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Posts by mary5210

Volunteering at an Animal Shelter in Valparaíso, Chile

Mary Johnson is a student at Southern Illinois University and is an ISA Classmates Connecting Cultures  blogger corresponding with a high school sociology class in Illinois. Mary is currently studying in Valparaiso, Chile on an ISA Spring 2 program.

My new friend, Sombrita

My new friend, Sombrita

One of the first things you might notice upon arriving in Chile is the abundance of stray dogs. There are so many here that there is even a Chilean slang word for them—quiltro. Read more

In the Chilean Kitchen with Mamá Nora: Pastel de Papas

Mary Johnson is a student at Southern Illinois University and is an ISA Classmates Connecting Cultures  blogger corresponding with a high school sociology class in Illinois. Mary is currently studying in Valparaiso, Chile on an ISA Spring 2 program.

My mamá chilena, Nora, is a spicy lady. She brings life and character to everything she touches. When situations are harsh or uncomfortable, she can crack a joke and make just about anyone laugh (even when you don’t understand the language).

Mamá Nora in the kitchen

Mamá Nora in the kitchen

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Learning to Study Abroad: Why I’m in Chile for a Year

Mary Johnson is a student at Southern Illinois University and is an ISA Classmates Connecting Cultures  blogger corresponding with the International Studies department at SIU. Mary is currently studying in Valparaiso, Chile on an ISA Fall 1 program.

Exploring La Campana with friends

I’m going to be here for a year. A YEAR! I’m so happy that I made this decision. Don’t get me wrong; studying abroad for one semester is a big deal, too. But honestly, this wouldn’t have worked for me any other way. I’m here with a group of about 70 other ISA students. Almost all of them are freaking out because in a little over a month they will be back in the States. I can’t imagine. There is so much left here I want to do!  Read more

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things: Chile Edition

Mary Johnson is a student at Southern Illinois University and is an ISA Classmates Connecting Cultures  blogger corresponding with the International Studies department at SIU. Mary is currently studying in Valparaiso, Chile on an ISA Fall 1 program.

Some fishermen’s boats on the beach on Horcon

It is absolutely crazy to think that in one month I will have finished my first semester abroad. I think I’ve come a long way. I have seen and experienced so much since I arrived. Here’s a little top five countdown for you of some of my favorite things. Read more

Chile: Trust Your Heart & Trust Your Feet

Mary Johnson is a student at Southern Illinois University and is an ISA Classmates Connecting Cultures  blogger corresponding with the International Studies department at SIU. Mary is currently studying in Valparaiso, Chile on an ISA Fall 1 program.

I’ve been feeling all sorts of philosophical the past few days. This is probably because I returned from the magical San Pedro just a few days ago. My Lonely Planet guidebook tells me “they” say all the quartz and copper in the area give people positive energy and good vibes. That’s probably it.

Laguna Cejar near San Pedro

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Chile: September 11

Mary Johnson is a student at Southern Illinois University and is an ISA Classmates Connecting Cultures  blogger corresponding with the International Studies department at SIU. Mary is currently studying in Valparaiso, Chile on an ISA Fall 1 program.

September 11th has passed. As an American, I am familiar with what this day is significant of in my own country. However, this day means a lot in Chilean history as well.

All day I was expecting instructors, peers, or media to in some way address what had happened in their country on the 11th. I never hear or saw it. This could be for a number of reasons. The one that worries me the most is that they might not want to speak about it with U.S. exchange students because our country backed the coup d’état in Chile. I know there is so much to learn about what happened in the country during that time, but I’m still struggling to get over the language barrier.

Luckily, my Contemporary Latin American Film class has started its section on “Documentaries and fiction films– 1973-1990″. Thus far we’ve gotten to watch La Ciudad de los Fotógrafos and part of the film Machuca. Both are about there era of Pinochet’s regime.

La Ciudad de los Fotógrafos, was really gut wrenching. The film was about the role photographers played in publicizing what was happening in the country– “disappeared” people found in mines to children losing eyes. Although I know the film was biased (as is the youtube video above), I’m willing to assume I can make my judgement on where my beliefs are on the matter.

Portillo, Chile: Your Mountain is Waiting, Literally

Mary Johnson is a student at Southern Illinois University and is an ISA Classmates Connecting Cultures  blogger corresponding with the International Studies department at SIU. Mary is currently studying in Valparaiso, Chile on an ISA Fall 1 program.

I have had one of the most amazing weekends of my life. Here’s why:

I SKIED IN THE ANDES. Isn’t that incredible; I mean really?! Portillo to be exact. I don’t know if I’ve ever been anywhere more beautiful. AND we were about 5K away from Argentina!

“A” is where we were. If you follow Highway 60 to the right, there is a thick grey line; that’s the Argentine/Chile Boarder.

Be spontaneous. Before I came to Chile, a friend who travel abroad told me to say yes to everything I could (of course, stay safe). Even if something doesn’t work out just as you planned, it’s likely to be a worthwhile experience anyway!

I didn’t even know I was going until about 10pm the night before. A couple of friends found a really good deal on skiing (45.000 pesos, that’s about 90 USD–which included everything) and had signed up during the day. I was afraid I was going to be too late but I went ahead and emailed the group; they were very helpful. We met around 5am but got stuck in a small town about a half an hour away. The roads were pretty iced over and we were afraid they weren’t going to let us go through.  But just the view from here was incredible!

This is how we killed a little bit of time in the town. :]

I have to say, skiing was a little rough for me. I hadn’t been skiing for three years and even if I had, I wouldn’t have been able to keep up with the girls who had grown up in ski towns. They were all incredible skiers. Our little hills in the mid-west don’t compare to their mountains in Colorado and Idaho. On the first trip up the mountain I decided I would tag along. BAD IDEA. There was no easy way down once we got to the top (for me, anyway). I stood at the top by myself for a good 10 minutes wondering just how I was going to get down alive when a nice paramedic began to coax me down the hill. I started to feel a little more comfortable and started to take my turns a bit faster. I then lost control and began to barrel down the hill knowing that it wouldn’t end well. I flipped a couple times, lost both skis, both poles, my hat, and broke my fanny pack. I have bruises going all down my right arm, my back, and my right leg. NOW, don’t get the idea that I wasn’t having a good time, because I was. Did you see that view?! Despite the fact that I could have broken a couple limbs, I was laughing during my roll and slide backward down the mountain. I knew there was nothing I could do at that point. I can only image what other people were thinking about the crazy, out of control gringa.

Here I am not long after my crazy adventure down the mountain!

Chile: ¿Cachái po?

Mary Johnson is a student at Southern Illinois University and is an ISA Classmates Connecting Cultures  blogger corresponding with the International Studies department at SIU. Mary is currently studying in Valparaiso, Chile on an ISA Fall 1 program.

Despite having had 4 semesters of college level Spanish when I got here, I could not understand a thing my Chilean family said unless it was specifically directed at me and spoken incredibly slow. Even then, I was having a hard time. Of course, with time and hearing the language all day every day, I am doing a lot better. Easy verbs that I wasn’t used to hearing and using are now part of my everyday vocabulary.
At first, I felt like this was what I needed to hear:

However, I’ve also learned that Chileans use slang for almost every other word. Both of my Spanish courses have dedicated days to the use of Chilean slang. The book, “How to Survive in the Chilean Jungle” has also proven very useful. It is a book full of slang terms–Chilenismos– that all the locals use (not just young people).

“Po” is probably the commonly used. At first I thought it didn’t really mean anything, kind of like “like” in the US. It does have meaning, but it doesn’t ever actually need to be used. “Po” is short for “pues” (as if “pues” isn’t short enough). It is used for emphasis.  “Sí, po” means something like “Yes, of course” or “Yes, obviously”.

“Cachái” is probably the next most common. It means “get it?” or “understand?”. To me, it seems like it is used similarly to “you know?” If you’re reading this and planning on going to Chile, be careful! If you pronounce this word wrong, it means something else that you probably shouldn’t be saying, cachái?

The list of slang words I now know goes on and on. Bacán means cool. Choclo (not a slang word for chocolate as I originally thought) means corn. Palta is a Chilean word for avocado. Luca means mil (thousand) pesos. Carrete means party. And on and on and on.

Chile: Fanny Packs and 80′s Music

Mary Johnson is a student at Southern Illinois University and is an ISA Classmates Connecting Cultures  blogger corresponding with the International Studies department at SIU. Mary is currently studying in Valparaiso, Chile on an ISA Fall 1 program.

I can’t even begin to explain how many wonderful aspects there are to studying abroad in Chile. While brainstorming how to begin writing this blog I had no idea what to choose of all of the amazing sites and feelings I have experienced in just my first few days here in Chile— maybe a little taste of it all?

I do feel like there are a few very basic steps in arriving here and settling in.

Step One: Initial Arrival

I have to say that I got close to no sleep during my day long trip from my hometown in Illinois to Santiago, Chile. Still, there was no way I was going to be closing my eyes during the first day. I don’t think I could have if I wanted to; there were so many things to take in!

Cerro San Cristobal—Our First Excursion

Step Two: New Friends

Everyone I meet here so fun spirited and friendly. The girls I roomed with for the first few days were ones who would live near me when we arrived in Vina del Mar. This was really nice because there are around 70 of us in the group. It would be hard to figure out who was where or even if someone lived right around the corner from you. I can’t wait to start meeting Chilean students as well.

Some of My Wonderful ISA Chicas

Step Three: New Sites

I really enjoy that ISA got us out into the cities and landscapes right away. Every day we went loads of new places. There are so many I need to go back to and explore.

Palacio de la Moneda – Another Excursion

Step Four: Family

AHH! My family is so wonderful! I wish my Spanish was better so they didn’t have to go in slow motion whenever they want me to really understand them. Both of my Chilean parents have been so helpful in drawing me maps, talking about culture, and just welcoming me into their home and country!

A view of Valpo from the coast

Step Five: Culture

Chilean culture is so fun and lively! The landscape is painted with such a variety of color. Houses aren’t just white or brown; everyone seems to have a different colored house. And the graffiti is amazing as well; the whole town is covered with beautiful murals! Even my backpack, pencil pouch, and fanny pack that I purchased at some artisan markets are covered in beautiful, colored print. The music on the radio is cheesy and cheerful, too; there is A LOT of 80’s music—both sappy and poppy. My Chilean mother showed me a ton of music by Luis Miguel.

My New Chilean Backpack, Fanny Pack, and Pencil Pouch

An excellent example of popular 80′s music: Luis Miguel

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