The Arrival, The Family, and The Market

I’m three days into this adventure and already I have some things I want to share. I took off from Chicago on Wednesday and landed in Miami, where the plane to Santiago was delayed by over two hours. Eventually I arrived in Chile and met up with the CIEE group. From the airport thirty five of us took a bus to Valparaíso on the coast of the country. From the get go, the program has kept us busy with activities to better acquaint us with our new country.

I met my Chilean family on the first night and immediately they welcomed me into their life. My family consists of Sandra and Jose Miguel, their son Sebastian, daughter Valentina, and niece Karen. There’s also four dogs, but only one, Leonora, lives in the house; her and I have grown quite close because she’s the one who I can speak English to! My family is very patient with me when my grammar is off or I forget a word. However, my Chilean father and sister speak English very well so they’re able to help me out when I forget a word or two.

One of the weirdest things I’m having to get used to is how people greet one another. Everyone is greeted with a kiss on the cheek and a hug. It’s VERY different than the standard interactions in the United States. But I think it shows how friendly and warm people are here. Some other random things that are different…

  1. Everything is in military time
  2. Lunch is by far the biggest meal of the day and dinner is usually small and light. The times of meals are much later than in the States.
  3. The University doesn’t have a specific campus, rather it’s just buildings in various places.

One of the coolest things I’ve been able to experience so far was going to the Ferreria de Viña del Mar, which is like an open air farmer’s market in the U.S. They only sell vegetables and fruits, though. José Miguel took me Saturday afternoon and answered all my questions about what to call the various products. We bought the best grapes I have ever tasted in my life. They’re naturally sweet and super juicy. I would say they’re better than any other fruit I’ve had before and their grown close to where they were sold. José Miguel explained that the “uvas dulces” are only found in Chile, so I think I’ll have to eat them by the kilo while I have the chance.

I’ll be starting classes soon and I’m looking forward to exploring my new home and country soon. ¡Ciao de Chile!


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