Dancing Without Knowing the Steps
Well, (slightly over) two weeks have already passed since landing in Chile for the first time, and they couldn’t have any better. Classes and homestays have started, and I’m slowly discovering what my daily life here in Chile will be like. And it has got me pretty excited. So many things have happened since arrival, yet it has neither seemed overwhelming or boring.
Orientation and Moving In
Moving to another country couldn’t have been any smoother. Shortly after arriving at the airport, (almost) the entire IFSA group met and we were shortly carried off to Olmué, a small town in the cordillera de la costa, the mountain range separating Santiago and the Central Valley from the ocean. He so-called “folkloric capital”, Olmué is a quiet town, perfect for resting and acclimating to a new country after international travel. After a couple days of orientation, we went on a short hike in La Campana national park, returned to Olmué for lunch, then set out to meet our host families and move into our new homes for the semester. Everyone was excited and nervous to meet their host families, as one would expect, and everything went smoothly. Except when I was unexpectedly forced to dance a dance I had never learned, with a group performing traditional dances of Chile. In front of all of the host families. Not fun, albeit unforgettable. This has been rather representative of my time here in Chile so far, however. Dancing without knowing the steps, figuring it out as I go along while trying to pretend I knew what I was doing the entire time.
After moving in to my new home and meeting my new family, I feel much more comfortable than I originally thought I would. My host family is fantastic, and it hasn’t been difficult at all getting to know them and feel at home. The only real difficulty has been Chilean Spanish. Chileans speak very quickly and routinely chop the ends of words off, leaving, me guessing all too often. Additionally, Chileans speak with an abundance of chilensimos, slang words and phrases that are really only used in Chile.
Classes started last week, and it looks like my semester will be interesting for sure. The Chilean students at the university are currently on strike, so all exchange students have to take classes that are will be taught specifically for them, aside from a few departments that are not on strike. There are still many classes available, so this doesn’t seem like it will be too big of a problem for me.
Since arriving to Viña del Mar, the city where I live, which is right next to Valparaiso, I have had lots of time to explore and figure out what living here is going to be like. With IFSA, we had a walking tour of Valparaíso and more recently we all took part in the painting of a mural on a school affected by the large fires that went through parts of Valparaíso in 2014. We truly left our mark on the city. By myself, I have had time to walk around both of the cities, as well as visit nearby Reñaca and Concon, small beach towns close by. In Concon, I went to the dunes that rise up at the edge of the sea and got to watch an incredible sunset with my host brother and a friend of mine in the program.
Now, homework is starting to call my name, and this blog writing type of productive procrastination needs to come to an end. For now.