Friday, March 9, 2012

just another 80º friday

I can't really get over the weather here. It is beautiful every day, end of story.
My host sister assures me that this will change, she was really excited about a down jacket that her aunt gave her; even though I can't quite imagine wearing that now I'm sure I will need something similar eventually. yay, can't wait (just kidding)

So yea, I don't know how it worked out this way, but it seems that I don't have class on fridays. oh yea! So instead I met with my professor about how my credits here are going to count at St. Mikes and I tried to go to Registro Civil to get my real Chilean ID however, it appears they need a copy of my visa and of course I didn't bring my passport this one time. It seems I will be running there after class on Monday instead. sigh.

Ah well, my sister has informed me that we are going hiking tomorrow which might be the best thing I have heard all day. The mountains here are spectacular, I can't really do them justice with words but suffice it to say that I am surprised by their height every single time I see them...which is every day because you can't look at buildings without there being mountains behind them.

Other than that I am getting into the rhythm of classes at the Universidad Católica. I am taking 5 classes as of now and I have all of next week to finalize those classes and even try some new classes if I want. Apparently Chileans study towards a certain career such as 'oh, i study dentistry or oh, I study architecture' so when I tell them that I study ecology and spanish they are confused as to what career path I am following. I am confused on that point as well.

So whoever reads this blog, I hope you are enjoying my adventures through the city of Santiago and surrounding awesome countries. Please if you ever have a chance to go, GO because it is an amazing city with a lot to offer. Can't wait to go skiing in the Andes come winter! ahhhhh

Monday, March 5, 2012

Off to class

Literally, I am navigating public transit in about 10 minutes to traverse the city and eventually end up at Campus San Joaquin of the Universidad Católica here in Santiago, Chile. It has 4 campuses spread out throughout the city, ahhhh. A little bigger than St. Mikes.

I spent the weekend visiting host relatives such as grandparents, aunts and uncles and getting to know my host brother (14 years old) who recently returned from summer camp, haha they have that here too! All in all a good weekend I would say, the only unfortunate thing was that it had to end and I am now faced with a rather intimidating class registration process.

How it works: All chilean students have their classes, they know where their going and what to expect. I am like a freshman only worse. I have no idea where my classes are (I was told to 'ask') I don't actually know what classes I will be taking yet, I only have a list of potential classes of which I am supposed to visit and decide within the next 2 weeks. Also, once we decide on the classes we want we are supposed to register for them at their sort of central office (don't know where those are either) however, if later we decide that we don't want to take that class and instead we want to take this class, we must un-register for that class and sign up for the new one! woohoo.

So it will be a busy two weeks.

However it is still in the 80's every day here so I can't complain about the relentless sunshine and the GIANT cordillera that you can see from Everywhere in Santiago. The mountains are one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen!

that's all for now, mostly because I'm going to miss micro (or bus as we north americans call it) D18 which will deliver me safely to metro station Bustamante. haha

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay

So, a lot has happened since I last wrote (sorry).

I have arrived in Chile (Feb. 13) and with only 3 days in Santiago under my belt we were swept off to Buenos Aires, Argentina for some cultural museum visits, classes, exploring etc. After four days in Buenos Aires, we crossed the Rio de la Plata aka: the 3rd largest river in Latin America after the Amazon and the Orinoco in Venezuela. Crossing the Rio de la Plata brought us to , Montevideo, Uruguay where we stayed about 3 1/2 days to explore, learn, stare etc. For those of you who have never thought about the country of Uruguay in your life, you should think about it sometime. It is a really tiny country, but really amazing. The capitol city is very chill and the people go with the flow. There is nothing of the rushed feeling of Buenos Aires or the 'trying to be European' in Santiago. It is special. Montevideo was never a spot on my list of places to go, but it is sure to make it on the list of places to return to.

So after all that we returned to Santiago yesterday for a brief, but utterly terrifying orientation of classes and host families. Thankfully, I am now living with my host family so that part doesn't seem so scary anymore, but the classes continue to loom. We have not started classes yet and will not start until the 5th of March. All of Chile is on summer vacation right now, as a result I feel like I'm on summer vacation and it is weird not being in school. I feel like I skipped my whole spring semester, but don't worry, it won't be like that for long. My days promise to be busy and full and my nights? full of homework.

My Chilean host family is amazing however, so I am not worrying about any of that right now. My father plays the piano and the banjo (what?) and my mother is a social worker. I have three younger siblings Maria Fernanda (20), Victoria (18) and Juan Eduardo (14) so I'm pretty pumped about that. They seem like a very up-beet and happy family, just like my real family at home so I don't think it will take too long to adjust. There is however, the unavoidable awkward week in which you first arrive and must make polite small talk and talk about yourself way too much for anyone to be comfortable. After that there is a lull that settles and you get to talk about normal human things like the news and what you did that day and all that fun stuff. I am only talking about how it played out in Ecuador, perhaps it will be different here.

Well, that's all for now. To those who actually follow this I am deeply sorry that my entires are so disappointingly far apart. I must further disappoint you that it is not for lack of internet connection or any sort of modern commodity, it is just the fact that I never remember to blog. So, keep a weathered eye out for the next one as I will try to post with at least some regularity from now on.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

OK, off to Chile

So, I now am beginning my second study abroad experience based out of Santiago, Chile. Chile has about 6 million inhabitants, so we'll see how this goes.

Of course, I am not there yet. I am in fact sitting in my room trying to wrap my head around the fact that though I will get there in summer, it will slowly become winter while I am there. It will probably get pretty cold. What to pack?!

Got my visa this past Monday, got my flight a long time ago, I'm basically ready to go. I am going to be sincerely and honestly broke after I get back. oh no.

oh well, I will soon (hopefully) be telling you all of adventures in the southern hemisphere. please stay tuned for it only gets more interesting from here on out. Today I will be skiing, in four days I will be basking in Chilean sunshine.

Monday, November 21, 2011

freezing busses, family, weddings, and CHOCLO

So, I returned to Quito for the wedding of my host brother Roberto....turns out that the bus from Oyacachi leaves at 4 am! Of course I slept wonderfully that night, worrying about whether I would wake up in time..I didn't really need to wake up, just GET up really. I was pretty much awake. On board the bus I though surely they would have some sort of heat...nope. Apparently busses from Oyacachi have NO HEAT whatsoever. The man next to me was wearing a face mask, like a balaclava. good move sir, good move. I was wearing one pair of pants and a thin jacket....bad.

HOWEVER, I made it to Quito and got to see my host family once again, I spent the whole day making bocaditos which are small, cute, snacks for wedding, parties etc. We made SO MANY bocaditos, literally we spent the whole day. They turned out really nice though and they were all pretty delicious. The wedding itself was beautiful and I would put up pictures except my camera cord has stopped working. The whole family was there and Ecuadorians LOVE to dance, so we danced from around 3 till 9 at night. I borrowed some high heels from a friend and my feet hurt so bad. My host mother made the cake for the wedding and it was SO GOOD, I don't know what kind it was but it may have been the most delicious cake I have every had.

I go back to the freezing land of Oyacachi this coming Wednesday to finish up my project and then on December 2nd I'm bound for Quito and the Hostal Posada del Maple to reunite with my fellow compañeros de la programa. I am pretty excited to see them as well as see my real family in the states. This whole experience has been like an amazingly long and education vacation and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

ciao y hasta pronto

(oh yea, and choclo is this delicious corn that they have here, sooooo good)

Monday, November 7, 2011

off to the Páramo

Well, my family just whisked me off to celebrate the ferriada (holidays exactly one month before fiestas de Quito) on the beautiful beaches of the province Esmereldas. We spend our days on the beach and our nights....on the beach. There was seafood, swimming, and coconuts everywhere. However, returning from this sunny, hot, costal climate I am leaving tomorrow for my ISP!!!!!!!

I am going to the reserve of Cayambe-Coca wayyyyyy up in the Andes at about 4,000m and it is going to be SO cold. I will specifically be living in Oyacachi, a small mountain village and working on a project with two Ecuadorians about the Andean tapir. Specifically the study is trying to figure out whether the Andean tapir is an efficient seed disperser in the Páramo which means we will be collecting it's feces and dissecting them to see if there are more seeds, leaves or stems. All in all it's a pretty exciting project.

I have no idea about my internet situation so I may not be blogging for a while, but you never know here. Plaza Gutierrez, the cloud forest village on top of a mountain which we had to walk an hour to get to had internet access in one building in the town so I have faith for Oyacachi which at least has road access.

I am also going a month without access to showers or laundry. The only bathing I will be doing is in natural hot springs (WOAH!) and the only washing of clothes will be by hand. hmmmm. I am also living in a tent (I have yet to purchase a pillow) and cooking all my own meals with my two advisors. It will be an experience for sure.

I am extremely sad to be leaving my host family, I will miss them A TON while I'm studying in the Páramo, but fortunately I get to return for the wedding of my host brother Robert. I am really happy to say that I love my host family, I recommend them for any student who is coming here and I will definitely miss them. I would be the happiest if they ever came to the U.S. to visit. They seem skeptical whenever I mention this however haha.
Anyways, it's been a wild ecuadorian ride and it will only continue with this adventure in Cayambe-Coca.

ciao, and can't wait to see St. Mikes campus again!

Monday, October 31, 2011

From Galapagos to final exams

we though this was supposed
to be Darwin, but were not
entirely sure. It is on the
island of San CristóbalEllen and I living the life of the sea lions NOT SEALS!!!
Snorkeling! I did not rent a wet suit...mistake

As you can probably imagine from the title of this blog, it is a bit depressing arriving from the land of constant spring break and blue footed boobies to the land of heavy traffic and final exams. Despite this inconvenient truth, my companions and I remain in high spirits through this week of exams.

You're probably all wondering why I am talking about final exams when there are the Galapagos to talk about. yea. So the Galapagos were AMAZING! I have literally never seen water so blue and sand so white in my life (though there are other colors too). The only thing the Galapagos is missing is proper trees. All it has near the coast are a few palms and inland are cactus and large bushes. As you get higher up the volcanos however there are some more respectable trees.

The landscape was that of a volcano desert, all the islands being made from volcanoes being pushed out of the water by tectonic plates and a hotspot that happens to be directly beneath the islands. But enough science, what did we do?

-snorkeled every day (with fish, rays, turtles, sea lions, sharks, you name it)
-lived with a homestay on the largest island of Isabella (they fed me SO MUCH)
- climbed the volcano Sierra Negra
-chilled on the beach
-lived on a yacht for four days
-hiked around San Cristóbal, Española, Floreana, N. Seymour and Baltra
-ate some really good food
-played soccer with the crew
-jumped off said yacht into the water
and much more

Although the yacht was my preferred part of the journey to the homestay, I still feel like I am on that boat which is unfortunate because I am not. Walking through the streets of Quito is already a challenge for me and now I have the added bonus of being seasick walking through the streets. joy. I am faring well however and seeing as it has been FIVE DAYS I expect the seasickness to go away any day now (please please please)

We also observed some Albatross in the crazy mating dance and also some blue footed boobies showing off those feet. We say nocturnal gulls (the only existing ones on the planet), giant tortoises, Darwin's finches, and laid in the sun with sea lions. It was an amazing trip and I recommend it to anyone interested in marine life and history because it is rich in both.

However, coming back to reality I have this week to make final presentations and exams count an then the 8th of November I go to Oyachachi for my ISP! I am studying the Andean Tapir there with two researchers who have been working on the project for a while now. I am really excited, but it is not going to be easy. I am living in a tent, there is no running water nor shower, I cook all my own food, and I hike all day looking for tapir chewing and poop. What a life. I think it will be tons of fun however and perhaps it will burn off some of the bread I have eaten in Quito so I can possibly start thinking about skiing at St. Mikes.