La vida porteña: my first week in VALPO!


Feelings I have experienced this past week:
  1. Awkwardness
  2. Excitement
  3. Nervousness
  4. Awe
  5. Total happiness
  6. Discomfort
  7. Confusion/disorientation
  8. Accomplishment
After three days of orientation at a modest hotel in Valpo, which consisted of seminars on topics such as health, cultural norms, and safety, we arrived nervously at our homestays on Saturday.  Mine consists of a host mother and sister living in this adorable little home on one of Valpo's famous cerros(hills).  I definitely hit the language barrier head-on when I arrived, generating several awkward situations.  Along with being spoken very quickly, Chilean Spanish also includes several of its own invented words, phrases, and slang.  The inability to communicate well made me feel like an idiot at first, but I believe I have more or less recovered myself after my few days here.  There still are moments where I am lost in what my host mom is asking me, but I now can more or less understand her and respond accordingly.  If I already feel more comfortable, I am confident I will much better at the end of this program!

My host sister speaks English, and is very familiar with American culture.  I see this throughout Valparaiso: several restaurants, bars, and clubs play American music and relay pop culture references from the States. 

Despite this globalized atmosphere, there is still a tangible Chilean pride.  Valpo is a very vocal city: it speaks through its graffiti'd walls and colorful buildings.

Below is the little house from which I'm typing up this blog:

The mural was done with permission by an art student living in Valpo.  Street art is everywhere here, coloring the city with images of mainly Valpo or the surreal, or some combination of the two.

These photos were all taken on the same hill, Cerro Alegre.  Street art is perfectly legal here as long as the artist gets permission from the building owner.
My family so far has gone above and beyond to make me feel welcome, namely throwing me several birthday celebrations for my 20th this Sunday.
So sweet!  My host sister also invited a ton of her Chilean friends to come celebrate with me and mine.
We also had a barbecue with my host mama's family and friends.

Then visited the house of Pablo Neruda!  Beautiful ocean views with an interior that suits both Neruda and Valpo's quirk:

 Host sis and I!

Last night a few friends and I took the metro to Viña to watch a beautiful beach sunset.



Today, we went out on a boat to get the ocean's perspective!

Otherwise, we've just been exploring this beautifully funky colorful city and learning the streets of our temporary home.

My first impression has been a great one.  I hope I appreciate each day of this semester in this wonderful place!


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