You likely think this blog will have to do with me living in Chile and that I (Ryana) am the author. You could be reading into topic based on the title, which is in Spanish but expectativas seems like it could be a cognate. Maybe you are expecting a certain style, tone and quality of my writing. Garbage! All of it! Just another reason English majors are worthless! Just kidding. I hope you don’t think that.
As you enter this blog post you are coming in with expectations, consciously or not.
We’ve relied on expectations from day one. How else are we to survive, to deal with the otherwise overwhelming amount of information we are faced with every day, every second?
One beautiful and challenging thing about living abroad is that I often learn about my expectations only when they are broken, and let me tell you, they are broken a lot. It’s beautiful because I learn about myself, my culture and the world around me. It keeps me on my toes, forces me to be flexible and broaden my perspectives. It’s challenging because settling into a reliable routine can seem like a far off dream.
It’s worth noting that “broken expectations” can be for the better. For example, I expected to get “bubble gut” upon drinking Chilean tap water. Nope. (Could this be for months of iron stomach training I had in Mexico? Possibly.)
All this to say, it was inevitable that I entered my job with the ELCA with expectations. I would move to Santiago, Chile, struggle but ultimately learn Chilean Spanish, make friends, drink delicious wine and food wise… who knew. No one really talks about Chilean cuisine but I heard it wasn’t spicy and there were lots of potatoes.
But let’s stop at that first one. I would move to Santiago.
I told everyone I was moving to Santiago. A big, capital city. The biggest city in Chile. I would live there, yes. Maybe go elsewhere eventually but Santiago was the place to hang my hat on.
Based on this expectation I’ve been settling in here in Santiago for the last four months (yes! Today marks four months in Santiago!). I found activities I enjoy like yoga, soccer and choir. I explored many parts of the city for parks, markets, or because I just decided to walk instead of take a bus. I bought things for my apartment and talked with my roommate about how to set up our balcony for summer. I made some pretty great friends.
I knew eventually I’d be pulling these roots up, my expectations were that this would happen more in a year or two years. As you can imagine, a call letting me know I’d be moving at the beginning of August fell into the category of “reality clashes with Ryana’s expectations”.
It felt extra jolting (painful? cruel?) coming just hours before I had friends over to my apartment to drink delicious Chilean wine (an expectation that indeed jives with reality), eat some cake and celebrate my 24th birthday.
I’m finding the first response to things in the “reality clashes with expectations” basket is going to the blame game. The response sounds something like “wait, what? This isn’t fair!”, “This isn’t what I deserved or what I was told (assumed) it’d be like” or “I was let down.”
There is a time and place for this but I’m trying something new since I don’t think it’s the healthiest way to readjust and more forward. Instead, I’m trying to begin by identifying what expectations I had and why.
It’s kind of relieving. There is a lot less bitterness and resentment involved. The reactions become “why did I have those expectations? Were they realistic?”, “what can I learn from this?” and “how do I adjust for the future?”
So, what did I learn from this? I will be mobile and am expected to be mobile. I will be at the disposition of the Chilean Lutheran church in whatever shape that takes. I also re-learned community doesn’t disappear just because you will leave and the heart is amazing in the way that it always has space to let new community in.
Of course, there are many positives apart from the sadness of goodbyes and challenge of starting new again. I’ll be going where it’s so windy air pollution won’t be an issue (lungs and eyes doing a happy dance!). It will be drop dead gorgeous when the wind isn’t filling my eyes with tears. (LOOK! I already have so many expectations of this new place… I can’t wait to tell you how right and wrong I was.) This move has given me new perspectives of what ideas I want to propose, how I envision us successfully pulling of English classes to people living across the country. It has refocused me on the purpose of serving the IELCH in its entirety, not just a couple of Santiago congregations.
I don’t regret living with the expectation of staying in Santiago. It’s exhausting and lame living with one foot out the door. Now I get to look forward to living with the new expectation that I’ll be back in Santiago within my remaining two years and get to return to friendly faces and familiar spaces.
Okay, one last expectation to talk about and I’ll shut up. You’re probably sitting there with the expectation that I’ll tell you where I’ll be moving.
I suppose that’s a pretty fair one.
I’ve purchased a one way ticket to Punta Arenas, Chile where I’m told I’ll live for the next 6 months unless another call comes in telling me otherwise. But I’m bracing myself this time.
Go ahead and Google it. If Sarah Palin can see Russia from her backyard and I’ll be able to see Antarctica from mine.