Last night, we went to un partido de fútbol between Strongest (a Bolivian team) and Lanus (an Argentinian team). It was such a lively experience for many reasons, but mainly because I have never been to a professional soccer game. The atmosphere was a lot like Oxford during football season: exciting, loud, competitive, and packed. Since I am such a sports fan in general, I loved every second of it. I even bought a Strongest jersey, but I want a Bolívar one too just to be fair. The best part was that Strongest scored in the extra minutes at the very end to tie the game 1-1!
I think our group had a really different experience at this game (in a good way) because we had some of the Waliki friends with us. Not only did we get to hear a great amount of trash-talk from the Waliki Bolívar supporters, we also had more knowledge about the players and the way everything works rather than if we had just gone alone. The Waliki friends are honestly the best…they are so helpful and fun and they really want us to enjoy their country. Having them with us is comforting because we trust them and they have a cultural knowledge that we lack. After the game, we all went for drinks and snacks and I ended up staying way longer than I had planned, and when I finally did leave I decided it was my favorite day in La Paz to date. I love how accepting they are of us even when we do or say things that are probably totally weird to them, and I hope that if I ever encounter an exchange student in Oxford I can be so helpful and nice, too. My main takeaway from last night (besides the pure hate between Bolívar and Strongest that reminded me of the hate I have for MS State), was that I really think we should do a better job on campus of making exchange students feel welcome. Even today when I passed one of the Walikis going to class, he made sure to stop and greet me. Mississippi is known for hospitality, so we should make exchange students a priority by at least having lots of opportunities for them to meet locals.
So, like the Strongest anthem goes, last night we really did win.