¡Hola! from Chile

Since arriving in Chile on June 1, I have been having the experience of a lifetime!  I wasn’t sure what to expect because I had never been to South America before, but my host family has made me feel right at home in Viña del Mar.

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The Flower Clock – One of Viña del Mar’s most recognizable features

My Spanish and Chilean Culture classes are very fun and engaging – and we don’t just learn in the classroom!  Our teacher takes us on an excursion at least once a week to tell us about the history and show us the culture firsthand.  This month, the FIFA World Cup started in Brazil, and it’s amazing how crazy Chileans get over soccer (or fútbol, as it’s called in Spanish)!  So far, Chile has played and won 2 games, and the whole city was shut down during the games.  My Spanish is much better now than when I arrived, and I am proud to say that I can order food in a restaurant sin problema!

I have also been volunteering at an orphanage in Viña del Mar.  Many of the children come from fractured families, but are in good spirits and always excited to see us.  We spend our time there playing with the children, and it is very rewarding to see the smiles on their faces.  During my last visit, as I was about to leave, one of the young children grabbed my hand and refused to let me leave until he gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek!

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A ship at sunset during a walk around the city with my Chilean Culture Class

In my spare time, I have visited several local landmarks (including the beach and the flower clock), as well as Isla Negra (the home/museum of Pablo Neruda, the Chilean poet who won a Nobel Prize) and the city of Valparaíso.  On my second weekend in Chile, I visited the tourist town of Púcon with my new friends.  We took a 12-hour overnight bus to go sightseeing, soak in hot springs, and ride horses.  It was an amazing trip that exposed a part of Chile I didn’t know existed!

ImageHorseback Riding in Púcon wearing ponchos of the Mapuche (indigenous people of south-central Chile)

This overall experience has been far more enriching than I could have expected.  Not only have I greatly expanded my Spanish vocabulary, but I have tried numerous (tasty!) new foods, witnessed the passion for soccer in South America, overcome the challenges of working with children of a different culture and language, and navigated my way through a new country and new cities.  I truly feel that I am living within the culture while living with my host family, and I couldn’t imagine a better way to experience a country and its culture.

-Madeline

Interning… and living in Chile

A few weeks ago we had a long weekend in Chile. April and I took advantage and traveled to San Pedro de Atacama, the driest desert in the world. 😀

It was beautiful! I took way too many pictures :D. Our 1st full day we went on tours all day. First up was Lagoon Chaxa which also doubles as a flamingo reserve.

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We were able to see the sun rise over the Andes and explore the interesting area.

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Then we continued on – up into the mountains, over 4000 ft.

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April and I, plus some friends in front of an active volcano.

DSCF8577Me in Valle de Luna.

The next day, it was sandboarding time!! Yes, sandboarding!

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April and I with our “rides.”

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Me on a run in the Death Valley.

That same afternoon, we went to Lagoon Cejar. There are only 3 of its kind; because of the amount of salt anyone who goes in automatically floats! How cool is that? It had a beautiful view as well!

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Me floating without even trying! SUPERMAN!

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The last day I visited the Tatio Geysers. They were awe-aspiring, and just plain cool.

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Meanwhile, at work for our internship, April and I have been busy with the 2 projects we are working on. For one project we had numerous meetings with local Vina del Mar businesses. They are providing us with the chance to feel out professional meetings and interactions which will be helpful in our careers. I have also noticed that transferable skills such as teamwork and communication are improving and developing every day.

In addition, we were just in Santiago this past weekend. I had a great time.

Me in Santiago.

You can hear all about Santiago in the next one or two blogs.

1 more month to go. What an experience this internship has been! Yes, there are some lows (like missing one’s family & friends) but honestly each and every day brings something new and this really is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I’m excited to see what the last month will bring!

1 Month in Vina del Mar, Chile

Hola from Chile,

Today marks a month that April and I have been in Chile! Wow, how time has flown!

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Lately we have been pretty busy at work, which is great. We’re both super glad that we have a project to work on and are not just fetching people coffee!

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We have been to a university ceremony, participated in 2 important work meetings with possible university partners, and been working on our Internship Program project.

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Outside work, we’ve been having fun! We went to Isla Negra and toured the very beautiful house of Pablo Neruda, a famous Chilean poet. We also explored a Chilean market close to where we are staying. We’re always looking for ways to have a good time while learning the culture!

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We’re excited to see what the next few weeks bring! 😀

Hola, from Vina del Mar!

Our second week in Chile has been pretty exciting. For work, we’ve been busy starting a project, setting up an international internship program for the University of Vina del Mar. I’m excited because it presents a lot of learning opportunities that are relevant to our field! It was great that our supervisor actually had a talk with us on our first week, and asked us what we expected and wanted to learn from our internship. I have to say that I’m relieved that fetching coffee/tea won’t be on my list of duties.

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In fact, they actually encouraged us to attend an Expo, and represent the University. We were able to talk (schmooze) with local business representatives and network, in hope of gaining partnership and collaborate with them on our project. And on our walk home, we tried the famous Chilean empanadas. And yes, they were melt-in-your-mouth delicious! (Actually, just thinking about it is making me crave for it).

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I have to say that being an intern at a University has its perks. On the 10th of June, Samantha and I were honoured to have met Senor Juan Guzman Tapia, the judge who indicted and prosecuted the former Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet. Although I admit to previously knowing very little about the history of Chile, it was a humbling experience to meet someone who had the courage to fight for human rights. Hearing him speak, and talk with other students about his experiences was truly inspiring.

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Since we previously took a ‘lazy’ weekend, we decided to  join other international students (Americans, French and Germans) to a trip in Concon, Chile, for horseback riding. We were both apprehensive at first, as neither one of us had experience with horses, but we figured that it would only involve the horses walking by the beach. However, within twenty minutes, I discovered that my horse didn’t like walking as much as he loved trotting and galloping! Luckily for me, my fear and nervousness quickly disappeared and I ended up enjoying and loving the experience! Not to mention that the views were spectacular – we went around the beaches, sand dunes, and marshlands. Chile really is a beautiful country!

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and can I just mention how precious this little puppy is? I would’ve loved to take him home! ❤

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