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Published: September 12th 2010
On my first day of classes here in Arica I discovered a very special aspect of my campus- Alpacas. On the Velasquez campus of Universidad de Tarapaca, live two adorable alpacas. Who new university in Chile was so awesome?
I began classes in Spanish and various aspects of public health last week. Our schedule changes daily, and many of our classes involve trips to the center of town, to clinics, and to areas of Chile with indigenous populations. Our Spanish classes are also culture classes, and we get a Chilean explanation of Chilean culture. Our first day of Spanish we learned how to say useful things like ghetto (flaite) and boring (fome) because Chileans use a lot of slang. Our public health classes focus on the intercultural issues that occur between rural and urban populations in Chile. We also had a visit to the San Miguel de Azapa Clinic, a few miles outside of Arica in the Azapa Valley. This is a public clinic that serves a very rural population. The public health system in Chile appears to be very effective, as far as I can tell. I observed an educadora de parvulos, or a child-development educator. She explained the
ClÃnica de San Miguel de Azapa.
government programs for tracking and assisting childhood development, and let us play with the kits for children. I should have stolen the flashcards because the Spanish for niños is just about my level!
This week I have been adapting to family life in Chile, which is challenging. I would have to admit that I think there are fewer cultural differences (perhaps due to socioeconomic status and westernization??) here than there were when I lived with a host family in Ghana. That was also an incredible experience, but the cultural differences were much more obvious and required more adaptability on my part. The food here is generally recognizable, always edible, and tasty more often than not. The family functions much like an American family, or like my American family. There are no strict social norms that are much different from those of the US, the only noticeable one being salidas (kiss on the cheek as greeting). I am enjoying living with my host family, they are assisting me in learning about Chile, not too strict about what I do every day, and very generous with their home and assistance!
Yesterday they took me to the puerta, or
the port/marina to see the pelicans and sea lions (pelicanos and lobos de marina, respectively). We took a boat ride around the marina and saw the shipping port, a Bolivian oil tanker, a variety of fishing boats, and lots of adorably feo (ugly) sea lions. I was hoping to see some humboldt penguins, because they live along the northern coast of Chile, but I don't know if I succeeded or not. I don't think so. I have heard that surfers often encounter them, so perhaps I will meet one when I take some surf lessons in a couple of weeks! But the sea lions and pelicans were entertaining and interesting. Also, empanadas de mariscos (various seafood) are delicious. We picked up some fresh ceviche at the fish market after our boat ride. I was a little nervous because of the potential for V. parahaemolyticus, but I think I avoided that this time. Ceviche is a mixture of raw fish, onions, cilantro, and other unidentified spices marinated in salt and lemon juice. So delicious!!
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