On some beach…in Pichilemu.

Friday May 3rd-5th

Went to the beach Friday night. Crazy night drive and arrived around 1 a.m. Went to bed at 6 a.m. Exhausted. Got up on Saturday early afternoon and went for an amazing run on the beach. I love the solitude and peacefulness of being on a beach by myself. Everyone else was still sound asleep. During my route I found the Tourism office so I stopped in and asked (in my broken Spanish) where a cafe was; I desperately needed an ocean view and a strong Americano. They gave me a street name. Awesome. Reunited with the group and we set out for a walk and food. My friend and I ended up splitting up and finding a cafe with amazing creme brulee and fresh strawberry juice. Later we met up with the guys at the beach. Love the beach. Calms my mind and soothes my soul. We ended up going back to the house and around 7, I took a nap to be ready to go out that night. Then midnight past, then we woke up at 2 a.m…we weren’t going out at this point. Slept so long. It felt amazing. 15 hours. I must have been exhausted. Went to find the other cafe with actual coffee…ended up at Agua Bendita for an amazing Americano and ocean view. Met up with the group and spent a few hours engulfing the waves and sinking feet into the sand. And eating empanadas. Headed home midday to see the mountain view on the twisted road. Breathtaking.

first glimpse of Pichilemu

Saturday afternoon run!!!

Bob Marley playing in the background…

total surfers town…

Cafe #1 on Saturday= creme brulee and juice!

captivating waves!


crystal blue


                                                                     Sunday morning Americano and ocean view.


snow-capped Andes

no cars!!!
they seriously asked me “Where are the giraffes?”
I guess it looks like Africa???
No…I saw some sheep though.

it’s FALL!

wine country….


Mountains at dusk

When the rain clouds lift…

Friday May 3rd

Today was the second day of classes alone. I couldn’t get the students to be quiet. Took four names down to let my head teacher know. So frustrating. At one point for a brief moment I caught myself staring out the window…the rain clouds had lifted, revealing an ice blue sky against the snow capped Andes with gray misty clouds hovering at their base. Breathtaking.

Pictures of the Andes view from my neighborhood…

neighborhood view

right outside my doorstep!

In another class we covered the question “Where are you going?” We are teaching directions and places around town to 5th graders. We had made a list of places around town so that when we went around the room to practice the words were there and they just had to complete the phrase, “I’m going to the…” One kid asks me if he can say something not on the list and of course I say “sure.” Then he responds. I’m going to the Starbucks.” I gave him a high-five. TGIF.


April 27th, 2013. What started as an assumed weekend in the city of Santiago, turned out to be a weekend in the country…and so much more than I bargained for. Quiet neighborhoods, a Saturday late night BBQ, views of the hills leading to the Andes on a Sunday afternoon drive, a quaint cafe for an afternoon bebida, , an afternoon stroll, delicious Chilean food…and the sweetest family! A weekend of Spanish swirling in my head…but full of laughter and smiles….My host mom goes to Colina on the weekends to visit her parents, brothers, and sisters. This weekend I was invited to join her. We had to stop a clinic in Santiago for a quick check up for her son (he had hurt his toe last weekend). Then I thought we were heading into a different part of the city, until we started turning and twisting further from the city limits. We arrived to this country town in mid-afternoon. Isn’t it beautiful?

Statue in the Plaza

View around the Plaza


Mountain view between houses

Botilleria…just a place in the neighborhood to buy wine and beer

Driving through the Hills…

“Hauso” Country!

yep…they’re riding on the bike path…

my lovely host mom! she’s so fun!

Pueblo de Esmeralda…

Mi casa es su casa…love.


our cafe view…

my host mom and her dad

the quaint cafe for an afternoon “bebida”…we drank Sprite.

Tomates son baratos!!!

The Boy and the Rubik’s Cube

Cloudy mountain view morning run. Cafe delicious coffee and Skype with Brit. I love my Monday mornings free. It helps me decompress before another busy week and to have a few minutes while everyone else has begun their day is a relished pleasure.

Enter teacher’s lounge…I somewhat asked the fellow teachers how their weekends were and what they did in Spanish…I think they got the gist and responded. One of the most frustrating things is being able to understand, but not being able to produce my own thoughts in their language.

Today in 6A, the students gave “Preference” presentations. I sat near the front amongst the students. During the presentations I wrote down and gave comments to them…always a positive first, then what they can work on. Overall…so impressed. Students’ are amazing. Their capabilities, to give a presentation about their favorite things, what they can and can’t do, and a bit about themselves, astound me. About halfway through the presentations a boy taps me on the shoulder and says “Miss, pick a color.” He shows me a Rubik’s cube. I say “Orange,” and watch in fascination as he completes a perfect cube in a minute flat (give or take!) “Another color?” Blue. And again he completes this. Maybe I should have told him to put it away and pay attention, but how could I scold when he was so excited to show me his trick? And soon all colors were complete and he had the biggest smile ever!

Found an awesome ESL Conversation list site today. (http://iteslj.org/questions/) I chose two topics, hoping they would work for giving my English Workshop (taller in Spanish). My head teacher really liked them, so we decided to use “Let’s Talk About 3 Things.” 7th and 8th graders have the workshop first, followed by freshman through seniors. We had so much fun! I taught them the phrase “Wanna.” For example, “What do you wanna do right now?” They caught on fast. Student- I wanna eat chocolate. Another- I wanna be with my boyfriend. Yet another…I wanna see my niece. And another…I wanna go to the beach. Their favorite cities? London (One Direction), Paris (Love), and Stratford, Canada (Justin Beiber’s birthplace)…oh yes…and I got strange looks when I said I wanted to go to Buenos Aires to eat gelato and dance tango! 🙂

After school, I went with my friend Catalina to observe one of her University classes. It was fun to see how people don’t really differ that much…especially in a classroom environment. You always have the students waiting outside for class to start, the ones that always participate, the ones that never participate even when you call on them, the cellphones ringing, the students who come in 10 minutes before class ends, and the ones that stay after for help… it’s rather amusing…
The class lasted just over an hour then I took my FIRST Micro (by myself at that!) back to Las Pircas, where I reside. (#2 or #3 goes to Rancagua Centre then all the way through to Machali on the Alameda.)

Cheers to Mondays.

….And the English Opens Doors Program begins!

April 12th…First week of being in Chile is coming to an end… 
Long week of Orientation, but it felt good to be learning…listening…and absorbing information for the upcoming months. Ate at a random side street place for lunch…we have food vouchers. 🙂
Went for a run with a new friend from NYC and we stumbled upon this park; decided to wander through it and came across beautiful gardens and a stunning view of the city with the mountains in the backdrop.
Came back to the hostel and then headed out to find a cafe with chocolate and coffee with the sweetest bunk mates ever! Two of the girls from England and one from L.A. We had so much fun at this side street cafe around the corner from our hostel. (Hostelling International).

Photos below are of new friends, our little cafe, and views of Santiago…

Wow…the week flew by! And now it’s Saturday morning… Throughout the week the sessions discussed lesson planning, classroom management, culture, and living with a host family.

I feel like I should just start writing this over…

On Sunday April 14th around 1 pm I was welcomed at the bus stop in Rancagua by what is fast becoming my Chilean family and the warmest friendliest people I have possibly have ever met. I was instantly comfortable and…happy! Filled to the top with joy! I could not have been placed in a better situation. From the bus stop I was “whisked away” into a car and we headed to this backwoods place that no one had been to before, but we found it. A beautiful area to BBQ and hang out. Both Spanish and English were spoken. So many photos and smiles, and meat!!! What a great welcoming party!


we love pictures!

my new Chilean Family!

yay meat!

After the sun had set we drove to Machali- about 20 minutes or so, to my host mother and brother’s house. Ahh! She is the sweetest Chilean mother. I love her. Her son is super cool. I just invaded another teenage boy’s space. Take two…lessons learned…basically just stay out of their way and like their music…and definitely make yourself scarce if the friends are present. haha. We had my first “onces”. Bread or cake, coffee or tea, maybe some fruit or vegetables. It’s delightful.

Monday morning brought the Regional meeting with other volunteers from the area…not my specific town, but the area of Rancagua, San Vicente, and Machali. It was nice to meet with the Representative and be informed of detailed criteria etc. After the meeting Francisco, my head teacher, took me to a fruit stand. A bunch of fruit for $3. Score.

Francisco is my head teacher. He is about my age, has studied abroad in Iowa, and has visited the Omaha Zoo before. I am really looking forward to working with him as he truly cares about the kids and teaching, is laid back, and a lot of fun. During the week of observation I am going around to other classrooms to meet the different grades before solidifying my schedule.

(Tuesday) Observation Day 1: I assisted Catalina, another fluent English speaker. She teaches 2nd and 3rd graders. Wow! So much energy! One student brought me cake. She is a great teacher and really sweet! Even though I won’t be working directly with her, she is becoming a fast friend. I also found out that on Tuesdays the students leave early so the teachers can have meetings and plan time.

(Wednesday) Observation Day 2: Today I assisted Francisco in the morning. He let me help teach. Yay! His students speak English quite well and I was showered with so many pictures and notes! Adorable. And of course I’m saving them all! 🙂 During one of the classes we were interrupted for a last minute assembly. Little did I know that the assembly was to welcome me and I was brought up in front of the entire school to say Hello and Good Morning. The school has about 1000 students! Ah! In the afternoon I went into one of Camila’s classes. She has a tough class. About 35 students. I played a game with them and helped them with a writing activity. She is so kind and outgoing…I am glad I get to be in class with her and Catalina for a bit of time.

Recent life happenings: Found a nice running path near my house…it runs along the main road toward the mountains. I have a view of the mountains out my window! Driving to school with Marta (my host mom), I get to watch the sunrise over the mountains. Beautiful. We eat breakfast everyday together and the first words out of my mouth are Spanish, followed by Besos. It’s probably one of my favorite things about Chilean culture. Then we go to school. In the evenings I usually run before she gets home from work; when she gets home we hang out for a bit or watch the news. After we have “onces.” On Tuesday she cut up tomatoes and garlic, sprinkled with oregano and olive oil for our bread.

(Thursday) Observation Day 3: Quote of the day!
Observation Day 3: “Teacher, where have you taught?” “Korea” “ohhh teacher! Gangnam style?” Student proceeds with dancing motion… gotta love it!

(Friday) Observation Day 4: Another quote…

“Class, what’s YOUR favorite music.” Student- “Missss, I loveee Justin Beiber, he is sexxxy…what do you think is sexy?” (I about died.) How exactly do you explain your idea of sexy is quite the opposite of JB? 

Had some amazing support today from friends…figured out my schedule for teaching and English Opens Doors Program Initiatives. I will be teaching/co-teaching 5th and 6th graders, then holding English Workshops and activities for High Schoolers.
Something new…We left for the dance club at midnight and arrived home at 5:30 a.m.!!! Oh how I love dancing salsa! Still slightly overwhelmed at the going out experience…it will be fun every so often! And yes! I can dance without drinking! 🙂
As I post this blog it is Sunday April 21st…yesterday we had a BBQ…the weather is just perfect and the company was fun! One thing I am learning is that Chileans love to have all day get-togethers…it’s quite different from what I am used to, but I will adapt and figure out a routine.
Today it is absolutely gorgeous outside. Slept late. Walked to the store to buy cleaning supplies. Found a cafe with imported coffee (yay!). Cleaned the kitchen and living room and the upstairs bathroom. Love the smell of clorox and oranges! My host mom was away for the weekend in Santiago so I thought I would surprise her with a clean house. Went for a 45 minute run and now am just relaxing. 
What a wonderful way to end my first week in my new home for the next 4 months!
Photos: Mountain views on my running route, cheap fruit, and my new home…

Estoy Aqui en Santiago de Chile…I´m here!

What a whirlwind of activity the past couple days!

Santiago city view

Palm trees near Bella Artes District

patio lunch spot

Colors near my hostel
Recap: April 1st  to 4th…
Hung out with Timmie grandma and grandpa on Monday- went to the zoo and an artsy Lego display at Lauritzen Gardens , ate at California Taco from the Tripe D show- Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. Movie with Allison. We finally hit rock bottom with our movie choices. Awful awful AWFUL. Just terrible.

Tuesday- hung out and figured some Chile stuff out. Played Scrabble with Grandma and ran 6 miles with Grandpa. with Al again. I love my cousin. She is amazing. Seriously. Plus she is the only one I can shop with and actually buy stuff. (Haha) Ran errands and went to Kona Grill for Happy Hour. Yummy! Bought stickers and toiletry items at Target. Had to use my VS Rewards and got $60 worth. sCoRe.

Wednesday- went grocery shopping with Grandma and on a morning walk with Liz. It was so good to catch up post wedding. I am so incredibly thankful for her friendship! Around 1:30 I went to a free yoga class at the library with my grandma- it felt good to s t r e t c h out. Then Mandy came over before the other girls to hang out. I’m so lucky to have been able to spend quality time with her since I’ve been back. I think part of the reason for my calmer attitude is because of her outlook on life and not to be so dramatic and just deal with stuff. Both of these women, as well as several others in my life, have truly taught me what real relationships are in both a friendship and marriages (from my observations!) Later on Liz and my dear friend Lori joined us for a lasagna dinner. Delish! I am truly blessed with these incredibly sweet and encouraging and positive friends! I am such a lucky girl! Between the chocolates, goodies, and cards I am set to get on that plane! 🙂
Finished somewhat packing.

I didn’t sleep last night. I barely slept this week. Ugh soo tired. But this is it. This is what I’ve worked toward for so long. Discussing over many a Chilean wine night with Sarah and Brit in Korea. I’m going to South America. And this I what dreams are made of. Not that I want to quote Hilary Duff right now… But seriously… My dreams are made of colorful backdrops, visas, plane tickets, passports, postcards, hole in the wall cafes, menus in different languages, and the laughter of people who don’t look like me, but who are living life just as I am in a routine that very well may be entirely opposite of mine.
I was able to meet up with a couple hometown friends before my flight and see their babies! Amazing! Even though we are different in many ways I hold them close to my heart. For they ultimately know how far I’ve come since High Schools and for this I am forever grateful for their belief in me and friendship through the years.
One bag. 55 lbs. of course. So now I’m lugging around my winter coat. If the Delta checkin guys’s manager wouldn’t have seen my bag then I would’ve been off the hook; he was that cool. He did however, give me 2 lbs of weight free.
First purchase of my trip- headphones. I totally did not bring mine and realized it as I was sitting at my gate. Awesome. $20 for $5 headphones I could’ve bought at Target. At least the sound is good and they work. Lol. Second purchase- a Blue Moon and peanut MMs. My last BM until I return. And the MMS because I’ve only had half a breakfast omelet and half a raisin English muffin I ate at the breakfast restaurant my grandparents took me to for my last morning. Thought I would be hungry, but I’m not.

PS loved my friend’s shout out on FB- I hope I can continue to inspire others to follow their dreams and see the results!!! You are an inspiration to me as well my dear!
PSS Timmie, we flew over STL and I thought of you!!!

Later that day- sat by some guys who were going to the Final Four games. They asked if I was ok when I told them I was going to Chile. One of the guys wife teaches ELL in Sioux City.
Made it to ATL, transferred to International terminal, exchanged currency and called my mom. No wifi here. Turned my phone off for the next few months. 🙂
Flight was delayed taking off because they had to clean it. By this point I was over tired… Too tired to fully sleep, and starving. Had a few bites of chicken dinner… Pounding headache and my eyes ache. Now it’s about and hour and half til landing… Time did pass quickly, just a very restless sleep. Sat by a really nice lady from Belgium; She’s travelled all over the world.

first Chilean Cafe


view from lunch spot patio

view from plane #1



dinner…a fresh pear and a pastry…

lunch spot in Valparaiso

first empanadas and strawberry juice


Valparaiso lunch spot

view in Valparaiso


Valparaiso colors!

April 5th- 

beautiful morning flying over the clouds and the sunrise rimming the edge of the sky with brilliant color!
Landed around 9:30… Through immigration and customs just fine. Found a shuttle to take me to my Hostel. I met this Argentinian who offered his help and have me his number, as he is staying close to where I am, then later in the ride asked what my plans were for later. Haha. Need fresh air and food. Went for a walk… Currently (1 pm) I’m sitting an outdoor cafe waiting for my taco. So far I’ve seen a gyro place, about 5 sushi bars, was told a HM opened two weeks ago, found a yoga studio a couple blocks from my hostel, and have already mailed something from the post office. Yep, I can speak Spanish, but it needs help…I keep saying Korean words for yes, hello, and thank you…I have the exact Spanish phrase in my head, but I can’t seem to spit it out!!! Gorgeous day with sunshine…and so much color…everyone is super friendly!
Back at the hostel to freshen up and nap before figuring out dinner…Local time is 2 hours ahead Central Time.
Hostel is, Hostal Bella 269. It has a purple front and it a remodelled Colonial house…it has wood floors and a nice staircase, my room is shared, it has a bathroom and small balcony…it’s cozy! 

April 6th-
I switched hostels and had a lovely conversation with the cab driver in the best Spanish I could muster. Met a couple girls from England who I’m bunking with and we roamed around the city. Stopped for fresh strawberry juice and empanadas. Relaxed in a park where this kids club was playing Gangnam style and Danzo Kudero. Hah. Met some other cool people back at the hostel.

April 7th- 

Came across the Santiago marathon on our way to the subway. (Bummer I couldn’t run it!) We took the subway to the bus station to go to Valpairaso.
I see a lot of color here– buildings clothing relationships smiles landscapes food… It’s a vibrant culture, so welcoming and warm…
Gorgeous walk in Valparaiso…obsessed with the quaintness and colors… love this city!!! 🙂
Stay tuned for more photos of Valparaiso… 

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