country in crisis?

Standard

Since I’ve been in Chile, there have been temblors, tsunami warnings, earthquakes, and fires. I apologized to my host mom because clearly I cursed Chile.

The most recent of these disasters was the Valpo fire this past weekend. When our group returned from Santiago last Saturday evening, none of us expected that the dark cloud on the horizon had come from a raging forest fire in our neighboring city to the south. The smoke was beautiful and ominous at the same time, creating new shades of pink and orange in our beloved Chilean sunset. However, we didn’t find out until later the extent of the damage that had occurred. The fire destroyed anywhere from a couple hundred to a couple thousand homes (every source I’ve found states a different number than the last) and left 11 people dead.

Image<photo from radio.uchile.cl>

After so many natural disasters, I think many countries may have considered just tossing in the towel. Chile is different though. Neighboring cities, my own included, have rallied around the relief effort, raising money and collecting donations, removing debris and planning the next step for the port city. Fuerza Chile is a common theme on my newsfeed, from my fellow exchange students to my Chilean friends, showing that strong countries begin with strong people. 

In the book I’m reading right now, Eat Pray Love, the author quoted an old Buddhist teaching that says “The world is afflicted with death and decay, therefore the wise do not grieve, knowing the terms of the world.” I thought that was such an interesting way to look at times of struggle. It’s basically saying, bad things are gonna go down, but it’s not gonna help you to sit in a corner and cry about it. Chile knows this, and instead of mourning, they’re rallying, and fixing, and helping, and changing the bad back into good. The terms of the world may be that bad things happen, but the terms of the wise are that nothing has to stay bad for long. I think Chile is a wise country. Or I may have just misinterpreted the entire quote. 

While you can’t change the terms of the world, you can definitely change how you react to them. Make your afflictions into lessons learned, your bad times into memories passed, and your struggles into a chance for unity. 

#FuerzaChile 

Drake Visits Chile, I Plan My Visit To NYC

Standard

Three days ago I got a visit from one of my favorite Drake professors, @MattCMitch. 

Image

 

He and another Drake administrator (Gretchen Beckley, Director of the International Center) came to check out a few universities to look at the possibilities for an exchange program. It’s so awesome that Drake has such a commitment to internationalization. I feel like it is the perfect place for an international business major, as our international presence and influence continues to grow.

That same day, I booked my tickets to NYC for the end of this summer (and by me I mean my awesome stepmom who did all the work and used all her miles on me thank you thank you thank you). When I messaged her to ask for her help, the first thing she said was “You’re not even home yet and you’re planning your next trip… I love it.” 

It’s not just traveling to travel though. The purpose of the trip is to get my fix of Steph & Zach, two of my favorite people that I’ve met in Chile, because I’ll most likely be going through significant withdrawal by the time August 5th rolls around. I’m so excited. I’ll get to sight-see with two of my best friends in New York, and visit Boston which is a brand new city for me. It’s a fortunate coincidence that they live just 3 hours from each other. 

I was not expecting to meet such amazing and interesting people as I’m meeting here. People that make it feel like, although I’m in a completely different country experiencing a completely different culture, I’m also completely at home. If that makes sense?

Go abroad, you won’t regret it.

 

Weekend Vacay en Pucon

Standard

This weekend we went to Pucon, which is in like the central-south of Chile in Patagonia. I think. I wasn’t really looking at a map on the TWELVE hour bus ride to get there, just attempting to get more than 30 minutes of sleep at a time. We kept stopping to pick up more people (although in an argument that I won (mostly out of pity), my travel companions and I agreed that none of those stops were in Santiago). We got to Pucon Friday morning and headed to our hostel to drop our things off, then headed to the hotsprings for a grueling day of nonstop relaxation.

 Image

 

Then we grabbed dinner (a completo because I like food) and chilled at our hostel for the rest of the night. Our hostel was sweet by the way- if you’re ever in Pucon you should definitely stay at the Princesa Insolente. There was breakfast every morning and a bonfire every night. Saturday we woke up early (8:30, the sun had only been up for maybe an hour, like what do I look like a rooster?) and headed off for a day of canyoning! Which if you don’t know what that means you’re not alone. I had no idea until we reached the first waterfall of our hike and they attached a rope to our harness and told us we were going to rapel down it. That’s canyoning. It was actually a blast. In between waterfalls, we walked through some of the most amazing scenery I’ve ever experienced– through ravines and creek beds and what I think may have been parts of the Amazon (we had to have been close right? i’ll check it out on a map and let ya know). So beautiful. This is me after I fell down what I was told was a “slide” but actually ended up being like a 10 foot drop into this shallow little pool: 

Image

Everyone else did it right but I mixed up my left and my right. Happens to a lot of people I’m sure. The most exciting/scary part of the day was on the last waterfall, when I slipped and spun my entire body into the side of the mountain. Thankfully my helmet was on for this one and I’m 100% okay! (minus a few bruises and whiplash and probably a minor concussion. i’m just gonna walk it off though.) We went back to the hostel for lunch after our eventful morning and chilled there for the rest of the night. Sunday we didn’t have any plans. The guys went rafting, and I figured since I couldn’t move my neck without moving my whole body, an action sport (is rafting a sport?) probably wasn’t the best idea for me. So the rest of us headed to explore the little town of Pucon. And eat. Because as I mentioned before, I’m like really into food. Nutella crepes and a cappuccino for brunch, then ceviche and empanadas for lunch. We also checked out a few of the local shops. I bought mittens they’re so cute. 

The bus ride back was a lot better than the ride there. I was exhausted from the long weekend so I passed out for the majority of it. When I woke up we were back in Viña, and I headed home to get ready for my class at 10.

Life in Chile is almost surreal. Sometimes I nap and sometimes I yoga and sometimes I travel and then unfortunately sometimes I actually have class, so it’s really “the best of times and the worst of times” (the worst being class, the best being the relaxation and incredible new experiences, in case you were confused).

k chao chao

 

not sure how i feel about cab drivers

Standard

So we (me & Brooklyn, another Drake student who’s studying in a neighboring city this semester) went to Santiago this weekend for Lollapalooza. It was sick. Sick in a good way in case you’re not up to date with the kool kid slang these days. 

We got there Friday night and, after checking into our SWEET hotel, headed to the largest mall in South America, the Costeñera Center. Our plan was to eat and shop. However, since we think first with our stomachs and then with our brains though, we ate first and by the time we had finished, all the stores were closed. Total bummer. The food court sushi we had was amazing though, as was our view from the roof as we ate it. The sushi here is seriously unbelievable.

First encounter with cab driver: Positive vibes. Asked us if we were from Brasil. Because of our amazing Spanish accents and dark skin I think. 

Then we met up with my Chilena friend for the rest of the night. We ended up walking much more than we had planned. Which ended up being an unfortunate theme for our weekend. 

Saturday we ate the most amazing breakfast. There may have been manjar involved. And kiwi. And bread (of course). Bread is for breakfast lunch and dinner here, which is fine by me <3 Then we headed to grab our wristbands so we wouldn’t have to wait later. Then back to the mall because we needed clothes. Clothes here are more expensive. So that’s pretty rough. Then back to lolla for the actual concert. Literally such a blast. We ran into friends at a few points but it was mostly just Brookie and I the whole time. Image

 

So fun. Until we left. I got way too wrapped up in the street empanada I was eating and we ended up walking past the metro and decided to catch a cab. Which is where cab driver experience numbers 2, 3, and 4 come in.

Second encounter: We walked for about 30 minutes before finally finding an empty cab. Then the cab driver informed us it would be a minimum of 10 mil ($20 back in the states) to drive us to our hotel. I would rather sleep on the street than pay over 20 bucks for a cab that’s taking us 6 blocks. 

Third encounter: 10 minutes later, another cab slows down, and when Brooklyn turns to ask if he’s free, he makes a kissing noise at us, winks, and drives off. Ok very helpful thank you.

Fourth encounter: Finally on a main road, about 50 minutes into our midnight stroll, another cab stops for us. We tell him where we’re going and he says it’s only two blocks down, very close. K so you’re not going to drive us there? Thanks no I needed the exercise after that empanada anyways. 

70ish minutes after leaving lolla, we arrive back at the hotel and totally crash. At least we didn’t spend any money on a cab, silver lining right?

Sunday we had breakfast at the hotel again (bread w manjar, coffee, more bread, and this chocolate cereal), and headed back to the mall (we might have a problem) to eat & shop more. Then back to lolla where we met up with some friends for the rest of the day. Such a blast, and we got to see Lorde & Kid Cudi ahhh. We (Brooklyn, myself, and our friend Carson) decided kind of last minute that we wanted to stay another night, so we didn’t have to miss the end of the festival. Probably a bad idea. Since all of the hostels in the entire city were already booked. We spent the whole night driving around to different hostels and calling them with no luck. 

Fifth encounter: This cab driver was the best. I wish I had gotten his name because he literally saved us I think. He drove us to different places and talked to information on the phone for us and didn’t overcharge us and helped us finally find a hotel that was only kind of overpriced. He said one day he’d come to the states and we’d repay the favor. So if anyone ever comes across a Chilean cab driver that needs a favor you should help him out because he might actually be an angel.

Takeaways from this weekend:

-always plan out the entire trip.

-wear walking shoes, just in case.

-manjar is delicious.

-i love sushi.

-i love kid cudi.

-still not sure how i feel about cab drivers.

This is another fun picture of our weekend:Image

 

Okay chao chao

international love

Standard

Not like love love but like friendliness. That’s just the name of a song so I thought it would be a good title… which it is.

The people here are so nice. They told us beforehand that people from foreign countries sometimes have a jaded view of people from the United States. But everyone here could not be friendlier. 

A few examples:

I met this guy named Charlie a few days ago at the bus stop. He was selling candy (I think, it looked like chocolate at least). So he came up to me and started talking to me, trying to sell to me and I said no thanks (we are equally surprised at this outcome). But as soon as I opened my mouth and he discovered I was not a Chilena (common mistake, unless your keen eye takes notice of my pale skin and/or my discomfort with wearing jeans in public as opposed to sweatpants (sweatpants if you’re reading this I miss you)), he got all excited and started a conversation with me. It began with “Me Charlie,” in probably the cutest introduction since Tarzan met Jane. Except it was an old street vendor and not a hot shirtless jungle man (South America seriously where are you hiding those). But besides the point. We then continued on to have a broken conversation in Spanish about why I was here and where I was from. Then he told me to enjoy my time in Chile and hopped on the next bus. Such a nice interaction. 

Then there’s my host family, who are literally the greatest people alive. My Spanish is awful. But they still attempt to communicate & connect with me. I want so badly to learn the language, if only so that I can have like real conversations with them and bond with them more. 

Image

Also, there’s the group of Chilenos we met randomly one night who have continued to hang out with us and let us know which cabs to use and which places we need to try out and where not to go any given weekend. We have a starbucks date tomorrow night because they’re actually the best. & starbucks <3

Image

& Barbara who is mayyybe my fave Chilena. Have you ever met those people that you’re just like instant friends with? I’m pretty sure this girl has never met someone who she HASN’T connected with like that. She has been so so welcoming and inviting. She’s asked me to join her with her friends on multiple occasions, even though I know it has to be a burden when I speak like no Spanish and end up relying on her translations for most of the night (thx ily). But I always have a blast and have loved being able to see how Chileans hang out and what they do for fun (pretty similar to Iowa except the food is better sry Iowa). On top of hanging out with me, she helps me practice my Spanish. Which is really so gracious because it’s shocking how bad I am. (I’m getting better though, prometo) (lol at that lie because I just had to google translate how to say promise but I was totally gonna act like I knew it all along. i’m kind of improving. nothing substantial I don’t think. maybe by July).

 Image

& then there’s the dogs. Which are all way friendly. 

Image

 

Come to Chile they’re all really nice people and they dress really nicely and speak really good Spanish.

 

 

Send Milk

Standard

Not money. Because what am I gonna do with that. Buy milk?

They have it here but it’s a little bit off. & I just really want it right now.

I bought a new hat today. Not because I needed it. But it wasn’t an impulse buy either. I was seeing these girls wearing them all over the place and I wanted one, bad. 

Not as bad as I want milk though.

The thought just ran through my head that a cow would probably ship easier than milk since you wouldn’t have to refrigerate it. So I’m clearly gaining a lot of that missing common sense this semester in Chile.

I went for a run yesterday. It was embarrassing how out of breath I was. I haven’t exercised in weeks. I am so sore. You don’t really need legs right? Because I’m about to just call it quit on these ones. I can’t even move from my bed.

My advisor is trying to hook me up with an internship at Principal in Santiago. The only problem is that he thought I knew Spanish. Yeah this is awkward I’m only 3 semesters deep, and got by from a lot of help from native speakers and google translate. Sooo… yeah no not proficient probably. I’d settle for a job shadow?

This is a picture of me with my host family from this weekend. They r gr8.

Image

I fought the urge to buy donuts today. They just looked so familiar. Like home. And also they looked like they probably tasted okay too. I was going to justify it by saying I missed the states… but self-control prevailed.

Today in class we learned about Latin American modernity and it’s dark mother colonialism. It was interesting. I’m not a politics major so I’m really enjoying this class and being able to discuss history and issues and stuff. 

I’m thinking of changing my major. Kindergarten teacher? Then I could teach kids ABCs and finger paint all day. When my advisor (mentioned previously) reads this he may panic but I think this is just a fleeting dream don’t worry.

My friend and I went to look at salons today so she can get her hair done. Her parents are both Dominican, but she was born in the states. Her Spanish is flawless and I’m so jealous. I know enough to read the sign that says $6 manicure though. I am in.

I just wanna know Spanish already. 

New word for your vocab — tuto. It’s like nap. So you would say like “Tengo tuto” to be like I need to take a nap. Try it out on your friends.

So I can at least come away from this knowing I learned one word. And that I like sushi now. 

Chao besosss

Autobiography.

Standard

This is my autobiography for my film class here in Chile. 

“Born in big city Des Moines, Iowa, I’ve been a killa since day one. Not literally, but in a figurative way, meaning that I am a motivated and ambitious young woman.

I’ll share some other important facts about me now.

I am a very picky eater, and my family was nervous for my survival in a foreign country for that reason. However, as I just finished eating something very green and very mushy, I would say I’m making leaps and bounds here in Chile. I still won’t eat cereal with milk though, that’s too far.

I don’t know how to ride a bike. I grew up on top of a hill, so I’m going to assume my parents were just looking out for my safety when they decided to not teach me that essential life skill and therefore subject me to endless ridicule in my adolescent years. Or perhaps they knew the difficulties I would have combining my lack of balance and general clumsiness with a machine of that type. Touché mom and dad.

I like to tell people that I almost ran track for a small college in Missouri because it makes me feel athletic. I do believe if I had committed to that I could’ve done decently (and by that I mean not last place), but they told me how much they ran each week and I decided that would be a poor decision on my part. Now, I occasionally work out.

Another sporty fact about me is that I was varsity captain of my soccer team in high school. This also makes me sound like an athlete, but if you hear our team’s record, you will find out that is barely true.

I have a black lab named Belle. She likes to run around our house with my shoes or other various pieces of my clothing in her mouth. She is great company besides that.

I really like coffee. Starbucks specifically, but Nescafe is growing on me honestly. Espresso was my first love.

I have two older sisters, and they are both married. It makes family functions a little uncomfortable for me because my boyfriend is nonexistent. So I hang out with Belle (see above). I also have a nephew named Ethan. I don’t usually like babies but I am a big fan of this one. I have a younger stepbrother who is half Mexican. He is pretty chill.

I worked retail for the past year. I learned that I like people but I do not like monotonous work environments. My coworkers were really cool. The Starbucks baristas always hooked us up with free samples.

My Spanish is awful. I accidentally connected with my host mom about how much we both hate dogs. Which sucks because I love dogs and now I have to pretend I don’t, or admit to her that I am mal at Spanish, which she is definitely catching on to.

I think I was meant for the beach. I could spend hours there doing nothing and be perfectly happy.

I like to read. It’s been rough in college because there are so many other things grabbing my attention that I have barely had any time. However, here in Viña, I’ve had a lot of time to catch up. It’s been very relaxing.

My teams are as follows, and in this order: The Pirates (baseball), USA (soccer), Mexico (soccer), Las Chivas (soccer), Iowa Cubs (kind of baseball). I love sporting events, even if I don’t always understand what is happening.

I am an International Business major, with a focus on Latin American and Cultural studies, a concentration in Business Law, and a certificate in Spanish. Not sure if my university could have made it any more complicated. This means that I have no idea what I want to do with my life. But I have a few years still. If all else fails, I’ll go to grad school. I’m thinking the University of South Carolina because they have a masters program for International Business that lets you travel abroad for a full year, in Paris.

I’m not homesick. Yet. But I like to think of myself of a strong, independent woman. So I’m hoping it doesn’t happen.

I’m a sucker for a good view. That could be one reason I love Viña so much. Everywhere you turn there’s beauty- the beach, the hills, the shops, the ocean, the palm trees. In Des Moines, I’ve found the few good views of downtown and I try to take those routes to get home. I think the little things in life are important.

I like to laugh. I also like to make people laugh. It’s been difficult here because I’m not sure how to be funny in Spanish.

I can be very competitive. The feeling of winning- an argument, a soccer game, a hot dog eating contest, you name it- is one of the best feelings on earth. The other best feelings: the sun on your skin, making someone else feel happy, and being loved.

Hope this helps you get to know me better, chao.”

I hope my professor likes it.