While saying goodbye in August to my friends and family was extremely hard for me, I have been surprised daily by how much I am loving it here! Getting to know the people has been a JOY and as we have started to make Montevideo our home, we have found some things we really love about this city!
1. La gente! (the people) To say that the people are wonderful is an extreme understatement. This is true of our experiences with our friends within Vida Estudiantil as well as with the students we are meeting on campus for the first time. On the college campus in the States, if I walked up to a student asking to talk, it is highly unlikely that they would have time. Students there are more concerned about being efficient, being on time, and keeping to themselves. Here in Uruguay, the students welcome us into their groups on campus, talk with us for hours, even sometimes skip class to talk with us more. We have been so blessed by their hospitality and culture that focuses so heavily on relationships!
2. Besos. Every time you meet a friend, enter a conversation, or even a room full of people, you must greet each person with a kiss. This also happens in some other Latin American as well as European countries in some way or another. Here, more or less, you just touch your right cheeks together and muah! Good friends will also hug, some will ask “¿cómo andas?” or greet you with a term of endearment “amiga”, “bonita”, etc. It’s the best!
3. Empanadas. We live right in the downtown of Montevideo. There is an empanadería or panadería on practically every corner here, and we have loved exploring them and finding our favorites! Every Friday morning we have staff prayer at Caleb and Laura’s apartment, which is about 40 minutes (walking) from our apartment. A few blocks from their place is an empanadería we have grown to love. We’re thinking about making it a tradition to eat there on Fridays because it’s delicious and because we hope get to know the cute ladies who work there more as the year progresses.
4. Alfajores. Why don’t we have these in the States?! Basically it’s a delicious treat made with cookies or small cakes filled with dulce de leche. Other types may have coconut, chocolate, Oreo, nuts, almonds, white chocolate.. basically the options are sweet and endless. We hope to try them all by the end of the year (which won’t be hard since we seriously buy one almost every day in the cantinas on campus).
As a team we’ve been trying to have a positive attitude and one of thanksgiving in our first few weeks here! We want to move towards the culture and be flexible so our next 10 months will be filled with happiness! However, there are naturally still some things that aren’t my absolute favorite…
1. 18 de julio. This is the road that runs through most of downtown Montevideo. It is the road we must walk on to get to Caleb and Laura’s, to the Cru office, to many of the facultades, and to just about any store. It’s just SO packed all the time with little vendors, busy shop entrances, and TONS of people who walk slowly. Let’s just say it’s been a good way for the Lord to grow my patience so far here 🙂
2. Cucarachas. Cockroaches. Enough said? We’ve found quite a few of these speedy nasty creatures in our bathrooms and our can of Raid has quickly turned into a dear friend!
Obviously moving to another country has challenges! Some things are simply going to be different from home. As we are learn the culture here, we are also learning to embrace it daily! We look stupid A LOT of the time.. but the transition has been so much better than I expected it to be! Here are just a few of the fun cultural things we have been learning to love in our weeks here 🙂
1. Spanish. WOW! I have been hesitant to tell any of the Uruguayans that I studied Spanish for the last 10 years because I didn’t start out feeling super confident with it. However, I already feel like my Spanish has gotten better and I really really love the language! Uruguayans have a different accent than the one primarily taught in schools back home, and I personally like it a lot! I’ve been having a lot of fun speaking Spanish, and learning new words as well as Uruguay specific phrases.
2. Relationships are so important. In the States we say “time is money”. Here they say just about the exact opposite. Here, every meeting starts with chat time to talk about your week and how you’re feeling, and the concept of minutes in a meeting truly does not exist. The focus is on the relationships and on the people around you, rather than being efficient with the task at hand. This has been an adjustment for many of us as we come from big campuses (mostly Minnesota and UW Madison) with big, well-organized, consistent, well-planned, and efficient Cru movements. However, the warm, intimate, relational culture has been a blessing and a good thing to embrace.
3. Mate. The traditional drink of Uruguay. It’s a huge part of the culture and you see people carrying their mates and termos around with them everywhere.
4. Fúbtol: the national religion of Uruguay! Like most South American countries, Uruguayans LOVE fútbol! We were lucky enough to go to a game last week as Uruguay beat Colombia (2-0) in a World Cup qualifier! Another fun fact: the first ever World Cup was played here in Montevideo!
“Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” 2 Corinthians 3:5-6