Adjusting to Life Abroad..
Well, it has been a while—but I’m alive and well with Viña del Mar as my new home! I realized that Saturday was a month exactly since I came here—time flies! The past month has been jam-packed with lots of exploring, cultural adjusting, and Spanish learning. It’s been a lot, but fun all the same.
We are now on our second week of classes and the school experience has been unique all in its own. When we went to our university, la Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Valparaíso to register for classes we had to have 15 CLASS options to write down, different from the typical 15-17 credit hours [approx.. 4-5 classes] of my university in Michigan. The goal of this process was so that we had options if any classes fell through or we didn’t like any of them. Different from the US we registered for all of our options on paper—by hand—and through a process to visit all the different departments and have our names wrote down on the class roster! Different for sure! So, after all this we visited the 15 classes we wrote down to decide which we like best—it honestly sounds more complicated than it was! On the second week of classes, I finally have my schedule set up for the most part and miraculously, I do have classes on neither Monday nor Friday. I also have decided to do a pretty interesting internship with a Chilean organization called Teletón. I will be able to tell you more about that as it develops!
Last weekend Saturday was my birthday! Talk about a different, but incredibly memorable way to celebrate your 21st birthday than in Chile! What a great day it was too! At midnight I was serenaded in my room by my Chilean family and given gifts! Breakfast was served in bed and after lounging around for a while Jorge, my host dad, and I went on another adventure! This time we visited Parque Quinta Vergara which is a park a few blocks from our house that has an old palace and an ampitheatre for outdoor events like the Vina del Mar International Song Festival (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quinta_Vergara_Amphitheater) that was at the end of February. The park is gorgeous with all different types of trees! Then we returned home for lunch and I ate one of the best meals since I’ve been here—which is hard to determine because all of the foods been great! We had an “asado” which is a BBQ but ours was on an indoor grill, but you never would have guessed by the flavors swirling around. It was an awesome combination of food! After a short siesta, Andrea and I headed over to visit with her friend Michelle, who is a past student who stayed with them and later moved back to Chile for good and for the past 7 years. We visited and shared a few birthday cervezas and then all headed back home for once.
When we arrived is when things got a little suspicious. Obviously, when the door is being blocked, you may begin to suspect something. Our group had been planning on going to a night club to celebrate later on and I had sent out a few text messages without reply but figured people were just eating dinner. When the door finally opened, I was greeted by 5 of my close friends from the trip and my Chilean family all singing Feliz Cumpleaños a mi with a cake and 21 candles. What a great surprise! We visited, drank some wine, and ate some delicious food for the next few hours. It was so great when you are so far from home, to feel surrounded by so many people who appreciate you and want to celebrate with you! We were meeting the rest of our group at a nearby club, so we headed out around 11 to meet up with them and had a great night dancing and toasting to my birthday and to Chile!
That’s a short update about life in the last month since I’ve been here! Stayed tuned for more from Chile!