I am an Earthquake Survivor!

Yes! Just as I was starting to worry I would leave Chile without ever feeling the earth move under my feet I experienced my first tremor! I happened on Wednesday; I was working in the Universidad Diego Portales library on the fifth floor when I started to feel a slight shaking, as if a big truck were passing. The shaking continued and got a little stronger and the glass started to rattle in the window panes. It felt like when the car engine is idling a little rough. That was the worst it got, after a few more seconds it stopped.

At this point all of the Chilean students, all of whom had likely experienced the big earthquake of 2010, grinned at each other but then returned to thier work. I tried to blend in like it was no big deal but on the inside I was like

OMG cat

Now this is the point at which any of my Chilean friends who are reading this (Or anyone from the west coast of the USA) are like “Gringa, please. That wasn’t an earthquake, that was just someone’s Nokia phone vibrating!” But hey, it was my first and possibly only earthquake so I’m allowed to get excited about it. And don’t worry, in case somethign a bit more impressive than the little hiccup comes along internet cats have taught me exactly what to do:

EARTHQUAKE DRILL

 

Semana Santa and Día del Joven Combatiente

¡Hola a todos! I just finished up a delightful long weekend in which I was really busy doing pretty much nothing. Well, I hung out with my host brothers and played a ton of video games with them and put off my homework. Fun!

My long weekend actually started on Thursday. Classes were scheduled, but my program director and my professor recommended I stay home because of the Día del Joven Combatiente. This day, celebrated on the 29th of March, commemorates the murder of the Vergara Toledo brothers Rafael and Eduardo in 1985 during Pinochet´s regime. Whereas most commemorations of this kind are peaceful and involve candlelight vigils, el Día del Joven Combatiente is traditionally recognized with violent clashes between students and police, often resulting in destruction of private and public property, fires, power outages, and many arrests. This year at least two cars were incinerated with Molotov Cocktails and 8 arrests were made. These events occur at night and are concentrated around Estacion Central, which is luckily a long way off from me. Because the 29th fell on Good Friday this year, the ¨festivities¨happened on Thursday the 28th. To play it safe I stayed in the house all day Thursday, as I recommend any other foreign student to do.

Good Friday was also spent in the house, not for any external factors other than there being nothing much to do since everything was closed. I spent some time with my host grandma, a lovely woman affectionately called ¨La Cuka¨by the boys, no one knows why.

Saturday was pretty lazy too until the evening. I attended a Catholic mass at a little church with some friends, which was interesting because I am not Catholic but have attended some Catholic masses during my brief stint (incarceration?) in a private Catholic high school. Seeing the similarities and differences between the two experiences was very interesting. The church had this awesome statue of Jesus that seemed to be floating off the cross on the wall, I was fascinated by it

https://i2.wp.com/chileajeno.cl/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/incami-300x187.jpg

After the mass, which ended earlier than advertised but still pretty late, we decided to get a bite to eat so we walked over to La Jardin, an awesome little restaurant that you would have to see to believe. It was absolutely gorgeous, not over-the-top expensive, but you did pay a little extra for the atmosphere. The food was fantastic, I split a shrimp salad and four cheese pizza with my friend and it was delicious. According to my friend´s host parents, the owner of this restaurant is a rich guy who travels the world starting restaurants and incorporating elements from all over the globe in them.

Click here to see pictures of the place, you really should it is GORGEOUS

That´s all the semi-interesting news I have for now, I will keep you updated as usual! Chao!

First Day!

For some context, I’m sitting  in this open air seating area. This is a picture I took earlier in the day, right now it’s almost 10pm and dark, the white roses in the background smell beautiful and its balmy with a gentle warm breeze.

hotel y orientation 001

So I staggered off the plane at like 9:30 this morning having slept very little but still very excited to finally be here! I had my directions from IFSA-Butler printed out, which was a lifesaver because I had no wifi or 3G so I wouldn’t be able to pull it off of my phone. I went through immigration and customs and was spat out at the exit, where Mary from IFSA-Butler was there to greet me and introduce me to the rest of the group. We were all tired but excited and everyone is super nice. There’s about a dozen of us. We changed our dollars for pesos at 460 pesos/$1US and got on a shuttle to take us to the Hotel Bonaparte. (Click to see the website for the hotel)

Side note: I’ve moved myself next to the pool. Check it out

hotel y orientation 003

After we checked in and had a chance to change we had a coffee outdoors at the small cafe that is attached to the hotel. It was a glorious 80 degrees out, not humid at all. Then we had lunch, which started with a salad, then a sort of pasta alfredo with tomatoes and mushrooms, and then fresh fruit and coffee for dessert.

Next we started orientation sessions. We each got maps of Santiago, a plug converter, a binder on surviving Santiago, a notebook, and name tags. The sessions were about safety concerns, such as how to keep from becoming a victim of robo por sorprisa, or petty theft, the most common crime here. We were warned about thieves who will take pull the phone out of your hand while you are talking (protip: if you must answer the phone while in public, stand with your back in a corner and keep a sharp eye open), sneak their hands into your bag on the subway, lift items out of your pocket in a crowd, and unzip your backpack. They are opportunists, so you must not give them the opportunity! Otherwise, violent crime is not a huge concern here. We also covered earthquake safety since Santiago is known for quakes and shakes.

Dinner was delicious, a salad then rice with beef and flan for dessert. I am exhausted but happy and feeling very confident in myself. I feel like the hardest part is over-I got here! Everything else will fall into place. Sure my Spanish is still shaky, but so is everyone’s here. Tomorrow we have more orientation sessions and on the 28th we meet our host families in person!!