Hello!... I meant to say, ¡Hola! I am officially in Chile! I absolutely love it here! Although the plane ride was VERY long, we finally arrived. Our traveling began on May 20th, but our group did not arrive in Chile until the next morning at around 8 A.M. on the 21st. Liz, (my classmate who I am living with in Chile) and I were awake 99% of the flight. We could not fall asleep, but instead got to know each other better and laughed for the majority of the flight. When I arrived at the airport, I was stopped by security and was questioned what I had inside my bag. For a second... well maybe a few seconds, it did not occur to me that I was in Chile. I needed to speak Spanish, but didn't know what to say. Luckily Dr. Patti was right next to me. All she had to say was "books," and the security accepted that answer.
After we arrived and went through customs and security, ECELA (our Spanish school) arrived almost immediately. There were two vans that drove each one of us to our home stay locations. This was the moment that I started to feel a little bit nervous because there was so much that I didn't know. Does my host family speak English? What does the home stay look like? Will the host family be accommodating? I honestly felt a mixture of extreme excitement and uncertainty at the same time. Now on my second day, I can say that there was nothing to worry about. My host family is nice, the apartment is comfortable, and my host family does speak English.
Even though my host family speaks English, it makes me feel that I should at least know a little bit of Spanish to be able to communicate. I was thinking to myself, "Why is it that most of the Chilean's know English, and most American's can't speak Spanish or even a second languge?" I still haven't found an answer to that question. I really like to talk, so I feel that not knowing Spanish prevents me from holding a conversation with someone from Chile. I have so much I want/wanted to say, but not the amount of Spanish to say it.
I feel that this experience of having thoughts jumbled inside my head, but not having the words to say it reminds me of teaching. Some students may not have the words to respond, but are very intelligent. This thought makes it even more important to give students time to respond to questions when asked. Sometimes I was asked a question in Spanish and I just needed to select the key words that I knew to figure it out. Time is exactly what I need, so I will be able to learn some Spanish.
The rest of the day included getting situated in the home stay, walking around Santiago (Liz and I spotted some stray dogs) , and going out to dinner with our group. I had a wonderful first day!
Traveling all day the night before did not stop our group from waking up for our 8 A.M Spanish class. For those of you who don't know, we are taking intense Spanish classes at ECELA. Prior to our trip, I took an online Spanish placement test that put me in beginner leveled Spanish. I was very impressed on how much Spanish I learned/pick up on just on my first day! To be honest, I felt overwhelmed at first, but our teacher made learning interesting and engaging. There were several opportunities that the teacher allowed us to write on the board and to use English to support our Spanish. Throughout the entire class, our teacher only spoke a few words in English. I was able to understand the vocabulary words she wrote on the board.
After our 4 hour class, we had a lunch provided by ECELA. We had empanadas! Yumm! My empanada was filled with beef, egg, and seasonings. I also spent some of my day reuniting with our Chilean friends, taking the subway, and attending a BBQ party from ECELA! I can't wait until tomorrow!