Friday, August 15, 2008

hello santiago.

Hola a todos~

There have been many instances in which I could have sat down to compile a blog entry, but none has struck me as so fitting as right now. It's a rainy Friday morning in Santiago - maybe 40F outside. Colder in my room.

Where should I begin? It's difficult to explain my hesitation in sharing my Chilean experience in this blog. It's something that I feel slightly guarded about, as if I'd rather observe the evolution of my time here alone and without outside commentary. I spent my first week in a tiny bedroom shared with Marlana. Our official lease began August 1st. We're living in an apartment building in Santiago Centro, the equivalent of downtown. It's an 8 bedroom apartment with a shared kitchen, no living room. There are four working Chileans, two French students, and then us - the Americans. So far there haven't been any major problems. Two people come to clean the apartment everyday during the week.

We're five minutes walking distance from my favorite neighborhood here so far; Barrio Lastarria is replete with sedate book stores, artsy coffee shops, and chic patio cafes. In contrast to Centro, Lastarria is composed of more classical, European architecture. I would describe it as quaint and pleasant - and undeniably enjoyable for a stroll down the street with a cigarette in hand. If I decide to stay in Santiago for the spring semester, I would definitely consider moving to an apartment here with a balcony overlooking the quirky streets. The picture above is one of the few I've taken so far. It's outside a restaurant that I tried within my first few days here.

As seems to have been the trend for the past three months, I've met gay guy after gay guy. The students at PUC (my university) are shocked by this. Marlana and I have probably been to many more gay clubs than straight. I went out my second night here with Pablo (long story, interesting one, but long), and stayed out until 8 a.m. Chileans eat dinner around 9, pre-party around 12, hit the clubs around 1:30 or 2, and come home between 5 and 8. So far I haven't witnessed any after party eating - they prefer to just dance and drink more! No Kerbey Lane pancakes or tacos here.

The school. Two weeks have already passed! Pontificia Universidad Católica is the most recognized university in Chile, and definitely one of the best, if not the best, in South America. I'm taking four classes here - Economía Internacional, Mercados, Simbologia del Cine, y Analisis de Literatura Hispanoamericana. My least favorite is Economia, simply because I find it extremely difficult to understand the professor. He constantly draws graphs on the chalkboard, marks a bunch of points, mumbles a bit, and then draws another graph. I'm planning to try and drag myself through the chapters in the book later this afternoon in hopes that things will somehow become miraculously illuminated for me. On the other hand, my cinema class is great. It's a 3 hour session held once a week on Monday evenings. It's also on a different campus, one that I prefer - Campus Oriente. It was once a monastery, now converted into the Arts, Music, and Esthetics Campus of PUC. The professor is a wizened old man who looks uncannily similar to Gandalf. He's spent time studying all over the world and has a genuine love for cinema. We watched Charlie Chaplin's ‘City Lights' this past week!

There are some things I would change about the school system - case in point - the system of photocopying lectures for every single class. Text books and course packets aren't sold. You're given a list of readings from which you have to then go to the library (hope the book hasn't been checked out by another classmate), and then proceed to stand in a horrendous line to have the damn lecture copied. I don't even want to hazard to guess how many hours I've already spent trying to get the correct readings for my literature class. It's ridiculous! But it's Chile.. and you have you love it.

I feel like this blog entry has been nothing but a regurgitation of the basic outlines of what my experience has been like so far in Chile. Most of you have probably heard all of this already from me via skype or msn (I'm always on... this might be why I don't understand Economia....) But I think this post was a necessary rite of passing in the short life of this blog; perhaps this sole entry is why it has taken me so long to get started? In my forthcoming posts I want to bring up relevant issues here, maybe share some of my follies and crazy times, and maybe (big maybe) post some creative writing.

I love and miss you all. It's been great being able to keep up with some of you on Skype. Others need to be logging on... because I miss you (you know who you are)!!!



Tom said...

What a lovely photo.

Is the Catholic presence really there at the Universidad? What's the religious life like in Chile? I'm a nerd and these things interest me.

And, for ladies, gay clubs are often more fun! Less creepy guys trying to take advantage of them, I'd imagine.

christine marie said...

I haven't picked up on a strong Catholic presence... but then again there are crucifixes in all the classrooms. I'll be sure to pose the religion question tonight - I haven't heard the student's perspective. I want to say that Chile is something like 80%+ Catholic.

And about the gay clubs, very true. They're also better dancers. LOVE.