Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Al Fin del Mundo

Before the Christmas vacation we had our Rotary trip al Sur, it was incredible. We took a flight from Santiago to Punta Arenas (one of the southern most cities in the world). The first thing I got acustomed to was the wind- te juro que I´d never been in plane that landed with so much trubulence. Now, in STGO it was upwards to 90 degrees, but as the plane doors opened in PA we stepped into 40 degree weather with wind that blew the rain sideways... We were a group of about 25 exchange students from Finnland, Denmark, Canada, Germany, and the US and we drove all over in a coach bus piloted by an absolutely crazy driver. The first thing we did was vist a tiny hacienda where we ate a typical cordero asado and greeted the Rotarians of the Punta Arenas club. After, we retreated to our hotel in the center a Punta Arenas- where I quickly went out to buy some a mate and a cheap gord. Unfortunately-- Chileans dont drink as much mate as I had hoped, but in the South you can find it everywhere! We took a city tour the following morning and saw all the sights. In Punta Arenas you can see a view of La Tierra del Fuego in the distance. The peguins were in like a zoo- I suppose you could call it- but luego en el día fuimos to see a colony of penguins in their true habitat. Our next destination was Puerto Natales, which is a bout 3 hours north of Punta Arenas and at the out skirts of the Parque Nacional Los Torres del Paine. We stayed at the Hotel Glaciers- and I was psyched to see some ice. Through out the whole trip I was on a mission to find this book titled In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin. Every thing I had read prior to the trip refered to this Englishman´s travels in the Patagonia, however, it was very difficult to find. Every tourist and souvenir store we went to I asked and I got the same response each time, "No, lo siento no lo tenemos en este momento, pero es un libro que siempre debría estar..." Well, genial... We set off for Los Torres de Paine 6am the following morning after stopping at La Cuerva de Milodon- a giant cave that had been carved out by the melting glaciers.
In the above picture, im with my buddy Javier Rojas at the first sight of the famous blue towers. The flag were holding is the flag of the 12th region in Chile also known as the flag of Magallanes (Magellan). The yellow represents the plains of the Patagonia (pampas), they meet the white Andes mountains, and in the sky is the southern cross. I think its awesome. For the longest time I had no idea who they were refering to when they said Magallanes...not becuase of my lack of a proper history class (grandma), but becuase the pronunciation is completely different... In the park, or for most of the trip rather, we were in the bus... which at times absolutely killed me. Nonetheless, it really was amazing and I expect ill be back- hopefully to do the 10 day loop throughout the whole park. Nearly 100% of park visitors are foreign... My camera battery died once we entered.... We prepared traditional whisky cocktails using ice from Glacier Grey, ran around with the guanacos (type of llama), and ate lunch on this hotel with an incredible view which was located on an island in one of the glacial lakes...

The next day, again at 6am, we departed for the Argentinian side of the Patagonia to Calafate. It was a six hour drive..... but what we saw was worth while. The Glacier Perrito Moreno- for some unknown reason this glacier is one of the only slabs of ice that sustains its size year after year. While all other glaciers are receding as much as 4 meters anually, Perrito Moreno gains back all the mass it loses during the summer months. The view was incredible.

It was in Calafate that I finally found my book! And so that was our last day in the Patagonia. The trip was short, but we were constantly doing something. The following day of travel consisted of a 2.5 hour bus ride to Punta Arenas, 4 hour plane ride to STGO, followed by a 7 hour bus ride back to LA. Exhausting... pero te juro impresionante!

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday and I wasnt going to let it just pass by while out of the country. My friend down the road Emily and I had big plans for preparing a thanksgiving feast for our family and friends- traditional, but with some chilean estilo. We split up family recepies and came up with a brief menu- turkey, mash patatoes, green beans, gingered carrots, corn, salad, cranberry sause, pumpkin and apple pies, stuffing... the works. I was in charge of the bird. Now, I thought stuffing a turkey was normal, but apparently its not a universal technique. My host father, who was also a first time turkey chef, was very concerned about our stuffing recepie and I kept on telling him were just going to "wing in", make this mix of almost everything we´ve got, and throw it in the bird. Saturday morning (thanksgiving was on saturday in Chile becuase we didn´t have time off) we woke up "early" 11:00am and began to prepare. Rubbed and stuffed we tossed her in the oven and let her cook. The ovens down here don´t have temperature dials-- so we turned the controls to what I would call "sorta hot" and set a tentative timer. Six hours later, that little red button popped up and my host dad and I got overly excited. At 8:30 our gests began to arrive. Emily and her family, the other exchange students in LA, and the two Españoles (I mean Basques, pardon me). We had a brief cocktail hour before thanksgiving which included home made pisco sours and appetizers- we had too much food. My parents even bought an eletric knife... just to carve the turkey. It was a little exessive, yet funny watching Ricardo and Oscar, Emilys dad, figure out how to cut it... The Pumpkin pie was a hit- they intially didnt like the idea, but the two pies were gone in the end. Oscar, who is an absolute character I wish everyone could meet him, insisted on bringin chamange- im not even sure if thats custom for thanksgiving, but we had it. We were definetly on a differnt time frame. At home we´d eat early in the evening then roll over and fall sleep in front of a football game. In Chile, we ate and conversed until about 1 in the morning and then all the kids went out.... Nonetheless it was a typical and traditional thanksgiving and I was glad to share with people here in Chile.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Friends from Vasco

Last night I was invited over to the neighbors, where another exchange student from NY is staying, for a BBQ. The family also invited a boy and a girl from the country of Vasco (Spain), who are here in Chile for six months learning more about the forestry companies in Los Angeles. They´re a bit older than Emily and I, 20 and 21, but we got along great. I knew roughly about the regions in northern Spain, but it was pretty amazing to actually meet someone from the area and talk about their culture- which is very distinct from the other parts of Spain. I am so accustomed to Chilean Spanish that hearing a European speak with a slisp and in the vosotros form was just strange. Having visited Salamanca and Madrid, I´m aware of the dialectical differences, but they caught me by surprise. You wouldn´t know it, but there first language is not Spanish, but Vasco, Basque, or Euskaldunak- however you´d like to say it. Ironically enough my neighbor and Sebastian share the same lastname Uribe- which is a traditional name from Vasco. So that would mean that the name Uribe was carried from Spain, or rather Vasco, to Chile probably some time in the 16th century. The more we talked the more interested I became in Vasco. The Basques live in a very differnt world than regular Spain. Its home of the terrorist group ETA, who were initially blamed for the 2004 traing bombings in Madrid. These kids have no ties with ETA, however, they make it clear that they want to be independent from Spain and consider themselves their own country. Simply living in Vasco, they are automatically asociated with ETA radicals and are often picked out from crowds when traveling to be searched and interrogated. It was really interesting to talk with them and moreoever Sebastian is an avid rock climber and mountaineer- so we had a lot in common. They´re here until march and we´ve got plans to get together again.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

La Guerra de Agua!

So, for the past month now the un-known date of this war of water has been tourturing the 3rd years. Every year, the 4th years plan this "hazing" event. I imagined a simple water balloon fight, but I couldnt have been more wrong. About 5 weeks ago the 4th years cut the power to our class rooms and began to stomp on the ceilings (their rooms are located directly above ours). Everyone went wild expecting this notorious battle to begin... but nothing happened. That was some five weeks ago. Since then the seniors have done every thing possible to psych us out. I got a glimpse of what we were getting into the morning we found a boar´s head on a silver platter in our classroom and threatening notes written on the white boards. For the rest of the day there was an awful smell in that room. Every afternoon for nearly a month we were told that tomorrow would be the day- but it never came. Until today, the 19th of November. Before lunch, we were wrangled into a single room and one by one a victim was taken out. Once outside we ran through a gaunlet as the 4th years threw things at us. I couldn´t even tell what somethings were but I was hit with eggs, vinegar?, a mix of flour and water, mud, waterballoons, rotten vegetables, paint, yougurt (I think?), hand fulls of dry flour... it was disgusting. Once through the gaunlet it was war. For quite some time we continued to hurl miscellenous and absolutamente asquerozo weas at eachother. This was all taking place outside in a closed in patio as the other grades and teachers were watching safetly from inside. It was the food fight that Tim Canty never allowed- except worse. I suppose it was with good intention since everyones friends- despite the the eggs I had a great time. Once everyone was absolutely flithy and no one could find anything else to throw- we ran out to the soccer fields where firetrucks waiting to spray us all down. It was hilarious. Despite the decent hose down we way too dirty to get into cars so we were transported in pickup trucks to our houses. I walked up to my house shirtless, no shoes, and dripping wet with like sludge. I didnt have any of my belongings so the nana let me in- she was astonished at my appearence. I walked right to the shower... I still feel dirty and I have streaks of what I think is spray paint on my back . This friday were having a party to say good bye the the leaving seniors- should be a good time granted no one brings rotten eggs...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Catch up

I realize I havent written in quite a while so im just going to ramble here to fill in the gaps. My fishing incident in October was followed by Halloween, which wasn´t celebrated up to my expectations- no one dressed up! However, by chance this under-celebrated religous holiday landed October 31st and we didnt have school. Taking advantage of every possible chance to make the trip, my family and I drove to Santiago for the three day weekend. Making the 7 hour trip for the 5th time now, I had gotten used to their routine- drive exactly one hour to Copec gas station in Chillian, continue to Tambo for lunch with the grandparents (which is always delicous), and then arrive very late at their apartment in the city. It was nice to get the the chance to go out with my host siblings Daniela and Ricardo, who I dont know very well since they live in Santiago. On saturday, I went to an indie film festival with one of Dani´s good friends Luis- all of her friends, including her boy friend, work for La Ofis- coool. In the plaza of El Cine Arte, we were entertained by circus preformers and other strange acts- I thought of my sister molly... We went to support a director of one of the shorts, who had recently returned from the states and was very eager to talk to me. He told that when he left Chile he had his doubts about the States and felt a little antiamerican, but told me that he an absolutely great time and was very enthusiastic. His short was worth seeing, however the others were beyond strange... Saturday night we went to visit some other relatives, one of which is a student at the Military School in Santiago- It was neat to talk to him and hear what he does. He told me he had a few friends from the states also studying with him at the university. Apprently, West Point and other military institutions from other countries do exchanges as well. I thought that was particualary interesting.

Back in Los Angeles and the Deutsche Schule I got the change to go to El Parque Nacional del Laguna de Laja- which is about an hours drive toward the mountains. There, we ran around on Los Senderos de Chile and I enjoyed every second of it. To end the day a few friends and I took the leap in to La Laguna de Laja, which was absolutely freezing seeing as the snow and ice is still melting for the peaks. That friday we had a guys night at a friends house named Tomi. They ordered two giante buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken and asked me if I had felt at home...they even let me keep the the souveiner bucket (im bringing it home with me). Every year the music department hosts a music event called Unplugged and, by popular request, I preformed some classic bluegrass accompanied by the harmonica. It was a different sound for them, but everyone seemed to like it.

Since I have lots of free time, I joined a gym near my house. Its a pretty intense place and reminds me of that gym from Dodge Ball. I get the feeling that " here at Globo Gym were better than you, and we know it". Nonetheless I´ve enjoyed working out there and they have nice facilities.

Last Saturday I went with my parents to the 4th Annual Jazz Festival held in Los Angeles. Three bands played: a trio of all basses, which was awesome, a standard jazz band, and then a well known Chilean Blues Band. Not quite sure which one I liked best.

Next week might be "La Guerra de Agua"...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A River Runs Through It...

Yes, this actually happened. Take a good look at this picture and make sure you are seeing everything correctly. Nevermind the decent rainbow trout, there is a hook lodged in my upper lip! Believe what you will for this is afterall a fishing story (possibly my best), but I can assure you im not exaggerating. I suppose every fly fisherman hooks himself at some point- this was my first...
On friday, I was invited to go fishing with Thomas Schalchli and his father, who are both avid fly fisherman. Excited to inaugurate my new rod here in Chile, I couldn´t wait to get going. On saturday, I went over to Tom´s house to organize gear for our sunday morning departure. Once we gathered everything, Mr. Schalchli showed me his giant fish freezers, his private fly tying room, and tons of pictures from past fishing excursions. The following morning, we drove one hour south on the Pan-American highway and then some distance east toward the mountain range. Mr. S, like every other person in Los Angeles, works in forestry and was pointing out all the plots of land that he managed. To acsess the river we drove on the forest maintance roads dodging fallen trees and giant pot holes. The first few hours of fishing were wonderful, however, the wind was fierce! And so on an unfortunate back cast a gust wind whipped Mr. Schalchli´s hand tied Caddis right into my upper lip. I had caught myself. Full of embarassment and as helpless as the fish I had previsouly caught, I stumbled down river to where Tom and his father were casting. We managed to cut the line, but the barb was inbedded deep in my skin and so attempting to remove it would have been difficult. Mr. S said we´d better drive back to Los Angeles and visit the medical clinic. I knew trying to remove it right then and there would only worsen my predicament, but a part of me wanted to keep fishing. Moreover, I felt awful that I was the reason for our early return. Not exactly sure how express myself, I proceeded with the comic approach and said things like, "I was just really hungry..." and "looks like I caught the biggest one today, eh?". I spent the entire ride home outlining this entry in my head trying to restrain myself from touching my accidental lip ring. In the clinic waiting room, I couldn´t do anything but laugh at the looks I recieved. Luckily, the removal procedure was quick and painless, however, with all this anesthetic in my lips right now I cant exactly speak, let alone roll my Spanish R´s. My host parents are in Santiago for family reasons and wont be arriving until later tonight. I can´t wait to try and tell this story in Spanish over dinner...

Monday, October 13, 2008

How to Survive in the Chilean Jungle

I have been in Chile for almost two months now (its hard to believe) and I´ve made several oberservations about the language, lifestyle, and food. Ill start with my dictionary, "How to Survive in the Chilean Jungle", by John Brennan- an encyclodepia of Chilean slang complete with photo demonstrations and diagrams. This book translates all the R-rated english curse words, but more entertainingly it defines the "Chileanismos" or the slang terms that are only understood here in Chile. A few of my favorites include "perro muertro", which translates to the act of dinning and dashing and "A lo gringo", which means you´ve forgotten to put on underpants. Why Chileans would relate the Gringos with forgotten underpants is beyond me. This brings me to the word "Weon" (pronounced WAY-OWN), which Brennan describes as, "Chile´s prized addition to the Spanish language". When you call someone a "weon", youre calling them an idiot, but its used more like the words "dude" or "man". I couldn´t even count how many times its used in simple conversation, but literally every sentance begins and ends with "weon" and for girls "weona". And of course its used in various contexts, for example, you can descirbe something as being "weonismo"or say "estoy weando" (im just kidding). I have been told by my host parents, friends, and even teachers that Chileans speak a very poor version of the Castillian language. For example, they conjugate some verbs in "tu" form differently. Instead of "hablas"or"estas" its "hablai" and "estai". Moreover, everyone finishes words and phrases with "po", which is short for "pues". For example,"sipo", "yapo", "no sépo". I find myself saying "po" a lot and everyone thinks its hilarious to hear the gringo use the Chilean version of Spanish. We heard a presentation in school the other day and the girl next to me pinpointed the speaker as a Venezuelan just by the way he spoke. I started paying attention to these variations after we watched documentary aboot the linguistic differences between Canada and the US (I was the only one laughing).

The food is delicious and im finding dishes that I love, but im also missing things that were otherwise my staple back home. Ill start with the Completo. At first I thought this was disgusting, but now I am an absolute fan. The completo is baiscally a hotdog, yet its bun has slightly higher sidewalls to carry all its condiments. The basic ingredients include: diced tomatoes, a thick layer of guacamole, lots of mayonnaise, and too much ketchup, but you usually have the option of adding onions and mustard. It takes two or three bites of pure condiments before you get to the hotdog and they come in various sizes depending on your appetite. On another note, Chileans don´t like peanut butter-they sell it in stores, but very few people eat it. I try to convince my hostmother that its not used like regular butter, but she keeps on putting it on the table in case I want to add it to dinner. My father is warming to the PB&J and he likes the idea of "ants on a log", however, my hostmother refuses to eat it. Although I am surviving, Chileans dont sell pretzels - I cant think of a day thats gone by where I havent eaten pretzels (with hummus). But the empanadas I absolutely love- theres a place called Los Molinos (the windmills) down the road from school where we´ll eat lunch every once and a while. I usually come home for lunch becuase the Nana cooks. The only downside to this is we will eat the same dish for dinner and so, more often than not, I find myself eating lentils for lunch, dinner, and then leftover lentil soup the following day. Nevertheless, I have gained weight, and so maybe the freshman 15 doesnt apply only to first year college students...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Fiestas Patrias

September 18th is Chile´s Independence day and, to be honest, I learned more about the county´s and history and traditions in this one week than I had in the entire month prior. On the last day of classes before vacation, we had a school wide presentation and celebration. Everyone wore traditional "huaso" clothing, which for girls included a brightly colored flower dress and for boys, boots, spurs, hat, and jacket. I felt a little out of place, even the German exchange student had a dress, but it was fine. I decided before I leave im going to buy atleast a hat. Earlier that week, I was asked to join a group that would play the traditional folk music as others preformed the "cueca", the national dance. It was an honor since the music director told me he´d never incorporated an exchange student in the presentation before. After every class presented a form of either the cueca or a dance from Easter Island, we went outside and enjoyed a buffet of Empanadas and Alfajores (sp?)- a common dessert and by far the best tasting combination of dulce de leche (manjar) and cookies I have ever had.
The following week, we drove 5 hours north to San Vicente and El Tambo, two smaller towns on the outskirts of Santiago where the family´s Campo was located. I had visited the property before, but it was dark and I never got a good view of the place. It sat at the base of a rather tall mountain, although the backdrop image of Andes made it seem like a hill. All around the house were different types of trees: lemons, oranges, grapefruits, avocado, chestnuts, almonds, walnuts... and of course a cluster of grape vines. My "grandparents" make their own jelly, wine, and enjoy fresh fruit all year around. For three days strait we celebrated the indpendence with extended family and enjoyed endless barbecue. Every morning my grandmother would wake up early and prepare homemade empandads de Pino. Pino is a mixture of meat and onions, but added to every empanada is one olive, one rasin, and a bit of a hard boiled egg- I don't understand why exactly, but it is delicious. We used a traditional clay oven to cook the meat and, with strict direction of my grandmother, I prepared my own empanada. I brought along a bottle of Millstone Maple Syrup as a gift for the grandparents and, like my host parents, they aknowledged the gesture and stored it away. It was clear they weren´t going to try it any time soon... so that night during tea I took it out and made everyone try it. They instantly fell in love and started adding it to bread, tea, bannanas, and even ate pure spoofulls. Eventhough I struggled to describe the process, they were all impressed that I had contributed to making it, especially since the grandparents prepare alot of dishes from fresh produce on their farm.
The next morning my uncle, Andres, woke me up and said, "gringo, lets go". Wasn't exactly sure where and to be honest this guy was a little intimidating. People call me gringo, but he would take it a step too far, asking me, "Como esta aya en Gringolandia?" and "Por que no estas en el ejercitio con Papi Bush?". He turned out by the "funny uncle" and once I joined his game of sarcasm we got along quite well. More than anyone else, Andres would sit and talk with me about Chile and just about anything. We were on a mission to buy Chicha- a traditional sweet wine- that is often served in a cup made from a bull´s horn. After two wrong addresses, we found our Chicha vendor and syphined the wine strait from the barrel into the Coca Cola bottles we brought along. Satisfied, we returned to the Campo, or farm, and began the third and last bbq. In between the lunch BBQ and the dinner BBQ we played a recreational game with Tejos, which was alot like bochi except we used heavy discs (Tejos) and tossed them baiscally into a pile of mud. I partnered with my father in a tournament and lost in the final match against his father...
That night we went out to a "ramada" or "fonda", which is like a carnival with live music and such. It would have been fun if I had been with friends or at least people my age- I graciously declined several invitations to dance with my aunt...nonetheless it was a good time. El Deciocho was filled with tradition, culture, good food, and good people. When I was asked to compare the festivities to the 4th of July I was a little embarrassed that we didnt have a traditional dance or a typical food. With or with out fireworks, I enjoyed Las Fiestas Patrias here in Chile much more than in the States.

Monday, September 1, 2008


With borrowed boots at least a size too large and a snowboard about a foot too short, I headed south to Mt. Corralco with friends of the family. I was estatic to get the oppurtunity to travel further south and to ski down the 13, 000ft giant located just a few kilometers west of the Argentinian border. Although it is winter, it rains ceaslessly in the Bio- Bio region and come summer it will remain consistently dry. To find snow you have to reach the higher elevations in the Andes Mountain range. From what I have been told, the current weather conditions are unusual; it pours continuously and many people are suffering from flooding rivers and city streets.
Proceding slowly through the wind and rain, we drove by the large agricultural plots maintained by the foresty industries and passed audacious bike riders pedaling through the unfortunate weather. Some things are just different; pedestrian traffic on major highways, stray dogs around every corner, eating dinner past 10:00 pm...
The rain showed no signs of stopping when we arrived at the small cabin and I questioned the possiblity of snow. After hours of competitive card games and passing the guitar around, we got to bed at around 3:00 am- it was no surprise that no one woke up until 11:00 the following morning. Since the weather wasn´t looking promising we collectively decided not to go skiing; however, made a deal to wake up before 8:00am on Sunday . Instead, we fled to Malalcahuello, a thermal spring and spa, where we spent the afternoon in the naturally hot water. After wallowing in the hot tubs, we returned home for endless barbeque, more music, and a never ending game of Uno (my friends were confused that the universal card game didnt translate to ¨one¨ in the USA).
We held on to the promise to wake up early; however, when arrived to the mountain in the morning it was closed becuase of poor conditions. We could have guessed that weather would only be worse at 10,000ft, but I didnt think the entire hill would close down during prime skiing season. And so we did not go snowboarding, but nevertheless, I enjoyed getting close and hopefully I´ll find another opportunity to see some snow. As for meeting new people and having a good weekend, the trip was worthwhile.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Chileans function on a very relaxed schedule. I was told we would be departing for Santiago at approximately 11am since its about a 6 hour drive from Los Angeles. However, we did not wake up until a quarter after and didnt eat breakfast until nearly 11:45. It has been rather easy to adapt to this lax lifestyle and I think Im going to enjoy it. Once we were finally packed and in the car it was four in the afternoon. We drove north on Route 5, which spands the entire length of the country, for about 4 hours until we arrived at the grandparent´s house, or "El Campo" as they call it. There to welcome us was Ricardo´s father as well as three of his brothers and their families. In El Campo, there was a sense of the country side and the tradition of the Huaso-the Chilean cowboy- and, although it was dark, I was told the property sat just beneath the Andes Mountain Range.
Over dinner, my host father pointed at the man sitting at the head of the table and said, ¨this is my father¨, which I had understood clearly when first introduced. Then, my hostmother acknowledged the woman sitting beside him, his wife, and said, "this is my mother¨. Now I was confused. I nodded my head with little reassurance as they all laughed at my perplexed facial expression. Over dinner, desert, and several cups of tea, my host mother and grandmother struggled to explain to me that both sides of the family had gone through divcorces and that Vici and Ricardo werent actually brother and sister. Shortly after dinner, we boarded the family´s four-door Nisan pick up and finished the remaining 200km distance to their apartment in Santiago.

Living in Santiago were Nacho´s older siblings Daniella and Ricardo, who were both studying at Universities in the city. I was particually interested to hear that Daniella´s boy friend was the director of the Spanish copyright of TV show The Office. The next day, we attened another family reunion, but this time I was prepared with the knowledge of their unique family tree. That afternoon we drove Nacho to the Santiago International Airport to catch his flight to Stateline, Nevada and his new home on the coast of Lake Tahoe. We arrived a safe 3 hours before departure and Nacho proceded through checking and security with no issues. The plane was in the gate and the weather was clear, but the family insisted on waiting until it took off. Two and a half hours later... the departure screen for AA flight 954 changed from "On time" to "Boarding" to "Last Call" and finally to "Departure" and then we hurried outside to watch the plane take off. It seemed a little excessive, but the family was pleased to stay close until the last moment.

Despite being one of the most polluted cities in the world, Santiago was interesting. Although we were in a urban setting, I enjoyed the picturesque view of the Andes which could be seen perfectly outside the apartment´s balcony. Before daprting, again behind schedule, we ate at a traditional Chilean restuarant, where we all shared empanadas with pevere (a tipical salsa), and an array of surf and turf. We arrived in Los Angeles at around 1:30am and I had to wake up for school the following morning...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

First Impressions

August 20, 2008

Well, im in school now and easily confused by everything. Yesterday was my firsty day, however; I came with Nacho, my host brother, and now im on my own. I´ve learned quickly that Chileans dont heat anything. For instance, to take a shower in the morning you have to run down stairs and ignite a heater (a custom that I was not aware of for my first three showers). If only I had read the "Chile: Customs and Traditions" book I brought along, I might not be suffering from this small cold. I keep telling myself, "taylor you lived on a glacier for thirty days", but really I am cold, always. I have yet to be formally introduced to a principle or a teacher for that matter, which strikes me as strange and makes me wonder if they even know that im in the school. For the most part we remain in one class and the teachers rotate through, but every once and a while everyone gets up and departs for another room- there must be a bell, but i have yet to hear even the slightest noise. Since I dont have an established schedule I usually follow the people that ive actually managed to maintain a fluent conversation with. Today that brought me to an all girls Art History class and I dove right into Renaissance art. Despite my initial interpretation, El Colegio Aleman de Los Angeles does have a strong German influence. When I first entered the Klasse Aleman (as its spelled on the door) the boy infront of me turned around, and in broken English said, "Do you know Ronald Macdonald?¿" Confused, I continued through the door to see the teacher dressed in a flambouyant organge sweater with massive orange hair- it was rather hilarious. As if she doesnt know how foreign I am, she asked me to read from the German story we were working with. I later learned she was a substitute and actually didnt speak Spanish either. Its too strange to sit through an English class and observe people trying to learn my first language. I think I finally understand why you cant truly learn Spanish, or any language for that matter, in the class room. You really do need to become emersed and use it daily. However, everytime I turn on the radio, TV, or use the computer im blasted with pop culutre from the states. I´ve yet to hear Juanes on the radio instead, I cant escape Britney Spears, Fallout Boy, Yellowcard, and more. Anyhow, I am enjoying Nacho´s selection of Dispatch and Bob Marley. Bueno, me voy, escribire mas luego.