The Most Incredible Birthday Weekend Ever

I’ve been in Santiago for officially a week now, although it seems like I’ve been here forever!!! I’ve sat through countless hours of orientation where we’ve learned lots of chilenismos and what to say and what not to say and what the cool Chilean grub is and all kinds of cool things. I’ve learned how to navigate the metro and the busy streets of beautiful sunny Santiago. I’ve traveled to the beautiful coastal towns of Valparaíso and Viña del Mar and to the top of Cerro San Cristóbal in Santiago. All while having picture perfect weather; basically I’m loving life.

Here are a few observations about Santiago:

  1. The drivers here are crazy. I’m pretty sure there’s no speed limit here. Or they don’t obey it. On my brisk 20 minute walk to the IES center every morning, cars fly down the street past me. Cray.
  2. Not only are there crazy drivers, there are lots of them and therefore LOTS of traffic. And here I can introduce you to the first chilenismo of the day: taco! It’s not what you think; it’s not something you can pick up at Marachi’s or Corona’s or Taco Bell. Taco is another word for traffic. I love it!
  3. There’s no such thing as privacy; you can find PDA everywhere. And I mean everywhere. When we hiked el cerro (the hill) we passed through a park, and there were couples everywhere loving on each other. So weird.
  4. This brings me to my next chilenismo: pololo/a!!! Basically it’s another word for novio/novia (boyfriend/girlfriend). It’s my new favorite.
  5. There are sooo many stray dogs on the streets! It makes me so sad, I just want to take them home with me and love on them!! In fact, a dog followed us all the way downtown the other night, and then almost all the way up el cerro the other day! I guess they sense that we’re extranjeros and will feel sorry for them and give them something to eat. What can I say? I’m a sucker for cute puppies.
  6. The Chilean guys here are so hot. There’s nothing more I need to say about that. Except that I might come home with one. Watch out.
  7. The city is surrounded by la cordillera (the mountains). The sights are absolutely beautiful!! So beautiful I’ll stop in the middle of my walk somewhere to gaze into the distance and take it all in. And look like a total tourist while I’m at it. It’s cool.
  8. Chileans talk super fast. And slur their words together. Thankfully the staff at IES understands that and tries to slow down for us to understand. But anyone else? Good luck in trying to understand them. Many times, someone in my family will talk to me and then say cachai? This one is the equivalent to “do you understand?” or “you know?” Another chilenismo!
  9. I feel really cool when I learn Chilean slang. Like po. Po is just another word that doesn’t really have a meaning to it; they just add it to the end of their phrases. (Actually, from what I understand, it came from the word pues, but they have shortened it to just po.) Chilenos will say si, po. No, po. Cierto, po. This is another of my favorite words! Totally adding this to my vocabulary.
  10. Empanadas and Bravissimo are fantastic. If I could only eat those two things all day every day for the rest of my life, I’d be okay with that. I’m pretty sure I’ve eaten Bravissimo 4 times in the past week…oops. Chilean food is so yummy! Gah.

This weekend was by far the best. Ever. We went out to explore the nightlife (or carretear –another chilenismo for going out/fiesta-ing) of Santiago on Friday night for my birthday, which was so much fun. The celebrations continued on Saturday with a trip to Valparaíso and Viña del Mar, which are located only about an hour away from Santiago. There, we walked around La Sebastiana, one of Pablo Neruda’s three houses and el museo cielo abierto, that had a lot of really cool graffiti. I also found my Pinterest steps!! Kathleen will know what I’m talking about 🙂 Shout out to that crazy girl who is currently living in my room and keeping my roommate Cayla sane!!! (Before I came here, I searched Santiago and Chile on Pinterest and found these awesome steps that were painted in such a cool way. So obvs I had to get a picture with them when I found them!!) Then we drove down the road to Viña and got to walk on the beach. Slash touch the Pacific Ocean!!! We had lunch at Ristorante San Marcos, an uber expensive Italian restaurant…fo FREE! Best birthday lunch ever. Thanks IES! The day didn’t end there though; we had Italian (again!) for supper, because I mentioned to my host mom that it was my favorite type of food. THEN she brought out a cake and my host fam sang happy birthday to me! And THEN the birthday celebrations continued at a restaurant downtown. My host mom also had a candy bar for me when I got home from Viña and Valpo. So sweet!! Get it?

On Sunday, we toured the historical part of downtown and saw numerous buildings with incredible architecture. We went to La Plaza de Armas in the center of the city, and saw a beautiful cathedral, and then continued our tour by walking to La Moneda, the equivalent of the White House! Except the president doesn’t live there. It’s just a working building. Afterwards, we hiked Cerro San Cristóbal, which has a breathtaking view of the city of Santiago. I know I say this a lot, but I just can’t get over how beautiful the city is!! What also surprised me about Santiago is that there are trees EVERYWHERE, which I love!! It totally doesn’t seem like a humongous city with a casual couple million people.

Also, I have finally met my host brother and sister, Bruno and Josefina! They were both on vacation when I got here, trying to aprovechar the rest of the summer that they had left! Bruno was touring Europe with his polola (as a graduation present from his dad for graduating medical school!!) and Josefina was in Brazil with her pololo. Might I also mention that Bruno is super hot. Again, Chilean guys? Mmm. Que rica.

Tonight at dinner though, I felt like I was totally a part of the family! Somehow we figured out how to squeeze 6 people around the small circular dinner table: me, Sandra, Jose (her pololo), Bruno, Romi (his polola) and Josefina. The conversations we had were so crazy and kept me laughing the whole time!! I just love this family so much. I know we’ll have lots more bonding moments over the 4 months that I’m here. 🙂

Hopefully next time I write, I will have figured out what classes to take! This week we have orientation at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and Universidad de Chile and get to attend classes and decide if they want to take them/decide if we like the professors or not. Cool, right? I also can’t WAIT to start the clinical observation internship. But until then, there’s so much learning about Santiago to do!! (And also learning how to better organize my thoughts so my blogposts aren’t so long/scatterbrained…oops.) Until next time!!

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Ready Or Not, Here I Come!

AHHH! I’m finally here in Santiago. I don’t believe it. Right now, it just seems like I’m vacationing and will return in a short while. But I am here to stay. Santiago is my city!

The flights I took to get here weren’t bad at all. The flight from Atlanta to Miami had a total of like 20 people on it, including myself and Martha! Also, there was a Tri Delta on that flight HOLLA. I could tell we were approaching Miami when I saw the sparkling lights below us. When we arrived, we literally walked off the plane into 80 degree weather. It was SO hot and humid, compared to the blustery winter back at home! (Okay, not quite so blustery, but you catch my drift.) Our first flight from Atlanta was late, so we were a little nervous about catching the second flight, but we were fine; we just had a shorter layover than we thought. Martha and I did not sit next to each other on the second flight. It was okay though, because I made friends with the people in my row! Turns out they were coming to study in Santiago as well: Lorena is in the IES program with me and Miika is from Finland and is studying at one of the universities in town.

We arrived in Santiago around 9 here this morning and went through immigration and customs and all. We exchanged dollars for pesos and were on our way to greet our host families! Four other girls rode with me in the taxi: Lorena, Melanie, Maya and Nadine. We all live nearish each other. Sandra greeted me with open arms and was so excited I was here! After a chill afternoon of unpacking my things and resting and napping and finally taking a shower, we went out on the town. We drove to Alto a Las Condes, a big mall located in Las Condes, which is a community within Santiago. (I live in the community Providencia. And let me just say…as we were driving there, we had a picture perfect view of the Andes out the window. GAH Santiago is so perfect.) There we enjoyed Bellisimos ice cream, which was so refreshing, considering it was 88 degrees today. Crazy! After the mall, we went to el supermercado and got some things. Then it was back home for dinner we went! Sandra cooked pasta for me, since I mentioned that Italian food was my favorite 🙂

Sandra has been so graciously showering me with facts about Chile and Chilean slang, however I’m not sure how much of it I’ll actually remember tomorrow! It’s so much all at once, but I’m enjoying every minute of it. Po.

Before this post gets way too long and I stay up way too late, I just wanted to share a bible verse that stuck out to me. As I’m thinking about my day and how this will be my life until July 6th, I could not help but get a little homesick! It’s not that I don’t enjoy Santiago, it’s just that I need to keep busy so I’m not thinking about it. But over and over again today I would stumble through my Spanish  trying to show Sandra that I actually knew some of the language. In my head I thought, will I ever get used to this? When is my Spanish going to smooth out? And then I read a story about how God will provide. It gave me the goosebumps!

“Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.” Isaiah 65:24

That was just the affirmation I needed. God is watching over me and He already knows that I’m going to cry out to Him for help. GOSH how great is that? I serve an awesome God.

So on that note, I’m ready for orientation to begin. Hey Santiago! Ready or not, here I come!!!

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Keep your head up, my love

When you study abroad in a foreign country, you’d expect to learn a lot in the classes you take there and also learn an abundance about the culture of the country itself. I’ve also heard that you’ll learn a lot about yourself too, but I guess I never fully understood that until Sunday.

All other students were heading back to Wofford to start their spring semester while I was driving the opposite direction–home. I still have a few weeks before my Chilean adventures commence, and it’s killing me! Now that interim and Hiking through History adventures are completed, I’m beyond ready to go to Chile. (Only 19 more days!!!)

Alas, I was left to ponder life on the drive home. At first, I didn’t want to face the reality of leaving my friends at Wofford for a semester so I resorted to calling each member of my family multiple times. But then when my sister didn’t answer the second time, I finally came to terms. I hate goodbyes already. Hate em. And I still have two and a half weeks left until I leave! But I’ve already discovered things about myself.

One of my biggest fears in life is not to be wanted or needed. It’s so weird to think that everyone can continue life without me at Wofford. Not to seem conceited, but you start to think about what a cool, caring, awesome, sweet, loving person you are. How could anyone live without you?! Turns out they do. They will find a way and move on. They will survive. And I say survive like it will be a tough process–but it won’t be. I want people to be dependent on me in order to live. I want to be a major part in everyone’s life. I don’t want to be left out. I want to be counted on!! I hate to break it to myself, but everyone won’t be dependent on me this semester. Their lives will merrily go along and the only thing they’ll worry about is what will be served for dinner at Burwell or the next big bio test coming up. Coming to terms with reality is not always fun. Actually, it’s never fun. But you live and you learn.

One of the songs I heard on the way home was Stubborn Love by The Lumineers. Their lyrics lingered in my head as I drove along… “Keep your head up, my love.” As if they were telling me things would be alright.

As I look back on all my friendships at Wofford, I can’t help but smile out of confidence, knowing that everyone will be there waiting for me when I return next semester.

“When I wait, You strengthen my heart.” Psalm 27:14

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