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A different kind of Christmas, New Year celebration

This holiday season sure was a weird one.

It was my first holiday season without cold or snow and I couldn't stand it. I closed the white blinds on my window to make it look snowy outside.

I must admit it was a bit sad that the blinds on the window are what made my holidays feel more like home.

The differences between Christmas in the States and Christmas in Chile just kept on coming. It could have just been my family, but I'm not so sure. In the States, the holidays are all about spending time with family and just being together. In Chile, people had to work and attend school on the 24th and the 25th of December.

It seemed as though family time wasn't that important. Instead of traveling to meet various family members, we stayed at home and my sisters and I hung out with our friends.

Christmas Eve was the one time that we all spent together as a family. My family hosted all the cousins, uncles, aunts and grandparents at our house for Christmas dinner. Instead of my usual honey ham or fondue for Christmas dinner, I had sliced cold turkey and mashed potatoes.

It was the weirdest thing. I didn't even get the chance to enjoy my usual Spritz cookies and tea.

The part that really got me was opening gifts on Christmas Eve. I'm used to waking up at 7 on Christmas morning and jumping all over my sleeping parents demanding that they wake up so we can open presents while they protest and tell my brother and I to make them coffee.

This year was the first year that I haven't opened presents in my pajamas. Instead I opened them in what I would normally wear to church on Christmas Eve.

Up until then, I was a bit sad. The different traditions and not having snow was getting me down. When I opened a present from my real parents and saw that they gave me Perry the Platypus footie pajamas, I was one happy girl.

The pajamas include a hood with Perry's face on them, Perry's feet and a tail. I can't stop wearing them.

My New Year's Eve was one that I will never forget. New Year's Eve here is a bit different than what I'm used to. In Chile, those last three or four days of the year are spent partying like no other. It's basically a countdown of parties.

I have to say, I like how Chile celebrates the new year much better than how we celebrate it in the States.

On New Year's Eve, my family and I went to my grandparents house to eat dinner and count down to the start of 2013. In Chile, there is no ball to be watched as it drops from Times Square so we relied on the radio and our phones for the official time.

Instead of drinking champagne and banging pots and pans outside to annoy the neighbors we just hugged and wished a happy new year to all. I sure did miss banging the pots and pans though!

After dinner came the mother of all parties. It was a party held for my whole city. (Which is a little bigger than Fargo.) I ventured over to my best friend's house to get ready for the party.

He helped me with my makeup, which my other friend was making me wear. Surprisingly, he was very good with makeup. (Strange, I know. It only worries me a little bit.)

He, two of my other friends and I danced at his house until about 2:30 and then we went to the party. The party was in the middle of this huge field and it was bigger than I had expected.

The place was packed. My friends and I spent the whole night dancing and avoiding creepy men that wanted to dance with us. It was quite the evening. At 6 a.m., my dad came to pick up my sister and me. I was out like a light the moment I sat down in the car.

Even though this holiday season was a lot different than what I am accustomed to and I didn't enjoy all of it, it doesn't mask the fact that it was a wonderful experience. I am glad that I had the chance to get to know how the holidays are celebrated on the other side of the world, even if it was not my preferred method.

Feliz Navidad y feliz año nuevo de Chile!

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