As of a few minutes ago, I’m at 5.
After my first week of classes (I’m going on a field trip out of town tomorrow, so my week is essentially over), I have a few reflections. This is the first semester I’ve had since starting college where I’ve really had a lot of options for courses. I only need one engineering course while I’m here to stay on track, so I’m studying a bunch of language, and I am absolutely thrilled about it. My course load this semester looks something like this:
So that’s that. In addition to all that information, I will note that I bought all my notebooks for this semester at a grocery store and they all have photos of wild animals on them. Notably, I chose the snarling leopard for heat transfer. I figured that it would make me feel braver, since I was feeling so intimidated and nervous.
Updates! I have been out of the country for two weeks, and I am now in Viña de Mar, a city on the coast of central Chile, about two hours from Santiago and five minutes away from Valparaíso, which was once - and arguably still is - Chile’s most important port, and also its cultural capital.
I will be here until July, studying at La Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Valparaíso. La Catolica, for short. I am here with the support of the study abroad organization CIEE, through which 50 other estadounidenses are also studying. I’ve befriended several of them, and have been enjoying myself so far. I’m living with a host family that consists of one mom, one dad, - who happens to be a mechanical engineer - and one host brother - who happens to be studying mechanical engineering. We’re a little engineering family! I feel extremely comfortable in this home and with this family, and I think I am very lucky that the match is so good. Over the past several days, I have been spending time with my family and newly made friends, and attending introductory classes and orientations put on by both CIEE and La Catolica, but today I started my actual classes.
Class, that is. I only have one class on Mondays, and it is English Phonetics and Phonology. It is a class for Chileans who are studying English, and is super interesting to me, as I have always wondered what it is like for native Spanish speakers back home to sit through classes with kids from the US who are majoring in Spanish. The teacher was thrilled to have me there today, and I’ve already been asked to demonstrate the cadence and flow of a native English speaker.
On the note of language, it became totally apparent when I got here that Chilean Spanish is practically its own distinct language from the Spanish that is taught in the States. There is a lot of slang, people talk extremely fast, and enunciation doesn’t seem to be a priority at all. It was tough for me when I first got here, but I was amazed at how quickly my ear got accustomed to hearing it. Within three days, my comprehension had improved enormously.
There’s a lot to which I’ve gotten pretty accustomed quite quickly, actually. Lunch is the main meal here; we eat a ton at lunch, then just have something light with tea in the evenings. The evening meal is called once (like the number 11 in Spanish), and I’m a huge fan.
Last week I went to La Sebastiana, Pablo Neruda’s house in Valparaíso, I rode one of the famous hill elevators (ascensores) in Valpo, I ate my first tuna (a fruit that I’d never encountered before), and I stayed out until 5 after going out one night (South America parties so late into the night!).
Things are going great, my Spanish is coming along a bit more every day, and I am completely ready to get into the routine of school, home, studying and friends.
I still have not taken any interesting pictures of anything, but this is a very beautiful place, and I will share more pictures as I take them!
Best to everyone who reads this.