I cannot tell you how much I took heating systems for granted! We had radiators in the rooms in the hostel, and I was able to sport shorts and a T-shirt for bed. Apparently, that’s a luxury. It’s not like Santiago is cold all the time, but as soon as the sun sets and I’m in my apartment, I’m headed for the thick covers in my bed and grabbing extra sweaters. It’s definitely something to get used to, and I’m sure most Chileans don’t complain about it at all, but it’s been somewhat difficult for me to adjust. I’m now drinking hot tea everyday, which is not a normal habit of mine, but I really enjoy it now!
I’ve had plenty of tea, but very little coffee (for those of you that don’t know me, that’s weird!!). Chileans typically drink instant coffee, and I’m craving a good brew. I’ve found some good cappuccinos here and there, but I also realize I don’t need to be hooked on the stuff, so maybe this change of pace is good.
As of late, I’ve come to realize I can count the total number of friends I have in Santiago on one hand. Coming out of the hostel, the only friends I’d made were foreigners! Once they all left, my social life looked very different. However, this weekend was my first chance to hang out with chilenos! My Chilean roommate asked if I wanted to grab lunch on Sunday, and it ended up turning into a whole day affair. One of her friends came along, and since he spoke English, we were able to overcome language barriers a little better. He covered lunch and then she bought us all ice cream, so it was a very nice treat! We also spent some time walking around one of the nicer parks in Santiago and exploring barrio italia – a very quaint and charming neighborhood! After all this, the roomie and I enjoyed an evening chat over some warm tea. We’ve covered some basics about each others’ lives, and we keep trying the best we can to get to know each other!
Speaking of the language barrier, I was very excited today to take my first Spanish class! I’m taking private classes at what seems to be a very warm and welcoming school to foreigners. They even organize different events throughout the week so we might socialize, practice Spanish, and get to know the area. I think I’m going to like my teacher, and I really hope I can progress quickly! The whole class is straight Spanish, and I’m the only pupil, so pressure’s on! Going in today and being assessed was also a good confidence booster. I have a good foundation in Spanish, but very poor communication skills. Because of this, I wasn’t sure where I would be placed. She put me in “Intermedio 2” and complimented my Spanish. Phew! Yay! I still just need to get over this fear of messing up when I speak.
In other news, my commuting looks very different here. Most places that I need to get to for classes take about a 30 minute commute, just like my job last year, but now it’s all on foot. One place even takes me an hour, but I do half the time on metro and half on foot. I should probably look into the bus system occasionally, but I’m a little concerned I’ll get lost or not get to the right stop. I actually got on a bus my second day in Santiago, but I couldn’t find the bus back and so walked for an hour after dark. At least this city seems much safer to be out walking in than Dallas! Anyways, it’s nice for certain streets and walking routes to begin looking familiar. I also enjoy the exercise, if you can call it that. I feel better knowing I’ve at least walked great distances every day.
Shout-out to my brother, Jeffrey: Happy 18th birthday!!!