Tag Archives: Santiago

En fin

And here we are.

I leave tomorrow night. At about 10 PM Santiago time, we should be taxi-ing/in the air on our way to Miami. We did the same thing 5 months ago: we took off in summer and landed in winter.

I remember that first morning surprisingly well considering how sleep-deprived and disoriented I was. I remember being rushed through customs and the impatience of the officer. I remember coming through customs, being approached by a man who I thought said something that sounded like my university’s name, and then his taking my bags and leading me out to my group. I remember buying a water and paying for it in pesos for the first time. I remember that it really was colder than we thought it was going to be. I remember we had two lunches that day and we were so unbelievably full. I remember a scalding hot stream of water in the shower, contrasted by the chill of my room in the retreat house.

There was Linares, which I wrote about extensively. And then, after what felt like a long two weeks, we came to Santiago. I remember how quiet I was during my first couple weeks in my house as I tried to figure out my family and my place there; trying not to fall over on my first metro ride; getting back into a school routine, but in another language; and learning some of the in’s and out’s of Chilean night life.

This is a little bit of what a normal morning looked like here in Santiago:

What the mountains looked like on a late winter morning.

What the mountains looked like on a late winter morning.

I love these egg pans. I had scrambled eggs most mornings for about three months. Also, it took me until October to light the stove by myself. Please don't judge.

I love these egg pans. I had scrambled eggs most mornings for about three months. Also, it took me until October to light the stove by myself. Please don’t judge.

My metro stop. The farthest east the metro goes.

My metro stop. The farthest east the metro goes.

Campus. Not a very descriptive photo, but then again, I never found campus all that pretty nor interesting. But I thought the way the trees lined the sidewalks was nice.

Campus. Not a very descriptive photo, but then again, I never found campus all that pretty nor interesting. But I thought the way the trees lined the sidewalks was nice.

And here’s what the end of the day looked like on one of my last days here:

Heading west on the carretera. This is the daylight at about 8:15 PM. Coming home to darkness at 5 will be hard.

Heading west on the carretera. This is the daylight at about 8:15 PM. Coming home to darkness at 5 will be hard.

End of the day sun over el Río Mapocho.

End of the day sun over el Río Mapocho.

Here’s a quick photo recap of the different places I visited over these 5 months:

Outside of Linares.

Outside of Linares.

Embalse Ancoa, Linares.

Embalse Ancoa, Linares.

Rabones.

Rabones.

Constitución.

Constitución.

A view of Santiago from Cerro Santa Lucía.

A view of Santiago from Cerro Santa Lucía.

View of the sea from La Isla Negra.

View of the sea from La Isla Negra.

Late winter sunset, Santiago.

Late winter sunset, Santiago.

Viña Concha y Toro, Santiago.

Viña Concha y Toro, Santiago.

Pomaire.

Pomaire.

A very rainy Valparaíso.

A very rainy Valparaíso.

Pintué.

Pintué.

Cajón de Maipo.

Cajón de Maipo.

La Ermita, on horseback.

La Ermita, on horseback.

Chiloé.

Chiloé.

Valdivia.

Valdivia.

And that, my friends, was a little bit of what I saw on study abroad, Fall 2012.

I’ve taken it easy my last few days. Some people like to blow it out. I, however, considering how close I feel to my family and that I am just now getting over that darn cold, have kept close to home. I went out with a few people I hadn’t been able to get together with yet. I went to Mass for the last time with my family. I made pancakes and muffins. I said goodbye to my program directors on campus. I packed. And I cried about five times in the process. (Thank you, F., for coming by and helping out! I would not be as close to done as I am now if you had not been there.)

I think I’m going through a lot of the same emotions I felt when I left the States. That I was leaving home, that it was going to be a long time until I saw my family, that I had so much left still to do. I’m glad I have all of these mixed emotions, though. I think it’s a good sign. I should be this excited to go home, and this sad to leave. Obviously, there’d be something wrong if I weren’t happy to go home and see my family after- again- 5 months. And I think it points to how great an experience I’ve had that I’m so sad to go, when it feels like things could just be getting started.

But that’s a little how life is, isn’t it? I will write more about this around New Year’s (more about that in a later post), but I had a long conversation with my host mom the other night, and she gave me some very good advice, which comes down to this: say yes more. You really do only get so much time in one place. Make the most of it. I wouldn’t change my experience and the relationships I’ve formed for anything. But the way the time has flown has reminded me, in a very hard way, how you’ve gotta take your chances when you have them. I think that’s going to be a kind of mantra for me in the next year.

Before I get too sappy, I want to let you know that the blog will continue. The transition back home is indeed a part of the study abroad experience. And we all know how I love transitions. I also love (probably too much) baking and cooking things and then talking about it and posting pictures of it. I have up to 15 cookie recipes I’d like to try for Christmas, plus other things. So that’ll be happening here as well. Beyond that, we’ll just see how it goes!

I went to theater camp almost every summer of my life from when I was 5 until I was 18. We ended every summer by saying thank you to the people who had supported us throughout the summer. It was very emotional and sometimes a little cheesy, but I always loved it. Doing that kind of thing remains very important to me, and I would like to do that right here, right now.

Thank you to all of my readers! Thank you for letting me share my adventures and everyday life with you. I hope you’ll stick around once I’m back stateside doing less interesting things like baking and being a college student.

Thank you to the blogs that I follow for being such a big inspiration and brightening my day when I needed a distraction or a pick-me-up. (My top three favorites are on the blogroll sidebar.)

Thank you to my friends and groupmates. We were very lucky to be together and get along the way we did. Thanks for being you.

Thank you, F. Something bigger put us here together. We were made friends for a reason. I will miss you like crazy when you are back here next semester and I…am not.

Thank you to our program directors. Not everybody gets someone on-site who handles problems with classes, finds them a family, organizes field trips, and so on. Thanks for all of your hard work!

Thank you to my Chilean friends and acquaintances. Thanks for your patience with my Spanish when it doesn’t always come out the way it should, and thanks for bringing around places gringos don’t usually get to see. I hope to come back as soon as I can so I can spend more time with you!

Thank you to my host family. You were pretty much just what I needed you to be this semester. Thank you for replacing the down key on my computer; for taking me to Mass; for rejoicing in the deliciousness that is s’mores; for teasing me; for dragging me into your room when I clearly needed to talk but was too scared to bother to you; for letting me borrow your nail polish and hair products; for making my lunch every day; for being entirely too worried by my colds; for bringing me breakfast in bed; for making me café con leche exactly the way I like it; for giving me an iPhone, for my safety, of course; for showing me how the metro works; for eating chocolate and talking forever after dinner; for reviewing my papers; for letting me study with you; for making me feel like a real part of your family. The tears you will see in the airport tomorrow will hopefully show you how much I love the three of you and how much I will miss you.

Thank you, most of all, to my real family. I can’t even attempt to list all the things you do for me. You support me in more ways that I even know, and without that, I could not have gone away and had this experience. I cannot wait to see you and make you more cookies than you will want to eat.

Santiago. Chile. South America: I’m coming back for you. And that’s a promise.

My cup overflows. Time to get off the internet and drink up what’s left.

With love,

Gaby

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Dulce y amargo

Bittersweet. That’s what this is. I’ve got four days left until I go home. Or, until I go back to my home in the States.

This house has become another home. I am at home here. I am at home in the language, in the culture (minus the machismo, but I think if I were brunette, it’d be better), in the city. Do I know my way around? Meh, not that well. Is my Spanish perfect? Ni cerca (or is it ni lejos?). By which I mean, not even close. And there’s still so much more exploring to do of this place that I already love so much and am going to hate to leave.

But it’s about time. I’ve been gone about 5 months now. 5 whole months that I haven’t seen my real blood family, the family that raised me. It’s been just about 5 months since my host sister had her parents really and truly to herself. 5 months since I ate my dad’s cooking. 5 months since I have slept in my own room, the one I had painted the color I wanted for my 13th birthday. 5 months since I have been inside of a Target or a Culver’s or Old Navy. 5 months since I’ve been able to pick up the phone and call my mom just to say hi. 5 months since I got on a plane and thought that December 11th was going to take forever to get here.

Well, it didn’t. And there are good things about that, and sad things too. Here’s what I’m looking forward to when I come home:

Celebrating the holidays in the winter. This is proof that I cannot celebrate Christmas in a warm climate. With the lights off, at night when it’s cooler, and with Christmas music playing, it kind of feels like the holidays. Just a little. During the day? When it’s 80 and brilliantly sunny? HA.

Text messaging. It’s expensive here. Not to mention I miss just texting people to say hi.

Public bathrooms with toilet paper, soap, and paper towels/functioning hand dryers. Oh, and public bathrooms you don’t have to pay for to enter.

Not using hours of public transportation daily. For real, I miss being able to get anywhere and everywhere in 20 minutes.

Feeling safer walking around, especially at night. Which goes along with another thing: I’m looking forward to not standing out for being blonde.

The TV. Oh, I miss American TV. Not that there’s any shortage of it here. But really, I miss my local network news! And not having to use sketchy sites to watch my TV shows.

Baking. I’ll talk more about this later, but I’m keeping the blog going after I return. And oh, will there be cookies. And bread. And cookies. And so many cookies.

My own city. Maybe eventually I’ll reveal where I live (to the 5 of you who don’t know me personally). But for real, it’s a great place. And I miss it. I miss knowing where I’m going and being able to give directions and knowing landmarks.

Real orange juice. No more of this nectar stuff. Watt’s Nectar de Durazno, how I love you, but please, someone give me some Minute Maid or Florida’s Own no-pulp real orange juice to eat with my breakfast right now.

Good gum. Even the American brands that I’ve found here aren’t as good somehow.

The Mass in English. I’ve been  to some great Masses here, but still. I don’t know all the prayers and responses here, and I don’t always feel like I’m participating 100% then.

Now here are the things I’m going to miss:

My host family. I could not have gotten luckier. I’m not going to go into details quite yet, but yeah. They’re pretty fantastic.

Having a sister. Sisters are different from brothers, obviously. And while there are lots things I really love about having brothers, having a girly little sister has generally been a blast.

A slower pace of life. I’ve become accustomed to having lots of time to relax and just hang out. Next semester could be pretty rough in terms of work and activities. I’ll be incredibly busy. Which sometimes I love, when I feel like I’m really getting stuff done and doing a lot, but other times I hate, when I need four cups of coffee to get through the day and I can barely get 6 hours of sleep per night.

Spanish. I love this language. ¡Me encanta el idioma! And I know that now that I’ve become fluent, in Chile of all places, I can speak it pretty much wherever I want, except for the slang. I’d better be Skyping my host family often- not just because I will miss them, but because I worked hard to learn this language and no way am I just going to let it go.

The convenience of public transportation. Granted, I had to take very few buses this semester. But still. It’s kind of nice just being able to walk to the metro and get on and go. No relying on anybody for a ride.

The religiosity or spirituality here, especially en el campo. It’s more open, more reverent. I’m not saying that they’re doing it “right,” or the US is doing it “wrong,” but the day-to-day practice of Catholicism here, in general, seems a little more meaningful.

Watt’s Nectar de Durazno. Tea and agua de hierbas all over the place. Bread. Avocado (palta). Bread and palta together. Manjar. So many delicious foods.

Summer weather and long daylight hours.

My service site.

The view of the mountains I had every day, almost everywhere I went.

Living in a big city.

Pisco and very good wine on the cheap.

Living something different from what I’d ever lived before.

Dulce y amargo. Bittersweet. So happy to go home, and yet so sad and tearful to leave. How am I coping? With baking and family time, of course:

Christmas cut-out cookies, round 1, with the help of my host sister.

Christmas cut-out cookies, round 1, with the help of my host sister.

With love,

Gaby

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Gracias

¡Feliz Día de Acción de Gracias! Happy Thanksgiving!

Pardon the belated Thanksgiving wishes. I did not have a long, work-free weekend like many weekends- well, I know a lot of American college kids were actually up to here with pre-finals work this weekend. But still. I had class on the third Thursday of November for the first time in my life. Like my host dad said, it was just another Thursday in Chile.

But we gringos made sure to celebrate. One of the guys was generous enough to offer his house for the evening. He bought us two turkeys and we contributed the rest of the food and drinks. I have to admit, I was doubtful. Everyone was incredibly busy that week with final exams and papers (because the school year has pretty much ended at my university here), and people were actually buying the ingredients for their dishes at 5 on Thursday afternoon. But not only did everyone contribute a dish, we had more than enough food, and it was all really delicious!

Of course, what was most important was that we were all together. I think for many of us it was our first Thanksgiving away from our families. I know that for me, the day was a little poignant, knowing my family was all together sharing the same meal we’ve had for years, and I was “missing out.” But once I was with all my friends, just sitting and talking and stuffing ourselves with food as the night got cooler, it really did feel like Thanksgiving.

Turkey, sweet carrots, gravy, homemade mac and cheese, stuffing, and mashed potatoes. There was also a salad, and fried ice cream with pumpkin bread and cinnamon rolls for dessert. It was delicious.

The aftermath. Believe it or not, two medium turkeys were just enough for around 20 people!

Oh, and the next day I baked up an apple pie. It was pretty spectacular.

Muy, muy rico.

I have a lot to be thankful for this year. I am thankful that I had a place to celebrate Thanksgiving with some really great people. I’m thankful that I came down here with such a good group. I’m thankful that I have a host family who makes me feel like one of their own. I’m thankful for all the love and support of my real family. I’m thankful for the Internet, because when people went abroad not that many years ago, they couldn’t keep in touch with their loved ones as easily as we can now. I’m thankful for my friends who have listened to all of my study abroad stories and have been there for me when it’s been hard. I’m thankful for a second summer. I’m thankful for for this opportunity to live in another country for five months. I’m thankful that I still have a little time left.

And I’m thankful for everyone who has read this blog! Your comments have been so appreciated. Thank you for letting me share my experience with you!

I’ve got just about two weeks left before I get on a plane to Miami once again. In that time, I am taking a trip, my first and only real big trip of the semester. It’s not actually that big of a trip. I’m going to the south of Chile, which I’ve heard is where I have to go to truly say that I’ve experience Chile. In the next week, I will be bussing around to Puerto Montt, the island of Chiloé, and Valdivia. I’ll probably be pretty disconnected except email and phone for that week. It’s going to be a lot of sightseeing kind of stuff: there’s a national park in Chiloé, a lot of historic architecture, yummy seafood, chocolate, and just general seeing another side of this big country of which I’ve seen so little. Hopefully I will have lots of good stories and photos for you when I come back!

And after that, maybe I’ll take a day at the beach, and then…a week. One more week.

Thank you for coming along for the ride, and thanks for waiting to see what happens next.

Chao chao! Cuídense mucho! (Take care!)

With love,

Gaby

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Aprovechar

A couple of Fridays ago, I found myself crying in my host parents’ room. This was the result of multiple things: first, I was up to here with work. Second, I was starting to realize how little time I have left in Chile. And third, it was really hitting me that it’s been four whole months since I’d seen my real family. I guess a fourth cause could be that I hadn’t been sleeping well, as a result of the other three causes. Which just compounded everything and ended in tears. I’m very bad at hiding my crying. Host mom saw and pretty much sat me down on her bed to talk.

I’ll spare you more details, but the result of that much-needed heart-to-heart with my host parents was these realizations: I need to care a little less about some things. I need to say yes more. I need to stop dwelling on how much time I have until I get back on a plane to the States (1 month minus 4 days. Not that I’m really aware.). And if I can’t do anything about something right away, then I need to stop worrying about it until I can make it better. And if I can make it better, I should, as soon as possible!

Aprovechar means “to take advantage of.” “Hay que aprovechar” whatever good thing/free day/nice weather, etc. You have to take advantage of this. So that has become my motto for the rest of this semester. I have to take advantage of everything I can. Because who knows when I’ll be back again?

I started to aprovechar the very next day after that conversation. My host mom and I went up to the Cajón de Maipo, a region outside of Santiago that lies in the cordillera (the mountains). We spent the day there with friends picnicking, driving, and hiking around. It was needed. The friends were colleagues of my mom’s from work, many of whom attended my university in the States and with whom I have a lot in common. We got to talk about how they ended up in Santiago after graduation, what their experiences have been like, what it’s like to start growing up, and so on. Besides getting some good life advice/time with grown-ups (I like time with grown-ups. I always have.), it was more or less therapeutic to get out into the fresh air, into nature, four hours and yet so much farther away from the big city, from my homework, from my computer, from everything that had been nagging me lately.

Take a look at the pictures and maybe you can see how being out in the Andes for a day (you know, casual) would help me clear my mind:

The road and the mountains.

We got up to Baños Morales, 1850 meters high.

85 degrees and we were that close to snow!

Monumento Natural El Morado. It’s a trail up to the natural monument, but we got there too late to do the hike.

The colors in the mountains are unreal sometimes.

This was a good day. I needed that day.

Beautiful. I know this is something religious to say, but seriously, I can’t go out to all of these incredible places and not be constantly reminded of God’s works in the world. Look at how stunning it all is! And perfect! Someone who loves us had to have a hand in it, right?

The next week was very busy, but I went into it feeling refreshed and with a much clearer mind than before. And then I got to end that week by going horseback riding in the Andes. Note: school-sponsored field trips have never been so awesome.

We took a bus about 45 minutes outside of Santiago (seriously, we’re that close to the mountains) to a place called La Ermita. There we met up with arrieros (spanishdict.com tells me that means muleteer. How about horsehand? Is that a word?) who matched us up with horses and led us around the cordillera for the day.

There were two moments where I thought my horse and I were going to fall over- in one case, I thought we were going to fall off of a cliff. This is why you travel with arrieros, so you have someone who can pull your horse back on the path, away from the cliff, and almost literally save you. But besides those two moments, and the fact that everything from my shoulder blades to my calves was sore for two days afterwards, it was probably my favorite paseo this semester.

My pictures really don’t do justice to how gorgeous of a day it was. Full sun until the very end of the day. And there are actually pictures I don’t have, because I was a little preoccupied with going down a mountain on a horse. But imagine those pictures: just a huge landscape of mountains and valleys. One of my friends said it was like Lord of the Rings. I felt like a medieval queen surveying her territory, or looking upon her troops from afar before a battle. (Just in case you thought I was cool or something…no. Not at all.)

I took this while on top of a horse, one-handed, with the other hand on the reins. No, this is not how we almost fell off a cliff.

Here is my horse drinking water as we ford a stream. It was like Little House on the Prairie, or the Oregon Trail, where everyone had to take their horses and covered wagons through the river. (Just in case you doubted me when I said I’m not cool.)

The same stream, but from above.

A cactus! In Spanish: cactus. Plural in Spanish: catci OR cactuses. Because you know you were wondering if they have weird rules about plurals in Spanish too.

After 3-4 hours on the horses, we stopped for a long lunch, which consisted of anticuchos, or kabobs, and chorizo.

And that is what horseback riding in the Andes looks like.

Let’s be thankful for a minute. Agradezco mucho (I really appreciate/am thankful for):

The mountains. Clean sheets. Essay extensions. Visiting moms (thank you for bringing my birthday gifts, M.!). The air conditioned train. Washed feet. Agua de hierbas. Catching sweet moments out and about, like an elderly couple having fun on the playground in the park where I run, or when people get up right away on the train to give their seats to someone who really needs it. A really delicious birthday cake. People I can be myself with. Friends who come by for just ten minutes, even if they don’t live nearby. Longer days. Brighter mornings.

That’s life in Santiago right now! Lots more coming soon as we barrel on towards December.

Much love,

Gaby

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It’s summer again

So summer is about three months long, right? Ish? Well, I got about a month and a half of summer while I was in the States, and I’m pretty sure it’s summer here now. It might not be summer in the minds of santiaguinos, since it’s not really summer until around December, but with temps in the high 70’s and sunny all the time, this is summer to me. Hence, with about a month and a half left (again, don’t wanna talk about it, no tears this time), I will get a complete summer in 2012 before I go home to my second winter of the year (third? second and a half? Remember it was winter when I got here!).

Last weekend I took a lovely paseo with my host family to a lake about an hour south of Santiago. Host dad went and sailed in a regatta with his friends while host mom, sister, and I hung out on shore. It was nice to get away from the computer and my connections to everything else for a day. I had an especially good time sister bonding. This was absolutely worth missing my university’s football game for.

Pretty pictures!

A lake nestled amongst the mountains. Just beautiful.

So naturally beautiful that my little camera couldn’t ruin it.

So much blue!

Host dad is on the foremost boat.

No words.

And then it was Halloween on Wednesday. They don’t celebrate Halloween here like we do in the States. They actually don’t really understand why we do up Halloween the way we do. A good number of kids dress up in costume and go trick-or-treating, but not in droves like at home. I dressed up as a gypsy and went to a club with some friends for the night. It was a decent time. I also learned that I attract enough attention with my blonde curly hair down around my shoulders. Add makeup and a costume (a modest costume, just so you know), and you can forget about blending in at all.

Now let’s talk about food.

I haven’t done a real food post in a while. Today I’m going to talk about some foods that aren’t necessarily traditionally Chilean, but are a part of my diet here and will probably disappear from my life when I go home.

There’s Chandelle. Chandelle is basically a pudding cup brought to a whole new level. You’ve got your pudding base, in flavors like chocolate, manjar (caramel or dulce de leche, but not the same and so much better), lúcuma (a subtle fruit flavor), and combinations thereof, topped off with Chantilly cream (really, it says “crema Chantilly” on the cups). Chandelle is a common dessert in my house, and I love it.

Then there’s the brazo de reina, or “queen’s arm.” This is basically a Swiss roll cake. In my case, I’ve had it with a white cake base, filled with a mix of manjar and pastry cream. Oh, this is so delicious. I might be requesting it for my birthday cake.

Let’s discuss manjar for a minute. Manjar. Like I said, its relatives are caramel and dulce de leche. But manjar is not the same. I can’t tell you exactly what’s different about it. But trust me. It’s different. We eat manjar rolled up in panqueques (which are like crepes), drizzled over bananas, in other desserts like brazo de reina and alfajores, in so many forms. I’m considering whipping up a batch to put in other desserts for the holidays. Family, you have been warned.

On the salty side of things, there are Ramitas. Ramitas might be my new favorite junk food. They’re little fried straws of I’m not even sure what. Not potatoes. Maybe the stuff Cheetos are made of? But they’re not airy and puffy like that. They’re dense and crunchy. They’ve got some kind of cheese-like powder dusted all over them, and oh my goodness if I can request a care package from my host family ever, I’m asking for a bag of those.

I’m pretty sure I’ve already talked about how much juice Chileans drink, but I would like to point out my favorite of all the juices (blueberry, strawberry, orange, banana) I’ve tried: Watt’s nectar de durazno, or, peach juice. Keep in mind that the juice here is somehow more viscous. It’s probably healthiest to water it down. But man, the peach juice. It tastes like a real peach, in concentrated and slightly sweetened (okay, really ridiculously sweetened) form. As happy as I’ll be to have normal orange juice back in my breakfasts, I’ll be sad to say goodbye to nectars.

That’s my update for now! I’m fairly inundated with work again, as believe it or not, it is the end of the semester. But I have a day hike in my near future, and I’m working on planning my big end-of-the-year trip. So stay tuned!

Much love,

Gaby

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Volando

Has anyone figured out how to make time stop yet? Or at least slow down? I’ve been in Santiago for 3 months. Which means I’ve been in Chile for about 3.5 months. Which leaves me about a month and half left.

I don’t want to talk about it. We dropped someone off at the airport last week, and I started crying. It got me thinking about how I’ll be leaving soon enough and then I’ll be one dragging my bags through the airport again and saying goodbye. My host mom just brought up how quickly the time has flown by, and I literally could not look at her because I started tearing up. I’ve had a bunch of moments like that this week, and mixed in with seeing people’s fall pictures from the States, plus a very full academic workload, it’s been emotional. I’m mostly blaming it on being tired and hormonal (you didn’t need to know that, but whatever, it’s the truth!), but we all know that that’s not the whole reason.

My real parents and my host parents have both told me that they know I will be coming back one day. And maybe it will be soon. I’ve decided to apply for an internship which would put me back here for 10 weeks next summer (or winter, in the Southern hemisphere). It would be a very valuable experience for me besides just getting some more time here, I promise. But it’s a competitive program, so who knows my chances of actually being accepted? Which means I don’t know when I’ll be able to come back. And that’s hard for me to deal with. I’ve done exactly what I wanted to do here. I didn’t really want to come here to travel every other weekend or go out three nights a week or anything. I cam here to live here. I came here in the hope that I could lay down some roots and that I would have a life here. And I do. Which means it’s going to be hard to leave.

I’ll be incredibly excited to go home and see my family and celebrate the holidays, of course. It’s gonna be an awesome Christmas. That doesn’t mean I’ll be any less sad or teary in that airport come December.

Several weeks ago, I was discussing how I don’t want to be seen as a tourist here. Then a Chilean asked me, “So what are you doing here?” And I didn’t really have a good answer for him. I am not a tourist. Do I occasionally do tourist-y things? Yes. Occasionally. Infrequently. I’m not an expatriate, because I’m not here for good. Am I just a foreigner? Just a student? Is that the easiest way to describe what I’m doing here? I wish there were a word that aptly described my temporarily-settled state. I know that, no matter how hard I try, no matter how many gringo students are overly impressed by my Spanish, I am not Chilean. Not by a long shot. So what do we think I am?

Oh hey! I finally went to a club!

Tip #1: if you want to drink, previa- or as American college students call it, pre-game. Drinks in the clubs are generally expensive, and you don’t want to fight the crowd at the bar, then have to sit at the bar with your drink while you’d rather be out dancing.

Tip #2: nothing really gets going until after 12, and a lot of people stay out until at least 4. So get yourself ready for a long night.

Tip #3: wear clothing with pockets. Try to avoid bringing a purse, because it’s hard to dance with your purse hanging off of you. It’s also easier to keep track of your stuff when it’s very close to your person.

Tip #4: take cab money to get home. Try not to ride the buses, especially alone, especially if you haven’t planned out multiple bus routes before you leave. Just take the cab.

Tip #5: try to get in for free! This is much easier for the ladies, especially the foreign ladies (sorry, guys). Covers can be ridiculous. Sometimes all it takes is getting there a little early or say you’re attending a club’s event on Facebook. But you’ll appreciate saving those 3.000 pesos or whatever it is.

Tip #6: just dance! Get in there and get going. That’s what you’re there for anyways, right?

Let’s talk about fashion! Santiago, like any other big city, exhibits a wide range of styles. You can get a good sense of it just by riding the metro. Let’s discuss some trends, shall we?

You can find every kind of sweater, or chaleco, in Chile. Like, every kind of style, knit, wool, size, shape, color you could possibly imagine. Chilean women wear sweaters in every kind of weather. It’s almost the only thing you’ll see them wearing on colder days, and I’ve even seen them when the temperature goes above 70.

Boots are also an essential part of the wardrobe, and they usually come with some kind of heel. I actually found it a little difficult to find flat boots at the beginning of the semester. Wedge boots, with laces, seem to have been the hot thing this season. Boots are still in full force now that spring has come to stay. I wonder if it’s an all-season thing.

Chilean women wear scrunchies. Not even kidding. We’ve been making fun of them for years, and they’re selling them new, in all kinds of prints and fabrics, in higher-end accessory stores. And the women make them work too! There’s nothing ridiculous about them! I might actually give one a try. Maybe we can bring it back?

There’s also a lot of acid-wash or very light denim around. Just another trend that I thought was gone with the 90’s until I got down here.

Scarves are everywhere, and with the wide range in temperatures you can experience in a day, they’re a must-have item. There are two words for scarves here. You’ve got the bufanda, which is usually a larger scarf made of thicker or heavier materials. There’s also the pañuelo, which appears to be more common and certainly so in the springtime. Pañuelos- also the word for handkerchief- are smaller and made of lighter materials.

I’ve seen a lot of ponchos. Mostly in the rural areas, but I’ve seen many a little bitty Chilean wrapped up in a poncho in Santiago when it gets cold. Side note: when it gets cooler here- and I mean, in the 40’s and 50’s, so not freezing- they wrap their babies up. Multiple blankets, poncho, ski jacket, boots, hats, gloves, the whole shebang. Chilean babies do not get cold.

Last thing, and probably the most unusual: printed parachute or harem pants. You know, the pants made out of some kind of jersey-like material that are tight at the ankles but baggy everywhere else? I’ve seen them all over the place. It’s a very specific Chilean woman who wears them- young, artsy, and hip. But really. Printed parachute pants! Are common!

One thing you don’t see: a lot of athletic wear. I’ve left my house in yoga pants just once this semester. Once. I have never gone to class in anything less than jeans. I also have yet to see many shorts, particularly on women. I’ll update you soon on that front now that the weather is regularly getting above 70-75. Because I don’t know how I’ll be able to wear full-length when it gets to be 80 and brilliantly sunny every day and I have to ride a crowded metro that hits 90 degrees during rush hour.

Oh, there was another temblor! I was sound asleep and felt nothing, but apparently it was stronger than the last one. It really makes me believe what the Chileans say about weird weather (which we had again recently: a full week of sun and 70’s followed by two days of under 60 with pouring rain) meaning more seismic activity. The scientists say no, but I’m inclined to side with the locals on this one.

We’ll see what adventures or thoughts I have in store for you next time! Until then, chao chao y cuídate mucho!

With love,

Gaby

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Ocupada

Oh hello.

I am still in Chile. I am still working on this blog. It’s just that the “study” part of study abroad has been a little more important lately and I’ve been short on time. I’m really ocupada right now.

I’m still short on time, but here’s a little resumen of what I’ve been up to lately:

I’ve been in Chile for more than 3 months. We’re about to hit the 3 month mark here in Santiago, specifically. What is happening??

There was a tremor- in Spanish, a temblor. That means a little earthquake, or more like seismic activity that isn’t quite as strong as an earthquake. It was scary. I was at my service site and I thought a big truck was driving by and was just really noisy. And then things started to shake. It probably lasted all of 15 seconds, and really, the shaking wasn’t that strong, but still. I was a little shaky after that. And this was a little one.

They (as in, Chileans) say that weird weather, like what we’ve been experiencing lately, corresponds to greater tectonic movement- aka, when the climate changes from warm and nice to cold and rainy, like it did the week before the tremor and like it was here this weekend. And this weekend’s weather was really quite a big change. It was in the 70’s and sunny all last week. And then Saturday it got cool and drizzled. And Sunday was cold and boy, did it pour.

So I’m just gonna review what to do in case of an earthquake…

Another gringo in one of my classes heard me speaking in English and was floored. He turned around to me and said, “Wait a minute. I totally thought you were Chilean,” based on the one time I’ve asked a question in class. Keep in mind, folks, I don’t look Chilean. At all. That means my Spanish must be pretty good, right? Right?

When it gets sunny here, it gets SUNNY. The ozone layer is weaker here, so the UV rays are actually stronger. You can sense it, too- I swear it’s actually brighter than it is at home. This means fair folks like me must absolutely always wear sunscreen on sunny days. Some people wear it even when it’s cloudy. But seriously- if you come to Chile in the spring or summer, bring the sunscreen and put it on any day you’ll be heading outside.

I spent most of this weekend hanging out with my host family, including the girl who lived with them a year ago, which, because she was also their daughter at one point, makes her my other host sister. I learned that describing her as my host sister is much easier than “the girl who lived with my family this semester last year.” We made a surprise cheesecake for our parents’ anniversary and bonded over our mutual love for our family.

Easy cheesecake. Recipe later!

I’ll write more about this later, but let me tell you, it’s pretty much the best thing ever to hang out with someone who has lived with your family before. You are reminded that you’re not the only one who’s done this before. Like, you’re not the only one who doesn’t know how to open the milk (it comes in a box. No, not a carton. I’ll show you sometime.). Or that salad and ice cream are indeed essential components of the family diet.

It also got me thinking about how I’m going to come back here myself after I leave. But that talk can come later.

Here’s what the mountains looked like today after the rain:

Puffy clouds. Clear blue sky. So much white snow. It’s unreal how beautiful and stunning it is.

Hope you’re all well! Look out for a bigger, better post soon.

With love,

Gaby

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