Bienvenido a Santiago
After months of planning and preparation, I am FINALLY in Santiago, ready to begin my Chilean adventure. Between the overnight flight from Dallas to Santiago and the numerous orientation activities, it has been a whirlwind past few days, but I am having an incredible time. During the first few days, our entire Chile study abroad group, composed of 15 or so people, are staying in Hotel Manquehue in Las Condes, an adorable area of the city. Initially, I was slightly nervous about meeting the other people in the program, but all my fears went away as soon as I began talking to them. Despite the differences in our characters, we have all become friends and are exploring Santiago together.
The IFSA-Butler study abroad in Chile program has done an excellent job arranging the accomodations and explaining all the important information that we need to know. On Thursday, we met our host families for the first time! I was overcome with excitement and nervousness to meet my host mom and her 16-year-old daughter. They were both very friendly and excited to show me around Santiago. I have also already met several members of the extended family, and with each meeting, I am seeing how friendly and helpful Chileans are!
On Sunday, my host mom and I went to the Centro Artesanal de los Dominicos. Los Dominicos represents the historical sector of Las Condes, one of the various sections of Santiago. At this location, there is a beautiful church called Parroquia San Vicente Ferrer, a remnant of the colonial era. In addition to the tourists, many local Chileans come to this church to attend Mass. This site serves as a major cultural center of Las Condes, combining traditional dances and music with the arts and crafts typical of the Chilean culture.
And did I mention that the city of Santiago is gorgeous? The city lies in a valley surrounded by the Andes mountains as well as beautiful beaches. And it’s surprisingly clean. ::sigh:: I could honestly live here forever.
Tomorrow is the first day of orientation at the local university. And for once, I am actually excited about starting school. Here’s to a great semester.