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Country roads… take me home

Time December 19th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Chile | No Comments by

One of the final IFSA Butler events was the Despedida Cena where the students and the director and her assistant were all invited to share a meal and thoughts for one final last time.

 

I don’t remember much of the food except for starving it all down because I was so hungry but I remember there being a lot of emotion and anxiousness about what was to be expected of us when we returned back to our ‘old lives’ in the United States. However, after spending 5 months traveling, getting to know other people from different parts of Latin America and the world in general and speaking in a non-native language, there was no ‘normal life’ to return to.

 

After saying goodbye to my professors, we all went out for a final time to Miercoles Po, the local party spot for gringos who don’t want to pay a cover fee. We danced our hearts out and had our last good time together. It was a great way to say thanks and adios to a place that served as our literal homes for the past 5 months.

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I’m going back back to the US-A A

Time December 19th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Chile | No Comments by

Five very long months later, I’m greeting my Mom’s familiar face and my beloved bed and car. It was a hard goodbye leaving my host family but an even harder welcome home coming back and not knowing what exactly to do with myself.

 

In many senses, abroad changed me. The goals I set at the beginning of the semester actually came true in their own senses and I feel like despite how much I learned about Chile, I learned even more about myself and what I want out of life to make myself happy. Coming into abroad, I was going through personal struggles- a break up, ending friendships, a poor Instagram follower-to-likes ratio and coming to terms with the fact that I would be a whole season behind on the Mindy Project on Hulu (which isn’t even available in Chile- as if?!)

 

My time abroad made those struggles even worse as I tried to resolve my personal life while adjusting to a complete switch in my life where I was surrounded by strangers, who at the time, likely would have been overwhelmed by my poor explanations in Spanish and lack of familiarity with my personality to even help me. It was hard, I cried, I did things I regretted and eventually learned within the last month and a half that it’s almost impossible to stop feeling overwhelmed by yourself. It’s also okay to reach out for help and talk about things- in this period my host mom became one of my best friends in Chile and I started to tell her everything.

 

It was the last month and a half of Chile when I realized what host families were really for: to be there for you and to serve as a place of refuge when you were feeling down. Shoutout to my comuna Ñuñoa- I love y’all. Siempre en mi corazón.

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Basically Antartica

Time December 16th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Chile | No Comments by

The last week before going home, a few friends and I made a trip to the wondrous Patagonia and flew into Punta Arenas, Chile. Despite Santiago having temperatures an upwards of 25 degrees Celsius, the weather in the south of the world seemed like a breezy North Eastern fall. Days were long, like really long. And the nights were very cold.

 

We stayed at a cute hostel, Domos Hostel, and were so impressed by the cute little town and all it had to offer. Unlike other parts of rural Chile, it was evident that this town had been marked and shaped for tourism. In the center, there was a concentration of vegan and vegetarian restaurants with posh layouts. Our hostel had three types of Wifi, one for the office, one for breakfast and one for just the regular dome rooms. Taxis ran frequently and there were tour guide businesses on basically every corner.

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Familia chilena

Time December 16th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Chile | No Comments by

An integral part of my experience in Chile has undoubtedly been my Chilean family. Similar to most other students in my program, I live with a señora/dueña de la casa. Additionally, I have a hermana mayor and her daughter as well.

 

Needless to say with three other people in the house, the life I’m accustomed to at home as an only child has been challenged. From my first days in Santiago, they have gone above and beyond in taking care of me and making sure I knew how to get to various places (even if their directions are wanky- I often resorted to Google Maps anyway). While I know that each Chilean family is distinct in its own way, mine was a big part of my daily schedule and helping me understand Chilean culture on a personal level. Read More »

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Classism and racism

Time November 7th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Chile | No Comments by

Even though I’ve been on many adventures in Chile, my adventure in Buenos Aires, Argentina was definitely one to remember. While I was accustomed to certain social injustices in Santiago, I wasn’t (or maybe I was?) expecting the distinct effects history of immigration has on a population’s socialization. On Friday night, one of my friends activated a group going-out app to meet other groups of jóvenes who were going out. Among ridiculous conversations about a random assortment of things, we stumbled upon a group of Argentinian jóvenes who wanted to show us a little bit of porteño culture. One guy sent us a song to listen to and another promptly responded, describing the song as “n*gger music”

My friend and I showed each other the messages simultaneously, in disbelief that, despite the porteños having such a radically different context and conceptualization of race, they would feel inclined to use that word so freely and around someone of color. The group unmatched but I thought about that comment all night and decided to later ask a porteño friend what that word meant for them, or him at least.

He explained to me, or at least tried (I wasn’t really having it) that the word “n*gger” had nothing to do with the color of someone’s skin but was rather a synonym of “poor, fleite, commoner” and was more to do with socioeconomic status.

For me, I was more accustomed to the classism I had been experiencing in Santiago more than anything else so to encounter this ignorant response to a word blatantly dipped and soaked in racist history and thought left me amused and puzzled. I’m actually still processing this event so I’m going to stop writing here but maybe when I’ve accurately gathered my thoughts I’ll write another blog post!

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Stargazing and more exploring

Time November 7th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Chile | No Comments by

Amidst some of my many adventures in Chile was a trip to La Serena, Valle de Elqui. I went with one of my friends on the program by means of an outside travel agency that specializes in making sure extranjeros get to travel Chile in the easiest way possible. It was a long, long journey, we left on Friday evening and got back a late 2AM on Tuesday morning (no class Monday- nobody panic). The adventure was absolutely spectacular. One day, we went to a planetarium where we got to climb the roof and get a clear view of constellations such as Scorpio as well as the Milky Way. Another day, we went to a Pisco tour and a winery and learned about the processes of the liquids we had learned to love so much in Chilean asados. We even got to taste a little bit of unprocessed wine which had the aroma and flavor of nail polish. The best part about this weekend, however, was meeting so many different abroad students that weren’t from the U.S. My friend and I met one couple whose love story would envy Cinderella and another group of Brazilian/Portuguese/Mexican students living together who had some travel tips for us and an open invitation for previas.

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Dieciocho Chilean style!!! Tiki tiki tiiiiii

Time October 28th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Chile | No Comments by

For my first (but hopefully not last Dieciocho) I was invited to a dieciocho familiar with one of my friends I made in a class. It was a little bit to the south of Chile in an old, traditional house with connecting rooms, space for a farm and a separate area for asados. The first night we hung out by the asado area and enjoyed the infamous piscolas and a drink whose name I can’t remember that was a combination of orange Fanta soda and beer (sounds disgusting but it was so good). We settled into our rooms at around 1AM to prepare for the next day filled with more asados and a local fondo where I had the best terremoto of my life. The next day we woke up at around 10:30AM and had a small breakfast but the asado was the best thing of my LIFE! There was an old family friend to help with meals and cooking because there were about 40 of us staying in the house and she made salad along with empanadas while the guys in the group slow cooked slabs of meat for us to eat in little pieces. Everything was so relaxed and I really felt that we got to learn more about Chile and its social customs during this time. Plus, the fondo allowed us to have a glimpse into the life of a rural Chilean lifestyle.

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Atacama in my heart

Time October 28th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Chile | No Comments by

On the last day of Atacama, we traveled with our guide to Valle de Arcois where we had the most incredible send off (and view!) I got the chance to fearfully climb a few mountain structures and conquer my fear I developed when I split open my knee and hand on a  rock the previous day. We ate a few empanadas of pino, vegetarian and pollo and were given a personal tour of the whole area. It was really relaxing to a weekend of semi intense activities and climbing and a chance for the whole group to laugh, talk and play music. Our guide’s playlist was fire so of course we had a sing along to every classic American jam that came up. Atacama has my heart, ¡siempre!

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San Pedro de Atacama secaaaa

Time October 28th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Chile | No Comments by

A couple of weeks ago, the IFSA crew and I took a trip to San Pedro de Atacama, the northern part of Chile and very very very very dry. Way much drier than Santiago and that’s seriously saying something. While there, we had an incredible experience but it was filled with lots of trekking and athletic adventures. The first day we toured the Valle de la Luna and got the chance to run barefoot down a sand mountain structure while observing the salty tops of the other valle. When we got to the end, we were all out of breath and laughing about how much fun we had experienced. A little while later, a couple of us went out into the center to explore the town of Atacama and found a cute little restaurant with live music. We shared a plate a fries with fried eggs and sausages and of course a couple of Chilean drinks. It was an amazing start to an amazing adventure.

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Country roads… take me home

Time October 28th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Chile | No Comments by

This week I’m writing a blog from Buenos Aires, Argentina! I’m visiting my friend who’s studying through IFSA-Butler’s BA program. I’m excited to observe the changes in these two major Latin American cities up against their personal histories of immigration, politics and social climate. For starters, Buenos Aires is much larger than Santiago. The layout of the city seems to be a little different as well- I don’t see any major Costanera centers and there seems to be generally less chain stores (where is my Jumbo and Unimarc, am I right?) The vibe seems to be a lot more old European and my Air BnB has a bidet. More to come as I explore the city tonight and learn what it means to be a chileno-porteno in my own context!

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Buen ejercicio

Time August 5th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Chile | 1 Comment by

On another note, the past weekend I had the chance to travel with some students to a park by the name of Aguas de Ramon. It was tough. I’m not athletic at all and it was my first time hiking, so it should give some sort of indication of how tough of an adventure it was. We saw some pretty amazing sites in between out of breath pauses and ended up getting some great photos that captured the essence of our little group outing. Afterwards, we took a chance at canopy and ziplining and by the end when we were taking the metro home, everyone was ready to take a nice long nap. This trip was exactly what I needed (minus the fact that I was on my phone snapping pictures). I loved getting to know the other students better and loved exploring even more so. Truthfully, I haven’t been able to get to a level of bliss and happiness in Chile that I expected, which may be something that has to come with time, or classes starting, or more friends, or even a certain grasp of understanding Spanish. Either way, Chile is an uphill mountain. Sometimes I stop and drink water and sometimes I’m struggling super hard and sometimes I’m even tripping on a pebble.

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¿Cachai?

Time August 2nd, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Chile | No Comments by

The first two and a half weeks have flown by, sort of. My life in Santiago has been filled with long days, endless street encounters and settling into a new host family with a completely different dietary palette. All these changes would make anyone uncomfortable, sometimes in a good way and sometimes in a bad way. For me, it’s probably been a roller coaster of the two extremes. My first day arriving in Santiago I was exhausted beyond belief from lack of sleep during a nine-hour flight. I was incredibly happy to finally arrive, the anticipation from weeks of people saying goodbye to me was finally coming to an end.

After about an hour nap, I woke up to eat my first Chilean meal. It was an empanada with mushrooms and some sort of vegetable following. Promptly after, I went to bed and recovered some more. Read More »

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Valparaiso to Santiago

Time July 14th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Chile | No Comments by

My adventures with IFSA Butler began with an unusually odd start. In early February, I originally decided that I would choose Valparaiso as my destination. I didn’t put much thought into my decision because I didn’t want to deal with the pangs of choosing the ‘wrong’ location because I had been told so many times that any study abroad location would be great.

While preparing for Valparaiso and quick google searches about the area and what to expect- I became super anxious about staying in a beach town with a population of about 600,000. Originally, I’m from the suburbs of Washington, DC so I thought that I would be okay staying in a smaller town. However the more I thought about my decision that would impact my following five months abroad- I began to reconsider and second guess my impulsive choice. 

Luckily, I had the opportunity to switch to Santiago (one of the final choices among a plethora of other opportunities offered that would allow me to stay in Valparaiso). I took it and jumped on it- advising my Chilean advisor of my decision (he might be coming to Santiago later on in the year- definitely an encouraging factor). He congratulated me along with Jennifer, who had been email corresponding with me about my growing fears and doubts. 

Fast forward (like 3 days lol) and here I am on a plane headed to Houston, TX for my connecting flight to Santiago, Chile where I’ve been told I’ll be embarking on the journey of a lifetime. I’m actually typing this mid air, courtesy airplane mode and Apples Notes feature. 

But even after reading about orientation, scrolling through the Study Abroad guide a couple hundred times and texting my alumni abroad friends, I’m not sure what to expect for myself. And it’s really scary. If it’s anything like my recent adventures to Haiti or Cuba or my fellowship last summer to Alabama, I know that they’ll be more good than difficult and I’ll look back in January- telling my friends and family stories about people and places they haven’t experienced and don’t care much about. 

Maybe now is a good time to set goals for myself, both personal and academic. Academic to come later- not tryna think about books right now. 

  1. Come to a loving embrace and acceptance of my blackness. Whatever that means for me.
  2. Be free as possible, just like when I was riding on the back of a tap tap going to Labadee. 
  3. Feel hard. Don’t sell my self short of feeling any emotions, whether it’s crying out of hopelessness and frustration or laughing until my stomach hurts. 
  4. Be nice and genuine. As an introvert, I struggle maintaining my best self when I spend extended periods of time with people. I think part of that comes from me not being open and honest about what I need, which is daily alone time. Part of it also comes from my selfishness, growing up as an only child has left me with a very self centered world view. 

Anyway- to any future abroad students still in the difficult stage of picking a location and program, take your time! As one of my friends Jasmine told me “Being abroad is a perfect time to be ‘uncomfortable'”

Besos

Andeulazia

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