By: Zoe Seiler
I like my comfort zone a lot. I like to go to the same places, do the same activities and eat the same food. I never thought I would be the one to live in a foreign country for four months and take classes taught in another language.
But here I am sitting in my bed in Concepción, Chile reflecting on my first four days here and how I will be living in Chile until July.
I live with a host family who has been the nicest and most welcoming to me. My host mom is Ursula. She works at the University of Concepción. My host dad is Eduardo. He works at a bank. My host brothers are Gonza and Andé and both of them are college students. So far, my host brothers have been helping me to understand and learn more Spanish by practicing and by teaching me new words. Often Gonza teaches me new words after dinner. So far I have learned new words for kitchen utensils and food.
I am studying at the Universidad de la Santisíma Concepción (The University of the Most Holy Conception). I am participating in the Spanish for Foreigners program. I will be taking five classes all related to Spanish language and Chilean culture and history. I am excited to learn more Spanish and improve my speaking skills. Right now, I still feel a little lost with the language, but I know it will get better.
I also met my buddy, Cataliña. Each Simpson student was paired with a student at UCSC to help with anything we need. Cataliña is very nice. I enjoyed talking to her today. She has helped me navigate the bus system and register my visa so I can get a Chilean ID card.
I had fun exploring downtown Concepción on our fourth day in Chile. The city is much bigger than Des Moines. Most people ride the bus and walk downtown. We went to the Mall de Centro for lunch. The mall is huge with at least three floors of stores and a food court with a lot of familiar options. The food court had Burger King, Subway, McDonald’s, Dominos, among other options.
After I got home from the university, my host family took me to get a new SIM card for my phone so I am able to make calls and text when not connected to Wi-Fi. After that, we went to la Playa Caleta Lenga. I saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time and it was so big, blue and breathtaking. The view at the beach was amazing with the mountains and ocean. My host mom and I stood by the tide for a little bit. We ate dinner at a small restaurant by the beach. We had empanadas, a typical Chilean meal. They were stuffed with macha, crab, and cheese. Macha is a saltwater clam. I have not eaten much seafood, but the empanadas were very good.
My grandpa used to tell me to always try something new. I think he would be proud that I tried new food and am living in another country. I am excited for all of the new things to come in the next four months.