My Chilean Adventure: A Few Days of the Week

As I’m falling further behind in my updates I’ve decided I’m going to put a few days into the one post…

Classes continue and we’re being to speak slightly more confidently, however, there’s a long way to go. The day is long but broken up into sections with a lovely long break of lunch where we all get together and practice…or in my case become more frustrated that I can’t seem to understand everything instantly. But hey ho you don’t want to listen to Spanish classes you want to hear about the city, the buildings, the colour, and the various escapades we’ve gotten up too.

Over the next two days we were welcomed with walking tours of Valparaiso. These were our first chances to explore the city as a group and we were a bundle of energy (surprisingly after our long day of brain jumbling Spanish). Catching yet another terrifying bus, which was a feat with all twenty something of us….we basically took up the entire bus.

The First Walk:

Our first tour took us up a steep furnicular, and I mean steep! As someone scared of heights my stomach clenched looking up this incline. But once at the top the views of the city were completely worth it. Colour surrounded us, with the Pacific ahead and hill filled with colour behind us. The sun was shining, reflecting off of our surrounding and put smiles on our faces. There is an almost Caribbean feel to the houses and small enclosed streets. I somewhat expect to hear music pouring from open doors.

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Valparaiso is known for its street art, and we were in for a treat walking through its open air museum. As we turn around each corner we’re blown away by more and more.

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The scale of everything is enormous, not small tacky graffiti but large calling cards for artists. The art seems to have meaning, there are tales within it, the strokes and spray. I could’ve woven so many tales from the portraits on the houses. Many dislike the use of graffiti, this is s common feeling throughout the world, but here it brings life to a city that would otherwise look very delapidated.

As the tour comminuted to wind down the hillside; to my small legs it felt like a mountain, we made our way to Valpos port. Here we boarded a questionable looking boat to view the city from the Pacific.

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The boat trip lasted around forty minutes and silence hit the group (which is a rarity for us). We all became engrossed in the sights of the sun setting behind us, casting a hazy light over the city. Watching the fading sun tuck Valpo into bed, the lights would flicker into life shielding the city from eternal darkness.

It wouldn’t be a night in Chile without our trip to the beach, however, this evening brought a new edition to our monotonous evening tradition. We managed to gain three four legged companions (dogs). Chile is known for its stray dogs. In South American countries and many others throughout the world dogs and pets aren’t views as members of the family as they in others, therefore families tend to tire or get bored of their pets that either don’t make a good guard dog or they’re simply not interested anymore. As a massive dog lover I can’t help but want to take every single dog home and love them, it’s as though they know this here and we seem to find some following the three of us home. As wen continued on out thirty minute journey from the beach to our home stay, we gained another two. Saying goodbye to our new fluffy friends was hard but we managed it…only to be followed by even more the following day.

Walking Tour Two:

Our second tour took us to the Pablos Neruda’s house, a noble prize winning poet. His house overlooked the whole bay of Valporaiso, and the museum had been left to represent how it would have looked whilst he lived there. Unfortunately we couldn’t take any photos within the house but believe me when I say the views were amazing, and I would’ve killed to have lived within the walls of his house.

As the house was set upon yet another of Valpos many hills we wandered back down to view more brilliant art and colour.

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The stairways are one of my favourite parts of the city. I’ve hit a point of disappointment when the stairs don’t tell a story or radiate colour beneath my feet. Through these tours, whether with a guide or silently speculating the walls surrounding you it is clear that Valporaiso is a city with many tales to tell.

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Chilean Adventure: Time to Travel

The day arrived, actually let me rephrase myself, the days have arrived. Leaving my lovely apartment in London, home, I set off on my adventure to South America. I begin with a smile, a suitcase and my backpack, this smile may disappear in about five hours.

Meeting up with a few others that are heading off to Heathrow we sit and nervously wait for the tube to chug along as we conjure up images of Chile within our minds. I wring my hands, and check, double check, and triple check that I have my passport and my pesos. I’m unsure whether I’ve remembered to pack my toothbrush but who cares I’ve just checked in, wandered through security and am ready to depart for stop one;

Oh how I love airports, I’m always there early and I sit in my seat and watch. I watch everyone, I conjure lasts and futures for them. I decide where people are traveling and why, and I lose myself to my imagination until the moment I sit aboard a Boeing. Once this moment arrives the shakes begin. I’m a nervous flyer, one of the downfalls of my brain. I’m usually thankful for the ability to conjure great images for me to write, now though, now I wish I couldn’t even think. As the flight rumbles and moves I try to not let the tears fall. I am not a flyer, it is unatural to be so high above the ground and I all I can see is this piece of metal hurtling towards the ground, or perhaps the ocean.

After we touched down in Amsterdam, the short but horrifically turbulent flight made me question hopping on the next 18 hour flight down to Buenos Aries and across to Santiago. After a few hours in the airport though and a pep talk from a few members of the group I manned up and waltzed onto the plane, sitting down and immediately watching The Longest Ride (a nice Nicholas Sparks film would get my mind off of the  flight). Once the film finished the travel tablets kicked in and I was out for the rest of the flight, well the majority of it until my bum got too numb and I needed another movie kick (Ratatouille this time).

As we drew close to our final destination the Andes appeared and they took my breath away. From the sky the view was beyond beautiful, perfect and peaceful.

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This was one of the best welcomes to Chile. Having landed and headed through the airport into the new unknown I was met with crisp autumnal air. Immediately I smiled. Having made it through the 30 hours travel, the three plane journeys, and immigration. I was met with air and sky as clear and clean as my home in Scotland. This was a delightful change to the smog of London.

Traveling another couple of hours we made it to our host family. Luckily I’m sharing a room and host with Yana, a Bulgarian girl fro, University who’s direct and spunky personality immediately made me feel at ease and calmed the nerves of our arrival. Speaking no more Spanish than Hola I feared the welcome and realised soon they may grow tired of my single word, however, the family are lovely and Yana helps as she too is learning from scratch (even if she is picking it up super quickly).

To end our first day on Chilean soil we wandered five minutes to the beach where we stumbled onto the Pacific. Our arduous journey was rewarded with yet another view meant not for words, hence why I can only describe the views in pictures.

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My Chilean Adventure….. Pre departure

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I suppose that the best place to start would be the beginning, while this may be unoriginal it fits in quite nicely as a way of easing you into my many tales of Chile, and the adventures of the amigos.

My Univeristy, Greenwich, sent out an email roughly a month ago saying that ‘any interested in studying an intensive Spanish programme in Chile were to fill out the application form and sign up.’ Sat at home in Southampton, visiting my family and having a moments respite from the big smoke, I thought should I? Could I? Is this the right type of trip for me?

The truth is, as many of you who follow me on Twitter or Insagram know, I’m a traveler. My blood sings for adventure and the discovery of far away cultures, cuisines, and accents that don’t scream Britain. So the thought of South America, Latin, Hispanic, and so completely new to me made me rush to download the application, fill out all the forms and write a 500 word essay as to how I thought the trip would benfit me.

While my first thought was adventure this question asked me to think about the language, Spanish, and why did I want to spend twelve days learning it intensively. This led me to a quote by Nelson Mandela; “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

Before I left High School, in my final year before university, my English teacher told me this and it wasn’t until this moment that I thought ‘I haven’t actually done anything with this piece of advice’. So thus my essay explained how I wanted to begin basic Spanish to have a foundation of throwing away ignorance and bringing forth knowledge, allowing me to speak to the hearts of those from the new cultures I seek and the adventurous travels I hike.

Having succeeded with this stage and my impulsive application I found myself sitting opposite two others who grilled me with questions as to why I wished to be on the trip and what made an applicant they should be interested in. It’s safe to say my answers secured me a place on the trip as an hour later I was told that within a month I would be saying hasta luego London and buenos dias Santiago!

2014: A Year In Review

Everyone seems to be writing a personal post on 2014 so I decided to join the club. 2014 was a special year for me, if it wasn’t I wouldn’t find myself so easily typing words.

The beginning of the year saw the end of my first year at University, a year where I’d met many great people and discovered friends that I know will be with me for the rest of my life. With two of these friends I embarked on adventure down the East Coast of America. Starting in New York I had a chance to live through a dream, having wished for years to see the city that never sleeps I was finally walking down fifth avenue and strutting through Central Park (I did have a moment where I pretended I was in Sex and the City, who wouldn’t?)

From New York with its bright lights and constant energy we moved south to Washington. This place to me, was spectacular. It was beautiful and a vast difference to the constant sound and smell of New York. I felt at peace among the museums and the monuments. Everything seemed natural and in truth I can see myself returning there in the future…. to live.

Florida meant one thing…DISNEY! I had the chance to be a child and trust me I used it! Getting autographs and my pin collection I felt like was the princess (who cares if I’m twenty). The best part about the trip though, was getting to spend it with two people I had only met six months before, and these two people are now two of my closest friends.

The summer saw my parents moving pubs, awaiting a new challenge a new life. While saying goodbye to friends that I had briefly made I had hope for my family. The summer also brought one more typical cliché…romance. This year I managed to find myself a guy, my first boyfriend (what can I say I’m picky!). Having met him while he worked for my parents before they moved we only grew closer through the distance and from friends we decided to become more. Five months later I can say I’m happier that I’ve ever been, and I have him to thank. He’s kind and caring and I’ve completely fallen for him. (If he reads this, no big head please!) Now he’s moved with us and I smile every time I think of him, he’s part of the family and thankfully the parents approve!

September appeared and so did University. Second year is already proving to be tough however, with a first and a lot of hard work I’m slowly growing as an academic. With a job here and two work placements I’m constantly trying to get myself into the industry.

Christmas was perfect I had Kyle and my family and of course Marley (my very own Border Collie x Retriever) who I miss whenever I go to Uni. Now that New Years past and I can reflect I know 2014 was a great year, a lot of adventure and a lot of surprises I grew as a person, I became hardworking and passionate. I had so many experiences and gained valuable information. Having been offered a three week internship with Grazia magazine I allowed myself a moment of pride and achievement, looking forward to taking part in this I know I have a lot I know that 2015 will be challenging but I look forward to it, and I look forward to seeing what the future will bring.

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