Today is our fifth day in Valdivia. There is so much to say, I'm not sure I can fit it in one blog post (but I'll sure try)!
We took an overnight "cama" bus (the most comfortable type offered) from Santiago to Valdivia. There we toured the Windsor School, met our professors, and settled in with our host families. It's safe to say that we've all had a bit of a culture shock- for example, my family speaks no English at all. However, every one of us has great things to say about our experience so far. My family has done everything possible to make me comfortable. My "adoptive mom" and I have spent many hours sitting by the river and chatting in Spanish; she's always willing to drive me into el centro so the other students and I can go shopping, eat out, and explore the town. Most of us have host siblings who have learned some English in school. They often accompany us, show us arond town, and help us with our Spanish while we help them with their English.
Valdivia itself is strikingly beautiful. They call it the "city of rivers:" it is bordered on one side by mountains, by the beach just a few minutes in the other direction, and through the center of the city runs a huge river. My family lives about fifteen minutes from el centro, so every time I go to school I get to cross the river and witness the breathtaking view. I keep telling my family that I have never before seen such color or natural beauty.
In the six days we've been here, my Spanish has improved dramatically. I can speak faster, clearer, and with a better accent. Everyone in Valdivia is so eager to help that, even though we are 5,000 miles from Ohio, I feel at home.
This week, we will attend language classes at the Windsor School during the day and spend evenings with our family or out on the town with our new Chilean amigos. This weekend, we begin touring Chile and Argentina with our group!
More posts and pictures will be coming very soon!