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Santiago Travel Blog

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I officially have the best host family ever.  I was hugely nervous about meeting them, especially because my experience living with a family in Spain left a lot to be desired.  I was worried that my family here would be cold and disinterested like in Spain, but I couldn't have been more off the mark.  Plus I'm living out in an area called Las Condes, which is way out to the east, kind of separated from the center of the city, which bummed me out at first.  It's kind of a drag that my commute will probably be a little long, but then I found out that I'm in an actual house (as opposed to an apartment) in a neighborhood.  And from what I've heard so far, there are a few different buses around here, so getting around shouldn't be an issue.  Mari, my host mom, is incredibly affectionate and welcoming, and both she and her husband Wilfredo (probably my favorite Spanish name of all time) love to talk and tell me all about themselves and Santiago and Chile in general.  I didn't get to really hang out with my host brother, Alvaro, who's 25, at first because he went to play soccer, but then when he came home, he sort of checked in on me in my room and when he saw me watching Harry Potter in Spanish on TV, he invited me to watch with him.  It was really nice of him, and we got to talk a lot.  The only weird part was that we were watching it in his room, and so we were sharing his twin bed, and he insisted that I sit back so I'd be more comfortable.  So we were basically half a step away from cuddling.  Then he invited em under the blankets, which, let's be serious, kind of weirded me out.  I know his intentions were honorable, since it really is freezing (yes, even inside the houses...I don't want to talk about it) and he just wanted to make sure I wasn't cold.  Plus he's about to get married, so I'm sure he's not a creep or anything.  Mostly I was just surprised how he could be so welcoming and inviting to someone he had just met, because I've never really met anyone like that.  The whole family has been so nice so far and even though it's only been a few hours, I'm actually feeling kind of at home here, as cheesy as that may sound.  Tomorrow they're going to take me out and show me around a few parts of the city and how to use the buses and the Metro and stuff, which will be incredibly helpful.  So it's basically been so far so good on the host family front.

As far as the other stuff, we've had a lot of orientation from the CIEE staff over the past few days.  In a way, it was kind of dumb because they really just rehashed everything we've read in the manuals and such, but it was kind of nice hearing it again.  Plus just listening to them has been helping me ease back into Spanish.  I keep apologizing to my family whenever I mess up, and for my extremely limited vocabulary, but they're really patient with me and insist that I speak well.  Mari also told me that she thinks I'll fit in well here because I look sort of Latina, not just because of the dark features, but, according to her, because my mannerisms and such are pretty similar to those of Latinos.  That sounds kind of weird, I guess (it sounded so much better in Spanish...obviously) but I'm just glad I don't completely stick out as an ugly American.  Aside from getting oriented, we've been exploring the city a tiny bit, but only really limited to the Avenida Providencia, and we've gone out the past two nights.  Both nights we hit up a street called Suezia that has a bunch of bars.  It's been fun, and I've gotten to try Chilean beers (Escudo, Austral and Cristal) and a few other "traditional" drinks (read: anything with Pisco...haha), but it was a little weird rolling with a big group of loud gringos.  I'm not saying I'm any kind of a graceful drunk, but once certain people get a few drinks deep they get completely sloppy and start yelling in English in the street or dancing in a bar without a dancefloor, where everyone else is sitting at tables, and other stupid stuff like that.  I'm all for having fun and doing what you want to do, but I'm straight up scared of being robbed.  Nothing quite says "Hey, come rip me off!" like blatantly acting like a drunk tourist. 

That's all for right now.  I'm looking forward to seriously catching up on sleep tonight.  I didn't go out, obviously, because I just moved in and was chilling with my family.  Plus there's the minor detail of me having no flaming idea how to navigate this city (shocking, right?).  I might get together with some CIEE kids tomorrow night to go out, or Alvaro mentioned that he'd introduce me to some of his Chilean friends, which will be really cool.  I'll see how it goes.  We have the whole weekend free, and it's a long one because Monday is "feriado" (because it's some national holiday), so it should be a lot of fun.  Ciao!
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