I’m experiencing a love/hate relationship with, not only the SFUAD, but with the city of Santa Fe itself. Sometimes I feel completely homesick and sometimes I’m pretty sure I’d live happily ever after here. There are many factors that contribute to those mixed feeling and sometimes one thing has its own cons and pros.
I’m going to start with the ones I really dislike here, which are:
1 – Water pressure on showers and sinks: it’s too damn weak. Gives me the impression that it takes too long to wash my hands or finish my shower.
2 – Food portions/calories:
Portions: everything is so HUGE! Sometimes all I want is a normal individual package of MM’s, not a plus family sized one.
Green tea? It would be nice to find a bottle that I could actually carry from the supermarket to my dorm without making my arms hurt due to the supersize of it. And speaking of green tea, it has a really awkward taste here. Very different from the ones I’m used to drink back in Brazil.
Calories: In Brazil 2 slices of whole bread usually have between 94 to 120 kcal. Here most of them have 120-150kcal PER SLICE! Seriously, what?
I struggled to find a lighter bread at the supermarket and ended up with a 70kcal per slice (140kcal every 2 slices) one, which is the lightest I could find so far. I won’t even make a comment on cheese, yogurts, milk and cookies (dairy based or not). Real calories bombs!
Even weight control meals and snacks have way too many calories. I’m so glad I brought many of my fiber biscuits from Manaus.
3 – Privacy issues:
Having roommates: I never had to share my room before. My room is my sanctuary, it’s a place where I can do whatever I want whenever I want. And I try to keep it always neat and clean.
But now since I have to share a room with other people I must try to be as polite as possible. I’m not able to make noises, turn on/off the lights, listen to music or watch TV as I please. I gotta be considerate of others.
Keep the room neat and clean also became more challenging (not that my roomies aren’t clean and neat, they are. But having more people coming in and out, with more stuff around and doing their business, makes everything more complicated).
Other shared facilities: The dorms’ bathrooms are also terrifying! There’s a enormous lack of privacy and the great amount of people who use them are not always that clean. In fact, some of them seem to be really disgusting.
In Brazil we don’t usually discard toilet paper into the sanitary seat, we throw them into the trash bins. But in the USA trash bins are for other disposable materials (like tanpons). Sadly, many brazilians are not aware of this difference and keep filing the trash bins with endless amounts of toilet paper. I feel sorry for the cleaning lady..
There’s a huge sign at the laundry asking for people to leave the machines and soap containers open after use, to avoid bad smells. Every single time I went there they were all closed. How hard is it to read a sign?
4 – Weather and Daylight: as I keep saying, weather here is crazy. It goes from sunny and hot (sunscreen is a must) to clouded and cold in a couple of minutes, it makes difficult to plan my outfits for the day.
It also takes forever to get dark. In Manaus the Sun sets usually at 6 PM, sometimes sooner. In Santa Fe it’s still up and bright at past 8PM. My biological clock feels confused.
5 – Manicure prices: I’ve checked a few different places and the price for manicure is usually around USD$15 which is way too expansive if compared to Brazil, where you can have your nails groomed for something equivalent to USD$5.
Good thing I brought my own nail polish.
6 – I miss my family and friends a lot:
This is probably the worse part of being here – I miss Felipe, I miss my dog, my mother, my sisters, my friends. I miss them so much. Everywhere I go, everything I see, I’m wishing they were there with me.
I wanna hug my dog and ensure him I’m ok, that I didn’t abandon him (Felipe said he spends all day by the door waiting for me). I want to hear my mother complaining about senseless things, I wanna hang out with my sisters, and talk to my friends. And trying not to be cheesy, I want to finish watching The Walking Dead with Felipe, cuddling at the coach.
They are all important parts of me, without them I keep having this feeling that something is missing and wrong. 😦
7 – Dealing with cash and numbers on my own: I’m not good at it, not at all. Zen zen!
And getting used to a new currency and the numberless coins freaks me out. I do hate the fact that there aren’t numbers printed on the coins (although they are written in small letters at their edges). The only one I memorized so far is the 25 cents one, because it’s the biggest.
And the things I definately love about Santa Fe are:
1 – Food: although it’s usually super sized and high caloric, food here is delicious!
The vegetarian menu at the campus cafeteria offers some of the most delicious food I’ve ever had in my life. And even outside the campus is not difficult to find many delicious veggie options and full vegetarian restaurants. If I didn’t have to walk around so much I’d probably gain lots of weight.
Some fruits here seem to be tastier as well, like tomatoes, bananas (they are super sized too) and strawberries. And some that are very difficult to find back in Brazil, are very common here. Like blueberries, raspberries and other berries. And there are even things that are nearly impossible to find there, like some brands of vegetarian milk (that actually taste wonderfuly).
Also, at the campus cafeteria (Bon Appetit) they are better concerned about the animals wellbeing, even though they serve meat. They are “Humane Certified”, the eggs are cage free and the bacon is from pigs never housed in gestation crates. I honestly believe it would be better if they didn’t serve meat at all (but I know it’s not gonna happen, so…) but I think it’s a great step they have this kind of conscious. I wish there were more places like this in Brazil too…
2 – I’m exercising more: I like walking, I really do. I’m used to exercise walking or running everyday back at home, but now I must walk even more.
Inside the campus I have to walk from my room to the bathroom or laundry and back many times. I have to walk to the cafeteria, to my classroom building, to the gym. And since I don’t have a car here and the weather is cooler (despite being crazy) than it is in Manaus, I usually just walk everywhere I’m willing to go. And sometimes it’s a really long walk (more than an hour). Yay for walking!
PS: some of my friends aren’t enjoyning this more active life style as much, though. When they can, they just catch a bus. I’ll always prefer to walk.
3 – Weather and daylight: they have a good side too. In general the weather is much cooler than it is in Manaus. I don’t sweat that much so it allows me to walk more and wear more fashionable clothes.
The fact that it takes longer to get dark also allows me walk around the streets longer and more safely.
4 – Wildlife: it’s really common to see some wild animals around the campus and the city, like rabbits, Ravens, cute little birds and I even heard about coyotes, snakes and bears. It reminds me of Manaus (where the same thing happens but with different species obviously… We don’t have wild bears) and I really enjoy watching the animals.
5 – Meeting new people: that’s something I like a lot. I’m meeting all sorts of people, from many different places and cultures and getting (being forced to) used to many different accents. And it’s not only on campus, people on the streets and stores are usually very friendly and enjoy small talking to strangers (like me).
Yesterday I was at the Cliff’s Amusement Park and when I tried to take a selfie, two people appeared out of nowhere to photobomb me. It never happened to me in Manaus and it was very funny (I posted this picture on our Facebook page, you can check it out there). Shop attendants are also very polite and are always asking about your day and stuff (most attendants in Manaus still have a long way to go at it).
Even having roomates has a good side, it means I’m rarely alone and being alone is something I usually dislike (although lately I’m having a few urges to be left alone sometimes).
6 – Feeling safer: crime happens everywhere but compared to Manaus, Santa Fe is a pretty much safer city. I’m not afraid of walking around on my own or using my cell phone on the streets.
7 – Everything is designed beautifully: Santa Fe is known as the capital of Arts in the USA. It’s one of the oldest cities and there are many museums and historical places. Everywhere you look is pretty and inspiring, the landscapes are breathtaking, the sky is beautiful and its high altitude air is very clean.
Before I came here I was warned about how some brazilians get sick when they arrive because of the differences in weather, altitude and humidity. But I’m feeling great!
8 – Traffic: people actually respect pedestrians and traffic laws. In Manaus I have to wait several minutes before a good driver allows me to cross the street, even when I’m at the pedestrian crossing (which is usually the case).
9 – Vending machines: I do love them. It’s not that they don’t exist in Manaus, they do. But you don’t find them very often. However, you can find vending machines here in Santa Fe just about everywhere.
In general, although I love Manaus, I’d probably really live happily ever after here. If only I had my family with me…
What about you? Have you ever had any experiences abroad? What were the biggest cultural differences you noticed?