Sunday, March 8, 2009

Santiago: Feb. 26-Feb. 29

Santiago was really cool. It was quite an overwhelming experience there. We had arrived after a 12-hour plane ride from Texas and had less than an hour to get to our apartments, clean up and prepare for the several hours of touring the city. It was quite a rush, and without much sleep, I just wanted to go to bed. But we were in SANTIAGO, CHILE, no time for sleep.

The weather in Santiago was very humid and smoggy. I didn’t bring the appropriate summer clothes for this weather only because its important to blend in, not stand out, especially as an American… Santiago is very polluted, mostly because 1/3 of the population lives in the city. But I was surprised at how clean the streets were- more clean than some cities in the United States that I have been to.

While in Santiago we visited:
Cerro San Cristóbol
Took a Teleférico Ride to view the skyline
Palacio Presidencial La Moneda (The Presidents Palace-but she does not live here)
Paseo Ahumada
Plaza de Armas
Mercado Central (Central Market)
Viña Cousiño Macul (Wine tasting tour!)
Barrio Bellavista (“The Beautiful View” where we had lunch one day- Bohemian-feel neighborhood/plaza area)
La Chascona (One of three homes of the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda)
Cerro Santa Lucía (where Santiago was founded)
Pueblo de Los Dominicos (arts and crafts shops)

The entire weekend in Santiago was overwhelming. In between tours, we had orientation meetings to prepare for living in Chile, as well as going to school. It was a ton of information to absorb but it was definitely really nice to have as I imagine some international students do not have such a great organization as we do to prepare them like this. We were all getting to know each other throughout the weekend as well. There are about 50 kids here in Viña del Mar and Valparaiso studying abroad with ISA. I was amazed at how many American students chose Chile… it was/has been fun getting to know everyone. Immediately I connected with my roommate (only for Santiago) Nicole, and we befriended a few other girls who we hung out with the whole weekend. Sunday evening, February 29, we boarded a bus to meet our host families… I was so nervous, yet so excited.