Coming to an End

For my last few weeks in Chile, I’ve really stepped up my explorations. Saturday, my friend and I went to La Vega, a giant fresh food market in Santiago. It was interesting to see this side of town, as it was much dirtier than Providencia and Los Condes, where I live and work. My friend reminded me that this is how a lot of Chileans live. Which is hard to take in. At La Vega, mi amiga bought her groceries while I observed. They sell cereal and nuts out of barrels, and everything is by the kilo. We also got to eat some street food, get fresh juice, and I found a dog to play with because that’s just who I am. Afterwards we went to La Piojera, a bar nearby that is supposed to be a must see when you come to Santiago. There were tons of people, chanting and cheering with Chilean pride, most of them probably (definitely) a little drunk. It was like 6 PM. We got a couple of terremotos, which is the word for earthquake and also the word for the best drink in town. It’s cheap wine, grenadine, and pineapple ice cream. You’d like it probably. Anyways by the time we left, the sun was doing beautiful things over the mountains. Súper buen día.

Yesterday, I went to a cafe near my house that I had been wanting to try and read poetry. I accidentally kept pressing the “hear” button on my google translate (my book was in Spanish for practice) and it was absolutely so embarrassing in the almost empty cafe. So I can’t go back there but good experience. Afterward, my fellow Iowan (who I met basically through fate) and I headed slightly out of town to visit the Concha y Toro winery. Only 24 metro stops from my house. Probably an exaggeration but who can be sure. It was super fun, except for the part where the normal wine tour turned into a lame haunted house (one of their most famous wines is called Casillero del Diablo so they told this legend with lights and creepy noises in their basement wine cellar and it was like a little too Satanic for me)(and also way lame). But the wine at the end of the tour was not lame, and they gave us a free wine glass! We decided to continue our elegance by ordering ceviche and a cheese plate and oxigenating what was left of our wine. Because we’re wine snobs now. At the end of the evening, a waiter came up to talk to us and asked where we were from and if we spoke Spanish and was very suprised that we did. My very smart Iowan friend followed up with “Solo entendemos ‘gratis’ y ‘vino’” which means “we only understand ‘free’ and ‘wine’,” so he brought us free wine. Sometimes it pays to be foreign here.

This week I have plenty planned as well. Tomorrow, I’m meeting up with a girl who will be studying with AIFS in Viña for the next semester (I’d like to think because of my convincing) to show her the ropes of Santiago before she heads to the coast. And other than that my big plans include cafes and new restaurants. So I guess that’s not that exciting (for you) but I’m pumped. And it’s my last week in my internship! So it’s both a happy and sad week. That ends with my traveling back to the USA for 4 days (I <3 the US) and hopefully getting some kind of boneless wing. Wing makes it sound singular, there will be an abundance of wings I’m sure.

Chao chao.

Natural Beauty

No not me, but thank u I’m blushing.

Chile has an overabundance of natural beauty. I think that’s one of the things that draws me so much to this country.

Take Santiago, for example. I leave my house at the exact right time in the morning to walk toward the sunrise on my way to work. By the time I get to my subway stop, the whole world is a little brighter and the giant buildings of the financial district are shimmering from the fresh light of a new day. I literally think those words every time I climb the steps up to street level. Like the type of beauty that inspires poetic thoughts, that’s that I’m working with here.

On top of that, if it’s a clear day, you can see mountains. Snow capped, towering, gigantic mountains. From my office I day dream about attempting to ski someday, and the injuries that will undoubtedly result. Half of me can’t wait and the other half is trying her hardest to convice the adventurous half that there’s an 80% chance of both halves getting seriously hurt. Someday <3

Walking down the street to lunch, I see that I’m surrounded. The buildings mirror back the mountains and everyone looks so small in comparison.

And that’s another beautiful thing about Santiago. The magnitude of it all. There are a little less than 1 million coffee shops, although half of those are admittedly Starbucks. There are a little more than one million pharmacies. The main street is safe, but once you turn the corner, you’re sure to find something that you didn’t know existed before. And how exciting and scary is that. You’ve lived in this city for who knows how long, and you’ve never seen this restaurant before. It makes you feel a little insignificant, but also a little more determined to explore as much as possible while you still have the time.

The sunsets here are another story. The purple, blue, and pink that takes over the sky at 7 pm every day is breathtaking. It also happens to occur exactly when I’m arriving home. I look back and see the world darkening, around cerro san cristobal as the statue of mother Mary enters her place in the spotlight for the evening.

It’s not just Santiago though. It’s everywhere here. Viña is full of fresh air, of beachy scenes and the sound of crashing waves. You can see all the way down the coast, peeking into Valpo while you rest contentedly by the sea. The trees are tropical, the people are nice, and the dogs are loyal. The sunsets in Stgo have nothing on Viña. Here you can watch the sun as he fights the long descent into the ocean, sitting on la playa and soaking up every last second of sunlight.

That is the central region of Chile. Up north there is more coast. More beautiful sunsets and even warmer beaches. The desert rests here as well. Mountains surrounding a wasteland of dust sand. The vastness of it all is beautiful in itself. In the mountains, there are new animals, canyons that have yet to be explored, and geysers that are centuries old. At night, lying on the street looking up, you get a picture of our galaxy that you’ll never be able to put into words. You can put it into smiles or tears, but not words.

And then you go south. And you see the uninhabited countryside, full of glaciers and mountains, volcanoes and valleys. There are small scattered towns that try to share some of their southern culture with tourists. The people take you on treks, they help you find camping spots, they introduce you to the nature that their ancestors have preserved so tactfully. Nature has never been my thing – I love a good view but I cannot imagine spending a night in a tent. It seems unsafe to me. But seeing this part of the world, I understand why some people become obsessed with nature. With thick woods, tiny streams, hidden waterfalls, and a hint of danger lying around every corner. It’s peaceful and scary and blissful and intimidating all at one time.

There are places I still want to go. I want to go to Chiloe, and see the villages, the colorful old churches from years ago. I want to go to Easter Island, to see the crazy cool things men were able to accomplish there. I want to go to real Patagonia, not Pucon but farther south. I want to brave the wilderness and see the Torres del Paine that I’ve only seen in pictures. I want to visit Temuco, and the native villages that exist there. I want to explore further into Valparaiso. To discover more murals and stores and cafes.

I’m still here though. And happy to take in every bit of beauty the country has to offer me each day. Don’t get me wrong- it’s not all beautiful. The smog would shock you. And rainy days keep me planted in bed. And the coldest week of winter is currently upon us. And some streets are littered with trash and cigarette butts. But I’d say the good outweighs the bad. (for further support see above descriptions)

xoxo

Why I Love Chilean Cab Drivers, and other short stories

Chilean Men

…suck. No I’m not in 6th grade, all boys don’t suck. But the Chilean guys I’ve met, aside from my wonderful roommates and super nice boss, suck. It’s probably because I’m a gringa. Every Chilean guy in my age range that I meet is fascinated that I’m from the U.S. but would much rather dance with me than have an actual conversation. Don’t get me wrong I love to dance, especially in Latin America (but please don’t think that means I have any skill whatsoever in the area, I’m actually so embarrassing). However, I want to meet people to form like actual relationships with not just to dance reggaeton with. Chilean cab drivers are another story. Those 50 year old men keep me going I swear. Whether they’re asking where I’m from and assuming it’s France rather than the U.S., or being absolutely shocked that I’m not dating right now, they are my favorite kind of Chilean man. I’m also a fan of the homeless man who lives outside my building and calls me la reina. But actual regular guys in their 20s, mega pass. I was not meant to date a Chilean.

Unneeded Explanations 

Last night, there was a going away party for one of my friends (Chao Ari!) at this house in Las Condes. While I was standing and talking with a few other ladies from the U.S., a Chilean woman (and I say woman because I’m pretty sure she was 40) came up to give us all big hugs and proclaim her love for gringas. She proceeded to tell us why we’re called gringos, an explanation I am very familiar with and don’t necessarily like. I’ll fill you in- apparently in some Latin American country a few years back, the citizens didn’t appreciate the presence of the American soldiers (crazy ik), who were wearing green, and would tell the soldiers “green, go.” Like leave. It’s is an interesting origin for the word, which now represents anyone from the U.S., but telling a gringa that story at a party will only serve to annoy her. Probably only if that gringa is me but still. I know the term isn’t deragatory now, although it can be in the right context, but it’s still like wow I hope you don’t actually still want me to leave because I really like this country. This is why I’m flattered when someone asks if I’m from Brazil (lol r u blind) or France or Germany. There’s still such a negative view of gringos in Latin America by some and that’s so rough but all you can do is keep representing yourself, and the U.S., in the best way possible.

The Smallest World

It’s a small world. Last night, when we were saying goodbye to Ari and hello to the new CIEE exchange students for the upcoming semester, I met this girl who was so nice. After talking for a bit, I told her I went to Drake (which 50% of the time leads to a blank stare and polite nod), and she informed me that her 2 best friends also went to Drake! SMALL. WORLD. We continued to talk and she had actually been to Des Moines a few times, something maybe 2% of the U.S. population can claim. After we laughed about our commonality, she asked if, by chance, I was related to any other Wheelers in Iowa. Wheeler is a super common name so I said yes but wasn’t expecting a connection, until she asked if I was related to Nic Wheeler. To which I replied by spelling his name, because how many Nics do you know, and she freaked out. Her sister had actually dated my cousin Nic, for an extended period of time, and I had definitely met her at family gatherings. My new friend was shocked and we talked about the family and how both her sister and my cousin are now married (to other people but everything works out how it’s supposed to) and how she had met my cousins before and how it is absolutely insane that we were meeting for the first time in Santiago de Chile. Small world. You might not find that interesting but my family will.

Translation Nation

Aforementioned family- I did not let you down this time. The postcards are in the mail. (hold the applause, thx) Last year I brought my family and friends post cards and personally delivered them, which I still considered a thoughtful gesture but I gues kind of takes away from the excitement. I was just way too busy last time (read: scared to go to the post office). This time, I braved Correos Chile, ready to use hand signals and broken sentences in order to send my postcards off. I was surprised to walk in and have the woman behind the counter immediately recognize that I was a foreigner. She asked if I could speak English and I said yes but you can speak to me in Spanish I can take it. And she told me this gentleman next to me at the counter spoke only English and would I maybe be able to help translate for them? Suddenly, out of nowhere, I could understand Spanish and was able to translate for this nice gringo man, who was sending a postcard to his daughter at camp. Proudest moment of my time in Chile. I was taken down a few notches when I purchased my stamps and couldn’t figure out how to attach them to the postcards (that’s right family, I licked all of those stamps, enjoy). But it was still a very proud moment for me.

Why I Can’t Diet

How rough is it gonna be when I have winter weight going back to the end of Iowa summer? Rhetorical question. I need to be eating healthier but you do understand the abundance of avocado and carbs here? It’s all I eat. And I’m not that upset about it. Maybe I throw in a yogurt if I’m feeling ambitious. So I decided yesterday I really do need to start a diet. Not ten minutes later I sought out (and obtained) the largest burger in Chile. No regrets. Diet’s aren’t my thing. I’m just gonna accept the love handles for now, maybe I’ll work out when I’m back in my clean-aired home state. Maybe not, I’m good with the way I look and I think I completely avoided bikini season anyways so I think I came out of this situation on top.

I Met a Girl from Iowa

That’s basically the start and end of that story, but she loves the state as much if not more than me and that is so exciting. I love Iowans. She said she’d go to vineyard with me so she’s already my fave Iowan in Chile.

Other relevant updates…

-Desperate Housewives is going well

-Work is going slow

-I’m missing my friends and family

-I might actually be learning to cook

-I’m excited to return to the U.S. briefly next week

-I’m excited for Buenos Aires in less than a month

xoxo

Accomplishments this weekend

Is finishing one and a half seasons of Desperate Housewives considered an accomplishment? No? Ok then we’re back at square one.

Chile had a holiday last Thursday (which I googled but still do not fully understand), which meant Thursday and Friday off for me. Total bliss. I got to relax and hang out and yes watch an absurd amount of DH. I also got to visit Pablo Neruda’s Santiago home, La Chascona. To commemorate this day, I sat down and started reading one of his poetry books that I had bought from the street a few weeks back. Spanish is really so rough but I do think I’m getting more of a handle on it.

Other than that one thing I did, the rest of the weekend was pretty chill. My roommates and I have weekly turnos, or chores, which is hard for me since I hate to clean but it’s all good. So I got that checked off. I also got a LOT of cooking practice. This is valuable for me as I will be living on my own this next year and will most likely need to eat something other than cereal for every meal. And almost all of the cooking was done on the skillet, my new favorite cooking utensil. I’m definitely getting braver in the kitchen.

Yesterday I had plans to explore a little bit, or go for a run maybe, or read in the park. But it was rainy so my bed was calling my name. And by calling I mean basically yelling for me to stay and lounge 4ever.

These were my only two tweets from the past 4 days.

tweets

I am happy to be back to work today after that nice four day break though. I need a little intellectual stimulation every once and a while.

Devastating News

This just in, a breaking news update, student blogs at Drake University have just been cut– I repeat, I am out of a job.

Many today are mourning the loss of this particular program, as it served to help some students pay for meals and those students will, as a result, now have to cut back to ramen and cheese cubes.

By many I mean me. And by some students I also mean me. However, I am finding a silver lining here in that 1) I won’t get depressed when I don’t always have something to write about and 2) I will get to write whatever I want. But actually, I pretty much write whatever I want now, just with some filters here and there. I also tend to write towards a specific audience, aka I am almost always trying to sell Drake when I write about my experiences. Not sell in a way where I twist the truth, but sell in a way where I am always talking about my classes, my organizations, my overall enjoyment of this beautiful school.

Now, I can have my very own personal blog! Although I don’t think I can get rid of the “Drake” part in my site link so, I may have to change my last name to WheelerDrake. In order not to confuse my readers. I’ll still write about Drake of course, since it’s a huge part of my life. But now, I’ll just be one of those 21 year olds who pretends she can write, instead of one of those 21 year olds with a paycheck as an excuse to pretend she can write.

So if you’re still interested in how my life is going to turn out (I know I am), feel free to continue reading. But I can’t promise it won’t get cheesy, especially going into my senior year. It’s really only going to get lamer.

xoxo

How to (try to) make friends abroad

I’m not sure if you realize how hard it is to make friends in a foreign country. The first time I studied abroad, I was nervous about this, but my mother assured me that I would make friends in no time. And she was right– there was an awesome community of intercambios (exchange students) at Adolfo Ibañez, and making friends was a breeze. I even made friends with a few Chileans, granted, only the Chileans I met that could speak with me in English since at the time I was a Spanish illiterate.

This time, I was barely worried. Things have a way of working themselves out, friends would find me, right? Besides, my Spanish was so much better now…

When I arrived in Chile in June, I was lucky enough to have a helpful German introduce me to a few people and hang out with me from time to time, a friend of a Chilean friend that I am happy to have met. I was positive that when I started work I would make even more friends, and that by the time I left I would have more friends than I could count.

My first day at Principal, my boss let me know he could speak English, which I thought at the time was a blessing and a curse. I’m realizing now it is much more of a blessing than I had realized, as it is so much easier sometimes to explain and be explained things in English. At lunch my first day, however, not a word of English was spoken, and I tried somewhat unsuccessfully to start conversations with my coworkers who could not understand what I was saying. The next couple of days, lunch went a lot like that, although I stopped trying to talk because honestly how embarrassing to have everyone stare at you while you stutter out a poorly phrased question only to half understand the answer you’re given. After the first week, most of my coworkers stopped asking me to lunch, which I don’t blame them for because no one wants a ghost sitting at their lunch table. And no not because I’m getting seriously so pale here in this frigid winter, but because I never speak! If you know me (or you read my blogs) you probably know I’m a talker. So you can imagine how frustrating it is to not be able to contribute to the conversation.

So that’s how I didn’t make friends at work. Everyone here is friendly, but my boss and another guy from Des Moines are the only people I’ve actually made a connection with. I love forming relationships. People person is an understatement for me I think. So this is so out of the ordinary and I don’t particularly like it.

Think about it though… if you don’t make friends at work, and you aren’t going to school, where are you supposed to meet people!?

My obvious next move was trying to make friends of friends. A Drake buddy of mine is down here for the semester (although leaving soon) and had a couple of friends that I have been able to borrow and that has really been my saving grace. It’s so much easier to make friends when you can communicate freely. They were gracious enough to adopt me in like one of their own. Then I have my two Chilean girl friends, whose friends I have been able to meet but not really connect that much with because again, it’s frustrating to not be understood.

Then, mi amiga Barbara suggested I look at Tinder. Which isn’t exactly a tool to find long-lasting friendships, but I figured I would give it a try. That has resulted in 0 friendships so far because I’m too freaked out to actually meet any of them in person. It’s like buying a car on craiglist, only it’s free and it’s a human person which is scarier. Boys have way more issues than cars.

So with one of my borrowed friends (thank you Sam), after a Chilean futbol win one night, we went out to crazy plaza italia to see if we could spot any other gringos. We did, because we are pros, and met a couple of people how exciting! Ok now spoiler alert here comes the part where I stop trying to make friends period. Sunday, after spending the morning getting some work done at Starbucks, a guy we met at plaza italia (from the states) messages me asking if I want to explore a little bit. Since that was already my plan, I thought how perfect it was that I could have a friend come with me! I wanted to go to Los Dominicos, he agreed, and we met at 4. It was hands down the most awkward day of my life. He didn’t really laugh at my jokes (and I’m pretty funny….), he acted weird when I pet all the animals (can’t stop won’t stop), and he kept planning future trips which confused me because we hadn’t even bonded at all on this excursion yet. After grabbing a drink, and connecting on no levels at all (we talked about types of trees at one point), we went to part ways and I gave him a hug and when we pulled apart, he lingered and started to go in for the kiss to which I responded to by pushing away, blurting out something along the lines of talk to you later (or never omg), and ran the opposite direction. Until this point I had not been aware that we had been on a date, but at that moment it became very clear. I don’t want dates though I want friends, how hard is that to grasp.

So I’m giving up on making friends. I have a total of 8 friends here (yes I just counted them all and it didn’t take me long at all. and I included my roommates who basically have to be my friends because I live with them (hey guys <3)) and that’s enough for me. I go home in a month to friends and family who get me and love me and that will be awesome. Until then, obviously I’m not like bumming too hard about the solo life. It’s frustrating, yes, but the friends I do have are super cool and being alone sometimes is fun too. If anyone gets me, it’s me, so that works out pretty well.

If you’re thinking about travelling alone, it’s probably best to have some kind of game plan beforehand on how you’re going to create a network. It’s actually a great lesson to learn, because I know I will be doing something like this again in my future and I will DEFINITELY be more prepared then.

xoxo

luxury

I love luxury. Luxury is something I know I want from my life. Which I know sounds silly if you’ve ever seen my car or most of my shoes. But I don’t need luxury in every aspect, I need it in the little things. For me, it’s luxurious to grab a cup of coffee and read a book in a comfy chair. And it’s luxurious to buy the more expensive dessert because it looks like it’s worth it. And it’s luxurious to nap in the sunlight streaming in through your window at 4 in the afternoon. Luxury for me always includes relaxation, and generally includes food.

The real definition is this: “something that is not essential but provides pleasure and comfort” or “something that is desirable but expensive or hard to obtain or do.”

The way I do luxury though, I think it is semi-essential indulgence that allows you to relax and take a moment for yourself. The word indulgence is also a good one. The type of luxury I’m after is like a super low-maintenence version of the same word. If that makes sense. It’s taking things that you need in life (relaxation, good tasting food, laughter) and enjoying every bit of it way too much.

Real luxury is diamond rings, expensive cars, fur coats, spacious mansions. Those things are nice yeah. But I don’t think the price tag is what makes something luxurious. For me at least. Like a nice pair of slippers is luxurious. A comfy bed. A warm cup of tea. A good book.

If you think of all the small things in your life that really aren’t essential for your survival as special, then everything feels luxurious. Which is awesome because it’s so much easier to be happy when you’re not constantly chasing after the unattainable luxury of the rich and famous. Like listen to half the songs on the radio… people want to be rich. But if you take all of the small things and treat them like luxuries than it’s basically like you’re rich. You can be happy with less, you just can’t think of it that way.

This is the take from a broke college student set on living a luxurious life.

WEON, WE WON

Chile just won La Copa America — a huge soccer tournament for Latin American countries that takes place every four years. This was the 44th edition, and it was hosted right here in Chile (how lucky am I). I didn’t get to go to any games, but I did get to watch them all (at least the ones that mattered)- at a bar, around a tiny television with 12 other people, at a different bar, with my friend’s mom at her apartment, on an app on my phone at my place, etc. What an incredible time to be in Santiago, experiencing the celebration of the entire country with chants and cheers and whistles and fireworks (and tear gas and fire extinguishers and crowded streets). That was especially true last night. Watching the bar with four other gringos (aka people from the states), we put aside our home country’s favorite holiday in order to cheer on our host country in the finals. They were playing Argentina, which (arguably) has the best soccer player in the world, Lionel Messi, and honestly needed all the support they could get. Chileans are hopeful but also practical and I think a lot of people didn’t have 100% faith in their team. In fact, the odds were like pretty slim I think, I just tried to look it up on a gambling website but couldn’t really understand it so let’s just go with “slim.” As soon as the game started though you could tell that Chile was in it to win it. They came out really strong, although they have such a hard time finishing which is so hard to watch. Every time they got any kind of momentum they turned back around or kept passing instead of taking the shot and you could hear the disappointment in every groan from our table neighbors at bar Astor. However, their defense kicked ass (I’m an adult so I can say these words now mom, but also excuse my French) and led the match into double overtime and eventually a penalty shoot off. They both made their first goals. Then Argentina missed, and all of Chile gasped, followed by raucous cheering. We made our second, and then Argentina was up again. He took his shot and our beautiful Bravo dove to block it, caused the rowdiest group of futbol fans I have ever witnessed, followed by an almost silent room. Everyone held their breath as Alexis (mi amor) went to take his shot (if he made this, we won the tournament) and shot a perfect goal, winning la copa for Chile for THE FIRST TIME EVER.

Literally one of the best moments of my life. We rushed to Plaza Italia to take in the scene with the other 7 billion citizens of Santiago. It was so wild. I have never seen a group of people so collectively happy and carefree. I learned new songs and met new people and took pictures with Chileans that I will never see again and it was awesome. Vamos Chile. Te amo.

Below you will see us celebrating, still in red white and blue, please note.

gringos celebrando

xoxo

Things That Are Different In Santiago

One way streets. The street signs have the right direction on them, but the arrows on the ground are pointing the wrong direction, in my opinion. It confuses me so much, the people of this city should be happy I’m not behind the wheel here.

Pharmacies. Everything is behind the counter. And there aren’t lines- you walk in and take a number, like a 50s butcher shop or something (not sure if I just referenced a real thing). So if you want vitamins or meds or makeup… you have to go to the counter and speak to a pharmacist in broken Spanish, hoping they understand from your cough and tired eyes that you have a cold.

The Night Sky. I’m no astrologist but this is definitely different than what I’m used to seeing. I love stars. There are two super bright stars that I think are a part of the southern cross that are always so bright here. They help me find my way home, and also remind me that it’s night time and I should walk a little faster because you really never know what’s going to happen in Santiago.

Eating finger foods. Finger foods actually don’t exist here. French fries? You use a fork. Pizza? A fork. Burgers? A fork. I had this amazing sandwich for lunch – churrasco (like strips of beef), tomato, avocado, and mayonnaise – and I was so excited to dig in. But then I looked around the table and my civilized coworkers were all using a fork and a knife. So I conformed because 1. I didn’t want to look like a cave woman and 2. I already stick out at work lunches, seeing as I can’t keep up with the conversation enough to contribute at all. But honestly it just didn’t taste as good that way. (I’m kidding it was awesome I just miss being messy).

Excel. Excel at my job is all in Spanish. Which, duh, I’m in a foreign country. But it’s still a little hard to get used to, and i’m constantly googling the formulas for different things en español.

Courtesy. If you bump into someone on the subway, that doesn’t mean you say “I’m sorry,” it means it’s probably rush hour. If you’re not pushed up against the subway door and 3 other commuters, then you were lucky enough to find a seat. Which I’m scared to do because I feel like I won’t be able to force my way back out at my stop. Sorry is something I am so used to saying and it just isn’t used that much here. Not because they’re rude, but because I think they don’t feel the need to say sorry for every little bump or nudge on the street or in line at the market. Which, growing up Christian and in Iowa, is something I just don’t understand. If I offend anyone in any way I apologize. Even if I didn’t offend you I might apologize anyways. Sorry.

The Police. After reading a book on the time period during Chile’s military dictatorship, and hearing comments here and there about los carabineros and they’re many nicknames (most of them not nice), I’m so not sure how I feel about the police here. However, after seeing multiple protests on my street, and they efficient way they were handled by la policia, I have respect for the men and women in forest green. It’s an interesting dynamic between the police and the citizens here.

The language. This one is more of a joke because hahaha how on earth have I visited this country TWICE now and not been able to get a firm grasp on the language. I think maybe I just don’t have the ear for other languages. Which sucks because my goal was to learn like 4 and travel the globe. Need to find a plan b, that still includes world travel.

There are more things I’m sure. I’ll let you know.

xoxo

Coming Home

This weekend, I took the two hour bus ride to Viña del Mar. I got to have lunch with my familia chilena, and it was incredible to see what types of things had changed.

For example my Spanish. It has definitely improved, which I noticed from the way I could actually have full conversations with my host sister and mother. But it also definitely still needs work, which I noticed from the fact that I could only understand like 70% of their responses to me.

My family, also, had changed a bit. Both of my sisters now have pololos (the Chilean word for boyfriends), my brother is now enrolled in the naval academy (and has grown like 4 inches I think), and mi mama is thinking of moving. Which I told her is unacceptable because I love that apartment. She made a very good point that it’s a little too small for the family, as there are 3 bedrooms and generally 5 people living there (including their cycle of exchange students). However, I have one million memories of that place and reminisced so hard during our short afternoon together… The bathroom where I took too many cold showers because I could never really understand how the hot water worked there. And the kitchen where I made myself a breakfast of eggs and bacon almost every morning, and where the fridge was always stocked and open for me. And my bedroom where I watched tv programs with Spanish subtitles, while studying for my Latin American Economics class. And the patio, where I relaxed and read books, finding my happy place. This place was my home for 5 months. Which doesn’t seem like much but I had grown to love it so much. It gave me that feeling of relief to walk through the door after a long day at school and be able to nap or eat or relax. It gave me a family to talk to if I ever got homesick or I just wanted to practice my Spanish. It gave me a true home away from home.

I was blessed to have such an amazing family and to be able to connect with them. Living with a host family was one of my favorite things about studying abroad in Chile. Being back, and living on my own, I’m experiencing something completely new. I have to do my own laundry (ugh), buy my own food (ugh x100), and clean up after myself (which is actually fine). It’s completely different, and I definitely miss the support I had from Maritza and the rest of my family. But this is something that will continue to shape me as a person, just as my study abroad semester shaped me.

It was amazing to reconnect with my family, and they made me promise to come back. They said they would take me exploring in Valparaiso, which is something I am very excited about and so happy they offered to accompany me! Maritza, Andrea, Camila, and Victor treated me like I really was a part of their family, and continue to treat me that way. I am so lucky to be able to call them my Chilean family.

xoxo