Monday, April 23, 2012

Finally Fall!

I've been back in Santiago for a little over a week and its been a complete whirlwind of catching up on readings, internship interviews, parties, class, and trying to fit in some siesta time. This gringa is exhausted. But, it's been a great week. For one, I scored an internship at the Centro de Estudios de Justicia de las Americas (CEJA). I'll be interning there on Tuesdays and Thursdays starting tomorrow. Although I'm sad to see my free time on Tuesdays and Thursdays go, it'll be good to have some more structure. Also, the type of work CEJA does is right up my alley.

I also had my first Conversation Partners session last Wednesday. Conversation Partners is a program run through UDP's American Corner (which in turn is run by the US State Department) that connects American and Chilean students who want to practice their Spanish and English, respectively. I go once a week for 45 minutes and so far it seems really rewarding. Everyone in my group is excited to talk and get to know each other. One of the downfalls of my program is that 3 of my 4 classes are with AU students, even though we have Chilean professors/they are taught in Spanish. It sometimes limits our ability to meet Chileans. I've been lucky enough to meet lots of really friendly Chileans who have included me in their lives and introduced me to their friends. Conversation Partners gives me another venue to do that.

New friends at a birthday party last week
Ina, Jesse's host sister has been super super nice and always invites us out with her and her friends

Gringas go out!

Yesterday Jesse invited me to lunch with a friend of her Dad's from grad school, Fernando. He is Chilean but has spent most of his life in Spain and the US, returning to Santiago a year and a half ago for work. He has a really nice wife and five super cute children. They fed us gazpacho, tortilla espaƱola, ceviche and chorizo which are some of my favorite foods of all time. Fernando had grown up in the Basque country in Spain so we talked a little bit about northern Spain and my time in Burgos. It brought me back to my first abroad experience, which reminded me of a. how much better my Spanish has gotten and b. how grateful and lucky I am to have had all of these amazing experiences.
Today was the first day where Santiago really felt like fall, and people were really bundled up. At first I didn't understand but then I got to school it was SO COLD. There isn't really central heating here so buildings just stay well, cold. Can't wait for winter. I think I'll be heading to Calle Bandera where there a bunch of thrift stores to pick up another leather jacket and some more scarves. 
Teresa and I rocking our fanny packs, purchased on Bandera, the best thrift shopping in the city.

Santiago is such a unique city and while I am still trying to get to know it better, there are some major differences I've noticed. Some are awesome, some are frustrating, and some are just funny. 
  1. People here walk so slow. SO SLOW. SO SLOW. I am not a particularly fast walker but I am constantly passing people on the street and getting stuck behind slow walkers. It makes me feel so aggressive but I'm not! I just really really can't walk that slow. 
  2. Crossing the street is sort of like playing Russian Roulette. Cars do not want to stop for you, so they generally only stop when they're actually about to hit you. And if you think you can stand on the sidewalk waiting for cars to slow down before you start to cross you will legitimately spend your day on the sidewalk. Also, it's very common for cars to step on the gas the second you walk past them, which means I spend a lot of time turning around and freaking out, thinking I'm about to get run over. 
  3. PDA (public displays of affection for you old folks) is 100% acceptable in 100% of the places. The metro, the library, the middle of the sidewalk and as I learned last week, the classroom. Cuz making out in front of your professor is so romantic. On the other hand, maybe I'm just bitter. But seriously, I'm trying to get off of the metro and also I can see your tongue(s). 
  4. Earthquakes are not a big deal. I've been in 5 in the last 2 months. Most of which have been around 6.0 or 7.0 on the Richter scale. The most recent one was reported in USA Today and the Washington Post. Which to me was insane because I basically slept through it and Santiago legitimately just goes on with its business after an earthquake. 
  5. People are generally so much friendlier than they are in DC or Boston. Last week Claudia had pneumonia and sent me to the grocery store. No problem except I had to go the deli and the grocery store which involved me having to interact with like, real Chileans. And as soon as my number was called at the deli I realized I had no idea how to say "slice" (hint: it's lamina). The woman at the counter was so friendly and helpful. She didn't care that I was clearly confused by the large number of cheeses and varieties of turkey. And then at the bakery I asked the woman in front of me a question and she began this whole conversation with me about all of the different kinds of bread in Chile. So great.
So, despite the slow walkers and the making out on top of me in a crowded metro car, Santiago has truly grown on me. Tomorrow will be exactly two months since my arrival and I couldn't be happier. I feel so taken in by all of the Chileans I meet, I'm beginning to think in Spanish without translating to English in my head and oh, did I mention, I just booked two more trips? This weekend I'm headed to Chiloe, an island that's a 15 hour bus ride south of Santiago famous for its beauty and also its penguin colonies! And at the end of May I'm going to Buenos Aires! I can't wait to eat steak in Argentina. 

I have my first midterm Wednesday, so ciao for now!


  1. Great descriptions. So glad you are getting to go to Argentina! Maybe Grandpa will recommend a wine to go with our steak! We may get him to Patagonia and eating steak in Argentina yet due to your writings. Look out for the penguins lovely one ever talks about that. Can't wait to see the pictures....we were able to wonder through them in Antarctica and they would peck at our backpacks as they welcomed us!! Love you!! Grandma

  2. Oops...2 spell checks ""your" steaks and "wander"

  3. You write so beautifully and your descriptions of everything are great! Love reading your blog. We got to see penguins in New Zealand and walked by the nesting areas as well. Before you know it, you'll be headed home, so I am delighted that you are taking advantage of every opportunity that arises. Have fun in Buenos Aires! Your grandma is so proud of you! XO