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the first week

Written on: Monday January 14th, 2008

A journal entry from: La Vida Dominicana and then some


I'm not even sure where to start to describe adequately what my first impressions of my surroundings for the next four monthes are. But because I'm apparently a blogger now I'm of course going to try.

The family I live with has a fairly large, beautiful house in one of the nicest nieghborhoods in Santiago. By dominican standards they are loaded and even by my personal perspective they are very wealthy. They are trained as a doctor and a lawyer but they both come from signifigant money and right now just the dad Juan Jose works. Rosanna, the mum, is a friendly affectionate women who is just gorgeous. She also gets her hair and nails done almost weekly. Right off the bat I had good conversation with Juan Jose but was a little intimidated by Rosanna because I didn\t think we had much in common ( and I can only imagine what she thinks of me with my general disinterest in makeup and looks as well as my questionable hygeine) However since then we've been bonding over other things. They like that I am social, love food and cooking and music (pretty much thre foundations of dominican culture) They have a fabulous house for entertaining so there's always family get togethers and parties at the house which is so great. Lots of good food, drink and conversation. My spanish confidence and use has already improved considerably, I feel like I have such a great foundation. Plus the culture isn't shocking to me, I already am used to a lot of the food, music, attention from men and all that. It's such a confidence builder. I know that I have only seen one privledged side of the country but these things take time and I think I'm off to the right start.

Because of our experiences in Cuba, Jasmine and I are in a unique position with even more unique challenges in adjusting to life here. Unlike other students who are dealing with culture shock from their country to here, we've just been comparing EVERYTHING to cuba. And so while we're a lot more comfortable with more aspects of this country we've also been downright shocked by some things. A short list of unexpected things that I could do without.....macdonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut, Shell, cornflakes, bad english rock cover bands, a truly horrific number of SUV's (comparable with Southern Cali), the neighbor's love for blasting mariah carey....

 Also there is a lot of poverty here, a lot of inequality. What I've seen so far is more intense than in Canada but ghettoized, concealed and entrenched like at home too. I knew to expect it but it's still difficult to really understand and make sense of in any possible sense in less than a week.

However, despite all that I feel so lucky to be here. This is a place where I lay in bed and hear the music, voices and laughter of the neighbors late into the night. Where I speak spanish every day, practically inhale incredible amounts of fruits, veggies, rice and beans (rum too haha) Where children barely old enough to walk dance to reggaton better than I could EVER hope to. Where people are friendly and always up for something fun. Where the days are sunny and rich in vegetation and the nights feel smooth and sultry. I don't want to be cheesy in my descriptions haha but I have so much to do and learn here!

 I miss you guys and hope everything is going well at home. Keep me up to date on all the stuff happening with you guys. amor y paz  -Jenny


From Evil Step-Mom on Jan 14th, 2008

Olla Jenny, Miss you sooo much already. LOVE reading about your adventures! Snowstorm warning for tonight - with more flurries tomorrow - just 10 cm or so each storm totalling around 20 cm or so ... YUK!!! What is your address por favor. I know it might take a while to get to you, but ... I would like the address. Enjoy the sultry and the rum and think of us enjoying the ... the snow, that's it! the snow - we're enjoying the snow. Miss you. I'm guessing "amor y paz" means summat like "love yer, Babe" so, right back at'cha. XXXXX M

From Johanna on Jan 18th, 2008

Jenny, estoy super contenta de leer que estas bien y acostumbrandote de la vida dominicana! Vi las photos de Jasmine...tu casa ES SUPER LINDA!!!! Aretha y yo estamos muy celosas de ustedes! Por tu primer "blog" escribes muy bien. Bueno, te dejo...suerte con todo y voy a esperar para la proxima blog! xoxo Johanna P.D> no lo puedo creer q hay KFC y todo esos...que locura!!

From Evil Step-Mom on Feb 2nd, 2008

Olla Jenny. Pourquay no more journal pages? Are there more - or do we have to sign up to footsteps in order to read them? Or, are you so busy con los studies that you don't have time? Love the pictures and miss you s0-0-0-0-0-0-0 much. You look goreous in front of waterfalls!!! Talk to you soon.