed when I couldn’t understand but the majority of people are so incredibly patient and helpful. They want me to learn their language and know that I’m not stupid I just don’t speak Spanish fluently. However sometimes they don’t realise that I could in fact understand the words if they just spoke slowly! I guess that brings me to my next point- how incredibly kind and friendly everyone is!

This is a culture full of hugs, kisses and saying hello to strangers(not in a creepy way). Every time you great someone it’s with a kiss on the cheek, no matter how many people there are everyone will welcome and farewell everyone that way. For example, at the end of the school day at the primary school the principal stands at the door and kisses every single student on the cheek! Well, there are only 130 of them but still. Also the other day I went to the shop and every time someone would walk in they’d say hi, not only to the person at the counter but also to all the customers lined up to pay and the same when someone left! I’ve been told that this is more the culture of Lobos and that it would not be the case in the city however all the same it’s just so lovely.

Also the other day I started volleyball(known as Volley here). I was so nervous because, well, I didn’t know anyone, I don’t speak the language that well and I didn’t even know how to play volleyball. However, it was the only sport here I could play cause apparently girls only have the option of hockey and volleyball and insurance rules out hockey so Volleyball it was. Anyway, I was standing there for maybe 1 minute before a girl comes up to me and starts talking to me and asking me questions and they were all like that! So friendly and didn’t even care that I didn’t understand half of what they were saying, they were just so happy to teach me how to play and ask me questions about New Zealand. I was actually pretty decent at it thankfully.

This is already pretty long so I think I’ll write a different post on the food here, my typical day and where I live!

Thanks for reading x

Stella

Buenos Aires🇦🇷🇦🇷

11 and half hours after taking off from Auckland we landed in Buenos Aires. The city was very different from how I had remembered it, I wonder if my version of what it was like had been distorted by the other cities in South America that I visited on the previous trip, but whatever the reason my memory had Buenos Aires recorded as much dirtier, and more run down than the one that greeted me on the 7th of March 2018.

The streets of B’s A’s are generally very nice, at least in the area of the city in which we were staying. They are decorated with trees and beautiful buildings wherever you look.

We arrived just after 4 and made our way to the hostel in which we were staying. After dropping off our stuff we headed up the road to a resturaunt for dinner. Here we had our first introduction to Argentinian culture where one of the other volunteers accidentally ordered an entire bowl of ham and chicken instead of a salad cause of the language barrier!! Full of pizza and salad(and meat!) we went back to the hotel for some much needed sleep. We were exhausted but unfortunately 10pm in Argentina is 2pm in New Zealand, so despite how tired we all were it was impossible to sleep. At 2:30am we decided we needed some fresh air cause the fan in our room wasn’t quite enough to refresh us from the 30+ degree heat inside. We found the roof which gave a bit of a view of the surrounding buildings as well as the southern cross. It was pretty cool to see it all the way across the world as knowing you can see the same stars helps you feel not quite so far from home. Honestly, the first night was pretty difficult, just as I knew it would be. That along with the goodbye was what I was dreading the most. Lying in bed for 6 hours and not being able to sleep gives you way too much time to think and being tired makes it especially hard to be logical and not let emotions take over. Eventually at 4:30am I got to sleep and didn’t wake up until 11:30 the next morning.

The rest of the time was spent exploring the city. Visiting all the same places that I’d seen before but it was really good just seeing it again and fully experiencing rather than taking photos and stuff.

La Boca was as cool as ever, we went to this amazing place for lunch in which I experienced my first asado and choripan which is like a sausage in bread on steroids. It’s soooo good. That evening we spent on the roof of our hotel chatting and having a good time. It was such an amazing way to begin the next 9 months!!

Stella x

See ya later👋

What an emotional day it has been! I’ve never felt so many different emotions, nor so intensely. As I write this I’m sitting in seat number 59G on Air New Zealand 30 and I’m about 100m off the ground above Auckland. Bye N.Z see ya in 9 months!

Today, despite the tears, and there has been A LOT of them, has really shown me how lucky I am to have the people I do in my life. In fact it is the tears that has really shown just how much my family and friends mean to me. And importantly, it’s made me realise how much I mean to them too. Goodbyes are always the hardest thing, they leave you empty and drained mentally but your heart even more full as you realise the love and support that surrounds you. I just want each and everyone of you to know just how much I love you and how happy I am to have you in my life, because despite the tears and the sadness and leaving, I know that you’ll be there for me whenever I need it. It’s a big big world but really everyone is only a phone call, or a Facebook message, or a Snapchat, or a Skype call away. Yes, I know that’s not quite the same thing but there’s always someone there to talk to if needed. Also despite the Km’s, with the ingenious invention of air travel Aregntina is only 12 hours away from home.

*ahhh there’s a bump! A lot of bumps! I don’t like turbulence hahaha*

A few hours ago, just after going through Auckland customs I was hit with such an overwhelming feeling of wanting to go home. It’s such a brutal cycle because you’re emotional about leaving home, friends and family and absolutely exhausted from those feelings and when you’re tired all you want to do is go home, but obviously that’s not going to happen. However, just as any other feeling does, it passed. I put down my phone, played a game of cards, walked to the gate and talked to the others and now I’m feeling so much better. So much more excited to go and explore. I know this feeling will come again at some point, and when it does it’s so overwhelming but you just gotta take a deep breath and realise that this isn’t the end of the world. Worse comes to worse, tell yourself that you can in fact go home whenever you want. The beauty is that every decision is your own and you have the freedom to shape your future and your life.

*omg I hate turbulence so much and I just fastened my seatbelt way too tight and can’t loosen it hahaha*

Talk to you soon, because the adventure is just beginning!

Stella x

Almost time to go!

It’s at that point where I’m counting down in weeks rather than months and that’s when you know the time is getting close!! At the moment I’m mostly excited but the other morning I did wake up, open my eyes my eyes and the first thought that came to my head was ‘What am i doing??’. Every now and then I have these moments when I think too much about the fact that I’m going to Argentina for 9 months. Leaving my family, friends, my house, my bed, my language- really everything I’ve ever known. And that is both scary and incredibly exciting. The more I think about it the more I realise I am ready for this adventure, ready for new challenges and to do some more exploration of the unknown.

Finding out who my host family is and having chatted to them a bit online has really helped ease my mind of any worries about being alone over there because they are THE nicest people and seem so excited for me to arrive. I just know it’s going to make everything so amazing to be surrounded with such lovely people.

Logistically I’m yet to have sorted my visa because I’m waiting on the apostille and translation of my police check, that with any luck, should arrive within the next few days. Once I’ve done that and once I’ve paid my final lattitude fees I should be all good to go. However there is also a bunch of random little things I need to a) Think of and B) Do before i go. Things like sorting out a card that I can use to pay for things overseas. If anyone has any tips on good things to have while travelling please let me know because I know I’ll struggle to think of everything!

This post is a bit shorter than usual but it’s because I’m in that in between state where most of the organisation has been completed but I haven’t actually left on the trip yet!

Anyway, thanks for reading!

Update: It’s a couple weeks later and I’ve sent off visa application finally! Yay!

 

Stella

What I’m doing and Where I’m going!

Hola chicos!

Long time no write…

I meant to make this a regular thing but I didn’t really have much to write for a while and as soon as I did things got HECTIC! I mean, I should be studying right now but sometimes it’s just super hard to be motivated so I thought instead of jumping on my phone I’d write a little update!

Right now everything is a bit stressful. Flight payments are due today and, as I always do, I left it to the last minute, and kind of on purpose…I don’t know why! It’s not like I forgot about it or anything and now I’m stressed. WHY DO I DO THIS TO MYSELF???? On top of that, I have 3 exams in 2 days and all this other random paper work and medical checks. It’s weird how much more paperwork you have to do as you get older. It’s like BAM, you’re 18, now fill out these forms please.

I think last time I wrote I had yet to have my interview with Mili, from Argentina. Well that’s done and dusted, like far done and dusted, so done and dusted I actually barely remember what it was about. I think it was more of her just getting to know me and similar questions to what I had in the first interview.

Well, long story short team,

  1. I am definitely going to Argentina, it’s feeling more real and yet I still can’t actually envision myself there!
  2.  I still haven’t got my police checks back that I sent in 4 months ago…so I sent another form through yesterday
  3. I have a tentative, not confirmed placement in Los Lobos.
  4. I’ve had the opportunity to meet all the others who are going to Argentina too!

 

Update:

So I started writing this post about a week ago and once again got side tracked but ALOT has happened in this last week so it’s good that I didn’t get around to finishing it.

I’ve payed for my flights!!! We’re leaving for Argentina on the 7th of March, which is just  over 3 months away! How?!? It was so hard to pay that amount of money because I am someone who saves money and hates to spend it but I think this is one of the most worthwhile things you could spend your money on. Buy experiences not things kids!

I also had to go to yet another doctors consultation, this time about vaccinations. It’s a tricky decision deciding which ones to get because they’re not compulsory and the actual likelihood of getting any of the diseases is so low that sometimes the potential side effects seem more likely than the disease itself. However, what if I am the one in a million person to get yellow fever or something, that would suck… At the moment I’m going to get vaccinations for Hep A/ Typhoid and Meningitis. Not that this is really interesting or anything but it would’ve been good if I had something like this to read to help me make my decisions. My reasoning for not getting the Yellow Fever vaccination right now is that where I am going to be based does not have a risk for it, it’s only in the far north of Argentina and,if I do decide that I want to go there I can always get it done in Argentina (I hope).  The only problem is to travel to Paraguay and Bolivia you need to have had the vaccine if you are travelling to those risk zones. However I don’t know if I even want to travel there.

Potentially the most exciting thing is that yesterday I had my placement in Lobos confirmed!!! From what I’ve read it looks like a really cool place. It’s a town of 40,000 people located 100km away from Buenos Aires.  My position for the first 4 months is to work in this really cute little school and help the teachers and teach the students English. The school is for all ages, from the littlest ones to students my age which is going to be a bit strange but I’ll get used to it! Honestly Lobos seems like the perfect place for me. It has a lagoon where you can swim, lots of sport teams and they have their own website which I thought was really cool. I love the fact that I’m not going to be living in the big city yet I’m still close enough to visit on the weekend and buses travel there regularly (as in every hour). Many of the other volunteers are based in Buenos Aires so I can go visit them on the weekend too.

Photos of Lobos:

Image result for lobos Argentina

Image result for lobos Argentina

Image result for lobos Argentina

I’m honestly so excited right now and it’s starting to feel more and more real! I just realized that I will be in Argentina in less time that it took me to put up my second post…

Also if anyone has traveled to Argentina before or knows much about it, please let me know of any cool places I should check out, or just general advise!

Hope you enjoyed reading,

Stella xx

 

 

 

I’m going to live in Argentina!

Hi!!!

My name is Stella and I’m currently in my final year of high school. After nearly 13 years of school it’s safe to say I’m a bit sick of it therefore i’ve decided to have a gap year in 2018! So, I’m going to live in Argentina!!! Through a programme called Lattitude i’m going to travel there and do volunteer work for 9 months. I thought it would be cool to have this little blog detailing my adventures, for my friends, family, and other travelers or people who just want to read about my adventures but also for myself, as a record of what i’m sure is going to be a huge and exciting part of my life.

This post is about the process I’ve gone through so far, my experiences, advice and just all the ins and outs of the application process that you might not usually hear about!

Deciding where to go:

I knew that I wanted to go to a Spanish speaking country. I’ve studied Spanish for almost 5 years now and the thought of losing the skill that i’ve spent hours in class studying was quite sad. Lattitude offers 3 different country placements in Spanish speaking countries- Argentina, Ecuador and Spain.The South American countries appealed to me a lot more than Spain. For one, I knew about those placements first but also I have visited South America before and absolutely loved it, so I wasn’t going in blind. Initially I was very keen to go to Ecuador as they had a unique placement in an Andean cloud forest community which looked absolutely amazing- Just look at it!!!

Andean Cloud Forest Community.jpg

However mum wasn’t very comfortable with the idea of me travelling and living in Ecuador as it has a lot of poverty and generally is a lot less developed than Argentina, which is fair enough. It’s hard enough for her to let her daughter leave to an unknown country for almost a year when I’m only 17. So that left Argentina, which I’m so very happy about. I still had to convince my parents that I was prepared and aware of the dangers so I wrote a little report on safety in Argentina, cheezy, I know! But they’re OK with me going now so I think it’s safe to say it worked! Here’s a link to it if you ever need to know the risks of travel over there:     https://docs.google.com/document/d/1QfAP_istjIdYzHfD-YPNuxEb8Z_INTv8TU0qvdyMahk/edit

*The information is not mine, I just interpreted it, copied and pasted and put it all together in one place.

Applying:

Preferential applications had to be in by April and by the time I was certain that I definitely wanted to go it was already June! I was a bit concerned that I’d miss out so I quickly wrote my application and got it in as soon as possible. In the end I didn’t need to rush as applications are actually still open however placements for Argentina are limited. Just a day or so after I had submitted my application and payed the $150 deposit, which was a little scary, it made it feel so real, I got an email from Lattitude in order to line up my first interview time. The whole application process actually worked really well for me because the Lattitude Coordinator for the America’s actually lives in Christchurch so she came into school and we had the interview there. The questions that they asked in the interview were actually very similar to the ones in the application however there were also more questions that were difficult. For example; ‘What would your friends say your strengths and weaknesses are?’. I had to pause for a moment and think about that one. It would’ve been easier if I actually had my friends with me. The biggest piece of advice I would give for this part of the process would be to just relax, and be yourself. The coordinator was super nice and easy to talk to, for the written application definitely get someone to check it over because they aren’t the most riveting things to write. Following the written application and interview I was accepted into the Lattitude programme!

Medical and police checks:

This is the part of the process that I’m currently completing. Once i was accepted into the programme i was sent an email with 7 different attachments with all these things I had to complete. One of them included a 17 page form to be filled out by a doctor with all my medical info. 17 PAGES!!! Let me tell you, full medical exams are NOT cheap! A part of it was to get a series of blood tests done which i just did a couple days ago. It was not a good time. I’m sure it would’ve been fine if I hadn’t fainted! If you ever have to get a blood test done make sure you eat and drink heaps before you go because I made the mistake of not doing that which lead to me waking up in a room with no idea where I was. I also sent off an application for my police records which i still haven’t got back, maybe i’ve got some criminal convictions that I never knew about or something…kidding(I hope)!!

Second interview with person in Argentina for placement:

I haven’t completed this part yet but I’ve signed up to have my interview next Sunday!!! Que emoción! I think this determines where in Argentina they’re going to put you. Either Buenos Aires, Córdoba or Neuquén. After a quick google search and my own knowledge of Buenos Aires I think I’d be most keen to go to Neuquen because it’s a smaller city, about the same size as Christchurch, looks absolutely beautiful and is in Patagonia!! I’ve wanted to go there since we saw this ‘Red Bull’ climbing video about it in Outdoor Education last year. It’s near the mountains and lakes so it’s very much my kind of place. Obviously, I’m not actually sure where the placements are but this is one image that came up when i googled it!

Neuquen.jpg

Also there are a few different things you can do for your placement; English teacher, Schools Assistant or Community Worker. The Community Worker placement appeals the most to me as you work with Children in children’s homes and help them with homework and sport however your accommodation is on site, that is to say, not with a host family. I would really love to be able to stay with a host family so that kind of puts me off that placement. So I might be an English Teacher…? I guess I’ll talk with the woman next week and see. Many of the English Teacher or School’s Assistant placements seem to be in private schools and I feel that if i’m volunteering my time I probably should give it to kids who really need it, those who are disadvantaged. But that’s just my opinion.

Anyway, that’s about it for now. I’m starting to feel very excited again, before I was kind of nervous and unsure about my decision after the initial certainty, however it’s back and I’m more pumped to go and explore than ever!

Does anyone have any advice for me that might come in handy?

Talk to you later!

Stella.