The best way for me to describe my experience here thus far is this: I feel like Alice in Wonderland.
I have fallen through a rabbit hole into a world where everything is completely different and I never understand what's going on.
For starters, they drink yogurt. Yogurt. Not a smoothie. Just yogurt.
During my first breakfast here, my host dad put a glass of yogurt in front of me and I started looking around for a spoon (which was clearly nowhere in sight). I didn't touch it until I saw that everyone else was drinking it as if it was juice. In the fridge theres a big bottle of it, just 'Yogur'. At home a serving of yogurt that big is a breakfast for me, here it is what you use to wash down your breakfast!
Secondly, my family has a maid, Susana. Who is always there waiting on you. It is very hard to get used to ordering someone around when you want something, where i'm so used to simply getting it. If she sees that I've gotten myself food, she hurries over with a cup of juice, or offers me a coffee. When I get home from school, my bed is made, my clothes from the previous day are washed and folded on my bed, and Susana offers me something to eat!
And at school, it's like being with a bunch of four year olds who think that the girl in the Cinderella costume at Disney is really Cinderella and have to ask her about prince charming, the castle, her evil step mother. I'm surprised that the little girls haven't asked me for my autograph yet, though a giggling, nervous, group of eight or nine year olds approached my yesterday to ask if i wanted to be their friend!
OK, so you're probably wondering about my first day of school. If you want to stop reading now, thats fine, because this description is going to take a lot of words, some words that don't exist in my vocabulary because I've never had to describe something like this!
I was really nervous for my first day of school. First, because I knew there was no way I wouldn't get the stares all day. I was a new student in the middle of their school year (which goes from April- January), an exchange student, and blonde. Not to mention, I didn't have the correct uniform which later proved to be a non issue, but I was worried about it.
My host father walked me to school which is about two blocks from my house. The school is very different than schools here. There are 3-4 separate buildings (for different ages, I assume) which are situated around a central area with a a covered pavilion with multicolored pillars and a very multicolored basketball court. Through an archway to the left of the basketball court is a pool (A beautiful outdoor pool for this tiny school!) , and behind the court through an arch is a play ground and a volleyball net. To the left as you walk towards the pavilion through the entrance, there is a fenced in soccer field where kids play with a dingy soccer ball.
*Side note: Football (Soccer) here is HUGE. Everyone is crazy about soccer. Last night there was a soccer game in the city and there were people all over in jerseys trying to hitchhike to the stadium.
Anyway, the school has kids of all ages. From teeny tiny four year olds up through high school. Which is so strange for me having been separated in distinct buildings from other age groups for my entire schooling career. In high school, every student has to chose a course to study, and when they graduate it will be in a specialized subject matter, not just a general degree like we receive here. They also can't work until they have graduated and are 18 years old, but here people can work as a waiter and get paid two dollars an hour…. When I told them I have two jobs at home, they were astounded.
Before I got to school, I had to scrub off my fresh manicure, and as if it couldn't get more painful, when I arrived and went to speak to my counselor, she promptly had me remove all my makeup. (One time I didn't quite feel like Alice in Wonderland). After that upsetting experience, my counselor brought me to my class where she introduced me to the other kids. When she finished, everyone in the class started calling for me to sit near them, shuffling bags around and everything.
I ended up sitting next to a girl who spoke so quietly I couldn't understand a single thing she said. I had to keep asking her to repeat herself simply because a mouse could probably make a louder noise with its vocal chords. Class didn't start till almost a half hour after we got there, and when the anatomy teacher started his lesson, everyone just kept talking, and he did nothing………
Next the physics teacher came in and it was the same thing, the kids were walking around, talking, and then shouting "MEEESTERRR" when the teacher went to fast or they didn't understand.
If someone is reprimanded its "MEEESSTTERRRR", if they don't understand "MEEEESSTERRR"
No exaggeration here.
After this we had some down time where I was promptly surrounded by a group of kids who began asking me every question they could think of. Literally. After they asked a question they would say to themselves "Hmm, que has?" And when I spoke the group fell silent so that they could hear.
Then we went outside for more free time, and for me, more questions. The whole day I had no clue what was going on. Kids from my class were just constantly pulling me to where we needed to be, which never really made much sense, and where there usually was never anything we were supposed to be doing or any supervision.
At the end of the day the kids in my grade (seniors if you will) Had to practice this huge celebration and presentation of the flag of Ecuador for Flag Day which was the following day.
I thought Americans were super patriotic….
Everyone had to march in in this specific order and march in place while the flag was marched in to the prelude of the national anthem. Then everyone in the grade had to walk to the flag, kneel, kiss it, and walk to the back of the formation. In between, a teacher read information about the flag and the nation. The whole ordeal probably took almost a half an hour. And it was a big deal. On the actual day of the presentation, everyones parents came to watch, and most of the kids in my class left with their parents afterwards.
All in all, my first day of school was pretty great, I think I can get used to this celebrity status for a while…..