Sunday, July 20, 2008

Less than 24 hours to go!

The final moments have arrived. I just want to say thank you to everyone who supported me during this amazing experience of my life. I appreciated the cards and care packages, they really meant so much, especially being thousands of miles away. I look forward to seeing everyone when I return. Calls and texts will be very much appreciated, I have missed them the past 5 months.

I had my last night out in Chile last night leading me to go to bed at 3:30 this morning. However I was so anxious I woke up at 9:30. That is the earliest I have woken up in weeks. I still have my last minute packing to do and thank you presents to give. It seems so surreal that I was even in Chile and now that I am leaving. Studying abroad was a goal/dream of mine since high school and now its over. I am so glad I did it and recommend everyone to step out of their comfort zone and do something like this. Living in another country is a challenge itself and speaking/learning another language is quite a defeat. I still don´t know how/why I picked Chile, I dont even remember making the decision that Chile was where I wanted to go but I am so glad I was here. I made great friends, learned great lessons, and had one of the best times of my life...and I am only 20 years old. I feel like I have a lot to look forward to. It really is true...if you put your mind to it, you can do it.

Thanks again for reading my blog and staying in touch. Love you all!!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

So close, I can almost taste it

I am in the final stretch now. I leave a week from tomorrow. I still feel like Chile is a dream and I just haven´t woken up yet. I assumed time has stopped and when I return home it will be March 3 and Spring is around the corner. But instead I get to step off the plane in 90% humidity and temperatures in the upper 90´s. This will be far from Spring weather. I am very excited though to sweat instead of shivering. I am tired of being cold, having 2 winters this year was not my idea of delightfulness. And living in a country where central heating does not exist did not cross my mind until I was already living in it.

This past week has been uneventful. The first half was full on Econ. I had a group project for that class and also a final exam, our prof made it easy on us since we took it early and she was so busy she didn´t have time to make us a real exam, instead we had a multiple choice one which I prefered. I don´t know how I did but I felt better about it than the last one I took. I feel like I have to write about school since a lot of adults are reading this and they are concerned with my education :-)

So something rather eventful that happened to me this past week is my laptop is no longer working. Its rather a tragedy for me because I rely so heavily on it for entertainment and communication. Luckily it did happen my last week here when school is over and I only have to wait a week before I talk to everyone at home who I have been talking to online. However since I am on a prepaid cell phone plan here, my friends here and I use facebook to make plans. So thats the only thing that has really been bothering me about not having my laptop. Fortunately, my host sister just got a new laptop so I can still continue my sitting in bed with a laptop. I just can´t do it all day, which is a good thing. Everyone knows I am addicted to the computer, so when I lost mine, its like losing a friend. That sounds so crazy but I hope you know what I mean.

Hope everyone is doing well. I look forward to calling or seeing everyone when I get home. Don´t complain about that heat I am so excited about :-)

Friday, July 4, 2008

No fireworks here

So I have to say it is a bit strange not to celebrate July 4th here, of course it is still July 4th but you know, its not JULY 4th! I really would love to see some fireworks and hot weather. My friends and I were going to have an asado (bbq) and celebrate with some American culture. However the cold gloomy weather and lack of funds stopped us from being traditional Americans on this day. Instead we watched Anchorman. I knew I probably would not like it and I was right. I just don't have an appreciation for that kind of humor. It was nice to see clips of San Diego though.

So not much has been going on. I am now done with 3 out 4 classes. This week I will be done with Econ, probably on Thursday. I still have to do a group project, quiz and final! I finally got to see the Sex and the City movie. When I first found out it was coming out while I was here, I was very sad I wouldn't get to see it but then it finally came here and I went to the pre-showing. I don't know if thats a word but thats how I can translate the Spanish word for it. I was so excited I couldn't help but smile during the first half of it.

Anyways I am a little over 2 weeks from home. I can almost taste it, its so close. I know 2 weeks may seem like a good chunk of time since some people may come to Chile for only 2 weeks. But when I have been here for over 4 months now, 2 weeks seems like a very short time. I can finally say I am ready to go home. I wasn't sure how to get ready for going home but thinking about warm weather, my favorite foods, and seeing my friends and family, I think it is time for me to go home. Also I have ran out of money and need to get back to having some kind of income. My friends are also starting to leave so Chile just won't be the same without them.

Well I thought I would just write a little to let everyone know I am alive and well. Tomorrow I am going to Santiago to do some more sightseeing. It would be sad to live in Chile for 5 months and not really see much of the captial. Hope everyone is having a fun 4th of July!!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

One month to go!

Here are some of my random thoughts for the week since I am procrastinating from doing my homework...

So I will be home exactly one month from today. Am I ready? Yes and no. Why? Its unexplainable.

I posted some graffiti pics. I forgot that when most people think of graffiti, you think of like vandalism. No, these are basically public murals. I have to do a presentation on graffiti next week so I went up in the cerros (hills) of valpo to take some pics. Enjoy.

Next week is going to be crazy with school work! On Monday I have an Econ quiz, Tuesday I have a history final exam, poetry group presentation, graffiti presentation, Wednesday or Thursday is my final presentation for my cultural class, and then 2 poetry papers are due Thursday, one is 5 pages the other is 1 page. So after months of doing no work, I have my work cut out for me this week. I think I like it this way though. Luckily on Thursday I am finished with all of my classes except for Econ. So then in July the first 2 weeks I just have Econ to worry about and can soak up Chile for the last 3 weeks I am here.

I miss having a living room. Well we have one in my apartment here, but in the 4 months I have been here, I have only seen one person sit in it! Its a very formal living room and there is no tv in it. Also since there is no heat except for our little heaters we have in our bedrooms, it is very cold so everyone stays in their rooms with the door shuts. I just think I could get to know my family so much better if we had more opportunites to spend time together. Even if we are just watching tv together, which we can't cause I would find it awkward to sit in their bedroom with them, am I right?

So we have new gringos here for the "summer." I feel like they are coming into my territory, my friends and I like to point them out on the street. You can tell they are new because they just have this lost look on their face. Excuse me if this is all mean, but its just so hard to relate to them because I have been here for 4 months and they are never going to understand Chile in the 5 weeks they are here for. My friends and I were talking and we just have this mindset that when we get home no one is going to understand. The experiences we have had here in Chile have bonded us and that we will never have with anyone else. Don't worry old friends, we still have special bonding times in the past and the future to come :-) (How sappy, I know.)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

What about class?

So I tell lots of people about my trips but I often hear the questions, "aren't you studying abroad?" and don't you ever go to class? But you have to know I am learning more about life and myself through each day here than I ever would at home in my own comfort zone. But now I will tell you all about my classes so you don't think I am just here getting free credits.

Economics: I am taking Econ to fulfill a Social Science credit. I don't really know how it is a social science credit but I thought it wouldn't be too hard. However, it being in Spanish and all the terms being vocab I never learned, its a little more difficult than I thought. Fortunately my professor is from the U.S. and so her accent isn't hard to understand. She also gives us quizzes in English to help with the vocab. However this Saturday, yes Saturday, we have our first test. We went over some old test questions in class yesterday and I can tell I have a lot of studying to do. The test questions are nothing like the quiz questions or anything we do in class. In class we talk more about the concepts but we aren't taught how to apply them which is what we are supposed to do on the tests. Oh well, all I need is a C.

Poetry: I am usually lost in this class. She talks about a lot of concepts in poetry that I could really care less about. Also I just don't understand poetry or like poetry in any language. So why did I take this class? Well I need a literature class and this had the best times. I know, not the best reasoning but I am pretty useless at 8am or on a Friday when the other literature classes are. Our grade consists of 4 papers and a group presentation. So when I write a paper, I just do more research online instead of relying on class lectures and notes from class. Also my friend Thea is in this class so she pretty much saves me from the boredom that fulfills this class.

History: This class only meets once a week at 8 am but its supposed to count as 3 credits (a normal credit amount for a class). Its the history of Valparaiso but we don't talk about Valparaiso too much. I also have a hard time paying attention at 8 am to a Chilean professor who I have a hard time understanding. I have 1 more class and then our final exam is at the end of June. Wish me luck! Also I have to climb up to this building at 8am!

Chilean Culture and Conversation: This class is my favorite because I usually understand and it seems the most useful. My professor however gets stuck on one thing and just goes with it for weeks. For about a month and a half we have been listening to newscasts and filling in the blanks of the script. Its quite difficult. Chileans speak really really really fast. But its good because we learn new vocabulary and become aware of current events in Chile. However we had a change in pace, yesterday we walked around the hills of Valpo to look at graffiti. I forgot to take my camera but I will go back and take pictures. The graffiti is really good here. However, I don't think its too cool that people just graffiti wherever and think everyone wants to look at it.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Is it love?

So I have been in Chile for a little over 3 months now and I still love it. However, I am not sure what I love. Do I love being in a place where until 3 months no one had ever met me and I could be truly who I am, almost start over my life in a way? Or do I love living in a big city and being able to walk everywhere?

Ok so I am just going to make list of things I love and you can tell me if its love for Chile or just loving the abroad life.

In Chile I love...

*walking out of the house wearing whatever I want and I know no one cares. No body really cares about their image here and its so comforting. No one cares about other people, but in a good way. I don't feel I am being judged at all, everyone has their own style.
*my host mom and practicing my spanish with her. She is so patient while I fumble with the different spanish tenses.
*going out here. Now I haven't gone out much at home like to bars and clubs because I am not 21 yet. However, I always have a good time when I go out. I love dancing, and there are plenty of clubs to keep me entertained every weekend. Also the clubs stay open till like 4 or 5, much different than in the states.
*taking trips. At home I go on like 2 trips a year or something. Its so much fun to change my location every few weekends. But I do know its because I had money for this and school isn't as serious at home. But it makes me think about all the places I want to go now
*there is ice cream everywhere and its cheap too!
*the ocean being less than 10 blocks from my house. Last night I just walked to the beach to see the sunset over the ocean and it was so nice to hear the ocean. Also the road that goes to school goes by the ocean and its so great to see it everyday.
*my friends here are so great! Now most of them are gringos but I have so much fun with them. I am going to miss them terribly when I go back home.
*reggaeton, its like their version of rap music here. I can dance to it all night long!
*the pda (public display of affection); i actually like it now. At first it was weird to see it everywhere, on the streets, at school, on the bus, every bench, the clubs, bars. But I think its nice now, to see people display their affection for each other and not care what other people think. I rather see people loving on each other than hatin, you know?

Now don't get me wrong, there are things I miss about the states but as I look at my countdown that says 45 days till home I get really sad. However it is possible that as I get closer to July 20, I will be more excited about going back to life in the states. Its just that I have built a whole new life here and I have to leave it and go back to a life that has not been held still, everyone at home continued with their lives. I have changed and I am sure people at home have changed. Its going to be unfamiliar territory when I arrive home which is ironic, don't ya think?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Completely Unexpected

So this is going to be a long one just to warn you...

Well this trip was my longest, but unintentionally. Thea, Colleen, Marina, and I went to Mendoza on Wednesday May 14th. We had heard great things about this small city across the border in Argentina. You had to go through the Andes to get there. We went there at night so we can save time during the say. So I didn't get to see any of the Andes which I was sad about. They woke us up at 3:00 am for Customs. We were there for 2 hours, I have no idea why. Anyways we arrived Thursday morning around 8:30 and checked in to our hostel and then went off exploring the city. We found many cute stores that we returned to over and over. Finally I set on 2 purses, but together they cost like $18. They aren't the best quality, but definitely cute. So after lunch we noticed the city was dead. They take their siestas seriously in this city. No stores were open so we decided we will nap too. This repeated itself almost every day we were there.

On Friday we did a bikes and wine tour. This included riding a bike to a bunch of wineries that were "close" together. We rented the bikes for half of a day so we had to rush to each winery we wanted to see. They all had red wine, which if you remember from the wine festival, is not my favorite. It was nice to be out in the country and away from the city.

On Saturday we continued our shopping until the stores closed on us. In the afternoon Colleen went paragliding and Marina became sick with some kind of food poisoning. So Thea and I went to this really pretty park and ended up at the Mendoza Zoo. This was a very entertaining experience. We have such great stories from it. The first is that we saw cute little animals in their cages, hear some animal getting kinda angry. So we walk around the corner and there is a lion behind a chain linked fence cage. Then we see a man sticking his fingers through the cage. Thea was quite uncomfortable so we fled before we were eaten alive. There was also many animals not in best mental state I believe. Here is a video of animal going out of his mind. I found it quite hilarious.

So then Saturday night Thea became sick, with the same throwing up mess Marina had. Colleen and I were scared we were next but we never got sick. Sunday morning we were all set to leave, headed to the bus station and when we got there we were turned away. The pass through the Andes was closed. We thought oh no big deal, we will go the next day. Slowly, I mean slowly, it became Wednesday and we were still in Mendoza. We were all quite depressed about this. Then Wednesday we made a decision to go to Chile the long way...

Colleen's birthday was May 24th and Marina's birthday is May 26th so they had a big birthday party planned on Saturday, May 24th. We needed to get back by then so we decided to pay some money and take a bus down South through Argentina and then back up North through Chile to Santiago. It was suppose to be around 30 hours, key word is suppose. So Wednesday, May 21st at 6:30 pm we left Mendoza. The next morning we woke up around 8am stopped on the road. In front of us was the police not letting us pass. Up ahead there were workers on strike (funny (but not) because our school had been on strike for like a month) and they were setting stuff on fire so it was not safe for us to pass. So our bus drivers finally decided after 7 hours of sitting there that we should find a new way which included dirt roads. Finally we were back on our way to Santiago. But then the next morning I woke up at a Shell gas station around 6 am hearing the bus driver talking (in spanish of course) but i didn't really comprehend anything since I was half awake. So I was like we are probably just here for  gas and bathroom since the bus bathroom was getting nasty. I go to use the bathroom, buy a drink and then my friends tell me the two ways to get to Santiago both have bridges that are flooded or destroyed by the heavy rain they had that week. The pic to the left here is showing where the bridge has been broken off of. Anyways...we were less than 3 hours away from Santiago!!! I was like you have got to be kidding me!!! So we hung out in the shell station, having all the junk food we could possibly blow our money on. Then around noon we finally had a plan. We would have to drive to the bridge, walk across and then another bus would pick us up on the other side. That sounds a lot more simple than it was. We had to wait at the bridge for about 2 hours for the other bus to come. After we crossed the bridge we took a van to find our bus in the traffic. Finally we get on our way around 330. Got to Santiago, bought our tickets for Vina at the bus terminal,run to the gate and missed our bus by like a minute. Why would the man sell me tickets for a bus I couldn't get to in time? So we stay in a long line to change our tickets and I know this isn't that big of a deal but after  having all the issues we did, we just wanted it to be simple. Luckily after we got on our bus to Vina, everything was good. I do want to note the bus from Mendoza to Santiago did not have the semicama (semi bed) which includes a platform for your legs to rest and the bus from Vina to Santiago did (1 hour and a half ride) Also on our 50 hour bus ride we were served one meal when we were told we would get all meals for while we were "suppose" to be on the bus. Luckily we stopped at gas stations they had those edible sandwiches. And we didn't have blankets or pillows!!! How dare they? Again fortunately I had my amazing neck pillow so I could get some sleep. And now I have this story to tell...