Painted Crosses with the Andes Mountains in the background

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on June 10, 2016 on 6/10/16 from ,

All of this without a Tour! (Santiago, Chile – John Gabelus)

One week down already?!

student in front of Andes Mountains

Hey everyone!

As you can see by the smile on my face, my first week in Chile has been spectacular!  From the moment I touched down on Saturday night, I have been welcomed and embraced by many Chilenos, plus I’ve had many opportunities to explore the beautiful and historic city of Santiago.  Simply said, this week has been a major success :)

During my week here in Chile, I’ve done some exploring on my own and with the students that make up my program’s cohort.  I’ve seen and climbed the fortress at St. Lucia, wandered through the many rooms of La Biblioteca Nacional (the National Library), tasted sweets beloved by the Chilean people (like Manjar – authentic dulce de leche), and I’ve been learning and speaking Spanish with my host family and people I meet around the city’s major historic monuments.  I’m learning more than I imagined I would, and it’s only been one week.

A statue of Pedro de Valdivia

Our Study Abroad course at Universidad Alberto Hurtado has also been captivating, as we’ve spent the past week exploring and understanding some of the nuances of Chile’s political history.  While, we’ve covered a great deal in a few days, I’m even more excited for next week when the students of my program begin our service component.  I will be volunteering almost everyday next week with men who are homeless and/or recovering from drug/alcohol addiction.

Say Cheese

While the week has been good and pretty relaxed, I’m challenging myself everyday to learn more Spanish and more about the political and social climate that exists here in Chile between the different classes of people.  Recently, there have been several student protests regarding education costs, and while I have not been present during them, it seems as though the issue is very sensitive and the situation complicated.  I can only wait and see what either side of the discussion says or does next.

Finally, I want to let you guys know that many of my apprehensions about learning the language and being away from home have quieted.  I won’t lie and say that I’m not thinking about my friends and family back home a lot, but the family I have here in Chile is everything I could have ever asked for.  I now have two new brothers, an older sister, and a mom away from home, to connect with.  This experience is already one that I can’t imagine not including in my college experience.  What a time it has been.

On that note, I will now being heading out for a tour of Santiago. I will be sure to continue incorporating my photography so that you all can share in the beauty of this city and nation with me!

Hasta luego,

The Chilean flag in front of La Moneda

“The Chilean flag in front of La Moneda”