My time in Chile went by really fast. It has already been my third week here at the university. The two courses I take have proved to be truly impactful, challenging and fascinating. I have class all morning from Monday to Friday, and usually spend the afternoon discovering the city with my friends from school.
The “grammar” class I take strongly improves my Spanish skill, especially in reading and writing. We did a lot of practices in class as well as short writing assignments as homework every day after class. I also started to be more cautious when talking with my host family—trying to always keep in mind the sentence structures and use the correct forms of personal and tense as much as possible. During the other “culture and conversation” class, the professor offered as many opportunities as possible for students to talk freely in Spanish about their experiences here and their understandings on Chilean culture. The topics vary from the history of Valpo and its geographical importance to the best places to eat and highlights of the city. One of the most interesting things we learnt in class is “Chilenismos”, which is the idiom in Chilean Spanish. Here are some popular vocabularies they use in daily life:
Polólo/polóla: means boyfriend or girlfriend
Bacán: means cool
Al tiro: means right now
Ya: always used by the Chilean to express “sí” in a more common way
Lata: means poor or bad, normally used to describe a situation, like “Qué lata!”
The best thing about learning a language in its speaking country is I can actually practice the new knowledge right away in real life. I began to catch these slangs casually on the streets and use them from time to time when talking with the locals. I felt to be a member of this community more than any other time.
Also in this week, I had a unique experience through class by visiting the ancient indigene “Ruca Mapuche” and tasting the typical food of this tribe. We learnt about their religion and special worship of gods, watched the performance of traditional musical instruments, and played the field hockey with the kids. This past experience added another character to the uniqueness of Chilean culture, and provided me with a broader and deeper perspective to view the country.