Sunday, January 19, 2014

The weekends

Last weekend we went to Pichilemu and had a wonderful time at the beach. It was great to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and explore more of what Chile has to offer. We stayed in a hostel right on the coast call Surfarm, it was a shame that we only could stay one night there. I would go back in a heartbeat. The water was just as refreshing as Lake Superior in the summertime and after playing in the waves all day, we topped it off by having bonfire on the beach and gazing at the souther hemisphere sky.

This weekend we stayed in Santiago. Friday and Saturday night we went to the Festival de Jazz. We relaxed on the riverbank and listened to Phil Woods play his sax while the sun set over Cerro San Cristóbal. This was the first of many music festivals in Santiago this summer. If you like music Santiago has it all!

We finished off the weekend by hiking Cerro Manquhue (Mon - k - whey). Manquhue is a popular hike, we encountered people of all ages and nationalities. The trails were well developed, but the terrain did present some difficulty when we near the top. All in all, it took us a good 4 hours total and was worth every step. Santiago has an incredible number of hills and mountains to hike. Hopefully, I will have a chance to do most of them, but if I don't I guess that means I'll have to come back in the future!

That is all I have for now, we have trips planned to Isla Negra and Valparaiso in the coming weeks, so look for those soon. Chao!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Santiago, la ciudad que nunca duerme


This post will be my about my first impressions of Santiago, remember some of these impressions will probably change over the next couple months. But I think first impressions of a grand city like Santiago are important enough to warrant a post.

First and foremost, the smog. This city suffers greatly from the inversion effect, much like Los Angles. Right now the smog is especially bad because there are some forest fires in the central valley (near Valparaiso). Its almost too dangerous to do much physical activity and you can't even see the Andes which are no more than 15 kilometers away from downtown. Think about that mountain lovers: Sam, Kyle, Rachel, and Claire if you are reading this.

The view from Cerro Santa Lucia

Second, the graffiti and dogs. Graffiti is everywhere throughout the city, the universities, windows, banks, and even churches. It almost seems like they just let children run around with spray paint. There is a movement to "beautify" the marks, but it hasn't taken off in most parts yet. Also, stray dogs are commonplace, almost like how we see squirrels. They don't bother though and there is a movement to sedate them going on, but of course there is some opposition.

I should say that these problems are mostly downtown, Bellas Artes, and Rebública. In addition, the smog from the fires will clear up in the coming weeks. Where I live it is clean, nice, and full of fresh, clean air.

Even though the city might not be the prettiest, the people are amazing. Which brings me to my third and most important part of the city, the people. They are extremely nice and friendly. You can have a conversation with almost anyone about anything, and it will go on for hours, despite my broken Spanish. My family, teachers, and new friends are all wonderful people that I look forward to seeing everyday.

Please don't judge this city by its cover, that's my first impression.

We are all gathered at a restaurant near Plaza de Armas. Era muy rico.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Mi familia


I am all moved in to the house and living with my host family. They are wonderful people who are really helping me develop my Spanish skills. Julia is my host mother, Eduardo is the father, and they have a daughter, Jes, who coincidently shares the same birthday as me but is one year younger.

Yesterday we took care of getting a phone, my metro pass, and some food. We went to a store call "Jumbo" which is like our Walmart. One thing that I noticed at the Jumbo was that all the cashiers were sitting in chairs, unlike in the United States.

We then went to the metro station to load up my Bip! card, so I could use the metro. Then, to a "Cruze Verde" to add credits to my phone. Cruz Verde was similar to our CVS. Another thing about the stores was that when going to the counter, you had to take a ticket number, even if you were the only one in line or they wouldn't serve you.

Next was dinner, which consisted of delicious pork chops, mashed potatoes (plain), and some salad (also plain) so I was a happy camper. We then talked for a while about the history of Chile.

 Here is a picture of them! 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Hasta luego a los estados unidos

Hello everyone! This is where I will be posting about my study abroad in Santiago, Chile.

The first task of my trip was actually getting there. Getting through Detroit security was easy. I then made my way to my gate and sat for 45 minutes waiting to board because we were missing flight attendants. Seriously Delta? How do you mess that one up?

Nevertheless, we boarded and it was a quick flight down to Atlanta. When we arrived, I had 15 minutes to make the connection down to Santiago. With not a minute to spare I had crossed the airport and made it to terminal E when I hear over the intercom, "This is a final call for Daniel Byrne, the flight will leave in one minute." At that moment, I ran as fast as I could to get down to my gate, just barely making the cutoff. I then boarded and sat for 9 hours as we traveled south.

Upon arrival, I met up with some other USAC students and went to get our bags. The only problem was that my luggage turned out to still be in Atlanta. Thanks Delta. So we sat around for a bit and finally made our way to the hotel with the group, where I stepped out on balcony to a beautiful view.