Valpo Voyager

Student Stories from Around the World

Tag: Chile (page 1 of 2)

Student Spotlight: Rachel Corradin

Rachel is currently studying in Viña Del Mar, Chile (located right next to Valparaíso, Chile!!)
Here is a picture os Rachel at at Valle de la Luna, located in San Pedro de Atacama.

Her favorite favorite class is Latinamerican Literature. All of her classes are taught in Spanish so not only is she studying a specific subject, but she is constantly improving her Spanish skills!

“One of my favorite expereiences would be living with a host family in general. Everyday turns into an adventure thanks to them. I live with a host mom and 21 year old sister (and a 16 year old dog!). I click really well with them and they are a main part of what has made my experience so amazing. They let me be really independent while also letting me tag along with all their crazy adventures. They always give me tips for everywhere I go and are always there when I get lost.”

Advise for other students thinking about traveling to Chile: “have Spanish experience. It is definitely a Spanish intensive program and I can´t imagine being here without knowing it. Also, it is very important to be open to new experiences because South America has a very different way of living. It is an amazing culture to experience but it takes getting used to.”

Rachel, we are jealous of all the fun you are having! We hope you enjoy the rest of your time in Chile!

Where are you from?

Where are you from?

So a couple weeks have passed by, and I’ve gotten that question a lot. I hate that question. It’s frustrating because physically, I appear Latinoamericana, but as soon as I open my mouth, it all disappears. I want to completely integrate myself into this culture, into this society, but I can’t when it’s so obvious that I’m not from here. I do have an advantage over other Americans, however, with my seemingly Latina appearance; I don’t get any prejudice that way. They don’t immediately approach me with a more simplistic approach, speaking slower and carefully as though they might have to repeat themselves. I came here to be challenged, to integrate myself, to be fluent. I want to be treated as though my native language is Spanish, but of course that will take time. Ah, my perfectionistic nature: a blessing and a curse.

I’ve experienced a lot over the past couple weeks. I’ll go more in detail in the pages, but here are a few things so far:

The greetings here are awesome; everyone greets each other with a kiss on the cheek, even if you’re just meeting someone. I even got to greet the Mayor of Valparaiso like this (yes, I met the Mayor of Viña del Mar; you can be jealous). It’s very common and creates a warm environment (but not too warm of course). I was used to this already though because of my international friends at VU; they did this all the time.

There’s a lot of English music here. I thought I would be able to escape from the mainstreams of American pop and such, but it still exists over here. I’ve heard my fair share of Adele, One Direction, and Carly Rae Jepsen over here (still can’t escape “Call Me Maybe”…), but of course, they have plenty of Bachata and Reggaeton to compliment it. In the clubs, primarily, is techno-based music but of course, that is entirely dependent on the club you go to.

The Chilean eating schedule is different, and I actually prefer it to the American. They have a normal sized breakfast and later, there’s the almuerzo. Lunch here is the biggest meal and it’s usually a bit later in the day, about 2pm or 3pm. They usually consist of a simple salad (usually not of mainly lettuce but maybe some raw cabbage, celery, or carrots, and it’s generally salty), the main course (varies), and of course, dessert (usually fruit, but occasionally cake). Then much later in the evening, around 8pm or 9pm, they do something they like to call “tomar la once”. This is their version of dinner, but it’s really not dinner at all; it’s much more of a late night coffee or tea with maybe some bread or something light. Typically it’s time to sit and relax and converse with the family.

There are tons of dogs here…tons. They are roaming around the streets, sleeping in gardens, begging for food; it’s an epidemic and a major issue not only here but all over the country. Some have fleas, but most here are pretty safe to pet. In Valparaiso (the city next door), that’s a different story. They’re a bit more gritty over there, and if one starts to become aggressive with you, reach to the ground and act like you’re about to throw a rock at it (it works; I had to do this on one of my jogs). Generally however, as long as you pay them no mind, they won’t do anything to you. In fact, a lot of them have walked me home before as a bit of protection; they just want love…but you can’t give them all love. So, you learn to deal with it and ignore them a majority of the time.

I’m currently enrolled in 4 courses, 3 at the main campus (Rodelillo) and one at the international center (Montaña).

The way their “Carreras” (Major programs) are different than what I’m used to. When they choose a carrera, it’s a set schedule for all your years of school, which here is 5. There are usually around 15 students per year per carrera, so you’re with these students for every class every year, unless someone decides to change or someone from a new university comes.

Basically I love everything here. I live within walking distance to the beach, good shopping, and friends from all over the world. Life is good.

[The beach closest to my house]

Oh, and APOLOGIES FOR NOT WRITING IN A WHILE; I’ve been immersing myself 🙂 I’ll do my best to update you more on a regular basis.

Chao chao

By Micaela Johnston, more blogs to  come soon!

Top 6 Greatest Things About Living in Valparaiso, Chile and Top 6 Things I’m Ready to say CHAO to!


  1. The beautiful view from the top of ceros (hills). My favorite is from Mauricio’s porch, you can see the hills packed with colorful houses, the ocean, and busy downtown. I’ll also really miss the nightview, when all the hills are lit up like Christmas trees.
  2. The friendliness. People are so inclusive and friendly here, I love it. I was eating alone at the café at Isla Negra, and another woman who was eating alone asked if she could join me. We had an awesome hour long conversation, and the whole time I was thinking, “this would never happen in the U.S….that’s sad!”. I had gone out with a girl a couple nights through mutual friends, and thought she was really nice, but didn’t know her that well. She ended up inviting me to her house for her birthday party and then we ran into each other on the bus back from Isla Negra and sat by each other, just talking for a good 90 minutes. Everyone shares whatever they have with you and people have been so kind in including me in their plans, especially when I was new here. It’s really made me want to reach out and be more inclusive to the people who need it in my University. I really want to volunteer with the international students in Valpo now that I know what it’s like. Thank you so much to everyone who reached out to me and helped me find my niche here! The friendly, group-oriented Chilean culture makes it easy, but still, I’ll always be grateful.
  3. Bars and discotecas! I love going out to dance here and I LOVE the music here, it’s just so perfect to dance to! My ipod definitely has it’s fair share of Latin pop music, Chico Trujillo and Nano Stern by this point 🙂 I will not miss that you are expected to dance until at least 5 in the morning, even if you are dead tired…sometimes I just want to leave at 4 in the morning and sleep, ok?! And I’ll miss being able to go out to a bar or order wine with dinner…but hey, I’ll only have 2 months until I’m 21 and legal in the U.S! But I won’t be able to order a terremoto or pisco sour in the U.S…and I’m going to miss those drinks a lot!
  4. Pastelerías, panderías and street vendors. I love that there are pastelerías and panderías on about every street and that they all sell different kinds of sweets and pastries, it’s so fun to try them and they’re usually really cheap! I do really miss chocolate chip cookies and brownies though, everything is manjar here! Plus, there are street venders EVERYWHERE selling sweets and sopaipillas, they’ll come through the buses and sell to you, and lots of bus stops have little kiosks that sell about any snack you’d want for SUPER cheap. A bottle of Coke (that’s always the old-fashioned glass ones with a cap, I love it :D) and a bag of chips for less than $1?…yes please!
  5. Living downtown in a big city. Sometimes it bothers me, because everything is always really hectic and loud, but overall I love being right in the center of everything! I need to walk about 3 minutes to get to Plaza Anibal where there are tons of bars, cafes, restaurants, discotecas and live music during the day! The grocery store is a 4 minute walk and right next to it are two outdoor street markets that I love wandering through. A quick local bus ride gets me to the movie theatre, any other bar, restaurant or discoteca I’d want to go to, and tons of other outdoor markets (which I’m also REALLY going to miss by the way, so cheap and so fun to spend an afternoon walking through! Just guard your money, it can get used up fast :D)
  6. My students and the people at Las Cañas. These are the two programs that I enjoyed the most, and I really wish that I had more time to invest with these people. I already miss my kiddos a lot, and it’s hard to come to terms with that I probably won’t ever see most of these people again. But I’m just trying to focus on being grateful for the time that I’ve had with them and the memories that I will have forever. And I love that during goodbyes they always tell me that no one knows the future, and maybe God will bring us back together again…I hope so 🙂  But I am going to keep up as pen pals with my 3rd graders and we’re even trying to work out skype chat dates, it was the teacher’s idea and I’m so excited about it!



  1. Not having toilet paper or soap in bathrooms! UGH, SO ANNOYING! It’s just always a gamble here, but lots of places don’t provide soap and/or toilet paper, or if they do provide toilet paper, it’s by the sinks, so you have to remember to grab some before you go in the stall. My strategy has been to carry mini Kleenex packs and hand sanitizer around in my purse so I’m prepared, but the lack of soap just grosses me out…ew
  2. Wild dogs in the streets. They are scary. They attack each other. They bark really loudly at me and follow me and make me nervous. Chao, perros, no voy a extrañarles! (See ya later dogs, I’m not going to miss you!)
  3. The lack of aesthetics. Ok, I know that’s weird, but I couldn’t figure out how to phrase this. Valparaíso is gorgeous, but it’s more gorgeous from a distance to be honest. The views are incredible, the beaches and nature are beautiful, but when you’re actually walking the streets downtown or in a cerro, there are no beautiful green lawns with gardens, just dirt and gates, lots of the brightly painted houses are very old and in great need of repair, with tin roofs, and there’s A LOT of litter…and that makes me sad 🙁 I definitely get to experience the real nitty-gritty side of Valparaiso too by working in the poor areas of the city, very far from the toursity sectors. And that’s something I’m grateful for, it’s good to see what life is really like for a lot of the people here.
  4. 4. Feeling so dependent. I’m a very independent person. But living in a foreign country and speaking a different language makes you pretty dependent on people to show you your way, and even help you understand what is going on in a conversation. My life has increasingly become more independent here, which has been nice, but it’s hard to describe the “lack of independence” feeling. Some of it is just little things, like not having a place to invite people over to, so I’m always dependent on invitations,  But I think it’s some of the group-oriented mindset that clashes with me here too, I’ve certainly realized what an individual-oriented mindset Americans have for the first time (you always here about it, but I think it takes living in another culture to really find out that it’s true!). It’s also some of the “aggressive kindness” I talked about in a previous blog post. Chileans are so kind, and really want the best for you, but if they think they know what’s best, watch out, your opinion no longer matters! Ick, I’m probably not describing this well, but all-in-all it’s just very different from being an independent college student, I think it’s been really good for me and made me grow a lot, but I will be ready to return back to my independent college life!
  5. 5. Living in the YMCA. My bed has fleas…they bite me…it’s really gross. They really like having exercise class at 8 am with super loud techno music. My room is above a basketball gym, and it seems that men’s favorite time to play basketball here is either 7am or 11pm. They also have karate classes in that gym at 8am Saturday morning…and they yell a lot in karate classes. Look to #1 for the bathroom conditions. And there is just no space to privately relax, I have to go down to the first floor to get wi-fi and there are ALWAYS tons of people around…it gets draining! So thank you for letting me complain, I’m very ready to stay in some hotels and actual houses for the next 2.5 weeks! And then go home to MY OWN BEAUTIFUL BED! J
  6. 6. Break-neck micro rides. At first the micro and colectivo system was really fun. Micros are the public buses that have routes all over Valparaíso. They also have a train system, but the buses take you more places. Colectivos are like taxis, but they have set routes, so you just get in and pay, and then get out at the stop you want, you can’t personalize it like in the U.S. I still feel really legit hailing my bus or taxi and knowing all the stops I need (believe it or not, I can navigate quite well through the city by this point…for anyone who knows me, they probably aren’t believing me b/c I suck at directions…but it’s TRUE! I guess I learn if I need to in order to survive, ha :D). But the micro drivers here are INSANE! They drive at break-neck speeds, and the roads here are crazy steep and curvy because you’re making your way up these huge hills, it still makes me so nervous! Erica and I both just having to put calming music on our ipods and breathe deep, but it doesn’t seem to bother the Chileans a bit. Plus, I also won’t miss the lack of organization in the bus system. The bus routes aren’t posted anywhere, each bus just has the streets and hills it serves written on it’s window sign, and there aren’t any bus schedules, so you just have to wait and hope that the bus you need comes soon. Again, Chileans don’t understand why this bothers my on-time, orderly American self, but it bothers all us gringos!


Chao Valparaíso! Espero que nos vemos pronto!


The beach at Laguna Verde and cliff we camped on top of!

View of the mountains from the bus!

El grupo! Love these people 🙂


‘WOW. It’s my last day in Valparaso,Chile. This is weird. It’s definitely not sinking in yet…and I don’t think it will for awhile. It’s just not a definitive goodbye, seeing as I’m off tomorrow to Santiago to see Avril Lavigne in concert (yup…you heard right…how hilarious is that?!?!?! Tickets are so cheap here, WOOOO!) and then off to Buenos Aires for 5 days and then La Paz for a week. So it’s not like my adventures in South America are ending, and I am SO excited to travel and actually be on vacation all the time…so the fact that I’m leaving Valpo just isn’t stinging as much!

But I’ve had some really great last moments here. I’ve been racing around to see the touristy places that I just haven’t gotten around too, and I went to this awesome museum in Vina del Mar that had tons of artifacts and information on the history of the Mapuche Indians, the indigenous people here in Chile, and Easter Island, they even had a real Moai statue from Easter Island outside! I took a day trip to visit Isla Negra, one of Pablo Neruda’s houses, and it was incredible! I was just geeked out to see the house of one of my favorite poets…but I didn’t realize it was going to be so beautiful! And of course, this is the one time I leave my camera in my room, UGH! But he built his house on the cliff overlooking the ocean, with an amazing, rocky beach below. I never knew that he was a collector as well, but his house is filled with collections of anything to do with sailing, things from Chile’s history and indigenous people and just random collections, like glass table feet and pipes! Getting to drink coffee while overlooking the ocean on Pablo Neruda’s porch, and then going to lay a flower on his grave? Priceless 🙂 That same weekend we took another day trip with the Curso de Lideres youth group here at the YMCA to travel up the mountains in search of….SNOW! All the Chileans were ECSTATIC for snow, most of them had never seen it before, how lucky are they?! (haha, I hate cold!) So even though I was not as enamored with the snow, it was pretty funny to see their reactions, and the mountains were incredibly beautiful.

Speaking of great last moments, I just got back from an epic goodbye party thrown by Mauricio, the director of the center we work at in Las Cañas, in which we trekked out to Laguna Verde, these absolutely GORGEOUS cliffs and beach and waterfalls, and pitched tents to camp for the night…in the middle of winter…bahahahahaha 🙂 But it was so much fun! Our tent was on the top of this huge cliff that overlooked the ocean and we hiked down it the next day in order to spend time at the beach. We also ventured to see a small waterfall, which was one of the more treacherous hikes of my life (if any Hope Church AT hikers are reading this, my trail experiences served me well!). There was pretty much no trail, just mud, rocks, thorns and rivers to cross…madness! But really fun 🙂 The best part for me was getting to roast hot dogs and make smores over the fire, it felt like summer! (Ok, I was wearing 3 shirts, a hoodie, a sweatshirt, scarf, coat, 2 pairs of leggings and two pairs of sweatpants….but still!). Our Chilean friends had never had smores before, and graham crackers don’t exist here…so Johnna found some sweet, square cookies and we went with it! I thought they were delicious, I miss making smores with my family in our backyard firepit so much!

I’m going off to serve at the soup kitchen for the last time this afternoon, preparing myself for tears….the people who work at Las Cañas have really become my family here, they crack me up, have seen me cry, give me advice and are just wonderful friends. I’m gonna  miss them a ton. Plus, I’m sad to leave the soup kitchen. I love having my English students tell me “Thank you Mees (how they pronounce “Miss” :D), this looks good!” when I serve them food and I love that I know so many faces by this point and receive hugs and greetings wherever I walk in the center. It’s been a gradual goodbye process, from center to center and program to program…but this is really it…still not hitting home! :-/

I’m doing 2 posts today before leaving, so check out the next one too! I should have internet this weekend in Santiago, and the hostel we’re staying at in Buenos Aires is supposed to have wi-fi, so hopefully I’ll be able to keep blogging as I’m traveling, but it’s going to be a little more up in the air from now on. Wish me luck on my travels, I can’t wait!







Una Chorillana!!! Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm... 🙂

The one time I went out for breakfast here…and all they had on the menu was toast and butter and jam with juice and coffee…very cute…but I miss big American breakfasts!!

Yup, just some small portions of french fries…except for that they’re HUGE!

Un terremoto!

A pisco sour on the left and jugo natural on the right, I wish both were in my hands right now 🙂

Levi and Luke having a moment, as Levi tries to feed him his first ever completo…*tear*

Let’s talk about everyone’s favorite subject: FOOD!

Last year part of the money the group paid to the YMCA was to have a cook who made them dinner each night, but they changed things up this year and now they are reimbursing us up to what we pay each month to buy groceries and cook ourselves or go out to eat…it’s a sweet deal! I’m definitely focusing on the going out to eat more than the cooking, hehe 🙂



Surprised?! I was! Turns out that’s Mexican food, and Chileans aren’t big fans of it. I have only found one restaurant with tacos here and one with fajitas. I have found none with burritos. It makes me want to cry!!

2. They are OBSESSED with salt.

Every single restaurant table has a huge salt shaker on it and usually no pepper to go with it. They put salt on EVERYTHING and lots of it! Salads don’t have dressing, just oil or lemon juice and tons of salt. One of my friends keeps salt packets in his coat pocket. I don’t even know how to describe the obsession, but it is hilarious. Also, almost nothing is spicy here. That was a big surprise for me too. Know why nothing is spicy?!…because they use salt to flavor everything!!!! Taco seasoning can only be found in a tiny space in the ethnic section of the grocery store…gotta love it 🙂

3. Chorillanas

This was recommended to me for my first meal and Chile, and wow is it good. Basically, a chorillana is a heart attack on a plate. It is a plate of thick, greasy, salty French fries, with one or two fried eggs and your choice of meat, (traditionally it is sliced hot dog, but I like it more with chicken) and then fried onions to top it off. Most restaurants make them only in portions for two people to share and they are HUMONGOUS!!! (portion sizes here are usually really big, but this is big even for Chile).

4. Eating Schedule

Let’s journey back in time to Anna’s first full day in Chile. She sat down for lunch, not that hungry, and just had something small, don’t remember what, but a normal American lunch. 6 pm rolls around and she asks when they are going to have dinner and is told “around 9’oclock”…what?! Well that’s a little weird, but she can wait…9 o’clock comes and she is handed a small jelly sandwich…hmmmmm. Luckily, now I know better, haha 🙂 The Chilean eating schedule goes like this, they “tomar desayuno” (literally, “to drink breakfast”), which is only a bit of bread, usually with manjar (see #7) or butter, and this is accompanied by tea or coffee. The focus of breakfast is the tea or coffee, some don’t even eat, that’s why it’s called “drinking breakfast”. Lunch is between 1-3 usually (they can’t believe that in the U.S. I eat at chapel break between 11-11:50  (they always tell me TAN TEMPRANO! “THAT’S SO EARLY!”) And lunch is the big meal of the day, so you have to load up on food there. A lot of restaurants are open from 12-4 and then close until 7 or 8…which is so different! I was a waitress for 4 years, and 11-2 was our busy time for lunch, we’d only keep one waitress on between 2-4:30 (and restaurants are packed during this time here) and 5-7 was our busy dinner time…and the restaurants are closed here then! Dinner is either small or non-existent. Instead, they have “onces” (which I have no idea why it’s called “onces”, because that means eleven…but they have onces around 6-7…weird). Onces consists of tea or coffee with small sandwiches or pastries or cookies. And there you have it! Very different, but I’m more used to it now.

5. Bland Carbohydrates Anyone?

The Chilean diet is carbohydrate-filled (see #10 for more). Breakfast mainly consists of bread. Humongous sandwhiches are everywhere. See # 8 for snack foods: what do they consist of? BREAD! Plus, they love, love, love potatoes. Mashed potatoes, huge portions of French fries, roasted potatoes, they love it (and of course flavoring it with lots of salt). Panderías and pastelerías (bread and pastry shops) are everywhere selling bread and pastries…ok, so I’ve beat the point to death that they love bread 🙂 But in general the diet is just more bland, with lots of carbohydrates, and I’ve even found that the chips and cookies here aren’t as rich as in the U.S. Seriously, I bought a bag of cheetos once, and the flavoring is much lighter colored and not nearly as strong, sadness!


Chocolate rules the dessert scene in the United States, and chocolate is certainly still big here…but manjar definitely comes first. Manjar is “dulce de leche” or caramel-flavored sweetened condensed milk…I don’t really know how to describe..but it is GOOD. And super addicting. And super bad for you…winner 🙂 Chileans put it in everything! Seriously, in every single thing at pastelerias and panderias there is at least a tiny bit of manjar…it’s like they are nervous to make something without manjar, ha 🙂 You can buy it in jars to spread on things (they don’t make peanut butter and jelly here, they saw me making it once and thought it was so weird! But manjar sandwiches?! Of course!) I’m pretty sure all us gringos have our own jar in our rooms at this point, I’m definitely brining a big jar home! But still, for me chocolate will always take the cake!

7. Pisco Sour and Terremotos

Remember how Chile is known for its wine? Well, Chilean wine on its own is amazing, but terremotos make Chilean wine a dream come true. A terremoto (which means “earthquake”) consists of a type of Chilean wine called pipeño, which is really sweet, and then they scoop ice cream on top and serve it in a 1L pitcher…YUM! I can’t decide between this and pisco sour for my favorite. Pisco sour consists of pisco (which I just looked up, and it is defined as a “white brandy made from muscat grapes”..there you have it), lemon juice and sugar and sometimes egg whites (which sounds weird I know), but I think it is SO good! It’s a great mix of sweet and sour and lots of places have it in different flavors, mango and kiwi are my favorite. Oh, and if you’re in Chile, make sure you don’t attribute the invention of pisco sour to the Peruvians…unless you’re looking to start a fight, ha.  Chile and Peru both claim to have invented the drink and look on it with national pride…but obviously it was Chile! 😉

8. Anyone Want a Snack?!

Fast food in Chile: Chileans may say they don’t eat dinner, but street carts and fast food places are jam-packed at night, here are 4 of the favorite offerings:

Completos These are a big deal in Chile, Chileans LOVE THEM! Basically, it’s a huge hot dog that is COVERED in condiments (by the way, Chileans love condiments…to an extreme degree…it’s crazy). Normal completes have palta, which is mashed avocado spread, tons of mayo and chopped tomatoes. You can also get tons of varieties, like quesopletos (just cheese filled, no hot dog) or papapletos (filled with French fries instead of hot dog).

Empanadas Who has an addiction to cheese empanadas? This girl! Empanadas are all over, just like completos. There are lots of “Fabricas de Empanadas” where you can grab one quick to go, and standard fillings are cheese, chicken, seafood, and beef. But I like getting them at sit-down restaurants more, they’re usually crispier and really hot, YUM! Also, I just found a place that makes really unique empanadas, like basil, tomato and cheese, goat cheese paired with different things and manjar with pineapple (which is WAY too good)

Sopaipilla Also love these. All the main streets and plazas have tons of little street carts making and selling these fresh. It’s a circle of fried dough and the dough includes pumpkin mixed in it, which makes is slighty sweet. You can put mustard or ketchup or mayo on it, or this Chilean mixture called “pebre” which consists of onion, tomato, garlic, and herbs (they set this down with bread at almost every restaurant). But I just like them plain! And for only $100 pesos per sopaipilla (about 20 cents!), it’s one delicious deal.

Oh my papas fritas… You think that Americans have an addiction to French fries?! YOU HAVEN’T SEEN CHILE! The portion sizes here are INSANE! Be warned, you ask for a small portion of papas fritas and you will add least be delivered a full plate full, if not more. And they are the greasiest, saltiest, freshest fries ever…por qué Chile, por qué?!?!

9. Guatón!

Chileans love a good sandwich (the word is the same too :D). And their sandwiches are HUMONGOUS! Barros luco is Levi’s favorite (beef and cheese, grilled on a big white bun) and they have sandwiches in every combination you can imagine, always piled to the sky with enormous amounts of condiments, but the Guatón is the king of all sandwiches. A guatón is basically a giant sandwhich. It has layers, so there isn’t just a bun on the outsides, but buns inside to divide the layers. I have only seen them served, never witnessed one eaten…but it is a feat to be proud of. And I am proud to say that Luke Easterday did indeed finish one…I cannot witness to have seen it, but Erica and Johnna can…but I can witness to how much his stomach hurt afterwards 😉

10. Te y Café y Jugo (Tea and Coffee and Juice)

Tea and coffee is everywhere here. Lots of restaurants offer deals with sandwhiches, completes and chorillanas that include a drink and it’s usually a choice between tea, coffee and juice. I think it’s really funny to offer tea with these huge fast food options, but everyone does it! Chileans tend to prefer tea over coffee and almost always have it with breakfast and onces.

Chilean coffee, to be blunt, is gonna be disappointing to an American. They definitely don’t have the same coffee culture that we do. Restaurants with a good selection of lattes do exist, but sizes are small and it’s not as rich. Be warned that if you just order coffee, you will often be served a cup of hot water with a packet of instant coffee…yuck. Finding a Starbucks in Vina del Mar, the next town over, was a beautiful, BEAUTIFUL day 🙂

Chile has made me addicted to fruit juice. They don’t just do apple and orange juice here, they have every possible kind, blueberry, peach, strawberry, banana, kiwi, SO GOOD! Plus, almost every restaurant also offers “jugo natural”, which is freshly squeezed juice mixed in with sugar and water and it is absolutely heavenly. It’s rich and pulpy, but also very light because of the water and it comes in big, pretty glasses with fruit on the rim, so you feel special for ordering it 😉 Plus, it’s usually pretty cheap! This is another thing I am definitely going to miss.

There's even a fast food chain named "El Guaton", here's the menu!

So there you have it! And now I’m hungry…cheese empanada anyone?!

Vacaciones! My Get-Away in Santa Cruz






Life is good 🙂

Getting ready for the tasting!

Our carriage! (with the Chilean flag in the background :D)

Best part of Santa Cruz = This bed!

The best shot I could get of the mountains from the bus…doesn’t do it justice, but you get the idea 🙂

Viu Manent!

I just got back from a lovely get-away in Santa Cruz, and am gonna take some time to write about it before my busy life in Valparaiso starts up again! (Also, Chile just beat Peru 1-0 with a goal in the 92nd minute to take the highest standing in Group C….VAMOS! VAMOS CHILENOS! QUE ESTA NOCHE, TENEMOS A GANAR!!!! Just had to throw that out there :D)

I feel really lucky to have this internship, but I will admit that at times I am jealous of the exchange students here, because they have so much more flexibility in their schedules and way more time to travel. One of my friends put all his classes Tues-Thurs so that he would have a full 4 day weekend to travel if he wanted to, but I work Mon-Fri and then have youth group until 1:30/2 on Saturdays, so that makes traveling anywhere far away next to impossible! Now I really can’t complain, because I’m going to have almost 2.5 weeks of traveling to end my time here, but I was feeling antsy and ready to just get away for a little bit, and Colegio going on vacation gave me the perfect opportunity for a mini-vacation. Monday and Tuesdays I work at Colegio, so that gave me lots of free time this week, therefore I rearranged my 2 English classes on Monday to be on Wednesday and Thursday instead for this week. That gave me Sunday, Monday and Tuesday until my class at 3:30 to jet away for a bit, and I’ve really wanted to visit a winery here…luckily the most famous wine valley in Chile, the Colchagua Valley, is only about 4 hours away! Chile is known for it’s wine and has really built up wine tourism and Santa Cruz is right outside of the Colchagua Valley. I bought a great guidebook before coming here that had recommendations on wineries to visits and hotels to stay at and I was able to find a vineyard named Viu Manent that offered an hour long tour in a horse-drawn carriage of the fields and processing plant, a chance to taste wine in process and a tasting of four wines to wrap things up for only $30 and a gorgeous little bed and breakfast for only $25 a night….how perfect is that?!

I persuaded Luke to accompany me on my adventure, so we first took a 1.5 hour bus ride Sunday morning to Santiago, because no buses connect to Santa Cruz from Valparaiso (the city is small, it’s just on the map because of wine tourism) and from there we had a 3.5 hour ride into Santa Cruz. It’s really popular and common to travel by Greyhound-type bus from city to city and internationally in South America, the bus terminals are humongous and chaotic, with buses between Valparaíso and Santiago every 15 minutes, craziness!! The ride itself was gorgeous, the ceros (hills) of Valparaíso are beautiful, but you can’t see the huge mountain ranges from Valpo, and they were beautiful to see on the bus. Plus it was just interesting to see how different cities look, I’m so used to houses balancing precariously on hills, it was weird to see flat, more ordered neighborhoods!

After arriving we found our hostal, and even though the guidebook had said it was wonderful, I was a bit anxious…until I stepped inside our room and saw my clean, puffy white bedspread, two fluffed pillows and collapsed onto perhaps the comfiest mattress ever…and there wasn’t a bunkbed with flea-filled blankets in sight, THANK THE LORD!!!! Seriously, the vacation would have been worth it for just that bed. The staff were so kind and friendly and it just kept getting better when they gave us a yummy breakfast each morning and the shower was PRIVATE (no naked Chilean women by me!!!). About 2 hours in it hit us how quiet it was in the hostal…it was lovely. I love Valparaíso, but it is busy and loud and chaotic all day and all night and living in the YMCA with pumping techno music and people talking and walking around you all the time just adds to the mayhem. To be able to collapse on my own bed and just read in quiet was so calming 🙂

But we did somehow leave the peace of the hostal and venture out to Viu Manent on Monday. We walked down a beautiful country road to reach the visitor’s center and were greeted by one of the friendliest staffs I’ve ever met, I love that about Chile! I’d asked for the tour in English, just because I wanted to be able to understand absolutely everything and know nothing about wine-making, haha! But it turned out to be a really funny mix of Spanish and English, they were teasing us before the tour that our Spanish was too good to ask for the English tour (which was a very nice compliment to receive :D), but while we did take the tour in English, we had all our side conversations in Spanish, so our guide would forget to switch back to English for the tour, until I didn’t understand a word and asked about it and then he would seamlessly slide back into English…it was great 🙂  Sadly, it’s not summer, so the vines weren’t filled with grapes, but it was still beautiful and I loved the horse-drawn carriage! Visiting the processing plant was really interesting too, we got to try two different wines right from  the humongous containers and hear about all the steps that go into making the wine, I never knew how complicated it was! And then the tasting was just delicious…Luke and I took our time with that…and then decided we needed some food in our bellies, haha 🙂 So we decided to splurge at the winery restaurant, and I am SO GLAD that we did, because that had to be one of the best meals I’ve had in a LONG time. I had the most perfect salmon (obviously not better than yours Dad, don’t fret…well maybe I’m being nice, hehe) and grilled vegetables and a tres leches flan, a typical Chilean dessert, to finish things off. We ended up spending about 4 hours at that winery, just relaxing, walking the vineyard, eating, drinking, and feeling pampered for the first time in awhile, it was so wonderful…writing about it makes me want to go back!!

Coming back we were surprised to find out that Santa Cruz has the largest private museum in Chile. The Colchagua Wine Valley was developed by Carlos Cardoen, a major arms dealer that couldn’t return to the U.S. because the US Customs Service put a $500,000 price on his head due to some shady deals with Iraq…weird, right?!?! So he settled in Santa Cruz, poured his money into vineyards and into collecting valuable historical objects. And now his son has started a foundation that runs the museum that houses and expands his collection! I loved the museum, I could look at the artifacts all day…even though reading all the info started to make my head hurt, too much Spanish!! Finally, to wrap up a great day, we decided to be super-winos and buy some wine and cheese (I still get a kick out of being able to buy wine here, I always am worried they are going to card me, haha!) and kick back with a movie on those amazingly comfortable beds of ours. Lame? Perhaps. Perfectly relaxing and wonderful? Definitely 🙂

So all in all, it was very sad to have to leave and return to reality this morning…until I realized that my reality is living in Chile! And got to return to the crazy Chilean soccer scene and my students and work here. I only have 10 more days left in Valparaíso…I can’t even fathom that…it’s crazy!! And I have way to many places here and in Vina del Mar on my “To See” list, so it’s going to be a jam-packed last few days! So I’m going to enjoy my last few days in Valpo to the fullest, even though it was exactly what I needed to get away for awhile…thank you so much Santa Cruz, te amo!!!

(Oh, and if you’re ever in Santa Cruz, I highly recommend staying at Hostal D’Vid and going to Viu Manent, you won’t regret it!!)

Starting Goodbyes (What?!) and New Beginnings



Abrazo del grupo! (Group hug!) Attacked with love 🙂

My 5th grade music class! Check out the video of them singing on Facebook!

My 3rd graders holding up their finished assignments from my lesson!

DISCLAIMER: I couldn’t post due to site updates, so this post is a bit out-dated…if you are my friend on Facebook, I already posted this as a note, if not, enjoy!


Wow. It’s been way too long since I last posted, and I apologize for that! Now I understand why other travelers say that when you have the most to do and talk about, you have the least time to do so! But I’m going to be super-blogger now to make up for it, so watch out!

And part of the reason that I can be super-blogger is that one of my programs is ending! Weird! The colegio (The Chilean education system is divided into colegio (pre-school-8th grade), secundaria (9th-12th grade, but they call it 1-4) and Universidad (college)) that I work at is going on winter vacation (haha!) this Friday for 2 weeks. They start back up with school on the 24th of July, but my internship ends on July 22…so after tomorrow I’m not going to see my kiddies again 🙁

I have absolutely loved working at the colegio with my 3rd and 5th graders, despite its challenges. As I said, this is a school for kids who have some kind of troubled home, whether it be financial troubles, abuse, neglect, alcohol, etc. I spend 3 days a week in the 3rd grade classroom and it has been such a wonderful opportunity to really develop relationships with these kids and get to know their personalities and needs. But it is also difficult, because you can start to see where these kids are suffering in their lives. Quite a few of them are very, very clingy and attention seeking…which from being a camp counselor last year, I know just happens with kids, but it’s to a level where I wonder how much attention, hugs and love these kids are receiving at home. Many of them jump to violence over small conflicts and seem to find it quite normal to smack someone or hit their head when upset. And overall trying to keep control and teach them to raise their hand and not yell or act out can be pretty exhausting.

But in spite of that, there are really great days too. When they all do well on the quiz, or are actually working quietly. When you can see how excited they are about learning and how they’re almost jumping up and down to be picked and say the answer so you can see how smart they are. Plus, they’re just kids! And they want to have fun and be loved. So that’s why I made my lessons focus on getting them to sing and dance and do artwork and practice English, so that they could have a break from being told to be quiet 🙂

It’s a blessing to me to walk into the school yard and be attacked with my students who want to hug me, help me carry me things, start singing the latest song we learned at me or giving me sweets. It’s difficult to only be in these kids lives for such a short time, but I’ve just tried to give as many hugs, smiles and “good jobs” as I can, answer as many questions about English as possible (haha) and give them some fun songs, dances and projects to remember. ( I’ll post videos of them singing if I can!). And yesterday I came into the class only to be greeted with huge shouts of “Te quiero Tia Anna” (I love you Miss Anna!) and gifts of goodbye cards that they had asked their teacher if they could make in art class.I had made little gifts and cards for them too, each with a small gift from Holland, or Valpo (like mini wooden shoes post cards, lanyards) and I was able to talk the the class and tell them how much they meant to me and how much I loved my time with them (and expressing emotional things is really hard to do in another language!) and I was so proud when I was done that I’d said what I’d wanted to and hadn’t cried…and then the teacher asked if the kids had anything to say to me…and they all started jumping up and down and raising their hands. So one by one, my kiddies stood up and shyly told me that they loved me and what activities of mine they loved the most and that they were going to miss me and then walked up to give me a hug and kiss. I was surviving until little Constanza told me that her one wish is that I was a Chilean so that I could stay with her forever…let the waterworks begin! But it was a wonderful mix of happy and sad tears, I’m so grateful for the experience, but don’t want it to end!

But even with sad goodbyes come new beginnings. I recently found a lovely little Lutheran church (yeah Valpo, you converted me, congrats) in Vina del Mar, the next town over, and they do a caminata (walk) to bring the homeless soup, coffee and sandwiches on Tuesday nights. I went for the first time last night and am so glad that I did. Being a part of a Christian community that is intent on living out their faith and serving others as Jesus served is another blessing for me. I love my church at home, and to feel a part of another church community is something that has really anchored me here and given me peace. We met at 7 pm at the church to prepare the food, had a lovely devotional and time to sing together and then donned some awesome neon yellow coats that have our churches name and the back and headed out to walk the streets! Part of what I’m really grateful for in this internship is that I’m not just a tourist here who sees the touristy, luxurious parts of a country. I get to live right in the center of the city, not in luxurious conditions, but right in the center of restaurants, office buildings, bars, concert halls, be a bus ride away from very rich and orderly Vina del Mar, and then work in really poor communities and see another side of Valparaiso and life in Chile. On this walk I met a woman who was 7 months pregnant but still addicted to drugs and alcohol, a mute man sitting outside a bread store, two old men who were out on street corners playing homemade instruments and many others. It’s really hard for me to be able to talk with these people because of their accents. Accents don’t differ by region in Chile, like in the U.S. Instead, they differ based on class. But I can smile, control and get rid of my own pride by letting the homeless men to kiss me on the cheek to say hello and goodbye and sit with them as they eat, nodding and smiling as the Chileans talk with them J.

Another new beginning is getting my travel plans set for my last 2 weeks here! The Y gives us the last week as a vacation week, so we are done July 22 and Levi and Erica are leaving July 28. Luke and I elected to stay longer because we want to travel and Luke has a friend in Bolivia who was an exchange student at his high school that he wants to visit. So we’ve all been talking and the plan is to head up to Santiago for a weekend, then Luke and I will leave for Buenos Aires (AH!!!! I’M SO EXCITED!) by bus, spend about 5 days there and then fly up to La Paz, Bolivia for my last week! It’s going to be very weird to say goodbye to my life and friends here and then have more than 2 weeks left in South America, but feel so incredibly lucky to have the chance to visit these places…even typing it I can’t believe that it’s actually going to happen!!

I’ll write again soon, hopefully on the blog site! Off to watch the Copa America now, Chile vs. Uruguay…CHI CHI CHI! LE LE LE! VIVA CHILE!!!!


Long Weekend! Carnaval de San Pedro



Gringo family (minus one member) at the dunes!!

Las Dunas!! Why are there so many beautiful places here?! 🙂

Carnaval de San Pedro! These are the dancers we followed 🙂

Hola choros!


I’m working on a couple longer posts, but I wanted to give a quick update on the Festival de San Pedro that happened this weekend! There are always surprises in Chile, especially because people don’t like to tell you about upcoming events in advance! So on Friday we learned that there was going to be a festival and parades and boat display on Sunday and a vacation day with no school or work on Monday, que bakan! (awesome!)

And the celebration on Sunday was SO cool, I had no idea what to expect, but we went to the main harbor and there were tons of people there….but nothing happening…but all the boats were decorated with flowers and little flags, so that was pretty to see…and just as we were getting bored and thinking of going to a restaurant, this loud marching band music starts up and a huge parade comes our way! And this was no Tulip Time parade, this was a Chilean parade for sure, because it was all music and dancing! There were tons of different dancing groups, each wearing the traditional clothing for the type of dance that they were performing, and personal little marching bands to follow each group of dancers. Mixed in were banners and images and mini floats of the Virgin Mary, San Pedro and other saints. San Pedro is the patron saint of fisherman, therefore since Valparaiso is the most important port city in Chile and a has a huge shipping and fishing industry, Valparaiso throws one heck of a party on this day 🙂

The best part was that once the parade was finished and passed us, we started walking after the dancers down the parade route, trying to mimic there dance moves, and once we had them down started dancing behind the last marching band with the same moves that the real dancers were doing, in the parade route, baha!! People started laughing and taking pictures of us along with the dancers and yelling “gringas miren aca! Aca!” (White girls, look over here!”…I was with two of my friends who are from France and a Chilena 🙂 ). It was hilarious, we were dancing like that for a good 20 minutes until the real dancers finally ended, and then on our way back to the harbor, another parade started up! More dancing!

Then today we had a lovely free day to sleep in and then headed out to the sand dunes at Con Con, a city close to Vina del Mar, very touristy (you can tell because there was a McDonalds, Starbucks and Burger King and huge condo buildings along the beach 😀 ). The dunes were so beautiful! So I spent my afternoon hiking, eating our picnic lunch of bananas, turkey and cheese sandwiches, peach juice (I’m addicted to juice because of Chile, they have every possible flavor and stands all over that squeeze it for you fresh, SO GOOD!), and our dessert of oreos and peanut butter, and finally watching the puesta del sol (sunset) over the ocean…life is good!

Ships decorated for San Pedro!

So there’s my holiday update! I return to work tomorrow, but this upcoming weekend we’re going to celebrate the 4th of July with our Chilean friends by having a good ol’ American cookout! Too bad fireworks are illegal here… 🙁


Chao amigos! Besitos!


Mi Trabajo! Starting the actual internship part of my life here :)

Colegio Jorge Williams!

The amazing quiche we made!

Mid-day assembly, the kids get in line and have a routine of “arms up! to the side! in front! at your sides!” to end up standing straight like ladies and gentlemen 🙂

Taller de Cocina (Cooking Class) at Rukantu…Rodrigo is an amazing cook!

Oh hey, it’s been awhile! I have so much to tell! I finally got to start working this week and I absolutely loved my first week in the programs. It was definitely a week of introductions and planning, so this next week is when I really dig into things, but I’ll give you an introduction to what I’m doing and was up to this past week! My time is divided between 5 programs. I really love all the variety in my work schedule, every day is different! (I will add photos ASAP!)


On Monday, Tuesday and Friday I work from 9am-1pm in Colegio de Jorge Williams, a school for preschool-8th grade that is sponsored by the YMCA. The YMCA started this school to create a place for kids from troubled homes, whether that is from abuse, lack of money, alcohol abuse or other reasons. They provide free breakfast and lunch to provide more economic help for the families and the staff is really great, all people who have a passion to help these kids create the foundation for a positive future. On Tuesdays I work with the music teacher in his classes for 5th and 7th graders, and on Mondays and Fridays I’m with the third graders. I love the Colegio so far, especially the 3rd graders. I was mostly observing in the music classes, I’ll be teaching part of the class next Tuesday, but there was tons to do with the 3rd graders. One of the difficulties in this school is that discipline is really difficult. Often the kids don’t have a very controlled environment in their homes, and it’s obvious that many of them don’t get enough attention. So the kids want your attention all the time and speak out of turn and interrupt a lot, it can be really hard to get things done. But the 3rd grade teacher is really great with the kids, they obviously adore her, and I’m glad that I can be there to help her keep control and attend to everyone; I don’t know how she does it every day! Helping the kids with their assignments was hilarious, I’ve found that the pattern is this:

1. “Tia Anna, Tia Anna, necesito ayuda, ahora, ahora!!” – “Ms. Anna, Ms. Anna, I need your help, now, now!”

2. Help with question, try to leave and help other student, but get pulled back and asked:

3. “Tia Anna, Tia Anna, como se dice [insert Spanish word] en ingles?!” – “Ms. Anna, Ms. Anna, how do you say [Spanish word] in English?”

4. Tell them the English word.

5. They say “en serio?” (really??!), try and pronounce it and start cracking up and telling all their friends.

6. Receive huge hug!

7. Repeat starting at Step 1 🙂

Haha, I love these kids, I’m pumped to have 2 more months with them! On Wednesday I work at the center in Las Cañas (all the hills have different names). Las Cañas has a soup kitchen and then runs different programs for the community, such as literacy workshops, english classes, bible studies, lifeskills etc… Wednesdays I go to help the soup kitchen cook, I’m definitely getting some good cooking lessons for my apartment next year! About 30-50 people come each day and I help to serve them, sit and eat with them and then clean everything up afterwards. I love interacting with the staff there and the people who come to eat, they are all really excited about the english class that I’m going to be teaching on Mondays (tomorrow, I’m nervous!). This Wednesday I went to the Bible study after lunch and made lesson plans and signs to put in the community for my english class, I’m excited to get started tomorrow! We’re having one for the adults at the center who come for lunch and one for kids and any community member who wants to come.

Thursdays I’m supposed to go to the center in Placeres, eat at the soup kitchen with the community members and afterwards help with two workshops: theatre and women’s empowerment ….perfect fit for me, right?!?!?! The center was closed this Thursday, but I’ll start next week!

Friday afternoons I go to Rukantu, a rehabilitation center for teenage boys who have been arrested for drug usage and/or a minor violent crime. The first time I visited Rukantu I was a bit nervous, but I really enjoy working at this center, the guys are really fun to hang out with and they LOVE having gringas visit, it’s kind of hilarious. Erica and I are going to teach an English class here (The director told us that if he tells the boys that two American girls (gringas) are coming to teach a class, everyone will come for sure, all you need to say is gringa….easy advertising! Haha). After the class they have a cooking class, this week we made pizza and it was DELICIOUS! Rukantu is much more chill, it’s nice to have a different working pace where I’m just talking with the boys and social workers in the center while we cook and eat, and then watching them show off and play ping-pong later…perfect ending to the week! I even got my palm read by one of the guys this Friday, it was hilarious, he told me that I’m going to have 3 children and that they will have a mix of gringa and chileno blood…so I have to stay in Chile to find my true love…smooth, haha 🙂

Finally, I’m involved in the YMCA Leaders program. It’s kind of like a youth group, they hold a Bible study Friday evenings and program Saturday afternoons. There are 2 program levels and you can graduate to become a Leader, but the first level is open to anyone and is a mix of a mini Bible lesson, games, some kind of topic/message to help the youth (for example, this Saturday they were talking about confidence and speaking in front of other people and had lots of activities to practice). The YMCA Leaders are such a fun group of people, they’re the ones that I see at the Y all the time and hang out with and I love the program too, all the teenagers are really friendly and it’s pretty easy to make friends as a gringa, everyone wants to talk to you!

So that’s my work schedule! I’m feeling more and more like a Chilena now, walking around the city on my own, going to work, taking the bus and taxis, having favorite restaurants and foods…I really like having some more independence with my days!! I’m off to work on my lesson plans right now for my 1st English classes tomorrow, wish me luck, I’m a bit nervous! Now that you know about work, my next post will be about night life in Chile, baila, baila, baila!! Besos choros!

Patagonia sin Represas! Educacion Publica! Protestas!

Wena choros! (Chilean way to say “What’s up my friend?”…loosely translated, ha ;D)

Alright, now that you have an idea of where I’m living, I’m going to get into what’s actually going on during my days here! I start my work schedule tomorrow (supposed to be today, but I am sick with one nasty cold, ugh!), so then my days will have more of a regular rhythm. Luckily, I’ve experienced enough in these last 2 weeks to keep me blogging for a LONG time! Sorry that I won’t be necessarily reporting on things as they happen, but there’s just a lot to tell! And one of the really interesting experiences I’ve had is being right in the middle of some BIG protests! The first one took place on only my 4th day in Valparaíso. We left so quickly for Chile because our study abroad director told us that May 21 was a holiday in Chile, Navy Day, it celebrates a victory the Chilean navy had over Peru and there is a huge parade of the armed forces in the streets of Valparaíso to celebrate. Plus, the President of Chile was coming to Valparaíso for the holiday and to speak to Congress, so we thought it would be really cool to be there for this! Therefore, I was really surprised when the Chileans at the Y just shrugged their shoulders at my mentioning of this holiday and the parade and President’s visit and said they weren’t too interested. Turns out, LOTS of people in Chile are really angry at the President right now, for many reasons, but tensions have heightened regarding a situation in Patagonia. Patagonia is an area in southern Chile where the nature has really been preserved and the beauty of this area is a source of pride for many Chileans. The President recently approved a plan to construct a huge dam in Patagonia so that Chile can produce more of its own energy and not depend on other countries as much, and do so in a clean way. However, this dam is going to ruin a huge amount of land and communities, making many Chileans VERY upset.

The Army organized in its new route, perfect for viewing from the Y!

My group was warned not to leave the Y before 1 or 2 in the afternoon due to the protests, and I didn’t think too much of it because I couldn’t hear anything going on in the morning. When I heard the sounds of the parade I went out with Erica and our German friend Max to watch and it was really cool to see! I’ve never experienced anything like it in the U.S., because it was just a parade of the armed forces; the parades in my town will have little sections of war veterans, but it’s mostly floats, and bands and community groups, so this parade was much more serious and a bit eery! Maybe it’s just me, and other people don’t get as freaked out to see thousands of people marching with guns and such, but I’ve watched too many movies of Latin America during the Cold War to not feel a little chill when I see this. But you could also definitely feel a sense of national pride. Things got interesting when all of a sudden a section of soldiers started running in sync and policemen starting running down the street on their horses. People in the street started moving away, running, some were yelling and I was SO confused as to what was happening! Turns out a protest had sprung up farther down the parade route, and the police were coming to inform the soldiers to change the route. So they turned down this side street and took the parade onto one of the major streets in Valparaíso, right in front of the Y! And it was chaos for a while as things were changing, cars and taxis and buses honking, people running, one guy even came up to me wearing a gas mask and babbling that the armed forces were going to turn on us and the world was going to end (maybe my Spanish is bad, but I swear, that’s what he was saying!) Things calmed down once the new route was established, but we decided to watch the rest of the parade from the safety of the Y’s balcony!

I thought that was as crazy as things got, so I was very surprised when I was watching the news later that night. I was at a dinner party at the house of one of the women who works with the youth programs at the Y and everyone was very interested in watching the news that night, and it only took me a couple seconds to see why. Valparaíso was headlining national news! And my little chaotic experience was nothing! Turns out that in the morning there were HUGE protests as the President was traveling in to his house in Vina del Mar (the city next to Valparaíso) and the Congress building in Valparaíso. People were lighting garbage cans on fire, throwing rocks at the President’s car and his guard, there was even a man who ran through the streets nude holding a sign that said “PATAGONIA SIN REPRESAS” (Patagonia without Dams!)- the slogan of the protests! Things got really violent, the police were spraying tear gas at the protestors and arrested hundreds and policemen and protestors alike were being beaten with clubs. It was really shocking for me to watch, I’m used to peaceful protests and not to violence from the police against protestors. But when I saw how violent the protestors were being, it was hard for me to fault the police for reacting, I don’t think it should have been to the violent degree that it was, but it was definitely a difficult situation. I was remarking on the violence, and one person at the party told me that this is still way better than things a few decades ago under Pinochet, because at least the police don’t fire directly into the protestors. Yikes! The right to organize and protest is definitely being utilized in Chile, and that’s cool to see after the dictatorship, but the violence was hard for me to swallow. It was an awesome experience for me to talk Chilean politics though (which I’m sure doesn’t surprise you if you know me, ha :D). There was a great mix of opinions at the party, to me it seemed that most weren’t too happy with the President, but some recognized that this was a difficult decision and the best option, even though they weren’t excited about it, while others were adamantly opposed. It made for some really interesting, heated conversation! And they loved explaining things to the gringa, for which I am highly grateful 🙂

And then, while I was writing this (really, how cool is that?!) another protest started up outside the kitchen window were I was eating breakfast (or drinking breakfast as they say here, the most important part of breakfast is your tea/coffee :D). This protest was about the education system and was all students. I couldn’t believe I’d forgotten about it, my friend Juan was taking part in it and had invited me to join, but it’s very dangerous for me to get involved in anything like that, I could get booted out of the country fast! Most everything is privatized in Chile, including education. There are public schools, but according to my Chilean friends, they are of very poor quality and going to one almost ensures that your future will not be bright, as it’s very difficult to get a good education and the test scores you need to enter a good university. This traps a lot of people in poor areas, as they can’t afford a private education and can’t get a good enough education to move out of their poverty. Most everyone I’ve met has gone to a private school because of thi

s, but the problem is that these are not cheap, and the government has recently raised costs for students. So there have been waves of student protests for the past 2 weeks, calling for a reduction in private school costs and for improvements in the quality and accessibility of the public education system. But there hasn’t been anything as big as today: it was a HUGE parade of students from all the local private universities marching for public education, which I found really touching and inspiring. They were all grouped by their major in college with signs to marks each group, such as “GEOGRAFIA, PRESENTA!” (Geography, present!), like attendance was being taken in school. Each group had a different chant, and they took over the huge main street right in front of the Y, didn’t matter that tons of cars and buses were honking like crazy! This protest is still going on outside my window, so we’ll see how it turns out! So far it’s just a peaceful march, and the police are just watching, so keep your fingers crossed that it stays this way! As for me, looks like I’ll be staying inside the Y for awhile, even though I’m a bit tempted to run out and march! (Don’t worry familia, that’s a broma (joke :D))

I just had to end with another shot of the beauty of Valparaiso. I took this on our walk to tour the cerro where Pablo Neruda lived!

Lately, Chile is heaven for a political nerd like me! Besitos!

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