Published: January 28th 2007January 28th 2007
1/28/07 11:17 PM
Hola. I’m watching TV for the first time since I got here. I kinda wanted to watch something American, cause I imagine that Chilean TV’s bad. But I also wanted to watch something in Spanish. So I’m watching Latin MTV. That one cartoon that’s really vulgar with the black chick in orange with fox ears on her hat, and the black and white Betty Boop looking girl and and a pig with a unibrow and a pikachu-lookin thing. I guess I’ll turn it off now that I’m typing, though. Ok, anyway, I just spent the last couple days with the kids from the program. We went to Lago Rapel for an orientation weekend. There are three really great women working in the UC EAP study center here who are going to be helping us with everything, so there’s a lot of support. They told us all about cultural differences with things like drugs and sex here (sex is the same. But if they catch you with any amount of pot or any illegal druge here, you go to jail, and for us we go to jail and then get deported). They also talked to us about the universities. I guess that La Chile, where I’m going to attend, frequently has student strikes that get rather violent and then the cops come in with tear gas, which is much stronger than American tear gas. My host mom told me that the protests are because before the Pinochet regime education was very socialistic, and everyone could go, but since the military dictatorship it hasn’t been so, and so the students are protesting so that more students can go to school. Or something like that. But if I don’t finish my credits and flunk out I can be deported, so I may actually have to cross a picket line, which sucks, cause I’m not particularly part of the politics. I guess.. But there is a student union or student coalition here that organizes the strikes, and so the director of the EAP program suggested that if a strike starts up (as it almost definitely will, at least once) then we should go to the student coalition and see if they have a special policy towards foreign students, etc, etc. Also, I got to look at the class listings and there are some pretty amazing looking classes that should count towards my major, like Rural and Urban Sociology, and a bunch of other that I don’t remember exactly right now. We spent a lot of time going over details and deadlines, but most of the weekend was spent just hanging out.
Everyone was pretty stoked on going to Lago Rapel (Lake Rapel) and brought their swimsuits and everything, and then when we got there the first people to jump in found out that the lake bottom is concrete, and the lake itself is only about 3 feet so it was possible to run through the water all the way to the middle of the lake. It is a big lake, though. Someone said 7 miles across, but that seems a little too much for me. The whole place was pretty nice with little cabins, and one really big, nice cabin that looked like it was out of storybook. There were boats on the lake, small motor boats, kayaks, rowboats, there was a pool, also a parrot house, a bunch of chickens and roosters and little chicks, a big doppley white horse that was discovered in the middle of the night wandering around the cabins, and a German Shephard who fetched bricks and chewed on them. The whole weekend was nice, and people got to know each other pretty well. Everyone’s very friendly and open, which is cool. There are a lot of Santa Cruz kids, more than any other campus I think, and most of us are from Merrill. Throughout the weekend I kept finding myself in small groups of UCSC people, not at all on purpose or because we knew each other but because it’s just the kind of people we all attract, I guess. This girl Christina from Merrill and I shared a room with 3 girls from UCLA, and the first thing we both did after we put our stuff down in our cabin was take off our shoes and run through the grass, and we were laughing about what a Santa Cruz thing that was to do, and then later I picked up a spider off of a girl sitting in front of me and took it outside and another SC kid shouted “yeah, Santa Cruz!” from behind me.
There are a lot of really interesting people on the program, though. I’ve had and listened to some really interesting conversations about alternative fuels, economics, sustainability (especially sustainability being adopted by corporations like McDonalds, Starbucks, and Wal Mart), fair trade, etc, etc. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know people but for some reason I’m keeping my distance, and haven’t really allowed myself to feel entirely comfortable with any person or group of people. We played a game of pool at the hotel-type place on Rapel, but I guess Chilean pool is different or something; the pockets are a lot smaller, barely bigger than the balls, and the corners around the pockets are a lot sharper. It took us over an hour to get down to the last 2 balls, and then we just gave up.
Unfortunately, yesterday we actually had someone have to go home. This girl named Alice got a call that her mom had been hit by a car and was in critical condition in Berkeley, so she had to go back to Santiago (a 3-4 hour drive) and catch a flight home. It was very scary and so I hope that everyone at home is staying safe.
What else? The food here’s not so amazing. A lot of people think it’s very bland, but I don’t mind it. Except today for Sunday lunch they served a masado (I think that’s how you say/spell it), which is a barbecue, but this one was a banquet, with all kinds of vegetables and breads and meats and desserts. Very tasty. Also, when I got home tonight Luki had made a very, very good soup that’s pretty Chilean out of white beans and cornmeal. Very good, also. Oh, and here avocado and strawberry are called palta and frutilla, instead of aguacate and fresa like they are everywhere else I’ve been. I’m sure that there’s a lot more to say because I was gone for a whole weekend, but I’m very tired. I think I’ll try to post all of these tomorrow, because my Intensive Language Program starts, but not until 2, and Luki said there’s a Ciber right around the corner.