School, the word itself just made me dread what would come, in my world I still had two months of summer vacation left, but in study abroad world school started in a little under a week! Of course my favorite thing about being a student was the preparation for the year to come, school shopping! You can increase your wardrobe, find matching accessories and even paint your nails a new color every week! As you can tell I have become quite accustomed to expressing myself through my clothes, just like every other human. So the idea of a uniform had its downfalls, but also a few perks. For example a downfall was not being able to express oneself through clothes, whereas a perk was not having to worry about what to wear because everything and everyone was the same. Downside nail polish was banned, perk you didn't have to... um... match colors? Luckily my uniform was quite flattering compared to some schools, well, maybe not the gym suit, but everything has a downside I suppose.
The group of six Americans and Annette our bestie that made sure everyone made it into the country, followed Maria Paz our program director to a local store that specialized in uniforms for the hundreds of schools in the region. Everyone chatted excitedly about what their uniform would look like and about the experience so far. I looked around the shop, rows of skirts were pinned onto the walls while jackets and shirts hung on hangers in the back. Socks and ties were placed in glass counters next to patches and pins. It was all so overwhelming and I began to miss the simplicity of the mall. "Grace!" Maria Paz called out my name as she waved me over. I quickly ran to her side as she passed a list to the employee and instructed me to follow the worker. I nodded my head as I gave a funny look to Annette before making my way over to the counter where the worker instantly began to hand me clothes after clothes, there were so many bits and pieces. Luckily the shop had every piece of my uniform so I would only have to go on one shopping trip. I quickly tried on the outfit's and did a quick catwalk for the group, we all loved the regular uniform but agreed that the gym outfit was another story, but at least it was comfy. After everything was purchased we went back to the CIEE building for host family pickup. I was the only one that bought their complete uniform, the others got bits and pieces but still needed large chunks to be 'school ready' for Monday.
The week before school consisted of orientation from 9-12 and then back again at 3-5, after that the time was ours to explore, but unfortunately it was dark by 6 so many of us just went home with our families. Luckily during the weeknights me and my host family went on a walk along the beach and bought churros, watched sunsets, went to the mall, saw the Incredibles 2 and Hotel Transylvania and ate some really good lemon pie. The end of our first week was over, school was a jump away and nobody was prepared for what would come.