As I said at the end of my last post, my time in Chile is off to a wonderful start. There are two major factors contributing to this:
- Mi familia anfitrionia
My host family is actually incredible, and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to help me through this new experience.
My host mom Andrea is a single mother and a psychopedagogue (which means that she works in psychopedagogy, a field similar to educational psychology) who helps children with learning disabilities. She loves to converse for large amounts of time on profound topics, which is also a love of mine, so I have been really enjoying the opportunity to have conversations with her about life, politics, religion, psychology and everything in between.
My host sister Camille is a nineteen year old in her first year at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso (the university that I am attending as well), where she studies psychology. She loves mystery novels and mandalas, and besides the obvious things we share like our majors and the fact that we are both new to PUCV, we have a lot in common.
There are other members of my host family who do not live with us, but who I was able to meet briefly and like a lot, such as Andrea’s two older children Andres and Paulette. Overall, the amount of kindness and generosity that each member of my host family has extended towards this confused, clueless gringa has bowled me over. Without their help, I would be very lost, and I am incredibly grateful for the thousands of things that they have done for me as I adjust to Chile.
- Ubicación, ubicación, ubicación
The other facet of my transition into Chilean life that has made all these changes so much easier is that I fall more in love with Viña del Mar and Valparaíso every day. I am enchanted by the ridiculously beautiful beaches and tranquility of Viña, and by the artsy, funky vibes and colorful chaos found in Valpo. I am a little bit fearful but also determined to conquer the micro, which is what they call the buses racing through the streets here at breakneck speed which possess daredevil drivers and require a certain amount of street smarts / knowledge of your surroundings. I love taking the metro, otherwise known as the train / subway system of these two cities, because every ride consists of a systematic series of easy to follow stops, breathtaking views of the sea and performances by buskers. Despite the fact that maps and directions have never been my strength, I have surprised myself with my ability to walk these streets and navigate public transportation with a certain degree of competence, even as I struggle with the incredibly steep hills and occasionally get somewhat turned around. All those things people say about study abroad making you more independent really are true, I guess.
In my next couple of posts, I plan to talk about my experiences with the Spanish language and how Chile compares to the United States. ¡Nos vemos!