Thursday, August 12, 2010

10 days down...

...and 10 more to go. It's weird that it's getting so close. I'm at that point where I know it's real but I don't quite feel it hitting home just yet. You know, like you've been planning something for so long and doesn't seem like it's going to happen until that day arrives. But all the plans to come back are in full swing.

I've finally eaten the best ice cream in the yummy! I made it Fuente Alemana, a restaurant that everyone has told me was a must since the beginning. They're know for their completos (hot dogs topped with sauer kraut, mayo, avocado, pickles, tomatoes, ketchup and hot sauce), and wow was I in heaven. I know what I'm ordering on my next dog at Happy Dog in C-town!! On Monday the people from my University here had a farewell dinner for me at a restaurant called Don Quijote. I knew that they had invited my classmates but I had no idea that my professors would be there as well! It was a little awkward but a nice gesture and the food was good...and free ;) I'm spending as much time as possible with my closest of friends, Susana (god I'm gonna miss that girl), Salvador, Ryan, Jorge & Ximena. I was planning on going to Rangcagua this weekend but work offered me a few shifts to cover for another teacher and I could really use the money on my final check, so I'm putting that trip on hold until I return in December! Not much else on my to-do list before I leave the city. I just want to enjoy my students, friends and the final days of the life I built here.

Final grades have started rolling in for my classes. I got an 85% in Operations Management, it's a B but a high B so I guess it'll do. There is a final group presentation being done Saturday morning in Management Models that I will not be participating in, but my participation is not necessary because I contributed to the research in the project. I'm pretty sure that I'm getting an A in that class because I got A's on both of my solo presentations (the most recent grade I received yesterday, 6.8 out of 7) and I got an A on my exam. Spanish class, well who knows. Still haven't heard anything from that professor! But I think CSU will be proud of their first representative of the university to go to Concepcion and hopefully I can help encourage other students to study here as well.

So the next week will involve my last couple of classes at work (my last day is Wednesday), spending time with my Chilean families (both of them), doing some souvenir shopping for my loves back home (which I started doing today) and then begin packing and cleaning my room. Saturday is my big going away party with all my co-workers and friends. Susana and her family have offered to host my party at their home which is beyond awesome! We're going to have karaoke, drinks and chat...and I'm sure someone is going to make me cry! Then Sunday my flight leaves at 4pm. This may be my last blog before I leave, so those that are reading, I will be in touch when I get to Columbus. My phone will be active again at midnight on the 22nd but I won't be in Columbus until 9am. Until then...

Monday, August 2, 2010

Not ready for it to end...

I can't believe my time here is almost over. The closer it gets the more saddening it becomes. Funny when you settle into a new life in a new place how comfortable you get without even realizing it. You get so caught up in the day-to-day routine of working, studying and spending time with the people who have become part of your new life that before you know it, 5 months have almost passed you by. Thinking back on previous travels...when I left for Spain in 2007 it was exciting and new. I was going to learn a new language and culture, 3 months seemed like a fair amount of time. I liked my life there and the country is one of my favorite places in the world but I was happy to return to the regrets and I had the time of my life seeing part of the world. Fast forward to 2009 when I started planning my trip to Chile. I was filled with all the same excitement but also a bit of fear. This time I was much older, the duration of my stay was going to be longer and I was really not sure what to expect...not to mention the huge earthquake! Even once I arrived here I was a little unsure. I didn't know many people, didn't have a lot of money to spend and the dialect was super hard to catch onto, depending on the person. But then I got comfortable in my classes, found an amazing job and grew attached to some of the most caring people...a few of which will be life-long friends without a doubt. And now the time to leave is growing near and it's truly going to break my heart to leave this place. I've noticed how I look around the city and how I have become aware of my surroundings it's all new and wonderful, feeling that appreciation for being here. Weird how you forget to do that, appreciate things, when you're wrapped up in your own world. I have a feeling it's going to be a hard adjustment for me to come back to the states this time. I mean sure, the routine will be the same and I will be absolutely thrilled to see my friends and family again, but I will miss my life here. Actually, I'm already planning to come back and visit. I would like to try and come on my winter break after Christmas. Get to see a little bit more of the country, and this time see it in the summer! Already started looking at plane tickets today...and this time I know how to travel cheap ;)

Now that I've gotten out the sappy 'this is how I feel' part of the blog, here's the life update as of today. Classes are officially finished. I had my final exam on Friday and my final presentation on Saturday. I probably won't know grades for a couple of weeks and won't get my official transcripts until the 1st or 2nd week of September. But I feel pretty confident that I did well. As far as school goes in the states, I'm registered for the fall semester and ready to roll. As some of you know, I work as a graduate assistant in the business college 10hrs a week to receive a tuition waiver to pay for my degree. A few weeks ago I received an email from my boss there saying that they had finished the budget for the fiscal year and unfortunately they could not offer me the position. But being the wonderful people they
are, and especially since I worked for them for a year, they said they would do their best to find me a position elsewhere. Well as luck would have it, I received an email from my boss today saying they have decided that they CAN offer me the position again this semester. I may be working in a different office with a different boss and maybe a few different responsibilities but hey, I'll take it! So they're drawing up a contract and will have it ready for me to sign when I return!

My work and social life here moving right along as well. Now that I don't have any classes to study for I have officially made myself the 'on-call' girl to pick-up classes whenever someone wants a day off! Gotta put in the those last few hours where I can. I'm still trying to contact the Berlitz in Cleveland about teaching when I return. I got an email address for them and wrote an email but hav
en't gotten a response yet. Figuring I'll write a follow-up email tomorrow. Now it's time to try and do all the things I can before I go! Today Susana and I went to visit the cathedral here in the city. It had been closed due to damages from the quake and they're still working on the inside, but it was open to the public. I took some photos but they were with my phone and not the greatest quality...but you can get the gist. Next weekend I'm planning on going out of town to visit an old friend. It's a guy that used to live above La Tortilla when we were open. He left and moved back to Chile right before we closed. I've stayed in touch and already know quite a few members of his family so when I arrived I sent an email with the hopes to going to visit. He wrote back right away, saying their house had been destroyed in the quake but a new one was being built and when it was ready he would contact me. Well I never heard anything, so last week I sent another email letting him know I was leaving soon. He said the house is not quite finished yet but they'd love for me to come visit. So I started looking at bus tickets today. It's really inexpensive and the it's about a 6-7 hour ride to the north, heading towards Santiago in a little town called Rancagua. It's near vineyards and mountains so I'm game!! Think I'm going to buy my ticket and confirm with him tomorrow!

Well today is officially 20 days and counting till I step on that plane. I can't wait to see you all again soon...but I can't wait to come back here and visit again either. Oh, and don't forget to click on the picture for more photos!!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Downslope

So it's official...this Monday will mark 1 month and 1 week until my return to the good ol' U.S. of A.! Time flies as they say :)

School is going well and classes will be ending in just a couple of weeks. I thought they would extend the length of the semester since it began later, but I guess I thought wrong. I have my last exam on July 30th and I will be finished!! Grades are doing fairly well so far. I have no idea what I'm receiving in my Spanish class, or what happened to the class in gen
eral. I've shown up for the past 2 weeks but no one else has, including the professor. So it's my assumption that the class has ended! Operations management is the class I have an exam in on the 30th. I got an 88% on the 1st one (which is an A-) and an 82% on the 2nd one, so I should be averaging a B to B+, depending on my final exam. Management models is going very well. We don't have a final for the class, but I do have one 5 minute presentation to do next weekend, which should be a breeze. We just received grades back from our last presentation and exam: I got a 6.8 outta 7 on my presentation and a 6.2 on my exam. Not too shabby! It's always nice to know that you can still do well in classes even when they're taught in another language ;)

So since classes will be done sooner than my flight home, I will spend the 1st few weeks of August just working and hanging out with friends! I have a couple new students that I started teaching last week. One is the manager of Transelec which is an electric company here in Conce and the other works at Moly-cop where they manufacture steel balls that are used in the mining process. Both students require that I travel to their work to teach th
em, which is a-okay with me since Berlitz pays an extra unit for each class for travel time! I'm working on trying to contact the Berlitz in Cleveland, which is really close to my house, and ask about their need for teachers. My boss here has already agreed to give me a letter of recommendation and I would love to begin teaching again as soon as I return!

Not really a whole lot of exciting events to report. I still go out with the English class friends on Thursday nights. Someone mentioned karaoke tonight which instantly means I'll just be sitting back and watching! Sindy has been sick off and on lately and traveled to Santiago last week to see a specialist. They're still unsure of what the exact problem is but she seems to be feeling a little better this week. My friend Nicolas and I got to catch up a couple of weeks ago and talk about his recent travels through Europe. I now officially have 2 adopted families here; my host family and Susana's family. Susana and her family took me out this past Sunday to a restaurant called Rincón Campensino where they serve that down-home typical Chilean food. It was great! And they had me try this weird herb tea called Mote that supposedly has this loopy effect on foreigners because they're not accustomed to drinking it. I didn't experience the loopy effect but that's probably because I'm not a fan of hot tea-like drinks and wasn't a fan of the taste, therefore I didn't drink much of it. Here's a couple pics of the food and mote. Oh yea, and when the server found out I was from the US, he brought out this glass with a Chilean flag and an American flag. lol kinda funny but also it's like pointing a finger and saying 'hey, fresh american meat over here!'. Super yum food and over all a great experience!

Susana also recently took me to a birthday party with her for her very best friend Marcelo. I've met him and his friends before and they are all super nice people. So we went to his house to hang out for a bit and then we all went dancing. Here's a few pics from the party.
That's all I've got for now! Time to get back to some studying and homework. Can't wait to see you all next month!!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A short report!

I've got lots of homework to finish up over the next few days but I wanted to write a quick update!

New stuff to report...hmmm. Well lets start with school. I just finished my 2nd exam in operations management and I'm so happy to not be studying for that anymore, whew! I have a presentation due in management models next Saturday...I should probably finish reading the chapter so I can write my presentation! hah! And I'm currently working on some writing assignments for my Spanish class. In general, classes are going well. I think I did fairly well on my exam and I'll be much happier after the next 2 weeks of crazy studying, presentations and assignments pass by!

Work as usual is going great and my students are still pretty amazing. I've been getting a lot of hours in lately, which is awesome! I received my first evaluation last week from the bosses. They taped one of our classes a few weeks back, watch the video and then give you feedback on how things are going. My overall evaluation was a 'job well done'! Always nice to hear that you're doing your job well ;)

We did have a bit of craziness happen at work a couple of weeks ago. Susana, Ryan & myself almost always teach until about 9:30pm during the week and usually wait for each other to finish, walk and take the bus together. Well one Tuesday night Susana was helping me with some Spanish homework while we were waiting on Ryan. He finished and stepped out front to have a cigarette while we were finishing my homework. A few minutes later he came running through the door holding his forehead with blood pouring down his face muttering 'mugged, mugged'! Apparently he pulled out his cell phone to answer a text message and a group of teenagers grabbed is phone and then started hitting him and trying to get into his pockets. As he tried to fight them off and run across the street to get away, they tackled him down to the ground and smashed him over the head with a liquor bottle! There was so much blood and Berlitz looked like a murder scene. But in the end he is doing just fine. He ended up with 40 stitches and some bruising but is healing up quite quickly. Susana's mom now comes to Berlitz every night to pick she & I up and take us home. Definitely makes me feel a little safer!

Life in Concepcion is going well. I pretty much feel like a full active member of society and have adapted to my life here easily. I have a great group of friends and am constantly meeting new people. My friend Juan Pablo has introduced me to his whole English class from the university and a few of us have made a Thursday night tradition of meeting after classes at a little pub near the university for some fun language exchange time!! Sindy & I finally made some time this week to get together...although it was just a study date for the exam. Ximena & I are going out together tonight for a girls only night, which we haven't done in a very long time. I do miss everyone back home, and I'm really missing summer right now, but it's going to be hard to leave this place in 2 months now that I've met such amazing people!

Monday, May 31, 2010

2 months down...

...with 3 more to go!!

Sorry for the long delay between blogs but life here has really taken over and I'm way beyond busy these days...not that, that is any different than when I'm living in the states! My life has finally settled into somewhat of a routine and I'm so accustomed to living here that I feel as if I've been here for a year or more.

School is going well. Spanish class is moving along slowly but nicely...with the help of some of my native speaking friends. Business classes are good as well. I got a B+ on my first operations management exam and have another exam coming up in just a couple of weeks. Management models is by far the most boring class I have here. The problem is that the material is so easy and presented in such a simplistic manner that I can't stay interested in it. I have to give a presentation for the class in 1 month. Guess that means I should probably start reading the material! I definitely put the 'pro' in procrastination! lol

Work is going better than I could have ever imagined. I've become very close with one of the girls there, Susana. I g
o to her house once or twice a week to hang out and chat and spend some time with her family. She's a native from Concepcion but went to Australia and learned English. She's studying to be a translator and teaching English with me. We're also good friends with Ryan & Salvador who are our co-workers as well. Ryan and I trained together and have remained friends ever since. He's from TN and moved to Ecuador to start a business to help clean up the city. Now he moved here for a few months while his company is developing. Salvador is Chilean by descent but grew up near Vancouver Canada. He's been in Chile for 5 years and teaches English at Berlitz and in Coronel. We're a pretty close group and recently had a couple of bbq's at Salvadors' house (which is where Ryan is living too), with some of our students...always a good time!!

I'm teaching a lot these days. I have a regular class Mon-Fri 8am-9:30am with 2 students from a biz called Price-Waterhouse where they work in the audit department. They are beginners and some days are a real struggle to get things across to them. But I welcome the challenge and have to say it's the most rewarding feeling to watch them learn and grow with a new language! I have another class Mon & Wed nights from 7:15-9:30 with 3 students, all guys (Felipe, Raul & Carlos). They are level 4 and a lot of fun! Felipe & Raul are thru a government program here called 'sense' where the
gov't pays for their lessons. Carlos is a university student studying IT. They are very creative and do such a great job with role plays and make me laugh all the time!! And my other class is the one I've had from the beginning, the husband and wife couple (Marcela & Gabriel). I recently learned that they are both doctors (psychology & gynecology). They are still a blast and I have such a great time with them!!

This job has actually put a new career idea in my head!! This happens when I travel abroad...when I moved to Spain it made me realize I wanted a masters degree. Now I'm debating on getting my doctorate!! lol I've really been trying to weigh my options. When I return home I will only have 7 classes to take to graduate...that's just about a year left. At that point I can either find a job with a company and move out of Ohio while trying to start my design firm; I can start looking for grant money for small businesses when I return and try and build a client base by the time I graduate; or I can pursue a doctorate and work on getting a position teaching
in a university while working on my design business!! Oh the decisions I will have to make!

So that is basically it for this update! I have no complaints and am loving life as usual. The weather is getting colder but we've been lucky because there hasn't been a whole lot of rain yet...although I hear it's coming soon. The aftershocks have been plentiful over the last couple of weeks but they've been small, so no worries. Ximena & my host family is still spoiling me as usual!! Being an English teacher has opened a lot doors to some new friends through Ximena and I'm actually helping one of her clients, Juan Pablo, practice his English. We got to hang out and meet a bunch of his friends on Saturday night and then we all went salsa dancing together at a club called Bonita...I forgot how much fun that was!! Sindy (my classmate) and I still try and get together once a week for a dinner or lunch but it's hard sometimes with our schedules.

I'm dropping in a few albums in this blog. The one above is of a bbq at Salvadors house an
d then some pics of the pizza I made for Sindy & her roomie a couple weeks ago. The next album is some old photos from my trip to Pucon and Parque Rio with Ximena. These were the photos from her camera. And lastly is an album of pics from just this past Friday. It was a beautiful sunny day out and I called Ryan to do some museum hopping with me. The museum of Natural History is super close to my house, complete with an outdoor dinosaur park. So we did it 'American tourist' style and took some silly photos there and then headed to the university & a small art museum!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Time is moving fast!

It's been a couple weeks now which means I'm down to just 3 1/2 months left...time really is flying but it feels like I've lived here so much longer than that!

Updating from the last blog:

I officially have my Chilean id...yay for being legal!! Now I don't have to worry about carrying around a copy of my passport all the time. Also on an odd note, I have to use my id whenever I use my credit card. Here, not only do they require your signature but they also require you to write your RUN number on the receipt. Think of it like a drivers license number!

Things with Berlitz are finally moving along and I have officially begun working. I finished up 3 double training shifts last Tuesday, then got called in to cover another teacher and give my first class on Wednesday evening. A lot of you know that I really don't like standing up in front of people and presenting. I mean I've trained many a staffs in restaurants and spoken at wine tastings but it's just not the same as presenting in a classroom. I'm that person that runs out of breath and says "ummm" a lot. I have
to say that the thought of me teaching was a little hard to grasp but since I've been down here it seems I just keep challenging one fear after another, so why not add this one to the list?! During training I had to teach my boss a few times and the other new teacher that was hired along with me. I was nervous at first but my boss is pretty awesome so after the first time I was really comfortable. My first class was only 2 students, a husband and wife couple named Marcela & Gabriel. Things started a little slow but within 10 mins I had them giggling and having fun with the material. The class was 2 hr and 15 mins and it really flew by. They were so much fun and eager to learn. I let them get creative with their dialogue and just have fun with it and they loved it. After the class Marcela told me that she really liked my class. I went downstairs to return the lesson book and fill in the ped card (it's the attendance/comment card we fill out after each session) and my boss came in just smiling with a weird look on her face. She asked how my class was and I replied that I thought it went well but with that look on her face, I wasn't so sure. She started laughing and asked how I felt about taking the same class again next Tuesday and of course I said I'd love to. I asked why the funny look and she informed that Marcela approached her and said that she really enjoyed my class a lot. She also requested that I be their teacher because they like me better than the other one! Haha, I couldn't help but laugh from excitement. Of course I don't want to step on anyones toes but my boss said she was proud and not to worry about it. She said way to go for stealing a class from someone on my first day! Now that was a great ending to a long day!!!
So tomorrow I will be teaching Marcela & Gabriel again. I also got a call and should be teaching a private student right after them as well as a couple more days this week! On top of that, we have a client that is a business sending their employees to us for a morning class. They are a level 1 (aka know no english) and I will have 1 of their groups Mon-Fri at 8am for a little over an hour each day. I was so worried I'd never have enough hours to make this job worth while and now I'm finding myself to be the dependable one they call when they're in a jam. I love it!! Before I leave I'm going to talk to my boss and see how difficult it would be for me to try and pick up some classes to teach back
home. I think it'd be a great way to make some extra money and it's something I like doing. I never thought I'd say that I enjoy being a teacher!!
My coworkers are great. Last Saturday the owner, Cristian, threw a BBQ at his house for the new teachers, there are 5 of us in total. It was a holiday here, Labor Day. We had tons of food, karaoke and dancing. It was so much fun to be around such great people!!

Classes at the university seem to be going well. I had my first exam in operations management week before last. I was only 4 questions but all essay writing. Wow am I glad I asked to write it in english. I took me every bit of the 2 hour time limit just to write in English, I would have never finished it in time if I had to translate to Spanish!! As for how I did on it, well that's still unknown. I felt pretty good about most of it. I really studied and felt prepared with the material it covered. But we had class last week and no tests were given back. I'm going to ask a friend of mine about it tomorrow...maybe they do things different here and don't hand back exams...who knows!! My other 2 classes are moving right along. I actually need to do some homework tonight for my spanish class.

As promised, this blog is much shorter than previous ones. This is the last part, I promise ;) Yesterday was Mother's Day and I went on a field trip with my host family (they now claim me as their adopted daughter lol). We started up north and stopped in a coastal town called Tome which by some miracle was missed by the tsunami that followed the quake. We had some lunch overlooking the pacific ocean. I had mariscal caliente, it's a seafood soup with a white wine and stock broth with a bunch of different seafood in it topped with an egg. It was super yum!! Here are some pics of Tome!! (click the pic)

The point of this trip was to travel further north to a town called Dichato. This town unfortunately was not missed by the tsunami but rather destroyed by it. The people were warned to run for the hills right after the quake. But after a half hour the gov't said no worries, nothing happened and you can come back down now. Then the city got rocked by 4 huge waves! The place was demolished. Businesses, homes, people, cars, plant life...everything just gone. The pictures don't do justice to the devastation that you feel by seeing it in person. You can't help but to cry for them. The pics don't have captions on them but you can see where roads just washed away, bridges fell, boats washed up on land, and homes fell apart. I know this isn't the happiest way to leave a blog but the one thing we went to do was honor those who were lost and those who lost so much. In some the final pics you will see a statue of the virgin Mary. It is surrounded by nothing but dirt and slabs of what used to be homes, but yet the statue itself looks untouched. This has become a sign of hope and prayer to the city. Click on my photo to look at the pictures. Remember this is what it looks like after 2 months of clean-up. Click this link to see what it was like before cleaning began:

And here are a couple links to show you what it was like when it was a live and thriving city:

Love and miss you all!!!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

1 month, come and gone

Can you believe it?! Tomorrow will mark 1 month exactly since I've been gone. Oh how the time flies!!

Life in Chile is good and not so much different than being in the states. I still love living with Ximena and her family. It's funny, both times when traveling abroad I've always said, "ehh, I really don't want to live with a family. I mean I'm well into my 20's (now fast approaching 30), and it would just be weird to have parents around. I don't want to offend anyone or for things to be weird...I'd rather live
in an apartment with other people my age". Let me tell you, that school of thought has totally reversed! I couldn't imagine living with nicer people. They cook me food, try and make conversation, joke with me, make sure I'm safe, wish me safe travels when I leave the house...heck, her mom even brings me fresh baked bread in bed sometimes!! They are genuinely good people and I couldn't imagine living anywhere else during this stay. And of course like living with anyone, parents or whatnot, we have our 'chores' so to speak. We all take turn doing dishes after meals. If I'm running out to head to class, her mom tells me not to worry about mine and takes care of it for me. Once a week we clean the house...her mom cleans the downstairs and Ximena and I take care of our upstairs area. I help her mom iron because out of all the household chores, that's the one she hates the most! The whole situation just works! Oh and I've finally gotten this whole Chilean diet thing down! Their main staples are tomatoes, chicken, avacado, ham and bread. Ximena and I decided to go on a diet together to motivate each other. We started last week and made her mom understand that we don't want a bunch of sweets, I don't want bread all the time and cook with very little oil! I've lost a little over a kilo so far!!

On a funny side note for those who did not hear about this, I did lock myself out of the house once already! Our house is completely gated/fenced and when someone rings the doorbell, they're
at the gate. We have a little phone by the door with a camera to see who's there. Her mom always tells me when she leaves to not open the door for anyone and I'm happy to oblige! Well just a little over a week ago I was waiting for my new debit card to come from the states. I was home alone and the doorbell rang. I went to the camera to see if it was the mailman. Now I have no idea if they wear uniforms or whatnot and I saw the man had a bag on his shoulder. I still was scared to open the door so I waited until he walked a couple houses down and then went out to peek outside the gate, leaving the house door open behind me. Next thing I know, the wind catches the door and slams it shut! My keys and cell phone were both inside the house and no one ever informed me of a spare key. Walked all around the house, hoping by some miracle something would be open, but I knew better. This place is locked down like Ft. Knox when her mom leaves, complete with bars over the downstairs sliding doors and windows. Then I remembered that the window above the stairs was open and plenty big enough for me to crawl through. So I drug the trash can over next to the garage and climbed up the wall in this photo...
Then I carefully slide along the outside edge of the top of the garage because the roof of the garage is tin. Then I made my way over to the window on the far right in this picture...then lowered myself inside on to the landing between the stairs. I was so happy and proud of myself at this point and there was no way I was going to say a word to anybody! Just like a little kid, I thought I had gotten away with something...until the next morning. I wasn't paying attention that I had left dirty footprints on the wall under the window as I was sliding in. That morning her mom had noticed them, asking if they were from me. I couldn't help but laugh and told her what happened. She started laughing and then showed me where the hidden spare key is outside the house...just in case it happens again hahaha!!

Life is good and I would say that I'm pretty much accustomed to the daily life and getting where I need to go. I love taking walks and learning the city...I always have my city map with me just in case. Unfortunately I don't walk as much as I would like these days because I seemed to have developed a case of tendonitis on the outer side of my right foot. I bought some anti-inflammatory cream and I try to ice it after I walk for long periods of time but I pretty much had to cut out the walking to campus thing. How can it get better?...they say to cut out any activity that irritates it, like walking on uneven surfaces!! Do you know how hard that is to do when you live in a city that was rocked by a quake?! So I've come to rely on public transportation quite a bit these days. It's actually really efficient and inexpensive. I take either the bus or colectivo (shared taxi), just depends on which one comes by first. What I really love is that you can hail either one no matter where you bus stop needed. It's basically like NYC, you just hold your arm out, index finger extended and they stop! I like the buses but boy are they crazy drivers. When you get on, make sure you grab the pole by the driver immediately because they don't take your money until they're already on the move again. Bus is only $350 pesos during the week and $370 on Sundays (that's less than $1 US). The colectivo is just a regular sedan style car and you better be ready to scoot over because they always put 3 people in the back and 1 in the passenger seat. They're usually quicker at getting thru the city and only cost $100 pesos more than the bus. And I don't know why I mentioned that just the bus drivers are crazy, pretty much all the drivers here are nuts. Careful walking across the street because people drive fast, don't stay in the lanes and are always zipping around and cutting each other off!

The aftershocks are still happening and the frequency of them varies. My 3rd week we had a lot of them but nothing over the top, crazy strong. There was one earlier this week at about 6am,
a pretty strong one, 6.1 I think. Guess who slept through that one?! lol Getting used to them? Maybe. Sleeps like a rock? Most likely.

Social life is going well. The people in my classes tend to be pretty nice and we've since gained 2 more girls in our classes. Sindy and I hang out quite a bit since we're both foreigners and
exchange students. I even cooked us dinner at her place last weekend. I've missed doing that so much!! (click on the picture)! Then the next day we took a bus with her friend David to Laguna Grande (Big Lake) in San Pedro. We spent the afternoon walking around and taking pics and was a perfect day! Click the pic! Nicolas and Daniel have been pretty busy lately, but Nicolas and I are trying to get together sometime soon. He's going to introduce me to some of his friends! I'm still pretty timid when it comes to speaking spanish here. They speak so fast and fluid and I know I sound awkward so I tend to stay pretty quiet. Understanding isn't the issue, it's having my brain translate the words I want to speak quick enough. But I have faith, I'll get better ;)

I have my first exam in operations management coming up this Thursday. It's a written exam and I've already asked the professor if it's ok for me to write some of my answers in english. I'd hate to know the right response and then put the wrong word and get it wrong. He is really nice and said that it was fine. My other class, management models, is ok. The subject matter is pretty easy but the professor is a bit odd. Nice but odd. It's a lot of reading and our grades are based
on 2 in class presentations, 1 exam and 1 group project. My first presentation is at the end of June and has to be about 30 mins!! Not only do I hate speaking in front of people, but my longest presentation has only been about 13 mins. I'll survive but I'm not happy about it ;) I did ask the professor if I was allowed to do mine in english because again, when speaking about business, the last thing I want to do is look like a fool in front of 15 people when trying to talk about something I could easily convey in english...which most of them understand anyways! This professor didn't seem too happy about it, but he agreed. Who knows, 2 months from now I may be ready to present in spanish...I hope!! Speaking of spanish, that is my other class I have as well. I have it on Wednesday mornings and this week will be my 3rd class. The first class consisted of 3 people, myself, another girl from the US (PA), and another girl from Australia. The class actually exists because of's called Spanish for Foreigners in Industrial Engineering (that's the masters program here that I'm taking my classes in). The 2nd class had 3 more people, a girl from France, a woman from Japan and a guy from Germany. I am literally the only real 'student' there in that program! The women, all except the girl from France, are there because they married Chileans and want to learn Spanish. The girl from France and the guy from Germany are exchange students but not in the engineering program. I feel special ;) But the professor is super nice and I'm excited to learn from him!!

I know I sent you all an email about getting hired at the Berlitz School, teaching english. They were supposed to call me last Thursday or Friday to give me log-in info for the website to start my online training but I haven't heard from them yet. I'm not worried, I know I'm hired. Everything here runs much slower than in the states. It's the latin way!

In reference to the latin way, I've been dealing with the Chilean government here for the past couple of weeks. I had to register my visa & passport with the police within the first 30 days of being here. Then they give you this paper and you take that to another government office to apply for your Chilean id card. The police were really nice, the id people, not so much. But I filled out my application and was set to pick it up last Wednesday. Except on Tuesday I got a call from them saying my application had been denied because the copy of my passport wasn't clear for them to read my sex and that the visa expiration date the police had put in the system was wrong. So I had to go back to the police and then back to the id place on Wednesday and redo everything. As long as all is well, I'll have my id on the 3rd!

So I know this has been a super long blog and thanks for reading it all!! The ones from here on out shouldn't be too bad once school gets in full swing! I'll leave you with one last album of photos. These were taken yesterday at Parque Pedro del Rio. It's one of Ximenas' favorite spots that she wanted to share with me. It's where the river meets the sea and wait until you see the photos...breathtaking!!