See You in a Bit!

Very soon, I will be hopping on a plane (two, actually) and heading back to the USA for Christmas and the New Year. I’ll be spending my time around New England and will have a day or so in Philly. I apologize in advance if I’m not able to see you and say hi when I’m home! It doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten, I promise. While I would love to see as many people as I can – and am incredibly grateful for all of the love and support of my life in Chile – my time at home is limited and I don’t want to spread myself too thin or make empty promises. It’s important to me to take the time to relax and enjoy being with the people I’m with. Thanks for understanding!

I’ll be back in Santiago again in January with new posts and updates. Enjoy the holiday season!

Some Changes

My second half of co-op – January through March 2015 – will be a little bit different than the first. Three big things you should know going forward:

  1. I’m moving. While it was wonderful having a host family to ease my transition to life in Santiago, I live very far from work. I will be moving into an apartment that cuts my commuting time down from anywhere between 40-80 minutes each way to a nice 20-25 minutes and no need for public buses. I currently live in Las Condes, in a barrio|neighborhood with towering high rises along a main road. I live currently next to a huge shopping mall and a beautiful park, but I’m excited to be moving to Providencia, with smaller shops and in a quieter location. I will be living with two Chileans, and it will save me some money and allow me to be more flexible with my eating and spending.
  2. I have changed my major. As of Winter 2014-15 I will be a Mechanical Engineering student! I’m pumped! I will maintain my minor in Product Design, and still am very open to the idea of pursuing my MS in Biomedical Engineering. Biomed has gotten me to where I am today, and for that I’m grateful. The Drexel Biomed program is strong and I recommend it to those interested in the subject field. I realized, however, that I am more interested in mechanics, and felt that I would benefit from undergraduate coursework in Mechanical Engineering while still maintaining an interest and pursuing opportunities in biological applications.
  3. Summer will be at it’s height, which means fewer people in Santiago. JC, my host sister who’s family lives a few hours south of Santiago (she’s staying with my current host family as a family friend while going to college in the city) will be returning home for a few months, my friends here on exchange will be heading home around the same time I head back to the states, and one of my friends from work is moving to Valparaiso. It will probably be quieter, but I still want to take a few weekend trips, head to San Pedro de Atacama and possibly Buenos Aires, and I really want to go to Chilean or Argentinian Patagonia. Anyone down to visit? Don’t Google the price of flights, just book it. All I’ll tell you is that you’ll want to spend at least a week here to make it worth it!

I come home the week following Drexel’s finals, and will return to Santiago the first full week of January for my final 10 weeks of co-op. While I’m loving the warm, sunny weather here in Santiago – it’s like a Spring/Summer co-op and the summer vacation I never had rolled into one – I’m wicked excited (yes, wicked, as in “very”) to be able to come home to spend some time with friends and family and to go skiing and to not miss out on winter in New England. A quick taste of all of my favorite things about the season, and then I’ll return to enjoy the rest of the Southern Hemisphere’s summer.

Como Agua Para Chocolate | Like Water for Chocolate

Como Agua Para Chocolate
Como Agua Para Chocolate

No, I’m not here to review the book by Laura Esquivel, the Mexican novelist. It is, however, on my list. It’s one of those books that I never read in middle school/high school, and would like to do so. Maybe I’ll try it in Spanish instead?

Como Agua Para Chocolate is also the name of a restaurant in Santiago. It’s delicious! Dr. Julie Mostov, Vice Provost for Global Initiatives at Drexel University’s Office of International Programs, was visiting Santiago for meetings, and took the time to meet RO, JR, and me for dinner this past Wednesday night. It was wonderful to meet her and for the four of us to spend some time together. It was also the first time I’ve gone out for dinner in Santiago, and it didn’t disappoint. We had steak for dinner, and followed it up with chocolate of course! Continue reading

Hey Gringa

In the streets, I stand out a lot. I knew that this would happen, as most Chileans are “morenos/as” or “dark”, but when I saw other blondes I thought I would be able to blend in a bit more. However, a fair amount of Chilean women are overweight, and most are shorter than I am. The combination of the three assets – blonde, relatively tall, and thin – mean that I am a sight to see among the crowd.

The neighborhood that I’m living in is more cosmopolitan and has many more tourists, so I absorb better into the crowd, but when I went into the center of the city, I must have looked like a lighthouse. Gringa is a common term for people like me: white, female, and foreign. I get beeped at by cars, whistled at, and called at. Guapa, gringa, chica. I asked my host and she said that men will call but rarely will they approach you, so I don’t need to worry. Just keep walking. She laughed when I asked if gringa is a bad word: it’s simply a way of explaining who I am. The language isn’t conducive to political correctness. I try hard to not look confused when people talk to me: they talk wicked fast. New England fast, but in Spanish. I do a lot of smiling and nodding, and reading their tone in order to respond appropriately with a sympathetic face or a laugh. All in time!