Finally landed in Arica after 30 hours in transit and one missed flight!

This country is absolutely beautiful and the weather is fantastic: Cool air, sunny, and right next to the beach. I really like the set up of the SIT programs because we have a 4 day orientation before we begin classes and therefore have the chance to get to know the city and learn a few “Chilenismos” (slang) before we begin our home stays/semesters.

On Homestays: Yesterday we received small presents and letters from our new families and found out where we are going to live in Arica for the next 8 weeks. I will have a new madre, padre, hermana, abuela, y prima. Estoy muy emocionada! I feel very welcomed and cannot wait to meet everyone (including the dog!)

Drop-off: Today was a super fun day because we got to explore the city with a partner! My partner and I were assigned the farthest location (Terminal Agro) and at first I was a little nervous, but it turned out to be sooo much fun! Asking strangers for directions in Arica is extremely easy because the people in this city are extremely caring. We ended up taking a “collectivo” (a taxi cab similar to super shuttle that is super cheap– anywhere you want for $1) to el mercado and explored the northern part of the city. We tried a fruit specific to Arica called the “chilimoya”, which is a sweet fruit with the texture of an avocado. yum :)

On learning spanish: Although I meet the requirements for this program, understanding spansih es muy dificil!!! I’m definitely not the worst in my class (I somehow have an ok accent), but I really really need to learn more vocab. I’ve been getting a lot better at conjugating verbs and writing, but still need a lot of help with my listening skills. Nonetheless, I was talking to a few students at the University the other day and they said that my spanish was pretty good! I just have to keep reminding myself that it is only day 4 and that I have plenty of time to get better. Meanwhile, I definitely have enough skill to feed myself and find my way around the city (which is better than most, ha!)

Can’t wait until I meet my host family!!

Cerca de la playa corazones
 
Here is the packing I have accomplished so far...gotta make sure I don't forget anything this time!

Hey everybody! First things first is the German lesson!

This blog has two words for you all to memorize- aber and das Flugzeug

Flugzeug is just a fun word in my opinion and it means airplane!

Aber is the conjunction “but.” Besides just being a fun word it also has a cool function; as a friend told me this summer you can be talking about one thing and then all of a sudden- BAM – you throw in an aber and you can go in a whole different direction, like this (stick it into google translate)!

Ich freue mich sehr auf dem kommenden Schuljahr in Deutschland, aber ich bin auch sehr nervös!

As everyone back at F&M starts the school year today (Wednesday) with the beginning of classes I am sitting at home here in Maryland and watching TV, relaxing, and continuing to enjoy my summer vacation.  Sounds pretty much awesome right?!

Welllllllll, it isn’t quite as great as it sounds.  As I’m getting ready to leave for Germany I realize what a challenge the preparations are.  There are the emotions of leaving my life in America behind and there is the physical aspect of packing the next year of my life into two suitcases.  How do you handle those things? I have no idea! F&M is only an hour and a half from my home, so for my first two years of life at college I have never really missed anything.  I can always visit with family and my friends at home when I want, all of my college friends were there with me at F&M, and, very importantly, if I forgot anything at home it was a phone call away.

I will have none of these wonderful luxuries come Sunday evening when I get on board a plane headed for Frankfurt.  So as a result I have been spending the past week saying goodbyes and gathering supplies.  So far the goodbyes have been the hardest part, and the actual packing has been wayyyyy easier.  Last Friday I started the rounds with my friends from high school, which was tons of fun, but then Sunday came around and I had to say farewell, first, to my church family (something that’s very important to me), and then, second, to my family at F&M.  Saying goodbye to a roommate who has become a best friend and a few other people who have really been incredible friends was something I had never had to do before.  So for this week I have been attempting to keep myself as busy as possible.

To do that I have been packing and shopping!  I now have all my power adapters, a simple global phone (just ask me for the number if you really want to get in touch!), toiletries to last me a few weeks, a couple books, and a lotttttt of clothes, all of which comes close to 100 pounds of stuff.  And I have to pack for all possible weather conditions imaginable.  Summers can be as hot and muggy as Lancaster, rain happens just as often as does snow, and temperatures last year stayed below 0˚F for a couple weeks.  I’m trying not to panic too much!

So as good as an extended summer vacation and going to Germany sounds (it will be awesome once I adjust!), the preparations are not all that jazz and way more difficult than I could have imagined.  So as I head off on this totally new experience to live in another world for a year I am both extremely excited and really nervous.  Here goes nothin’!

Post Blog Script- please leave feedback because I am totally new to this, and I don’t want to totally bore all of you with these posts!

 

We finally made it to La Paz and survived two full days at high altitude, roughly 12,000 ft above sea level. After we landed and went through customs, we were greeted with hugs by Professor Smith and his wife Maribel. We grabbed Taxis and head down to La Paz to check into our hostel. La Paz couldn’t plan a better entrance from the airport if it tried. The airport sits on top of the mountain, and the mountains continue to circle the city. As we made our way down into the city at 6 am, it was still dark, the mountains looked blue, and we could see the entire sparkling city. It really was something to see. When we reached our hostel  we headed to bed until 11:30. We grabbed lunch and despite the altitude, we hiked through the city with Maribel leading the way. Maribel is from Bolivia, and walks extremely fast. In two days its become a common occurrence to hear her name mentioned with words like “trailblazer” or “booking it”, because of her tendency to lead the group by a good couple of yards. Professor Smith is usually in the back making sure we don’t get run over by the aggressive Bolivian taxi drivers while we cross the street. In our first day we saw one of Bolivia’s Universities, and the San Francisco Church (image below). The Church has beautiful architecture. We were originally touring the church on our own, but we eventually found a tour guide who spoke english. Which was great because he had access to rooms that weren’t open and he let us go onto the roof of the church. The stairwell that led to the top was very narrow and steep. When we reached the top we were out of breath primarily because of the altitude, but also because of the breath taking views.

We spent the rest of our day touring some of the indigenous markets, and figuring our where the good places to shop were. After we grabbed dinner, we headed back to the hostel to rest. Our second day was more relaxed. We visited a museum of Bolivian musical instruments, and another Museum with metal artifacts from Tiwanaku.

So far, adjusting to Bolivia has been easy, besides the language and the altitude. However, that might change once we go to the rural village of Iruhito to conduct our excavation…

 

Planning for Study Abroad

As a public health major and a Spanish veteran of 2 years I searched for a study abroad program that could combine both of my passions and introduce me to new cultures, new countries, and new experiences. SIT’s Chile: Public Health, Traditional Medicine, and Community Empowerment was able to fulfill all of my desires. Having never been to Latin America before, I instantly became interested in the program and was hooked after learning that all of my courses would be in Spanish! Even though I’ve only taken Spanish for 2 years at F&M, I love using every opportunity I have to practice Spanish with natives and classmates (even if my grammar is terrible and I need to use hand signals for almost every sentence!).

Today, whenever I am not watching Nuestra Belleza Latina or listening to Colgando en tus manos on repeat, I can be found googling Spanish phrases or Chilean recipes. As a native Washingtonian, I have always been surrounded by a rich Spanish culture and am most excited for Latin culture: the food, music, and dance.

One of the main aspects that drew me to the program in Arica, Chile was the fact that it will provide me with a first hand experience in global health and a pathway to exploring traditional medicine (not to mention the course requirements allow me to graduate on time!). After attending the 2012 Global Public Health Conference at Yale University, I have become inspired to look into career opportunities in the global health realm and hope that my study abroad in Chile will serve as the first stepping-stone.

Although I am eager to dive into a completely new environment, I am a bit nervous about conducting an independent research project in Spanish. Nonetheless, I am sure that all of the intensive Spanish courses I will be taking throughout the semester will prepare me for this month-long independent study at the end of my program. I am determined to become fluent by the end of this program so that I can utilize my Spanish in the United States and when I venture to Latin America in the future. While learning a new language can be frustrating at times, I keep in mind the phrase “que nada nos detenga,” and not let anything stop me from accomplishing my goal.

 

In Bolivia there is A LOT of graffiti.  And not just people writing their names in swirly writing.  Graffiti is a big way of political expression here.  There’s a lot of graffiti that says “Rechaza el engaño” (reject the deceit) or graffiti saying “Nulo.”  In the last election, “Nulo” (nobody) won by over 50%.  (I want to say it was about 70%.)  I think it’s really cool that anyone can take a can of spray paint and get their message out to the whole city…but this way of expression is a product of the political system.  In Bolivia, people protest to be heard.  People protest in the US, but they also can sue people/generally count on the justice system.  Bolivia has a history of corrupt politicians and higher-ups, so the people express discontent in different ways.

Here’s a sticker about the highway through the TIPNIS national park.  This sticker was on a cafe window.  Evo Morales (Bolivian president) wants to build a highway through a national park where indigenous people live.  People are worried the highway would lead to deforestation by the coca growers.  (Coca is a leaf used for tea and ceremonies in Bolivia, but also to make cocaine.)  This sticker says “Yes to the TIPNIS.  No to the highway.  No to the drug trade.  No to the arrogance.”

Here’s some other cool graffiti.  “All our actions are a cry in the war against imperialism.”  This was on a wall of a plaza in La Paz.

 

An excessive amount of tourists, the scorching Tuscan sun beating on your shoulders, and hours upon hours of walking are three conditions most college students would complain about, but not F&M’s students in Italy. On Saturday, June 25th F&M’s study abroad program, located in Vicchio, Italy went on a field trip to Florence. Despite the unfavorable conditions of Florence, the entire group was energetic and excited to visit the different historical sites and eager to learn. One of the great things about F&M’s Vicchio program is the opportunity to experience in Italy what one learns in the classroom. The Florence day-trip was organized by the students of Professor G. Faleschini Lerner’s class on Italian art and literature and these students were the group’s tour guides for the day, each presenting one interesting location in Florence.

The adventure started out in the morning with a bus ride at intense speeds that left many of us sick to our stomachs, followed by a train ride. Excited to finally arrive in Florence we obtained maps from the Tourist Center and headed towards La Chiesa di Santa Maria Novella, with it’s stunning romanic exterior and in my opinion even more beautiful gothic interior. This site was specifically interesting to the students of Professor Faleschini Lerner’s class because we recently studied Giotto, an important artist who changed the style of art and specifically changed the portrayal of Jesus on the Crucifix, which happens to be located inside of Santa Maria Novella. The other sites we visited in Florence were La piazza del Duomo – which contains il Duomo (the cathedral), il Battistero (where people are baptised), and il Campanile (bell tower) created by Giotto – il Ponte Vecchio, Piazza Pitti and il Giardino di Boboli, and La Chiesa di Santa Croce. This last church was particularly interesting to many students because it contains the tombs of several famous people including Galileo Galilee, Michelangelo, and Machiavelli, three frescos by Giotto and also the Crucifix created by Cimabue. My personal favorite experience was being able to see both the Crucifixes created by Cimabue and Giotto upclose because the difference between the two is something we learned about in class. Cimabue’s portrayal of the Crucifix is of a Jesus that appears flat and not three dimensional, nailed to the cross in 4 places: a nail in each hand and each foot. Giotto, the student of Cimabue painted Jesus upon the same cross that Cimabue did, but his depiction of Jesus is different. Giotto’s representation of the Crucifix contains an image of Jesus that is three-dimensional; the body of Christ is painted realistically with volume and muscles. The most interesting part of this art piece though is that Giotto depicts Jesus nailed to the Crucifix with only 3 nails instead of 4: one nail in each hand and one nail going through both feet together. The three nails together form a triangle and represent the Trinity. Giotto was the first artist to depict the Crucifix with only three nails and after him every Crucifix has contained three nails.

The day spent in Florence was educational as students presented these various sites, but our minds expanded even further as both Professor Faleschini Lerner and Professor S. Lerner shared with us interesting facts throughout the day. Even when we are not in the class room, both of these knowledgeable Professors are constantly educating us and impacting our experience abroad. For example, during the Florence outing, in order to help students learn how to pronounce the Italian “r”, Professor S. Lerner created a game of finding dragons using a phrase in which every word had at least one “r” and Professor Faleschini Lerner’s extensive knowledge of Florence and art served extremely helpful as she patiently explained various interesting facts to students. Overall, our outing to Florence was a great pleasure for all participants.