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Gap Year Abroad

19 posts categorized "Chile"

11/29/2015

my run today

It’s been four months, and I still run down Avenida Alemania, completely in awe of the view of the colored houses and sparkling blue ocean down below.  In awe of the graffiti and the little shops I run by.  I always stop at the same spot and say, “I’m so lucky.”  And then I realize I’m in Chile, and say I’m so lucky again.  There’s no way I could ever get used to that.  Because, I really am so so lucky.

So, this is a quick message of what I thought about on my run today.  In Chile.  With the view of the port down below.  Did I mention I’m lucky?

I have learned so much from Chile.  I’ve learned to live stress free. I’ve learned a whole lot of Spanish. I’ve learned how to learn to learn about other cultures, to suspend judgement. To realize that if people do things differently,  that’s not wrong, it’s just different.  I’ve learned that the world is a hell of a lot bigger than the 4% of people that live in the U.S.  And, I’ve learned that people do have me stereotyped.  And, its difficult and frustrating.  But, I can break it if I try hard enough.  I have a clearer view of who I am in this world.  I’ve grown more in love with the Latino culture, if that was even possible.  I’ve learned how to be still, to live on someone else’s schedule, to be late, to understand how other people see time.  I’ve learned how to love four people a whole lot and to put myself in very uncomfortable situations.  I’ve learned Valparaíso.  I’ve learned the cobblestone streets of Cerro Alegre and Cerro Concepción, La Plazuela, how much it costs to go to Papudo con Concepción and then to Cirilo Armstrong.  I’ve learned the port and its boats and my runs to Playa Ancha and my walks through Plaza Victoria and down Puerto Montt.  I’ve learned that the 607 is my savior and will always take me home.  I’ve learned to live on the beach (that one’s not too difficult).  I’ve learned to love on little five-year-old balls of energy and 8th graders that need my love and support at this pivotal time in their loves.  I’ve learned to live on my own, but I’ve also learned to ask for help.  People will help you when you ask.  I’ve learned to love this city, I’ve learned to love this country, and I’ve learned to make this place my home.  And, as much as I can learn about Chile, Chile has taught me so much about myself.  I’ve learned that I have an absolutely incredible family in Atlanta, with friends that love me unconditionally.  I’ve learned that I’m broken, but I’ve seen myself be very strong.  I’ve learned that God is everywhere, and as much as I ever try to push Him out, He’s not going absolutely anywhere.  And, for that I’m thankful.  I’m a lucky, lucky girl.

And, that’s what I thought about on my run today.

 

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11/27/2015

it's called living

 

Today was the first day I saw my host sister cry. We were all having our normal Sunday lunch with the whole family, and I noticed immediately how upset she was. Her normal buoyancy and lighthearted comments weren’t there. When my host dad asked what was wrong she starting talking very fast and very quietly until her words were masked by her tears. I couldn’t understand her muffled Spanish completely, and was stuck between asking more questions to find out what was wrong and giving her space. I realized the struggle of the place I have in a host family. It’s unbelievably complicated. You’re a friend to your host sister, but also a sister, but also an outsider that never knows when it’s your place. I felt a little on the outside during the rest of almuerzo not knowing my place in this complicated situation. 

Later, my host sister came into my room and we began talking as we always do. I trotted carefully in our conversation, not wanting to ask what was wrong. But then she told me. She spilled all about her problems, both boyfriend, family, and school. I felt so touched afterward, nearly on the point of tears. My previous thoughts of being separated from the family were completely washed away. I felt closer than ever to my host family, and I know more than ever that I am an accepted part in their family.

Being part of a host family is complicated and strange. You’re partially adopted, partially a visitor for just a long amount of time. I have seen my parents bicker, my siblings scream at each other, my brother bring home different girlfriends (much to my parents annoyance), spent time with my sister’s boyfriend, met cousins after cousins, talked with family friends, spent whole cold days with my host mom in her bed, painting with my dad late into the night. Over long conversations you become friends. You learn about each other’s past, what they hate, what they love. You learn who they are and who they are becoming. Over 6 months of being together, you become part of their family. When these things happen in my life here I escape the word “traveling”. I live here. Yet we all know it is going to end. It’s a weird concept and how to go about living for only 5 to 6 months in a different place is challenging. To immerse yourself completely or to stand off guard knowing it will end in a few months? Though the question is hard, the answer is so simple. I want to have a life here, and although it will be painful when I return to the United States, I will know my experience in Chile was truly amazing.

11/14/2015

those days pushed into a box in the attic

February 27, 2015 (10 months ago)

“…But, I’m forgetting that there are going to be days where I want to talk in English – with people that know my slang words and inside jokes.  I’m going to want to crash in a room where I feel completely comfortable and have days to myself.  I’m going to want to drive and eat normal food and maybe even go to school where I am comfortable in my routine.  I’m going to wish I was with my family in a house with my phone and computer.  I am so comfortable in the life I have in Brookhaven, a little too comfortable I think.  Nothing is really challenging me here.  I am so grateful for tons of people in my life that I learn from everyday, but I need a change of way and change of pace.  I need to be pushed outside of my comfort zone, into situations where I’m not always going to be happy.   I’m not going to want to get on that bus for an hour every morning and work hard and have kids relying on me to teach them.  I’m not going to want to wake up early.  And there will be days where I will want to be back home because that is the easy way of life.  But, a life that’s beautiful is not usually easy.  I’m going to go to that orphanage everyday because it is going to form me into something that I can’t even grasp right now.  I am fully going through with this for not a single reason, but a feeling.  A feeling that is what is right for me.  And, I have no idea how it will go, who I will be after, or what the effects will be.  But, I do know that it is the right choice for me, and I’m going to discover some amazing people and some amazing things about myself.  In a little more than a year, I will have lived in a country without Americans for an extended period of time, speaking my second language.  I will have seen and done some extraordinary things.  And, I have no doubt that I will have made some lifelong connections that I will cherish for the rest of my life.  This could easily be the most important year of my entire life.  If that isn’t worth it, I don’t know what is.”

 

November 15, 2015 12:56 am

One thing that I pondered before I left for Chile, but could never fully accept, was the fact that I won’t be living in a fairytale.  I’m not on vacation; every day is not full of adventure and travel and bliss.  Maybe I post the pictures on Instagram of my amazing adventures to waterfalls, islands, geysers, and nearby cities and countries.  Maybe I write blog posts about my amazing friends and family and my crazy adventures through Chilean deserts.  Maybe those things are very very real, and amazing, and memories and experiences that I cherish.  But, I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t days nearly as glamorous.  In fact, I have had plenty of days quite the opposite.  Some lonely, lazy, upset, tearful, and average days.  When you live somewhere for six months, there’s no getting around that word “live.”  I live here, just like I live anywhere else.  I’ve had days where I am so tired that I have not gotten out of my bed once.  I have been sick.  I’ve had a fever, I have a cold, I’ve had to skip class.  I have had days where I feel like I’m doing everything wrong.  I have had days where I can’t understand a word of Spanish, and nothing makes sense.  Those usually follow a day where I feel like I’ve really improved my fluency (jokes on you!).  I have had days where all I want is to be sitting in my basement with a group of my friends, eating candy, fighting over what movie we’ll watch, chatting about life.  I definitely have had days where I’ve cried, and I’ve gotten a hug.  But, I’ve also had a few days where I’ve cried with no one there to know or understand.  I’ve had days where I don’t want to get up at 6 A.M.  and go on that bus for an hour.  And, I’ve had many a day where I want to get in my car instead of waiting for public transportation (I’ll always love you, micros).

I’m not saying all of this because my life is hard here.  I’m saying this because life is hard anywhere.  And, moving to another country does not cure that, does not prevent bad days.  So, I decided to give my attention to those days, because they are of value too.  Those days that are stuck in between the cracks on the sidewalk, pushed into a box in the attic.  Those are the days that I’m not telling my friends from home about, not how I answer, “How is Chile?!”  They are not what I’m posting on Facebook about.  But, again they’re of value. Because it’s through those days, I’ve learned to appreciate my car, my community at home, my family.  I have seen my patience grow through those days, my ability to change plans, my need for rest, and my realization that I’m not invincible.  And in the end, I am living in Valparaíso; I have gotten to experience good days and bad days in Chile.  And that’s what makes those not-so-glamorous days so very worth it.

Feliz Cumpleaños

Never before had I been sung Happy Birthday in three different languages from a table full of homemade cakes and completos. The orange-walled house was bubbling with warmth from all the family and friends that came to wish me a feliz cumpleaños. The table in our house kept cycling through new people who came to wish me a great birthday, give me a kiss on the cheek and drop off a small present. My host mom had decorated my birthday with love and Feliz Cumpleaños!!  signs around my room and around my house that only began to demonstrate how much she cared for me. 

From the moment I woke up, as my host mom had told me the day before, we celebrated my birthday the Chilean way. That entails, as I soon learned, a yummy once (a small dinner, much like English tea time) with lots of tea, completos (the Chilean hot dog with avocado, tomato, and mayonnaise, or any combination of the three), and many many sweats hidden around the house. The people, at around 7 at night, arrive and sit and talk for many hours enjoying all the food my host mom kept cooking. The house was full of laughter, which is everything I ever wanted on my birthday. She cooked all day to celebrate with many people and share our house and my 18th birthday with so many people that matter to me and others that I did not even know but approached me with equal love. The amount of love I received on my birthday is inexplicable. It was truly beautiful, and I will be forever thankful for the unique experience I received on my 18th birthday. 

This is my Chilean family on my birthday:

 

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I think it's amazing that I was fortunate enough to be able to celebrate my 18th in a country where 18 means so much! I will remember this day for the rest of my life:) 

 

Also my parents from the United States were able to join my Chilean family and friends!:

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If you look you can see everyone has a cup ready for tea, my beautiful chocolate cake, small completos (they look like hotdogs) and so many small dulces (candies) that I still haven't finished eating! 

It was a beautiful day- thank you to everyone who made it what it was. 

10/26/2015

una vida tranquila

Something I’ve been hearing a lot about recently, and have been struggling with and thinking about, is the decision between staying with your roots, staying with your past, or going forward with your own dreams.  This past weekend in Chiloe (a beautiful island in the south of Chile), “Don Juan,” as we called him, made this so real.

All 50 of my lovely compañeros and I were invited to the small house of people we had never met, who would serve us the largest amount of food I’ve laid eyes on and open up their house to us for the entire afternoon.  Talk about hospitality.  But just chatting with this lovely couple quickly shifted my vision to see that they were happy to.  If it meant that they could share their life, their passion, their story with us.

Don Juan was a soft-spoken man.  But, once you got him in a small group he could talk and talk about everything he was so proud of.  His personal rock collection, his animals on his farm in the backyard, all the plants that he grows and grows year round.  Emily and I happened to get talking to him, and he had us follow him back farther in his “granja” (farm).  We were hopping over fences, learning new vegetable names, and you could just tell from the way he spoke and the look in his eyes that this was his life.  And, he was so proud of it.  We eventually got back to a little bench hidden next to a river where he invited us to sit down.  He told us that they come out here to eat “once” (dinner) every once in a while.  He then went on to tell us that his three sons are all spread around the country now.  Some up in Santiago, some in other parts, graduated from school, working on their “real” careers.  First, the indigenous language down in Chiloe has almost disappeared, because there was no reason for these generations to learn it.  Now, the young people have no interest in working on the farm, taking over the business.  Don Juan told us one thing that day that I won’t forget for a long time.

“The farm life is one where we work really hard, all day.  But, it’s a calm life.  We eat the food we grow.  We talk to each other.  There is culture here that is slipping away.  And, when I die, there won’t be anyone to take over the farm.  And I don’t know what will happen.”  

There is something so beautiful and tragic about this.  I, initially, felt the pain that Don Juan carries heavy, heavy in his heart…and I still do.  You think about the culture there and how much it matters and should always matter.  And, then you also think about his sons.  About how I’m sure they just want to pursue what they love, and it happens to not be the same as what their father loves.  You think about working on a farm for the rest of your life.  There’s a point where selfishness is not even a word that should enter your mind.  Because, I can’t say that I would make a different decision in any way.

The outcome is a struggle between maintaining culture and sticking with familyor pursuing your own dreams and doing what you think will impact the world for the better.  And, it got me thinking.

So, thanks Don for getting me thinking.  And, for opening up your house to us.  It’s not a day I’ll forget in a long time.

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Below are a few more pictures from the awesome trip just for kicks.  Always thinking about Atlanta and home and friends and family.  Sending much love and many prayers from Chile every single day.

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Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

 

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10/23/2015

The Unforgiving Desert

Just about a month ago I was lucky enough to travel with some friends from the program to a town called San Pedro de Atacama. Way up north near Bolivia, this small town has buildings made of clay, dusty roads, and skies that are forever blue. Filled with hippies and tourists the city is alive and in a location that is unlike anywhere else. Smith and I stayed in a super relaxed and fun hostal with some other people from our program and we packed our days with seeing the beautiful Atacama desert.

Though I spent probably way too much money, the four days I spent exploring by hiking, biking, and  4 am wake up calls to see geysers were worth every peso. Pictures and description do no good in feeling the fast landscape difference that makes you feel like a Martian. But anyway, here are some pictures of the adventures:

 

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Probably the best part of this story though is probably the time when we tried to get back to Valparaíso. In short, we knew the night before our flight there was a strike (there is always a strike somewhere in Chile) in the airports. And we thought it’d be fine, we’d make it out. We then get a call that no flights are flying out tomorrow. The next posible flight was three days later, and there were no 24 hour buses going down for another 6 days. But the hostal where we were staying didn’t have space either. So walking around the town we found another hostal, paid for two more nights and starting buying food to cook the next few days. Annoyed and sad we wouldn’t be able to celebrate the independence day with our host families we tried to distract ourselves while spending the least amount of money. Luckily, Smith and I had our friend Luz from the program who is a native Spanish speaker that could argue way better than Smith and I combined. She got us a flight for the next morning, but when we got to the airport she didn’t exist in the computers. Many miscommunications later we didn’t get a flight until 10:45 that night. We were on about three planes that day, the first we opted not to leave Luz behind, the second didn’t show up (like at all), and the last was simply cancelled, but finally we got on the one at 10:45.

But there was a huge earthquake that hit central Chile (where we were flying into) really hard. So the airport announced that they didn’t know if we could fly into Santiago then because of the huge shaking of the earth that just happened! But we did. Luckily my family in Valparaíso was safe from the earthquake and high enough in the hills that we didn't need to worry about a tsunami.

That night we were on a plane after nearly 14 hours of sitting in the airport awaiting flight after flight. By this point I didn’t really mind, I just hoped everyone was safe from the earthquake. I read an entire book in the airport and lost my earphones. But what an experience right? I couldn’t help but laugh at absolutely everything that was miscommunicated and went wrong during those two days we were trying to get out of the desert.

10/09/2015

conversion of the 'non-hugger'

I was known in my friend group as the "non-hugger."  I love my friends, but they grew to realize that I was not one to display my love through touch.  Ever since I was little, I was never a big hugger or cuddler or anyone that showed affection in that way.  Of course, there are times where I need a long hug from a best friend, but for the most part, I have always been like this.  And, I never really thought it was a problem, I just thought, it's the way I do things.

In Chile, personal space is different in a lot of ways.  The normal greeting for every single person you meet, no matter if you've never met them, is a hug and kiss on the cheek.  It is a normal occurrence for my whole family, all 5 of us, to get into my parents bed and watch a movie.  Touch and closeness is how I have found Chileans show love, connectedness, togetherness.  And even if some of these things are different than everything I know, it's how to display love.  And I love these people.

I was with some of my Chilean friends, and they were telling me their interactions with other "gringas" have been more cold and very much so non-touchy.  They were surprised that I would even give hugs, and I'm glad to change their perspective, even if just a little bit.  It's normal, and in fact healthy, to give a friend a long hug, to hold their hand when they're hurt, to cuddle and watch a movie.  And, I've grown accustomed to living in this more affectionate way, and in-fact, even enjoy it.  I know my parents won't believe it.

So, I've found myself hugging more, cuddling more, pushing myself more.  Not because I'm trying to change who I am, but for love.  Because they deserve to know, in their own way, how much they mean to me.

I've noticed that people here express emotion on the outside.  You tell someone if you've hurt them, if you're upset, if you're grateful.  Words are powerful.  And throughout the past two months, I have had to apologize in Spanish, explain myself in Spanish, express how grateful I am in Spanish, make people feel better in Spanish, and all in all, show emotion in Spanish.  I'm not using my second language to take a test or have a conversation with the automated lady on the AP exam.  I'm using it to make friends, to apologize for being a bad sister, to stop the tears of a little girl at volunteer, to express my love.  And, this is a tool.  A tool that makes expressing emotion in English seem almost easy. Because if I can do all of that in Spanish, I can certainly explain myself to my grandparents, tell my parents how much I love them, and apologize to my friends for not always being there in my first language.  And, relationships really do grow when you start talking (and I mean really talking).  About how you feel, about how sorry you are, about how much you love the other person.

I've still got a long way to go.  Whether it's through words or touch, I will keep making mistakes.  And not show enough affection, and hurt people and not have the words to apologize.  But, I know that it gets better. I know that a lot of people have given me second chances.  And for that, I'll go give a few more hugs and say a few more 'Thank you's."

09/23/2015

I can't stop thinking, "I'm so lucky."

The fact that I haven’t blogged in about 2 weeks fully describes my past 2 weeks.  I have been going and going and feel like I still haven’t had a second to breathe.  But, I can honestly say it was, by far, the best time I have had in Chile so far, and I learned things and made memories that are impossible to forget.  So, this post will be more of a catch-up, what I’ve been up to, because I know I have been bad at telling even my family at home what’s been going on.

So, September 18, is Independence Day in Chile, and that means having 10 days free for vacation.  Yes.  This is why I love Chile.  So, I celebrated my sister’s 13th birthday on the tenth… (with selfies and family and yummy food).

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IMG_7397And, then on the morning of the 11th, Chloe and I took off for San Pedro in the Atacama Desert.  We had an amazing time in the Cejar Lagoons, Los Geiseres, Valle del Muerte, Valle de La Luna.  It was all so gorgeous and breathtaking; pictures don’t do it any justice.

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Valle de La Luna

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best sunset I’ve witnessed

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Lagunas

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The four days we had planned in San Pedro were pretty awesome.  Full of friends and new friends and stars and breathtaking landscapes and many inside jokes.  I felt content, and I felt ready to come home to Valparaiso and celebrate the 18th with my family.  But, things took a quick turn when we found out there was a “strike” on the 15th because workers in the airports were not satisfied with the retirement situation.  So, on the 15th my flight in the morning was completely canceled.  My friend, Luz, came running into the hostel saying the only flight she could reschedule to was on the night of the 17th, meaning we would barely even make it for the 18th, if everything worked out.  I felt like I was going to cry.  I called my family in tears, and my mom and sister were reassuring me that it would be OK, we would have a great time on the 18th.  But, I wanted to be home when I had it planned.  I wanted to hang out with my sister all day on the 15th, go with my friends to the fondas on the 16th like I had planned, go to an “asado” with them on the 17th.  It was going to be so much fun.  I felt crushed, I felt like it was all completely out of my control.

Woah.  Talk about a change of plans.  Talk about trusting in His timing.  Talk about talking the talk but not following through with my words.  I took a deep breath, calmed down, laughed a little bit with my friends, and tried really hard to realize that there was absolutely nothing I could do.  There have definitely been worse things.

So, there we were.  Luz, Chloe, and I in a new hostel, in San Pedro, for a little longer than expected.  We relaxed and slept and read and walked around and talked about anything and everything.  I learned a lot about the patience I’m developing and still need to develop.  Then, we got a call on the night of the 15th that maybe, just maybe, we could get a 9am flight the next morning.  We talked to the people on the phone, and they told us that we were in fact confirmed for the flight the next morning.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t ecstatic.

We got to the airpot at 6:30am the next day, they proceeded to tell us we weren’t on the 9am flight, but they would put us on the 2pm flight.  I could deal with that.  We waited upstairs until about 1:30pm and thought it was a little strange that no one was up there.  Until we looked downstairs at a mob of people yelling at the ticket counter, because the 2pm flight happened to just be completely cancelled.  That’s when they told us no flights were actually confirmed until the 21st. The 21st.  Now, I’m a somewhat flexible person, but this flat out scared me.  I don’t think I could do 6 nights, 6 days in an airport.  It was a struggle, but we got boarding passes for the 10:55 flight that night.  It was a long day.  Oh, and don’t forget about the earthquake that also happened that night.  It was getting to the point where it was extremely comical how many more things could happen.  I have honestly never laughed so hard when we found out there was an earthquake on the news around the world (of course after we made sure our families and friends were all completely fine).

The biggest thing I learned from my airport extravaganza was definitely how humor changes situations like this.  It’s normal to be upset, frustrated, scared, and everything in between.  But in the end, it’s up to you to decide what emotions you display.  And, just sitting there laughing with my friends on hour 16 in the airport, partly delirious and extremely tired, was joyful and happy, in a lot of ways.

When I finally saw my family on the morning of the 17th, I started bawling when I saw my sister.  That’s not something I usually do, but I think it was all the emotions and tears I wanted to cry the past three days coming out.  It’s so true that you don’t realize how good you have it until you don’t have it.  And, when I wasn’t with my sweet family in Valpo for those six days, I missed them so much, and I was so happy and blessed to be back home.  I have built myself a life here, a home, and this is the first time I truly appreciated it as much as I should always.

The next few days were full of birthday parties, lots of family time, fairs (fondas), barbeques (asados), Chilean pride, dancing, 18th love, so many new words and new friends.  Topped off with spending the night at a farm house in Quillota with all of my Chilean friends. This resulted into a very content and tired Smith on Monday morning.

So, it was a good 10 days, definitely some of the happiest I’ve had.  I’m a lucky girl to call some pretty awesome people here friends and family.  I have been showered with more blessings than I deserve.  For now, I’m back to “normal” life, which includes classes and volunteering. But, every day is here is still new and full of adventure.  I just have this feeling in my stomach that I can’t describe, of pure happiness, when I think about the past ten days and the time I had with people I love.  And about all that will happen in the future.  And, for that, I can’t stop thinking, “I’m so lucky.”

09/09/2015

mi familia

 Welcome to my blog, and I can't wait to share my adventures with all of you.  I have been in Chile for almost a month now and have already written some things down, so here's what I've been up to.  Thanks for stopping by, nos vemos! 

 

August 3, 2015

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On Saturday morning at 10:30 am, I met the four people that I was told would be my “family” for the next five months of my life.  Little did I know how quickly that word “family” would become so real.  The past two days have been filled with shopping, amor, markets, malls, fiestas, movies, abuelos, primos, friends, tacos, cookies, bread, and lots and lots of spanish.  And, I’ve honestly loved every second.  The Ramirez Cabrera family has immediately made me one of their own.  I sort of expected to be treated as an outsider, having questions pounded at me constantly.  But as a total 360, these four people haven’t changed anything about their lives for me but simply have opened up their hearts and their daily life to include me in it.  It’s not a vacation, I’m living the daily life as any other Chilean would.  From the moment they picked me up in their car, we went straight to the supermarket to pick up some things, drove to a gas station, went to the grocery store, went to a salon to get haircuts, ate some lunch, went out to run some more errands, and then got ready for Andres’ (my host brother) 19th birthday party.  At lunch, the nine people sitting around me (there were family friends too) were having full conversations about their past vacations, talking about “The Voice Chile,” like they would any other day.  I could sit there, take it in, participate in conversation when I wanted, and I was perfectly content.  I didn’t want it to be “The Smith Show.” I wanted it to be a normal family lunch, and that’s exactly what it was.  They are proceeding with their day to day life, and I am lucky enough to get to hop on for the ride.

Ximena or “Xime.” She is an incredible mother.  From the way she talks about her kids, you can tell she loves them with every bit of her heart.  She is very talkative, genuinely kind, and giving.  From the second I got here, she has called me her “hija” “niña” and “amor,” making this transition easier for me in every way.  It’s nice to have someone here that I can always turn to if I need it.

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Claudio.  He’s a proud dad.  He’s definitely quiet, but you can tell with every word he says he cares so so much.  He always makes sure I have all the food I want (which has been more than enough).  When talking about his son, his words were genuine and his face was glowing.  Oh, and he walks really really fast.  We already have an inside joke about it.

Andrés.  This 19-year-old (as of yesterday) reminds me a lot of my brothers back at home.  He plays rugby and has lots and lots of friends.  He talks really fast.  And, he has also made me feel extremely comfortable here, walking the 30 minutes to the university and back with me, showing me how to use the micro, teaching me some engineering stuff, and asking me a lot of questions.  He’s an extremely genuine and kind person.

Constanza (but everyone calls her Coty).  She’s the little sister I never had, and I love her dearly.  On the first night, she slept in my room with me just because we wanted to.  We have gone to the mall, watched four movies back to back, and have spent every minute we can together.  Just talking to her constantly has improved my Spanish so much, and her hugs make me feel right at home.

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Don’t worry Mom, Dad, Whid, and Joe.  No one will replace y’all.  I miss you all dearly!  There really is no place like home, but I think you have to live somewhere else for awhile to realize that.  For now, I’m loving trying something new, forcing myself to adapt to a situation that is unfamiliar.  And, I’m so so lucky that these are the people I get to surround myself with everyday and make Chile feel like home.

Bye for now,

Smith

 

09/08/2015

a different type

Sometimes I have a small surge of guilt go through my mind. When I am in my bedroom reading a good book, hanging out with my family, or taking a nap, sometimes I feel like I am not doing everything I could be doing. When I wake up from that nap I automatically think ‘oh my god I’m in a different country why am I sleeping through the day?’. After all, I am traveling, but this is such a different concept of traveling I have ever done before. 

Traveling to a country for a week and traveling for five months is a different definition. My ‘traveling’ right now is having keys to a house, not to a hotel room. Having a room I can call my own, with all of my belongings from my old room, plus new ones from the month I’ve been here. I have parents that have rules. I am not traveling; I am living.

So as today, where I sat in bed with my host mom watching Chilean TV, talking, knitting (yes that did happen) in our PJs is that really bad? Should I be going to every museum and running around Valparaíso every day checking the sites off the list? 

This type of travel is new and unfamiliar, but it’s beyond interesting. Every little activity I do with my family, no matter how small is showing an interesting part of their culture- and I am living it. Living this culture is the traveling, and the touristy activities are strung along through my time here, wrapping it up as the best traveling experience I could have ever dreamed of.

 

A little recap of what I’ve been up to in pictures: 

 

Had tea with Smith in Plaza Sotomayer in Valparaiso after volunteering:

 

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Went to the ceremony of my host sister’s new uniform for her nutrition school!: 

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Went skiing at Portillo in Los Andes (one of the most amazing experiences of my life): 

 

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And this is just a picture of beautiful Valparaiso right next to my house (Smith featured)!

The orange house, Brighton Hotel, in the far left was where we spent our first night in Valparaiso

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Gap Bloggers

  • Eva - Gap Year Abroad in Japan
  • Eamon - Gap Year Abroad in Spain
  • Sage - Gap Year Abroad in China
  • Kira - Gap Year Abroad in France
  • Smith - Gap Year Abroad in Chile
  • Maddy - Gap Year Abroad in Japan
  • Hannah - Gap Year Abroad in Italy
  • Chloe - Gap Year Abroad in Chile