Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I'm in Valpo!

I'm typing today from my new home in Valparaiso!  Yesterday was a whirlwind since I had no idea where I was going until I arrived in Vina Del Mar, was put on another bus and our names were randomly called when we pulled up to our house.  I actually thought the driver was my host dad when he grabbed my luggage.   

For the next four months, I'll be living in Valparaiso Centro or "Valpo" - an area that actually first attracted me to Chile.  It's a World Heritage city and often referred to as the "San Francisco of South America."  It's located on the coast and has brightly colored houses stacked on steep hills.  I'm super duper excited!  I also have three other amigas very close to me (one actually lives two blocks away).
Valparaiso is on the coast in the center of the country

View of the city
My host family is adorable.  They live in a large condo in a high rise and have two grown sons that live nearby.  I believe my host dad works in something medical related at a clinica and my host mom takes care of the spotless house (she also loves the gymnasio).   When I arrived, we had an amazing almuerzo (lunch) including homemade meatballs in broth and a fresh salad with beets cut into stars, tuna and avocado.  During the night we watched the Chilean version of "Dancing with the Stars," while my host dad pointed to various items around the room and said them in English.  He actually knows way more words than I know in Spanish.  We rounded off the night with some sort of shots that were handed to me.  I was told they were good for the cold and when in Rome...

They've been very welcoming and want to chat with me in Spanish.  The language barrier can be tough at times.  I realize I keep nodding at things and saying si even though I have no idea what's being said.  They seem determined to help me with my espanol, which I'm all for.

It's funny because I was preparing myself for something completely different as far as a placement.  I thought I'd be in the campo (rural town) but as mentioned before, I will be living in a highrise next to a department store.  I even have a flat screen TV in my room, bathroom to myself, WIFI and an electric blanket (this is like gold because it's soo freaking cold).  The city girl in me is pretty giddy about this.

Today, my host mom helped me navigate the micros (buses) and I met with my school.  I will be teaching high schoolers at a technical school (it's like a trade school that begins at the high school level).  My co-teacher and head of the English department actually speaks perfect English and even studied in New York for awhile.  The school is huge - if I understood correctly there are 1,500 students - and overlooks the ocean.  Yep, that's right - ocean view!

Tomorrow is my first day observing y estoy muy nerviosa.  But until then I'm going to dig into another delicious almuerzo being prepared by papa de Chile and explore the city with my nearby friends. Buenos Dias!

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