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The last time I posted, we had just returned from a salsa dancing class and I was procrastinating writing a lesson plan. Since then, I continue to procrastinate but have managed to teach three classes since, so something is working out! The salsa class we attended was very close to Universidad Católica, which is one of the oldest universities in Chile and one of the best in Latin America. I really liked walking around that neighborhood because there were so many young people – and lots of people selling food, including vegan empanadas, so I’ll definitely be back. This salsa class was almost entirely foreigners, which was a slight disappointment, since I really need to be speaking Spanish. But the person teaching the class only spoke Spanish, so that made it more authentic and fun. Once our English-teaching class is over in two weeks, Jordin and I plan on going to dance classes more frequently.
Jordin and I are in school together for the first time in 5 years! The course is an International English-teaching certification course to receive the TEFL/TESOL certificate. So far we absolutely love this class – there are six students in total, and we get along very well. Our teacher is amazing – super friendly, welcoming, hilarious, and also happens to be a fantastic English teacher. The course is really intense, with lots of reading throughout the first two weeks, but the reading is lightening up now because we have more papers and teaching sessions. We’re all required to teach six hours over the course of four weeks: six one-hour lessons. I’ve taught three times so far, and while I’m definitely improving, lesson planning doesn’t get any easier. In each lesson, we teach one of the following: Grammar, Vocabulary, Function, or Pronunciation. Function is by far the best – it’s teaching something that the students can apply easily, such as apologizing, encouragement, or asking for repetition. Lesson planning is SO TIME CONSUMING – I’m constantly thinking about how appreciative I am of my favorite teachers (some of whom are following this blog J) and how so much of what they did in the classroom was conducive to academic and personal growth. THANK YOU, TEACHERS! I’m complaining about having to teach twice, as in for 2 hours total, in one week, when they teach almost every hour of the school day. Already, I have learned so much in this course –how to be a good teacher, and how to teach English, specifically. All in all, the course is really intense, and we don’t have much time to do fun things outside of class during this month, but because of our fantastic class and teacher, I’m enjoying it tremendously. Our students are Chileans who get to come for free because we’re not certified, and they’re all awesome. I would say most are in their 50s and want to learn English either because of travel or it’s just an intrinsic motivation. They’re all super nice and friendly, and it’s also a good opportunity for me to practice my Spanish with them after class.
On Fridays after class, our class has gone out afterward for dinner and drinks – for 4-5 hours. We have such a fantastic dynamic – we’re all from the U.S., but come from very different backgrounds and experiences. Among six of us, Jordin and I are the youngest, and then their ages are 24, 28, 30, and 42, so it’s quite a range. A six person group is perfect, as it’s enough that we switch up partners in class and get to observe five other beginner teachers, but small enough that we’re really close as a group. Two of the others are staying in Chile for a while after the course ends, but two are going back to the U.S., and I’m already sad for the day we all have to part. Two weeks in, and two weeks to go!
There is an unbelievable number of dogs in Santiago – and I’m not talking about the men (more on that later). Almost every house has a dog in my neighborhood, and all of the houses are gated, so the dogs stay by the gate and are outside all day. Our dog, Ita, is not allowed in the house, so she’s outside in the driveway 24/7, and it doesn’t have any grass. It’s really not a good life for her, or for many dogs here. I think most people have dogs as guard dogs of sorts, even if they’re small (like ours). But there are also an incredible number of street dogs, and they’re everywhere: walking around, sleeping in the middle of the sidewalk, and even taking the metro and busses around. I didn’t believe it until last night, when I saw it happen. Right before I got on the bus, a dog jumped on. These dogs know the public transportation system better than I do!
I’m not sure if I mentioned this before, but our host family does not speak English. This is ESSENTIAL for our language immersion because we’ve been speaking only English in our class and almost all the time with our classmates, so talking with our host family is our only Spanish-speaking time right now. Even though Jordin and I often use an online dictionary to look up words we don’t know, it’s really helpful for our family to describe new words to us in Spanish. Their pronunciation of my name is really funny – I told them Raquel is how it’s pronounced in Spanish and I like that, but they insist on calling me my name in the way it’s pronounced at home. But for them, it’s “Reach-el”. The same with Jordin – even though I pronounce it the way it would be in Spanish, “Hor-deen”, they pronounce it like I do in English. Even though I’d rather be called Raquel to make it simpler, it’s pretty cute the way they pronounce it.
Chileans loooooove their sweets – everyone in the family puts 2-3 teaspoons of sugar into their coffee and tea, and they’re always surprised we when don’t use it in tea or oatmeal. They like to tell us that Chileans like everything a little sweet. However, while I always take fruit for breakfast and often at once (the evening meal), they never do. But after meals, they ask if anyone would like a dessert, meaning fruit – it seems like they only view them as desserts or snacks. Jordin and I both were eating an apple and peanut butter the other day, and our host sister Javiera told us that an American who stayed with them in the past would make sandwiches of peanut butter and banana, and she thought it was gross. We told them how popular peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are, but it’s not a thing here.
Some other interesting tidbits:
- Coffee in Chile – the most popular form is Nescafé, which is instant coffee. There are coffee shops (Starbucks is here too), but Nescafé is by far the most widely used. Our host dad and sister drink it at every meal, so I asked them why it’s more common than purchasing a coffee maker. Their main reasons were that it’s very quick and cheap, which is valid. They also said that the view of people going to Starbucks is that the person is “quica”, which is a Chilenismo that means snobby. Granted, Starbucks here is just as expensive as it is in the U.S., and instant coffee is incredibly cheap.
- Chileans eat 90 kilograms of bread every year – THAT’S ALMOST 200 POUNDS OF BREAD PER PERSON PER YEAR. And it’s not even my mom’s incredible homemade bread – it’s plain white. Just let that statistic sink in.
- There are a ton of parks in my neighborhood, and almost all of them have exercise equipment that anyone can use! It’s what I’ve been doing after running, and it also is inviting and intriguing to anyone passing by. I love that it encourages exercise outdoors, for free, and in a beautiful place.
- I didn’t realize how bad the catcalling situation here was until a few days ago, while I was running. I’ve been running as often as I can in my neighborhood in Ñuñoa, trying to get back into my running rhythm, but never had I received so much attention on a run before than I did last Thursday. It was around 6pm, which is rush hour, but when I’m in class all day, that’s the best time for me to go – it’s still light out, and it’s before we eat dinner. I’ve gotten used to the occasional honk from passing cars, but when it’s rush hour and cars are waiting at a red light, they clearly have nothing better to do than stare at me running by and honk incessantly. This even happened with multiple busses. If there are 3 or more men on the sidewalk ahead of me, I now cross to the other side of the street or move to the edge of the sidewalk so I am as far from them as possible, since it’s almost guaranteed that they’ll say something. Groups of men shouting things are even worse. I know it’s part of Chilean culture (and it’s constant in the U.S. – but of course that’s just “locker room talk”, right?), but it is absolutely infuriating to me that men here think it’s okay to shout their thoughts about women’s bodies and appearances whenever and wherever they want.
On a more positive note, thank you thank you thank you to everyone for the wonderful birthday wishes! I received so many messages through all forms of social media, and it made me feel very thankful to have such wonderful friends and family thinking of me. (FYI: I have my phone and can text through iMessage, but I prefer Facebook messenger because it’s quicker and more reliable. And email is great.) I feel super old! Jordin and I went out on both Friday and Saturday nights with friends, talking for hours, and had a blast. Our host family got us a few little gifts, and one of mine was a very colorful Chilean fannypack. Now, before you judge, fannypacks (called a banano here) are really hip among the young people, especially students. It’s perfect for carrying a wallet, keys, and a phone right in front of you, and since petty theft is so common here, I guess that’s why fannypacks are too. Even though the only person in the U.S. who actually uses one every day is my grandma, maybe they’ll come back in style right?! I’ll defer to my fashionista sister on that one. But the best present was probably when we skyped with our family and they brought some of our cats to the screen. I may or may not have teared up a bit thinking about cuddling with them. #CatLady4Ever
This week’s Chilenismos (I learned each of them OUT of context):
- Caña = hangover
- Al seco! = “Chug!” (as in a drink)
- Flaite = ghetto (adjective)
- Cuico/a = snobby (mentioned above)
Please respond/send an email/facebook message to keep me updated about your life while I’m here! I would love to catch up more. Besos y abrazos!