Thursday, 22 August 2013

1 month down, 3 to go!

1 month down, 3 to go 

Goat Farm

Due to an extended holiday I had the opportunity to visit my families goat farm. The house was no more than a tent as the family are nomadic and move with the goats. When we arrived we saw so many goats being born and hundreds of tiny newborn goats just chilling in the field. We ate goats cheese over a wood fire and ate goat meat for lunch, (which was slightly disconcerting considering the hide of the goat responsible for our tasty meal was hanging outside in eyes view). We played football in the midst of the Andes mountains and were sent out on a mission to find firewood. Was a fab day and felt like an authentic Chilean experience.

Deportation Worries 

It was just my luck that my Chilean identity card was rejected and I spent Friday morning attempting to re-do the process offering more fingerprints and photos to the civil registry. Perhaps the earlier jokes about deportation were too premature, but hopefully this time fingers and thumbprints crossed it works.

Becoming a teacher

After considerable training and observations the time had come to start teaching independently. The classes were fairly simple and were more of an introduction about myself and life in England. I managed to squeeze in a bit of geordie slang, so now I have several students walking round school greeting me with "Areet pet". Most of my classes are teenagers and some as old as 18 which is really strange to try and earn the respect as a teacher when working with students only 3 years younger than me. Nevertheless by the end of my classes I have managed to get even the cooolest of my students replicating Queenies infamous royal wave.

Public Speaking

This week two students from my school are participating in an English public speaking competition, and after round one we are sitting in poll position with 40 points, 5 points clear of our closest rival. I was soooo proud of my student for giving an absolutely faultless performance full of Obamaesque charisma about why Abraham Lincoln was such an influential historical figure. Naturally with the coaching of an ex LufbraMUN chair success was on the cards :P

Elqui Valley 

We decided to go on a little adventure at the weekend and enjoyed time in perhaps the most beautiful scenery in Chile so far. We visited a pisco distillery and enjoyed free samples as well as spending Sunday afternoon on horseback up and down the hills in the valley. I definitely did not wear the right clothing for horseriding but after borrowing the mans chaps and very attractive hat I looked like a legit cowgirl! I was told my horse was not one of his favourites, which was fantastic news, and had a reputation for being very temperamental. He also warned me that I would not need to learn the action to tell the horse to move quicker as it was already a bit of a speed demon. With my lack of horse riding experience and general clumsiness I thought this was a recipe for disaster but I miraculously managed to last the entire excursion without breaking any bones, WIN!.


  • Trotting through the hills of Elqui Valley on horseback
  • Succesfully completing my first class
  • Eating the most delicious homemade goats cheese
  • My fantastic students excelling at public speaking 
Interesting Revelations

  • Chileans like to fatten up their gringoes- I´m genuinelly concerned for my health with the abundance of bread, rice and dulce de leche. 
  • You can eat palm tree- at least thats what I thought they said it was with my limited Spanish ability. 

Chao for now! (yes that is used in Chile and is spelt correctly I googled it :P) 

Laura xxx

Monday, 12 August 2013

First week in Ovalle

Moving up North

On Sunday, Emily, Vivien and I took the 6 hour bus journey from Santiago to our home for the next four months, Ovalle in the Coquimbo región of Chile. We were greeted at the bus terminal by our new families. My new Chilean family is Lily (mum) and Emiliano (son, 9). Ovalle is a small(ish) place but its nestled in the countryside and yesterday it was really clear and we could see the snowcapped Andes, very impressive.

My lack of prowess in Spanish is significantly more evident now I have moved in with a family who speak zero English. At present I am like a mime artist and have adopted the technique of adding io, or a onto the end of any english word to try and convey some kind of meaning. Miscommunications have been quite problematic, I think the worst one to date at the dinner table announcing that "I am very tasty" as opposed too the food.
Life in Ovalle
First point to life in Chile is the fact that it is impossible for me to truly assimilate into life in a Chilean town, as well as my complete lack of Spanish proficiency I am taller than 90% of the population. Stray dogs are everywhere which is really sad and unfortunately the other day I witnessed one dog eat another dog alive. Needless to say I was crying more than when Mufasa dies in the Lion King. The first day I was at school what felt like an air raid siren went off at midday. No-one else flinched, apparently its normal. Further to that I´ve lived through several earthquakes apparently, not that I was aware of any.
Bieber Fever
It´s hard to imagine the true global appeal of Justin Bieber until you leave the UK. Him and One Direction are literally EVERYWHERE. I can´t find a place to buy shoes that fit but I can buy a whole range of Harry Styles memorabilia.
He sold your face
Equipped with minimal Spanish I attempted to send a letter to the UK, and after spending 1 hour queuing I finally managed. All went swimmingly until she announced it cost 17300 pesos which is essentially 25GBP. Somewhere along the line I must have asked for personal hand delivery. I told my new family about the drama and I was told, "we have an expression here in Chile, he sold your face". So essentially they saw the stupid gringoe coming and made a tidy profit. Note to family and friends, from now on email only.
Chilean School
I have been observing my clases in preperation for next week. From what I was told to expect my school seems very well behaved, however there still are some behaviours which are quite different to a British school. In one class my students were giving each other a full manicure. One of my biggest worries before coming to Chile was that I would not be able to remember the childrens names but after listening to the register and every third student is called Maria, Fernanda, or Pablo I am no longer concerned. My school seems really nice and I am excited to start teaching the classes 11-17 years old.
Dancing in Chile
On Tuesday we atended a local Zumba class which was absolutely AMAZING. The women was a proper latino chica and there was lots of shimmying and salsa steps. We also attended a dance class where we unfortunately (minus Vivien) embarrassed the UK by our shocking salsa ability. Despite that there was one reggaetón routine to SEAN PAUL, and I restored some national pride by replicating a standard night in Cogz (lufbra reference). On Saturday we had our first real experience of a Chilean club. It starts much later than the UK but was sooo much fun. My height was once again problematic though, and after a few pisco sours we found it highly amusing that I was significantly taller than the bathroom stall.
  • attending a dance class and getting down to SEAN PAUL
  • our Friday evening welcome party with our new families and teachers
  • the scenery around Ovalle
Interesting things..
  • completos (hot dogs) the unofficial food of Chile
  • the amount of times I am asked if I am related to Cindy Crawford
  • how blaze Chileans are about earthquakes
Until next time

Sunday, 4 August 2013

So the adventure begins (minus pictures)

Leaving the UK

Well if the weather was anything to go by I was not supposed to fly today. Spent the time in torrential rain on route to Heathrow and upon arrival was told there was no seats on my flight left and I would go onto the next one. At the last minute a seat became available meaning I had to sprint through security and rapidly say goodbye :( The flight was long but pleasant and I arrived at JFK and followed the Air Train into the city. This was by no means as simple as the guide book makes out. Eventually arrived at the hostel and met a new Australian friend Andrea and we ventured to Times Square where hot dogs and Ben and Jerries were on the agenda..

New York, New York

The first full day in New York was spent exploring Central Park, walking the Brooklyn Bridge, enjoying the most delicious Sushi in China Town and on to Little Italy for Sangria and Lasagna. Yum! Andrea headed off to Washington and I bought my hop on hop off bus tour and saw all the sites of downtown NYC. After the tour I had the misfortune of taking the wrong subway train and ending up in the Bronx- an experience not to be repeated, and one I am only now able to laugh about.

Searching for Barry in DC

After a very early straight and a Dunkin Donut I caught my Amtrak train to Washington and met Andrea at her hotel. We immediately headed to the Lincoln Memorial and made our way up to the White House. I was far too eager to get to Obamas crib but unfortunately some Vietnamese people were protesting about something right outside and we could barely see his house. (Sad times)... I did purchase a very lovely Obama fridge magnet however which will have to do for now... We explored the Smithsonian American history museum which had a lovely transport through time exhibition I know Chris would have enjoyed. We ventured up to Capitol Hill and the holocaust museum before a romantic little pedalo trip in front of the Jefferson Memorial. Stumbled upon Martin Luther Kings memorial which makes up for the lack of Obama and headed back to Andreas hotel for the most incredible steak! nom nom! Caught the late train back to NYC. Zzzzzz!

Goodbye USA!

The last day in the States was spent taking a bike round Central Park. Unfortunately I got too carried away and realised I had ten minutes to get from West 96th Street back to West 57th Street on a one way bike system. I put in an impressive time that would rival Mark Cavendish and sped round the park only a few minutes late, escaping a fine. I wandered aimlessly round 5th Avenue, Times Square and had some 99c pizza for lunch before returning to the hostel and transferring the airport. Most of the 11 hour journey was spent eating, sleeping and watching Life of Pi. (missed the ending so if anyone knows what happens that would be greatly appreciated).

Brrr Chilly in Chile

Stepped off the plane to the coldest weather ever- shame I have packed for a heatwave. Shopping trip in order. Arrived at the hostel and ventured the city. Sunday was spent looking through markets, and visiting a nice Park in Santiago. Training began on Monday and for five days we had quite an intensive training schedule of TEFL teacher training and lesson about adjusting to Chilean culture. Throughout the week we sampled many Chilean delicacies including my new favourite tipple, a pisco sour! Friday night we enjoyed a cocktail leaving party at the hostel complete with an array of vegetables (potentially the last we are going to see for some time). It was sad to see people leave but a nice send off. Saturday was spent in the coastal hillside city of Valparaiso where I enjoyed a prawn empanada and an obscene amount of ice cream!

  • Speeding round Central Park on bike
  • China Town Sushi
  • The English Opens Doors Crew in Santiago 
  • Pisco Sours
  • The amount of Sushi bars in Chile (happy Laura)
  • How addicted Chileans are to completos (hot dogs) 
  • How cold it is
  • How much bread Chileans consume (apparently second in the world after France). 
Until next time, Hasta Luego (my Spanish is dismal)