Life in Santiago is going well. It is officially spring now, but you wouldn't necessarily know it from the weather. We have had a few days when it has gotten up to the mid 80s, some days in the mid 70s, but then other days that have been cloudy and staying in the 60s. I actually prefer when the weather gets to about 70 or so, as it is warm enough that I only wear a windbreaker given my dress shirt and dress pants but not so hot that I sweat.
About a week and a half ago I finished up classes with CORFO. They were the classes with Chileans that received a scholarship from the government to learn English, and we had classes every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday night for two and a half months. The classes were intense, but the students were very motivated. The program brings together Chileans from different ages and walks of life. In my class I had students that were still in college, some that were in graduate school, and others that were settled in their career but needed to improve their English. Some of them were in the early 20s, some in their 30s, and a few were in their 50s. Some had families and a few children already, but many were not at that point in their life yet. They were architecture students, graphic designers, electrical engineers, mechanics, lawyers, psychologists, chefs, and police officers. Despite all of these differences they all came together and created an amazingly positive and enjoyable classroom atmosphere that was an absolute joy to teach in.
I have to admit that I miss the students already. When you spend 100 hours together in such a short time, you really get to know each other and enjoy the experience. We are having a barbeque next month to celebrate their (hopeful) success at raising their score on the TOEIC by 100 points.
The flip side of not having class on those evenings is that I have more free time. As it is I have class on Tuesdays until 9 PM and Thursdays until 8:30, and it's a treat to get home from work before the sun goes down a few days a week now. I find myself making plans to meet up with friends for dinner, being able to run errands, or walk home from my last class to get some exercise in.
There's good news for soccer fans: Chile is going to the World Cup! They had a big game in Santiago against Ecuador about a week and a half ago. People were nervous, as if Chile had lost the game they wouldn't have gone to the World Cup. My classes that Tuesday night cancelled since they were going to the game, and I got home safely before the game started. Once it was over, the streets exploded in celebrations, car honking, and general revelry. It went on for about 3 more hours as the soccer fans invaded the two bars across the street from my apartment, and I didn't sleep to well that night. Normally I don't mind celebrations on the weekend, but I had to be up on Wednesday morning at 6:30.
Another big thing happening now is the upcoming presidential election. Election Day here is Sunday November 17th, and so campaigning is happening all over Santiago. There are large poster put up on canvases and hung around major intersections, but it's not uncommon to find them destroyed or defaced. Here is one I came across last week:
It seems that Chileans in general do not trust politicians and feel strongly about the divide between the haves and have nots. My particular view is that participating in politics and following the news about it doesn't contribute to my overall happiness, so I prefer not to focus my time or energy there.
Something else that has been exciting has been The Amazing Race. Their first destination was Iquique, Chile, and then they went to Santiago! They had to go to Plaza de Armas, the main square in downtown Santiago, and they had to shine shoes and then pack up the shoeshining cart and take it through the busy pedestrian streets. After that, they had to take a taxi to cascada de las animas (a waterfall in El Cajon de Maipo) to get to the pit stop. It was really cool to see places that I knew on television, and after posting on their Facebook page I found out that they were in Chile for 9 days in June. I don't have any classes in downtown anymore so it's not likely that I would have seen any of the teams, but just the idea that they were here was really cool.
Chile is also being featured in the media in another interesting context: a web series called Gringolandia. It's about a Chilean man living in New York and his life there dealing with cultural differences while also following his girlfriend. There will be 6 episodes that will be released in November. If you're interested in reading more about it, here's a link:
October 31st and November 1st are holidays here, and so it will be nice to have a long weekend. So many people are traveling that I decided to just take it easy and stay in Santiago, and it will be nice to navigate the city with little or no traffic.
We'll see what the month of November has in store for me here.
|Breakfast at a coffee shop in Bellas Artes|