Saturday, March 27, 2010

A conversation that sums up the nature of Chilean life:

Me: "Victor Domingo Silva, Pedro de Valdivia, Diego de Almadro, Eduardo Castillo Vasquez... The street names in this city are so long and difficult to remember!"
Stefie: "Not only that, but often the same street changes names 3 times without changing direction!"
Me: "That doesn't make any sense, why would the city planners do that?"
Stefie: "Pues, los Chilenos les gustan las cosas complicadas. I guess Chileans just like complicated things."

Amen, sister!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Humility, Take Two

It happened again. I swore I learned my lesson, but just when I least expected it, I found myself in the same place I was last summer... humbled. I let my pride swell so large it popped in my face (imagine, shall we, this metaphor in the form of a water balloon popping instead of a zit popping, as I realize the illustration might illicit. Ew.).

My painting class really is getting the best of me. My painting class! Since last
week's fear, I went into the day with a new air of confidence, my first sketch in
hand and a stronger sense of direction. But when I walked into the room, that
popping thing happened, and I realized I misunderstood the homework
completely. The other students were proudly displaying their large, fully done, oil
on canvas masterpieces, while I, hot and red, taped my 8x10" sketch to an easel. We had to do a full painting in seven days? No lo entendí. And then, after
critiquing the other student's beautiful and thoughtful work, I had to explain to
my whole class, TA and professor-- while trying to salvage any bit of dignity-- that I did not understand the assignment but did have an idea for a painting... "Yes but where is this idea on this dinky piece of paper?" Um... how do you say... um... Fail. My Spanish turned to gibberish, my confidence disappeared, my artistic intention failed...

I actually did indeed want to die at that moment.
I walked slash RAN out of the classroom at the end of the 5 hours never wanting
to show my sorry American face to those people ever again. And while I still feel
this way, I do realize that embarrassment-- no shame-- this deep always comes
with a lesson. I forgot what it was like to be humbled, and I needed a little dose.
You think you know everything and don't need help, not even from God? BAM,
not so much. Déjà vu, Philippines!

So now, I'm back to knowing nothing. And it's not this pathetic, I-can't-handle myself, knowing nothing. Rather, it's an attitude change towards being more
open to saying, "I need help, I don't have it all together, and I am not a Chilean
superstar." And from here you can only go up, and the pressure is off to be so
perfect. Lesson learned!

"We do not want to be beginners. But let us be convinced of the fact that we will
never be anything else but beginners, all of our life!"
-Thomas Merton


(Dedicated to my Mom who didn't quite believe my fanny pack was rockin')

And you can bet, I'm bringin' it back to the States.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Happy One Month (and 5 days) Chile

To celebrate our anniversary, here are some tid-bits of my journey thus far, (thanks to my dinkster camera):


Saturday, March 20, 2010

"Everybody thinks of changing humanity and nobody thinks of changing himself." 
-Leo Tolstoy

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

100% Stereotype, 100% Silly

Big moustaches + Tex Mex burritos =  (obvi) 100% Mexican

(An advertisement from a Chilean woman's magazine. Oh the cultural implications of this ad...)


For this first time in all of my abroad experiences, today I was scared.

We didn’t have another aftershock or blackout (like last night, all throughout the country for over 3 hours).

I went to a new campus and a new class, all by myself today. No other foreigners. Got lost. Arrive late. Found classroom, door was locked. Asked several people many times where to go, what to do. Finally found classroom only to discover the class was postponed, so then waited for a half hour in a small room with only the professor and TA. When class finally started, I didn’t know what was going on since I missed the first week. Then I was asked a question in front of the small class of Chileans and didn’t know the answer, and thus was super embarrassed. 

All of this is silly first-day stuff that I haven’t dealt with since first day of high school. It’s really nothing to be scared of. But being completely alone in a new country, the sensation of feeling lost and not understanding or being understood, is indeed frightening. I am not saying I can relate exactly to immigrants through this simple experience, but in a way I can image how difficult it must to be to move to a brand new country. Now I know that immigrating takes such courage, and why ex-pats from any country group together so closely abroad. It is just simply a matter of being scared. And understandably so. Plus it doesn't help that a lot of the people in the new country are sometimes scared of you as a foreigner.

I really probably shouldn't complain about being lost on this campus though, it is the most beautiful place I've ever gone to study. It is the arts campus for La Católica is absolutely picturesque. Think The Secret Garden + Hogwarts (including the hidden tunnels and rooms) + Virgin Mary statues: 

 Definitely more photos of Campus Orientes to come.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love

I have a slightly embarrassing confession: I just finished my first New York Times Bestseller, Eat, Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, and I liked it. Actually, kind of a lot. Don’t judge me. My English professor had recommended it to me, so hey that gives it/me some credibility, right?

As suggested in the title, Gilbert tells her story of traveling to Italy (Eat), India (Pray), and Indonesia (Love) as a form of life and identity recovery after a messy divorce. Drama, silliness, and cheesy one-liners ensue, and in the end she comes out of the other end a new and more fulfilled person. Not exactly surprising. But oh so entertaining for a long plane ride.

What I found most interesting throughout the book was the author’s intense and deep desire for God. Early in her book, she describes an “ah-ha” moment, where she first cries out and hears from God crying on her bathroom floor before her divorce. From then on, she begins her search for God/god in the form of yoga, meditation, chanting, praying, journaling, adopting a guru, etc. While this soul searching is nothing new and very human, I have never really heard someone describe the desire to find/have/be in a relationship with God they way she did. Furthermore, as a Christian, I have never seen/read this kind of longing in a non-Christian before (while she claims God—monotheistic, capital G—her beliefs are very much a mix of religions and philosophies, and she clearly states she does not mean God just in the Judeo-Christian sense). It was beautiful and inspiring to me to feel her yearning, because so often, unless in desperate times, I forgot what this yearning is like.

“I just want God. I want God inside me. I want God to play inside my bloodstream the way the sun amuses itself on water.”
-Pg. 176

But then, I was also confused. When she talks about God, His love, her relationship to him, I am in such agreement with her. Perhaps it is my ignorance, but it is not common for me to find such a deep connection to words describing a God other than my own. The way she speaks of God is so very Christian, so Biblical to me, yet she not speaking of the same Biblical God I know.

“God is, ‘L’amour che move il sole e l’ature stele…’ The love that moves the sun and the stars.’”
-Pg. 46, cited from Dante’s Divine Comedy

“Prayer is a relationship; half the job is mine.”
-Pg. 177

–Pg. 158, what God told her

“Our whole business therefore in this life is to restore to health the eye of the heart whereby which God may be seen.”
-Pg. 123, quoted from St. Augustine (ok yes, he’s a Christian)

I believe that God uses anything and everything to teach you, bring you closer to Him, and this is just another example of God using something rather silly on the surface—a guilty pleasure memoir—to challenge my faith and ideas about Him. I learned a lot from this book! So even if I don’t agree theologically with Gilbert, I still take away strong inspiration for my own walk with God. It left me wanting to bring more prayer, mediation, and passion into my faith.

Which led me to my next book, the complete opposite of this book—The Celebration of Discipline (thanks Tarah!). Ha! 

And to finish with this thought:

“There are only 2 questions that human beings have ever fought over, all through history: “How much do you love me?” And, “Who’s in charge?”
-P. 157, quoted from an old lady

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Aftershock Rattles Presidential Innaguration

Just felt the biggest aftershock yet-- a 7.2-- during my appointment with the art department. There were 2, the first I was indoors and evacuated with everyone else, the second I was outside on a bench. It's so crazy to be outside because you feel it much more strongly and can literally hear the earth rumble in a deep bass. This one, unlike the countless others we have felt since Feb. 27th, actually scared me again. Classes and activities are cancelled for the day.

Interestingly and symbollically, it also rattled the ceremonial innaguration of the new president, Sebastián Piñera. Here is a link to the NY Times article: NY Times Article

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

First Week of Class...

...was stressful. Still is. After discovering so many obstacles I will have to climb through to take the classes I need, I was very down. But to lift me up, God gave the gifts of these views from one of the campuses of Universidad Católica. Flags at half mast to show respect for the deaths and tragedy from the earthquake, the Andes glowing at sunset, me walking alone towards it all. It restored my soul. 

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Chilenismos vs. Mexicanismos: A Quiz

I don't know what my deal is with little games on this thing lately, but here is another activity for you: a quiz! My apologies to non-Spanish speakers! I get made fun of (lovingly) for my vocabulario mexicano, so I'm slowly but surely converting my dialect. Gotta love it when I speak in Spanish and people look at me like I'm speaking another language. Now your turn to figure it out!

Match the Chilean words/phrases with the Mexican equivalents:

1. n
2. j
3. d
4. a
5. l
6. h
7. k
8. e
9. b
10. f
11. c
12. i
13. g
14. m
15. o

Who wins?  

Monday, March 8, 2010

Chile Ayuda a Chile

As a response to the earthquakes in Chile, the government, major media
corporations, national banks, local businesses and charities came together to
organize a 24-hour telethon called Chile Ayuda a Chile, Chile helping Chile. The
concept in and of itself is uniquely Chilean; every year (except during election
year) there is a widely respected and well supported telethon to raise money for
the children’s’ hospitals and children’s health-based charities. These telethons
raise millions of dollars annually. When my host family told me about this, I was
quite surprised, as telethons are done but definitely not popular nor anticipated
in the States (no offense, Jerry Lewis). I was even more surprised when I found
out that Chile Ayuda a Chile funds would go partly towards the national
government. This is completely beyond me, as I had never heard of a government fundraising for themselves and citizens supporting it whole-heartedly! The current president and president elect were there at the filming and made speeches. There were also other local and international artists and
personalities present, performing/making speeches, as well as videos and
updates from the depressed regions in the south. It was a very emotional 24-
hours. So where does this money go exactly? At first I thought the government
got all of the money, which would be even more interesting, but is not the case.
When I asked my family, my sister said the charity El Hogar de Cristo (a Christian-focused charity, also interesting,) but my parents didn’t know. My papá
even thought that maybe the government would get all of the money and then
decide themselves where it would be distributed exactly. The official website
didn’t say where exactly. The telethon was very successful, but who gets all of this money?

Aside from this question, it was wonderful to see the people rally around
for this cause. Like I said before, the young people here are so impressive and
active politically. For example, the youth were the ones who painted hundreds of
public buses with call-to-action phrases like, “Vamos Chile!” and, “Fuerza
Chile!” (“Let’s Go Chile” and “Be Strong Chile” respectively). The youth
volunteered hours of service to walk around Santiago with collection cans, pack
up boxes of supplies, and run donation centers around the city. The youth
organized trips themselves to go hand-deliver goods to the needy in the south. Of course the adults are also active and helpful, but the power of teenagers and
young adults here is inspiring.

On another note, since interning in the Philippines with a Christian NGO, I
believe the local church has a potentially strong impact in development. I found
this to be true again in the case of Chile Ayuda a Chile, where many donation
centers were based in churches. The local churches were a major part of the
fundraising campaign, both Catholic and Protestant. When I dropped off goods at my local church, there was a table in the front of the sanctuary with assorted
donated items and a sign that read, “Chile: Una Sola Mesa,” which translates
(within this context) to “Chile: One Table United.” Way to go Church, for serving
your people and doing your duty well! 

In the end, the total amount of money raised is the equivalent of $60,000,000!
Sixty million, more than double the goal.

¡Vamos Chile, Fuerza Chile!

Saturday, March 6, 2010


I am so overwhelmed at the support, encouragement, and love I have been receiving from around the world since the earthquake. Thank YOU for your prayers, e-mails, concerns, and love. I am so grateful! Every prayer is heard by our big God who cares about the small, so imagine the power of so many people, strangers, uniting in prayer over the well-being of a country. Dang! I can feel the power. You guys are amazing.

Gracias un montón! 

Friday, March 5, 2010

A Very Chilean Day Indeed

A very Chilean day:
  • Felt 2 large tremors before going to bed last night.
  • Woke up to take the micro (bus) -->; green line metro -->; red line metro, all of which werestanding room only.
  • Went to the orientation for La Universidad La Católica which was full of regulations on registration, schedule, etc.
  • Ate lunch in a park.
  • Went shopping in a little flea market.
  • Bought a fanny pack in said flea market.
  • Wore fanny pack out of the flea market. I am super legit now.
  • Bought an ice cream cone, explored the area on my own.
  • Took red line metro-->; green line metro -->; mirco home.
  • Talked to the spontaneous guests that were visiting when I got home.
  • Picked grapes off of the vines above the garage, and de-stemmed and washed them. Ate said grapes. Delicioso!
  • Took a nap in the shadey swing outside.
  • Went to the local mall with my mom and sister.
  • Watched Chile Ayuda Chile (Chile Helps Chile, donate at, a 24-hour telethon to raise money for the country. Cried during the introductary presentation. 
  • Am about to go out with friends to a discoteca. 
  • Am super impressed with this country's youth and their influence during this time of crisis. I see donation centers all over the universities, young people in the streets collecting money, going door to door collecting goods (yes, this wouldn't work in the US I understand), going down on their own to help in the south... they are truly inspiring. 

I am feeling more Chilean than ever, proud of my newly adopted country. Viva Chlie.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

1.26 Microseconds, Gone.

According to NASA, the earth was so shaken from the past earthquake that it was thrown off its axis and we lost 1.26 microseconds of time. The difference is one-millionth of a second. Which is still pretty crazy.

My soul mate Rachel recently posted this entry on her fabulous new blog concerning the time that was jumbled, and her take on this event is quite insightful. Please do enjoy:

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Recovery Photos

So, I took a little walk around my neighborhood that was, again, not heavily affected by the earthquake. The biggest sign is the falling electric post, but mostly things are fine. I unfortunately left my lens to my SLR at home, so please bear with the quality of the point-and-shoot photos.

Here are some of the sights around my house:

I'm preparing to leave my house and meet up with some of the other American students on my program today, for the first time since Friday. Yay for leaving the house!

On a Lighter Note

2 Truths and 1 Lie

Well, I had this all ready to go before the earthquake, so to lighten the mood a bit, let’s play a game. It’s called 2 Truths and 1 Lie, and you play like it sounds: out of the 3 points, two are true and one is a lie. Try to decipher the lie. The first half of the sentences are what “they” (guidebooks, friends, my study abroad program, the ever reliant wikipedia, etc.) told me about Santiago before I arrived here. The second series are things I was not told. Can you figure it out? A ver…

What they told me before I left:
1a. Chileans do not wear bright colors.
2a. It is easy to travel around Santiago on public transportation.
3a. Chileans drink lots of wine.

1b. The food in Chile is full of fish and red meat.
2b. Internet is hard to come by, especially wi-fi.
3b. There is very little presence of Air Conditioning.

1c. Chilean Spanish is the hardest to understand.
2c. Brewed coffee is a rarity.
3c. The women are beautiful, the men not so much.

1d. Smoking is a popular hobby.
2d. Going out for an evening of dancing and drinks lasts until 4am.
3d. Books are expensive to buy.

1e. There are 4 meals a day: breakfast, lunch, once, and dinner.
2e. The beach towns are close and easily accessible from Santiago.
3e. Pick pocketing is common in the city.

What they didn’t tell me before I left:
1f. Water is not automatically heated.
2f. There are many, many Chinese restaurants.
3f. Chileans are typically not very direct.

1g. I would have a swimming pool I my backyard.
2g. It would be very cold in the summer.
3g. Boys here have mullets.

The Answers (don’t you peek)
1a. Chileans DO wear bright colors! They have a great, loose, hippie sense of fashion here which I love, love, love.

2b. Me and all of the other gringos in my program all have wi-fi in our houses. I don’t even have wi-fi in my house in the states.

3c. Lies! There is plenty of beauty in the men to feast my eyes on and be quite full indeed. ;) Don’t worry mom, just looking!

2d. Going out lasts until 4am on an early night. Most clubs and bars don’t close until 5am. The night I went out with my sister and her friend, we got home at 6:30am.

1e. We still have three meals: breakfast before school/work, a big main meal at lunch, and once at around 9 or 10pm. My body still needs to adjust to the time gaps.

3f. Chileans are direct! My family corrects my Spanish, my manners, my views all the time in a very straight forward way.

2g. Actually, it’s rather hot. Rather, rather hot since there is not AC (stuffed metros and buses are not so yummy). But beautiful at night!

Surprised? Me too. If you got them all right, let me know I’ll get you a prize. Ha!