Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Yesterday I started 2 weeks of orientation at the Universidad Diego Portales, which basically consists of a Spanish grammar/language review and some touristy activities in and around Santiago. I'm also adjusting to my commute which takes me a little less than a half hour since I live in a really central area and the metro here is actually efficient. The weather is great and I love walking around, taking everything in.

The university is located in the Centro of the city, really close to a metro stop. Classes don't start there till next week and right now everything is still closed, so the buildings are a little eerie but it's nice to be getting a feel for it before the whole area is crazy busy.

Yesterday after class our group took the metro to Providencia (where I live yay!) and wandered around for a while searching for a place to eat. Our group has been meshing really well but it turns out it's pretty difficult to get seating for 13 so we split up for lunch. My group ended up going to a delicious but expensive Chilean restaurant, where we all tried pisco sours for the first time. Pisco is a delicious type of liquor that Chileans appear to mix with any and everything. 
My pasta! Here instead of the word espagetti, they use "fideos" for pasta. This means I sometimes think people are asking me if I want to watch a video but really they are talking about food.

Then we went for a walk through Providencia and ended up hanging out in a park for a few hours, chatting and exploring. I'm happy I live in such a central area, everything is so convenient! Check out some of our first group pics!

After a siesta and dinner with Claudia, Mark, Kevin and I decided to try our luck going out, which was an adventure but a blast. We went to a place with the most famous terremottos in Santiago, so I was happy. After we wandered over the neighborhood Bellas Artes and hung out some more. Everything was great until I arrived home at a perfectly reasonable hour my parents would be proud of anddd I realized I somehow managed to lock myself out of my house. So, it's 4 AM, and I'm calling Claudia all lo siento!!! Luckily, she loves me and just laughed and went, "Ayyyy gringitaa!" and went back to sleep. When I apologized profusely today she just laughed at me, so that worked out well. 

Today instead of "class" we took a tour of the city by bus, which was pretty interesting and I learned a little about Chilean history. 

 Changing of the guard at La Moneda

Plaza de Armas!

After the tour, I was exhausted but starving so I went with two girls in my group, Teresa and Carolina to try "completos" which are hot dogs with various toppings, at this place in Providencia (yay again living in a convenient location). Carolina is Chilean and living with her grandparents here in Santiago instead of a host family and so although she is still learning the lay of land she definitely has a better idea than me where to find a good, cheap meal. And my completo was delicious. I got an "italiano" which has avocado, tomatoes, and mayo on it. Sounds gross but totally delicious.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Exploring Providencia

The past 2 days have been a blur of sleeping, going to the grocery store, eating, sleeping, eating again, and just overall being exhausted! But, today I managed much better and I think I'm getting back in the swing of speaking Spanish all of the time, so yay! Just in time for me to start my orientation tomorrow. Where I am 90% sure I will bomb my Spanish diagnostic test because my grammar is terrible. So, we'll see how that goes.

Anyway, I've found I really get along with Claudia and we have had lots of long conversations over tea or wine or ice-cream. She loves to talk but also loves to listen. We've talked about everything from politics to her 5 month old grandson Raymundo, who I can't wait to meet! One of the most interesting things is her view on sex education: she's a practicing Catholic but, like many Catholics in the U.S.,  disagrees with the Church when it comes it's prohibition of birth control and its focus on abstinence. It's amazing to me that the US, a "secular" nation, faces the same debate as a Catholic nation like Chile.

Today, I went with another host mom, Sylvia, and another student, Laura, who goes to Wakeforest and is on the same program as me, to explore a little bit of Providencia and use the metro for the first time. It wasn't too overwhelming but I've been assured that come rush hour tomorrow, it will be crazy. 

Also of note: I've learned(ish) how to use the "encenador" which is the water heater. One of the things I take for granted at home is access to hot water. Here, Claudia usually leaves the hot water heater on during the day but turns it off at night or when she leaves the house, so I have to learn to do it too. I'm kind of afraid of matches/fire but after learning how to light a gas stove this summer I figured, "Okay, let's do this!" I got it on like, the fourth try and I'm still a little afraid of setting the entire house on fire, so we'll see how that goes. I'm also afraid to use my blowdryer because I might blow up the house or something? I don't really understand voltage. 

I haven't done anything really touristy yet so no pictures, but I promise, I'll get on that!


Friday, February 24, 2012

Day One: Siestas and Supermercados

After 18 hours of traveling,  I reached Santiago this morning at about 10:00. Today was just a whirlwind of lugging my seemingly endless pile of luggage through customs, trying to get back into my Spanish-speaking groove, and staring wide-eyed out the car window at Santiago. Claudia, my host mom, and her friend Felix picked me up at the airport and drove me back to Claudia's apartment, which is located in an area of Santiago called Providencia. It's super close to the Metro and also to the center of the city.
Claudia is an older woman with 4 kids and 5 grandchildren who she is super proud of and talks about all the time. She's been hosting AU students for a while and seems to really love the company and also learning about us all as people.

When I arrived at the house, Claudia's maid Maria was also there. Maria is very friendly and she and Claudia interact more as friends than as employer/employee. The three of us sat down for a drink called a "terremoto" which means "earthquake" in English. It gets it's name because like an earthquake, the "aftershock" can be strong. Basically, it tastes good so it's easy to drink a lot of quickly. It's just sweet fermented wine (called pipeƱo) and pineapple ice-cream so of course I was all about it. 
This is just a picture from Google but it definitely does it justice...

Then we had lunch which was a little confusing because Claudia kept saying we were having "pastel" which means cake, but it turned out to be a casserole type thing made mostly of corn, with beef in it? I'm assuming that it is actually pastel de something but I just missed that word? 

Our other adventure was to the supermercado where I picked out some foods I like for breakfast and just got the lay of the land. 

Heading home, I couldn't stop looking around because the Andes are everywhere, even when there are clouds or smog, the mountains just rise up all around the city. I don't think I'll ever get used to that or become immune to its beauty. 

My room! Super cute and comfy! 
I'm exhausted and ready to go to bed for sure, but all I feel is anticipation! Claudia seems really fun, with a great sense of humor. I had no idea what to expect out of Santiago, whether it would be more European or be similar to Mexico City or Tapachula..so far I can't really characterize it, but that may just be because it has a life of it's own!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Packing and Procrastination


Welcome to Cutter in Chile! On Thursday I head off to Santiago, Chile for the next 5 months! I am beyond excited, mostly because I have spent the last two months bumming around Chelmsford teaching swimming lessons and hanging out with my parents (don't worry Mom and Dad, you guys are really fun I swear!). While this has allowed me to watch countless episodes of How I Met Your Mother and read some great books it has also shown me that I really enjoy school and learning/having responsibilities in life. I've decided that's a good thing.

Anyway, for those of you who are super loyal followers of my life/adventures (aka my mother and father) you may remember that I had a very unsuccessful blog this past summer when I lived in Chiapas, Mexico, meaning I posted all of 5 times. My memory is really awful so I'm hoping that for my own enjoyment (and so my parents know I'm alive) I blog a little more this time around!

Aside from my goal to blog, I have one other expectation of myself in the coming months: say yes! Shout out to the lovely Rachel Hoffmann my Mexico roomie for this piece of wisdom. I know sometimes I'll be tired or cranky, but this experience isn't going to come around again and I plan to take full advantage of every opportunity put in front of me.

I'll be attending the Universidad Diego Portales, a private university in Santiago and living with a host family in an area called Providencia. Since coming home from Mexico I have sought out every opportunity to speak Spanish so I'm really excited to be immersed once again, although I am a little nervous about understanding the Chilean accent!

Most of my plans are up in the air, but I do know that I will be going with the rest of the AU students in my group to Easter Island and the Atacama Desert (yes, I just linked you to Wikipedia, it's fine). After my program ends I'm also going to hike the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu with other people from my program and I am beyond pumped. Other than that, who knows where I'll end up? My parents gave me the Lonely Planet South America on a Shoestring for Christmas, so I'm all set! My travel goal? No getting robbed on a bus at gunpoint (whaddupp Ombz! love you!). But seriously, I'm looking forward to seeing as much of Chile and the surrounding area as possible on my college student budget.

Anyway, now that I've managed to procrastinate packing for another hour of my life (blog templates are so important and time consuming!) I'm going to try to get started. Next time you hear from me, I'll be in CHILE!

P.S. Here's a link to my favorite Spanish song ever as a reward for actually reading anything above. (Chino y Nacho aren't Chilean but they're super cool anyway)