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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Los Primeros Dias En Chile

Ok, so it's late here in Chile but I knew a facebook status update would NOT suffice in telling you all about my fabulous beginning days here in Chile. And as I type my bed is rolling out from under me... one sec......

And back! Hmmm where to start? Plane ride nothing too special, well except that Atlanta's airport IS HUGE, other then that i'll start by getting off the plane. Got through customs and got my bags and headed out into the sea of people waiting at the arrival's gate. So one problem, I knew people from USAC where waiting for me (my flight got in the same time as the group flight) but I wasn't seeing them and any American looking a little lost is asking to be bugged by taxi drivers, the guy was nice enough but I got really sick of telling him "No Gracias. No necesito un taxi, yo necesito encountrar USAC AQUI." John, a super nice british man who works for USAC, eventually spoted me and pulled me over to the side where others who weren't on the group flight were waiting. So good thing i'm comfortable meeting new people because when you do something like this you better get over that quickly, there are names to remember, travel plans to talk about, and friends (your really going to need) to make. I realizes fairly quickly how important the people you meet in the first few moments of a trip are to shaping the rest of the trip.... I don't know maybe I'm over thinking this but the people I met in the airport at first are the people I approached later and the friends all probably travel with in the future. After the group flight arrived we piled on a couch bus and headed to our hotel.

Ok, so Chile is really different then anywhere i've ever been and after spending three or so glorious weeks in the california sun the cold definitely through me off. If I had to guess it's probably a lot like salt lake city, but i've never been to salt lake so I can't be sure. It's a huge city, in a high plain, surrounded my mountains. It wasn't until I left the hotel today that I realized there is snow on ones right by where we stayed. SO BEAUTIFUL. We are already planning a day trip to go skiing and boarding! Upon arriving at the hotel we got assigned rooms and roommates, mine was already at the hotel and it was a little intimidating to knock on a hotel door and meet the stranger you'll be sharing a room with. Very freshman in college like. Well the girl that opened the door is named Madison, and she pretty much rocks socks. She is from Idaho, and she too has been at Sasquatch! for the last 2 years. CRAZY RIGHT. We have also started making travel plans and such and we are thinking Easter Island would be a great fall (spring) break destination :D And maybe a pre christmas trek up to Machu Picchu before they close it indefinitely wouldn't be such a bad idea. Maybe these are just ideas of 2 super excited girls but the future is looking bright. After settling in we had a on and off again day of activities. Madie and I accidently showed up an hour late for lunch (Guess Chile is +1 from east coast time....) oops! And laughed pretty hard about it, we would be THOSE people. Then it was a quick walk with the group to get a picture for our identification card, our first orientation session in the hotels big conference room, and some exploring/playing in the hotel's garden. Me and Maddy tried to play hopscotch and pretty much failed but we laughed it off like most everything else we did that was an epic fail and continued about our exploring. After dinner we both snuggled in and did some reading before a fairly early lights out. Some others in the program went out.... crazies!

Now for today. It was pretty much the bomb, I didn't do anything super exciting yet it was all VERY exciting. Got up and ate yet another super tasty meal, I'm telling you this hotel was nice (but not in our western sense, it wasn't huge, cooky cutter, and shiny, it was homey and unique and had good food.) Orientation part 2 was basically us meeting one on one with Luis, our director, to finalize our class schedule, we then had to all go and pack up our luggage to prepare for later family pickup. Somehow my room got selected as the one everyone moved their stuff into and that was actually kinda fun. Maddy and I met new people as they brought their bags in and hung out in our room, it was a obstacle course! I couldn't even use the bathroom cause, for one, the door was too blocked to close and two, there was a suitcase on the toilet, haha good times! After that we all headed back the the meeting room to take a language level test, let me say I'm glad I'm in track 2...., we ate a tasty lunch, then had a presentation on the social movement that is happening here in Chile. So fascinating and right up my ally. I didn't know this but a pretty large scale social movement is happening right now in Santiago, students are leading the way with protests, sit ins, some rioting (The media often portrays any violence as a lot worse than it really is), etc. While it is on the surface a protest against the high schooling costs and the privatization of the education system (their own president said education is a consumer good, not a right.... scary), it is a deeper protest by all classes who have decided enough is enough. I am really looking forward to seeing how things unfold in the coming months, and don't worry I'm not going to go getting myself into situations with water canons and tear gas!

At about 5 pm the host families showed up and I was wisked off on my first adventure :) My mama Marina and my papa Oscar took me straight to a HUGE supermarket called Lider. Think wallmart maybe? For those of you who have been to Nairobi think patriotic Nakumatt.  haha but better organized! I got my phone that i'll be using while here and while it isn't anything special it was first step to becoming Chilean for the semester. The supermarket was basically my first spanish lesson as we wondered around shopping, browsing wine, and learning a bit more about each other. Upon arriving at my house we unloading the tiny car packed full of my junk, and the groceries, and I got to see my new home. It is small (well, not that small but it's long and kinda passage like so it gives it that feel), homey (THEY HAVE A DOG!), and a bit cold. Not super nice by our standards but similar to my house and I'm already enjoying the Chilean experience. My room is very well suited for a student like me, closet, shelves, a TV and dvd player even, a bed, a chair, and a side table. Once I got all my stuff in it looks pretty good. Once I set out my pictures it really felt pretty homey. Phew, I should wrap up! Guess I'm still on west coast time! After unpacking I watched a novela with Marina, my host mom, and understood almost nothing. What I did get was the typical, mom kills people, the mom that kill's people's daughter's husband cheats on her, etc, etc. Cool fact tho, my host mom's daughter is the lead actress! Oh forgot to mention, no siblings this trip. The one son that is still at home is in Australia, where their oldest son lives, learning english. Pretty cool though. I then had dinner with my host mom and dad as well as one of their friends and her son(He asked a lot of questions, spoke fast, and had a studder). I was very hard to follow their conversation but once I got involved it slowed down and they wanted to hear a little about me. I talked about GV, Humboldt, Kenya, my family, my frisbee team, and even shared some pictures. They especially enjoyed the pictures I took in Kenya this summer of Maasai students dancing and of Lions out on Safari. They are all very patient with me, they have been doing this for 18 years!, and I'm learning how to express myself in Spanish really quickly.

Haha what a fun post! It's nice to be happy and confident and comfortable. I'll have my ups and downs I know that, once the newness of it all wears off and the oh wow i'm here for 4 months kicks in, but this summer definitely prepared me for this. A chill attitude can also get you pretty far, not to mention an awesome God.

Well, it's 1:45 am and I don't even have the energy to read back through this to make sure it isn't ridiculous and error-ridden. Hope you had fun with that....

LOVE AND MISS YOU ALL

Straubrey

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