I´m in a friend´s apartment in Viña del Mar now.
Christmas was a week ago, and now it´s the end of the year. You would hardly know it here with the summer heat, but at least there´s a breeze along the coast here.
When I decided to be here for Christmas this year, I pictured myself lounging at the beach or at a pool with friends and having the time of my life. My Christmas in Santiago ended up being much different; a coworker came over for pancakes, eggs, and bacon for brunch on Christmas Eve, and on Christmas I called home, opened my gifts (books that I had on my Amazon wishlist), and then I went to dinner at friend´s house.
It certainly wasn´t the Christmas I was anticipating, and it was very different being away from my family. The heat as well as the lack of Christmas decorations made me realize how much I do enjoy the holidays at home.
In Chile they don´t take time off between Christmas and New Years, and so I was back to teaching classes on Monday morning at 8 AM. I talked with my students and coworkers about their holidays throughout the week as well as our upcoming plans for New Years.
New Years is a big thing in Chile, and almost everyone goes to Valparaiso or Viña del Mar to see the fireworks there. The celebrations are supposed to be huge, with people drinking in the streets all night and into the following morning. My old roommate Cristian told me that it´s definitely a part of Chilean culture to experience while I¨m here, and so I decided that I wanted to go and see it.
As I talked with friends nothing seemed to work out to go, but then a friend told me he was going to Viña and that one of his friends lives there. On Thursday he told me that he was going to try to get us bus tickets to go there, but I was doubtful becuase I heard that they had been sold out for over a week.
Then on Friday he sent me a text message asking me when was the earliest I could get to the bus terminal, and I told him 5 PM that day. When I got out of class at 3 I gave him a call, and he got us bus tickets to go to Viña at 5:30 and to come back on Sunday at 8 at night. So I rushed home, got a bite to eat, and packed and got back on the bus. I called Eric at 5:00 when I was almost at the bus terminal, and he told me that he was going to stop at home and then he´d make his way to the bus terminal.
I wondered why he sounded so relaxed when the bus was leaving in half an hour. It was 5:20 and I tried to call him and got no answer. He called me at 5:25, telling me that he was about 5 minutes away. He made it to the terminal with 2 minutes to spare, and it turns out his clock on his cell phone was an hour early. He didn´t stop home and arrived with a few shopping bags for new shirts he bought, and his roommate is going to bring his overnight bag when she arrives later today.
After arriving we hung out in the apartment, got to know each other, listened to music, and had some drinks. Around 1 in the morning everyone wanted to go out, but I was too exhausted and stayed in. Today everyone woke up around 1 in the afternoon, and I went out for a walk with a few friends while the others woke up and others went grocery shopping.
While we were out walking, we got a call that a few of the people were at the grocery store around the corner, and so we went to help with the shopping. When we finished we piled into the car and headed home, and some of them prepared lunch. Now everyone´s doing their own thing before we go to the beach.
Later tonight we´re going to have a huge dinner and then watch the fireworks from the terrace of the apartment building. Then we´re going out to celebrate the new year.
An update with pictures will have to wait until I´m back in Santiago in 2012.
So, what are my thoughts about 2011?
It was a year of returning to Santiago and being away from the United States. It was also a year of moving into a new apartment and starting to teach private classes. I also traveled and met some new friends along the way.
This was also a year of personal growth. I´ve learned to become more independent and not lean on others so much. I´ve made the concious decision not to worry about things beyond my control and to focus my energy in a positive way. I´ve also decided to let things from the past go and not to invest time in friendships and relationships that aren´t going to be positive.
It was also a year of professional growth. I started organizing teaching materials that I use by theme, and now I have 3 large and somewhat organized binders that I used to teach my classes. I´m still finding great materials and teaching ideas to use, and so I´m constantly adding to and modifying them. I have made great strides in my understanding of English grammar and ways to effectively teach my students, yet I feel that there´s still a lot to learn.
It was also a year of financial growth. I worked hard with my classes, and during the year I was able to pay rent on a nice apartment living on my own, take a few vacations, and also make payments on my student loans. I balanced working at my institute as well as private classes, and I´ve saved developed savings as well as money to pay back the Bank of Dad for my travels from the past year. It´s a great feeling to know the growth that I´ve made and to have savings in the bank.
I´m looking forward to 2012 being a great year. I´m going to keep teaching with my institute as well as with private classes, and I plan to stay in the same apartment. I want to keep exploring new things to do (rock climbing, making new friends, etc) as well as keep developing my teaching skills. Oh yeah, and I want to travel too.
Thank you to everyone who reads this blog. Hearing from you gives me the motivation to keep updating on a regular basis. I wish you all the best for a happy and prosperous New Year!