I titled this blog earthquake because about 2 hours ago (it is 11 PM, Tuesday April 1st) there was an 8.2 richter scale earthquake in the north of Chile. I am sitting here watching the news and hoping that there won’t be another tsunami like there was in 2010 in the south of Chile. I am used to “temblors” by now, shakes in the earth that Chileans simply refer to as temblors, even if they are more than 5 richter scale points. These temblors are considered to be earthquakes in other parts of the world and the infrastructure would not be able to support it, however, in Chile, the people are very accustomed to this seismic activity and all buildings are built to support it. However, they are actually calling this “temblor” an earthquake right now, so this means business. They are evacuating all coastal cities and preparing for the worst. In 2010 hundreds of people died because of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami, and that was a 8.8 earthquake.
Aside from this developing story, I have been studying, A LOT. People often think studying abroad is an easy semester, and it can be. Last semester I took a lot of easier classes, classes with other foreigners so that I could go out more and travel more and experience more things outside of the university system. That was great last semester but this semester I am trying to complete my Spanish major, so I am taking two literature courses, one indigenous culture and language course, and one history class. In two of my classes I am the only foreigner. This makes things a lot more difficult! I can’t just look over to the person next to me and ask what is going on. I have to focus a lot and if I have questions, I have to work up the courage to ask my Chilean classmates or the professor after class. Furthermore, I have a lot of work to do! In Chile, from my experience, most classes are just lecture, with the teacher speaking pretty much all class with a little participation from students. There aren’t a lot of papers, worksheets, or other busy work. However, there are a lot of readings to do! For one of my classes sometimes we have to read half a novel a week. Aside from readings there are usually a few exams that make up the entirety of your grade. This semester I am taking three of my classes in the University of Chile, the more liberal of my options and a public university. My other course is in the Catholic University where I took all of my classes last semester. Each university has many campuses throughout the whole city. Last semester my classes were at a campus really far away from pretty much everything and it took me about 5 minutes walking and then 30 minutes in the metro to get there. This semester I have one class I can walk to in 20 minutes and all the rest of my classes are in a campus I can get to by bus in about 35 minutes. I am much happier with the campuses I am at this semester and the Chileans I am taking classes with. They are much friendlier and helpful, something that was greatly appreciated as I struggled to find all of my classrooms. It is also helpful that my Spanish is A LOT better this semester. I don’t know if you could say I am fluent because there are some people with very heavy Chilean accents who I can only understand half of what they are saying, but now when I speak I don’t even have to think about it, I just talk! I also dream in Spanish a lot now and sometimes when Max wakes me up early in the morning to say goodbye I find myself saying “Chau, te amo” when he leaves for work instead of “Bye, I love you.” The strangest thing has started to happen though… I am forgetting English words! I have to ask my new gringo friends that have arrived for this semester very often how to say things in English. One example of this is the Spanish word “programa,” which I can never remember means syllabus.
I am also teaching/tutoring English classes. Everyone here (and it seems like in the world) wants to learn English. I don’t blame them though, the Chilean culture is full of English words and sayings. Sometimes people bump in to each other and say “Sorry!” That is probably my favorite thing to hear in English in Chile. People pay a lot too to learn English, about sixteen dollars per hour. I am not complaining! Hopefully with this money I can make my dreams of travel come true! I want to go to Argentina, Uruguay and Bolivia this semester. The value of the dollar is very high right now so this makes travel much cheaper as well. I hope it stays that way.
ON WISCONSIN, LET’S GO BADGERS!
Cheering on the Badgers in the Final Four all the way from Santiago, Chile.