Cinco Cositas (Five Little Things)

Hola amigos, familias, amores, y compañeros ❤

Today I just want to hit you with a short post on 5 cositas.

  1. My first week here, one of my professors made a joke that Chilean dogs are smart. He said when crossing streets they wait for the green pedestrian symbol just like all the people. I laughed. But now after being here 2 months…OMG it’s true. If my midwestern dog visited here, I’m pretty sure he would die the first day from being run over. Street dogs are wise. Don’t get it twisted. (And also extremely well fed so if you think you’re being nice by giving them your scraps, pshhh, they don’t want that. They want a 5 star meal and know they can get it. Don’t take their rejection to heart.)
  2. I’m honestly liking not having a car. I like the walking, the reflecting, and the exercise. It’s like you feel more accomplished when you reach your destination because you did more than steer and push a couple pedals to get there. Not to mention the 10 pounds I’ve lost from being more active. That’s always a plus.
  3. I’m so glad I did this. This study abroad trip. Because it has taught me the world is huge. I don’t want to live my life and only know one town. I want to explore. I want to immerse myself. People keep asking me how Chile is different than my expectations, if it’s hard to be here, etc. And every time my answer is the same. I had no expectations! I came with an open mind and an open heart. I came to embrace and live life to the fullest in Chile. And that’s what I’m doing. And I’m adoring it.
  4. I do miss people back home. I miss having my family close to me. But this is teaching me never to take them for granted. Sometimes they think I don’t like being around them, but I do. A lot. I just sometimes struggle with expressing it. I’m sorry. But yeah, I wouldn’t be myself without them. Shoot I wouldn’t even be here without them (here as is in the world itself and also as in Chile lol). My niece was born a week ago and I’m really sad I missed that. 😦 Also my grandma’s birthday is today so shoutout to you Granny! Feliz Cumpleaños! My mom’s is in 2 weeks and poop I’m gonna miss that too. 😦
  5. If (and by if I mean when) you have the opportunity to do a semester abroad, please do it! It may seem scary. Like trust me, I was incredibly nervous during the 2 weeks before I was scheduled to leave the US. But once I set foot in Chile, everything was okay. And now it’s more than okay. Every day is a new adventure. And going on a journey like this really helps you find yourself. It’s a challenge. It’s a huge change. You get to learn what you like, what you can handle, how to push yourself, what you don’t like, and so much more. It’s an unforgettable experience.

XOXO.

Con amor,

Natasha

Advertisements

Exploring in Santiago, Chile

Hola from Chile!

Last weekend my friend Erika and I went on an excursion-ito (little excursion) to the capital city…Santiago. ❤

First off, we planned this in a good and bad way. (We went over Easter weekend.) Now this was good because there were less people. But also bad because a lot of things were closed. But regardless, we still had an awesome time.

Friday

Meet up at at 11:30 ish AM. Get cash out of ATM and pay an astronomical fee for being a foreign client. Head to the bus station and walk around to get prices/times from a few different companies for a ride to Santiago. End up choosing a company who has a bas to Santiago leaving in 5 minutes for about $4 USD. (The ride to Santiago is about 90 minutes.)

Arrive in Santiago. Pass a street vendor selling knock off Nike shoes for about $17 USD and almost buy a pair. Illegally ride a bus for free to our hostel. (We later learned the only way to use public transportation in Santiago is to buy a metro card that you have to add money to periodically.)

Get to hostel. Catch wifi in the lobby for 5 minutes. Leave our bags. Run to our free tour that meets up at a plaza nearby.

Walk the 3 or 4 hour tour route. See La Moneda AKA the Presidential Palace AKA Chile’s “White House.” Also see the stock exchange building, congress building, supreme court building, one of Pablo Nerudo’s homes, etc. Also saw some statues and listened to lots of history about Chile. I would give the tour 3.5/5 stars because our tour guide was a little dry and squirrel-y.

Got pizza for dinner (one of the best vegan pizzas I’ver ever had) and went to Emporio La Rosa for ice cream – it’s rated #25 ice cream shop in the world. I would give their ice cream a 7/10. There’s at least two better places in Vina I can think of at the top of my head.

After dinner and ice cream, we went to the park for a bit. Then went to a bar for drinks. Good night. Good vibes. Fun people.

Saturday

Got emergency black coffee at Starbucks before heading off for another 3.5 hour tour. This one was with another company (https://tours4tips.com/) and I EASILY give them 5/5 stars. This one was spectacular. We did the “offbeat” tour. Basically this tour takes you to the non-traditional tourist places. We got to see a seafood market, street vendors selling a bunch of random things, a billion cute stray dogs and (sometimes) cats, La Vega (the main product market), and several other smaller fruit/vegetable markets. We also saw the main cemetery in Santiago which sounds ironic, but the Chilean cemetery is very different than the US cemetery. In fact, people have dates here, exercise here, go for strolls here, etc. And it is HUGE – you can fit over 100 football fields in this cemetery. And learning about animism, niches, and all the traditions associated with death in Chile was very interesting. One of the most notables graves we saw was President Salvador’s (Chilean president during their dictatorship in the 1970’s.) Our guide was super knowledgable and we got a great lecture on political history in Chile.

After the tour, we left with our new friend from Argentina and the 3 of us ventured to one of the city’s huge hills to climb. It was fun and left us with some amazingggggg views.

After the climb, we had dinner. I ate pastel de papas. Erika had pastel de choclo. Our Argentinian friend left.

After dinner, we did a little more hiking/exploring before heading to the bus station to get back to Vina. NOTE: I did note buy the Nike knock offs. (Mostly because I did not see the guy selling them again.)

Well, time for me to get some rest. *YAWNS*

As always, thank you for reading!

Con Amor,

Natasha 🙂

XOXO

My List: Fulfilling v. Dissatisfying

Blog #2 for the night: my list. My list of what I find fulfilling and what I find dissatisfying in life. Here goes.

Fulfilling:

  1. Eating delicious, nutritious food
  2. People watching with a clear mind
  3. Walking long distances
  4. Talking in Spanish
  5. Traveling to new places
  6. Meeting people from other parts of the world
  7. Flirting
  8. Good vibes and good music
  9. Seeing exotic animals
  10. Getting in a good calorie burn workout

Dissatisfying:

  1. People being mean to others
  2. When I self-indulge
  3. Peoples’ words not in line with their actions
  4. Lies (whether white, pointless, regular, or extreme)
  5. Spending money on alcohol
  6. Bugs (ALL KINDS. Just NoEspecially if they’re inside)
  7. Spending too much time on my phone
  8. When I allow my shyness to hold me back
  9. Being sick
  10. Airplane take offs and dirty public bathrooms

 

Dating in Your Early 20’s Can Be Overrated

Hola amigos. I wanted to take a break from the blogs about life in Chile and write about something a little more abstract. So here goes.

DATING IN YOUR EARLY 20’S CAN BE OVERRATED.

Why? Well, I’m going to tell you.

First of all, who is between the ages of 20 and 25 and can easily identify who they are, what their purpose in life is, and how they’re going to fulfill it? And if you answered yes to those and you’re somewhere between the ages of 20 and 25, then you’re lying and being defiant and rebellious. Just admit it- we don’t know the answers to those 3 questions. It’s cool. Don’t freak out.

Now my next point, who here has a time machine? And if you answered yes to that, then you’ve really got some issues.

Anyway, put two and two together and…boom. Got it. The purpose of your 20’s is to find yourself. It’s to mature, realize who you are, and set an action plan for your life (and not the plan you made when you were 5 and claimed you wanted to be a super hero). No. This is real life. And since we don’t have time machines, we cannot reenter our 20’s once we’re in our 30’s. Time is limited, people. Time is valuable.

So why would you risk spending your prime years with the wrong person? What if you let this person hold you back or let them control your decisions? For example, not going to the university you want to because it’s too far away from your significant other. Or not going on a study abroad trip because you think you’ll miss them too much. Or just in general, not being spontaneous and doing all the crazy/stupid/fun things we want to do in our 20’s because you’re too busy with this guy/girl you’re dating?

What’s worse is when you find out they were cheating on you or if they break up with you or just for some reason you guys don’t work out (which I’m sorry but statistically speaking you probably won’t end up with the person you think you’re madly in love with right now)…ANYWAY- then you think back and realize all the opportunities you missed out on. All the things you wanted to do but didn’t because of this other person.

Now don’t get me wrong. It’s not bad to date someone in your 20’s- not at all. However, my advice is to just be mindful of how much time and effort you’re putting into this person. Are you sacrificing things or adventures you want to take on because of this person? Does it feel like they are holding you back? Are you really going to be happy with setting with them now- or do you want more out of live? More experiences and more time to yourself.

Just things to ponder on. XOXO. ❤

As always…Con amor,

Natasha

About To Hit The One Month Mark

Hello, my loves!

Exciting news: Not only have I just completely my 4th weekend here in Chile, but also accordingly in 48 hours it will officially mark one month of being here! Wow. Time has flown by. I can remember waiting at the airport, surviving the plane ride, landing in Chile, and going through immigration like it was yesterday. Only 12 more weeks here. Wow. So crazy to think about. 1/4 of my time gone. But man, I think I’ve made it a great first month. Chile has been amazing to me and I’ve been trying (hopefully) to be good to it too. 🙂

My last post documented how awesome last Thursday was. But man- basically Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (today) were just as thrilling in their own unique ways.

Friday

Meet at the municipal building at 10:00 AM to ride to Valparaiso (AKA Valpo) for a city tour. This was only for the AIFS students, so Emily, Taylor, Travis, and I. But then when our van pulled up we realized another group of 4 were going too and guess who their leader was? My Spanish professor, Karen! The other 4 students were all ones I knew to varying degrees. Their names are Antoine, Kayla, Joseph, and Ruth Ann. I think the 8 of us collectively make a great group. Travis is the friendly, smart, tall, and skinny swim team guy. Emily is the quiet girl who I flew with to get to Chile that awkwardly laughs during conversations. Antoine is the loud, funny black guy who said he only remembered my name because it was the only “black” one on the list. Taylor (AKA Rojitta) is the red head with a big pineapple tattoo on her leg, back piercings, and lots of cool stories. She also has another tattoo on her leg of North/South America and has it filled in periodically with every place she has visited. Kayla is the 110 pound girl who loves laughing and talking about how much she loves to eat and who told me I should go to ASU (she’s from AZ). Joseph is the interesting guy with long blonde hair who meditates, has experimented with ya know some drugs, and who only eats unprocessed foods. Ruth Ann is the girl who wears baggy clothes and knows every fact about every topic there is to know about. And I’m…well, me. So yeah. We’re pretty amazing.

To be honest the only things I remember about the tour were walking, getting to know these awesome people, riding lifts up/down the hills, seeing happy stray dogs, and visiting Pablo Neruda’s home in Valpo.

Then for lunch we went to an empanada place. I could have got a mushroom vegan empanada, but I didn’t want to waste the calories.

Then, we piled into the van and returned to Vina about 7 hours later. I ate a fruit bowl for lunch then went to Ericka’s house to make guacamole for the international dinner (a potluck where we each pay $2000 to make a food from our country and bring it to share.) And please don’t say guac isn’t North American. We’ve kinda inherited it, right? Idk. Either way, it turned out great and was a huge hit at the dinner. It was one of the first things gone.

Saturday

Got up. Worked on my culture essay due Tuesday for my LATAM Culture/Identity course. Then packed up for a day trip to Casablanca with several other abroad students. We were a good group, but not an awesome as the first group collectively. We had 2 from Canada (Sophie and Parham), 1 from Germany (Julian), and 4 from the US (Ericka, Emily, Shay, and I). The bus was only $3k CLP to get there and $1,300 CLP to get back – no idea why the difference. The buses were very comfortable. I sat by Julian and got to learn a little German. It was super cool.

At the festival, I tried Pinot Noir, Sav. Blanc, and a white wine that started with V and had a long name. The Sav. was my favorite. But really I would have preferred a sangria over any of them. It was $6k CSP for 3 tastings. We sat around and played cards, ate food (I got a lentil burger and roasted potatoes), drank, ate ice cream (pineapple sorbet for me), and finally went up toward the stage at dusk for the concert. The feature band of the day was Moral Distraída and I LOVED them. I’m a little obsessed now. But hey, I have reason to be. The first Chilean band I like! Yay!

PS-Check them out here (one of my fav songs by them): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3HJazGMywo

Also, fun fact, some guy said “manjar” out his car window as he was passing us. We were wondering if this was somehow supposed to be a racist insult at me and/or Parham because manjar is a dark caramel-y color food. Who knows? (Or cares…)

Anyway, overall great day!

Sunday

A series of unfortunate events led to me missing church (well being super late and not wanting to come in 20 mins after it had started). So, I went to a nearby coffee shop and worked more on my culture paper for class.

A little later, my friend Emma and her boyfriend Christian came and got me so I could have lunch with them at Domino’s. Of course, I ate nothing, so just sat around and talked with all the Chileans/Columbians. It was cool.

Then, I went back to Vina to go home and change. Then I left right back out and walked to my Australian friend, Sylvia’s, house. Me, her, and Stephen (a British guy) had to film a “how to/history” video on Terremotos- a pineapple ice cream/wine cocktail famous here in Chile. We spent about 4 hours doing that. Then finally, Stephen and I walked 18 blocks for me to get home and him to get a bus the rest of the way to his house. Stephen is very interesting. He is mixed, has dreads, tall, skinny, and has traveled a ton. He has these programs he goes through where they pay for your housing and you volunteer with them. It makes me want to check out these opportunities. He wants to travel until he’s in his mid 30’s. Actually, I think the 3 of us were pretty funny because we had 3 pretty distinct accents. Probably people who overheard us all talking were a little confused. The North American/British/Australian accent combo isn’t something you hear everyday.

Now

It’s now past 2:00 AM. So I think I’m going to call it a night. More blogs to come soon!

XOXO,

Con amor,

Natasha ❤

March 22nd: The Day Where One Amazing Thing Kept Leading to the Next

Morning

Wake up. Eat my oatmeal with grapes and instant coffee with almond milk and Stevia. Shove all my belongings in my closet so Larissa (our weekly maid) can come and clean. Leave the house early to walk 9 blocks to the only place I know that sells diet Ginger Ale and then to the bus stop.

School

Attend my 11:30 to 14:40 Advanced Spanish: Chilean Culture class. Do a cool project where we go around the school and interview Chileans then come back to class and share what we heard. My 3 Chileans all listed Pastel de Choclo as their favorite food, which they all ate for lunch which is around 13:00-14:00, and the other cultures’ foods they wanted to try where 1) Arabic, 2) Korean, and 3) some food that starts with an “h” from Scottland that in essence is a mixture of heart, liver, and stomach guts. Yum.

After class, I met up with my friend from another class to work on our ‘Make it Happen” project. We decided our initiative this semester is going to be to promote an eco-friendly university. We want to start composting with the cafeteria scraps, have more recycling bins, smoking ONLY is designated areas and with the use of ashtrays, and finally having stations around campus to refill water bottles. Sounds great on paper, but I’m not sure how successful we’ll be. I liked the option of doing a language conversation hour better between Chileans and international students. Everyone could learn some French, German, Spanish, English, etc. But majority wins- so eco friendly campus it is!

Afternoon

Walk home from school. Get lost. But come across a sign that signs “Acai Bowls” and instantly reminisce on bowls like those I see all over Instagram. So, of course, stop in and see what the hype is about. AND OMG. This turned into my best meal ever. Like probably of my life. I’m so happy I got lost. So, if anyone’s in Vina del Mar soon, PLEASE go to Cafe Bali! So the base of the bowl was the acai mixture, then it was topped with coconut, strawberry, banana, granola, green apple, (plum?), some yellow fruit (asian pear?), and some type of seed (sunflower?). Anyway, I will absolutely be back.

They have other bowl varieties, fresh house made juices and smoothies, tostadas with various topping choices, a build your own burger/bowl, and lots of tea/coffee options. I also got a piece of a delicious dark chocolate/plum/peanut cake and a carrot muffin to go. EVERYTHING WAS MOUTH WATERINGLY AMAZING. I cannot put into words how great this was. The experience, the atmosphere, the service, the tastes, the menu, the vibes, the wifi (lol)…everything. Also, everything was vegan except for a couple things with eggs or cheese sauce (which of course you could request without) and a cake that looked possibly like a fruit cheesecake thinge. It looked amazing and I’m sure it is. TRUST ME, I will be back here again and update you guys on my next meal here! I’ve been thinking about going back ever since I left there this afternoon to be completely honest. And I wrote my 5 star review of the restaurant in Spanish on Facebook as soon as I downed the very last bite of my bowl.

Renaca (With an “en-yay” letter “n”)

Afterwards, I continued my walk home, except I actually decided to walk to the bus stop instead once I was almost there. I took the bus to Renaca, a neighboring cidy, to explore. I walked around the downtown area, walked into a few shops, and bought grapes and diet Ginger Ale. Then, I went to the Renaca Beach (by myself) and sat under a fake palm tree. I took some Snapchat videos, watched the loud waves crash, people watched, played with a beautiful black stray dog, and talked to a bird that was getting too close to me. Actually 2 birds. They are everywhere here. Birds in Chile are the equivalent of squirrels in the US. Except these guys get too close and flap their wings in your face. So creepy. (Ever seen the movie, The Birds? Like it’s not that bad by any means, but still every time a bird flies too close to me I think about that movie.)

Then, I started my walk back. The whole walk from Renaca to Vina is along the coast, so I wanted to at least start my journey back on foot instead of on bus. It’s a gorgeous route. I had no idea I would actually walk all the way home. But I’m pretty proud today I can say 1) I had the best meal of my life and 2) I walked from one city to another for the first time. Yay! My FitBit reached around 22,000 steps and several times today I checked it to see how accurate it was and many times, it wasn’t even counting. So really, I feel like I reached more or less 30,000 steps.

NOTE: I noticed there’s an area of the beach where you can use TRXs for free. I will definitely be doing that later. Hopefully this weekend.

Home

I got home around 10 PM and my wonderful host mom had a tray for me sitting on the kitchen counter for dinner. She prepared for me: fresh tomatoes, a rice/potato mixture, broccoli, a vegan burger, and vegan chocolate cake. I ate a couple bites of each then put them back in the fridge. But I did eat a whole package of grapes with some hot tea for dessert. She makes me so much yummy food, but I usually can’t eat it all.

So, another hour goes by, and here we are. Me blogging and feeling really sleepy. So friends…until next time! I hope you all had a terrific day too. Being happy is such an amazing feeling.

Thank you for reading!

Con amor,

Natasha