I am curled up in my pajamas at home now, and my dad and great uncle are watching the Bears play against the Jets on TV. It is snowing outside, and we have heating so it is nice and warm despite the cold weather.
It is a nice feeling being back home and being surrounded by what is familiar to me: my dad's house, driving around the neighborhood, the last school I worked at, and visiting family and friends. It has been a really nice experience catching up with some of my friends and their families, and they were eager to hear about my experiences. I've gotten to see most of my family also, and it's always nice catching up with them too.
When visiting my brother's work, I was surprised to hear how many of his employees have been reading my blog. One of them asked me, "So you're the guy that did the bungee jumping?" It almost made me feel like a celebrity, and it was flattering to meet people that I didn't know before that are readers.
And of course it has been great being home for the food. I've been enjoying turkey, ham, oven browned potatos, stuffing, gravy, pumpkin pie, Philly pretzels, and other foods that I have been missing for the past year. It has been so nice having home cooked meals and sharing them with family and friends, as it is something I always look forward to at the holidays.
I've also enjoyed nabbing some great after Christmas deals. I got a new pair of jeans for $10, and a new pair of corduroy pants were $15. I'm hoping that some stores will have shorts and jeans shorts before I go back to Santiago, as I really need some new pairs.
Being back has magnified some of the cultural differences between Chile and the United States. I think the biggest one I'm noticing now is with materialism and shopping. In general it seems that material possessions are considered more important in the States, and it's not common to go out shopping even when you don't need anything. It's also very easy to buy things using a credit card and not worrying about it until the bill comes in the next month. I've certainly been guilty about this plenty of times before.
In Chile it seems that people usually only go shopping when they need something. Prices for clothing and electronics are usually higher in Chile than the States, and sales don't seem to be as good there as they are at home. From the Chileans I know, it seems like they have far fewer material possessions and smaller apartments than we have in the States.
When I went out shopping for the pants I bought earlier today, I found myself wandering into video game stores and feeling tempted to buy some used games before realizing I would probably only play them for a week or two before they would collect dust. I also only brought cash with me, and I'm realizing that paying in cash makes you realize how much you are paying as opposed to credit card.
Considering the cultural differences, I can't blame people in the States for spending the way they do. After all, prices are so much lower. Since things are so affordable buying things on a whim doesn't have the financial implications that it might have for a person in a similar financial position in Chile.
I'm also trying to find things to do during my time home. Unfortunately things didn't work out for me to be able to substitute at the last school I was at, so I'm looking for some opportunities to do some tutoring for Spanish, German, or elementary school. I'm also going to take advantage of a boxing gym's 7 day free trial, then hopefully a Bally's 14 day free trial in order to counteract the weight that I will probably put on with all of the delicious food.
Luckily I will be visiting friends in Los Angeles for a week in January thanks to my dad's gift of frequent flyer miles, and I'll also visit a friend near Harrisburg another weekend.