Friday, July 26, 2013

Traveling and My First Day in Chile

Hello everyone! Thanks for coming to check out my blog about my adventures in South America... get the Disney and Pixar's UP reference in the blog title? ;)

Today was the first day ever that I woke up and I wasn't in the United States. In fact, I'm not even in North America, or the Northern Hemisphere! It's still super surreal to me; it almost seems like a dream and I'm afraid that suddenly I'm going to wake up in Michigan. But I know it's not a dream at all, and I'm about to spend the next five months surrounded by the Spanish language and Chilean culture --- how cool is that? Super cool! Anyway, time to get everyone up-to-date on the events thus far in my adventure, and I promise that I'll be as brief as possible, because I tend to babble in both my speech and in my writing.

Wednesday afternoon I arrived at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport with my parents and sister. I'll admit that the airport was kind of overwhelming --- I'd never flown before, and I hadn't been in an airport since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. But we got everything figured out and soon I was boarding the plane with Kristin, my traveling buddy and fellow GVSU Laker, for my first flight ever.

It only took an hour to fly from Detroit to Atlanta, so Kristin and I were excited because we had arrived early and had about two hours to relax and eat and such before we were to take our second and final flight to Chile; however, this excitement quickly turned to disappointment and frustration when we learned that our flight had been delayed for ten hours due to mechanical issues, meaning that instead of arriving in Santiago at 8 am as we'd initially planned, we were going to be leaving Atlanta at that time. Delta Airlines did impress us, though, because they gave us vouchers and a toiletries kit to make up for the inconvenience, as well as got us nice rooms in the Westin Airport Hotel (yay Delta!). Although we were a little less than bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on Thursday morning, we boarded the plane for the long flight to Chile, which actually wasn't nearly as bad as I'd expected it to be.
My swanky hotel room... ignore my mess, por favor 

The arrival in Santiago was a bit more stressful than I'd imagined, between dealing with the unfamiliar Chilean accent, the complicated shuttle system, and a busy bus station in which Kristin and I stood out like sore thumbs because of our blonde hair. Never was I more grateful to get on a bus for a five-hour ride than last night at 9:30 pm, but everything was well-worth it to finally get to meet my host mom Jeannette and house brother JuanPablo immediately after my arrival in Chillán. I'm extremely excited to live with them and to learn everything that they can teach me about Chilean culture, Chile itself, and the Spanish language. (:
My first view of the mountains of Chile!
Taken by my French seat buddy Cyril
With Emily and Kristin, two of my fellow GVSU Lakers in Chile (:
Today I got to meet up with the four other GVSU students studying abroad in Chile, and also got to meet the other students studying abroad at la Universidad del Bío-Bío. We met up in Concepción, the city in which the main campus of UBB is located, then visited the museum for Pedro del Río Zañartu, a Chilean entrepreneur and writer closely associated with Concepción. Despite the rain, we then went to a nearby beach and got to take pictures of both the ocean and with the group. I got to see the Pacific Ocean for the first time! :D After this, we traveled to a seaside portion of the city and tried three different types of encantadas, which are essentially the Chilean version of a pasty --- very delicious! I can't wait to return in order to further explore Concepción.

Anyway, it's time for this girl to hit the hay --- it's been a longgggg two days. Thank you everyone for bearing with me through this super long post, and I promise that my future posts will be more exciting and thought-provoking! Lots of love!

Gail (: