Week One in Review

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January 17th 2017
Published: January 17th 2017
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Tuesday marked the first day of classes, but I only had one during the day. So, I walked around the city with one of my classmates until dance class later in the evening. Our favorite find was a little coffee shop near La Moneda that sold COLD PRESS COFFEE. That was a hugedeal, because most of the coffee sold in restaurants or little breakfast/lunch shops in Santiago is made with instant coffee. Or, if you happen to find fresh ground coffee beans, it's almost always going to be served hot. Which....is not exactly what you want when you're from Minnesota and it's over 90 degrees and sunny (which is great, don't get me wrong, but I still don't want hot coffee).

Later that day, I had dance class where we began to learn salsa and bachata. We looked pretty silly, but we had a ton of fun and got great exercise. Afterwards, we went out with some of our instructors for a drink and got to practice our Spanish skills with native speakers.

Wednesday was just a long day of classes. By the end of the day, my brain was fried! My brain is constantly working twice as hard; normally, when learning information, I have to work to understand the concepts, and then remember them. Now, I have to first understand the words being said, and then work through everything else! Needless to say, it's exhausting. There have been times when I feel like I'll never get the hang of speaking Spanish, I'll never be able to learn, and I'll always be awkward and clumsy when I try to speak it. Then, there are other times (like when I actually ordered lunch in Spanish without saying something goofy) when I have an entire conversation in Spanish, and I understood what was being said and was able to respond. Those times encourage me to keep working at getting better. Natalia, one of the young adult women I met at church in Santiago (who speaks only Spanish), while telling another young lady to 'please speak more slowly to her ', said that I had improved greatly in what I was able to understand since the previous Sabbath. That made me feel absolutely great, as it reaffirmed that I am getting a little better, day by day.

Hiking (read 'Frying")

On Thursday, the students in Track 2 don't have class. The majority of us decided to go hiking in a park just outside the eastern outskirts of Santiago. Our original plan was to meet at the eastern-most metro station at 11 am, and then take an Uber to the park from there. The idea was that we would be up the trail before the hottest part of the day. That didn't happen. First, there was some confusion as to where people were and who was coming. Then, there were the Uber complications. The Uber car that I was in made it to the park entrance, but the second Uber car apparently drove to the entrance, drove away, and let the rest of the group off somewhere else. So, they ended up having to get another Uber before they could join us at the park entrance. So, it was probably around 1pm by the time we actually made it to the park.

Two Chilean girls that one of the students knew accompanied us on our hike. Since I haven't been very active lately, I was grateful that they tended to walk a little slower than the rest of the group. We ended up hiking in two groups: the 'fast' group and the 'slow' group. Occasionally I walked with the fast group, but walking with the slower group was more comfortable since we ended up being on the mountain during the hottest part of the day. It also afforded me more opportunities for photo-taking.

Fun Fact: There is a hole in the ozone layer down here. I need more sunscreen. That is all.


On Friday evening, Susi Langarica and her husband invited me over for dinner. I left home with plenty of time to reach the metro station that Lester was going to meet me at on time.... until I got to the bus stop and realized that I had somehow forgotten my BIP card (metro and bus payment method). Earlier in the day, friends and I had gone to the large mall, and received blue 'tourist discount' cards. Unfortunately, that was the card I grabbed when getting ready to go to dinner, since I didn't want to carry a whole bag with me. After running back to the apartment and getting the correct card, I finally made it to the metro station and successfully changed trains at the combination station. That is, until I realized that we whizzed right past the station that I was supposed to leave the second train at... so I got off at the next station, and got on the next train going back in the direction of my station. Again, we whizzed riiiight past. So, I again got off the train at the next station, and decided I would try one more train before trying to walk to my station (at this point, I was officially late). That was when I realized that during week days, there are 'express trains'. This means that there are two 'color routes', red and green. All trains stop at combination or large stations, but otherwise, they only stopped at stations corresponding to their respective colors. I identified the color of my station, and fortunately, the next train was the correct color! Finally I had made it to the station. At this point, I realized that I no longer had my glasses case in hand. I had been wearing my prescription sunglasses since the sun is so bright here ALL THE TIME (and sunburned eyes are NOT fun), but my 'real' glasses were in the case. I figured I must have left it on the bus in my hurry to get to the metro station, but if that was true, there was nothing I could do, so I might as well not fuss about it right now.

I had a wonderful dinner with Susi, Lester, and another young lady from Peru that they were hosting after the summer camp. It was a great way to begin the Sabbath. I am still not used to eating dinner around 9-10pm though, and that day, I didn't get to bed until almost 1am! Somehow though, even getting less sleep than I would normally like to have in the United States, I still have more energy. Maybe it's the lighter class load, maybe it's not being overscheduled, or maybe it's the constant sunshine. Maybe it's all three! When I arrived home, I found my glasses case sitting on my bed, right next to the bag that had contained my BIP card. What a relief! And a reminder to slow down, and even when running late, in a foreign country (or anywhere?) it is better to remain calm and focused. Panic kills, right Dad?

On Saturday, Susi translated the sermon for me again so that I could follow along. But, I did understand more words of it than the previous week! Before I leave Chile, it is one of my goals to be able to listen to an entire sermon in Spanish without translation and actually understand it. :D I will be using VidaEsperanzayVerdad (the Spanish version of LifeHopeandTruth.com) to learn the 'church vocabulary' that I won't be learning in school or regular conversation with locals.

After Sabbath services, many of the young adults and teens went to a park near Baquedano for lunch, where we spend the rest of the afternoon together. On Sunday, I spent the morning doing my homework and putting the finishing touches on my applications for summer internships. One less thing to worry about now! The next thing to work on will be essays for scholarship applications.

In the afternoon on Sunday, the young people gathered at the Langaricas' house for an afternoon in the pool and just hanging out. I still don't understand most of the conversation, but one-on-one with someone who speaks a little English, we can have good conversations and both learn 😊 I also had the opportunity to speak again with another young lady that I had met the day before, who is studying Occupational Therapy. I was elated that we had an entire conversation about our studies, seeing as it was entirely in Spanish and I understood the whole thing! Progress, people! Although, this time I really did leave my glasses case... but I will get it back (with my sunglasses) on the Sabbath 😊

Today was another full day of classes, after which I took a walk in the park. I decided to drop a political science course that I had been auditing (taking not for credit, but still appears on the transcript). I am still in 16 credits, and it would have taken many extra hours each week. I decided to make this semester my 'fun' semester (meaning: exploring, meeting people, having time to relax, and not having my nose constantly in a textbook!), and only take the 16 credits I would get full credit for. This way, I can focus all of my school attentions on learning Spanish.

It's been a long week; at times I can hardly believe I've been here over a week, and other times I feel like I've been here for a month. I still have so much yet to explore, even in Santiago alone! I can't wait to see what the next months hold!


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