Sunday, March 27, 2011

one month.

So here it is: the promised blog post.

Last weekend, I went to downtown Rancagua with two classmates to buy an apron for Chemistry class. It's only about a ten minute collectivo ride from my house (a collectivo is like a taxi but with a set route. It costs about a dollar). It was really fun--the main street was packed, which was quite a contrast to when I went downtown today to withdraw money. My host dad says that Sundays (today) everyone sleeps and Saturdays (last week) is when everyone goes out and shops.

 After we found a nice apron for me to use, we headed up to the main plaza. Rancagua is one of the oldest cities in Chile, and the site of the 1814 "Battle of Rancagua" during Chile's fight for independence. Unfortunately, the Chileans lost in Rancagua, and I'm not quite sure why it's so famous nonetheless, but the government has spent a lot of energy keeping the old parts of Rancagua nice for the historical value.

Just off the square is an old church! I remember seeing pictures of this on Wikipedia when I first found out where I was staying in Chile. However, the pictures on Wikipedia were yellow! I asked about it, and it turns out the two towers fell down in the earthquake last year so the church had to be rebuilt and they repainted it red. It's a gorgous church though, and I'd love to go inside next time I'm downtown. I've been talking with the other exchange student in my class (from Switzerland) and someday soon we'd like to go down and be tourists for the day.

 Off of the plaza, there was this little shop, and we walked in intending to get drinks, but it turns out it was an empanada shop! Empanadas are pockets of bread with fillings. There are lots of different types of fillings--meat, cheese, veggies, all that good stuff. They're a traditional Chilean food, and I hadn't had one yet, so my compaƱeras insisted that we all get some. I got the traditional "flavor": pino, which is meat, onions, raisins, and olives. Then the fold the filling up into a thin bread, sort of, and usually deep fry  them (but this one was baked, I think). All in all, it was delicious. They say that there is another shop with a bunch of different obscure varieties of empanadas (sort of like Ian's Pizza in Madison, I think, but with empanadas).

On a different note, Friday was my "one month in Chile" anniversary. It's incredible how fast it's gone. My spanish is improving tremendously, both speaking and comprehension, but I still have a long way to go. I'm really happy to be here though--I've been blessed with a great, understanding family, helpful, nice, classmates, and I've been doing so much better than I ever expected to do here. We'll see what the next four months bring, but if the first month is any representation, it looks like I'll be having a lot of fun.

I think that's all for now. I feel like my english is just falling apart--I can still speak it, but writing and typing are just horrible, so I'm sorry if it's not perfect gramatically. The hard part is that my spanish is still pretty bad so I can't really do anything! Haha.

And to wrap it up: I saw this sign in the grocery store and laughed out loud. I think the pictures are hysterical. But maybe it's just me.


  1. Hello Nikki! I'm in Spanish 1 and from a really small town in Wyoming. I think its great that you're blogging about your experience; it gives an insight to what being an exchange student is like. (My grammmar isn't the best either, but they may be because I'm bad at typing haha)It's awesome that you get to go to Chile. My class has been learning a little about Chile. It's interesting that our summer is during their winter. I think if I was there I would get so confused because my mind would be saying there's supposed to be snow in February! It's also cool how you're in the longest yet narrowest country in the world! You get the best of both worlds; its not too far to the mountains, yet the beach is only a little ways away. Spanish is getting a little bit easier to learn but there are so many forms and rules, i can't imagine how being immersed in it all the time would feel! I would look very confused all the time haha. Have you been to the Atacama Desert yet? I can't believe it only gets 1 millimeter of rain per yer! I think it is very beautiful though. I noticed it was your first time trying empanadas; i agree that they are so yummy! I love how you can put anything in them and they taste good. Of course, every Spanish food i have tasted has been good. Our class has been reading about your experience and most of us think it would be an amazing thing to be an exchange student; I think it would be one of the best experiences of my life but I don't think I could muster enough courage to step put of my comfort zone. Before a big trip to somewhere new, i always get an anxious and excited. I would start packing way in advance too. I think it's cool that your friends threw a going away party for you, it would be a nice way to kick off your trip. I know how you feel on airplane flights but I've never been on one that long or over the ocean (scary!) It would be uncomfortable but completely worth it once you arrived at your destination. The pictures you have been taking are beautiful and it's nice how you have such a wonderful host family. It was nice of them to make your birthday a really fun time :)I can't imagine not having hot water instantly all the time, plus i am very forgetful and would forget to light it haha. It's fun that your going to a rodeo and it'll be interesting to see how it differs from America's rodeo. I look forward to reading more!

  2. Hey Nikki!!

    My Spanish class has been following your blog for a while now and I think your whole experience has been awesome! I would love to be able to visit a foreign country so I really enjoy hearing about your experiences.

    I actually have a friend who is living in Chile right now. He has been there for a year and a half and will be coming home in November. He's located at the southern-most part of the country so it's interesting to hear about the differences in climate between Rancagua and Osorno where he's at. I guess that's what happens in such a long country.

    I can't believe about the whole hot water thing! Actually my brother is in Ecuador right now and for a while he stayed at an area that had no hot water whatsoever. It's really interesting just how much different things are in South America than in the U.S.

    I am supremely jealous of your getting to swim in the mountains! It sounds so much fun, especially in February! The pictures you took of the mountains are amazing; it is beautiful there!

    Well I wish you the best and I hope everything goes well!