Monday, January 3, 2011

End of 2010 and 2011 in Chile

Current Location: Chillan, Chile

Hola!! I am writing this quick blog update from my bedroom at my host families house! It has been a crazy few weeks with the end of the semester, Christmas, New Years, and Chile!

Christmas with the family in NYC was really great. We did all sorts of fun things! Christmas Eve dinner was at a restaurant called DB Bistro, one of the families favorite. It was weird though - our family usually opened presents on Christmas Eve, but this year we did it differently (along with a few other things... like Christmas in NYC). We went to Brooklyn for Christmas presents and dinner on the 25th. It was so nice to have everyone (Dana, Nate, Mom, Dad, and Mama Doris, to be specific) there. It was a bit cramped in that little apartment though! I got some really nice things for Christmas - more than I was expecting. My favorite gift is probably my Kindle! I need to slow down on getting books or I'm going to be broke soon!

New Years I spent at Craig's apartment with Meghna, Dana, and Nate. It was really nice - as fun as Times Square could have been, its so ridiculously crowded there - I wouldn't have been able to stand being that cramped! It was a fun night, but I stayed a little bit too late - especially with my flight to Chile the next day! It all ended up fine. I woke up the next morning quite tired from the few hours, finished last minute packing, and headed to the airport. My first flight was at 1:30, and then I had a 5 hour layover in Miami before my second flight. I managed to met up with another guy from the program, William so I had someone to chat with, and then Leah and Mackenzie, two other girls in the program, met up with us shortly before we boarded. It was nice to know a few other people before landing and being overwhelmed. I managed 2 seats to myself for the overnight flight, and was able to curl up and sleep a decent amount.

Chile so far has been absolutely AMAZING. I am already completely in love with the country. After landing, We all hung out in the airport for a while until everyone else arrived. It was a bit annoying to be stuck there, but there were lots of people around that we could chat with so we wouldn't be too bored. It was also nice to be able to meet everyone before heading out on the trip. I've been able to learn about half the names already, if not more, and those few hours definitely helped. Once everyone got there, we got on a bus for 5 hours to get to our field site. I was expecting bumpy roads and a bus packed and falling apart - see my Ghana posts for more details - but I was blown away! The roads are all smooth and well paved, and the bus we were on was a double decker charter bus! It was fabulous! We had air conditioning and bathrooms and they even provided pillows and blankets. I couldn't really sleep much on the bus, but it was alright. As soon as we arrived in Chillan, our host family was there waiting for us. They are so sweet! They don't speak much English, but they are very patient with my limited Spanish skills, and help act things out if I don't understand the words. I am also lucky that I am staying with Julie - she speaks far more Spanish that I do and can help me find a word that I am missing. I definitely think my Spanish skills will improve while I am here - especially my vocab. It will definitely help when I start Spanish back up this fall.

You might have heard there was an earthquake in Chile the day I landed. I didn't feel a thing! Apparently they are fairly mild. The family I am staying with said it was just like a rocking boat or baby crib! Very mild in their opinion. It will be interesting to see if I feel any while I am here - I probably would be a bit less calm than they would be!

Today was a more relaxing day than we will be usually having. We got up this morning to head to lectures. They wanted to make sure they introduced us to the concepts and experiments before we went out into the field. It was fairly short - we were there from 9 to 1:30. Afterwards, I was going to go explore Chillan with some of the other students. Next thing I realized it was 3:00, when we were going to meet, and we had just started eating lunch. I realized I also had a lot of things I needed to do, plus we won't have much time for relaxation after today, so I should take advantage of it. Tonight we have a group dinner at a restaurant, which we will be leaving in just a few minutes for. Then starting tomorrow we are out in the field! That means 12 hour days, lots of mud and dirt, and lots of fun! I can't wait to get out there! Should have some great stories!

Since I have internet at my host families house, I hope to upload some pictures soon - too busy to do that now! I'll try to update every few days, which should be fairly easy with the reliable internet. I miss everyone back home, but I am having such an amazing time! My latest adventure is a good one!

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