My orientation to the University and the city!

Trip Start Jun 13, 2009
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Trip End Jul 26, 2009


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Flag of Chile  ,
Tuesday, June 16, 2009

These past two days have been great! 
Margarita and Oscar took me to the University at 9 AM, then we
did all the orientation stuff, took a placement test, and got
a tour of the three buildings (it's a very small campus but
there are tons of students walking around).  At 2:30 PM,
I met up with Oscar (who had been working in Valparaiso) and
Margarita (who had gone shopping for her new granddaughter to
be).  We had to stop to get the brakes fixed on their
car, a Hyundai Tucson (similar to a Pontiac Vibe).  Margarita and I
walked around the little shops on the streets while Oscar did
that. 

There are a lot of stray dogs walking the streets
of Valparaiso.  A dog or a cat is usually never out of
sight there.  They're very calm too, but you have to
watch out for their droppings in the streets and on the
sidewalks!  When we returned home, Margarita made fried
ham and cheese in some type of breading, fried potatoes, salad
with red wine vinegar, oil, and a LOT of salt.  There was
also papayas and steak, but I was too full after everything
else.  They were worried that all I wanted to eat for
breakfast was a bowl of cereal. They also had eggs and
something like a toasted english muffin with butter and
cheese.  (They couldn't believe that I just wasn't that
hungry! hehe!)  After lunch, Almuerzo, I went to my room
for a 10 min. nap, and after that we left again for the
University.  Oscar had to do more work in the city
at 3:30 PM so Margarita took me to the mall until I had to be
at the University at 4 PM.  I received my test scores back.  I will be taking advanced classes.  (Hopefully it won't be too difficult.)  The classes will be Mon.
through Fri. from 10-11:35 (Spanish Grammer) and 2-3:30 PM
(Conversation and Chilean culture).  On Tuesdays from
3:30 - 5:30 PM I will be meeting with other Chilean
students.  Half of the time we will be speaking Spanish
and the other half English.  That way we can both learn
from each other.  On Wednesdays from 3:30 to around 6 PM,
the ISEP program will be taking us on two Valparaiso
city tours and also handcraft workshops (1 day with leather
and another with glass).

Around 4:30 PM, Margarita and Oscar picked me up from the University.   Margarita and
I went up the hills of Valparaiso in un acensor (ski lift? or
outdoor elevator type thing?)  It was right along the
seaport.  This seaport only handles
containers.  There's a large machine that loads the full
containers onto huge barges and ships and takes the empty ones
to be filled by trucks or trains that come to the
seaport.  It was so gorgeous.  (Check out the pictures!)  The
weather has been very nice.  I wore a thin sweater and
didn't need a jacket at all.  The sun has been shining for the past couple of days!

We came home after our little excursion in Valpo where I ate un postre (caramel cake dessert) that Margarita
brought down to my room along with jugo de naranja (orange
juice).  So much food - They keep joking that I'm going to weigh the plane down when I leave here!  When I look out my balcony window during these clear nights, I can see the
most beautiful lights from the city.  It gets dark here
around 6:30 or 7 PM - much like our winter.

The city seems very similar to San Francisco
with the houses on the hills, but oh so much more
beautiful.  My host family's house is on a very steep hill.  That's why it is possible to have a balcony both upstairs on the main floor and also downstairs by my bedroom.  It's very unique!

Last night, the family took me out for pizza at Pizza Hut around 10 PM.  (Yes, they eat dinner here very late.)  We had one pizza with onions, olives, and artichoke and another with spicy sausage, pepperoni, ham, and olives.  It was all good but definitely different.  The crust was very crispy and not a lot of sauce.  In restaurants here, you have to wave to get the waiter's attention unlike the automatic service we get in the U.S.  We left around 11:30 PM, and I went straight to bed when we arrived home.

Today was my first day of classes.  They went well.  I'm a little nervous, but I think I'll do okay.  I'm starting to miss speaking English, and I become tired very easily from having to think so much about what others are saying.  My speaking is slowly becoming better.  My host family is starting to realize that if they don't speak quite as fast and add in a few more pauses, I can understand them just fine.

Tomorrow I will be going on a walking tour of Valparaiso with the ISEP program after my classes.  After that, Oscar (the son), is taking me a some of my ISEP friends to Cafe Journal - a local bar/dance club where many exchange students and Chilean students hang out on Wednesday nights.  It should be a lot of fun!  Oscar used to work at the office for International Students at my college (PUCV); therefore, he knows my professors, coordinators, and many others that are dealing with my study abroad program.  (He says he'll buy them a beer and put in a good word for me - haha!)

I love my host family and my new friends, but I miss everyone back home, too!  I hope everyone's enjoying the summer back home!  For those of you in Ferdinand, have a great time at the Heimatfest!

Chao Todos!
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