Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Hang Ten My Friends

Oh hey. So once again I'll probably end up apologizing at the beginning of most of my new posts, but yes I am sorry I got a little side-tracked and lazy to blog. But here I am and I'm going to try and make it an interesting one. I think since life here is getting super normal I truly just forget what things are super different to write about. I also have been lacking at taking pictures, but I promise to post the ones I do have. Anyways, I have now been in Chile for 2 months or 9 weeks! Life in Chile has been pretty normal for me now, I feel pretty Chilean at heart, although I'll never fully accomplish going anywhere without people, staring, pointing, or talking about me.


Feels like forever ago I was celebrating Chile's independence, and man to Chileans have some pride like I've never witnessed. We had a week off of school (I was okay with that) and we celebrated with lots of different people about Chile. There was lots of dancing of the "cueca" and tons and tons of barbecue's. First we had a special day at school and each classroom had a little tent set up with information and lots of food and things to show to judges for a grade. Lots of girls were dressed up in their "wuasa" dresses and we watched a few acts. That week with my family we had a lot of bbq's aka lot's of food. One day there was a barbeque (idk if that's spelt right) at our house with family and friends and the next day was at the neighbors' house. Then my friends had one. There were Chilean flags on all the houses and every store had decorations up and I heard the national song a million times along with dance music like "Viva Chile". When everyone asked what we do for the 4th of July I was almost embarrassed.. We definitely don't take a week of vacations and celebrate as much as the Chileans do that's for sure. I also for my gym class had to perform a dance with a group that had typical Chilean moves in it, I thought I'd for sure mess that one up for the group, but we ended up doing really well and getting the highest note.
Where's Karrah?

Look at the hill, in the back

     My host mom is in a group with other small business owners from my city and they randomly go out on day trips and meet and have a little club type thing. One day my host mom said I could miss school to see some really cool hieroglyphics and an especially old, famous one that is in the middle of the desert. It is on a hill and is called "The Giant of Tarapaca" Tarapaca is the state/region I live in in Chile. It used to be more visible, but of course people have tried to tamper with it. The reason that it is not destroyed, is because it almost never rains here and so it hasn't been washed away like it would have in another location. It was really cool and then we went to other places in the desert to see hieroglyphics that were done on rocks and old buildings that were have knocked down from the wars and things like that. We also went to a lot of small pueblos and ate some snacks at their small stores. It was really interesting to see the old towns, and some were really abandoned with few residents. Afterwards, once back in our city we went to a restaurant that sells typical "northern" food of Chile. Everyone ate the same thing, except me cause my host mom knew I wouldn't finish the huge serving. Everyone around me was  eating a soup/ brothy thing and it had a lot of meat in it. Most people seemed to enjoy it and finish it up quickly. Afterwards, the waitress came and thanked us for coming in and said these foods were things that her mom still continues to cook and keeps her culture. She told us that the soup had five meats in it. They were bunny, llama, pig, cow, and chicken. Let's just say that I was thankful that I did not have to eat that one.

     Well as many of you know Rotary is a group that helps out with many things, and not just exchange. My rotary club here has a small pueblo that is the pre-Andes mountain range and is deep in the hills that they sponsor their school. The school has under 30 kids and it just up til 6th grade and the only school for miles and miles. My club goes there and gives them gifts and a good lunch and plays a lot of games with them. We donate things such as clothes, food, and just any necessities. We traveled their a few weeks ago and it was 3,000Meters of altitude with is 9842.52 feet. I was surprisingly fine and had no issue with the altitude and didn't get sick. It was an extremely cool experience. When we got there (on a saturday, kids went to school just cause we were coming) the kids were waiting at the entrance with extreme excitement and as each of us walked in they all ran in for a huge group hug. After spending time there (all day) I became a little choked up at times. I can't really explain the feeling, but I've just definitely never seen anything like this situation. Northfield is definitely not third world. I was extremely happy and okay with dedicating my time to being there and playing with the kids. We also cut their hair, I styled it, gave them tons of candy, brought a mime to do a show, it was just really, really cool. Rotary does some amazing stuff I'll tell you.

    If you didn't know, which a lot of you probably don't I play on the school volleyball team here. Some of you are probably like okay random.. you don't play volleyball. Yeah I definitely don't, but I love to play for fun, so why not use this super-senior year to play the sport I always wish I never quit. Anyways, so my team practices once a week... and we are usually cancelled about every other week. So I've been here for 2 months and I think we have had 4 practices and 0 games. However, I think that a game is coming up sometime at the end of October. This shows you Chile's not really into sports it's all about the studies.

    So I have lived in Minnesota my whole life, and of course never have felt an earthquake, well my family here told me that would change and I'd experience at least 10 over the year. So I felt my first one September 19th (I think)  I was trying to sleep and my door started to rattle almost as if someone was shaking the handle a lot. I woke up and looked around and everything was moving a little it was a really quick one, I believe like 45 seconds, but it was a strong little guy. Anyways, my family instantly ran to my room to make sure I wasn't dying of fear, and laughed when they found me still laying in my bed trying to go back to sleep. I felt ANOTHER one a week or so ago, and it was the same thing pretty much, but I think it was even shorter. My mom once again came to check that I was okay and I was. They don't actually scare me I kind of think they're cool. Apparently there has been 3 others or so since I've been here that I didn't even notice.

Well, title's self-explanatory I went surfing. I have actually gone 3 times, I joined a surf school so I paid for 8 lessons and let me tell you that is not an easy sport. Especially when I have a big fear of the ocean, fish, and sea weed. However, the very first time I attempted I was on my feet and I was very proud of that. Now I've gone the 3 times, and I can get up every other time basically. We have instructors in the water to help us out and also they pick the waves for us so we don't get mauled and killed. While trying to return to the ocean after getting to shore I've almost died a few times. (love you mom).
No, but seriously yesterday I saw a wave coming as I was trying to head back out and it broke right on top of my head, I saw it coming so I held my breath and went under. However, the second I came back up another one was right there to greet me. That time I didn't have my board in my hand so it went the opposite way and I was connected so I got pulled around that was not fun. Luckily I came out on top and the ocean spit me back out. Surfing is super hard, but really fun and I'm really glad that I knocked that one off the bucket list! Those wet suits though, man I tell you.. takes like 20min to take off especially since they're wet. My body also is going to need a weeks' recovery from 3 days in a row. I'm SO sore right now.

First off SHOUT OUT to my boyfriend Charlie and my wonderful mother for their packages. I am still attempting to savor the candies I received, not going so well. Always nice to get a little piece of home, even just seeing both of your cards was awesome. So my time here is been awesome and I can't believe I'm 1/5 done with this experience. It comes in both ways, though. I feel like I've been here and away from home for 5 months and that I know all my friends here super well and everything. But at the same time, I feel as though I've only been here for 1 month, like I still have so much to learn and to see and time has flown by. Exchange is a crazy thing. I received an e-mail from Vicki Dilley telling me the names of those who are applying for the following year, and it's crazy to think that they already have turned in their applications and started what I started one year ago. I can't wait to find out whose going where and talk to them about my experiences.
Well anyways, I am crazily in love with the beach here, and I cannot wait for summer time. Sorry to be that person, but yes I will be posting lovely sunny, ocean side, pictures while you're all drowning in snow. I am definitely not sad about missing a Minnesotan winter :)


Surf w/a Friend
kids in pueblo performing a dance
Old Adobe Building from Chile/Peru war
Kids at the school dancing
Cool view on the way to Sibaya

Sara y Yo

Vale :)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

One Month Down!

Hello. So I once said that I would blog often, and that apparently wasn't exactly accurate. I have now been in Chile for 4 weeks! It's extremely crazy how quickly and slowly the time has gone. I feel like I can't believe that one month ago I was boarding a plane to come to see my new life and now it's just here. At the exact same time I feel as though I've been at this school all year, and known these girls for months. It's crazy how two feelings are so strong like that. I have been missing my family and friends,but to the major extent I know that everything back home is the same. However, I am going to try to continue to blog frequently, which to me isn't every other day. I think that I've been feeling so adjusted to life, I almost don't know what I should write about. So I apologize to anyone who was dying to hear from me, I'm sure there wasn't many people.  


As you have probably seen in most of my photos, there is a lot of giant sand hills that lie behind my city. One of them is called Dragon Hill and the peak looks like the back and tail of a dragon. So one Saturday morning I went with Jaakko an exchange student from Finland and his host brother and girlfriend to climb the big old hill. By the end of this year, I'm probably going to be a fairly decent hiker... (okay probably not). Anyways, we hiked up the hill which took awhile and every step into the sand you went a bit forward and then a little backwards, it was frustrating. I felt like Sisyphus, from Greek mythology that once he'd roll the stone to the top of the hill it'd roll down again. (I have no idea how/why I made that reference, but i'll carry on). I felt like the second I got up a few steps I was going to suddenly fall all the way down again. However, I finally made it. It was such a gorgeous view of Iquique and the ocean I can't really describe it. Jaakko's brother Jose brought a body board so that we could try to sand board, however it barely worked. I went a few feet and then I would continue and the board would stop. I was bummed, but they said there are better spots and boards that I will have to try.
Me at the top of the hill

My family wanted to show me cities that were on top of the great hills behind our city, and they had a few to go to. On a random Sunday which is commonly family day we went to a little place in literally the middle of nowhere. Literally. All you can see is sand and hills. There is this little old town that they have made into a museum type area for people to go visit. It was run by rich people who forced intense work on people and only paid them in "tickets" that they could only use at their encampment. It was fairly interesting however, being a teenager my brother and I quickly saw the whole "town".  
I'm in this too, but I'm a little bit white so I don't' know if you'll notice me

On the way to our next stop we stopped at a random small restaurant in a pueblo to eat lunch, there were only two options meat and rice or chicken and noodles. Then we stopped by this random place in the desert with dinosaur statues.

Then we were headed off to a city called Pica, they have tons and tons of fresh fruit and trees. There were orange trees, and mango trees, and they have avocados, and just about everything. The biggest attraction in the small city of Pica however is a natural hot spring. It's a pool basically that is formed naturally with hot water that comes from the ground. There were also two tunnels that you could go into and I went in and actually felt with my foot where the water comes from in the ground. It felt like quick sand almost. Only being with my twin brothers swimming didn't last long, just because when you're 9 years apart you enjoy different types of swimming.

During my travel to Pica I began to feel really sick and not so happy as we were in the middle of the desert in a car, that seats 5 and we had 7. I had my first experience of being sick away from my mama. (my real mom who I coincidentally call mama) My stomach was starting to hurt and have pains and my family was pretty sure that it was from the water. I was warned about the water here and my doctor's told me to drink bottled water only, well when I went hiking there was bottled water that I drank.. that was from Jaakko's sink, little did I know. Plus when you just climbed a big hill in the desert where the water came from isn't your biggest concern you're parched. ANYWAYS, I was sick for a good 5 days or so and actually missed school for two days. I just laid around and watched movies, living off jello and soup and crackers. Finally, my stomach felt a little more normal and I was back on.

September 2nd (last Sunday) my parents and I woke up early to go to a religious ceremony to meet with other girls/families from my school. We followed a bunch of cars and buses hauling people up the hill and towards the middle of the desert. Once we finally arrived at a random spot on the side of the road, the festivities began. This was a place for Saint Laura, a famous saint here in Iquique and in Chile. We basically had a church service with a bunch of songs and and prayers and there was a bunch of people there. Afterwards, we ate and talked and it lasted a few hours before we returned. I didn't get any photos, but it was really a cool experience.

This past week on what I believe was Wednesday the 5th I was with my classmates reading in our patio when someone came and told us we might get to leave school early for a Tsunami alert. The word spread like wildfire and I was completely confused. There was sudden chaos. The girls weren't necessarily scared, but trying to reach their parents, friends, and younger siblings. We looked out the windows and the boys school a few blocks away were evacuating. yet I was still confused what was going on. There had been a large earthquake in Costa Rica and so our coast line was at risk for a Tsunami, we were in an alert, which is just a warning, not an alarm. I had heard that this happens a lot, but that we hadn't actually had a Tsunami in over 100 years. I truly wasn't that nervous, all the girls just seemed excited to leave school. But, just like Northfield with 3 feet of snow, our school was stubborn to close. Most people's parents were already going to pick up their siblings from their closing school, so they were picking up their kids from our school too. My mom called me telling me she'd come get me in 15min. 1hour and 40min later I was pulled from class, and the classes were at about 15 people by now. When I walked out I saw why it took so long, there was a large line of parents waiting to sign out their kids and have someone go grab them from class. Apparently at 4:45pm when school would've gotten out there were 3 girls in my class of 35. The alarm was called off from Chile right around the time I was leaving and it never really ended up being a big deal. I still have yet to experience a "temblor" a small earthquake, but I'm sure soon enough I will be writing about my first experience with that.

School is still going well, however at times I find myself very bored and mostly coloring. I usually don't take any exams and they have a lot of those. My friends and I have still been going out on the weekends, to birthday parties, going to the beach at night, etc. I also am still in "scout" my girls scout type group every Saturday where we play games and do random activities. Chile's independence day is September 18th and they basically celebrate the entire month. I get to miss a week of school for it, and we have a bunch of activities going on. Today I went to a rotary event and we ate and played various Chilean games. I'm loving Chile, however all the talk about Jesse James made me want some french fries and cheese curds, and a smoothie from the big purple stand. Oh and of course a shish kabob. This morning my mom brought me something "typical" of Chile for breakfast and I wasn't sure what to think. I thought it was brains in tea.. not a joke. It was tried peaches in tea though and most people here love it. I did not. It was hard to get myself to have a bite, and when I did I knew it'd be something I'd have to take up to the kitchen once my mother left. Which is exactly what I did, my mom left for the rotary thing and I begged our nanny to eat it and pretend that I did. :) My nanny and I have actually been talking a lot and we eat together every now and then. She is super sweet, and I almost feel bad when she cleans my room, and takes my plates. I always try to clear my own plate, but she insists that I just leave it and she will do it. That is one thing about the culture I'm not super fond of the kids (at least at my house) have 0 responsibilities and don't have to do anything.

Okay I was going to try to stay away from doing this, but while I was on the topic, I thought I had to expand a little bit. One thing that at my host family is difficult for me is just that the kids are free. We don't have to clean or clear dishes, or cook, or anything and usually that would be a score, but I like to be proactive in my house. Since, it is my house as well. I have been helping prepare dinner and snack and such, and I can usually get away with clearing my own plate, but for the most part I am babied, as well as all of the kids. Especially the babies of the family, the twins, they are 9 and they are loud and energetic. They also just ask for money everyday before school and are given it. They also play Grand Theft Auto which I believe in the USA you have to be 17 to even buy. However, my oldest brother is very responsible and often drives me places and takes care of his younger brothers. With two crazy brothers (boys will be boys), I am much more appreciative of my crazy little sisters. :)


Another View From the Hill
Pica At Night
Humberstone Bread Oven
So Kids Don't Smoke (gross)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Being a Happy Camper

     I'm going to try to keep up with blogging generally once a weekish.. maybe. So as a lot of you have seen photos on Facebook, I'm going to put some on here as well with some stories about what I've been doing.
Our tents for 8 people each
     My host sister is in a group called "scout" it's like girl scouts, but for boys too and all together. It's very similar, but they don't sell cookies sadly. Maria wanted to introduce me to her scout group before she left so that if I liked it I could join. So last Friday the 17Th they had a camp and I went with her. We first went and got a bunch of snack food to eat at the camp from the grocery store and at this time it was like 9 o clock pm. Finally around 10 we went to my schools' brother school Don Bosco to meet with the group, there were about 18 kids and 3 adults. Maria's dad took a couple of us to the beach that is south of Iquique, called "Playa Blanca" which is White Beach and we parked. At this point it was pitch black and we were in the middle of the beach which is also let me remind you all part of the Atacama desert. The DRIEST DESERT IN THE WORLD. Aka welcome to my life. We got there and it was only around 50 degrees and I was freezing, we set up 2 tents only and then we made a fire and had snacks. We played a bunch of games and had a little goodbye ceremony for Maria (Chile is really big on parties for all occasions). Then finally we went to bed around 4am with about 8 of us in a tent, which made it super warm.. aaahh. The next morning we woke up had breakfast, and took down the tents and we played more games. Later around 1 we began our "hike" we walked through huge hills of sand all along the beach and it was extremely beautiful. It was only 63 degrees, but they made sure I was covered in sun block. I really like hiking and I loved seeing all the pretty views that you can't see driving through our city 
it was extremely cool. After about an hour and a half my feet were starting to hurt (wearing a 9 year old boys hiking shoes will do that to you) and I had taken a lot of sun. We took a few breaks, but all I could see in front of me was more and more sand. This was the first time I was wishing I wasn't where I stood since I got to Iquique. After a total of 3 hours of hiking you can imagine how much of a "happy camper" I truly was. Once we got back to the city we took a bus to the school and we all got food together. I was a lot more content once I could sit, see civilization, and most of all eat. 

    So like I said earlier in this post Chileans do a lot of goodbyes and parties in general so here goes to explain my Saturday night. After hiking 3 hours on 4.5 hours of sleep with no nap I was reminded my host sister was having a party at our house to say goodbye to her and her friend Nico whose going to Michigan. She said it was also so I could meet her friends and get to know a bunch more people. She was having in out on the patio and such in our backyard. My bedroom is right there with huge windows let me tell you. So around 11pm some of her closest friends were there and by 1am there was about 90 people in my backyard. Also, we had a DJ outside my window directly.. awesome and there were people everywhere. Around 2am I thought that I was truly going to fall asleep standing up. Two of my friends and I went to my bathroom so I could change and do bedtime stuff but first I was greeted by a crowd of 15 people waiting for the bathroom. After waiting for 3 people I was crabby and told people to move this is my house. SOMEHOW I'm not really sure I went in my bedroom shut the door and lights off and managed to sleep. Apparently people where there until 4am or so and I was only woken up once. The next morning I walked sleepily into my bathroom to find a disaster. There was no floor, only dirt and random things of peoples (hats, earrings, towels?, etc) So as I was going to go to the bathroom, there was no toilet paper and when I brushed my teeth, there was cigarettes plugging the drain. I thought about what my mom would do if I ever had that happen at our house. (Love ya Mom) It was interesting to say the least, and I was glad I was able to sleep through it and luckily I was not on the clean up team. My host mom told me I didn't need to worry and Maria and Nico cleaned for a few hours. 

     On Monday Maria had to do some last minute shopping for her trip so me, her, and her dad went to the town plaza to go to the bank and do other misc. things. Right when we got there I got out of the car, but my thumb didn't. I slammed it right in the door, I tried to pull it out and then was in a quick shock that it didn't come out. I didn't yell, I just looked at my host dad and said "Mi dedo, mi dedo". Of course just my luck he had already locked the door and apparently doesn't use the automatic unlocker and had to find the key. Then unlock his door and then unlock mine and open mine. It felt like 5 min which was probably only like 45sec. Which is actually a long time to have your thumb in a door. Luckily it wasn't in the hatched part where the door actually slams, it was more on the outer part so it was just pinched in there. It got me right below the nail, and I just had a deep purple indent.Of course I took a photo so that will be below. 
Deeper then it appears
Well after having that lovely beginning to a day, it got a lot better and my thumb ended up being totally fine a few hours later. It's still bruised and sore, but I'm all fine and dandy. Later that night Maria had her LAST goodbye party, which was the 4th that just I attended. She had some family over and some of her closer friends and we had complete hot dogs (her favorite). It's hot dog on a bun add the following: mayo, tomatoes, avocado, ketchup,mustard, whatever you like. Anyways, I ended up staying up late again.. and it was the night before my first day of escuela (mom that means school). 

     The beginning of September last year I remember thinking I couldn't believe that it was my senior year, as much I was ready for college, I had grown up extremely fast. Thinking that I would leave my safe, small, comfortable high school was kind of scary and I mostly enjoyed being in high school. Boy did I really mix around my plans. I went basically the exact opposite of what I was used to when it comes to safe, well known, comfortable place. I was looking at exchange then, but I had never really thought about what it'd be like to be accepted. On the first day of senior year I put my status on Facebook as something like, "My last First day of High School". Little did I know..
     Monday (yesterday) was my first day at a private, catholic, all girls school. ( Charlie loves that last part). Where I have to wear a uniform, no make up, and my hair can't be in my face (or all the way down). Surprisingly I was really excited to wear a uniform, so that I'd blend in and it'd take a lot less time with no choice on what to wear every day. I really like the uniforms at my school, they definitely aren't bad. I am very glad that I visited the school a few times and that Maria introduced me to her friends, because they helped me a lot. Already, I've met some girls that I will never forget, they are so loud and fun. They have WiFi in the classrooms, so everyone's always on an application called "what's app" and we have a group chat on there with the whole class, sending pictures of each other around, it's super fun. YELLING. It really never stops, I like it though, because then I don't look crazy. All the girls are super nice and interested in hearing all about me and the USA and all the celebrities. 
The Roof 
      My classmates call me "Russia" pronounced Rue-C-Uh it means like really blonde and light eyes and skin, etc. They also call me "monja rebelde" Which means rebel nun. The school is run by nuns and my friend Vale and I tell everyone that's what we want to be. All the girls always ask me to say the lord's prayer in English and it's really funny.  They say that I'm a rebel because I "want" to be a nun, but I have a boyfriend and I use my phone during class (which they all do). Also, a few days before I started school I was visiting the school for some event and some of the girls took me to the secret places of the school. We went in the chapel(a mini one), and up to the second level and then up again and then up again!. Most of this was traveled by sketchy ladders and I had a major fear of falling through the floor. We ended up going up to the bell tower and it was really cool and old and fun. Afterwards, we went over a few gates and up a few flights up stairs and they showed me the roof. My 
Vale and I the monjas :)
school schedule is crazy and I have like 12 different classes some of them being; English, Literature, Language, Math, History, Politics, Religion, Biology, Chemistry, Argumentation, Gym, etc. So Monday is my gym day and I have to wear a sweatshirt and sweatpants to school (yay one comfy day a week). On Mondays and Fridays we also get out of school "early" early to them being 245 with no lunch break. We do get 10min breaks every 2 hours though which is really nice. Tuesday through Thursday though I get to go to school for 9hours 745-445pm. We do however get lunch. The school does not actually serve lunch, but has a small cafeterias. There are small concession stand type things that sell snacks, or you bring your own lunch. OR, my mom pays someone to buy/make me a lunch and drops it off in a room with my name so I can go find it everyday. :) 
     There will most likely always be a misc. section on my posts since I am a random talker and I don't always have the best organization as a writer (Even though my sister-in-law and brother are both teachers). So I would say that overall I have really enjoyed myself the last 11 days. My sister Maria left for Wisconsin on Tuesday after I went to school, I was sad to see her go since she was really helpful, but thankful I didn't have to go to the airport. Seeing other families go through what I did would just make me sad and miss home. I am also planning on joining the school volleyball team to fill sometime. Which for Chile is only once a week for 2 hours maximum.. :) I might just join a club team too! why not? Anyways, I'm going to upload a photo of my house :)
Most of my house (my twin bros & sister)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Arrival Alas

So. I have already learned that the more often you write the easier it is to keep up with things and get in all that you want to say. So here we begin.
Friday morning I woke up in complete denial about leaving the United States, it just didn't feel real. I said goodbye to my sisters at home and then me my mom, Charlie, my brother Kendall, and my best friend Amber took off to the airport. I met my oldest brother Cullen there for a short goodbye, and the waterworks began there. After checking my two huge 50lb suitcases (my mom doesn't call me princess for nothing) and carrying my 20lb carry on duffle I began to say goodbye. Hugging Amber and Kendall was sad knowing that I would see them both soon and talk to them tons, but my mom is another story. She's the only parent I still have and she's a huge part of my life. So saying goodbye to her was really hard and of course naturally we cried. Saying goodbye to Charlie was a complete struggle and yeah there were many, many tears. I walked through the security and waved goodbye with a smile on my face and after nobody could see me I cried. A lot. Some man on a golf cart saw me struggling and brought me to my gate (once again, princess). I met with another girl going to Chile and we boarded soon after. The trip to Atlanta was quick and then we spent the night on the plane to Santiago where I couldn't sleep. We met 18 other exchange students and drove to Vina del Mar an hour and a half from Santiago to stay for the weekend.
 We had a few orientation meetings about rules and such and got to know each other well over the weekend. We had some free time to explore the city and we also went out to eat a lot. The city was super pretty right on the ocean and had millions of hills. The hills were really extreme and people had houses sooo far up the hills and really close together. There were houses as far as I could see. It was a really cool city and there was a lot to look at with not a lot of time. It was really strange to see a "Ruby Tuesday's" there as well.
Well basically there must not be rules and you don't wear seat belts if you're in the back seats, because then that you means you think the driver is bad. Everyone drives in the middle of the road, literally right through town over the lines on one ways. You just move over if someones faster then you and there's honking every 3 minutes. Our bus driver was passing someone but a car was coming the opposite direction but we kept on passing the person and the car went into the ditch and continued to drive on. It's very strange, but apparently everyone here is just more relaxed about this.
People here eat SO MUCH, I'm definitely going to gain a good ten lbs if not more. The food in Chile is constantly meat. We have had it at every meal that I have had here and it's usually beef for lunch and dinner and then ham for breakfast. Water is not free at restaurants and all the pops (coke, diet coke, sprite, or orange fanta) comes in a glass bottle and so does the water usually. At most restaurants you have an appetizer, main course, and dessert. The desserts are usually ice cream and are very delicious. The wierdest thing I have had yet is a COMPLETE TACO, it was a soft shell taco with avocado, mayo, tomatoes on the inside with a hot dog in there. A HOT DOG. I was expecting taco meat, but nope and it was surprisingly really good. Well, as most my friends/family know I am a french fry addict/expert and the fries here are barely cooked and never really warm, something I miss a lot. They do eat a lot here, however they eat generally healthy I have mango juice fresh pretty much everyday.
Meeting my host family went super well, at the airport they had  a huge sign and I was picked up by some guys from rotary, my host dad (the rotary club pres.), my host sister Maria, and 4 of her friends. We went to there house and had a small welcoming with snacks and drinks, it was very late so we pretty much went to bed soon after. My room here is pretty big and my family has a nice house. My dad drives a Hummer, which is pretty sweet (probably not on gas). The bathroom I use, has a shower, a pink jacuzzi, a pink toilet, and two sinks. My house has the sweetest porch that is outside, but still is concrete walls and such, we have no yard really, but in the back they are in the process of building a bigger pool. My mom and dad are super nice and my sister has been very helpful, she will go to Wisconsin next Tuesday. The twin boys that are 9 are afraid of me and have yet to speak with me.... We also have a live in nanny from Peru, her name is Cruz. My Spanish has been pretty good and I have managed to have no major problems with my family. I will start school on the following Monday.
Random things that I have to say, Chile has stray dogs EVERYWHERE. Literally per city there is thousands, I've asked. They aren't starving or super skinny either, they are normal dogs and they just live on the streets. They know how to be in the city and they cross the streets like humans, it's super bizarre and nobody pays any attention to them either. There are these parks that look like they are for little kids and they are out in the open and the "toys" are work out machines that adults just go and use, they are outside near the beach. Little kids are playing on them, but adults use them as an olyptical and things, it's weird I need to take more photos. In between the big cities are a lot of pueblos. These areas make my American life seem extremely well off. There are run-down shacks and places that I can't believe are even liveable. The strange thing to me is that some of them have really nice cars, even though they barely have walls. Another thing I noticed is outside the city there is A LOT of garbage, everywhere. There are mounds and then there are just scraps everywhere,  in the bushes, the trees, on the ground, it's very extreme. I think these are some things that are definitely common in a developing country. I did expect to see this of course, but it's crazy to actually see with the human eye.
I have managed to meet friends through my host sister, aka all of her friends, which I really like them all. On my second night they took me out to the disco and that was super fun. We sat around and talked and got ready at a girl's house til 1am then FINALLY we wen to the disco and we didn't get home til 430. This is common in Chile so I better wake up. They had some American music and a DJ and there was some famous Chilean reality TV show person there too. Anyways, I'm excited to start school, and make new friends.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Adios Amigos

     Tonight is the night before I leave and there's no way I'm going to be able to get much sleep. However, I have shed enough tears to fill a fish tank so maybe all that crying will put me right out. Like everyone else I'm going to begin by saying how quickly time has gone. Thinking back on filling out my application and going to my first interview is crazy. After my dad died in November, I wasn't sure that I was going to continue my dream of doing rotary and even go to my interview later that month. However, with a lot  of support from my mom and friends I was encouraged to follow through with my dreams. I chose all European countries on the deciding day; Switzerland being my top, and that's why when I read "Chile" on my acceptance letter I insantly thought of my dad. My dad had wanted me to go to somewhere in South America and he was interested in Argentina and Brazil and here I was reading my letter going to the continent that he wanted me to. It's crazy how things like that turn out. But here I am 7 months later and I'm almost on my way. After a few days of attempting to pack, and throwing out some of my favorite shoes and clothes out of the suitcases I'm packed. Of course I just completely finished like ten minutes ago :). I have two suitcases and a duffle bag. Yeah I'm probably over packing and I already know that, but packing for a year is not an easy thing when you've been a shopaholic for the last few years. How my 120lb self is going to carry around my weight in luggage, I haven't really decided. My first attempt will be to look lost and helpless and hope someone will come to my rescue. But, in reality I'll  be regretting it after my first flight.
     Tomorrow I will take off from Minneapolis with my family, boyfriend, and bestfriend and that will bring to me Atlanta, which then leads me after 2 and a half hours to Santiago a 9 and half hour flight (......). I'm thankful that I will be getting to fly over night so that I can sleep. My jet lag shouldn't be bad since it's only one hour ahead. Which most people cant' seem to grasp, but after looking at a map it makes sense. Anyways, I am excited to meet other exchange students once I get to Santiago and am sure that they will be comforting. My host family just informed me they are building a pool, just another thing that makes my Chilean life all the better. I am very excited to meet them, and I'm sad that I will have to say goodbye to my sister Maria as she comes to Wisconsin after a few weeks. I'm getting really excited and really sad, however I think I'm shocked and it definitely hasn't hit me. I'm not sure how I was supposed to prepare myself today, but I saw a few friends and got stressed out packing with family. My mind is literally numb and I'm not sure what to feel. However, this will be my last blog from the US (i've used that phrase "last ____ in US" a million times today) so I hope the next will be more exciting.
     Goodbye to all my friends, family, and anyone who is out there reading.