Santiago

Hi all!  This post is coming to you from Chile, South America!  I’ve been here for a little over 15 days and am thoroughly enjoying this country so far.  The people are so nice and helpful, even after hearing my not so good Spanish.  The country itself is diverse with everything from deserts in the north to glaciers and penguins in the south.  I am really excited to see what I can while I am here.

So here is a brief recap of my time in Chile so far!

I arrived a few days before my volunteer orientation began and was able to meet up with a cousin (who I haven’t seen in 20+ years), site see, and of course go out on the town.  Going to a new country solo is definitely a bit intimidating, but luckily a friend of a friend (who I had met before, but hadn’t seen in 12+ years) picked me up from the airport, helped me get a SIM card, and dropped me off at my lodging.  He also invited me to an asado (like a BBQ or cookout) to watch a futbol game and meet his friends later in the week.  It was definitely reassuring knowing I had someone I could call for help if needed.

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Me and Ramon drinking piscola (pisco, a Chilean liquor, and cola) while watching the Chile vs. Argentina match

My cousin that lives in Santiago is actually from Honduras, but she moved down to Chile a few years ago and now lives with her husband (who is Chilean), and their 2 boys.  My first day there, she along with her youngest boy came to meet up with me and we went to eat lunch and visited the San Cristóbal Hill.  She only speaks Spanish so I was forced to practice my Spanish which I needed to do anyways and we really enjoyed the day.  I was also able to meet her husband and other son the following Sunday and they took me outside of the city to some nice spots and view points along with trying some traditional Chilean dishes!  Also, Chilean Spanish includes a lot of idioms and slang that are quite different than other Spanish speaking countries.  It is going to take me some time to learn and remember them all, but I did receive a crash course of the main ones during my time with them. 🙂

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The view from San Crisobal Hill
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Prima Loly, me, and her two boys, Daniel (the baby) and Joseph.

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The whole family including husband/father Emilian

Orientation week was a bit intense with long days and a lot of information, but it was also very fun and sorta reminded me of college.  There are a total of 68 volunteers this semester (most from the USA, but also others from other parts of the world) and we were all staying in the same hostel with anywhere between 4 to 7 people in a room with shared bathrooms.  The atmosphere was very social with several of us going out for salsa and bachata lessons one night along with having a celebratory weekend before we were all shipped off to our placement cities.  The English Open Doors Program really does seem to have their sh*t together and everything sort of flowed seamlessly.  Plus, meeting people from all over the world is always a bonus. 🙂

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Microteaching Practice
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Cobblestone street where our hostel was located
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Street shot from a morning run (yes, I actually ran twice!)
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Salsa/bachata night = so much fun

Now I am in my placement city of La Ligua in the Valparaiso Region.  It is a small town with about 33,000 people (feels like less tho).  My school is actually in an even smaller town called Cabildo which is a 20 minute commute.  My host family consists of mom, Nancy, and dad, Marcelo, (both work at my school), their sons, Alejandro and Eduardo, and a family friend, Edgardo.  They are all so nice!  I will need to adjust a bit to Chilean eating hours, but besides that, I think we will get along just fine!  My Spanish should definitely improve too since only the father speaks English.  I don’t have many pictures of the family yet, but thanks to google photos assistant, I have the following video of a trip Nancy and I took to a nearby beach, Papudo, yesterday.

(nice music, google)

Hope you all have a great week and I will be posting soon on how my classes are going (I start this week ahhhhh)!

Until then,

Kimberly

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