Employment, dancing videos (the time has come), and election emotions.

~~~Please click on the title so you can watch the video of us salsa dancing and dancing with our abuela chilena! (It won’t show up in the email)~~~

The last two weeks have flown by, but also have passed extremely slowly in different ways. The last post I sent out was on a Tuesday, when Jordin and I were unemployed and sitting on the couch (well, Jordin was sitting, I was standing at my standing desk aka the buffet table in our living room). Jordin and I became officially employed that Thursday, and at the same company! #Twinz. While it is a private company, it is different than the many language institutes in Santiago, to which students go for group lessons. This company sends an email every week about the new classes that are available to teach, with the student’s name, English level, location, payment per hour, and their availability. Then it is up to me to decide if I want to teach any of those students based on those criteria. These are essentially private classes, except that the students find teachers through the business, and we’re paid through the business. All of the classes they’ve sent us so far are one-on-one lessons, which often take place at the student’s home. This is the perfect scenario for us because we can choose which lessons we want to teach based on the student’s availability, the lessons last for a whole month (sometimes more), and the pay is significantly higher than many other institutes, even with taxes deducted. So far, I have three students – not a lot, but I’m hoping for more through the ads I posted around Santiago and in various teaching Facebook groups. Two of my students are at the beginner level, which is harder to teach than upper levels, but the first lessons went great. One is a 30-year-old woman through the business described above, and she is super nice and fed me delicious fruit after my first lesson with her (this was after I decided she wasn’t dangerous – don’t worry, moms out there). The other is a 6-year-old girl through a different business (but she’s my only student through them), and I will be teaching her every week for 6 months (aka until I leave Chile in the middle of May). I really enjoyed my first lesson with her for many reasons: 1) She’s really cute, 2) She lives in an awesome apartment, and, 3) I don’t have to prepare very much. Teaching young children is totally different than teaching adults, because they can’t sit still and can’t take in too much at once. She and I basically just played games and did fun activities the whole time – we wrote a story together (each of us writing every other sentence), played a matching card game with pictures of various objects (which I made her say in English every time), and threw a ball back and forth while counting to 100. It just felt like babysitting while making sure to use different skills in English (reading, writing, speaking). I just had my first lesson with my third student tonight – he’s a private student, which means I have to prepare everything on my own (unlike one of the businesses above, which provides me with a textbook – but I still have to prepare other stuff). This student is at the pre-intermediate or intermediate level, and wants to focus on conversation and reading, which I really like teaching. So far so good! Additionally, I’m chatting with a few more potential private students, so hopefully I’ll have more students by the next post.

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Since our October TEFL course has been over, Jordin and I have had much more free time than we’re used to having, which is nice sometimes, but it’s not easy for an antsy person like me. I’m someone who needs to have things on my schedule every day in order to feel productive and active, so that’s another reason why I want more students (besides the fact that I need money) As I mentioned in the last post, we both want enough students that we have things on our schedules every day, but not so many that we’re spending most of our time speaking in English. So there are two different events we’re hoping to attend weekly: salsa dancing (or some type of dance class), and Spanglish Party (language exchange). Jordin and I went salsa dancing again last week, to the same club that we went to during our first week in Santiago. A negative is that the class attracts a lot of foreigners (although apparently many dance classes do), but I actually danced with a Chilean who could dance really well. This was much better than the last time, where I danced with someone who couldn’t dance well and didn’t put in much effort. As promised, I took a few videos – they are compiled with a few other videos below (this is your incentive to keep reading). Next time, I’ll have Jordin take videos of me as well so it doesn’t seem like he’s the only Metz who can dance!

The other weekly gathering is called Spanglish Party, which is a language exchange between locals and foreigners at various bars in Santiago. Jordin and I have been twice already, and in typical Estadounidense fashion, we arrived right on time at 8pm. Both times, we have been the first ones there – the bartenders/bouncers seemed confused that we were there so “early”, since Chileans often arrive about an hour later than the start time. It’s basically a place where people can hang out, drink, and talk, and the language is supposed to switch from Spanish to English, and vice versa, every 20 minutes. But the language doesn’t actually switch to English until 9:30, when there are a lot more people there, so I get the chance to speak Spanish for the first hour and a half. I assumed that there would be way more native English speakers at this event than Spanish speakers, but it’s actually the opposite, and I’m not complaining. I am often the only English speaker in a group of all Spanish speakers, which obviously is excellent practice, but it is also a fabulous way to meet new people and practice Spanish in a relaxed environment. Jordin and I don’t stay together during this so we can meet different people, which is great because at the end we end up introducing each other to our new friends anyway. Spanglish Party has been a big confidence boost for me in terms of my Spanish, because I’ve been told that I can speak very well, and I always respond by saying that it’s because they’re speaking slowly so that I can understand them. Every single time, people ask me why I chose to live in Chile instead of Peru, Colombia, or Ecuador, because the Spanish in Chile is notoriously faster and more difficult than in many other Latin American countries.

Observations:

  • Chileans love mayonnaise – our family puts it on everything, including fresh vegetables.
  • When Jordin and I compliment food, we used to try to elaborate about the flavor and the spices, etc. But Chileans don’t do that – the only thing the cook wants to hear is “Que rico!” This phrase encompasses all food compliments.
  • Our apricot tree is finally starting to produce fruit (hellooooo summer!), so naturally I’ve been eating 3-5 fresh apricots a day. I’d only eaten dried apricots before coming to Chile, but the fresh ones here are absolutely AMAZING.
  • Chileans don’t know how to send a clear email – just like in their spoken Spanish, they abbreviate their words so much that I can’t even use an online translator. I’ve been sending messages to my new Chilean friend (from Spanglish Party) to translate for me, and in return, she sends me things in English that she doesn’t understand. She is fluent in Spanish, English, and Japanese, AND is studying other languages, so she constantly impresses me. Most of her translation questions have been about English phrases that seem literal but aren’t: for example, “ideology translated into action on the ground”, and “bringing the young readers into play”. One person whom I met, an 40-something adult who doesn’t speak English, told me he received an email from his friend in English that said “Let me holla at it”, and he had no clue how to decipher it. I tried to explain it to him in the best way that I could, by saying that it’s like “Yo puedo hacerlo” (I can do it) or “Yo puedo tratarlo” (I can try it). However, I just looked it up and apparently it means to let someone flirt/hit on someone…I am a millennial and thought I knew what this meant, but clearly I’m out of the loop already.
  • English words that are the same in Spanish (I’m not talking about cognates – these are the exact words on their own):
    • Cheesecake
    • Baby shower
    • Sandwich
    • ShortsIMG_9595.jpg
  • I tried a popular drink with some Americans and with my host sister, Javiera, called a Michelada. It consists of lemon juice, Merkén (smoked chili pepper), beer, and tobasco sauce, all in a glass with a salted rim. There are many variations of this drink across Latin America, and though I’m not a beer person, I think this is pretty cool (Dad, I hope you’re reading this because you would love it).
  • Santiago isn’t a city that promotes lots of art and music – it definitely exists, but it’s not a huge part of the culture here. One person whom I met at Spanglish Party said he’s in a band, but it’s hard to play shows with a lot of attendees. Apparently people will pay for foreign groups that come in, but local music isn’t very well attended.

This has been an incredibly tough week for me emotionally, and I know that many of you feel the same way. I spent Tuesday night at Spanglish Party, the language exchange, speaking with people for over two and a half hours mostly about the election. Before we arrived, Jordin and I agreed that we would leave no later than 10:30pm so we could get home to watch the polls come in. Throughout Spanglish Party, people asked me all about Trump and Clinton, who was going to win, and my opinions about all of it. I was the main one talking in my group, which gave me a lot of practice, and I tried to give them the whole picture of the situation, though of course I included my opinions (FYI explaining the electoral college in Spanish is difficult). My opinions are very similar to many others in Chile – not only that Trump is a terrible person, is racist/sexist/xenophobic/a white supremacist/etc, but that his fickle actions will affect not just the U.S. but the entire world. As the night went on, one person kept showing me the results map on his phone, but at that point it was only 10pm in Chile, meaning 8pm on the East Coast, and the polls had only just started coming in. At this point, I was definitely nervous, but like the media had predicted, I was sure that Hillary would win. Fast forward an hour – I get home around 11:30pm to a stunning realization that the polls are going the opposite direction – the prediction line graph on the NYTimes literally flipped. I spent the next three hours in front of my computer, tears streaming down my face while talking with friends online about the results, and feeling extremely connected and disconnected to America at the same time. As I stared at the results map and the annoying meter on the NYTimes website that keep inching forward with Trump’s chances of winning, I could not comprehend what was going on. I went to bed in tears, hoping for a miracle and wishing I could be hugging my mom and Melanie, and barely slept at all. I woke up at 8 on Wednesday because I had to leave for my first English class ever at 9, and attempted to pull myself together: I walked into the kitchen, Aly (host mom) asked me if I was sad, and I promptly burst into tears. Throughout the day, I kept thinking back to that moment: how is this POSSIBLE? It felt like a nightmare, and all I wanted to do was wake up. I actually had two great first English classes during the day, and I left each in a great mood, and then remembered the election and went back to that devastated state. I know this has been hard for all of my similar-minded friends and peers, but I think I had and am still having an especially hard time with it because I’m not surrounded by many people who can commiserate with me. This election just feels so incredibly personal, and the result was the repudiation of everything and everyone that I care about. After talking to a number of Chileans about it, I’ve found that most people here are nervous for Trump’s presidency, but they cannot understand it from a United States perspective; they don’t feel the same sadness and terror that I do, even being a white, educated woman of privilege (and with Pence as VP, being a woman is going to become much more difficult). Some Chileans discuss it like it’s a joke, but I keep reminding them that Trump’s presidency is going to affect the whole world. After crying a significant number of times throughout the day on Wednesday, I was able to come to terms with the results more, though it will take a long time to actually accept them. On Wednesday night, my best friend Shaina reminded me that even though this is going to be extremely difficult, we cannot just sit back and wait for the inevitable: it’s sad and it’s scary, but we are strong and need to work to bring about the change that we want to see in IMG_3445.jpgour country. I also want to thank everyone I know who worked so hard for Hillary – whether that was an actual job on her campaign, phonebanking, knocking on doors, leafleting, or working the polls, THANK YOU to everyone who spent their time spreading the word about our amazing candidate. In the past few weeks, these purple trees have been in bloom all over Santiago – the color of unity, the mix of red and blue, and the color of Hillary’s pantsuit during her concession speech. Now, I will pick myself up, donate to Planned Parenthood in honor of Hillary Clinton, and do my best to fight for the causes I believe in and for those who will be affected by our new president much more than I will. And I want to buy a pantsuit.

Thursday was Aly’s (host mom) birthday, and that night we had a birthday once (evening meal) with other family members: Sergio (host dad), Javiera (host sister), Leo (Javi’s son, the crying toddler); Cristóbal (Aly and Sergio’s son, age 24), Mariana (his girlfriend), Amalia (their 16-month-old toddler); Abuela Doris (Sergio’s mom), Marcela (Sergio’s sister), and Ignacia (Marcela’s daughter, age 11); Gabriel (Aly’s brother, late 30s). The best part is that Doris, Marcela, and Ignacia live in the house right behind ours, so we see them all the time. While this dinner was to celebrate Aly, the main topic was Trump winning the election.

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Jordin dancing with our abuela chilena

On Saturday, we had a surprise birthday party for Aly. She and Sergio left early in the morning (early here is 8:30am) and went to the beach for the day , so we had all day to prepare with Javiera. We completely rearranged the patio furniture, put up lots of balloons and streamers, and prepared a bunch of food, with the help of Pamela, the aunt of Felipe (Javi’s boyfriend/Leo’s dad). This food included guacamole, which Pamela kept assuring me was vegan even though I never questioned it (though you never know…Chileans may slip some mayonnaise in there sometime), and vegan cake that Abuela made just for Jordin and me because she’s the bomb.com. The guests were supposed to come at 8:30pm, so in typical Chilean fashion, most of them showed up by 9:15, and Aly and Sergio were supposed to arrive at 9:30, so they showed up at 10:15. Aly was completely surprised, and after she hugged everyone, the real party began – our patio was transformed into an amazing dancefloor, with enough flashing, colored lights to give someone epilepsy, as well as a disco ball strategically placed in a large birdcage in the corner. Everyone wanted to talk to Jordin and me, and they all repeatedly asked why we chose Chile instead a different country where the Spanish is easier to learn. And of course we talked about Trump – the first question always is, “Estás contenta?” and my answer always is “Absolutamente nooooooo!” One man, Fernando, compared Trump to Augusto Pinochet, who was the President of Chile from 1973 to 1990, and this was a military dictatorship. To put it simply, a lot of shit went down during Pinochet’s rule, including the torturing, murder, and disappearances of thousands of people. I’ve met people who hate him and those who love him, for various reasons. But Fernando compared Pinochet to Trump by saying that the people want a president who is “muy duro”, or very tough. But back to the party – there was lots of dancing to great music, and Jordin was especially fantastic. One man came up to me and said, “Tu hermano es un espectáculo!” People loved us dancing even more when we played Uptown Funk, which all the younger kids knew. All in all, we had a blast. Many people said that they want to meet our parents when they come visit, so Mom and Dad, you better be studying your Spanish!

Last tidbit about the party: a man in his 70s told me, in English, that he loved me. So that happened. Below is a video with clips from both salsa classes and from the birthday party.

Chilenismos / vocabulary of the week:

  • Fome = boring, dull
  • ¡La raja! = awesome/something really fun; this is informal and used among young people
  • Palos/palillo/palito chino = chopsticks
  • Brocheta = kebab (e.g. brochetas de fruta, brochetas de verduras, brochetas de carne, etc)
  • Cangrejo (crab) vs. conejo (rabbit) vs. consejo (advice)

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I saw this sign on the side of the road today near Universidad Católica, which is where I’ve seen many signs and posters about more liberal topics that are definitely not in other areas of Santiago. For example, street vendors selling vegan sandwiches and desserts, as well as lots of wall art and graffiti – yes, including the word “vegan” many times. But this sign is so relevant right now – here’s how it translates:
And why is abortion not something people talk about? 

Religion punishes us. School blinds us. Health hides it. The law forbids it. 

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Month 1: Finishing the course, dancing on the metro, Chilean beaches, and a tarantula.

Hola amigos! Happy November! ~~~Don’t forget to click the title for better formatting (and to watch the video)!~~~

The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of teaching, homework, and of course, lots of fun. My English-teaching certification program officially ended on Friday! I can’t believe we’ve now been in Chile for over a month – the course flew by, as expected, though the workload was intense, also as expected. But I was really sad for it to end, because I love our teacher, my classmates, and our class dynamic – the last day was very bittersweet. We’ve had a lot of work in the last two weeks (three teaching sessions and three papers), but now that it’s over, I have my TEFL / IDELT certification that is accepted in any country in the world, and I have six hours of observed teaching practice under my belt. While teaching wasn’t easy, it definitely got easier throughout, and my last class could not be more different from the first. Below are the six classes that I taught:

  • Pre-intermediate grammar: prepositions of time (in the morning, at night, until 4pm, etc.)
  • Pre-intermediate function: Asking for repetition (“Could you say that again?”)
  • Intermediate reading: I got to choose my own subject, which was an article on fast food and its health effects
  • Beginner grammar: simple present questions (“What do you like? Do you have a car?”)
  • Advanced listening: I got to choose my own subject again, so used a podcast about distracted driving
  • Beginner vocabulary: emotions (“I am excited”, “I am angry”)

I really enjoyed both of my reading and listening classes, not only because I could choose my own subject, but also because I didn’t have to do much teaching. This may seem contradictory to the teacher’s purpose in class, but one of our goals is to have as little Teacher Talk Time (TTT) as possible. In order to learn a language, the students need to use that language as much as possible, so listening to the teacher lecture about the topic won’t help them very much. In reading and listening classes, the focus is comprehension, not production (using the language, such as practicing asking for repetition in a variety of situations). The main goal is to get the students to talk about the topic and understand what they’re reading/listening to. I chose a reading or listening section that I tailored to the level of the students (e.g. Intermediate reading is half to two-thirds of a page of text, single spaced, while Advanced is a full page). Then we reviewed vocabulary from the selection that may be hard for the students to understand through some sort of activity, such as matching words or pictures to their definitions. Finally, we read/listened to the text/recording, and discussed both general and specific questions that I created beforehand. At the end, we had a discussion or debate, or something to demonstrate their comprehension of what they learned. In my course, we were specifically instructed NOT to choose a topic that is particularly contentious, such as politics or abortion (which is 100% illegal in Chile), because we shouldn’t impose our own opinions on the students. However, if I was teaching in the U.S. and just so happened to discuss the upcoming election to potentially swing some votes in the way of my preferred candidate…just kidding (kind of).

I have learned so much in this course, not just about English grammar, but also about how to teach well. In all of my six teaching sessions, I had a class of 1-3 students, and my teacher and classmates observed and gave feedback afterwards. This feedback has been essential to my improvement, especially because there are so many things I never would’ve noticed on my own. For example, during my second lesson, I was crowned the Modal Queen – modals are words like can, might, may, would, etc (words of possibility). In English classes, especially with any level below Advanced, we’re not supposed to use any modals because they are extra words that the students hear and often don’t understand, and they don’t actually add anything to the lesson except politeness. In the U.S., teachers constantly use modals, such as, “Could you please read the sentence on the board?”, or “Would you please repeat that?” But when teaching English, we’re supposed to make our instructions as short and direct as possible, and while they may not be as polite as they could be, the students know exactly what is being asked of them. For example, “Please do the worksheet”, “Please repeat that”, and “Please come to the board.” After learning that I used 58 modals during my second lesson (our teacher tallies them for everyone), I changed that aspect of my teaching style immediately, and now I think of exactly how I’ll begin my sentence before I speak. It is difficult at times, but I know it’s so much easier on the students, especially the beginners. Here are some other things that we all improved upon:

  • Echo – when the teacher repeats what the student says, regardless of whether or not it’s correct. Teachers often echo when the answer is incorrect, so we want to cause as little confusion as possible by not echoing what the student says at all; for example, student says “Wrote”, teacher says, “Good!”, instead of, “Wrote – good!”
  • Narration – Jordin and I had this problem the most, probably because we both tend to talk ourselves through whatever we’re doing. Narrating in class is filling the silence with words when it’s not necessary, for example, “Now I’m going to erase the board, and then we’ll do a worksheet.” Either the students will understand some of or all of what’s being said, or won’t understand anything and think they’re missing something important. We try to embrace the silence when we have it.
  • Teacher Talk Time (TTT) – as discussed above, we aim for a low TTT so the students get to speak as much as possible.
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Making English grammar relatable to Chile

Additionally, we’ve had some pretty funny moments during classes with the students. In my final lesson, which was about emotions, I told the students, “I am excited about class today. What is an example of when you are excited?” One of the students shyly said, “I am excited when I….make love?” Everyone laughed, and I realized that excited is a false cognate for excitado in Spanish, which can mean sexually excited…oops! In the same class, the other student was trying to pronounce the word “niece”, but it came out sounding like “sex” (it’s hard to believe they sound similar, but they did). Things like this happen in class all the time, and it’s always a funny moment for teachers.

So, what are Jordin and I doing with ourselves now that the course is over? Applying for jobs WOOOOO! Just getting closer to what I’ll have to do in the real world when I get back to the U.S. There are a ton of institutes/businesses in Santiago that offer English classes and are hiring teachers, although we are entering the slow hiring season because it’s almost summer here, and fewer people take classes then. Private lessons are ideal because neither Jordin nor I want to work a ton of hours each week, since our primary goal living in Chile is to work on our Spanish, and English classes are 100% taught in English. We want to have something on our schedule every day, make enough to pay the rent, and spend the rest of the time speaking Spanish. In the last week of our course, we worked on our teaching resumes with our teacher’s feedback, and created flyers advertising our teaching services to post around the city. We also have been posting in various Facebook groups, on craigslist, and have emailed many IB schools in Santiago (again, after sending initial emails in July & August) to see what we can find. I already have some replies, so fingers crossed that we both find jobs soon!

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Viña Concha y Toro

Backtracking a bit: Last Saturday (Oct. 22), my class (six of us) went to Concha y Toro, a large winery in the outskirts of Santiago that is accessible by public transportation – we took the metro from one end to the other (about 40 minutes). It’s not grape season right now (that’s more in March/April), but on our tour of the property, we saw many of the vines, which were labeled Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, etc, as well as temperature-controlled rooms full of barrels of wine. Fun fact: some wines have hints of other flavors, such as specific fruits or vanilla, and these flavors are not added after the fact –they’re released by the barrels and absorbed by the wine! So cool. We got to taste three different wines, all of which were excellent, and we even got to keep the glass we used. When they filled up all the glasses at the beginning of the tasting, Bryan (one of our classmates) bent down to see which glass was filled the highest, and after that, our tour guide gave him his own wine each time, so Bryan drank double the wine that we did. This wine is definitely more expensive in the U.S. than it is here (in the liquor store, a bottle of one of these wines was around $5), but I highly recommend trying any of these if you’re looking for a new wine! Below are links to read more about them. And for those who don’t know their wines (I’m outing myself as someone who does not), I wrote the type of wine next to the name since otherwise I would have no clue what’s red or white (and the pictures show empty bottles)  :)

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  1. Terrunyo – Sauvignon Blanc (white)IMG_9523.jpg
  2. Marques Casa Concha – Merlot (red)
  3. Terrunyo – Carmenere (red) 
  4. Casillero del Diablo – Cabernet Sauvignon (red) This last one I tasted outside of Concha y Toro, but it’s from there and named after the devil of Concha y Toro, Casillero del Diablo

When we took the metro back to Santiago, Bryan and Dennise took out their wine glasses and started drinking the bottle of wine they had bought, which is definitely illegal, but it was hilarious. At one stop, a saxophone player got on and started playing really popular dance music, so of course we all got up to dance. Every single person in the metro car was staring at us – I’m still upset that I didn’t take a quick picture of the whole car, because seeing all of those surprised faces would have been an excellent memory of the day. Not only were we a bunch of gringos, but two of us were drinking, and most of us were dancing, and Bryan even got a lady to stand up and dance with him. Not a typical metro ride, but we definitely gave the other riders a treat. Give yourself a treat and watch my compiled video below – it’s less than a minute and is guaranteed to make you smile!

On Friday, the last day of the course, we turned in all of our final documents, and then went out to lunch with our awesome teacher, Kimberley. We ordered a few pitchers of sangria as well as lunch, and others continued drinking throughout the 3 hours we were there (we started at 1:30pm…). After we left around 5pm, we went back to Kimberley’s apartment, and hung out on her terrace that had a gorgeous view of the city. Sadly, Friday’s view didn’t include the mountains because it was so smoggy. We had an amazing time, and I couldn’t have picked a better way to finish the final week of our course. Jordin and I will definitely be staying in touch with Kimberley while we’re in Chile, especially because we found out she also loves playing Canasta, so we’re going to play with her sometime soon. (Seriously, now that I’m 23 I do feel like a grandma, even though I’ve played both Canasta and Mahjongg since I was a young tot.)

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View from Kimberley’s apartment – Dennise just went back to NYC.

This weekend was a long weekend in Chile (Monday and Tuesday are off), so on Saturday morning, we drove with our family to their casita en el campo, or little house in the country, in the town of Puchuncaví. It’s about 70 miles from Santiago, but it took us a while to get there because of traffic, and Leo’s (toddler) constant screaming definitely didn’t help. Jordin likes to say that Leo cries just to hear himself cry – I’m guessing it’s because he still doesn’t talk (which is concerning, because he’s almost a year and a half), so he cries regardless of how he feels.

On Sunday morning, I got up around 8:30, turned around, and saw that THERE WAS A GIANT TARANTULA ON THE WALL BEHIND MY BED, ABOUT A FOOT FROM WHERE MY HEAD WAS. If this sentence in all caps didn’t scare you, the photo below should. Even though our host parents told us that the tarantulas here aren’t dangerous, this is obviously a horrifying view for someone who just woke up. This was almost as scary as what happened when Jordin and I were on an Elderhostel in the Poconos with our grandma when we were 10: I ran into the cabin and slammed the door behind me to lock Jordin out, and saw that there was a large, black, coiled snake behind the door, blocking my only exit. But back to the tarantula, I heard that Javi (host sister), Felipe (her boyfriend), and Leo (toddler) were awake, so I asked them for help, and they woke the parents, who swiftly took the tarantula out of the house. Happy first morning in the country!

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LOOK AT THAT THING

The house was about 20 kilometers from various beaches, so we went to two different ones each day: on Sunday, we drove to Maitencillo and La Laguna. Only Sergio went in the water, because it was pretty cold and the wind was somewhat nippy, though the weather warmed up throughout the day. I had my first Chilean empanada, which was quite mediocre (in my experience, Argentine empanadas are 1000% better). On Monday, we drove to Horcón, and went to one nameless beach and a second called El Tebo. We walked through the artisan fair and just hung out, and most of the family went in the water. Jordin and I are way too picky about cold water to even bring our bathing suits. All of the beaches were beautiful, and smelling that salty air was a nice change from smoggy Santiago. And on our final night, during the car ride home, we saw stars for the first time since arriving in Chile!

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Playa El Tebo

The past few weeks have been somewhat stressful for me in terms of my Spanish practice. I have been so immersed in my course and speaking/teaching English that it’s been difficult to find time to focus on Spanish, since all of my work at night was in English. At the beginning of my time in Chile, I would go to bed and wake up thinking in Spanish, but that hasn’t happened for a few weeks. I’ve been reminding myself that I’ll focus much more after the course, but it’s still frustrating that I feel shy to speak most of the time. I feel like Jordin is able to converse pretty smoothly now, but I’m not there yet. He also took two more Spanish classes in college than I did, so it hasn’t been as long for him as it has been for me, but I still get frustrated with myself. Our host family was great about making us talk and correcting our grammar and vocabulary over the weekend, so I hope that continues. They also think it’s really funny that I can’t roll my R’s, so they’re making up sentences for me to say to practice: “Raquel va a tratar a correr por los cerros.” = “Rachael is going to try to run through the hills.” – I did try to do this in Puchuncaví, but failed miserably because the hills were so steep.

While it’s easy to be frustrated, I had an clarifying moment during the car ride to the country house: I’m finished with my intense course, I’ve made some great friends, I was driving through beautiful mountains covered in avocado trees, and I have so much of Santiago and the entire country of Chile to explore – I have nothing to complain about. While living and adjusting to life here can be difficult at times, it has been wonderful so far and I’m so excited for the rest. Live in the present.

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sunset en el campo

Cosas nuevas que he aprendido (new things that I’ve learned):

  • We were talking with our host family about how Chileans talk about other people: they said that in the U.S., you can talk about yourself in a negative light, but not other people without it being gossipy (e.g. “I’m fat.”) But in Chile, they talk about other people all the time with words that the U.S. may consider offensive, but here it’s just descriptive and not out of malice. They say things like “Hola gordito” (“Hi fatty”) if someone is overweight, but it’s not meant as an insult; Chileans are just extremely descriptive with their words, so they won’t hesitate to say things like that.
  • You can’t buy alcohol on Election Day in Chile, which was last Sunday (Oct. 23), because politicians used to bus people in from far away and bribe them with alcohol. Needless to say, the liquor stores were packed on Saturday night.
  • You’re allowed to have up to 3 grams of marijuana growing in your own house. When we were talking about this with the family, my host mom clarified to me that marijuana is a drug, in case I didn’t know. #WesleyanGrad
  • I’ve seen many adults here with braces. Apparently braces are a sign of wealth– people put them on later when they start earning money, because they can afford it. Orthodontia costs for kids are more expensive.
  • Remember how I said Chileans add “-ito/a” as a suffix to most of their words, even if they don’t mean to change the meaning to “little _____” ? e.g. Tecito, cafecito, paltita. The other day, I was looking at someone’s phone over their shoulder, as I do here (it’s not snooping if I’m trying to learn the language, right?? ), and saw they were texting a contact named “Amorcito”, aka amor (love) + -ito. I would be surprised, but honestly I’m not because they add it to EVERYTHING.
  • Chilenismo of the week: arriba de la pelota = drunk

BesITOS y abrazITOS! Please email/facebook message/imessage/whatsapp me to catch up!

Rachita