I have been in school for two weeks now and that in itself has been quite of a culture shock. First off, since the Catholica is located in the city of Valparaiso many of the classes are not located on the main campus. So my first class, Social Psychology Applied, was in Sausalito and let’s just say the journey to get there was a bit longer and more complicated than expected! Once I got there I was a little intimidated by the class full of Chileans and the professor going through all of the expectations of the semester but the second class made me feel a lot more comfortable. After brainstorming about the definitions of the fundamental terms for the semester individually we formed groups to create a visual representation of what this meant. It felt like I was back in high school, which was a project based learning school—thinking of ways to develop my ideas in a more hands on manner. The rest of my classes were with other international students so there wasn’t as much of a scary factor there. My Introduction to the Bible class actually only has four people in it and we all turned out to be from the United States so the professor makes the class really personal—posing thought provoking questions and even offering us tea and cookies on one particularly cold morning! In general there has not been a lot of homework, which is very different from what I’m used to; receiving emails from the professor even before the first class asking us to read the preliminary chapters and ready for discussion is not out of the norm. I know I say this now and that I will probably be regretting it very soon but I’m just so anxious to start really delving into material and of course applying the Spanish language in a more practical way.
That being said I have been taking advantage of my free time a bit by exploring some of Chile. Last weekend I went to the beach with some friends and we basked in the sun that has been hiding for what seems like the entire time I’ve been here! On Sunday, I found a church that I really liked and afterwards the international students all went to the sand dunes, which was actually pretty close to my house and it had a breathtaking view of the city and we stayed there to watch the sunset. This weekend I went out dancing the first time, which I don’t normally do at all in the U.S. but it turned out to be a lot of fun—although I was absolutely exhausted by the end of the night! Friday my friend, Karrin, and I explored the cerros of Valpo with no real agenda so that was fun to see all of the art around the city. Saturday we spent the day exploring a region a couple hours south of here called Pomaire that is very different from the city life. It’s a small town where pottery is a very big commodity and we even got to sculpt our own figurines. Then we ended the day by touring the beautiful home of Pablo Neruda in Isla Negra and with some warm beverages Overall it feels as though the adjustment period is coming to an end and that school is about to get real and I hope that exploring will never stop!