Thursday, April 22, 2010

Turn off the TV, Live your life.

" Turn off the TV, live your life."
I'm not going to lie, I love this picture. I guess I took it to heart a little, because I tried to spend less time on my computer this past week and more time joining in with random family events. I took pic this last Friday afternoon when I was out walking in Valparaiso with a couple friends. We had an excellent walk in the two most famous hills, Cerros Concepcion and Alegre. We ate a delicious lunch of vegetable lasagna and shared raspberry chocolate cake for dessert. We ducked in and out of art galleries and paused to soak up our city on a sunny afternoon. At one popular lookout, we saw a man with a camera and the next day my host mom said we had been on the news. A construction worker even sang to me that I had beautiful eyes and promptly tripped over himself, initiating the laughter of the whole crew. I must say it was nice to be able to laugh at that kind of attention, because some days I have to look at the ground or give people death stares...

See the man in the corner painting?

Well, I walked by a few hours later and the painter had finished! Somebody loves Salvador Allende... They were playing music and somebody was announcing the completion of a new mural, which was fun to catch. The amazing thing about Valpo is that the art in the city continually changes, so each trip into the cerros you notice something different. Was it there before and you just didn't notice? Or did some artist just paint it the day before?

Brightly colored buildings, blue sky, blooming flowers, charming antique signs and a view of the coast. What more could a girl ask for?
Okay I know I talk about the city of Valparaiso alot, but I do much more than walk around and take pictures, on Mondays and Tuesdays at least. I am taking 6 classes here: Evolution and History of Film, Social Psychology, Traditional Dances of Chile, Geography of Latin America, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development, and Urban and Regional History of Valparaiso. Last week I had to do my first presentation in Geography, which was slightly mortifying. Standing up and talking for a few minutes to a class of 45 students, with about 30 Chileans and 15 exchange students, is no small event in one's day. I did my best, said a thank you prayer when it was done, and moved on with my life. I also had my first history test last week, which was two essay questions over a bunch of reading we had to do-overall, not too bad! The hard thing about my classes here is really just sitting through them. Most are an hour and a half, but Geography and Psychology are each 3 hours long...but all of them are only once a week so I suppose I can't complain too much.

This is what I did in Psychology Monday. Come on, 3 hours? Right after lunch too. UGHHHH
I think my doodles are getting better every week.
I have to be honest; part of the reason I have such a hard time staying awake in Psychology is that I just can't understand my professor half the time. His voice fades at the end of his sentences so I catch the first half of everything, but without the second half a lot of information gets lost. He writes on the board sometimes which is helpful, except for that his handwriting is unbelievably chicken-scratch-ish. Ohh and just to illustrate for you what it is like to be a "gringa" (foreigner) in a class of Chileans, let me tell a little story. So I'm sitting in Psychology and my professor refers to some story and everyone says they are familiar with it. I am, not surprisingly, clueless. He makes a lot of popular culture type allusions that I don't know because, well, I'm not Chilean. Anyways he throws up a powerpoint slide with a diagram of a family. I recognized mother, father, step-sister, etc...actual family vocab words. The center of this diagram, however, said "cenicienta"...I had no idea what that meant, so I broke out my little translator. "cenicienta" =ashen. Ashen?? Okay think Erin, ...AHHH He is talking about CINDERella, I realized. It was an epiphany moment, and I might have said OHH too myself a little too loudly. Luckily, I've learned to laugh at myself and these moments, so I rarely get frustrated or embarassed with myself or anyone else these days. :)

All last week, there was a Bicentennial Regatta going on in Valparaiso. This event culminated on Sunday, with all of the sailboats leaving the port together. There were 10 boats in all, Latin-American countries plus Spain. I went to see the big finale with my host parents.

Tons of people were packed on the beach and seaside cafes.

Even the policemen were out on their horses! I don't see policemen to often here. There doesn't seem to be very many, and I've heard that it is still largely a "volunteer" position here. This makes for me not feeling so safe at times, but then again crime is relatively low in the area, especially violent crime. So no worries, I think I'm usually pretty safe!

La Esmerelda of Chile. This is a copy of Spain's boat, which looks exactly the same except it is 1 meter longer.

My host parents, Horacio and Sandra. It was really nice to spend a couple hours sitting on the beach with them. Afterwards, we had a family lunch, and later I went to my host sister's boyfriend's basketball game. Basically I accomplished nothing that day, except for spending time with the fam, which I guess is what I should be doing on a Sunday. At times I think Chile is teaching me some important lessons...


  1. Big smiles all over my heart whenever I read about all you are doing and concluding. Love you , my big girl!

  2. Very sweet! Your host parents look like very nice people. Have fun!

  3. Hi Erin,

    I am a fellow study-abroader in Chile right now and writing a paper on graffiti. When I google-searched for this Allende mural, your photo popped up. If it is alright with you, I would like to use this photo in my project!