Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Lions, Tigers, Ebola, Oh My!!

Now that Ebola has officially infected two people in the United States let’s watch the widespread panic ensue! While I have no medical training and absolutely no authority to speak on the disease in terms of how concerned you should be, there is a separate side to all mass epidemics that is not founded in fact, intelligence, or common sense, that I feel comfortable speaking to, the racist/discriminatory side effects.  

Source
This morning, while listening to the radio on my commute to work, they were discussing the second healthcare worker to be diagnosed with Ebola and the extreme measures some people are going to, to protect themselves. During this discussion KSYN radio host, Big Al brought up whether or not you should be scared if you have a Liberian taxi driver.

Wait… what? Let’s stop right there and examine that statement before we even go into his rationale for making it. First, stereotyping that your only contact with people of West African descent will be in taxis because everyone knows that only African’s and Indian’s drive taxis! Also, I have a sneaking suspicion that African will pass as close enough to Liberian for most people.

He continued further to say, should we be concerned if he’s had other passengers that were also from West Africa and could possibly be infected. Once again, throwing down the casual racism by assuming that other Liberian nationals would only choose to ride in a taxi driven by a fellow Liberian. I’m sure there’s some kind of App for that similar to BackPeopleMeet.com but called AfricansMeetInTaxis.com

Source
While I can vaguely/sort of/not really see where he was coming from with this logic it’s entirely based in stereotypes and backwards logic. If you regularly use taxis then, yes, you do have more reason to be concerned because your driver (regardless of his nationality) does come into relatively close contact with various people coming from a variety of places. But please don’t assume that because he is African or seems to appear African that he is Liberian and therefore infectious.

This is just one instance of what I’m sure will become an epidemic in itself. Another example being a relative of mine being afraid to post pictures of visitors from Eastern Africa being hosted by her church because people may think they brought Ebola with them. Despite the incredibly large geographic distance between them and countries experiencing infections.

Every disease and epidemic has its victims both in physical death tolls and in societal tolls and the Ebola outbreak will be no different. So feel free to wear masks and rubber gloves every time you go out in public and use hand sanitizer till you pass out from the fumes, but please hold the racism and don’t fuel the panic because the internet will do plenty of that for you!



If you are uninformed or would like to be more informed about general information concerning the disease I strongly recommend checking out this handy fact sheet!


Stay Classy,
Hayley

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Is everyone getting married without me?

For everyone not in the Midwest this may not be as much of an issue right now. But for all of us living in the very exceptionally landlocked part of the country, saying that everyone you know is getting married or having children may actually be true. In fact I don't have enough fingers to count all the people that are my age (22) or below that are married or engaged that I've been friends with. It's sort of a surreal feeling to imagine people like you spending the rest of their lives with someone when you still feel like you're that awkward girl with the braces and cat eye glasses that was dying to be kissed.

So why does it feel like everyone is getting married? And why is it totally okay if they are and you're still in the single ready to mingle point in your life.



First off, the reason that you seem to feel surrounded by married couples and soon to wed ones is because you have much greater access to acquaintances and not super close friends lives. Before people had Facebook and Instagram to bombard with photos of their ring and dress and flowers and #MCM husband the only way you found out was through word of mouth or the announcement in the newspaper. If you limited everyone you know that's engaged or married to only posting one thing about  it, I bet it will seem like a whole lot less than you felt like before.

But all that being said. There is nothing wrong with people being super excited about the person they are going to spend the rest of their lives with. I mean, I can hardly restrain myself from posting every single picture I take of my beautiful niece because I want to share with the world how incredible she is when she makes one of her 5 different infant faces. Being excited is the completely natural thing to do and wanting to over share is pretty normal also.

The problem becomes when you take their gushing about their love as a challenge or an attack on how your love life is going. I firmly believe that 99.999% of the time it has absolutely nothing to do with you (sorry).

But still, you say, it makes you feel your single hood even more (grabbing the nearest cat and a pint of Ben and Jerry's). The biggest mistake you are making probably lies in that you are ignoring all the totally awesome things you have done too. For myself I went on a super awesome adventure and got a dog and have now realized I have a long way to go before I should ever be responsible for another human being.

Just don't let this happen!

I guess the problem is that we try to turn our lives into one big marathon. We assume that we're all on this same path and that these people are meeting checkpoints ahead of us. When in reality it's like we're running in completely different races or maybe aren't wanting to be in a race at all!

So maybe everyone is getting married (probably not completely true but we can go with it), SO WHAT? Be happy for them but also be happy for yourself. Our accomplishments aren't limited to specific categories like relationships, worldly experience, education... they are open to be anything in the whole world which is pretty awesome.

And if none of that works at least you get to go shopping because you're going to need some outfits to wear to all those weddings.


XOXO
Hayley

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Hometown Blues: Getting Back to Normal

I apologize for the lack of posts recently, crazy (wonderful!!!) things have been happening. I will beginning posting regularly once a week from now on. 

When I say "going back" I don't mean returning to Argentina, rather I'm talking about going back to the life I had before Argentina. I knew that studying abroad changed you and you would experience reverse culture shock when you got home, but I just didn't expect it to be like... this.

Exciting things like this munchkin! 

I thought that when I came back after studying abroad life would be exactly as it was before I left. For the most part that is true. Things haven't changed all that much, but I have. It's like I'm looking at everything through different colored glasses now and it's familiar but slightly different.

The biggest challenge by far, is dealing with the sense that my life is now boring. In Argentina, to be honest, I didn't feel like it was really all that exciting. Sure hoping a bus to go hike in the mountains for the weekend or hang out on the beach was no big deal. It became so normal that it didn't seem adventurous at the time. Now confined to everyday life of school, work, watching TV it seems like none of that can bring you the same rush as your adventures abroad.

Part of my problem also was that I was home for a good month and a half with no job and no one to spend time with during the day because everyone had jobs or school or their lives to carry on with. Winter breaks have always been rough for me, with the lack of structure and the feeling of isolation from your friends that have become a part of your daily routine.

I found myself in a major funk. I knew that I had friends I could have called to do stuff with. I had places I could have gone to visit if I had tried. In reality, I brought the boredom on myself. That "funk" creates a feeling of hopelessness about everything which prevents you from seeing clearly. Thankfully though I've managed to finally shake it off.

My dog Jazz, helped give me a sense of purpose. 

Going through this odd period after returning home, I think I can see what I did wrong and what would have really helped me readjust without having to feel depressed. So here is my advice to you whenever making any life transition, whether it be returning from travel or graduating school or leaving a job.


  • Wake Up: When you have nothing to do for the day, it's easy to just sleep it all away until the early hours of the afternoon. Even though you can, don't. Force yourself to wake up at reasonable time everyday to help keep you from turning into a potato. 

  • Dress Up: This one sort of falls into faking it till you make it. Getting dressed and doing whatever normal routines you would usually do (make-up, styling your hair, etc.) helps you keep that normalcy also and will make sure that you are ready if the opportunity for an adventure does arise. 

  • Busy Yourself: Find something to do, anything at all. The 6 week or so period that I was at home was such a random amount of time I couldn't really do any work. But don't let that stop you. Find something to do, even if it's just volunteering to walk your neighbors dog every day at a certain time. Having a purpose will motivate you to do other things. 

  • Plan Adventures: One of the biggest things I learned in Argentina was independence and how little I had explored my own home. Let those things apply still after you get off the plane and check out new things nearby, even if you have to do it solo. 

  • Ask for Help: I think this one is the most important of all. Don't bottle up your feelings because you're embarrassed. Let your friends and family know if you're not quite feeling like yourself. They're good to vent to and will also help get you back into a routine. 

While I was ready for experiencing culture shock going to Argentina, I was not prepared for the hole in my heart leaving would create. The turning point for me was getting a dog and a brand new beautiful niece that both gave me a sense of purpose I had been lacking. But don't wait for some life changing event to knock you out of a weird mood. 

I learned abroad to be independent and adventurous and to constantly challenge myself with things I never thought I could do. I just momentarily forgot all of that when I stepped off the plane. But now I know better for my next trip! 


XOXO,
Hayley 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Coming Home: Life After Study Abroad

Being home has been great and well, weird. It's a bit like walking back into a life that isn't yours anymore. Despite how it felt, people moved on with their lives while I was gone. My sister's belly has gotten so big! My brother has moved into his own place. Even the animals have gotten chubbier. While at first it was a bit disorienting, it's now become more and more evident that things won't be the same way that they were before I left. Because not only has everyone else changed, I've changed and that's a bit hard to deal with.

Sharing some Argentine culture with my family!
Luckily, the usual boredom that accompanies returning back from an exciting trip abroad will be short 
lived, because I have so much to look forward to! With a baby on the way, a million friends to reunite with and my final semester of school fast approaching, I have no shortage of things to do. 

One of the biggest things that has come with coming home though is the questions! Which believe me are not a problem because I could blabber on about Argentina for hours (oops already do!). But there are some really common questions I get that I know find hilarious because they seem so obvious after having lived and breathed the Argentine lifestyle for four months. So I decided to address the most common questions I get!

Question 1: Did you just stick out everywhere as an American?


Like most big cities, Buenos Aires is a total melting pot of cultures and ethnicities. But it turns out that Argentines, at least the ones in BA are generally very "white." Like the United States they are a country of European immigrants and the majority of the indigenous people were marginalized and live in the rural areas. So, in short I didn't really stand out from the locals that bad, until I started talking that is!

Question 2: Did you just eat Mexican food all the time?


I did a post previously on the most common foods I ate in Argentina, but generally it was a little bland in flavor compared to what I'm use to (lots of Mexican). Not to say it wasn't good but sugar and salt were the only spices we really used.

Also it was SO MUCH BREAD. Pretty much everything was breaded or involved bread in the meal. Now I love bread just as much as the next girl but it took it's toll. Besides bread, every meal included meat and a lot of it. Argentina is not a vegetarian friendly country!

Question 3: Did your family speak English?


If you haven't seen some of my previous posts, you should know that I adored my host family. They were a huge factor in making it an incredible experience. Fortunately, my host mom spoke English which allowed me to have more in-depth conversations about the culture, politics, history that would have been impossible with my limited vocabulary. But I spoke to my host Dad and sisters only in Spanish which was great practice!

Overall, I was surprised at how few people spoke English in the city. In the tourist areas it was pretty common but once you venture out you are probably on your own with whatever Spanish you can speak.


Now that it's done I'm excited to get started with my next adventure! As of right now the plan is to go to Spain/Italy? this summer. I've also applied for a Fulbright Grant to teach English in Malaysia but that wouldn't be till January 2015, if I get it. Even though I'm not totally sure of my future right now I'm excited to see what happens!


Besos,
Hayley

Monday, November 11, 2013

Fair Well Argentina

In just a few hours I get on a plane to leave for home. I'm feeling such mixed emotions I don't even know what to say. It's that bittersweet feeling of being happy to go home but know that you're leaving the place that has become a home. In a rare moment that I don't have words to express what I'm feeling I've decided to just put pictures of my favorite memories. Disfruta (enjoy). 

Making music videos with these girls.
Finding this girl again after 10 years.


Getting shushed in a museum

Hiking in the Andes

Hanging out with tigers

The countless selfies JJ took on everyone's phones.

Swimming in the ocean when it was 50 degrees out.

The multiple attempts to break in at Recoleta

The fear is real.

Seeing this in real life!

Exploring!!

Feeding a baby tiger.

Everything about this night. Oh Mendoza.
Family dinners, even by flashlight

So many things happened on this trip and we all changed so much. It's clique but studying abroad taught me so much about myself. I'll never forget you Argentina! Now just wish me luck that my flight all goes well this time!



Besos,
Hayley

Friday, November 8, 2013

Chau Chicos!!

Before coming to Argentina I had thought about all the amazing things I would do, the beautiful sights I would see, and the adventures I would have. I never really factored in who I would be sharing all of those experiences with. While I think I prepared myself to miss my family and friends back home, the fact that I'll be going home is always in my mind. What I didn't think about was all the wonderful people I would meet and all the relationships I would make during my time abroad.

Taken by the guy with a broken arm, hilarious.

Today I said good bye (though not forever!) to my gang. It was a bittersweet moment because as much as I want to be home, I don't want to lose all of these people. Over the course of four months we've shared so much more than what usually happens between friends I've had for years. Now that this is over, they will be the only people who can really understand what all the name, Argentina applies when we say it.

We've shared countless laughs together and tears too. Together we've watched each other become different people than we were before we stepped off that plane and into this adventure. It's a bond I never expected to be making but I'm so glad I did. There are a lot of great people I've met here that I will probably never see or hear from ever again but I'm happy I got the chance to meet them. I hope that they got as much from our relationships as I did from them.

Gotta love our gansta poses.
Even if my group never gets back together again, though I really hope we do, I just hope they know how much I love them. We're a family and they helped make my experience here in Argentina what it has been. At the end of the day I don't think I'm going to remember the frustrating times but rather the great times and the bond that we created.

I thought I would come home from Argentina more experienced about the world and with memories of cool places I saw. But it turns out I'm coming back with something so much better, a whole new set of people to love!

So if you're reading this, remember it's not chau it's nos vemos because we will see each other again!


Besos,
Hayley

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

We took care of the body.

Just in time for halloween one of the strangest and creepiest things I've done to date happened with my host family in Entre Rios. It involved opening a real coffin, dealing with a skeleton, and black trash bags. Believe me, it's just a strange as it sounds!

For the background of the story, we were spending the weekend at my host grandma's casa in Concepcion del Uruguay, Entre Rios. This house has been in the family for a very, very long time and they've had the same neighbors for all of that time also. About 3 months ago the man who lived in the neighboring house passed away. Instead of burying people in the ground like we do it the states, they put the caskets in wall crypts and they also don't embalm the body so you can sometimes smell them decomposing which is disgusting! The man's daughter, who now owns the house lives in the US currently and asked my host family if they could do a big favor.

Because Bob Ross
Like I said, they are buried in wall crypts that must be paid for, like rent, to keep your family member there. The daughter didn't want to have to pay for 2 crypts when she could just combine them into one location so she asked us to go and move her grandmother's body into the same crypt as her dad. I ASSUMED that meant that we would need to move to coffin to a new area, but then we had to stop to pick up black trash bags and I got a little worried...

We went to the cemetery and got some of the employees to open up the mother's crypt. The brought along a shove and a broom which made me even more worried than I originally was. The pulled the coffin out and laid in on the ground then pried it open with the shovel rather ungracefully. With no gloves they reached in and began pulling out the bones and shoving them into a black trash bag. I saw the skull and a foot that hadn't decomposed for some reason. It was a train wreck you couldn't look away from. I should also note that my family was a freaked out as I was this whole time.



After they picked through the decomposed remains of the fabric and wood they decided they had gotten all of the body and wiped their brows (EWWWWW) and knotted up the bag. They then opened the son's crypt and shoved the bag in beside the coffin, thank god they didn't open his!

It was just so disrespectful and gross and weird. That's also why I have no pictures, I didn't want to add to the disrespect we were already doing this woman. Her name was Argentina, which I found kind of funny and she died in 1958. Hopefully she doesn't come back to haunt us.

After that we were all kind of in shock as to what we had just saw and went to visit the grave of my host mom's father and some other relatives. As we were doing this we saw the three men pushing past a cart with the remains of the coffin on it. A piece of the once white but now brown and gross fabric flew off onto the path.

It was the most bizarre experience I've ever had in my whole life. My host family told me that, that is NOT a common thing and it was extremely freaky to them also but at least I have an awesome story now!

It's one of those things that just makes me say, only in Argentina!!

Happy Halloween!!! Celebrate extra hard for me since Argentina is silly and doesn't celebrate the best holiday of the year.


Besos,
Hayley
 
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