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Follow eight Otterbein undergrads as we travel through Chile and Argentina January 2-29!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

San Martín

Yesterday, our group crossed the boarder between Chile and Argentina by boat to reach the beautiful little town of San Martín. A few of us girls found the most adorable coffee shop while the others did some shopping and unwinding after our trek. After breakfast this morning, we made the five-hour drive to Bariloche, Argentina. In this charming city of chocolate shops, cafes, restaurants, and beaches, we'll spend the next three days touring, shopping, bonding as a group, and of course practicing our Spanish as we become acquainted with Argentinian culture before we return to Valdivia and our host families.

I thought I'd take this opportunity to let a few of the other students say a few words about their experience so far on this trip:

"I'm having the best time of my life here in Chile. All the locals are so nice, especially my host family. I'm learning a lot about their culture and the Chilean Spanish."
- Justin Cox

"This trip has helped me as a Spanish language student, and also as a student of the world."
- Theresa Howe

"Studying in Chile has been the greatest, life-changing adventure. I feel so comfortable that sometimes I forget how far I am from home. I'm homesick, and I never want to leave."
- Joe Lucas

"Words don't suffice. Let's just say it's been the trip of a lifetime."
- Kaitlin Houdek



Travelling is too much fun!


Loving the warm weather in South America


Trying Chile´s best beer (well, some of us)!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Valdivia and Pucón

It's hard to believe that we've reached the halfway point of our adventure in Chile. We've had an incredible amount of fun and learned so much... if I had a dollar for every time one of us said, "I don't want to leave Chile..." Well, I'd probably have enough money for all of us to stay.

Today is our last day of classes here in Valdivia. We are presenting the artwork, poetry, theatrical pieces, and presentations we've worked on since we arrived. I could not have asked for more enthusiastic, patient, or knowledgable professors to have worked with. Otterbein's partnership with the Windsor School has benefitted the students on this trip so much.

Over the weekend, our group made the two-hour drive to a breathtaking town called Pucón: essentially, a beach nestled between a lake and a volcano. We bathed in the natural hot springs and the entire group went white-water rafting, which was both the most terrifying and exhilerating experience of my life. At one point, we had the option to exit the raft and make a 30-foot jump off a cliff into the water below. I can assure you that the woman who boarded the plane from Atlanta to Santiago never would have taken the plunge- but Saturday, I jumped. This adventure in Chile, surrounded by my professors and new friends, has made me not just a better Spanish speaker, but a more adventurous and self-reliant individual. I think the same could be said of every one of us.

The students on this trip (some of which knew each other, but many did not) have become incredibly close. I have never met more interesting, fun, genuinely caring people in my life- you all have made this trip what it is for me, and I am blessed to be sharing this adventure with you. Anyone who is considering studying abroad, on this trip or another, should know that they will be making friends for life.

Tomorrow morning, our group leaves for a new, week-long adventure in Argentina. We are all excited to see what this new country will have in store for us.

As promised, here are some pictures from our adventure so far!


Looking at Chile's natural beauty

After white-water rafting in Pucón

Climbing the mountains of Oncól

At "Calle Calle," the river that runs through Valdivia

La playa (the beach)!

Trying Chilean food at a fería!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Valdivia

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!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Santiago

We landed safely Santiago, Chile around 9 this morning! While there's nothing fun about a ten-hour flight, we were all so excited that nobody minded.

Alongside Professor Galarce and her sister, Natasha, we had a wonderful tour guide named Sam who led us through the streets of Santiago. We saw Chile's largest cathedral, toured a peace memorial for its citizens kidnapped during Pinochet's military dictatorship, found a Chilean Starbucks (!!!), and adventured through several marketplaces.

Everyone is thoroughly exhausted from the traveling, but we are so excited to become better acquainted with Chile. I have to say that in my eight years of studying, my Spanish language skills have never been so challenged; every conversation, every purchase, and every sign I saw today was a chance to learn something new. I see now why my professors insist that Spanish majors spend some time abroad.

In just a few minutes, we'll be embarking on a 10-hour bus ride to meet our host families in Valdivia. :) ¡Hasta mañana!


¡Bienvenidos a Chile!
We stand on a ridge overlooking Santiago