Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

Finally learned the steps

Wow. How quickly time goes. I never thought I would be the one saying it, but since my arrival to Chile it has gone so quickly. The whole adjustment period is mostly over, and it has started to feel like I’m actually just living here. Not a tourist, not a newcomer, but just a person spending their time in a place you can (almost) start to call home. Since my last post there have been floods, we visited Isla Negra to see Pablo Neruda’s house, I went to Portillo, learned how to dance cueca, and was asked for directions (this is a big deal).

When it rains in Chile, it’s either a light sprinkle that everyone thinks is a downpour, or there is an actual downpour that shuts down the entire city. The latter is what happened over a few days in August. What started out as a cloudy day soon turned into a torrential rainstorm, with water quickly building up in the yard and threatening to make a very unwelcome entrance. Classes that day were cancelled due to the flooding, meaning I would then have a five-day weekend, for the class that was cancelled was Thursday and I do not have class Friday or Monday. Over the next few days the flooding got worse, and soon the ocean joined in. The entire coast line was damaged to varying degrees, ranging from flipped over cars to destroyed beachfront restaurants. The Metro system didn’t escape untouched either, and was out of service for the next three weeks.

Isla Negra, which really isn’t an island at all, is a small coastal town that’s really only known for Pablo Neruda’s house being there. Neruda’s house is a museum-like collection of everything that the poet was interested in, a true testament to the curiosity for and questioning of life that fueled the artist’s work. After Isla Negra, we visited Las Cruces to see a marine biology research station and marine conservation site. There, we got to full tour of the grounds and got to touch the many creatures the research station works hard to protect.

Skiing in Chile was everything one can imagine it to be. First, the concept of skiing is weird, as my mind still thinks it’s summer, but nonetheless I was more than ready to go. Portillo is a smaller ski resort right by the Chile-Argentina border, famous for being the oldest ski resort in Chile and the preferred training location for many world-famous athletes and Olympic teams. The weather was warm, and the sun was out for most of the day, leading to great conditions for the day. The view of the mountains themselves is reason enough to go, but the skiing too was fantastic in its own right.

This country seems to have a thing against my unwillingness to dance. When I arrived, I was forced to dance the cueca (national dance of Chile) and Rapa Nui (Easter Island), later at a small party I was chosen form the audience to dance the cueca twice, and when the IFSA program director Mark was rounding up people to take a class to learn the cueca he of course chose me, writing down my name as I protested against it. The class, which was only two sessions, actually turned out to be very enjoyable. I learned the cueca, as well as various regional versions. The cueca itself isn’t too difficult, and after a couple hours, I finally learned the steps to a dance that I have been unable to escape from. Just as I’ve learned the steps to my class, the steps to order coffee, the steps to get off a micro (go fast, the driver will start moving again before your foot touches the sidewalk), the steps to break larger bills, and the steps to take on a crowded sidewalk so you don’t end up on the road.

(However, I have yet to learn the steps to posting pictures on here. In the meantime, check out Eliza’s blog (who is also in Valparaiso), which has some wonderfully artsy pictures of dogs and people. And Eliza, if you read this, please help me with pictures.)


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