Inside 'Dores

Home » College Life » Jae Goes to Bolivia: My New Family [Part 3]

Jae Goes to Bolivia: My New Family [Part 3]

Jae Maeng

After a hectic first few days trying to get to Bolivia, I’m finally back on track and ready to get this adventure going.

In the morning, I took the flight to my final destinatioon: Tarija, Bolivia. Tarija is a city of 200,000 people located in Southern Bolivia about two hours north of the border to Argentina. When I touched down, the first thing I saw was not something I was expecting.

Apparently, Saint John Paul II had visited Tarija sometime around 1999 and so the people of Bolivia had built a giant picture of him and placed it on the mountainside. Outside the airport, there was Karina Gamarra, the program coordinator and Fabricio, her husband. Karina came to me to say hi and then it happened… she moved her face towards me in my direction. I think to myself, “What is she doing?” And then I realized she was going in for the cheek kiss. It caught me off-guard. Do I go left or right? She’s getting closer. And then I remember how they do it in the movies. Left! I go left. Boom. Nailed it.

After that encounter, they took me into their car to take me to the host family. On the drive, the first thing I noticed was the number of stray dogs. I really like dogs. And from that moment on, I started my puppy album where I took photos of dogs on the street.

When I arrived at the host family, there was no-one home except for the house maid. So i sat in my room and settled in. Then, I found out there was another student in the same program living in the house together with me. When she returned home, i met Brittani, 25 year old graduate from UC Davis who had been travelling in South America since November. She spoke very good Spanish and little did she know, she would become my translator for the rest of the month.

Then, it was lunch time. Bolivia, like many other Spanish countries, have siesta and so the entire family gets together for a big lunch. I met the rest of the family. Maria Estel was the head of the house and the grandmother of the family. She lived with her husband, her son, her son’s wife and their child, Faby. The house maid and her daughter lived outback and worked for the family. Lunch was my first test with the family. Crash and burn. Had no idea what they were asking me. Eventually, they stopped asking questions to me. Brittani covered my back though and helped me where she could.

After lunch, everyone went to nap but not I. They gave me a TV in my room which was a mistake because I never left my room after that. I found a series of channels where they showed movies in English with Spanish subtitles. I struck gold.

Later that night, we had dinner with Karina and “all the other participants” aka Me, Brittani and one other student. The other student was Gabby. 26 year old Nurse from the great country of Canada. She would always say “eh?” and it was the greatest thing ever. For the month, I would purposely mumble things so that she would say “eh?”

During dinner, Karina explained the basics of the program and I tried to understand as much as I could. In the morning we would go to a clinic or a hospital and in the afternoons we would either go to Spanish classes or go volunteer at an after-school program for kids. Our clinical rotations were going to be a week long at different clinics and hospitals around the city. I would start the next day at the “Plataforma de Chagas.”

I headed home and watch Rocky to prepare for my first day.

  • brittanieg

    Wow, your trip sounds so interesting already! And the way you write your entries are gold lol, so relatable. I’m definitley studying abroad at some part of my four years!

    • Jae Maeng

      Haha, thanks. You definitely should. It’s an incredible experience being able to see a completely new place. I highly recommend it. Anywhere specific you’d like to go?

Back Home   

we're talking about

a cappella a-capella Abroad Academics acceptance activities admissions admissions office advice alpha chi omega Alternative Spring Break Alumni alumni hall Alumni Lawn anchor down AOII Applications applying to college Art ASB athenian sing Athletics AXLE AXLE requirements backpacking Baking balance basketball BCM belcourt Belcourt Theater bible study bid day Big Brothers Big Sisters Bike biology biomedical engineering birthday Blair Blair School of Music blog Blogging Bluebird Cafe BME Bolivia Books Branscomb break Breakfast brevard Bridgestone arena British broadway busy BYX Cafe Coco Café con Leche caitlyn's catch-ups California camping campus campus dining catch-up chronicles cello Centennial Park Central Library CFHI Chancellor's Scholars Chicago child development children China choosing a major choosing Vanderbilt christian christmas Circuits class Class of 2016 Class of 2017 class of 2018 class of 2019 class of 2020 Classes Club Soccer Club Sports Clubs coffee Cognitive Studies College College Halls College Life college of arts and science college sports Commencement Commodore Card Commodore Cruise Commodore Quake commodores commons Commons Ball Commons Center Commons Cup Commons Dining Commons Mix Up Commons Seminar community Community service competition Computer Science concert Concerts Cooking Corporate Strategy Country Music creative writing Culture dance Dance Marathon dancing date party dean wcislo decisions derby days Dessert Dining Dinner disney Diversity diwali Dorm Rooms dorms downtown downtown nashville Early Decision East Nashville Economics ed sheeran Edinburgh education End of Semester end of the semester engineering English exam exams exercise exploring Extracurriculars fall Fall Break family family weekend Festival fido finals finals week financial aid first semester First Year five days of harry Florida Flying food football founder's walk franklin fraternity free food french freshman Freshman Life Freshman Year Freshmen friends fun GEO global education office goals graduate school graduation Greek Life Grins guatemala HAC Halloween happiest students Harry Potter health Health Care High school highland quad hiking hillsboro Hillsboro Village hockey HOD holiday holidays home homecoming Homework honors seminar Housing houston how to study for finals Human and Organizational Development ice Ice Cream IFSA-Butler Inside Dores International International Student internship internships Interviews Intramurals james franklin Jeni's job Jobs Kappa Kappa Gamma Kentucky kissam Kitchen Laundry leadership Libraries library lights on the lawn list London major making friends managerial studies marketing Masala-SACE math Mayfield Maymester MCAT meal plan Mechanical Engineering Mechatronics medical school medicine Megabus mellow mushroom melodores Memorial Gym Memorial House memories MHS Midterms MOSAIC Move Crew Move-In movies Munchie Mart Music Music City Music on Campus Nashville Nashville Predators Nashville sports Nashville Symphony Nationals nature neuroscience new semester new york city NYC OACS off campus Office of Active Citizenship and Service on campus events on-campus opportunities Orchestra organizations orientation original cast Outdoors Packing pancake pantry Pancakes panhellenic recruitment parent's weekend Parking PCC Peabody performance Performances performing arts Phi Lamb philanthropy philosophy physics poetry Poland Political Science practicum pre-med procrastination professor professors questions rand Reading Rec Center recruitment redpepper Reflection Registration relaxing Religious Life research restaurant retreat Rites of Spring Rome roommate ROTC Running rush ryman SACE Schedule School school spirit Scotland season sec Semester senior Senior Year Service shadow shakespeare shopping sick sigma phi lambda sleep snow snow day soccer social life sororities sorority South Africa Spanish speakers SPEAR sports Spring Spring Break Spring Semester squirrels Stambaugh Stevenson Stevenson Center stress stress relief student health Student Life student organizations Student Orgs Study Study Abroad Study Break studying Summer Summer Break Sustainability Sweet Cece's Swing Dancing Switzerland tailgating Taste of Nashville Taylor Swift teaching Tennessee Tests Textbooks thanksgiving Thanksgiving Break The Music Group The Pub The Vanderbilt Hustler theatre Time time management tour tour guide towers tpac training transfer transfer students travel trees tutoring ultimate frisbee undergraduate research university catholic University College London University of Edinburgh vacation Valentine's Day Vanderbilt Vanderbilt Admissions vanderbilt athletics vanderbilt football vanderbilt medical center Vanderbilt Programming Board vanderbilt student government Vanderbilt University Theatre Vanderbilt Visions vanderbubble Vandy Vandy Bubble Vegetarian venue Victory Victory A cappella VIDA Visions visiting home volunteer Volunteering VPB vsg VSVS VUcept VUceptor VUT Weather weekend Weekends Why Vanderbilt Wilderness Skills WilSkills win winning winter winter break work Writing YES Zanzibar


Recent Posts

  • 14199516_10211027194579460_8537924276116203492_n Fall 2016: A few of my favorite things » 12.2.16
  • One of my favorite part of Chirstmas! Favorite Off Campus Study Breaks » 12.1.16
  • Bhangra Black! Diwali 2016 » 11.23.16
  • 15027750_10154081430113733_3976135539806169593_n Gift-Giving at Vandy » 11.21.16
  • My friend Kayla and I ready for Move Crew 2016! Will I Be Eating Tofurky? » 11.21.16

Browse by Month