Margaret Benson
June 10, 2013

First and foremost, I am safe and all is well. (You can breathe again dad). have created my own blog because too much has happened to not document ASAP here in Santiago, Chile. I apologize for this blog entry being particularly lengthy. They wont all be this long but this is the first day so i have the most to say today. my tendency is to give too many details so I will try to be as succinct yet descriptive as possible throughout my entries.

The flight was a long one; all in all I traveled 24 hours which is by far the longest I’ve traveled. Yesterday I arrived at my house in Santiago at 11am, sleep deprived and over caffeinated. My taxi was greeted with much energy from my host dad Alvaro and my 9 yo host brother Diego. Diego and I had a connection immediately. Right away He showed me His favorite video games and made me a welcome sign in my room. He reminds me so much of my own little brother that I feel a similar strong maternal connection to him. Alvaro’s mom Tita came over shortly after my arrival and we went for a walk in a park only 2 blocks from my apartment. The weather was cool but with the sun’s warmth i took of my jacket. The park was covered with falling orange and red leaves, similar to the fall season i know back home. I brought Diego a small toy rocket from the USA. he adored it and we played with it for the majority of the afternoon. Tita took me to the market before dinner and told me stories of her travels to Milan and Rome in her youth. My host mom Pati worked until 9 yesterday so I didn’t meet her until late last night. She, like the rest of her family, is warm and affectionate toward me. Last night We talked late into the night about philosophy, medicine and education. There is a very interesting problem in the education system but I want to be sure I fully understand it before I write about it here. Pati is very open about her life and made me feel very welcome. She is patient with my Spanish and well educated like Alvaro. There is another student here for the semester. Her name us Jennifer from Nebraska. I haven’t had a chance to speak with her too much however we agreed to find a time this weekend to see each other and perhaps o for a run. I feel very fortunate I have such a great host family an I strongly believe I will be very happy here.

Today I had orientation at the IES center and I got to meet all the other gringos in my program. There are 33ish of us all together, which is a bigger group than I have ever travelled with. The majority of students are 19-20 yo and pre med students. I am 1/2 nursing students. i am glad to be the only representative of my school and 1/3 Minnesotans. I was surprised to find out that the other students are mostly from the Midwest and south east of the USA. They are friendly and all have unique stories. There are many commonalities between us which probably drove us to the same program. The levels of Spanish speaking vary but the majority of us lack confidence. With time, the embarrassment of sounding like a Chilean Tarzan will fade and they will gain confidence to speak in Spanish. .

Orientation itself was slightly dry but very good information to receive. I heard some information that i already knew such as the food here is not spicy, people kiss on the cheek as a greeting, the country’s passion is soccer etc. i learned that Chilenos are very open about discussing topics that gringos aren’t as likely to such as politics, religion, sexual identity and so forth. I learned Santiago is a very safe city and Chileans tend to place a great value on activities and exercise. Those who know me well know this is music to my ears as I love many activities and exercise. Specifically, my host family loves to cycle and practice yoga. I would love to join them one day if I can.

The IES staff is energetic and very approachable. Monday we have to take a placement test for two groups:The advanced and not as advanced. No one is a native speaker and i am pleased with how quickly it returned to my and how easily I could remember grammar and the speed I had in Costa Rica. Now that being said I am slightly competitive and so I’ll be studying for this placement after my blog entry. :-)

I’m glad I decided to take this trip. I look forward to my weekend trip to the coast and what ever else is to come.

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Margaret Benson

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">My name is Maggie Benson. I am a native to St. Paul, Minnesota. I am studying a double major of Nursing and Spanish at a private womens college named Saint Catherine University in Saint Paul, MN. In my free time I enjoy running with my golden retriever, tennis, biking, dancing, playing hockey and reading murder mysteries. Travelling has always been a passion of mine and I am excited to combine it with my love of medicine and the Spanish language in Santiago, Chile this summer!</span></p>

2013 Summer 1, 2013 Summer 2
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