Birthdays, Parrots, and Ignorance

I am an ignorant fool.

I very incorrectly imagined adapting to Paraguay’s culture would be easy peasy.  This was my train of thought “I am a Latina, Paraguay is in Latin America, therefore Paraguay must be very similar to my Latin roots of Puerto Rico.”

Here’s the thing I didn’t take into consideration: Paraguay is over 3000 miles away from Puerto Rico.  Its influences and historic backgrounds are vastly different.  Its traditions, culture, and manner of speaking are on separate playing fields.

The amount of words/terms that are used here that I am unfamiliar with are infinite.   For example, last Friday I got a “Brushin” – which, by the way, consists of getting your hair washed (for 25 minutes) with a head massage, thoroughly blow dried, then straightened for a whopping  $4.80.   I digress, during my “Brushin” the stylist and I start discussing architecture degrees/licenses in the U.S. of A.

The more I explained the process the more frustrated and confused the stylist got, and the more confused I got at her confusion.    First of all, I called my degree a “Bachelor’s degree” – which in Paraguay is what you get when you graduate from High School. I then continued on to explain that to become a licensed architect you need to work for a firm for several years post college graduation and then take licensing exams.

In Paraguay though, being a licensed professional consists of having what we call a bachelor’s degree.  Yes, any bachelor degree makes you a “licensiado,” you are presented to others as “Licensiada Nalena” and if you have two majors you are “Doble Licensiada Nalena.”  Americans should adopt this ASAP, I will instantly be way cooler than the fool that I currently am.

You can imagine the stylist’s confusion.   I was basically telling her that I graduated from High School with a degree in architecture, but somehow I wouldn’t be graduating from college for another 4-5 years.   Meanwhile, my host sister is sitting in the chair next to mine trying to convince her that I did graduate from the University despite what I was saying.

This, my friends, is just a small glimpse of what a day of “Lost Nalena” looks like.  But despite all of the confusion, I have enjoyed exploring the small town we live in and going to family birthday parties full of food, stories, and laughter.

And yes, next time you see me, you can call me a fool.

By the way, you may think those orange things hanging over our heads are oranges or mandarines, but they are actually lemons, you know, those things that make your face pucker.

I also must give credit to Jon, for he took most of the pictures that you have just cast your eyes on.

8 replies on “Birthdays, Parrots, and Ignorance”

That’s how it is in Mexico. People could not understand why I went all the way to the States and paid big bucks just to get a “bachiller” — oh the confusion. I would just say I was getting my “licenciatura.”

Yes, very confusing! After talking to my dad it seems like all of Latin American does it that way. Though it gets more confusing because some degrees are higher than “licensiatura” like engineering, and I think architecture.

I didn’t manage to take its picture, but this morning while watering my gardens, I noticed a butterfly on one of my flowers that looks like a twin of the one in your blog. I suppose it’s possible the same species might live in both the northern and southern hemispheres, but if so, it was in Iowa in summer and Paraguay in winter!

Was there a story about the parrot??? If not, I think you should make one up. Which is usually what I do when talking to hairdressers so that I don’t have to talk about what I actually do for a living.

Nicole, you’re too astute for me. 🙂 Next time I will tell the hairdresser all about parrots, in your honor. Though they are pretty awesome at not talking to you, which I like.

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