I arrived in Santiago, Chile on May 9th, and spent the first couple days in the capital with other students from the International Studies Abroad (ISA) program. While in Santiago, we visited a lot of interesting places in order to learn more about this country, for example, La Moneda, Cerro Santa Lucía, Cerro Critóbal, Plaza de Armas, and Mercado Central de Santiago. Moreover, we also paid a visit to a pottery town and spent a day at the oldest vineyard near Santiago.
We arrived in Viña del Mar the following Saturday evening. From now on, I will spend the next 5 weeks with my host family in this city. All my classes will be at the Universidad Católica in Valparaíso, which is another beautiful city right next to Viña. This past week was pretty busy with various orientations with ISA and the university (PUCV), several excursion trips in both Viña and Valparaíso, and my first three days of class.
Unlike Santiago, Viña and Valpo are two smaller cities close to each other along the coastline with better climate. Therefore, the weather is pretty warm here despite the fact that it is winter in Chile. There are also a number of historic and cultural landmarks in these cities like Santiago. In the afternoon after class, we visited some famous sightseeing spots like Reloj de Flores, Museo Fonck, Plaza Sotomayor, Paseo 21 de Mayo, etc.
My Chilean family is wonderful and very welcoming. My Chilean mom introduced me to all the family members on the first day of my arrival on a welcoming party. Normally, the mom, the grandma and one of the sons would live in the house with me. Sometimes, the elder son with his daughter would come for the weekends. I have spent hours talking with my Chilean family everyday, trying to practice my Spanish as much as possible and learn more about this new culture and custom, even though I could barely express myself on the first couple days. My host family is super nice that they always help me when I have difficulty on expressing myself, and is super patient listening to me, correcting my grammar, and talking with me about all the different topics. I could not be happier to live with them for more weeks.
Regarding my first week of school, I chose two intermediate level courses at the PUCV—“Intensive grammar” and “Chilean culture and conversation” since I believe I can get the most from these two classes by building up my grammar and vocabulary and practicing my conversational skill. In addition, I signed up for a writing tutor session once a week and a Spanish language table with local university students every Friday. I really look forward to all the following classes and activities at the university!