Realization Number One
Moving countries is a lot weirder than you think it will be.
Today is the end of my first week in my new home. It has been one of the fastest and most exhausting weeks of my life (in a good way). I was taught about culture shock and how to prepare for the feelings that come with changing everything about your life in the matter of hours, but you don't really believe it until you experience it. It's amazing, confusing, terrifying and wonderful all at the same time.
When I found out I was going to Mexico, I was terrified about having sort of okay Spanish skills. I thought that I wouldn't understand anyone and I would just live out my days being very confused, surrounded by a completely foreign language. Well, almost the minute I stepped off the plane in CDMX I realized this wouldn't be as big of a problem as anticipated. It is actually not really a problem at all. For starters, a lot of people in Mexico speak English. I have to frequently tell my host family to speak in Spanish with me so I can learn. I have learned that people here are more then happy to explain a word or phrase in Spanish (Mexico has some very interesting slang) and that they are amazing at teaching their language to anyone who wants learn. As long as you put in a little effort, it's actually pretty easy to pick up Spanish. After only a week and a bit, my vocabulary and confidence in Spanish has grown so much it's astonishing.
What I did not think about too much (and probably should have) was the extremely different culture Mexico has to Canada. Things that are completely normal in Canada are unheard of here and vice-versa. A good example of this that is very hard for me to get used to is driving. I don't know about all of Mexico, but where I live people drive everywhere! We will drive two blocks away, we drive to the park, we drive to party’s, anywhere, if you want to leave the house you have to drive. So if my host sisters want to hang out with friends they ask their parents to drive them even if it's just a couple blocks away, which is crazy to me but it makes sense. My host mom is amazed that in Fernie I bike to get around, but to me it's amazing that almost no one here owns a bike! There are also things that seem easy like kissing everyone you meet on the cheek when saying hello and goodbye, but when you realize that you must do this with every single person at a party of +100 it becomes a little more difficult.
Even with all of the culture shock and language difficulties that have come so far, I would not trade this experience for the world and I am so so happy that I am here and am able to experience all of this, the good and scary. My school starts on August 22 and I have to say I have never been this excited to start school. I cant wait to meet even more people and make strong friendships with the ones I have met. They say that your exchange year is the best of your life and I can't wait to dive head first into this unimaginable year!