University of Wisconsin–Madison

3 Month Mark

Three months in Chile! I couldn’t be happier with my life here in Chile right now. My Spanish is improving more and more everyday, I have a Chilean boyfriend, and my relationship with my Chilean family is great. My classes are getting more difficult; I finally had my first quiz and exam, which I think went OK. I am taking two classes with my program, CIEE: Advanced Spanish and Language, Society, and Discourse in  Latin America. Advanced Spanish is really just a review of everything I have ever learned in my Spanish classes and is helpful because the teacher is Chilean so she teaches us all the slang. The grading is really easy so that class will be a real GPA booster! The other course is taught by a program director, Patricio, and is really focused on how newspapers are written differently in Chile and why. The class is relatively easy because there are only 4 other people in it, 3 of them being my really good friends in Chile. My other two classes are through the Pontifica Universidad Catolica de Chile, the best university in Chile and second best in South America. One class is a psychology class once a week for three hours. In the middle of the class there is a 10-15 minute break to eat lunch and for all of the Chileans to smoke. Smoking cigarettes is a big deal here in Chile, more than half of the Chileans I have met smoke, but most tell me they “are trying to quit,” while they are smoking their fifth cigarette of the morning. The psych class is based on the identity of Latin Americans and how it has evolved to be how it is today.  It is really interesting, but there are a lot of readings that are really long and boring. Español de Chile is my other class at the university and it is really helpful in learning about the culture of Chileans and how their language has grown to encompass words from their indigenous people and culture. I haven’t met too many Chileans in my classes because they all have a lot of gringos, but through my boyfriend, Max, and tandem partner, Hernan, I have met a lot of really cool people. My three best friends that are from the U.S., Ali, Melissa, and Rachel also have introduced me to a lot of their Chileans friends so my circle of friends has really expanded and for this my Spanish is a lot better!

I went on a two-day getaway with my boyfriend a fews weeks ago too! We went to the sixth region of Chile, the region right below the Metropolitan Region, where Santiago is located.  We took a train (my first time!) to Rancagua, the capitol of the region. We had a few funny little adventures, like when I had to use the restroom and a little old man and his wife told us I can walk down the street to the union meeting place of miners and use that bathroom, I just needed to say I knew him. So we walked there and Max explained to the members of the union that we knew this man and they said I could absolutely use the bathroom, no questions asked! The funniest part was all the signs plastered all over the bathroom saying it was only for members! After Rancagua, we took a bus to Pichilemu – our destination! This little town is famous for surfing worldwide. However, we arrived on a Thursday in the afternoon so it like a ghost town, our only friend was a stray dog (which are very abundant in all of Chile, especially the beaches).  Our hostel was located right on the beach and only had one other occupant because of the season and day. We arrived late so we didn’t really have time to do anything but go to the beach and watch the sunset after we checked in and got our things in order. The next day we walked to downtown (one street with little shops and restaurants) and then decided to go to the beach. The sand in Pichilemu is black! I found out most of the sand in the southern parts of Chile is black (I still am not sure why), but that was pretty cool and the first time I have ever seen that. While on the beach, an old man approached us on horseback and asked if we wanted to go for a ride on his horses for $6. I hadn’t been on a horse since I was really little (I don’t even remember the experience), so we took him up on the offer and walked to his horses. It was definitely something I will never forget- we rode the horses for about a half an hour through the sand and beach and talked with the man about his life and our story too. We were both really scared but it was definitely something I am glad we just went for and did. Later in the day, after a lunch of empanadas (a beach favorite!), we ventured out to a point, Punta de Lobos, which we were told we had to see because of its amazing views, and it did not disappoint. We watched surfers ride waves and took in the amazing view of the coast of Chile. I took a little nap on the rocks and Max took photos of how ridiculous I looked, with my scarf over my face because it was so cold and windy!

I decided that this semester I will dedicate my time to traveling and improving my Spanish with Chileans so that next semester I can volunteer a lot and try to find people to tutor in English for extra money, because I am running low with all the traveling I have been doing.  I just got back from a trip with my program to the fourth region of Chile and a 5-day trip with my boyfriend to the amazing Inca ruins of Machu Picchu! Those two trips were incredible and require their own blog posts. I am at midterm time right now so my time is really being focused on studying and sleeping.

me on horseback!
me on horseback!
me with a stray dog at punta de lobos
me with a stray dog at punta de lobos
our dog tour guide the first day
our dog tour guide the first day
me at punta de lobos bundled up
me at punta de lobos bundled up

 

Chau amigos, hablamos sobre Machu Picchu la próxima vez!