Day One is coming to a close at midnight local time — Santiago, Chile; however, it has felt like at least three days between the travelling and the meeting people and the orientation sessions and the new sights and sounds and smells and feels.
The travelling: I started in Baltimore, boarding at 2:50pm. I landed in Dallas and boarded for my flight to Santiago at 7:50pm (local time). I landed in Santiago at 7:45am (local time) after nine hours of kind-of sleep and dry skin and pent-up excitement. The Andes from the sky were crazy beautiful… And I can’t wait to hike some of them!
The meeting people: I made contact with a couple fellow USAC-program members in the Dallas airport and met (most of) the rest at our beautiful little hotel in the northwest region of Santiago. It actually feels so surreal to be here; I love it! It got up to almost 90 degrees Fahrenheit today, but the humidity feels (considerably) lower than that of Maryland’s summers and the nights cool off a lot, so it’s super nice! I could really get used to this… And everyone has been so nice and friendly and talkative! And tomorrow I meet my host parents, who will be my stand-in family for the semester (I still love you, Lusardi clan!).
The orientation: We have thus far learned all about some key cultural differences and social norms (as well as received our class schedules and such) in orientation. We witnessed demonstrations of the appropriate way to air kiss people’s cheeks: There are important differences in one’s hips’ distances from anothers’ depending on one’s relationship with that other person; air kiss right-cheek-to-right-cheek. Also: keep your hands visible while eating at the table; don’t be offended when someone comments on your weight or skin color; shower every day — they will know if you don’t; informal meetings that are supposed to start at 3pm will probably start at 4 or 5pm; etc.
The new sights, sounds, smells, and feels: The mountains are right next to the city. There are really no “rolling hills” — it just turns from flat to PEAKS. It is so green. There are beautiful pink and purple flowers everywhere. There are plants growing and overflowing from skyscrapers’ balconies. It smells like summer — you know what I mean? Warm air just smells different. The evening temperature tonight was so perfect that I couldn’t even feel the air. I just floated instead of walked. You know when it’s humid and you have to slog a little? None of that. Just perfect floating weather.
Overall, this day has been long but lovely, busy but worth it. Here’s to tomorrow: Day Two.
Peace and Blessings x
(From the southern latitudes of Santiago, Chile)