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Chile: Fitting in and never want to leave

I've only been here a month and I already never ever want to leave. I absolutely love it here, and I'm so glad that I took on this challenge. Without a doubt, it was the best decision I ever made.

This week is the Chilean Independence week so we don't have school. We started the festivities last week with some activities and competitions at school. On Wednesday, we had a Cueca marathon. (The Cueca is the national dance of Chile.)

The whole afternoon was dedicated to filling up the gym with as many students as possible to dance the Cueca. I, being foreign, was not one of the original dancers. But then again I, being foreign, was forced to dance anyways. I had absolutely no clue what I was doing when all my friends pushed me out to dance with my friend Jorge.

So I twirled around and waved a handkerchief around while not knowing what the heck I was doing. Jorge is an excellent dancer so compared to him, I felt rather stupid. When Jorge pulled me in close and hid our faces with his hat I had no clue what was going on. I was very surprised when he kissed me behind that hat in front of the whole entire student and teacher population of my school.

I'm 100 percent sure I gave that boy the most confused look anybody has ever given him. I didn't even know how to react. Everybody was cheering and chanting, "Baeza! Baeza!" (His last name.) It was one of the most embarrassing things I've ever been through.

After that dance, I became very famous at school. Before that happened, everyone wanted to be my friend, but after that, everyone and their cousin's dog wanted to be my friend.

A 7-year-old even asked me about it. People from different schools in Chillan started friend requesting me on Facebook. There are even videos of it! I am quite the talk of this town.

On Friday, I went shopping with my best friend Karina. This was the day that I finally made my first purchase in Chile. (Other than taxi fares.) I bought some deodorant. Big purchase, I know.

The two of us went to the Caracol Primera. ("The First Snail" in English.) It's this hole-in-the-wall shopping area that spirals up and down. So it's kind of like a snail. It is filled with all these little shops that sell homemade clothes. It was very interesting.

Sunday was spent at the ocean with my family. I saw the ocean for what I think is the fourth time in my life. We went down to the beach at sunset so it was especially beautiful. My sister, two cousins, my cousin's boyfriend and I played soccer, took tons of pictures and got our clothes soaking wet from standing too close to the ocean.

Because of getting my clothes soaking wet, I now feel like a true member of my family. When it was time to head home, my pants were still dripping wet. My mother said to me, "Sacar tu pantelones, Beret!" (Take off your pants, Beret!) My dream had come true. I can walk around with no pants on now, oh happy day.

Before I left Minnesota, everybody said to me, "Now Beret, you can't just go taking off your pants when you're there. People will find it rude." Well look at me now -- walking around people I don't even know in just my undies. I feel so accomplished.

Tomorrow I'm off to the mountains for a camping trip. I don't know what to expect, but I know I'll have a great time with my family. Over all (sorry this is in Spanish, but you knew it was bound to happen sometime) "La semana de independencia en Chile esta muy muy bien."

Berit Ramstad Skoyles is a junior at Detroit Lakes High School but is studying aboard this year in Chile.