Sunday, March 1, 2015

The excursions of the weekend

so far I have hiked up the hill of San Cristabal (on saturday 2/28), gone to the Plaza Niñoa (which is approximately 10 minutes from my house) and went through the city to my "abuela's" house. Additionally I took advantage of the fact that on sundays some street lanes are closed for bikers, runners, walkers, etc. It was a nice way to run without traffic and it seems like a lot of Chileans take advantage of it to because there were a ton of people! I think Chileans in general are more conscious about health and exercise than Americans because not only have I seen many people using these strength training type "machines" in the park, but also I was having a conversation with my mama about nutrition and I think Chileans understand more about nutrition and health than most Americans. It appears that a lot of people buy mostly fruit, vegetables, meat and fresh bread and not so much prepared food. Also there are a lot of "light" foods offered and the chocolate cereal I really enjoy is sweetened with stevia!
A quick note on my mama's mother- I have to say after seeing my mama's mother (my abuela) who lives with my mama's brother who has some sort of mental illness I think, I am quite impressed with the life my mama has made for herself. My abuela lives with her son in a poorer area in Santiago and my tía (my mama's sister) also lives nearby. My mama went to the Jumbo today to buy groceries for all of them and it just appears that in general her life is much more put together than her siblings. It was also incredibly kind of her to go out and buy groceries for them when she works so much (7:30am-6pm) during the week and then cleans and cooks on the weekend for herself and my host sister. Oye. She is a superwoman and keeps the house so clean! She is slightly OCD as demonstrated by the fact that no matter how well I think I made my bed she always remakes it...can't decide if I should stop trying on that one or if that would be rude...who knows. 
I think that is all and I hope you've made it this far..especially after that last super long post(:

Notes from el fin de la semana

wow, a lot has gone down in these past few days...friday started off with some more orientation seeshs and then a placement spanish test (that I may have failed epic-ly...). The only thing worth mentioning about that is that there are dogs that just roam around the San Juaquin campus of PUC. Interesting...they walked in and out of the classroom the whole time and are super chill.
After the placement test we all agreed that we must have failed the exam and decided to head over to an "asado" (a chilean BBQ) at a local's house. Once we arrived we promptly drove to a "Jumbo" supermercado (imagine a super target but Walmart size!) to buy cervezas and hamburguesas. I actually settled on a chicken burger and red wine, but you get the picture(: There were many cute Chilean boys and it was a really good time! I successfully took the metro to a stop that was near my friends house and thought I was going to make it all the way home without any problems until...we took a taxi. Simple enough right? Nah. Not for the gringos who apparently live on a street that exists in multiple areas. This is how it went down- My friend and I shared a taxi because her house is on the way to mine. She told the driver her address and he went on his way until we reached a street where she couldn't find her house (do understand that this was only the second time we had been home, and it was dark!). Of course, in the midst of this minor chaos, my host mom called...and I answered. Once she heard that we were quote "lost," she asked to talk to the taxi driver to straighten things out. Oye. My mama to the rescue. She got the driver to my house and then from there my friend was picked up, but only after the taxi driver mentioned to my mom that we needed  a stern talking to about knowing what our address is....psh, typical gringos. 
Next on the list is some quirks about mi casita (all chileans love to add the "ito/ita" onto the end of words even though that typically implies that the thing you are referencing is smaller than usual...). First, let me describe it to you. Off the street you go through a locked gate to a narrow street with small houses on all sides and our house is in the back corner. It is surrounded by another gate which you must open every time you need to take the car out. Oye. Then the front door opens with another key and leads into a small sitting area, a kitchen with a stove, oven, microwave and fridge (no toaster or dishwasher). In the kitchen is a small table with plastic white chairs where we sit when we eat. In the backyard is a nice little grassy area (maybe the size of small school bus) with some chairs and an outdoor couch. Then you go up a narrow partially spiraling staircase that leads the the second floor with my bedroom, mama's bedroom and a really small third bedroom. Lastly, on the top floor (kind like a loft) is my host sister's room. My room is very quaint and a little loud but its all good. I have a nice, large window and a closet that fills up one entire side of the wall, a desk without a chair (hmmm...), a lamp, a single bed and a small bedside table. It also has this hanging lamp/cloth "chandelier" type thing in the center of the room that is slightly annoying because I bump my head on it daily...nevertheless, me gusta mi cuarto mucho. Today (3.1.15) I finally finished unpacking my clothes and hung up some pictures on the wall. 
Some other interesting quirks of my house include the fact that we have to turn on the hot water heater everytime we want to take a shower. This includes turning on the gas, sparking the pilot light, and then waiting for it to heat up enough to keep the gas on. Its fine, but its definitely going to take a while to associate taking a shower with first needing to turn that on...which is just about as difficult as having to put the toliet paper in the trash can...and not the toliet. Moving on- Before this turns into a 10 page essay I'll just quickly move through some interesting things I've noticed in general during my time here. First my mama takes the skin of her tomatoes...interesting. Also the bread is so fresh here that when you buy it at the grocery store in the deli type area it is warm!! They sell them in self-serve stations where you use tongs to choose the types of bread you want from different dispensers and then you weigh it and pay at the register. (The same for the veggies fruit- you have to weigh it before you bring it to the register and get a tag). On that note I should mention that they have "gourmet fruits and veggies" that you have to wait in line to order from behind the counter (just like meat in the US...crazy!). The last thing about the "Jumbo" supermarkets is that I think it is quite possible that they have more varieties of every type of food than in the US. While I never thought there would be more of a consumerism issue here, I swear they have about 40 types of hotdogs and perhaps 20 types of milk and eggs. 
Also concerning food, my recent diet has consisted of toast with turkey or ham and a yogurt with cereal for breakfast, an ensalada- either de corn, tomato, hard boiled egg, tuna and avocado or de lettuce, tomato and avocado. The first being the slightly strange one. While I've only had "once" (tea time) one time, we had tea, toast with butter and while my mama ate a dulce de leche spread on her toast, I preferred turkey. For dinner I've had chicken noodle soup, spaghetti with meat sauce and chicken with a salad. For dessert we've had chocolate ice cream, fruit and sometimes banana with peanutbutter. 
Only a few more things I wanted to remember... 
An important thing I learned is that Chileans are very soft spoken and often when you are on the bus, metro, etc. you cannot hear any conversations or even when someone addresses you. Therefore it was a major embarrassment when I got on the bus and declared with excitement (I didn't even yell....) that there were our friends on the bus, I got many stares in response...oops. Note to self- don't be too loud. 
Last but not least, i wanted to mention the prevalence of English music here! When we went to the club they played virtually all english music (although I did find out that Miercoles Po is a fiesta mostly for foreigners) and they also play a lot of english music on the radio. So it should be no surprise that one morning I was getting ready for school when I heard the "Sugar" music video by Maroon 5 playing from my host sisters room. 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Don't Put the TP in the toilet!

Alright, important Chilean things I learned today...
"Nanas' are live in maids that are more included in the family than typically seen in the US. They raise the children, cook, clean and are really a member of the family. Alejandra (one of our academic advisors) said that they are typically Peruvian and stay with the family for generations. However, my host family does not have one. Speaking of which, includes a mother/daughter team. They have had many students (like 10 :o) and have been incredibly nice. They appear to eat very similarly to how I do, with many vegetables and fruits in the kitchen and even yogurt(: Tonight we had hamburgers which I find slightly hilarious. We had them with fresh bread, avocado and tomato slices. The conversation has been simple and never uncomfortable. I have a really nice room with a view of the backyard, palm trees and a breeze. On a sidenote, I have learned that we actually can't put the toilet paper in the toilet here...oye. Just like Costa Rica; that habit is so hard to break!
Another thing we learned today about Chilean culture had me realize that I should probably do some more reading about the culture and history of this country, even in their most recent political era of Pinochet. Additionally the dispute between Argentina and ChileBolivia/Peru and Chile and also the segregation of Mapuche (person of the land; mapu=tierra y che= person).
Lastly, una "sobremesa" is what Chileans call the conversational time they have after a long lunch or dinner, especially on the weekend when the family spends time together. Such a nice tradition that reminds me of out Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Slow and enjoyable- just like most of our meals have been here. They have most always included an appetizer, entree and dessert (at the restaurants) and have typically been at least 1.5 hours long. Another cultural tradition is the idea of eating breakfast in the morning, lunch and then "once" which is when you get home from school/work (around 4) and then dinner is typically later, maybe 8 or 9.
Back to the big picture- The daughter, Camila has a boyfriend who was around all night but he is incredibly sweet as well. Camila is going to medical school and "Mama Isabel" works at a publications office for a magazine or something. We are only about 15 minutes from the central city and campuses which is really nice and tomorrow Camila is going to show me how to take the bus (I only have to take one!- score) straight to campus. I am also hopefully going to an "asado" (BBQ) after orientation is over to meet up with some of my classmates and some Chileans.